Interview with T.E. Wood, author of Fixed in Fear
11 Dec 2015
Fixed In Fear finds The Fixer back in action, tracking down a bad guy who’s been on the run for years after killing his best friend and business partner. The Fixer’s a little rusty, having tried to live without her habit of avenging innocents who have been denied justice, but she eventually finds him. The rust falls away and she handles him in a way we’ve not seen from her before. Mort’s working with a small town police chief on a case involving a mass murder at a spiritual retreat. His best friend, world renowned Nobel laureate L. Jackson Clark was once married to the uncle of one of the victims and Mort’s made a promise to find the person responsible. His investigation uncovers some bitter truths, changing the way he and Larry view their own perceptions of reality. Adding to the drama, Allie, Mort’s villainous daughter, comes for a visit. What she has in mind for her family leaves everyone shaken.
Pretend you qualified for the Olympics this year. What sport would you compete in?
It’s a most unusual Olympics this go round. Several new events have been added and I’m pleased to represent my country in two. I’ll enter The Parade of Nations during the opening ceremonies wearing the black turtle neck and capri pants reflecting the common uniform of interior decorators everywhere. I think I’ll capture the gold with my championship ability to use transitional pieces to unite diverse decorating styles. I’m confident I have a chance to medal again in another new event, Sixty Second Opinion Formation. Let the judges throw topics at me at their will. I’m prepared. If I don’t already have an opinion on whatever the situation is, I am confident the judges will see me develop one, right before their eyes, quickly and without any impediment of reliance on facts.
What books do you find yourself returning to again and again?
There are so many wonderful books out there. As a general rule I don’t re-read books. In fact, there are only two I’ve read more than once. I read “To Kill A Mockingbird” each year I turn an age that has a zero in it. Please don’t make me tell you how many times I’ve read it. Suffice it to say Harper Lee’s brilliance eases a bit of the sting of entering a new decade. The only other book I’ve read again is “Prince of Tides”. I remember reading Pat Conroy’s masterpiece slowly, not wanting the experience to end. When I finally did finish, I closed the book, took a deep breath, and re-opened it to page one and began anew.
Where’s your favorite place to hike?
I’ll hike any place, any time, any weather. There’s something about putting on my boots and heading out for a long walk that elates me in a way nothing else does. It’s tough to think of my absolute favorite, but when you asked the question two places leapt to my consciousness. The Narrows trail in Zion National Park is a real favorite. I hike it in reverse. The trail ends in the main area of the park. I hike the one mile asphalt path that leads to the Virgin River. From there, the river itself is the path. I hike upstream. Sometimes the water is ankle deep, sometimes it’s chest deep, and there are still other times when I’m actually swimming upstream to stay on the trail. The canyon walls soar above me on either side, at times so close I can touch both walls by spreading my arms. Exhilarating.
The other hike that came immediately to mind is the hike to the ice caves on Lake Superior. I’ve been lucky enough to do that twice. It’s rare that the ice conditions are conducive to hiking such distances. The lake is deep and must be frozen quite solidly. The air is frigid. Both times I hiked it was twenty degrees below zero. You walk across the frozen lake, seeing nothing but endless white and an electric blue sky. About a mile and a half from where you first walk onto the lake, you come to an elaborate line of sea caves, carved out of the rock by millennia of crashing lake waves. As the water freezes, so do the waves. Fantastic natural ice formations form frozen cathedrals in the rocks. It’s not for the faint of heart…nor is it for anyone who doesn’t have the kind of gear required for ice walking in such arctic weather. But if you can do it, you’ll be rewarded with sights I’ll bet you’ll recall even on your death bed.
If Fixed In Fear is turned into a movie, who would you pick to play Mort?
You know, the most common thing I hear from readers is that they can see these books as movies. I take that as a high compliment. I just love Mort. When I write him I picture James Garner…from his Rockford Files years. Mort is this fantastic blend of qualities. He’s sexy. He’s vulnerable. He’s paternal. He’s smart. And above all, he’s loyal to people he loves. That’s the one trait that may ultimately lead him to ruin. But more about that later. Since the great James Garner is no longer with us, when I picture Mort on the silver screen, I think of three actors who could convey all the nuances of Morton Grant. I see Ed Harris, Tom Hanks, or Viggo Mortenson in the role. It’s that combination of power wrapped in humble approachability that makes Mort so terrific. I think any of these three actors could do right by him.
You wouldn’t be caught dead, where?
I wouldn’t be caught dead in lots of places…or if you did catch me there, I most certainly would be dead and someone dragged me there to spite my opinionated stubbornness (please refer back to the Olympics question). Let’s see…I wouldn’t be caught dead in a strip club. Why do they call them “Gentlemen’s Clubs”? There’s not a gentle man in there. I picture a room filled with losers. Men whose seduction skills are so lacking they need to plunk down cold hard cash to see a naked woman. I wouldn’t be caught dead in one of those boot camp fitness places. Full tilt aerobic exercise for sixty straight minutes? Pah-leeze! Surely there’s a Ben & Jerry’s nearby where you could drop me off. I’ll pick you up when you’re done, I promise. I wouldn’t be caught dead at one of those drink-and-drown party boats where you can sample all the liquor you want for one set price of $85.00. Oh, yes! Let’s all hop on a boat and spend four hours with fifty strangers all determined to make the operators lose money on them. I picture a line up around the railings about three hours in, with bleary-eyed revelers heaving their rum-soaked guts into the bounding main. Doesn’t that sound like fun? Oh, my dear. There are so many places I wouldn’t be caught dead.
What’s your favorite quote or scene from Fixed in Fear?
What a great question! I can’t think of just one. There are two new characters in this book I’ve fallen madly in love with. One is Rita Willers. Rita is a Native American chief of police in Enumclaw, Washington. The mass murders occurred on her turf. She realizes her small town lacks the resources to investigate the case and is pleased to have Mort assist her. But Rita doesn’t kowtow to anyone. She knows who she is and isn’t about to take any guff, not even from Seattle’s Chief of Detectives. Her heritage keeps her close to the land, and she uses her centeredness and experience in animal tracking to hunt down fugitives. I find myself energized when I write her scenes in a way that’s different from other scenes. And then there’s Bilbo Runyan. Bilbo is a child of the 60’s who somehow never left the pot-fueled, tie-dyed, Hey Man, days of his youth. There’s an innocence about him that is endearing. Of course, that is, until it’s not. Don’t let Bilbo fool you. His scenes bring a smile to my face and a whisper to my gut that all is not as it seems.
Do you have a motto, quote or philosophy you live by?
I’m a collector of quotations. I guess I’m basically a lazy person. A whole lot of people, much smarter than I, have said some wildly brilliant things. I figure if I quote them, I don’t need to be bothered having truly original thoughts. It would be tough to single just one from my ever-expanding collection. (I am quick to attribute quotations to their source. I may be lazy, but I’m not a thief.) I do, however, have one over-riding philosophy by which I live. I am vitally aware that this is my brief, temporary, quickly-disappearing time to be alive. There were billions of years before me when I wasn’t alive. There will be billions of years after me when I’m no longer alive. This is my time. I get to be alive now. It’s temporary and I’m going to do my best to milk it for every experience I can. I love to walk through grave yards. The tombstones offer a piece of history I find intriguing. Whenever I pass through one, I hope the folks buried there made the most of their own temporary time. I make sure I do at least one thing each and every day to celebrate the fact that I woke up on this side of the grass today. It helps keep my life juicy.
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