It’s with great pleasure that I get to blog about the newest release from Author R.S. Guthrie: “Honor Land,” a hard-boiled mystery and Book #3 in his James Pruett Mystery Series.
If you’ve read any of my interviews and/or reviews of the first two books in that series, Blood Land and Money Land, you’ll know I’m a big fan of Guthrie’s writing and this book did not disappoint. It not only matched the enthusiasm I get when reading his work but the heart he put into Honor Land also deepened my well of respect for him as an author and as a person. His descriptive writing sets you right in the book’s pages, living amongst the characters in the beauty and majesty of Wyoming.
“HONOR LAND” opens by thrusting you right in the midst of a murder mystery. And, as in true R. S. Guthrie form, he begins adding the layers to the story from there. It isn’t long before you find yourself immersed in the history and culture of the west, where the author merges the past and present in brilliant fashion; all while weaving around you the lives of the characters so well, you feel you’ve known them their whole life. One of this author’s natural abilities is to let you pick up this third book in the series and, if you haven’t read either of the preceding novels, allows you to be able to read the story without feeling as if you’re missing part of it or that you’ve been left out, but rather excited you get to go back and read more of the characters….because the characters are not superficial. They have depth and humanity that only a life’s history told in part in each book can create. I don’t want to give any spoilers, it’s not my style, but I do want to touch on the basis behind “Honor Land”, and that being that it’s closely related to those that place their lives on the line every.single.day in the line of duty to their country, our country. R.S. Guthrie, in “Honor Land”, shows you what it takes to become a part of the Delta force and to live and think as one of these proud soldiers. If you think it’ll be like anything we’ve seen in the movies, it’s not – this is as real as it gets. I live in a military community and have a deep appreciation for what they do for us but I have to say, “Honor Land” made that appreciation even stronger. When you turn the last page, and recount the story from beginning to end, you can’t help but feel the plethora of love the pages told – for our servicemembers, for family, for loyalty, and for justice – a story you lived through and that is now a part of you. I am very much looking forward to the next sequel. That is my only regret – that the next one isn’t right on the horizon for me to continue. That’s what R.S. Guthrie’s books do to me, I never want them to end.
I asked Rob Guthrie to answer some questions to give me, and you, his readers, a greater insight into how “Honor Land” came about, and where R.S. Guthrie goes from here. So, without further ado, I turn the interview over to R.S. Guthrie.
What inspired “Honor Land”?
I never joined the military, but I have always had the utmost respect for the men and women who serve their countries (as well as firemen, cops, Emergency Medical first-responders, etc.). I ended up late in my “other career,” working for a Lt Col in the Air Force (who was later promoted to full-bird Colonel and invited my wife and I to attend with his friends and family); a (then Captain, now) Major, and a Captain who, when at the AF Academy, was awarded by the President for being the number one of all cadets in the country, AF, Westpoint, and the Naval Academy.
Believe me, I would then and now (and forever) follow any one of them into battle; just throw me a weapon and I will fight right beside them. Great men. Honorable, loving family men. But they know what it takes to defend freedom. Being in that environment—-seeing what is really going on out in the world—I got to see a perspective that most don’t. No, we don’t always do it for the right reasons or the right places—a person would be foolish to think politics don’t play into it—but not for the men I talked about above (ergo other men and women, either, past and present).
I also read a book a couple years back, written by an actual ex-Delta team member (Inside Delta Force, by Eric Haney), that was all about the incredible process of making the cut AND what they really do (almost like clandestine operatives, they are the only element of the military who have long hair, beards, and do not dress in uniform unless part of a military action—almost more, at times, like spies or undercover agents than soldiers, which I did not know and thought was pretty amazing, given the training they’ve endured and survived). Delta’s actual commission is the war on terrorism. So I imagined this “all-American”, smart, athletic/academic-scholarships-galore, who only wanted one thing: to serve his country and to do it as a member of Delta.
THEN, what happens when he comes home? Because too many brave men and women are not getting the treatment they need and that our country owes them (ten times over), and I wondered what if this once all-American kid, from smalltown U.S.A. and Special Forces, was accused of multiple murders.
I know you have previously worked with service members; did you confer with them in doing any research for “Honor Land”?
I did, when I first came up with the idea. The last guy I mentioned above (and by the way, their names are not secret; I dedicated the book to them)—top academy cadet? He went “Blue-to-Green”—Air Force-to-Army—because he wanted to join Special Forces. Unfortunately, after making the cut through paratrooper school and some other tough qualifiers, he was injured in one of the training exercises, severely enough (like a football player) that he could not “play again” (i.e. continue Special Forces training). Big bummer. God blessed them, however, with a first child, then TWINS—or maybe it’s the other way around—but things happen for a reason I guess.
