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If you could have one paranormal ability, what would it be?
I'm not sure about this question. I already have the ability to influence the stock market by sheer concentration. Is that a paranormal ability? I do confess that, as I have grown older, my power is waning. Now all I can do is influence the New York Stock Exchange. When I was younger, my concentration reached across global financial markets. (If you like where this is going, read about Dedo, the banker for the Sinaloa Cartel in The Lizard's Tale.)
What is one thing your readers would be most surprised to learn about you?
I think they would be surprised to know that I am a serial killer, and that I write from a cell in a maximum-security prison. I have tattoos covering most of my body, which were done over the years by other inmates. I have a scar running from my left ear to my chin, which I suffered from a knife fight with a rival gang member in the prison laundry. While I am quite young, my hair has turned pure white after I spent six months in solitary confinement.
Of course, my readers would be surprised to learn all of this, because none of it is true, but hey, I'm an author, and I have an imagination.
When writing descriptions of your hero/ine, what feature do you start with?
Before I start writing, I have to have the right names for my main characters. I know that sounds silly, but I can't visualize that person until I name him. As I progress through the book, I often change a character's name three or four times as his/her image become clearer to me. In The Lizard's Tale, Alejandro was Angel for months, and Gina was first Lisa and then Kate. Dedo, on the other hand, never had a name change. As the cartel's banker, his name was El Dedo del Oro (Goldfinger) from the very beginning. Once I have named the person, the next thing my reader learns about a character is his/her mindset. It is important to know his thoughts or obsessions before the story can progress. Later, the physical depiction comes, and by then, it fits the person's mental description.
Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I am definitely a pantser. I have tried to outline my novels in advance and have never gotten beyond the second paragraph. I have to sit down and simply start writing, with only a global idea of the plot before I begin. In The Lizard's Tale, I wanted to write about a cartel boss who was trying to collect an exotic reptile. I also knew I wanted to work in my knowledge of the DEA. Beyond that, it was quite vague. I have found in all my novels, once I start to write, the characters come forward and take charge. They create the story, and I become just the scribe. Sometimes I have to do a lot of cutting, pasting, and revising to get them out of the trouble they get into, but it always works out in the end. I don't think I could produce a detailed plot outline if my life depended on it.
Did you learn anything from writing this book? If so, what?
I learned a lot about the habits of the Guatemalan Beaded Lizard, I discovered the multitude of ways the cartels smuggle drugs into the US, and I found out how easy it is for boats coming up from Mexico to reach the California coast undetected.
What I relearned about writing a novel is that it is always darkest before the dawn. No matter how many times you are stuck on a plot development, or reread some of what you have written and despair that it is absolute junk, don't give up. Keep at it. Even if you have to sit for two hours and write only 25 words, keep doing it. Work at it every day. It's the cumulative effort that counts. Eventually you will work through your problems and move on to write something worthwhile.
Kurt Kamm has written a novel that's a literary crime novel, with a strong thread of non-fiction running through it. The Lizard's Tale is a tale of crime—with an a wide-ranging cast of characters.
When the DEA goes up against the Sinaloa Cartel, an orphan and an endangered lizard are caught in the conflict. The action moves from Guatemala to Mexico to Catalina Island off the coast of California.
Alejandro, a middle class Guatemalan, wants his share, and makes a deal with the cartel. Now he’s risking his life to deliver the goods.
El Dedo, a brilliant financier, is the Sinaloa Cartel’s banker. He worries about what to do with the billions of dollars collecting dust in his underground vault.
Ryan, a DEA Special Agent, needs to make a high profile case to get a promotion. Is the big yacht headed for California carrying a Mexican drug shipment?
Kate, a wildlife officer on Catalina Island, smells smoke. When she heads out in the middle of the night to investigate a fire, she makes an astonishing discovery.
Jorge, an orphan from the streets of Mexico, is abandoned in the United States. Will he find his way back home and track down his mother’s killer?
