Robert D. Kidera is the author of the award-winning Gabe McKenna Mystery series with four books released through Suspense Publishing since 2015. His newest novel, Midnight Blues (2018), deals with the timely topic of human trafficking. You’ll find Bob on his website RobertKideraBooks.com and on Facebook. Read more about Bob and the Gabe McKenna series in his 2015 and 2017 interviews.
What unique challenges did this work pose for you?
The Gabe McKenna novels have all had a humorous dimension to them. But this novel deals with a very serious and disturbing reality. It was a difficult balancing act.
Who are your main characters in the book?
In Midnight Blues, I surrounded my protagonist Gabe McKenna with an unusual ensemble of allies: a reclusive 93 year-old World War II desert rat, a dwarf with a Thompson submachine gun, a thrice-divorced childhood friend on the run from his alimony obligations, an Apache long-haul trucker, a college professor who has lost all her grant funding, and a gimpy-legged former prize fighter who drives a hearse but serves the best barbecue in town. And the bad guys are bad: MS-13-cartel-bad. It’s an interesting mix.
Tell us about the plot development and how long it took to write the story.
The plot of Midnight Blues borrows elements from The Hero’s Journey, The Wizard of Oz, and The Magnificent Seven. I had the general structure when I started, but many additional twists and turns presented themselves along the way. It all took me one year—seven months for the first draft, four months of revisions, one month working through edits with my publisher.
What makes this novel unique in the mystery genre?
The topic of human trafficking has not often been the focus of mysteries down through the years. And I am donating a quarter of my profits to local and state agencies that combat human trafficking and need our support.
Was there anything surprising you discovered while doing research for the book?
Indeed, there was. I had no idea of the extent of the problem I was writing about, especially here in New Mexico and on the Pueblos and Reservations. I was appalled.
What was your favorite part of putting together Midnight Blues?
Aside from getting to create so many interesting characters, the most enjoyable part of writing any novel is when you finish it!
Of your four finished novels, which one did you enjoy writing the most, and which was the most challenging?
My first novel, Red Gold, presented the greatest challenge. I was still learning the ropes while I wrote it and needed nearly three years to complete it to my satisfaction. I enjoy each of my novels in different ways—they all present their own challenges and rewards. Like kids, you love them all.
You didn’t get serious about writing fiction until later in life. What did your mature self bring to the writing table that your younger self never could have?
By the time you’ve lived sixty years, you have greater insight into the human character and the strengths and weaknesses we all have. Or you should, if you’ve been paying attention.
What is the hardest part of writing?
Knowing where to start your story and knowing where to finish it.
What do many beginning writers misunderstand about telling a story?
That it’s just as much—if not more—about characters than about plot.
Do you have writing rituals or something you absolutely need in order to write?
Not really. I’m pretty flexible about my writing process. I don’t even need coffee.
What kinds of scenes do you find most difficult to write?
Definitely the sex/love scenes. They keep turning out too funny.
What projects are you working on now?
I’m finishing the fifth Gabe McKenna novel, On Beyond Midnight, and deep into research on Hellship, my first stab at historical fiction.
Is there anything else you’d like readers to know?
How much I appreciate them.
KL Wagoner (writing as Cate Macabe) is the author of This New Mountain: a memoir of AJ Jackson, private investigator, repossessor, and grandmother. Kathy posts to a speculative fiction blog at klwagoner.com and writes about memoir at ThisNewMountain.com.