Interview with George Wier   1 comment

Today I welcome George Wier, Texas crime fiction author, to the blog. Tell us something about yourself, George. (Basic bio, where’d you grow up, what do you do for a living, significant relationships — as much or as little as you want).

george wierThere’s not a lot to tell. The first eight years of my life I grew up in Madisonville, Texas. My father was an oil well firefighter in the Gulf of Mexico, working for Red Adair—he was one of the original Hellfighters. In fact, on some of the shots in that movie, my dad was fighting real fires in an asbestos suit. Later he was a truck driver, an insurance salesman, and toward the end of his life he was a jailer. He was utterly fearless. My mother had wanted to be a Christian missionary in Africa or Asia, but that was apparently not to be. She had three kids to raise, and a life here to live. From these two extremes (one tough as nails, the other, gentle as a shepherd with a flock of lambs) you get me. I have worked more odd jobs (and done odd things) than I can count. I’ve got my father’s fearlessness and my mother’s passivity, or at least until I’ve reached my limit; then, you’d better watch out. What I do for a living now is write. I write every day. It’s a full time job, but really it’s the one thing I’d rather do than anything else. I could have been a musician, and in fact started out down that path at one time, only to find out I didn’t have the pain threshold for practicing the violin six to ten hours a day to become as good as I wanted to be. I suppose I’m an all-or-nothing kind of guy. If I can’t have the whole thing, then I want no part of it. Later, I tried my hand at actual police work, but found that I didn’t like putting the handcuffs on a person and putting them in a cage like an animal. Somehow I knew that was also not the answer—the flip side, of course, being to do nothing. No, there has to be another way, but criminal justice misses. I have a problem with justice anytime it’s in the hands of human beings. In every instance, human justice misses the mark. So, my compromise with life was to become a writer, to report what I see—and let me tell you, I see everything, and I don’t miss a lick!—and to publish it. I’m 50 years old now. I’ve seen quite a bit. I hope to see a great deal more.

george wier signingWhat was your first writing and how old were you?

When I was very young I watched Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and I loved it. I think I’ve got the whole movie memorized now, you know. A lot of people do. Anyway, back then I penned a little thing that has since been lost in the mists of time that was all bad humor and kids’ jokes based on the American Revolution. Thank God it’s long gone. Gosh, I had to have been around ten or eleven. Something like that. Godawful stuff, you know. Quick, please change the subject and ask me something better…I mean, something else.

You write crime fiction, set in Texas. Being from Texas, that makes sense. What drew you to crime fiction?

george wier last callCrime fiction speaks to the human condition as it currently is. We have laws, and laws are there because people run roughshod over their neighbors. If everyone was thoughtful and considerate and mindful of the negative effects of their actions on others around them, then they wouldn’t do the things they do and ultimately there would be no need for laws. And also, if that were the case, you would see the birth of a Golden Age for mankind. But that’s not the way it is. I got interested in crime when I was very young. One of the earliest—and to me, gritty and realistic—crime shows on television was Baretta. I loved that show. Before that I really liked watching the old Mannix TV serials. Mannix was a private investigator in LA, just like James Garner’s Jim Rockford, years later. Mannix was always getting shot at, beat up, bonked on the head and knocked out. But he always managed to turn the tables and get the bad guys. I ate that stuff up. Also, there were a number of real life high-profile crimes in my own county when I was growing up, and these crimes made national headlines, including the Good Samaritan murder of Tim Merka and the Soldier of Fortune case. Grisly stuff. Also, later when I was about nineteen years old, I worked flipping hamburgers in the kitchen of a Kettle restaurant between college semesters and the guy who trained me on that temporary job went on to become a killer in another high-profile case, the Foch Street double murder. The fellow’s name was Gary Penuel. His sister was also involved in the case, along with a guy named David Clark. Clark majorly took the fall in that case and has since been executed. No, crime is all too real in the world we live in. It wasn’t just the stuff of television, as I would come to find. That’s what drew me to crime fiction—the dark, malevolent, almost reptilian malice of that side of existence. We try to understand it, but ultimately we cannot. You can’t put an understanding into the incomprehensible, by definition. Square peg, round hole. It doesn’t fit. There’s nothing more incomprehensible than the violent murder of another human being. But boy, do we try to understand it. The imagination runs wild. So that’s the “why” behind my fascination with crime fiction, in a nutshell.

When I peeked at your book, I have to say, I love the “voice”. How do you develop your characters?

george wier captainsA writer observes the world around him. He or she can’t help it. We act as sponges for the physical universe, soaking up everything we see, hear, and feel. We later use that in our writing. You may want to just call it a virus. A bug. It’s the writer’s bug. Characters are no different. All of my characters are composites of real people I have met in my travels. Everyone I meet, I pay close attention. Who is this person? What are they about? Can I peg where they’re from by their accent? How old is this person? What have they seen and experienced that is subconsciously communicated through how they hold themselves erect, how their eyes move, how they talk? It’s almost Sherlockian. So when I create a character, I have a set of standards that must be met. The character has to talk to me. They have to be their own person—that is, they have to be real. They have to react and interact with other people the way this character should given their background and how they see themselves and the world around them. It’s actually pretty simple. My characters are people. I treat them as such, and I expect them to act that way too. Sometimes they really surprise me.

