Welcome back. You know that I love reading and sharing my reviews with you. So, when Hunter (my contact at Hay House) asked if I would be interested in interviewing the authors of this series, I knew it was a unique opportunity that I had to take advantage of. I've read a lot of books and often wonder about the people that create them. When I think about how much work goes into my simple blog, my respect and admiration for those who produce entire novels multiplies. Even more so when it's a good one - and this is a good book!
Actually it is book 3 in the Dharma Detective series. I'm always leary of starting a series in the middle, but this one stood firmly on it's own. I was so drawn to Tenzing (the main character) that I've requested book one and asked that we add the series to our library collection. (I think Marie is working on it for any of my local folks!)
My experience interviewing authors is limited with only one under my belt prior to this. When I was considering my questions I took a personal approach and asked the things I was curious about. Gay and Tinker were very kind and shared with me thoughtful and interesting insight into their process and the series. I hope you enjoy it!
The Third Rule of Ten by Gay Hendricks & Tinker Lindsay
Book 3 in the Dharma Detective Series
Hay House Visions
February 3, 2014; 352 Pages; Paperback
Keep current with the truth: we are only as weak as our secrets; especially the ones we keep from ourselves. That's the Third Rule of Ten. As the go-to private detective for a bevy of high-profile clients, our beloved ex-Buddhist monk, ex-Lapd officer, Tenzing Norbu, has finally found his stride. With his beautiful pathologist girlfriend, a healthy bank account, and a steady stream of clients, life is bursting with activity. But its not all joy and happiness. The death of his father and a growing abundance of secrets both personal and professional leave Ten feeling an unexpected depth of sorrow and confusion. Even with the emotional turmoil, nothing can stop Ten from taking the case when rising political star Bets McMurtry's housekeeper goes missing. The investigation leads him down a dangerous path littered with bodies, untraceable prescription drugs, and human organ trafficking. But nothing is as shocking as the realization that the mastermind behind it all is none other than Chaco Morales, a criminal that slipped through hands once already. The Third Rule of Ten will have readers on the edges of their seats, as they learn, along with Ten, that there is a fine line between healthy privacy and unhealthy secrecy. Knowing the difference may just determine whether Ten will stop Chaco or lose himself.
How did you create Ten? I haven’t read books 1 & 2 (yet) and I’m sure they tell us more about his back story, but where did the idea come from?
GH: Four plus years ago I woke up in the middle of the night. I wanted to reach for the mystery novel by my bed, but my eyes were too tired to read so I decided to make up a mystery novel in my mind. I put this question to myself - “Who’s the story about?” Immediately an image came to me of a 30ish man, slightly Asian-looking, standing on the bluffs of the Palisades looking across the Pacific toward Asia. I asked him, “What are you doing?” He turned to me and started telling me what was happening. Every night for the next week I would wake up around 3 a.m. and work on the story in my head. After a while I got so fascinated with the character and the story that I couldn’t stop.
TL: When Gay described the character of Tenzing Norbu to me, over the phone during our first conversation, I was absolutely blown away (and maybe a tiny bit jealous.) I am an avid reader of detective mysteries, and have been all my life. As I told Gay at the time, original detectives are almost impossibly rare these days, yet he had somehow birthed one! We filled in his back story as we continued with the series, and wrote the novella The Broken Rules of Ten to give readers a more detailed glimpse into Tenzing’s background and early experiences in Dharamshala. What I brought to the mix was an insistence that Tenzing be a bit more damaged, especially in the arena of romance. Given Gay’s area of expertise, it was just too delicious an opportunity to make our hero a kind of poster boy for flawed relationships.
Ten struggles with truth, honesty and keeping secrets throughout the book, is it harder for him (these questions of morality) because of his background?
TL: I wouldn't say these issues of morality are “harder” for Ten than the rest of us. I believe we all struggle mightily with issues of honesty and secret-keeping, especially with ourselves! But I do think Ten’s commitment to practicing mindfulness means he has a heightened awareness of those moments when he is not being truthful, and that means he is forced to face the issues more frequently. In other words, he can get away with less! Anyone who has chosen a path of conscious living faces the same predicament. Denial brings with it a form of comfort unavailable to people struggling to walk a mindful path!
Where do you get the inspiration for your story lines?
