Doug Hewitt was born and raised near Detroit, Michigan and now lives in North Carolina. Along the way, he did a four-year stint in the Marine Corps and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics. He has been writing short stories for over 20 years and has been getting them published for most of that time, with over 80 stories in print.  His stories have appeared in anthologies such as The Dead Inn and 100 Wicked Little Witch Stories. He has appeared in the premier issue of Apex Digest and has seen his chapbook, Slipstream, published by Scrybe Press.

He turned his attention to longer works and had his first novel SPEAR published in 2002. The Midwest Book Review calls SPEAR “a thrilling and deftly crafted novel.” After being remarried in 2004, he and his wife, Robin, founded HewittsBooks.com. In addition to authoring a non-fiction parenting book, The Practical Guide To Weekend Parenting, Doug and Robin teamed up to write The Joyous Gift of Grandparenting.

Doug returned to his original passion, writing fiction, and wrote The Dead Guy, which St. Martins author Lynn Chandler-Willis calls a “high-octane, pedal-to-the-metal ride through the criminal underbelly of the automotive world.” You can visit Doug Hewitt and read a free PDF chapter of The Dead Guy at www.HewittsBooks.com.

We interviewed Doug to find out more about his new book and all about his life as a published author.

Thank you for this interview, Doug.  Can you tell us a little about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?

I’ve been writing and submitting for publication for about 15 years now. But my writing career really started in the 7th grade. I remember getting an assignment to write a short story. Well, I’d just learned that “epics” usually had the main character undergo three challenges: spiritual, mental, and emotional. So, I really got into it, concocting a 57-page story.  Mind you, most of the people in the class turned in a story written in a page or two. There was no length requirement. My main character was a recovering alcoholic, and he was about to succeed in his epic journey, and the only thing he has remaining to do is cross a bridge over a river of beer. Okay, you have to remember this is 7th grade writing. I never explained where the river of beer emanated from. Anyway, my main character failed, drowning in the beer. Oh well, a writer is born! The funny thing about it is, I got a “D minus” on the paper. Can you believe it? The teacher explained that the instructions explicitly said the paper was to be written in ink. I had written a few pages with a pencil. I hope teachers today understand that they need to encourage such effort in the 7th grade, even if they bend the rules.

At what point in your life did you make up your mind you were going to become a published author?

Oh, it was in the 7th grade, of course, when I wrote that 57-page short story. I knew then it was what I wanted to do. It took me quite a while, and I had many detours along the way. I hope everyone understands, though, that when you have a clear, heartfelt goal, you can achieve it. One thing I’ve learned, it’s the process of achieving it that’s just as important as achieving it.

Can you tell us a little about your latest book?

The Dead Guy is a mystery novel about Jack Thigpen. Jack works in Detroit, nicknamed The Motor City, the perfect place for a fraud investigator who specializes in car insurance scams. He is on a case he believes is a typical, low-level crime, but it quickly turns into a situation with ominous international consequences. Ironically, as he is targeted for death because of his investigation, Jack is diagnosed with a fatal disease that is untreatable, a disease that will end his life within months. And instead of killing Jack, the hit man shoots Jack’s best friend. Struggling to come to terms with his impending death, Jack vows to track down his friend’s killer.

Jack plunges into the world of corrupt car dealerships, chop shops, and fraudulent auto repair shops. He is soon swept into the darkness of Detroit’s criminal underbelly to uncover the truth about power struggles within organized crime rings. Death is staring him in the face, but Jack doesn’t back down. He pushes ahead, plowing through perilous roadblocks planted by his enemies, propelling himself toward the finish line and a teeth-gritting, heart-pounding conclusion.

What message are you trying to convey with this book?

Thank you for asking this question. Many people might assume that because The Dead Guy is a mystery novel, there is no “message” or deeper literary theme behind it. But because my main character is stricken with a fast-acting deadly disease, he of course thinks about his life and what kind of difference he has made in others’ lives. The ultimate message I try to convey is that life has meaning. People can argue about what exactly the meaning is, but somehow having lived a life makes a difference in the universe.

Do you ever get writer’s block and what do you do when that happens?

I don’t get writer’s block often, but when it happens, I use a technique called “free writing.” It’s a process during which you write whatever comes to mind, paying no attention to grammar, structure, or any other writing rules. Sometimes I get started by typing random words, or the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. After about five minutes, ideas start flowing into my head about what I should be writing, and then the words start forming a structure that leads into a story. Some of my best writing comes from using this technique.

Do you blog?  If so, what can you tell my readers about the advantages of blogging as a useful tool in book promotion?

Yes, I blog at http://twohewitts.blogspot.com/. The reason it’s called Two Hewitts is because my wife, Robin, is also an author. She started writing a mystery and submitted the opening chapters to a contest and won $1,000 at Malice Domestic! So, once she gets it published, we’ll both be blogging as a mystery writing husband-and-wife team. Blogging is useful because it is another venue to write and keep people posted about books signings, conference appearances, and virtual book tours. I suggest authors make sure they put their blog URLs in their email signature lines.

Do you have a website?  Do you manage it yourself or do you have someone run it for you?

Yes, my website is www.HewittsBooks.com. My wife designed it, and we both post updates from time to time. Because we also write non-fiction books about parenting, grandparenting, and finding scholarship money for college, we try to have a separate website page for each project, so it’s difficult to keep everything updated, because we’re always trying to promote all of our books.

What’s next for you?

I would love to start working on the sequel to The Dead Guy. Yes, I know he has a terminal illness, and it might seem impractical to be planning to write another book about a guy who might not have much longer to live. But, I’ve already worked out a way to make it work. That’s what I love about writing. It’s creating situations that seem impossible to escape from, then coming up with escapes appear not just possible, but thoroughly logical outcomes.

Thank you for this interview, Doug!  Do you have any final words you’d like to share with my readers?

First, I would like to thank you for having me.

Second, I would like to finish with talking a bit about the balance between being “different” as a writer and fitting in to publisher’s categories. I’m not only an author, I’m a reader. And I love to read novels that break new ground. Yes, I do like a category mystery now and then, but I love to come across a book that breaks new ground. Before Aberdeen Bay published The Dead Guy, the manuscript reached the top level editorial teams of some major New York publishers. The reason they didn’t go ahead with publication? It didn’t fit in with their established lines. It was different. Too different. So I want to thank Aberdeen Bay for having the vision to recognize a good novel and publish it without regard to fitting in to an established imprint storylines. And I would like to invite anyone who wants to read a groundbreaking mystery novel to read The Dead Guy!

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