The General’s tank was near empty. Alejandro stopped and took down one of the red plastic gas containers. After he filled the tank, he extracted the second of the three bottles of beer from his cooler. “Bienvenido a Mexico,” he said aloud and held the bottle up in an imaginary toast. The beer was warm, but he enjoyed it anyway. He had overcome the harsh Guatemalan roads and crossed the border safely with his cargo. Now all he had to do was survive the trip through Mexico.
Ahead of him lay 2,500-kilometers on Mexico Highway 200, the main road along the Pacific Coast. The trip north would take Alejandro past Acapulco, Puerto Vallarta, and Mazatlan before reaching Culiacán. The condition of the road itself had been the challenge in Guatemala, but that was not the big risk on the journey ahead. Highway 200 was a winding, two-lane paved road. The real danger was what Alejandro might encounter. He had been warned not to travel at night. Drunk drivers, livestock, pedestrians, and unlighted farm equipment were some of the lesser hazards. The real threat, day or night however, was robbery and hijacking, and he had read several reports of travelers coming upon roadblocks set by bandits armed with machetes and machine guns, decked out in bulletproof vests draped with hand grenades. Alejandro planned to keep moving and cover about 800 kilometers. By evening, he hoped to reach Acapulco.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Malibu, California resident Kurt Kamm has written a series of firefighter mystery novels, which have won several literary awards. His newest novel, The Lizard’s Tale, provides a unique look inside the activities of the Mexican drug cartels and the men dedicated to stopping them.
Kurt has used his contact with CalFire, Los Angeles County and Ventura County Fire Departments, as well as the ATF and DEA to write fact-based (“faction”) novels. He has attended classes at El Camino Fire Academy and trained in wildland firefighting, arson investigation and hazardous materials response. He has also attended the ATF and DEA Citizen’s Academies. After graduating from the DEA Citizen’s Academy in 2014, he began work on The Lizard’s Tale.
Kurt has built an avid fan base among first responders and other readers. A graduate of Brown University and Columbia Law School, Kurt was previously a financial executive and semi-professional bicycle racer. He was also Chairman of the UCLA/Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center Foundation for several years.
Visit his author website at www.kurtkamm.com
Kurt Kamm LITERARY AWARDS
TUNNEL VISIONS (MCM Publishing 2014)
2014 USA Best Book Award -Fiction: General – Finalist
HAZARDOUS MATERIAL (MCM Publishing 2013)
Best Novel 2013 – Public Safety Writers Association
Winner of the 2012 Hackney Literary Award for best novel of the year ($5,000 PRIZE)
Reader's Favorite 2013 – Finalist – Urban Fiction
The 2012 Dana Award – Finalist
Eric Hoffer Award - Finalist (2014)
Excerpt published in Birmingham Arts Journal http://www.birminghamartsjournal.com/pdf/baj10-2.pdf
ONE FOOT IN THE BLACK (MCM Publishing 2012)
The 2012 USA Best Book Awards – Fiction: General – Finalist
The 2013 Beverly Hills Book Awards – Fiction: General – Finalist
Excerpt published in Felons, Flames and Ambulance Rides: Stories About America's Public Safety Heroes
CODE BLOOD (MCM Publishing 2011)
Writer’s Type - First Chapter Competition. January 2011- First Place
2012 International Book Awards - Fiction: Cross Genre Category – First Place
National Indie Excellence Book Awards – Faction (fiction based on fact) - Winner of the 2012 Award
The 2012 USA Best Book Awards - Fiction: Horror - Winner
LuckyCinda Publishing Contest 2013 First Place – Thriller
Reader's Favorite 2013– Finalist – Horror Fiction
Knoxville Writer’s Guild - 2011 Novella or Novel Excerpt – 2nd Place
RED FLAG WARNING Aberdeen Bay 2010
The Infinite Writer– Mystery 2010 – First Place
The Written Art Awards - Mystery/Thriller 2010 – First Place
Royal Dragonfly – Mystery Category 2011 – First Place