Monday, November 21, 2011

The Same Six Questions - Mike Nettleton

Welcome back to The Same Six Questions! Not to be outdone by his better half, author Mike Nettleton (husband of and co-conspirator with Carolyn J. Rose) has joined us today to give us his version of the answers. Do you think they fight over serial commas? Anyway, welcome Mike!

Thanks, Andy! I grew up in a then-tiny coastal town Bandon, Oregon and moved to Grants Pass my sophomore year. I attended Southern Oregon College in Ashland for five years and accumulated enough credits to graduate. Unfortunately, I'd taken to playing course catalogue roulette and didn't secure a degree before discovering people would pay me to talk on the radio. In 43 years, I appeared on more than twenty stations in Oregon, Northern California and New Mexico. The final sixteen years were spent at 1190 KEX and its sister stations in the Clear Channel Portland cluster. I also ran an audio production studio/creative house in Albuquerque for five years. Rob, my forty-year-old son from my first marriage works for Intel and makes far more money than I ever did. Which is a good thing. I have way too many hobbies, including, golf, tournament poker, pocket billiards, backgammon, travel and reading. Since retiring in January of 2011, I've begun acting again, appearing as Gonzalo in the Shakespeare in the Park production of The Tempest at Lovejoy Fountain Park. As soon as my hambone hormone kicks in again, I'll probably audition for another play.

The Same Six Questions

1. Have you published a book yet?

My wife Carolyn J. Rose and I have co-authored five books including The Hard Karma Shuffle and The Crushed Velvet Miasma mysteries featuring the tie-died one name detective Paladin behind the backdrop of Portland's counter-culture and The Big Grabowski and Sometimes A Great Commotion featuring investigative reporter Molly Donovan and a cast of quirky, funny and sometimes downright bizarre local characters in the fictional Oregon coastal village, Devil's Harbor. The young adult fantasy The Hermit of Humbug Mountain involves brother-sister runaways who are drawn into the ultimate battle of good versus evil deep in the heart of an Oregon Coastal mountain. My solo hard-boiled detective novel Shotgun Start has been released by Krill Press. Neal Egan, a cop who loses his badge after blind rage leads him to beat down his wife's lover has turned to the only talent he possesses to keep money coming in--that of a golf hustler who fleeces wealthy country club types with delusions of golf adequacy. When his ex-wife Desiree Diaz becomes the prime suspect in the shotgun slaying of her washed-up movie star lover, Neal is recruited by her wealthy father to help clear her and is drawn into a web of the methamphetamine trade, internet pornography, brutal bikers and New Mexico's version of organized crime. All of the books are available as Kindles and Nooks or as paperbacks.

2. When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

It was never a conscious decision (I want to be a writer and that's that!). Instead, there was an evolution. My parents gave me a portable manual Smith Corona typewriter for a high school graduation present. Since my handwriting was (and is) totally illegible this was a very practical gift. Initially, I wrote poetry (OMG is it mawkish and ugly) and then started noodling short stories for a college class. My involvement in radio saw me writing commercials, public service announcements, promos and longer form scripts. I wrote radio plays, short stories and even a screenplay. After meeting my wife and fellow writer Carolyn Rose in the debris of my first marriage exploding, I found a kindred spirit and we got involved in writer's groups in Eugene, Oregon. After winning the Pacific Northwest Writer's award blue ribbon for my short stories in the mid-nineties, Carolyn and I finally goaded each other into finishing our first joint novel, The Hard Karma Shuffle. Although we both had to continue our day jobs, we both decided writing fiction would be a part of our lives from then on.

3. What was your first lengthy piece of fiction (say, >1000 words)? What wasit about? When did you write it? Do you still have it?

In 1989 or so, I wrote a longish short story called The Oldest Living Flower Child or something like that. It was about anancient guy who'd been kept alive for research purposes for several hundred years through miraculous advances in medical technology including the replacement of nearly every organ in his body except his brain. He's only semi-lucid and flashes back to the sixties a lot including fragments of performances by Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin he may or may not have seen. The climax of the story has him guided to the roof of the hospital by a conspiratorial nurse and tractor-beamed into the belly of an enormous UFO. This story was written on the first computer Carolyn and I owned, an Apple 3C, which had no hard drive and stored data on 5-inch floppies. I believe I still have acopy on a roll of computer paper with perforations on both sides from the old-style printers. Some day, when I'm in serious writer avoidance mode, I should go back and look at it. But I'd have to fight the instinct most writers have to rewrite everything they've ever written.

4. When was your first indication, "I can do this (write)"?

In Eugene, I was in a high-quality writer's group, led by the editor and book doctor Elizabeth Lyon. Although supportive, they pulled no punches in telling you why something you wrote wasn't working for them. I'd cranked out a short story called Take It Like A Man, the night before one of our sessions. It was told from the point of view of a kid waiting to receive a vaccination--or at least that's what you think is happening. As it turns out, something entirely different is going on. As was my custom, I'd spewed the story onto the page and time being short had very little chance to proofread or edit it. To my amazement, after I read the story for group, it was met with almost total silence. I couldn't tell if they were stunned, amazed, offended or nauseated by it. Finally, Elizabethjust said, wow! That's really powerful. Other than some minor structural suggestions, there was no criticism of it. Later, I entered it in the Northwest Writer's Conference Short Story competition. I had no expectations, because I always viewed the story as the strange mutant child of my imagination. It won first place. I felt honored, validated and totally mystified by where the story had come from. The year after, my story SuckerPunch which I'd worked much harder on and rewritten numerous time, won again.

5. If you could meet oneof your characters in real life, which would it be?

I'd love to attend a potluck supper with the residents of Devil's Harbor, Oregon, where The Big Grabowski and Sometimes A Great Commotion are set. I'm sure I'd laugh a lot, and who knows, if I had enough to drink, I might even take off my shirt and get into a belly-bucking competition with the Mango Marauder. But, if I had to boil it down the one character, I'd have to say it would be Rory Monroe. Rory is the best friend, roommate and then romantic interest of Neal Egan, the ex-cop golf hustler who provides the point-of-view for Shotgun Start. She'sattractive, smart, funny and a talented artist. Although warm-hearted and generous, she has a very low threshold for pretensions, self delusion and disloyalty. The one serious relationship she had broke up just prior to marriage when "he decided I was prone to say f*** way too much." In many ways, she reminds me of my wife, Carolyn. In fact, most of my characters are amalgamations of people I've known. I borrow a speech pattern from one person, a cleft of the chin and barrel chest from another and cheap cigarillo smoking from a third and voila, whole new character emerges.

6. It's a dark and stormy're alone in the house...there's a knockat the open it, look out, and proceed to scream like a little girl.What's on the doorstep?

My doppelganger. Except it would be me as I look when I first peer into the mirror in the morning before I've had a chance to splash water on my face and suck up some coffee. What could be scarier, after all, than coming face with yourself? My ex-wife could probably cause the same reaction.


Hmmm...your answer to #6 sounds like a really good book I know of. ;) thanks for sharing, Mike! Find out more about Mike and his books and read a sample chapter at or their blog. You can also find the deadly duo on Facebook.

Come back this holiday weekend when my guest will be Toni Dwiggins!


  1. Mike- Great job with this. Needed to bookmark this as there is so much good info, and books I want to take a look at and most likely read. "The Big Grabowski" and "Shotgun Start" especially. Best of luck, and thanks for posting this Andy!

  2. Sean: Thanks for popping in. And thanks to Andy for giving me a chance to unleash my stream of conciousness. I'm knocking around to day and will check in from time to time to see what people have to say.

  3. Re: question # 6, I'm glad you said EX wife.