Nothing to Lose, aka, Still Alive at Twenty-five

Nothing to Lose, J.P. Beaumont #25, hits the shelves on 2/22/22. The only one more surprised than I am about Beau still being around after all these years and books is J.P. himself.

Forty years ago, in the fall of 1982, I set myself the task of writing a book about a middle-aged Seattle homicide detective. I gave him a name, a place to work, and a place to live, then I spent the next six months hanging around waiting to see what he would do which, as it turned out, was pretty much nothing. As in nada; zippo! The story simply wouldn’t jell.

By March of 1983, frustrated with being a single mom and stalled out as an author, I sent my kids to Camp Orkila for Spring Break and then I sent myself to Portland where I planned to spend the week with a friend from my days in the insurance business. I boarded the train with a stack of blue lined notebooks (No computer back then!) and a fistful of ballpoint pens. As the train pulled out of the King Street Station, I thought, “What would happen if I wrote this book through the detective’s point of view?”

Minutes later, I pulled out pen and notebook and went to work writing the words, “She might have been a cute kid once. That was hard to tell now, she was dead.” Those were then and still are the opening lines in Beaumont # 1, Until Proven Guilty.

As soon as I wrote those two short sentences, something magical happened. Suddenly there I was, on the back of Seattle’s Magnolia Bluff, walking around a crime scene in J.P. Beaumont’s shoes. I was seeing what he saw and hearing what he heard—not only the things that other people said to him but also what was going on in his head. He and I have been together as character and author ever since.

By the way, I didn’t spend a lot of time visiting with my friend in Portland. Instead, I ate when I was hungry and slept when I was tired. The rest of the time I wrote like a fiend—composing 30,000 words in long hand over a five-day period. The story was constructed in my head. All I needed to find was the right point of view from which to tell it. A few months later, when I did buy a computer, I never bothered going back to that handwritten document. The story was all right there in my head.

At the time, I was under the impression that I was was writing a stand-alone book. Avon Books thought otherwise and purchased the manuscript as the first in a series. When it came time to write book number two, I made a conscious decision that, unlike John D. McDonald’s Travis MaGee, Beau would age over time. He would learn things along the way. Events that occurred in one book would continue to impact his life in later books, and that’s certainly the case with Nothing to Lose.

Beau’s partner, Sue Danielson, perished tragically at the hands of an abusive husband in Breach of Duty, Beaumont #14. Her death was a watershed moment in Beau’s life, one that haunts him still. It’s what compelled him to pull the plug on his career as a homicide cop for Seattle PD and put him on a path that sent him in an entirely new direction. Beau has mellowed some over the course of the past forty years. He’s a bit older and wiser now, and I like to think I am, too.

If you look at the book tour schedule, you’ll find it’s a lot more limited than it used to be. That’s due in part to the pandemic, but it also has to do with the the fact that I’m in my mid-seventies. This old girl just ain’t what she used to be in terms of energy for traveling and doing appearances. If you want an autographed book, please contact one of the bookstores where I’ll be doing in-person events and order your book from there.

I’m definitely looking forward to attending the Tucson Festival of Books. I was saddened when it fell victim to Covid last year, and I’m glad that the festival is back on track for 2022.

Let’s make it a great year for all of us.