Living the writer’s life
By Laurie Fagen
With degrees in Writing, Literature and English from the University of Arizona, plus professional still photography training, Clark Lohr of Tucson says he’s “worked a variety of jobs in lots of places” and calls it “a writer’s life.”
But he says it took him years “to get over” his literary education to realize that “genre fiction can be every bit as good, or better, than literary fiction.” A Vietnam vet, Lohr took a novel writing workshop from another veteran of the same war, who told the class he wanted two chapters of a novel by the next class meeting—a sort of “take the hill” approach.
“I just freaked out and started writing,” Lohr recalls. “I took Raymond Chandler’s advice, which goes something like, if you get stuck have a couple of guys come through the door with guns in their hands.”
He loved reading Dashiell Hammett in the ’80s, and also likes the classic “hardboiled fiction” of the 1920s and 1930s. Favorite authors include James Lee Burke, James Ellroy, Tim Hallinan, Paul D. Marks, David Edgerley Gates, David Corbett and others.
Lohr decided he wanted to write crime stories, and focuses specifically on “current border noir.” He cites other preferred authors as Mexican-born James Carlos Blake and his The Rules of Wolfe, and a Spanish immigrant named Paco Ignacio Tabio II, for his P.I. novel from the 1990s, Some Clouds.
Now with two published novels, the first, Devil’s Kitchen, was through Oak Tree Press, thanks to an introduction by Desert Sleuths author Susan Cummins Miller. It’s the story of Pima County Sheriff’s Office Detective Manuel Aguilar who investigates an apparently routine murder and “finds himself in the middle of a hellish conspiracy between a Mexican drug lord and an Arizona land developer.”
Lohr has since bought back his book rights and now publishes under his brand name, BarZF Press. His second novel, The Devil on Eighty-five, was published this past January, and is a crime novel from the “ultimate battleground of America’s absurd drug wars: the Arizona-Mexico border. When a Tohono O’odham cowboy is accused of murdering his wife, Manuel Aguilar follows a trail running out the west end of the reservation to Ajo, Arizona—and to Arizona State Route 85, a smuggling corridor where guns and money go south and drugs and migrants go north. Evil loves darkness on Highway 85 and the desert itself is the deadliest player in the game.”
Lohr is current working with Desert Sleuths member Tim Moore to co-write a thriller about the Phoenix Police Department’s hunt for rapist and robber, Ernest Miranda.
“It’s a work conceived and exhaustively researched by Tim,” Lohr explains.
Before joining Sisters in Crime Desert Sleuths Chapter four years ago, Lohr was in the Arizona Mystery Writers, where he served as treasurer for several years.
For his writing tip, Lohr quotes the line “I do not count the time…” from Judy Collins and her song, “Who Knows Where the Time Goes.”
“You must get over reckoning the passage of time,” he says. “You may work four hours on a single paragraph, go to bed, and get up the next day and work on it for a few more hours. It’s often that slow, or slower.”
Lohr will be signing books at the Local Authors Book Sale at the Scottsdale Civic Center Library from noon to 5 p.m. Sat., Nov. 15, plus “talking to anybody who’ll listen.” After that, he’ll be reading from his novels in Benson starting at noon Sun., Nov. 23 at “southern Arizona’s iconic bookstore” Singing Wind Bookshop, Thanksgiving Fiesta, 2.25 miles north of I-10 exit 304.
For more details, visit his website at www.clarklohr.com or follow him on Twitter at Clark Lohr @canontethered. But he says he mostly hangs out on Facebook at Devil’s Kitchen by Clark Lohr “because it’s fun, it’s easy, and I like the jokes.”
Laurie Fagen, 2014 president of Desert Sleuths/SinC, is working on a crime fiction series manuscript with a young radio reporter protagonist. She has short stories published in the past two Desert Sleuths’ anthologies, and is an Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine honorable mention winner. A former community newspaper publisher, Fagen is also an artist, art promoter and jazz singer. Her new writing website with a blog is www.ReadLaurieFagen.com