Also, I happen to know some guys who are in Special Forces units whose names I cannot share, of whom I also asked many questions–mostly about tempo, actual firefights, etc. The book is more introspective than soldier action, but I wanted—even if I was talking about the head of a man—to have as good an idea as possible of what he’s probably been through, both in training and in combat. Because it does change EVERY person, one way or another. It has to. And that’s what the book’s core theme is meant to be (and I hope people get it): these people are heroes, who protect YOUR right to spit on them, if you want; burn your own country’s flag; whatever. And they all know that. Yet they step up anyway. And that is why we can continue to live in the “Land of the Free”.
The climactic ending really grabbed and pulled the heart strings. Do you do anything special to get in the mood to write emotional scenes?
Not really. As you know, I establish a beginning point and a pretty good idea of where it will end (and what the core theme is all about) and I write the book as it comes to me, pulling most of it from my own heart, soul, experiences of pain, etc. Our two-month old son died of SIDS. Losing a child, as a parent, there’s not a lot of emotional pain or baggage that tops that. I pull from there when I need an emotional scene or to attempt to make the reader care.
What’s next for R.S. Guthrie?
Book #4 of the James Pruett Mystery/Thriller series, as yet Untitled. This one is going to take off where the Epilogue of Honor Land “left off”, and that’s all I am going say except that it is going to be the most character and action-packed yet! I am so excited about it. I already have the first 20-30% written in my head.
You’ve recently ventured into the audiobook market, tell us a little bit on how your experience has been with that.
So far, GREAT. I used to listen to audiobooks all the time on my commutes. At some point I got away from it, and in now listening to my own book being narrated back to me (and my wife, too) I am COMPLETELY sucked back into it—I swear, some of it is so goosebumps-raising and emotional that I keep thinking “I actually wrote that?” I know I shouldn’t probably admit that but DANG, audiobooks are a whole other experience.
The sales have been great for Blood Land (the only one as I write this that is live and available; but Money Land goes live any day now, and Honor Land, although it’s days from digital ereader release, is already being produced in the studio)!
Do you have a target date for the next Sheriff Pruett mystery?
Sounds crazy, but I am really shooting for February/March. As I mentioned, I already have 30% of it written in my head. And it is going to be so much fun (action, great characters—old and new) that I know it’s just going to fly off the fingertips. THOSE are the ones that are the best and most fun to write!
If your keyboard could talk, what would it say to you? And, what would your response be?
SLOW DOWN! Stop for a rest once in awhile, would you??? Damn, my back hurts.
What book are you reading now or, do you want to read?
Cormac McCarthy’s Child of God. Wow that guy can WRITE. And he never uses dialogue quotations. But it doesn’t matter. When I read The Road and No Country for Old Men, I knew I’d found a GEM (not that he’s unknown; just right up my alley)! I also just finished Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. Alexie (The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven) is a (now) middle-aged Native American, about my age, I think, who grew up on the reservation (not that there’s only ONE; that’s what Indians call any rez)—and I have a special pass to both speak about the rez and call/write about “Indians” and be un-PC because I grew up having a significant number of Indian friends, and played The Wyoming Indian High School in football and basketball (the CHIEFS won State in basketball every year I was in high school, I think—we were the only team, my junior year, who did not lose by double-digits to them; I think we lost by 8 or 9 points). I’ve attached a pic of me playing them in football to prove it—-an EXCLUSIVE for your blog; it’s never before been on the Internet, I don’t believe.
Anyway, Alexie is great. One of the best writers, and it’s mostly because he is self and rez-deprecating, while never letting you forget the ATROCITIES we committed against a people who were here FIRST.
The setting: Sheriff Pruett is sitting at the table in the Wooden Boot in downtown Wind River shooting the shit and talking strategy with Ty McIntyre, Malcolm Whitefeather, and Red Horse Baptiste.
The conflict: The annual “Paint Balls-to-the-Walls War” event is right around the corner and being hosted this year in Wind River. It brings together a team of four, consisting of the Sheriff and at least one deputy, with a team from each of the five neighboring Wyoming towns. Only rule, you get hit with a paint ball, you’re out. Other than that, no holds bar.
Resolution: Who will be the last man standing and how did he get there?
Pruett would be the last man legally (by the rules) standing, because he was a great soldier, and he’s the most seasoned, ruthless, and cunning all combined. TY would never stay down; he would not stop just because a paintball hit him. He’d scream “I’m a F*^&^% BULL-RIDER; ain’t goin’ to quit ’cause some pansy-ass from Chugwater hit me with a paint-filled piece a plastic.”
One of the previous questions was what was next for R.S. Guthrie. This one asks: What’s beyond for R.S. Guthrie?
I had to go with eleven questions since it’s one of my lucky numbers…how does one sign up for your newsletter and what are the benefits?
If you click on the following link, it will ask for only your email (which of course I would NEVER sell, give away, etc.) and it puts you on my newsletter (which ONLY goes out when there’s a new book, or a cool contest, or a giveaway—or all three!) AND it then takes you to a page where you can currently download a free copy of Book Two, Money Land, free, for Kindle, Nook, etc. http://bit.ly/rsguthrie
Thanks goes to R.S. Guthrie for taking the time from his busy schedule to appear and answer the questions. Please follow any of the highlighted links below to purchase your copy of Honor Land available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords.