Crime thriller author Dwayne Clayden joins me today to chat about his new novel, Speargrass-Opioid.
Welcome, Dwayne, please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I was born and raised in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. In my 42-year career in emergency services, I served as a police officer, paramedic, tactical paramedic, firefighter, emergency medical services (EMS) chief, educator, and academic chair.
My first novel, Crisis Point, was a finalist for the 2015 Crime Writers of Canada, Arthur Ellis Awards.
I love to speak at conferences and to writing groups on writing realistic police, medical, and paramedic procedures.
I am the co-author of four paramedic textbooks and have spoken internationally at EMS conferences for the past three decades.
Please tell us about your current release.
Speargrass-Opioid is set in Great Falls, Montana, and on the fictional Indian Reservation, Speargrass.
Rodeo champion Franklyn Eaglechild finds his life upended when his bull-riding injuries force him into a new line of work as the Tribal Sheriff in Speargrass, Montana. His damaged health leaves him with a pill-popping problem and a dim future of lost dreams. While coping with his personal defeats, Franklyn quickly discovers not everyone in Speargrass is thrilled to have a new Sheriff in town looking into their business—especially not the drug dealers.
Franklyn makes enemies in high places when he refuses to play by the Tribal Chief’s rules. Friends are scarce. Lucky for Franklyn, he has at least one friend he can rely on—his adopted brother and DEA Special Agent Riley Briggs in Great Falls.
As an opioid crisis spirals out of control in and around Great Falls and Speargrass, Franklyn and Riley realize they need to join forces if there is any hope of putting an end to the destruction.
What inspired you to write this book?
There were three reasons I wanted to write this novel. First, I was directly involved in the carnage the opioid crisis has created.
Second, based on my experience working on a First Nation, I saw first-hand addictions, death, and destroyed families.
Third, I am a big fan of Craig Johnson and his Longmire novel series, and the TV show. I saw the opportunity to create my own characters and world. In Speargrass, Franklyn and Riley are protagonists 1a and 1b. They share equal time in the novel, in their own sphere, but come together to solve a critical problem.
Excerpt from Speargrass-Opioid:
Franklyn Eaglechild slumped on the examination table, legs over the edge, and stared at the row of X-rays.
“Remind me, how many previous fractures?” the doctor asked.
“All from rodeo?”
“No, some from hockey.”
The doctor sighed. “The body wasn’t meant to take this abuse. I’m amazed you’re still walking.”
“About that … the pain pills aren’t doing a lot. I need something stronger.”
The doctor turned and sighed. “Look, Franklyn, Oxycontin is all I can prescribe. I shouldn’t be doing that anymore.”
“What’s the option?”
“You gotta stop rodeo. Your next argument with a two-thousand-pound bull could be your last. Any subsequent fractures might not heal. Besides, you can hardly move. How would you dodge a bull?”
“Don’t ride bulls anymore.” Franklyn smirked. “Just steer wrestling.”
“Oh great, so you jump off a speeding horse to wrestle five hundred pounds of steer to the ground.” The doctor shook his head. “What could possibly go wrong with that?”
“Come on, doc, it’s all I know.”
“Why do you sell yourself short? A month ago, you said you were applying for a job. What happened with that?”
“It’s back on the rez.”
The doctor leaned against the wall and crossed his arms. “What’s wrong with that?”
Franklyn shrugged. “I haven’t been on the rez for twenty-five years.”
“But it’s home. You got folks there?”
“Nobody close. My parents died a long time ago. Grandparents, too. Don’t know if I’d recognize anyone.”
The doctor pushed off the wall and stepped over to Franklyn. “As I told you a month ago, rodeo is in your past. If you jump off another horse, you could be crippled for life.”
The doctor rolled his eyes. “What about the job?”
“Speargrass Tribe advertised for an arena manager.” Franklyn grinned. “But they offered me the job of sheriff.
“Are you kidding me?”
“You got any experience?”
“Some,” Franklyn said. “I worked the Montana Highway Patrol. Primarily winter months after rodeo season.”
“That’s better than continuing rodeo and being crippled.”
“I didn’t think I’d get the job.” Franklyn held out his shaking right hand. “Will I be able to hold a gun?”
“You’ll be able to hold it, but I can’t guarantee you’ll be able to pull the trigger too many times. And you might not be accurate.”
“About the pain?”
“I’ll give you a two-month prescription for Oxy. But you must stop rodeo and take care of your body. Maybe try yoga.”
“Are you insane?”
“Hey, pro athletes swear by it. Give it a try.” The doctor grinned. “Lots of women go to yoga.”
Franklyn’s head jerked up. “Lots of women?”
What exciting story are you working on next?
Crisis Point, OutlawMC, and Wolfman is Back are the first three novels in the Brad Coulter Crime Thrillers series.
The fourth novel in the series, 13 Days of Terror, is now back from my editor, and I am making the final changes before sending it for proof-reading. It will be released in November 2020. I am working on the fifth novel in that series, Goddess of Justice, which will be released in early 2021.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I have always loved reading. My earliest memories are of my mother reading the Hardy Boys to me. Then I read every one. In high school, I wrote Mad Magazine type spoofs and Saturday Night Live skits. In 2010 I started my first novel, Crisis Point. I realized I was a writer when I held the full printed proof in my hands for the first time.
Do you write full-time? If so, what’s your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I am a full-time writer. My days start with coffee, the news, then to my writing cave. Around nine, I check emails and social media, and then by ten, I edit for the rest of the morning. After a lunch break, I then work on new chapters in the next novel. My most productive time for writing new material is from after lunch to midnight. Sometimes, after Valerie goes to sleep, I will write into the wee hours of the morning.
On a new novel, my goal is to write between 3-5,000 words a day for the first draft.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I use a lot of Post It Notes. My cave is covered with small notes, and large poster-sized notes with research, photos, and reminders. I still edit with paper (full of Post It Notes) and pen (a Bic four-color pen).
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
High School Physical Education Teacher/Football Coach/Police Officer
I did two out of three—a cop and football coach.
Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
13 Days of Terror—4th in the Brad Coulter Crime Thriller series—Launching in November.
My next novel is in final edit.
Monday morning. A man drops dead in the parking lot of a car dealership in downtown Calgary. No one knows where the shot came from. No one knows why the victim was targeted. The shooter? Invisible.
An hour later, another body hits the ground. Random victim, random location.
A sniper is terrorizing Calgary.
Detective Brad Coulter has just returned to work after a long leave of absence. He is thrown directly into the fire and tasked with stopping what is rapidly becoming one of the city’s deadliest killers. The shooter leaves no evidence behind but taunts Brad with notes addressed directly to him. As the death count rises, city-wide panic ensues.
It is a race against time. But how can Brad hunt a ghost?
Thanks for joining me today!