~ Please, read the author’s note and interview. All of it. I was destroyed by Uvalde’s tragedy last May. It took me weeks to snap out from anxiety, rage, terror. I kept my then 2 grader home the last week of school because I could not leave him there. Those children. Those teachers. And I live in Florida, far from Texas but never from these tragedies. Nobody really does, until something big is done. Buying this book will help the kids of Uvalde. If you have a little extra money and want to read a good book that does good things, spend it here. Viv ~
The Junkyard Dick by Gillespie Lamb released in August 25 in the Mystery genre.
Salvage yard operator and part-time sleuth Tak Sweedner is asked by a buddy, Roque Zamarripa, to investigate a murder. Tak says OK and for his trouble is assaulted with a tire iron. Then he’s run off the side of a cliff-the investigation really goes downhill at that point!
Tak calls up gal-pal Emma to help him and soon discovers his feelings for the woman go beyond palling around. When she asks him to give up his investigation and concentrate on her, Tak balks. She might better have asked a bulldog to give up its bone. It would be like quitting, Tak said, and he wasn’t a quitter.
Can this blue-collar crime-solver hang in there to get the bad guy… AND win his girl?
Pushed off a mountain…
The collision jarred me. I was thrown against the door, the steering wheel almost twisting from my hands. I regained control of the wheel, but not until the rollback had begun to drift off the pavement at an angle that I recognized was irreversible, not with that much momentum behind it.
From instinct, I turned the wheel back toward the roadway. The loaded truck tipped right in response and began to roll over. I had lost the battle to stay upright. The ground seemed to tilt and the tumble down the long hillside began.
The noise of what followed was nearly as excruciating as the physical pummeling. I thought my eardrums would burst from the shrill screech of metal being wrenched apart. The booming of steel sheeting repeatedly being smashed against rock was so terrible it scared me all by itself.
Glass from the windshield sprayed me as it exploded under pressure. My eyes closed an instant before I felt my face pelted with the shards. Time and again, I was thrust against my seatbelt so hard that I expected the nylon either to part and send me flying or to bury itself in me like an extra diagonal rib. My jaw began to hurt after I banged my head against the door frame or the steering wheel or something unyielding while the truck and I tumbled and bounced.
The noise level finally reached a crescendo and began to recede and the jolting ride morphed into what seemed like a long, long skid. And then nothing.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Gillespie Lamb developed writing skills as a newspaper reporter, editor and columnist before leaving journalism to become a freelancer and pursue less formulaic writing. He published his first novel in 2017, a middle-grades reader about a girl who rode an “orphan train” from New York City to Kansas. It is titled The Beamy Courage of Gerta Scholler. This second novel is his initial foray into the mystery genre. The setting of The Junkyard Dick is the rural Texas region where Lamb lives.
The Junkyard Dick…say again?
Tak Sweedner is a likable guy in his 30s who owns a fairly profitable salvage yard in southwest Texas. Were that the whole story, the novel might have been titled, The Junkyard Guy, maybe even, The Nice Junkyard Guy.
However, the rest of the story is that Tak has a penchant for puzzling out mysteries, for solving crimes that local law enforcement agencies can’t. Not an unsolved murder, usually. More like a missing horse. In any event, Tak’s sleuthing success led admiring officers and deputies in the novel to dub him… “the junkyard dick.” When they did that, I immediately dropped my working title of “The Pablo Puzzle” in favor of the nickname.
The etymology of “dick” goes back hundreds of years to England when it referred to a “chap” or “fellow.” For the last 200 years or so, it has connoted a detective. I suppose I could have titled the book The Junkyard Detective, yet “Dick” has more pungency. More bite. More association with crimefighting and wrong-righting. Think Dick Tracy and Dick Gregory.
It can also refer to a jerk. Were Tak indeed an insensitive guy with a repugnant personality, I might have tried for some alliteration and gone with, The Junkyard Jerk. He is anything but a jerk, however. Even the bad guy in the novel respected Tak enough as an adversary to go out of his way to try to kill him.
“Junkyard” in the title is self-descriptive, but it also alludes to working-class people. I am an admirer of blue-collar careerists, particularly those who own small businesses and constantly scramble to pay their bills and the salaries of their employees. That perfectly describes Tak.
He nonetheless wrestles with his choice of a blue-collar career, particularly when he is around professionals like his academician girlfriend, Emma Townsend. In the end, though, he seems comfortable with his position in society, if still reluctant to wholeheartedly embrace it. His core values of honesty, loyalty to friends, a work ethic and respect for law are markers of good citizenship and Tak exemplifies all of that. The title The Junkyard Dick describes Tak Sweedner in more ways than one.
Please let me segue into another component of this story. The Junkyard Dick is set in the Texas town of… Uvalde. That’s right, the town where I live whose reputation was shot to hell in May. Because the tragic shootings occurred just as I was about to start marketing the novel, I had to rethink my plans. Familiar features of the town—from live oak trees growing in the streets to favorite gordita eateries—are a central theme of the book. Under those circumstances, were I to have normally marketed a novel so closely identified with Uvalde, many people would have concluded that I was capitalizing on the tragedy.
Therefore, I formed a nonprofit into which will go any royalties coming to me from the book as well as contributions from the publisher. It is seed money for additional fund-raising. All money collected will fund programs to foster creative writing in elementary-age children in Uvalde. It will be an ongoing educational effort to help Uvalde move ahead. You can learn more about the nonprofit called The Story Inventors Club Inc. by visiting the website, storyinventorsclub.com.
And thank you.
My latest novel, The Junkyard Dick, is a mystery set in Uvalde, Tex. It contains numerous allusions to Uvalde streets, restaurants, swimming in the Nueces, and so on, and positively characterizes this multicultural, county-seat town where I happen to live.
One week before I began marketing the book through my website (gillespielamb.com), Uvalde became a national byword for school shootings. A minor consequence of that tragedy is that suddenly my book became awkwardly positioned in the marketplace. Many people naturally will see promotion of a book about Uvalde at this time as shamelessly cashing in on the tragic event. I want neither the perception nor the reality of that.
So, I have created a nonprofit that will benefit elementary fiction-writing programs in Uvalde—or create such programs out of whole cloth. Any royalties I receive from the book will go into the fund along with contributions from the publisher, Black Rose Writing. That will just be seed money. I will be soliciting donations to the fund from the literary industry and associated artistic ventures, from local and regional community organizations and businesses, and from readers anywhere who find comfort, escape or inspiration in fiction.
I am calling the nonprofit “The Story Inventors Club,” which is appropriately juvenile so that it might appeal to young people. It will be dedicated to the proposition that young imaginations are capable of producing fictional stories of merit and enduring value. The hoped-for legacy of the Club would be creation of a new generation of prose (and poetry) to delight readers, and the instilling of enhanced cognitive, language and communication skills in some young people.
So, as a consequence of all of the above, I now will be promoting two things: (1) a novel that I believe in on its literary merits, and (2) a Club that I believe can build a new and creative legacy upon the ashes of misfortune.
For more information on this Club, please go here: https://www.storyinventorsclub.com/home
Black Rose Writing
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