Earl Staggs earned a long list of Five Star reviews for his novels MEMORY OF A MURDER and JUSTIFIED ACTION and has twice received a Derringer Award for Best Short Story of the Year. He served as Managing Editor of Futures Mystery Magazine, as President of the Short Mystery Fiction Society, is a contributing blog member of Murderous Musings and Make Mine Mystery and a frequent speaker at conferences and seminars. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Interview with Tall Chambers
by Earl Staggs
Recently, I’ve been intrigued by authors interviewing their characters. I thought it was such a neat and interesting thing to do I decided to interview Tall Chambers, the main character in my Mystery/Thriller novel, JUSTIFIED ACTION.
JUSTIFIED ACTION is a serious novel dealing with serious issues. Tall works for an agency which tracks terrorists and puts them out of business before they strike. He puts all that aside, however, when someone close to him is murdered. Then it becomes a personal matter and nothing will stop Tall from finding the killer.
In spite of the seriousness of the story, I decided to have some fun with this interview. I think you’ll learn a little about Tall and the story that plays out in the book. I also hope you’ll find a chuckle and a grin along the way.
* * * * *
EARL — Thanks for coming in for this interview, Tall. (stands, smiles, offers hand)
TALL — (shakes hands, sits) Not at all. Thanks for inviting me. Nice place you have here. What do you do?
EARL – I’m a writer. I sit here at my computer all day and punch out stories.
TALL – Interesting. Good luck with that, Carl.
EARL — Uh. . .it’s Earl.
TALL – Sorry.
EARL – That’s okay, but speaking of first names, if you don’t mind me asking, how did you get that unusual one you have?
TALL – I don’t mind a bit. A lot of people ask me about that. My real name is Tallmadge, an old family name my mother picked out. As soon as I was old enough to talk, I asked people to shorten it to Tall. Everyone did (grins) . . .except Mom, of course.
EARL –So it’s not just because you actually are tall.
TALL – No. I’ve been six foot three since I turned fifteen, but I was thin as a stick. In fact, my nickname was “Splinter.” In the Army, I learned how to exercise and work out to build myself up. I still work out an hour or two a day when I can. I don’t want to become like one of those people who sit at a computer all day and. . .sorry. No offense.
EARL – Oh, none taken. I really should exercise once in a while. Do you miss the Army?
TALL – Yes, I do. I didn’t agree with everything they did, but I felt part of something important and thought that in some small way, I could make a difference.
EARL — But you left the Army. Why?
TALL — I was reprimanded and demoted for striking a superior officer.
EARL – Oh, my. Why on earth would you do that?
TALL – I had no choice. He was doing something that could have ruined his career. I only wanted to stop him, but he started throwing punches at me. I threw one back and that was the end of the fight and my career in the Army.
EARL – I understand after you left the Army, you joined a special agency that does something pretty important.
TALL – The agency I’m with now is not one of those everyone knows about like the CIA or FBI. This agency keeps a low profile. Very few people even know it exists. I hope you understand I can’t say much about it.
EARL – So, if you told me, you’d have to kill me? (laughs)
TALL – (shrugs – doesn’t laugh)
EARL – (gulps) Okay, moving right along. Can you tell us what this agency does?
TALL – We track subversive and terrorist groups both here and overseas. If we determine they’re a threat to innocent lives, we put them down.
EARL – (grins) When you say “put them down,” do you mean. . .?
TALL – (shrugs – doesn’t grin) Unfortunately, most of them choose to die for their cause rather than go to prison, so we accommodate them. If they want to meet Allah and collect their virgins, we put them in the express lane.
EARL – (gulps) I see. How do you feel about that?
TALL – I don’t enjoy it, but it’s necessary. We have a motto: kill one terrorist, save a hundred lives. After a while, you learn to think about the lives saved, not those taken.
EARL – How do you go about doing. . .uh. . .what you do?
TALL – The usual. Guns, explosives, whatever it takes.
EARL – The book is called Justified Action. Is it all about taking out terrorists?
TALL – (hesitates, looks away) No, not for me. Someone very close to me is murdered. After that, my only focus is finding the people responsible and making things right. I use the resources of the agency, but it’s completely my own personal operation.
EARL – (gulps) When you say “making things right,” do you mean. . . ?
TALL – (shrugs – doesn’t reply)
EARL – So are you able to find who was responsible and make them pay?
TALL – (looks away again) Not exactly. It gets complicated. A lot of people are involved, some in high places.
EARL – How high?
TALL – As high as you can go. I can’t say any more than that. I hope you understand.
EARL – I understand completely. Let me ask you about—
TALL — (looks at watch, stands up) I’m sorry, but I have to go now. I have a job to do just across the street. (smiles, extends hand)
EARL – (stands, shakes hands) Uh, okay. Just across the street? When you say you “have a job to do,” do you mean. . . ?
TALL –(turns, walks to door) You’ll hear a lot of noise. I wouldn’t go outside for a while.
EARL –(gulps, watches him go)
* * *
Thanks for letting me take up some space here, PJ. I enjoy the interviews and articles you do, and I appreciate the opportunity to make an appearance.
If I may, I’d like to invite your readers to come over and visit my website where they can:
. . . . .read Chapter One of JUSTIFIED ACTION featuring Tall Chambers.
. . . . .read Chapter One of my Mystery novel, MEMORY OF A MURDER.
. . . . .read a short story called “The Day I Almost Became a Great Writer.” Some say it’s the funniest story I’ve ever written.
. . . . .read another story there called “White Hats and Happy Trails,” about the day I spent with my boyhood idol, Roy Rogers. There’s even a picture of me with Roy to prove it’s all true.
. . . . .and more.
Here’s where: http://earlwstaggs.wordpress.com
Hey Earl – you are welcome here any old time! And how bout this all of ya’ll who’ve now had the pleasure of meeting Tall Chambers. Why don’t you leave us a comment and tell us who you think he looks like? Better yet, send a photo! I bet I can wrangle Earl into a drawing for something free for someone. Let’s hear it!