TL: Gay is Mr. Genius First Draft! He comes up with both the initial twisty plots and turns, and the fabulous cast of characters. Ten “speaks” to him, and he follows Ten’s lead, which is one reason why the storylines are so rich and unusual. As with jazz, Gay delivers the main melody, and I riff. I like to think of myself as a “Story-Dowser.” The process is quite intuitive. I run my inner storyteller over Gay’s draft, and feel for places where the tale has the most “juice”. That helps me to tease out identifiable “rules” and underlying themes from the material, and apply each to his overall storyline. I also add physical and descriptive detail, aided by research, which I adore doing. Sometimes I’ll add a few twists and turns of my own, in consultation with Gay. He is impressively open to, and supportive of my work, and I am astounded by the skill and originality of his. But it all starts with Gay.
GH: I love writing the first draft, which usually takes me 3-6 months of daily writing. Figuring out the plot is big fun, as is dreaming up new characters for Ten to interact with. Once I’ve written the basic story I hand it off to Tinker, who does her magic on it.
Dr. Hendricks, this is your first foray into fiction, but not writing (with so many successful titles!), how is it different? What made you decide to venture into this world?
GH: I have loved reading mysteries my whole life, starting with Hardy Boys and accelerating when I discovered Sherlock Holmes. I read so many Sherlock stories in 9th grade my teacher started calling me “Sherlock” as a nickname. It was a dream of mine for 50 years to create a character as interesting as Sherlock. I’m incredibly delighted by the way the series has developed.
Co-authors have a variety of methods for writing / working together, how do you do it?
TL: Our collaboration came about very organically. I was first hired by Gay to edit his manuscript of The First Rule of Ten, before it even had a title! I loved his first draft, but felt it was not yet a complete book. I presented him with a number of conceptual changes I felt would make it work as a detective mystery, and he invited me to complete the changes myself! Voila – I went from editor to co-writer. Gay’s ability to set aside his ego and his whole-hearted willingness to support my contributions are rare indeed, especially in someone who is as talented as he is. Happily for both of us, we share a belief in conscious collaboration, and putting the work first.
GH: Tinker re-wrote the first chapter, to show me how she’d like to flesh out details and add richness to the narrative. I was blown away by the quality of what she showed me and decided to invite her to be my co-author.
Ms. Lindsay, this book seems to have all of the components to make it a great high-octane action movie with Tenzing being a hero that appeals to both men and women. Any chance of turning this into your next screenplay??
TL: We are in the process of exploring Tenzing as a television character at the moment, as we both believe his unique characteristics and “hybrid” nature lend itself to that medium best. Of course, if someone offers us the chance to adapt these books for the big screen, we won’t say no!
The book has some pretty violent scenes and plenty of people behaving badly. It seems a great departure from what you are accustom to writing about. Did that present any challenges?
TL: I believe that there is no light without darkness, and no growth without pain. I also believe deeply in the notion that we can change the trajectory of our lives at any moment – both Gay and I have experienced deep and radical shifts for the better, both personally, and with those around us. But to write books about a former homicide detective and current private investigator—especially one living in the highly contrasting dark-light world of Los Angeles—and ignore the presence of violence or wrong-doing would present an even greater challenge, because it would not be true. What we do try to do, however, is make sure even the “bad” guys have humanity. Wounds of their own. Tenzing may judge, but his judgments soon morph into the realization that his enemies are not that different from himself. As the waitress Jean tells him, “Put down the flashlight, pick up the mirror.”
Given that the books are titled with numbers you set out to write a series. Have you decided how far you will go or is that up Ten and the readers?
TL: Gay had already written two books, and had started in on a third, by the time I was introduced to The First Rule, so choosing a title that reflected a series seemed natural. We settled on the “number” theme for the title because 1: I love following detective series, but sometimes have a hard time keeping the chronologies straight! And 2: the nickname “Ten” provided a perfect double-meaning. As for future books, “The Fourth Rule of Ten” is coming out in January of 2015. We’ll see what Hay House has in mind after that! (We have a Fifth Rule brewing, but not yet written.) Personally, I’m not ready to say goodbye to Ten yet.
I'm not ready to say goodbye yet either, but I know there is more to come and look forward to enjoying the rest of the series!! I'd like to extend a sincere thank you Gay Hendricks and Tinker Lindsay for taking time out of their busy schedules to do this interview. Also, to Hunter at Hayhouse for keeping me in good reading and facilitating everything for me - it's terrific working with you!
Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing part of your day with me. I hope that you enjoyed the interview as much as I did. I'm so thankful (and excited!) for the opportunity to hear from the authors and share it on my blog with you!! I'd love to know what you thought of this interview, and invite you to post your views in the comment section.
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