Monday, December 13, 2010

Interview with Mike Nettleton

Mike Nettleton is a Co-author of Mystery & Young Adult Fantasy.His newest work Sometimes A Great Commotion is available from Krill Press.

Here’s a brief Bio: Mike Nettleton grew up in Bandon and Grants Pass, Oregon.A stint at a college station in Ashland led to a multi-state radio odyssey with on-air gigs in Oregon, California, and New Mexico under the air name Mike Phillips.In 1989 he returned to the Northwest and in 1994 joined KEX Radio in Portland.He’ll retire in December after 42 year’s in radio. His hobbies are golf, pool, Texas hold-em poker, and book collecting.

Carolyn and Mike have authored a number of mysteries.Surf to for more information.

What is the name of your latest book? And how did you come up with the title?

Sometimes a Great Commotion is the second in our Devil’s Harbor mystery series. We actually had different titles for the books but our publisher Ken Lewis, thought they didn’t say much about the books. As I recalled his exact words were ooooh ick! He likes catchy titles that remind people of something they’re already familiar with. He came up with The Big Grabowski, the title of the first book. Carolyn and I decided that since our book dealt (in part) with a controversy over logging of old growth trees we’d borrow from another, more serious book about logging, Ken Kesey’s Sometimes a Great Notion.

What is Sometimes a Great Commotion about?

One of the conventions of cozy type mystery novels set in small towns is the premise that everyone has secrets. So, much of the plot revolves around who could have committed a murder to cover up those secrets. In Commotion, things are set in motion when Elspeth Hunsaker, the local holier-than-thou roller orders the crab cake special at the Devil’s Food Cafe and sees what she believes to be a holy image grill-scorched onto the surface of the crustacean pancake. She begins spreading the word through the internet and soon hundreds of pilgrims arrive to see the miracle for themselves. The influx of people taxes the city water system and Mayor Henri Trevelle must mandate water rationing and has portable toilets installed on every corner. To pay for repairs to the citiy’s aging waste water plant, the mayor decides the town must harvest and sell a stand of timber. This brings in environmental protesters, led by a particularly fervid and opportunistic tree sitter named Forest Echo. When someone cuts a tree out from under him and he’s found dead beneath it, the mystery is joined. Dozens of people had motives to kill him but only one protected a secret important enough to have actually done the deed.

What books have most influenced your life most?

In terms of writing humorously, Carl Hiaasen has been a huge influence. His larger-than-life sometimes over-the-top characters have always made me laugh and turn pages. Kurt Vonnegut is another writer whose wry sense of humor changed my way of looking at life. Cat’s Cradle and Slaughterhouse Five were eye-opening.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor? In terms of style?

I don’t really have a good answer. A bookworm since childhood, I’ve read so many books, I’m sure I snitched bits and pieces from many of them. Early on, I greatly admired Ray Bradbury and his book Zen in the Art of Writing was the first thing I read that made me think about the writing process.

What are your current projects?

I’m reworking a hard-boiled mystery called Shotgun Start that features a disgraced ex-cop who’s making a living as a golf hustler, extracting his rent money from rich suckers on the golf courses of Albuquerque, New Mexico. I had the book with an agent a number of years back and she wasn’t able to sell it. I’m trying to tighten it up, make it move faster. Then I’ll begin the marketing process again.

Also, I have a sequel in mind for The Hermit of Humbug Mountain. I’ve always loved the book (the story came from the memory of getting lost in the woods on the real-life Humbug Mountain on the southern Oregon coast), and I’d like to take the characters to the next place in their lives.

That book, by the way is available as a Kindle download at a reduced price through the month of December. If you’ve got one of those great new readers, check it out through Or, if you’re old school it’s available as a book book too.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

My biggest issue is that I have the attention span of a hummingbird combined with the curiosity of a six-month old puppy. Carolyn has a buzz phrase she uses to describe it: “ooh bright shiny thing.” I’m easily distracted. My major challenge is to latch onto something and finish it and not get sidetracked in the process. I’ve written so many first chapters in my life, there’s some talk that I ought to try to release those as a book. Working title: Beginnings Without End.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Don’t forget writing should be fun. Write fast and forget about rules when you’re trying to finish a first draft. We all try to hone our craft and learn tricks-of-the-trade that make our writing smoother, more compelling, and more marketable. But if you let the little critic-guy intrude on your writing process during the first pass, you may find yourself frustrated, angry, and convinced that it’s not worth it.


  1. Speaking of challenges, right now I'm challenging Mike to leave the breakfast table and get to his computer so he'll be here if anyone has any questions.

  2. I've finished washing the last Cheerio off my t-shirt and I'm around. We've got to walk the mutt-oids and then I should be in the neighborhood most of the day. Would love to hear from some people.

  3. Just finished raking leaves in our front yard. Three huge gum trees that are beautiful in season and a pain in the rear this time of year. Wanted to pop back in and thank Bobbye for having me on her blog.

  4. Burns and Allen had nothing on you two. :)

    But seriously . . .

    You have such a wonderful cadre of characters in the Devil Harbor books. What do you think is a "good number" of sidekick/supporting characters?

  5. There will be more comments to come, Mike.

  6. I love cozy mysteries with a touch of humor, so yours sound perfect. I wonder if you have difficulty working together as opposed to each writing his or her own book?