Jerold A Last has joined me for a bit of Rambling On…
Pay careful attention. He is a man of mature years, a scientist and forward thinker. Jerold’s first book was published in 1971 Protein Biosynthesis in Bacterial Systems (Methods in molecular biology). Now if that doesn’t grab your attention, try saying it quickly and out aloud whilst stroking your stomach in a clockwise fashion!
Jerold wrote a couple of scientific books in the 1970’s, which I simply have to mention as their names are awesome… (apologies for the repetition) they are;
Protein Biosynthesis in Bacterial Systems (Methods in molecular biology)
Protein biosynthesis in nonbacterial systems (Methods in molecular biology)
Following the above, Jerold took a break from writing…. rather a long one actually. A well deserved rest that spanned most of my living years… A couple of years ago Jerold returned with a vengeance, changing genres and producing several mystery and thrillers in quick succession. Which leads us to the here and now.
Jerold A Last, molecular scientist (what a great title!) and author has agreed to take part in Rambling On…
Take it away Jerold…
Q1: How long have you been writing and who were your key influencers?
JL A1: I’ve been writing non-fiction (I hope!) for a long time (decades), with well over 200 papers published in the peer-reviewed scientific literature as a major part of the day job. My first mystery novel (featuring Roger and Suzanne) was published three years ago, in 2011. Key influences have been Raymond Chandler, Ross MacDonald, Robert B Parker, and Dashiell Hammett. For example, The Matador Murders, a hard-boiled, noir, whodunit mystery set mainly in Montevideo, Uruguay, is a reworking and modernization of Dashiell Hammett’s immortal novel, Red Harvest.
Q2: What are you currently working on and why should readers buy it?
JL A2: I’m finishing the edits for the next Roger and Suzanne mystery novel (#8 in the series). Roger and Suzanne’s newest novel, The Origin of Murder, brings them back to South America. The couple are on a luxury cruise through the Galapagos Islands when Suzanne finds a woman’s body with a couple of bullet holes in it floating in the Pacific Ocean. There’s a ship full of suspects, including a shady DEA agent and two nubile sisters from San Francisco, and more dead bodies to come. The supporting cast includes their new son Robert, Bruce the Nanny, Paraguayan policeman Eduardo Garcia, and a few new characters. Join our detectives on a visit to the Galapagos Islands as Charles Darwin might have seen them on his historical voyage on HMS Beagle, and visit the ancient capital of Ecuador, Quito, high in South America’s Andes Mountains. The settings are authentic, the biology is well researched, and the novel can be read as a stand-alone mystery to begin the series.
Also in progress is the ninth mystery in the series, about halfway completed. This entry will take place in Alaska’s Denali national park wilderness, where a couple of Roger and Suzanne’s friends have been killed in what appears to be a random attack by a bear. It’s a pretty good bet they were murdered, but how, and by whom?
Why buy these books? Several reasons. They’re well written suspenseful mysteries with complex whodunit plots. They’re well researched and therefore educational. At $2.99 each, they’re quite affordable. And, even though each book can be read as a stand-alone entry, I use some of the same characters throughout the series. It’s a lot easier to take a character I know, put her or him into a specific situation, and ask myself how would they react to the situation than it is to start this process from scratch with a new character in each new story. The recurring characters grow within the series, so you can keep up with old friends in the new books. To me, that’s the best reason to write in a series format.
Q3: How many books have you written and what are they called?
JL A3: Currently a total of seven published on Amazon Kindle, with a high likelihood that #8 will also be available by the time this interview appears and with #9 well along as a Work In Progress.
1. The Ambivalent Corpse. The dismembered body of a young woman is discovered in Montevideo, Uruguay. Who did the brutal murder, and why?
2. The Surreal Killer. What motivates a serial killer? The answer to this question is the “whydunit” that leads Roger Bowman and Suzanne Foster to “whodunit”, the solution to a series of brutal murders in Peru, Chile, and Bolivia. This tightly written mystery story will keep you guessing all the way to the thrilling conclusion.
3. The Body in the Parking Structure. A hard-boiled mystery novella that features characters from the author’s popular South American mystery novel series working on a murder case at home in Los Angeles.
4. The Matador Murders. A mystery novel set in exotic Montevideo, Uruguay and Santiago, Chile, is a fast paced romp with lots of action and a good whodunit storyline.
5. The Body in the Bed is a suspenseful whodunit novella, which brings Roger and Suzanne back to Montevideo, Uruguay where another bloody killing needs to be solved.
6. Five Quickies For Roger And Suzanne. This is an anthology of three short stories The Haunted Gymnasium, The Dog With No Name, and Someone Did It To The Butler, plus two longer novellas, The Body in the Parking Structure and a newly edited, shortened version of The Empanada Affair. Together, the collection of five stories is the length of a traditional novel. All five of the stories feature characters from the novels. The Haunted Gymnasium (Fortaleza, Brazil) and The Empanada Affair (Salta, Argentina) are set in South America, while the other three stories take place in Southern California.
7. The Deadly Dog Show. Roger and Bruce are hired to go undercover impersonating the owner and handler of a Champion German Shorthaired Pointer named Juliet. There’s murder and miscellaneous other crimes occurring at California dog shows, and who better to solve them? The reviewers are enthusiastic about this book, which should appeal to mystery readers, dog lovers, and anyone else looking for a fast paced, entertaining novel.
8. The Origin of Murder brings Roger and Suzanne back to South America. The couple are on a luxury cruise through the Galapagos Islands when Suzanne finds a woman’s body with a couple of bullet holes in it floating in the Pacific Ocean. There’s a ship full of suspects, including a shady DEA agent and two nubile sisters from San Francisco, and more dead bodies to come. Join our detectives on a visit to the Galapagos Islands as Charles Darwin might have seen them on his historical voyage on HMS Beagle, and visit the ancient capital of Ecuador, Quito, high in South America’s Andes Mountains.
