Virtual Blog

Thanks for tuning in. The following is my part of the Virtual Blog Hop, that has been skipping across the web for the past several months. I’m pretty bad about neglecting this blog page, and this little exercise forces me to keep it active. I’ll try to do better, but this exercise with its pre-designated questions will give you an idea about my next project.

1: What is the working title of your book(s)? The Red River Mystery, is The Right Side of Wrong. I can write the books, but can’t usually come up with appropriate titles. One night while I was brainstorming with the family, everyone started to compete for titles. My wife, Shana, had the winning entry for Book III.

2: Where did the idea come from for the book? The Right Side of Wrong picks up where Burrows left off, catching up with the Parker family in the spring of 1966. I wrote The Rock Hole, book one, to recapture a fading past. The rural communities of my youth are disappearing, along with the way of life these folks lived, their morals, and especially, their speech patterns. I wanted to preserve the memories I have of those more innocent days, so novel took place at that time, based on a statement my maternal grandfather said on a number of occasions. “Some people just need killing.” The last time he said that came after a conversation we had not long before he died, in which I asked him about a case he’d worked on when I was a kid.

Burrows came about when my editors at Poisoned Pen Press said The Rock Hole wasn’t a stand-alone novel. They wanted a series, and had me completely re-write the ending, because I killed everyone off in the original manuscript. It was obvious the second book had to pick up immediately after the first, and they’ll progress through the years. I’ve seen that progression work, especially with books by C.J. Box. I wanted to see how the kids would deal with the incidents they suffered, and the first third of the Burrows follows the family’s struggles to return to normalcy.

A third of the way through the manuscript, I found my characters moving toward an abandoned funeral home that was packed with refuse. That’s when I remembered an unpublished short story I’d written back in the early 1980s. I located it on an ancient floppy disk, dusted it off, and slipped it into the computer. At first I was appalled at the style and quality of writing, but I realized the story about hoarding now tapped into the current Zeitgeist. The second part of Burrows deals with the horrors of mental illness, and that was based on a newspaper story I’d read a decade earlier about the Collyer Brothers in New York City who died in their family brownstone that was packed with garbage…again, hoarding.

Then, with upcoming The Right Side of Wrong, I brought to life a novel based on my original characters, and again, a magazine article about a used-car salesman that crossed into Mexico back in the 1970s to rescue his friend from a Mexican jail. I remembered the story incorrectly, but the bones were there. Here’s an interesting sidebar. Just last weekend, I was having supper with my good friend Jan Reid, well-known Texas author and contributing editor for Texas Monthly. Over beers, he, my wife Shana, and I meandered through a trail of stories and story ideas until he asked about the origins of The Right Side of Wrong. I told Jan the story as I remembered it, and how I’d been searching for years for the article to refresh my memory. He laughed, and said he’d written it, back in the late 1970s. Talk about a small world! Jan told the story, not how I’d remembered over the course of 35 years, and said it wasn’t as exciting, or bloody, as The Right Side of Wrong. This is really a small and interesting world. But the exciting part is the nucleus of the book is about normal people doing abnormal things.

I love it.

3: What genre does your book come under? Interestingly, The Rock Hole was pure historical mystery, Burrows was a historical mystery thriller, and The Right Side of Wrong is mostly a historical thriller with a light seasoning of mystery.

4: Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? I was asked that question by the folks at The Campaign for the American Reader when The Rock Hole came out. The main characters are still the same in The Right Side of Wrong. The only thing I might change is the lead character for Ned Parker. I think Robert Duval is perfect for the role. The late Michael Clarke Dugan would have made a perfect John Washington, and I’m sorry for his loss.

The ten-year-old boy and girl cousins, Top and Pepper, are wide open to interpretation. The kids in my book trailer for The Rock Hole were local children who did a great job. They should be played by up and coming youngsters who can shoulder the characteristics of sickly, but adventurous Top, and precocious, foul-mouthed Pepper.

Colin Egglesfield, cold be a good Cody, the half-Choctaw Vietnam veteran who has just returned home. His chiseled features already tell the story of a man who is tormented by what he saw in the jungles just before the war truly exploded for the American people.

My youngest daughter votes for comedian Ron White to take the role of the old East Texas judge O.C. Rains. He has the hair, and the Texas accent necessary to invoke the soft-hearted curmudgeon very easily.

