Monday, January 29, 2007
The Haydens, L.C. and R.L., Talk about Writing, Roswell, and The Wrong Side of the Miranda
R.L., you wrote a novel called Cover-Up about the Roswell incident. Okay, I’m all ears. What really happened at Roswell?
That is probably the most asked question I’ve heard. I know that everyone wants one of the investigators to jump up and down screaming, “I’ve found it, I’ve found it.” But that isn’t going to happen. I am a firm believer that something did happen, maybe just not what the people are saying. Possibly the military created this incident to cover-up a bigger one that happened elsewhere, which is the premise of Cover-Up.
Your website says that while you were in the Philippines, you “experienced [your] first UFO event.” I am a person who wants to believe in the Loch Ness Monster. Ever since I watched Close Encounters I have scanned the night sky with great curiosity. So I’m dying to know: what was your UFO event?
In the novel, I tell the story of that event, but in essence, one night while I was special handling radio messages in the naval communications center, one of the machines started to ding-a noise alerting me that a ‘special message’ was on its way. I had to visit the communications library to find the manual that told me how to special handle that particular message. (JANAP 146B).
I was to break the hard copy machine (this was a radio teletype center), before they sent the message, then before I sent it out to the next station (in Hawaii) I was to break all the backup ticker tapes on the machine I sent it on. Afterwards, the tape of the message itself was to be ripped into four pieces and scattered in four burn bags to be destroyed at the end of our shift.
The message was about a contracted merchant ship delivering goods to Viet Nam. It had seen something fall into the ocean, and when they got closer, they thought something was under the water. They called for backup before losing all their electricity. A navy destroyer showed up a few hours later, and both of them were stranded without any power. About an hour after the destroyer showed up, a flying saucer showed up and dropped into the water. For about a half hour, there were flashing lights from below. The water bubbled, then both of the saucers rose out of the water and took off.
The merchant captain told the naval captain to report the incident, as he wasn’t going to look foolish to his company. According to procedure, the naval officer had to forward an incident report that ended up in some dusty file, probably near the Blue Book project.
That is an amazing story! Now everyone will want to buy your book! I think we mystery writers love to hear about inexplicable events.
Will you be writing another novel?
I am currently working on two projects, one involving the main characters from Cover-up. They will be in Sedona, AZ., then in several places in Canada and Alaska, and then will probably end up back in Sedona. It involves a body falling out of the sky, HAARP, and whatnot.
The other one is a retired couple that move to Homer, AK., open a coffee shop, and fall into all kinds of problems.
This will be my first dip into mystery writing, as I prefer action, thriller stories.
Do you and L.C. ever write together?
No, we haven’t. I prefer action/thriller over mystery. But we do help each other over the humps sometimes.
L. C., you’ve written many books, and the latest is called Why Casey Had to Die. That’s a catchy title. Why DID Casey have to die? Is it because he came to bat and struck out?
Cute! I like your answer—so much more original than mine. I’m taking the fifth in here. The answer to that is an integral part of the story and the answer is revealed at the very end. All I can say is, read and find out.
How did you get started in the mystery-writing biz?
Writing is something I’ve always enjoyed doing. I feel life is a mystery, so I’m fascinated with the concept of mysteries. Naturally, when it came time to write the novel, I chose the mystery genre—haven’t regretted it at all. But before I wrote mysteries, I freelanced for magazines. There’s an interesting story as to how that came about.
While in college, I had two term papers to do. One was for a professor who was known for his strict rules. I spent all my time doing the paper for him. I finished the paper four days before it was due. It was then that I remembered I had another term paper to write. I grabbed my finished paper, along with its note cards and bibliography cards. I dashed off to the library. I began by re-reading the paper. I found two typing errors (days before computers, sigh.) I made a mental note to retype those two pages.
I set everything to the side and began the research for the second paper. At 2:00 AM when the library closed, I grabbed everything and headed home. The next morning I reached for the finished term paper so I could retype those two pages. It was then I remembered I had set the paper to the side and left it there. I ran to the library, but it was gone: the paper, the outline, the thesis statement, the note cards, the bibliography cards. Everything. Just like that. Gone.
I knew if I approached the professor and told him what happened, he’d say “Tough luck. Paper is due Friday.” I had no choice but to redo it. Somehow in the next three days I redid the entire paper and finished the other paper.
