Los Angeles author G.B. Pool’s new book The Johnny Casino Casebook 1 – Past Imperfect scheduled for July release is the beginning of a new series.
Pool is a master of the short story and has cleverly tied short stories together with recurring characters throughout the book. Johnny Casino is a retired P.I. with a past.
So, tell me about your new character. Sounds interesting.
Johnny Casino is a retired P.I. with a past. He just hopes it never catches up with him. He thought he buried all that twelve years ago, but when your father is the number three man in a New Jersey crime family and your mother is considered Mob royalty, life comes at you hard. He cashed in that existence for life as a private investigator in Southern California and would have stayed with it had fate not tossed him another bone in the form of cold, hard cash. But for Johnny, things can get complicated, like the two dead mobsters he has to explain. He meets some unforgettable characters along the way and gets himself in some incredible situations.
It sounds like this promises to be a must read. Tell me a little more.
I have three Johnny Casino books with different cases in each book that will come out over the next three years. Several characters make return engagements in all three books. It’s like a TV series written in book form.
The first: The Johnny Casino Casebook 1 – Past Imperfect has 10 cases, each story proving everybody has a past. The first book debuts in July 2012, sells for $14.95, from SPYGAME Press, and you can find chapter previews on my website. Get ready–Johnny Casino is coming, so be sure to watch for the release announcement.
Travel is always a “broadening” factor in a person’s life experiences, but how did it affect you as the daughter of a military professional?
Well, as the daughter of an Air Force professional, I traveled the world before I was in high school and always knew I wanted to be a writer. We were stationed in Illinois and in Tennessee, on Okinawa and in France where I went to a boarding school my last two years of high school. Moving every three years or so meant a lack of life-long friends, but it did make me self-reliant and it gave my imagination a workout since I had to entertain myself most of the time. I put on puppet shows, plays and even circuses using my dog as one of the acts. I also wrote all the plays.
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
As I grew older and teachers asked us to write down the three main things we wanted to be when we grew up. I put down writer, writer, writer. I never wanted to be anything else. I did have a few interesting jobs along the way. I took a year off between my sophomore and junior years in college and first worked on a small weekly newspaper in my neighborhood in Memphis, Tennessee. That didn’t last long. The editor and I didn’t see eye to eye.
You said leaving that job lead you to a creative but almost life-threatening short career working as a private detective. I’ll et that really got your imagination working.
Yes, my next job, and the one that lasted the remainder of the year, was as a private detective with the firm of Mark Lipman Services Inc. in Memphis. I went undercover in factories and businesses from Little Rock to Atlanta to Chicago. I played different roles in the places I worked since I was supposed to be a factory worker, but all those old movies I loved watching as a kid and the little plays I used to write just made my imagination work overtime to come up with those personas.
So tell me what happened when you found yourself facing real life danger.
I had one close call when I was in a small town in Kentucky. Some people I met took me on a picnic and while we were walking in this field one of the guys said something to the effect, “I wonder if he’s still there?” The person they were referring to was a revenuer who had been killed and stuffed down a well. Well…he was still there. I wrote up my daily report to my office and mailed it the following Monday. A few days later I got a call at work. My office would call and leave a message if something was up. If the message was: “somebody was sick,” that meant get to a phone and call in. If the message was: “somebody died,” that meant get out of town immediately. I got the “somebody died” call.
That’s enough to get anyone moving. You certainly didn’t want to be the “somebody who died.”
It took me a few hours to get packed, tell the guy who rented me a room over his furniture store that I was leaving, have the electricity and water turned off, disconnect the cable television—you know how it is for a woman. I finally got out of town, hit the highway, drove about fifty miles and then found a phone. I called my office and asked what was up. They told me they had called the Feds and told them someone who worked in this particular factory had discovered the dead Fed. Since I was the only new person, not only in the factory, but in this very small town, I would be the one who blew the whistle. Kentucky was a dry state at the time and most of these folks were fond of their moonshine. I would not have been a very popular person.
Was that the end of your career as a detective?
I had a few more cases before I resigned and went back to college, graduated and moved to California. I tried my hand at television scripts and had an agent who got my scripts into the Fantasy Island folks. The last storyline I wrote that they liked was sitting on the co-producer’s desk when Aaron Spelling said he wanted to close submissions and use only his core staff writers. Alas.
Some say it’s better to have tried and missed than not to have tried at all. I tend to agree with that, but it must have been very disappointing to have come so close. Did you stay with screenwriting?
I had a handful of jobs before I started working at a bank in their trust department handling stocks and bonds. I stayed long enough to meet and marry my husband, get tenure, and retire when my husband moved on to a better job at twice my salary. And he started out working for me!
But you didn’t give up on writing and went on to write Media Justice. A writer has to have faith in their work, and it paid off for you.
My first book, Media Justice, came out in 2004. The Kindle version came out in 2010. I have several short stories in print. The first one was in the Sisters in Crime/Los Angeles’s 2006 anthology, LAndmarked for Murder. I had recently joined SinC and ended up being on the board as Speakers Bureau Director for several years. I set up panels at libraries and other venues with both our regularly published authors as well as self-published ones. Libraries in the LA area loved our panels and asked us back. I did 80 events during my tenure.
And you did a great job. I know that as one of the authors who participated as a panel member. I always loved the flair you brought to the panel discussions you set up. Now you’ve moved on to teaching as well. How can one find your classes?
I teach writing classes, both through Sisters in Crime and through our local libraries. I love to teach new writers and encourage them to get those ideas down on paper or into their computers, because until you write something, you aren’t a writer.
To find out more about G.B. Pool visit her website: www.gbpool.com
The Spotlight feature appears every Tuesday in the Las Vegas edition and every Wednesday in the Los Angeles edition. Writers’ Tricks of the Trade appears on Thursday in Las Vegas and Friday in Los Angeles.
Morgan St. James is the author of over 300 published articles related to writing and the craft of writing, six novels, multiple short stories and edits the Writers’ Tricks of the Trade monthly E-Zine. February issue now available at http://writerstricksofthetrade.blogspot.com. For more information about Morgan visit www.morganstjames-author and www.silversistersmysteries.com.