Tantoo Cardinal is the perfect Miss Becky, wife of constable Ned Parker. She is of mixed Native American and European descent and true to the nature of the book. She has a wonderfully careworn face that will haunt the audience and show the true spirit of a full blood Choctaw farm wife who wants nothing more than to keep her family safe, and to serve her savior.

 For details, you can find the entire discussion here at

 5: What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? In the spring of 1966, Constable Ned Parker is trying to connect a string of seemingly unrelated murders in the small community of Center Springs, Texas, when his nephew Cody Parker tracks their main suspect into Mexico and Ned realizes he’ll have to cross over to the Right Side of Wrong to save him.

 6: Is your book self-published, published by an independent publisher, or represented by an agency? The Red River mystery series is published by Poisoned Pen Press, one of the most well-respect mystery publishers i7: How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? n the country.

This book developed quickly, beginning in December of 2011. I finished the draft in March, after writing 10,000 words in one day during a marathon dash toward the finish line. I haven’t matched that output since then, but let me remind you, that was10,000 unpolished words that were the framework of the novel. There has been extensive rewriting since then. I’m not Mickey Spillane. They said he wrote straight through without rewrites. Not me, brother, they call me the Rewrite Kid (not really, but it works there).

 8: What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? My books have been compared to To Kill A Mockingbird, which is one of my favorite novels. It has also been compared to the works of Joe Lansdale, specifically The Edge of Dark Water. I think the readers of C. J. Box’s Joe Pickett novels will like them as well.

 9: Who or what inspired you to write this book? As I said, this one came about as the next installment in the series, and was inspired by a magazine article. All the books in this series come from stories that continue to rattle around in my head. The original inspiration was based on something my grandmother used to say. “We’re from up on the river.” I used that sentence to break me loose one night while I was on deadline. My high school English teacher used to tell us that in order to get started on an assigned paper was to “just put a few word on the paper and more will come.” She was right.

10: What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? The Right Side of Wrong is a story of the end of Camelot. Times were changing in the early part of the late 1960s, from how people lived their lives, to politics, civil rights, the beginnings of the Free Love and hippie movement, and the appearance of drugs (marijuana) as moonshine began to lose its appeal. In these pages, you’ll find three different generations trying to find their way through the back end of the 1960s as rock and roll music plays on in the background and a mysterious old man (one of my favorite characters I’ve ever created) watches from the shadows and shapes their future.

 (That is not a good sentence, but I’m under deadline and don’t have time to rewrite it, so I guess I’ll have to give up on The Rewrite Kid.)

It is also a tale of good people trying to do what’s right, even though some people might say their efforts are wrong, and it shows that no matter what language some folks speak, or the color of their skin, we are all the same at heart.

Thanks to all of you who have read The Rock Hole and Burrows, and for taking a chance on a new writer. There are thousands of books published every month, and it is an honor to be chosen by you. Let me know what you think of The Right Side of Wrong when it is released this July, 2013. I’m working on book four right now, and there is a surprise in the future for fans of my work.

Thanks for author Sandra Brannan at for tagging me for this post. Two other authors are right behind me, Charlotte Dixon Rains at He blog will post next Wednesday, January 30, and Annette Dashofy at will post on her blog on Wednesday, February, 6. Check them out. You’ll like what they produce. And as usual I want to thank my good friend John Gilstrap, who shook his head a year ago and with a sad look, took me under his wing and said, “Do it this way.” You were right, John, and still are. I owe you another scotch.

From Frisco, Texas, thanks, and I hope to see you soon.

About reaviszwortham

Reavis Z. Wortham is the author of The Red River Mysteries from Poisoned Pen Press, and the Sonny Hawke thrillers from Kensington Publishing. Book 7 in the Red River series, Gold Dust releases September 4, 2018. Book 2 in the Hawke series, Hawke's War, releases May 29, 2018. The Humor Editor for Texas Fish and Game magazine, he's also a columnist for a number of newspapers and is a frequent contributor for magazines. For more fun, visit his web page at for photos, appearances, reviews, and a little look back into history with a glossary of east Texas words used in both books. Happy Perusing.
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3 Responses to Virtual Blog

  1. Hi Reavis – enjoyed the blog and info about the background behind your books and writing. Okay, I really am going to get that first book now!

    • Laura-great to hear from an old classmate, but forget that old part. Thanks for reading the blog, and for ordering the book. I look forward to hearing back from you with an opinion/review. Hope to see you soon.!

  2. Love reading about the background of your books and you know I heartily approve of the name you gave the judge. Thanks for tagging me–I look forward to answering these questions myself.

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