When I got the papers back, on the paper I had to redo I got a C and it only had one comment: And you want to be a writer--ha! On the other term paper, I got an A+ with the comment that this was publishable if I took off the footnotes and revised it. I went to the professor and he showed me the ins and outs of magazine writing. That was my first published work--and I got to be a writer--ha!
Success is the best revenge, eh? Did you read mysteries as a child?
Unfortunately, I was a late bloomer. I read animal books as a child, then somehow in my early 20’s I was introduced to mysteries and I’ve been hooked ever since. That makes it ten years now that I’ve been reading mysteries since I’m only in my 30’s. . . Hmmm. . .
Me, too. What sorts of things do the Haydens do for fun?
Need you ask????
Oh, my. I walked right into that one.
Okay, seriously, we geocache (in fact, Why Casey Had to Die deals with geocaching), scuba dive, travel, read, go to movies, take walks, go camping, and write. Rich is a ham (amateur radio operator and a computer geek) and I like working with my hands: creating crafts, painting, that sort of thing.
In perusing your website, I see that you two take many trips, including several to Alaska. Is Alaska a special place for you?
All you’ve got to do is mention Alaska and Rich begins to drool. I don’t know what it is about that state that completely captivates him. As for me, I do love Alaska, but I also love Hawaii, Texas, New Mexico, Florida. . .
Do you like traveling together?
Love it, love it, love it. Rich gets to drive and I get to write. Oh, yeah.
L.C., you host a talk show for MWA called Murder Must Air. Is this fun? How do you prepare for an individual show?
I love doing Murder Must Air. It really is a blast and I’ve “met” some really cool people. When Cindy Daniel, Task Force MWA officer, called me and asked me if I was interested in being their talk show host, I never realized how much work it involved. But every bit is worth it. I’m really having a blast.
To prepare for each show, I need to contact the speakers. Once they agree to be my guests, I do background research so when we do talk it sounds like I know everything about whatever topic we’re covering. Then I prepare a set of questions, which I send to them. We discuss them. I send them the Speaker’s Agreement Form so they can be paid. All during this time, I’m answering emails that come to firstname.lastname@example.org. I promote the show wherever I can, inviting people to call in. I’ve found that while people do call, they don’t ask questions. Most of them, in fact, email and ask me to ask my guest this or that. After the promoting is done, I contact the guests one more time to make sure they have the right contact information and finalize any plans. Now it’s show time!
Afterwards, there are thank you cards to be sent, there's listening to the show to make sure all is okay before contacting the audio folks. They send the recording to Beth at MWA so she can be put it on the national website for everyone to hear at his convenience. Oh yes, there’s also the writing of the articles to inform everyone who next month’s guests will be.
Once that is done, I start the procedure all over again.
L.C., you taught high school for 26 years and then retired. I teach high school; should I retire? Do you recommend it? Don’t make me too jealous.
Go for it! Retirement is sooooo wonderful. I’m so busy now I wonder how I managed to find time to teach. I don’t think I ever really retired, I just changed jobs.
Teaching has its great rewards and I loved doing it when I was doing it, but now I’m free to do what I want when I want.
School’s out! School’s out!
I said NOT to make me jealous. :) On your website you say that I should ask you about your FBI story, which coincides with the publication of your first book, Who’s Susan? So what IS this story?
One day the principal called me over the intercom and told me he wanted to see me during my prep period. That was 6th period, I remember so well. I was a good little teacher, so I didn’t worry.
When I walked into his office, instead of the principal being there, there was a man dressed in a suit, tie, vest. He reached behind him and locked the door. Okay, what do I do now? He reached for his back pocket and showed me his badge. “I’m Detective So-and-So from the police department.”
My first thought was oh no, one of my students must have really done something bad.
He asked me to sit down. I did and once again he reached into his back pocket, took out a card, and said, “You have the right to remain silent. You have the right to have an attorney present. . .” and he continued to read me my rights.
What’s going on? I thought. I don’t even speed! He shoved a piece of paper between us. “This is what it’s all about,” he said. I looked at the paper and nodded. My first book, Who’s Susan? had just been published and I had been talking to my editor. He said, “Now, L. C., if you want people to buy your book, you’ll have to come up with a brilliant campaign. If they go to the bookstore and say they want to buy. . .and they forget the name of the book, you’ve lost that sale.”
So I thought and thought and came up with a brilliant campaign. I would send out three different mailings to a select group. The first would have no return address and the paper inside the envelope would simply say, Do you know who Susan is?
I knew that as soon as people received this first promotional piece, they would be wondering what’s all this about? Who is Susan? They’d start talking and word would spread.