Q4. How many pets do you have and how did they get their names?
JL A4: We have four dogs, all from different generations of the same lineage.
Great Grandmother Viña (or Vinia) was named after Viña Del Mar, in Chile; the name means “(grape) vineyard” in Spanish. We planned to name her puppies after varietal wine grapes, so her being the vineyard seemed to make sense at the time.
Grandmother Jolie was one of those poor puppies named after grape varietals, Von der Nacht’s Grand Cru Beaujolais.
Mother Schöne (beautiful in German) was one of a litter of 11 puppies named “beautiful” or “pretty” in some language other than English.
Our present puppy, Ries, returns us to the grape varietal theme. He was named for Riesling grapes.
Q5: Are any of the there any settings in your book inspired by real places? Where and why?
JL A5: I choose exotic and unusual locales I know from first hand experience. I’ve either lived in the locations or visited them as a tourist. That’s why South America and California are featured so prominently. Because of minor incidents that occurred during the times we lived in Salta, Argentina and Montevideo, Uruguay, I’ve had several ideas that became mystery plots. For example, The Ambivalent Corpse was conceived and written because of our finding two bizarrely different memorials you wouldn’t expect to find together juxtaposed within 100 yards of each other on a beach along the Rio de la Plata in Montevideo.
Fact checking and updating information about locations are done on the Internet or using the library as a resource. Suzanne’s science is based on my career as a biochemist and toxicologist; I try to keep my characters’ expertise, especially Suzanne’s, within the boundaries of my own. The Body in the Parking Structure was a lot of fun to write because I could draw on my professional skills for much of the background material for this book, which involves a pharmaceutical company and a potential new anti-cancer drug in the plot.
Because I use exotic places we’ve been as locales, my wife Elaine’s experiences as a show dog breeder, and my experience as a biochemist and toxicologist for background in these mystery stories, they’re different—where else can you learn all about dog shows, Incan history, South American indigenous creation legends, and molecular biology in the same series?
Q6: Give us a quote from one of your favorite reviews of your own books.
JL A6: From a 5-star review of the novella The Body in the Bed by Lit Amri for Readers’ Favorite. “I was quickly captivated from the very beginning. Even though the pacing is fast, the plot does not seem rushed at all. It is actually very compact and flawlessly written with its international conspiracy, which is very impressive. Together with a strong dialogue, author Jerold Last also presents readers with vivid portrayals of the Uruguayan culture through his adroit prose. It is not hard for me to gravitate toward the main protagonists, Roger and Suzanne. As a matter of fact, all the characters, main or secondary, are well developed and believable. The story itself is quite riveting; I finished it in one sitting because I really wanted to know the outcome. All things considered, a very well constructed mystery sleuth for fans of the genre. I could actually see South American Mystery as a television series. Jerold Last is a gifted writer and I would keep an eye on his future works.”
Q7: Butter or margarine?
JL A7: Butter. It tastes better, is probably healthier (at least in moderation). I lived most of my teenaged years in Madison, Wisconsin, where colored margarine was illegal and butter was cheap and abundant, so I really acquired a taste for the stuff.
Q8. What genres do you write, what made you choose them?
JL A8: Mystery/Thriller/Suspense. I’ve been a big fan of mystery novels all my life. I started reading The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew in grade school. Erle Stanley Gardner and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle came next, before I hit my teens. As I moved towards college and nominal adulthood, my favorites became the masters of the private eye genre, Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, and Ross MacDonald. I like the noir style, the role of the private detective as the hero, solving puzzles with the hero, and the fast pace of the action as a complex plot unfolds. My exact genre is hard to define in purist terms—far too dark, too much violence, and too high a body count for classification as “cozies”, but no gratuitous sex, no smoking, alcohol in moderation, minimal concussions for the P.I.s, and I try to avoid excessive gore, so not quite “noir” either.
Q9: Coffee or Tea?
JL A9: That’s almost an insulting question for a U.S. mystery writer who isn’t writing “cozies”. I drink coffee, of course. Home brewed, from beans, strong, black. The perfect breakfast is two cups of coffee. Peet’s, a local chain of gourmet coffee/tea shops that began in Berkeley, sells beans and ground coffee as well as coffee/tea by the cup. Their Garuda Blend, a blend of Indonesian coffee beans, is our favorite.
Q10: Television or the movies?
JL A10: We watch almost exclusively television, but we cheat. We subscribe to Netflix streaming service so can watch series TV or the available movies, which are many and varied, on the “telly” (is that the proper Britishism here?) at will. My sons are more modern and watch the Internet as a source of TV and movies, which seems to be an eminently sensible approach for us to check out in the future.
11. Bonus Question: I write under my real name, not a pen name.
SD Comment: I don’t recall anything about bonus questions… But since you are a scientist, I understand your need to push the boundaries, so will let it pass! 🙂 Jerold, thank you very much for taking part in Rambling On… and I wish you the greatest of success for 2014 and beyond.
If you would like to know more about Jerolds writing, why not stop by at his Amazon author page where all of his books are available to purchase, by clicking on his name below;
Jerold also runs a website, which can be accessed using the following link;
The Jerold A Last interview took place on 31 March 2014.
Simon Duringer © 2014.
Simon Duringer is both a Goodreads author and Independent Interviewer. If you have enjoyed reading this interview, why not download a copy of The Word: The Best of Simon’s 10Q Interviews, featuring 28 equally interesting and exciting interviews, available on Kindle, Prime (#Free) and Paperback. Links to Simon’s Amazon Author Page are as follows;
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