What are you passionate about?

I get passionate when I’m talking in company with others about writing. I meet so many people seeking advice, seeking to know. “What would you do in this situation?” That sort of thing. When it comes to writing, I have something to say. I have so much to say on the subject that I wouldn’t dare attempt it here, because hours later you would be telling me to “Shut up, already!”

Also, I get passionate about human rights. I volunteer some of my time with a watchdog group that birddogs the Texas legislature here in Austin, specifically on the subject of human rights. So many bills are passed into law, amending the Texas Constitution, that the public is largely apathetic about it. Fortunately our legislature meets only every other year. That’s a good thing.

I agree totally and wish the Alaska Legislature would do the same.

george wier journeyIt would be far better if they met once a decade. The U.S. Constitution you could fit in your shirt pocket. The Texas Constitution cannot be contained within the confines of a single floor-to-ceiling, five-foot wide bookcase. It’s that huge. No one—not even attorneys—know all the laws. The legislators sure as hell don’t. But they just love to write bills and pass them into law on an unsuspecting and largely clueless public. A number of those laws touch upon basic human rights—that is, depriving the citizens of Texas of them. Did you know right this minute that the Texas legislature is trying to sneak into law an initiative that would make it perfectly legitimate for someone walking into an emergency room or clinic to be held against their will if they refused medical treatment? I’m aghast!

It is ghastly! It’s not just Texas, it’s the whole country. My father-in-law lives in Austin. My husband lives in Alaska for the relative freedom, but we chafe at the increasing loss of liberty even here. Where does that sort of thinking come from, do you think?

Essentially the “think” on the measure goes like this:

  1. you need medical treatment,
  2. you’re refusing it, therefore
  3. you’re crazy and are therefore a danger to yourself, ergo,
  4. we’re going to hold you for psychiatric observation, leading to
  5. court mandated injections or pills.

I mean, yuck! If that happens, you won’t see people who need actual medical help going to emergency rooms to get it out of sheer terror, and consequently, you will see people dying because of it. That’s just ONE bill out of all the idiotic measures that have been put forth just this session! Okay, so yes, I’m passionate on this subject. Like Mark Twain famously said, “Suppose you are an idiot. Now, suppose you are a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.” Hey, you asked.

Sunrise in a thick deep dark forest with fog in autumn

Sunrise in a thick deep dark forest with fog in autumn

What is something you cannot live without?

I don’t know. I never really thought about that. I do have a weakness for good tobacco, mainly pipe tobacco. Oh, I know I could live without it. I would have to say the one thing that I would not be able to live without, absolutely, would be freedom. The freedom to come and go as I please, the freedom to say what’s on my mind; the freedom to write what I want to write and send it to whomever I want to. But I also can’t live without a future. I live almost exclusively in the future, but largely not at the expense of today. My entire life is geared toward the future. Oh, I enjoy taking walks in nature settings. I like going outside at night and looking up at the stars. All of that present time stuff. But then my thoughts turn inevitably to the horizon; what’s on the plate for tomorrow? What am I going to write later tonight? Will I get this current batch of projects finished? When will I learn to really write? Next year or the year after, where do I plan to spend my summer? My winter? Will Sallie and I travel to New York again, because I would like to spend another week there? Are we going to buy that house in Fort Davis? Future. Future future future. So I suppose that it’s the freedom to create the future that I can’t live without. I tell you, you don’t kill a man with bullets. You kill him by taking away his dreams, and dreams have everything to do with the future. There it is.

Alaska’s motto is “North to the Future” so we’re all about dreaming big. Speaking of which, I’m going to drop you in a remote Alaskan cabin for a month. It’s summer, so you don’t have to worry about freezing to death. I’m supplying the food and bug spray (northern necessity). What do you spend your time doing? What do you bring with you? If it includes books, what books?

george wier coddoI would spend my time looking at the land and the sky, smoking my pipe, then ducking back inside to continue writing. At night I would watch the Aurora Borealis (I’ve never seen it with my own eyes). So, I would need a box of blank paper (at least 5 to 10 reams), a lot of pens and pencils and a sharpener, and that’s about it. As far as books by other writers, I wouldn’t bring any. You start down that road, then there are about 500 books I would find “indispensable,” so it would be better to leave it all behind.

Talk about your books.

