Sunday, July 5, 2015

PUYB Virtual Book Club Chats with Stephen Wilson, author of 'The White River Kiler'





Stephen Wilson is an American author. His first book was Harvey Couch - An Entrepreneur Brings Electricy to Arkansas, published in 1986 by August House publishers. He also has won awards for his screenplays which have been presented by the Writer's Workshop program at the American Film Institute. His latest work, The White River Killer was developed as part of the Summer Words program at the Aspen Institute.

In addition to writing, he is a marketing and advertising professional.

His latest book is the mystery novel, The White River Killer.

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About the Book:



John Riley Hubbard is a young farmer and part-time reporter in a small southern town. After the body of an Arab college student is found near his home, Hubbard reluctantly agrees to cover the grisly story for the local paper. When he discovers there is a surprising link from this crime to his father’s unsolved murder, he becomes obsessed with uncovering the killer’s identity. Since he was a child, Hubbard has been haunted by nightmares and suspicions that his father’s killer may be the man closest to him – his wealthy uncle.

As his investigation progresses, he must face mounting threats from an unseen adversary and managed his growing attraction to Maria, a young Latino woman who might be part of the conspiracy.

The White River Killer is an exciting mixture of mystery, romance, and suspense.

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Thanks for joining us at the book club today, Stephen.  Can you tell us how you got started writing mysteries?

Well, this is my first mystery. I think my inspiration for writing this book came from reading “Snow Falling on Cedars”. It’s not a classic mystery in the way that we usually view them, but at its core a very troubled man begins to investigate a murder that everyone thinks is an open and shut case. The stakes are highly personal for him, the love of his life, the girl who still haunts his dreams is married to the accused killer. When he finds the evidence that will exonerate her husband he fights the temptation to remain silent and have a second chance at having her once her husband is convicted and executed.

I was influenced by that deeply personal dilemma and provided something similar for my protagonist – John Hubbard. As he reluctantly investigates the murder of a college student, he begins to find evidence that implicates his uncle. Years previously, Hubbard’s father was murdered and the killer was never caught. There were rumors at the time that his uncle may have been involved – rumors that Hubbard has ignored. But now, he realizes that if his uncle is capable of one murder, he would be capable of two. He becomes driven to solve the case and find the truth. But if his uncle is guilty, will he honor his childhood pledge to avenge his father’s death? The two murders become entwined and the young farmer finds that the old doubts and nightmares from his childhood have returned.

How much fun was it to write The White River Killer?

It was a challenge. At first it was way too long. I had to find ways to simplify the story and retain the basic elements of a mystery while weaving in the story of his traumatic childhood and the aftermath of his father’s murder.

It’s not all drama and misery. I have a natural bent for dry humor and it is found in the dialogue of many of the small town characters who populate the community.

Can you tell us a little about John Riley Hubbard?

Hubbard is a farmer who holds a couple of part-time jobs to help support his struggling farm. He also has a ten-year-old daughter who has just returned to live with him. He is a recovering alcoholic who is two years sober. As his investigation progresses, unseen adversaries begin to threaten his life unless he drops his investigation and the struggle to avoid the bottle and be the father his little girl deserves constantly pulls at his resolve.

Can you tell us a little about the supporting characters?

There are a whole range of small town characters that I hope seem real because they are. I lived in a small farming community and pulled them from there, disguised them, and made them the townspeople of my book.

They say all books of fiction have at least one pivotal point where the reader just can’t put the book down.  What’s one of your pivotal points?

When he first realizes that his uncle might be involved and the rumors of his uncle’s involvement in his father’s murder may be true. Before he stopped drinking, he had a reputation as a brawler. It seemed he never could stop defending his uncle, because according to the rumors the killing was caused by an illicit affair between his mother and uncle. His uncle has to innocent for his mother to be innocent as well.

Can you see this becoming a movie?

You bet. It’s a highly visual story and its potential as a movie is one of the most frequent comments I hear.

What’s next for you, Stephen?  More mysteries?

I have an idea about two teenagers whose brilliant uncle is working on a top secret project for the military – time travel. One of the boys secretly uses the portal to go back in time. His brother is the only one who can bring him back because he is the one who knows how. To return to their own time, they must change the course of history. Not an easy task for two teenagers stuck in Tennessee in 1879.


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