Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Ten Questions with Don Easton

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Ten Questions with Don Easton

Don Easton worked as an undercover Mountie for twenty years. He lived a life of false identities and with contracts on his life. Easton is the author of the Jack Taggart mysteries Loose Ends and Above Ground. His latest Jack Taggart mystery from Dundurn Press, Angel in the Full Moon, is available in bookstores across the country on July 5.

OB:

Tell us about your latest book, Angel in the Full Moon.

DE:

It is about young Vietnamese women being smuggled into North America with the belief that they will be working in the hotel/hospitality industry. Instead, they are forced into prostitution. The story centers on two Vietnamese children, both sisters, who believe they are to be adopted by an American family. What they soon learn is that they have been purchased by a sadistic pedophile. An RCMP undercover Intelligence officer (Jack Taggart) tries to locate the pervert and save another young prostitute who has become his informant.

OB:

How has your past career with the RCMP influenced your writing?

DE:

My career has heavily influenced my writing. Much of what I write about is based on personal experience and I base the main protagonist (Jack Taggart) after myself. In my novels, “Taggart’s” decisions and the often unexpected consequence of his actions raise many moral issues. For me, writing is a cathartic release of past experiences. I also hope the readers see the human side of both the victims and the criminals and as such, gain a better understanding of the world we live in.

OB:

How did you research Angel in the Full Moon?

DE:

As noted, many of the characters and situations in the novel are based on personal experience. I have traveled to all of the foreign countries mentioned in the novel (Costa Rica, Cuba & Vietnam).

OB:

Describe your ideal writing environment.

DE:

When coming up with ideas on what to write about, I prefer to interact with the outside world as it stimulates my thought process and often reminds me of things I have forgotten. An example is hearing the sound of someone racking pool balls reminded me of an undercover situation I was in where I witnessed a person bludgeoned to death near a pool table. Seconds after the body was hauled out into a back alley, another person who had witnessed the murder nonchalantly racked up the balls as if nothing had happened. I describe this situation in my second novel, Above Ground. Other examples are the sight of a pencil reminds me of a broken pencil protruding from a man’s esophagus (Above Ground). An Asian massage parlor reminds me of what I wrote about in Angel in the Full Moon. The sight of a homeless person reminds me of a proposition/test a member of an organized crime family told me about when I was undercover as described in Nobody.

It may sound odd to even think I could forget such incidents, but I have led an unusual life and I think the brain intentionally forgets unpleasant experiences. It is often a sound, smell or perhaps the sight of a young child or some other everyday occurrence that wakes the past from its sleep.

Once I have decided on what to write about, I prefer the quiet sanctuary of a room with a computer to get my thoughts down.

OB:

What was your first publication?

DE:

My first publication was accepted by Dundurn and is entitled Loose Ends. It is the first in a series. I have to admit I was nervous writing this novel. After twenty years of working undercover, the experience of exposing myself and my personal ideology was unnerving. I expected harsh criticism but instead I found support and came to a realization that many people accept why “Jack Taggart” behaves the way he does in the novels. Writing for me has become a self-vindication.

OB:

Is there one book you think everyone should read?

DE:

No, but I think everyone should read and children should be encouraged to do so. I accept that many of us have different interests and different capacities for thought and reason. Some people read for escapism while others read to improve their intellect. Exposing children to the world around them through books provides them a better understanding of the world outside their own parameters. The knowledge and insight they gain will help them to become more productive later in life. It will also expose them to the enjoyment one may gain by reading.

OB:

What are you reading right now?

DE:

Notes and jotted down memories as I prepare to write my fifth novel in my series! Although I write gritty crime novels, I seldom read such novels. Having experienced what others can only imagine, reading fiction is not enjoyable to me.

OB:

Describe the most memorable response you’ve received from a reader.

DE:

It happened when I was autographing copies of Loose Ends at a book store in a mall. There were about a dozen people waiting for me to sign copies, along with the normal requests of personalizing certain copies as gifts. I looked up to see an elderly lady (in her eighties) standing at my table and looking at a copy of my novel. Not wanting anyone to buy my novel who I do not think would like it, I said, “Oh, madam, this novel is not for everyone. It is a very gritty crime novel containing extreme violence and some foul language.” I expected her to quickly put the book down. Instead she replied, “Oh, I know Dearie! I bought it yesterday and am already on chapter four! I love it and was wondering if you would sign it. Also, would you mind if my daughter takes your picture?” Her daughter did indeed take a picture of the two of us together. Months later at another book signing the daughter came to tell me how much her mother enjoyed the novel and had sent her to ask me when the sequel would be out. Despite twenty years of undercover experience and “fooling” people, I learned that you really shouldn’t judge a book by its cover!

OB:

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received as a writer?

DE:

Perseverance!

OB:

What is your next project?

DE:

My first novel, Loose Ends, was followed by Above Ground. My third novel in the series, Angel in the Full Moon, is due for release in the summer of 2008. I have completed a fourth novel, Nobody, and am just starting work on my fifth.

Angel in the Full Moon Visit the Dundurn Press website to read more about Angel in the Full Moon by Don Easton.

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