October 24, 2012LITTLETON — Archer Mayor, author of the popular Joe Gunther series of crime novels, spoke for 45 minutes at the Village Book Store on Saturday afternoon. The Vermont-based writer, who works as a death investigator, has published a novel nearly every year since 1988.
Mayor's fictional character Gunther works for the Brattleboro, Vt. police department. The series has been translated into four other languages.
Mayor is known for the depth of research he puts into a book. This, along with his professional experience, has taught him much about both sides of the law. With a smile, Mayor told the VBS crowd, "I've always thought in my heart of hearts I could be a good crook."
Before turning to fiction, Mayor worked in historical research. "There was an element of liberation in the fiction," he said. When dealing with historical subjects, Mayor said, "Rumor has it, you have to write the truth."
Nonetheless, Mayor said his training in history has proven valuable after the turn to fiction. Those research skills have aided his Gunther series, Mayor noted, "but I can superimpose my own thought."
This method seems to work just fine for Mayor. He has made the New York Times bestseller list. He was also the first writer of crime literature to win the New England Independent Booksellers Association Award for best fiction.
Writing to Mayor usually occurs in short intervals. He said time riding in cars or spare moments in police stations has been used to work on his current novel.
Mayor said he likes to avoid too much description in his novels. He believes readers like to create their own vision based on the author's general framing of characters and events. "All writers should remember their readers first," Mayor said. If he reads a book that is overly descriptive, Mayor concludes that the author lacks faith in his own audience.
When asked about his own reading preference, Mayor said he avoids other crime and mystery writers. Having spent so much time in the field working or writing, Mayor said he needs a break from the area.
The same is true for popular television crime dramas. "To me, every cop show is a comedy," Mayor said.
In addition to work in death investigation, Mayor is a detective for the Windham County Sheriff's Office. He also has 25 years of experience as a volunteer firefighter and emergency medical technician.
The VBS crowd received some news about Mayor's 24th novel. It is entitled, "If Two of Them are Dead." The draft is currently more than 200 pages, Mayor said. "If you keep reading them, I'll keep writing them," the author noted.