Two weeks later the same people would get the second mailing. Again, there would be no return address and this time the paper would read: Did you find out who Susan is? Check your mailbox for a future answer.
Again, tongues would wag. Word would spread.
Two weeks later, the same people would receive the final advertising and this time the envelope would have a return address and the paper inside would explain that Who’s Susan? was my first novel and I was inviting them to the Barnes and Noble signing I was going to have. That was how it was supposed to work out.
This is how it actually turned out: after people received the first mailings, they called the police because someone was sending them an antiabortion campaign through the mail. How they got that out of the flyer, I have no idea. Naturally, the police ignored it because they have more important things to pursue. But the callers insisted that the police do something about it.
My problem is that I’m basically a lazy person. The post office was two blocks away from the high school where I taught. But did I choose to go to the post office? Nope. I mailed the letters from the school’s mailbox. That made it a federal offense. They had to call the FBI.
Now the FBI knew it couldn’t be an antiabortion campaign. They knew it was much more. It was a new drug, called Susan. So they brought in an undercover agent to ask the students about the new drug. The students simply shrugged and asked, “What new drug?”
When that didn’t work out, they knew they had made a mistake. It wasn’t a drug at all, but a gun movement, code name Susan. Again, they brought in another undercover agent to come investigate. Again, the students shrugged and asked “What gun movement?”
“So who’s Susan?” the frustrated agent asked.
“That’s Mrs. Hayden’s new mystery novel,” one of my students answered.
In the meantime, I was in the principal’s office, having my Miranda Rights read.
Sometime, it doesn’t pay to advertise!
Oh my gosh! You'd think they'd try to get that info BEFORE they read you your rights! By the way, if I send you some money, can you send me some Susan? See, my drug lingo is so unbelievable. I should have said "hook me up" or something. I have to work on my dialogue.
What made both of you decide to use your initials instead of your first names? Is that just how it’s done in El Paso?
L. C.’s story:
Prior to writing mysteries, I freelanced for several magazines. One of them was the treasure magazines. I researched and wrote the article. Rich took the pictures. I sent it in. It came back. “Thanks, but we’ve just bought a similar piece.” I tried again. It came back. “Thanks, but we’ve just assigned this to someone else.”
I tried again. It came back. The articles always came back. Filled with frustration, I asked aloud, not really expecting an answer. “This is exactly what they want. Why are they not publishing me?”
Rich picked up the magazine and pointed to the title page. “Look at the articles. They’re by John, by Steve, by Mike, no Marys, no Susies, no Elsies" (my real name is Elsie).
This was on the days before computers (told you I was only in my 30’s!) so I took out the first rejected manuscript and retyped the first page. The only change I made was the byline. I changed it from Elsie Hayden to L. C. Hayden.
The article was immediately accepted. So was a second, and a third. . . I got used to using the initials and when it came time to write my mysteries, it felt natural to continue to use L. C. instead of Elsie.
Well, I don’t have a great story like L.C.’s. I’m just a lazy person, and thought that using initials was a lot shorter than using my name, and it “sorta” started a tradition.
What writing projects are you working on now?
Since Rich already answered this, I’ll answer this all by my lonesome self. I am busy working on the next Harry Bronson adventure. This time he is in Custer State Park, Georgetown, CO, and the Twin Cities in MN.
I’ve also started a new series and am shopping around for an agent and publisher. This one is about a loveable reporter in S. Lake Tahoe who gets into all sorts of adventures.
I’m also working on a sequel to my angels book, Angels Around Us. If you have an angel story you would like to share, I’m all ears.
Finally, I’ve written my first two children’s books. They’re both picture books. I haven’t submitted them to anyone yet and don’t plan to do so for a while. I’d like to promote this book in my grandson’s school and classroom. Next month, March 07, he will turn two, so I have a little bit of time to wait.
I do have one horror novel out, The Drums of Gerald Hurd, but I don’t think I’ll be writing any more horror novels.
How can readers find out more about L.C. Hayden’s mysteries and R.L Hayden’s Roswell novel?
Please check out our websites: http://www.booksbyhayden.com/ has three sections. One is
L. C.’s part. The middle part belongs to us (our trips, our whatevers) and the last part is R. L.’s. In addition, I, L. C., have an “official” website: www.lchayden.freeservers.com.
Thanks for talking with me.
Thanks to you. This was a blast for both of us!
L. C. and R. L.