I’ve written several books that will never see the light of day. They’re buried in a trunk in my closet. I can’t bear to toss them, but I promise you, they’re terrible. I was learning to write, you see. Most people try to skip that step when they decide they’re going to be “a writer.” You have to learn to write, first. That is only done, forever and always, by actually writing. How do you write? There is only one way: One. Word. At. A. Time. So, I’ve written the words to several books while I was learning. Now that I sort of know how, I’ve penned some fairly popular works. First, there’s the Bill Travis mystery series: The Last Call, Capitol Offense, Longnecks and Twisted Hearts, The Devil to Pay, Death on the Pedernales, Slow Falling, Caddo Cold, Arrowmoon, After the Fire, and Ghost of the Karankawa. After that there’s Long Fall From Heaven (a collaboration with Milton T. Burton), two, so far in the Far Journey Chronicles (with Billy Kring) entitled 1889: Journey to the Moon and 1899: Journey to Mars. Both of those books are steampunk. Don’t ask me what steampunk is, because that takes more than five minutes to explain. Also I collaborated with Robert A. “Robbie” Taylor on The Vindicators: Book One—Last Defense, my first pure science fiction. I also recently collaborated with bestselling science fiction author T.R. Harris on Captains Malicious, the first book in the Liberation series. I’ve  recently released an anthology of short stories entitled ’14: A Texanthology. Most recently I released Murder In Elysium, yet another mystery. Words. A lot of them. And all written one word a time, I promise. Some people like my books. These are my friends, because they help me pay the bills that a bunch of demanding people I’ve never met keep sending me. I mean, how rude!

What are your publishing plans for the future?

george wier vindicatorsbookcoverI’m nearly done with Sentinel In Elysium, the prequel to Murder In Elysium. Look for that to come out shortly. Immediately on the heels of that I have another standalone mystery almost ready for publication entitled Errant Knight. It sounds like something from the Middle Ages, I know, but it’s not. All the action takes place in the present—right here in Austin, Texas, in fact. So don’t let either the title or the cover fool you. This May I’ll be cranking out a tribute work entitled Jet: Hunter, a Kindle Worlds homage to the inimitable Jet series by fellow author and friend, Russell Blake. In addition, Billy Kring and I have begun the third book in the Far Journeys Chronicles, 1904: Journey Into Time. It should be out in the early fall. To top all of that off, T.R. “Tom” Harris and I have already begun the next book in the sci-fi Liberation series, Captains Malevolent. Look for that one sometime this summer. Robert A. “Robbie” Taylor, yet another collaborator, and my best and oldest friend (we’re practically brothers) will be penning the sequel to The Vindicators—Last Defense, which is tentatively entitled Vindicators 2—Parsec. After all of that—and this has been a long time coming—I’ll finish up Boland’s War, the sequel to Long Fall From Heaven, which was released in 2013. The reason I have delayed writing that one is that I did not know whether I could. Long Fall was a collaboration with friend and fellow Texas author, the late Milton T. Burton. I miss him sore, so Boland’s War will be a final tribute to him. Bill Travis’s fans have also been giving me fits about the latest book in the series, therefore look for Bill Travis #11, Desperate Crimes, to be out in the late fall or winter. Hmm. After that I have three or four others in various stages of completion, including Cottonwood (a horror novel), The Footprinters (sci-fi), The Banishlands (sci-fi) and Pantheon (also sci-fi). It appears I am jumping genres with abandon here, but the truth is that I write only one genre, and that’s Wier. The big project on the horizon will be my magnum opus, planned for the future (I work on it when I’m not working on everything else) and it’s so huge in scope that I fear it will take over my life. The project is tentatively entitled Company C—Rebirth of the Rangers. It’s high science fiction and action adventure a la Star Wars, and it’s set a thousand years in the future after mankind has spread so far into the stars that the fabric of civilization rips at the seams and implodes into civil war. Long after the fall of man, a hero emerges from one of the last planets on the fringes of space to defend mankind from an invading alien species. This hero has to unite the bickering, misanthropic defenders into a fighter force on the order of the Texas Rangers. Their motto: “One planet, one Ranger.” So, as you can see, at least the next twelve months is pretty well mapped out for me and the stove appears to be pretty full. Truthfully, I don’t have enough burners. What was the question?

You are an extremely busy writer. That’s truly impressive! Anything else you would like to say.

Not really, except that I would like to communicate to my friends. You see, I don’t so much have “fans” as I have friends who read my books. So here goes: I love you folks, each and every one of you. Please keep corresponding with me. Your letters and notes are an inspiration to me, and it keeps me on my toes. I take it all to heart and I think with it more than you might realize. Don’t let up! Other than that, thank you, Lela. These were some good, tough questions. Good interview! Okay, that’s about it.

george wier sentinelWell, you give a good and entertaining interview, which makes it easier for me. Links, websites, cover art, author pic, etc.

Website: http://georgewier.com

WordPress Blog: https://georgewier.wordpress.com/

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/George-Wier/e/B004USCNYO/

My newest book, Sentinel In Elysium, should be out this coming Friday, or perhaps early the following week. Watch the News section of my website for details: www.georgewier.com.

Thanks for visiting, Lela Markham

One response to “Interview with George Wier

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  1. Reblogged this on Daermad Cycle.

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