I’m Garry Rodgers, a retired homicide detective and forensic coroner, now bestselling author.
I write a combination of crime novels, true crime books, and instructional guides as well as blogging regularly on my own website, www.DyingWords.net, and over at the Huffington Post. I’ve lived the life I write about—having over three decades of actual experience investigating real murders and attending to countless autopsies. Outside of the crime writing world, I live on Vancouver Island on Canada’s west coast and I’m also certified marine captain. I’d describe my style as no-bullshit, tell-it-like-it-is writing.
What has been your greatest struggle as a writer?
For sure it’s been learning how to write fiction. I’ve always been a reasonably good technical writer. You know—prosecution reports, search warrant and wiretap affidavits, legal judgements, and technical articles. But when I started my first novel, I quickly realized I knew dick-all about the craft of fiction so I had to start over and go back to school. I guess I paid attention in class because my debut novel No Witnesses To Nothing went to #5 on Amazon and I was sandwiched between Stephen King and Dean Koontz. It’s a ghost story—a true ghost story.
Why do you write?
I love writing. It’s the expression and creation of making something lasting from ideas. I’m sixty this year so it’s not really for the money anymore. It’s for the fulfillment of purpose. Life’s been very good to me and now it’s time to give back. I hope some folks will enjoy what I have to say and maybe even learn something from it.
What is the inspiration for your stories?
Two things. Most are from my life experience. I’ll never, ever, run out of stories or characters. Second, I’m a voracious reader and constantly pick up new material on the net and in bookstores.
Describe a typical writing day
I’m an early starter and late finisher. Most days, I’m in front of the computer at 4 am—never later than 5. I check emails, get some Facebook laughs, take the dog for a stroll, and drink a couple pots of coffee. Then I do whatever needs to be done with an internet connection. Reply to emails, upload & download stuff, work on my website, catch webinars, and do research on whatever project is on the go. That takes me till about 10–11 a.m., then I pack-up and go to a nearby university library where I try to blend-in and write. I find the university setting inspiring as I’m around vigorous young people and tens of thousands of books. I’m also not distracted by the internet because I need a student number to get wi-fi and, up there, I’m nothing but a free-loading old codger. So I get home around 3–4 p.m. and go back on the net till about 6. I make dinner and pretty much pull a Hemmingway till 10 and it’s lights-out. The next day I do it all over again.
Writers these days need to wear many hats, how have you gone about promoting and marketing your books?
This is my first year of full-time writing and I’m much more concerned right now with creating saleable product than promoting it. I’m not a big social media guy and I only do Facebook and Twitter. What I really believe in is the magic of discoverability through search engines and the strength of a personal email list. So my focus is on building my list and working Google and Amazon SEO. My blog at DyingWords.net is the anchor to my SEO plan. It recently got picked up by the Huffington Post. Since I started regularly contributing to the Huff, my website traffic and email list has doubled. The exposure on the Huff is massive. One of my posts got 100K views and it doesn’t hurt that my Huff blogger profile is linked to my Amazon page. I’m allowed to advertise two of my books right in my HP byline. Like, you just can’t buy this type of exposure.
What are you reading right now?
I’m just finishing John Fogerty’s Fortunate Son. I’ve always been a big Creedence / Fogerty fan but I have to say I’m disappointed in the book. It’s poorly written, disjointed, and takes cheap shots at the military. I’ve always known Fogerty is a pacifist but he comes across as a coward.
Who have been the biggest influences of your writing?
Napoleon Hill—not just in writing, but in life. I’m not at all religious in the mainstream, dogmatic sense but what Hill sets out in Think And Grow Rich and other teachings is pure truth. I also admire Joseph Wambaugh, Frederick Forsyth, Ken Follett, PD James, Elmore Leonard, and I think Stephen King is a fricken genius. I guess I’m showing my age.
What is your advice for writers just starting out?
Write 2K and read 6K per day. Every day. You’re never going to improve your craft without intake and output on a consistent basis. There’s no way to succeed without making the personal commitment to becoming a competent writer. You really need to have a proper working knowledge of the English language. They say you need to know the rules so when you break them, you do so intentionally.
Do you have any resources that you think aspiring writers should check out?
I highly recommend Elements of Style by Strunk & White, On Writing by Stephen King, Wired For Story by Lisa Cron, The Little Red Writing Book and The Little Gold Grammar by Brandon Royal, The Complete Write A Novel Course by Will Buckingham, and can I mention Think And Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill? I also have a page many other resources on my website. Here’s the link: DyingWords Writing Resources
What’s next for you?
I’m just about to release a new novel titled No Life Until Death. It’s on the black-market world of human organ trafficking and is set in Canada, California, and The Philippines. I’m also working on a series of crime fiction writing guides as well as the next novel No God Without Gold which is about a religious cult. And I’ve got a completed manuscript on the JFK Assassination which takes a simple look at the case’s forensic and factual evidence. Sorry, conspiracy theorists. Nothing for you to see in here.
I’ve also just published the first of my crime-fiction writing guides How To Write Deadly Crime Thrillers — A No BS Guide With 101 Killer Tips. It’s up on Amazon for $2.99, but people can get it as a free pdf download on my website.
Are you writing your first of many crime thrillers? Are you a seasoned vet wanting to improve your crime thriller writing skills? Or are you just looking for useful and down-to-earth tips on how to write deadly crime fiction?
Regardless of your stage in writing crime thrillers, retired homicide detective and forensic coroner—now bestselling crime writer, Garry Rodgers, tells you how How To Write Deadly Crime Thrillers and gives you a No BS Guide with 101 Killer Tips.
This informative guide is one of the few books on crime thriller writing that clearly tells you what it takes to write a Bestselling Crime Thriller that will climb to the top of the charts and stay there.
How To Write Deadly Crime Thrillers is laid out in eight, easy to understand sections covering the main points on the craft of crime thriller writing.