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Sunday, September 24, 2023

DeForest mystery writer Jerry McGinley wants to do it his way | Entertainment


If a novel is published to good reviews, it’s only natural that a writer will try to replicate that success in the next book. This is especially true when it comes to the mystery genre, and publishers love it when writers can launch long-form series.

DeForest author Jerry McGinley is not one of those people. The retired teacher’s seventh book, A Driftless Murder, will be published by the University of Wisconsin Press in 2022 and won a Midwest Book Award.

But while his new book, Ghosts of Dharma Hills, is also set in Wisconsin’s Driftless region and has some of the same characters as Driftless, it’s also a fundamental departure. For example, the protagonist of “Driftless,” a retired Chicago detective named Joe Donegal, is apparently a victim in “Falshan.”

“I want to keep the same characters, or at least some of the same characters, but I don’t want to write the same stuff or write it according to a certain formula,” McKinley, 76, said in a phone interview. . I’m at a point in my life where I have to try a lot of different things.”

McGinley will speak with Doug Moe on “Ghosts of Dharma Hills” Thursday at the Mystery to Me bookstore event at 6 pm. The event will be held at the 1863 Monroe St Bookstore. and live online.

Donegal is working with Madison Detective Shay Somers to investigate human remains found in Kickapoo County. In “Fashan,” Donegal is presumed dead, and Summers is investigating the unusual circumstances of his death and his final case, a murder in the 1980s apparently tied to the Nicaraguan Civil War. Summers’ investigation meets Chaz Loman, a reclusive poet with secrets of his own.

McGinley said the publisher wasn’t as interested in “Dharma Hills” as they were in “Driftless,” especially since Loman took over much of the story.

“It didn’t pique the interest of publishers,” McKinley said. “On the one hand, it’s poetic. They say, ‘Hey, you can’t put poetry in mystery. He’s a poet. There’s no poet without poetry.'”

McGinley started talking to other self-published authors and envied the creative freedom they had. So instead of cutting “Dharma Hills” according to the publisher’s wishes, he self-published the book in December.

McKinley said the COVID-19 pandemic has been a productive time for him as a writer because “it’s a great time to be sitting in your basement and writing because you have nothing else to do.”

He said he has two other books that take place in the same world, have some of the same characters, and the third book is 100 pages long. He said he has nothing against publishers buying his books, but he is happy not to have to rely on that option.

“I’ve seen a couple of documentaries about Miles Davis, and he has a great quote,” McKinley said. “He said, ‘It’s not about standing still and being safe. If someone wants to keep creating, they have to change.

“That’s exactly how I feel. I want to be able to try and do things my way.”

Rob Thomas is a features editor for Cap Times and has been writing about arts and entertainment since 1999. He also writes the Morning Update newsletter.

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