No One Laughs at a Dead Clown: A Razz McNeil Mystery (Volume 1) is a mystery thriller set in a fictional Southern California coastal town. The story can be synopsized as follows:
When an amusement park clown is found strung to pilings under the San Margarita Pier, all hell breaks loose for aging surfer dude Razz McNeil, manager of the Surf’s Up Saloon. He’s first accused of murder by his former friend, Police Sergeant Gerard “Sharky” Sampson, and then he’s enlisted to help solve the crime. Out of his element, but addicted to the thrill, Razz treads in the wrong places and on the wrong toes. All the while, he tries desperately to convince his wife not to divorce him and to convince himself he still deserves her. But when his sleuthing leads him to penetrate the dubious business dealings of his new boss, alleged drug lord Louis Marcayda, Razz becomes desperate just to stay alive.
Can you tell us more about your main character?
Razz McNeil is flawed, but has potential, like most of us. He’s dealing with the physical and emotional issues of aging. He questions choices he’s made, and he’s often disappointed with the current state of his life. When you’re 18 or 20, your world seems limitless; as most people age, the world becomes smaller because of a job, wife, family, responsibilities. The risks involved with change are greater, and those risks may feel confining. Razz is a guy trying to navigate through his world trying to be a little better today than he was yesterday.
Tell us something about yourself.
I grew up in an athletic family with two older brothers and an older sister. Sports, especially basketball, were high on my agenda growing up. After graduating from Maine public schools, I attended Phillips Exeter Academy for a year before attending Brown. At Brown, I played varsity basketball, majored in mathematical economics, and generally worked hard, while enjoying the whole experience.
After school, I worked as an options trader and risk arbitrageur on Wall Street, before I stumbled onto acting and writing. From my former acting life, I might be known by video game fans as Gabriel Knight from The Beast Within. Since 2006, I’ve been an investment advisor, and I recently formed my own investment advisory firm.
Who are some of your influences as a writer?
One of my biggest influences has been Harvard Knowles. He was an English professor at Phillips Exeter. His teaching led me to a greater appreciation of literature and to the possibility of writing and creating, although it would be many years before I began a project of my own.
What do you believe is the hardest part of writing?
The hardest part is the “great unknown” of going from a blank page one to a finished project. My second novel should be less intimidating, because I worked through many difficult character and story points during the first. There are always opportunities to back away from the effort required to finish something and finish it well. 150,000 words is meaningless; 150,000 words strung together in a meaningful through line with interesting characters, situations, and conflicts that can bring pleasure to a reader is tough. And you have to stop yourself from worrying whether anyone will agree that you’ve done that.
Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?
I’m working on an outline as time permits. I love these characters, so I believe there will be a second novel. It will take place after the first story ends and will involved Razz McNeil getting involved in another deadly situation for which he is unprepared.
What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?
If it isn’t fun, stick with your day job (which may not be fun either, but it likely pays more). Whatever your art, perseverance is a key to bringing forth your talent. I sometimes refer to writing my first novel as a labor of stubbornness, but it was a labor of love, too.
Where can readers learn more about you and your book?
For anyone interested in self-publishing, they might benefit from a short article I wrote for www.bionicpublishing.com. It may save people some time and trouble.