Tell us about yourself and what inspired you to start writing.
The author is a Professor of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at the University of California’s Medical School at Davis, near Sacramento in Northern California. That means being a teacher, an active researcher (interested in pulmonary fibrosis, asthma, and effects of air pollutants on the lung), and a lot of time spent on committees and administrative tasks. He has always been a fan and avid reader of mystery novels, usually preferring the private eye genre. For several years he taught a very popular Freshman Seminar course at UC Davis on mystery novels set in California. This inspired him to try his hand at writing as well as reading, and the rest is history. There are currently nine novels as well as three novellas, an anthology of short stories, and an Omnibus volume of three of the books in his Roger and Suzanne mystery series available from Amazon Kindle. Each of the books is designed to be read as a standalone entry. All of the books are complete stories albeit they all feature the same principal characters, and usually some recurring secondary characters (at least among these secondary characters who survive the murder mysteries). The books feature complex plots and a good whodunit experience for the reader while providing authentic Latin American, Alaskan, or dog-world settings as interesting backgrounds for each of the novels.
Tell us about your books.
Jerry, a two-time winner of The Indie Book of the Day Award, writes “tweener” mystery books (tough and sometimes violent mystery stories that follow the cozy conventions of no graphic sex and no cussing), all published as e-books on Amazon Kindle with four also published as paperback versions, that are fast moving and entertain the reader. Several of the books introduce the readers to South America, a region where he has lived and worked that is a long way from home for most English speakers. He and his wife Elaine lived previously in Salta, Argentina and Montevideo, Uruguay. Jerry selects the most interesting South American locations he found for Roger and Suzanne to visit while solving miscellaneous murders. Montevideo, Salta, Machu Picchu, the Galapagos Islands, and Iguazu Falls are also characters in these books, and the novels portray these places as vivid and real. Jerry and Elaine breed prize-winning German shorthaired pointer dogs; Elaine also provides technical advice for Jerry’s dog-related novels like The Deadly Dog Show, Hunter Down, and Abra Cadaver, as well as editing for all of the books.
How did you go about getting published?
I have used the self-publishing route with the help of Amazon Kindle. It is easy, free, and allows the author to focus on writing, which I enjoy, and book sales promotion, which is far less enjoyable, but necessary. I have a recurring fantasy that one day an agent or small publisher will find me and offer to take the sales promotion part of the job off my hands.
What is your writing process? Do you have a time, day or place you like to write?
With a full-time job, and a demanding one, I write at odd times when the opportunity offers itself. All of my writing is done at my desk at home, usually nights and weekends. I’ve published well over 200 scientific papers and written countless grant applications so am no stranger to the writing process itself. I can usually just sit down and start writing as time and energy allows. I’m also no stranger to editing, as I have been an editor of one or another scientific journal for most of my professional career.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing? Full-time job, pets, hobbies?
How is my time spent when not writing? 1. Full time job as a professor and researcher, 2. We presently have five dogs (great-Grandma, Grandma, Mom, Daughter, and Daughter’s Uncle). They need a lot of exercise and a lot of cuddling time, 3. There are five grandchildren too play with, and 4. I still like to read mystery novels in between reading scientific papers and journals.
Any advice for authors about book covers?
I’ve gone the do-it-yourself route, imposed upon talented friends, and even professional design a couple of times. Covers are important for book sales but it doesn’t make much sense to spend more on a cover than will realistically come back as book sales royalties. Advice: This is one of a lot of difficult decisions you’ll have to make if you choose to go the self-publication route. Amazon has tried to make this easier with its Cover Creator software on the Kindle uploading site, but it’s still not the same as a professionally designed cover that is tailored to specifically fit your book.
Any marketing tips you’d like to share with other authors?
I mostly try to market my books via Facebook and other social media and through the few web sites that will promote my books at no charge. This is an area for improvement some day when I’m retired and have more time to dedicate to the task.
What’s your favorite book?
I continue to enjoy some of the classics of private eye fiction by Ross MacDonald and Robert B. Parker.
What are you reading now?
I’m currently between books with a large TBR stack of accumulated e-book mysteries.
What’s your next book project?
The current WIP is a novella based upon a plot suggestion from my youngest son featuring several murders in suburban Maryland while Suzanne is working for a few weeks at a lab at The National Institutes of Health in Bethesda.
Author Websites and Profiles
Jerold Last Amazon Profile