Thriller and Mystery author Ron Corbett.

Ron Corbett author interview.

Ron Corbett is a former radio host and newspaper columnist, his first book of fiction was Ragged Lake, the debut novel in the Frank Yakabuski mystery series, and an Edgar Award nominee for Best Original Paperback.

His latest novel, CAPE RAGE (Berkley Hardcover; on sale March 19, 2024) is a follow-up to his “dynamite new series debut” (New York Times Book Review) The Sweet Goodbye featuring undercover agent, Danny Barrett who is in the rugged landscape of the Pacific Northwest, where he is caught between a family of criminals and the psychopath who is tracking them down.

The father of four, Ron is married to award-winning photo-journalist Julie Oliver and still lives in his hometown of Ottawa, Canada, where he writes his novels from the study of a century-old house, “not far from a good river.”

In this episode, author Ron Corbett discusses his background as a journalist and how it influenced his transition into writing mystery and thriller novels. He shares insights into his writing process, mentioning how he often starts with scenes and then strings them together to form the narrative. Ron also talks about the inspiration behind his Danny Barrett series, where the protagonist is an undercover police officer who moves around different locations for each novel, adding a unique dynamic to the storytelling.

Furthermore, Ron delves into his latest novel, “Cape Rage,” the second book in the Danny Barrett series, where he introduces a powerful family and a psychopathic character to create suspense and intrigue in the story. He talks about the setting of the novel on an island and the challenges faced by the protagonist as he investigates a bank robbery while dealing with suspicion from the family. Ron also mentions his upcoming project set in Florida with a circus theme, highlighting his interest in circus performers and the unique history of Gibsonton, known for its association with the circus community.

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Latest Book

Other Books by Ron Corbett

Show Notes & Resources

  • Ron Corbett talks about his two mystery series, the Frank Yakabuski mysteries and the Danny Barrett Thriller series.
  • Ron Corbett’s latest novel, “Cape Rage,” is the second book in the Danny Barrett Thriller series, set to be published on March 19th.
  • Ron Corbett discusses how he incorporates real locations and experiences from his journalism career into his novels.
  • The podcast episode delves into Ron Corbett’s writing process, including his tendency to write by scenes rather than following a strict outline.
  • Ron Corbett mentions his daily writing routine, typically starting early in the morning, and his efforts to write every day.
  • The conversation touches on the differences between Canadian and American publishing industries, highlighting the role of government support in Canada.
  • Ron Corbett shares insights into his upcoming novel set in Florida with a circus theme, inspired by the rich history of circus performers in the Sarasota area.
  • The interview concludes with a discussion on the challenges of maintaining focus as a writer and the appeal of exploring different points of view in storytelling.
  • Meet the Thriller Author” podcast provides a platform for authors like Ron Corbett to share their writing journey, inspirations, and upcoming projects with thriller and mystery fans.

Ron Corbett Author Interview (On Video)

Transcript (Click on the triangle to access)

Note: the transcript is generated by a machine, with minimal editing from a human, so there could be errors and typos.

[00:00:00.000] – Alan Petersen
You are listening to Meet the Thriller Author, the podcast where I interview writers of mysteries, thrillers, and suspense books. I’m Alan Petersen, an author of mysteries and thrillers myself. That’s why when I decided to start an author interview podcast, I chose to interview authors in the genre that I write and love to read. It’s been a wild ride, and so far, I’ve interviewed over 200 authors and county, including thriller icons like Dean Kontz, Walter Moseley, Tess Gerritson, Lee Child, and many more. You can find the archive of all my interviews, show notes, resources, book reviews, and more over at thrillerauthors.com. From there, you can also join my Thrilling Reads newsletter for book deals on great thriller and mystery books. That’s over at thrillerauthors. Com. In this episode of the podcast, number 198, we’ll be meeting Ron Corbett, who for nearly 30 years was a newspaper columnist in Ottawa, the capital city of Canada. He wrote crime stories, court stories, and what’s known as human interest stories. Ron has written nearly 5,000 columns and features and has been nominated four times for a National Newspaper Award, the Highest Print Journalism Award in Canada. He has twice been a recipient. Ron’s first book of fiction was Ragged Lake, the debut novel in his Frank Yacabusky mystery series, and an Edgar Award nominee for Best Original Paperback.

[00:01:21.530] – Alan Petersen
His latest novel, Cape Rage, is the second book in his Danny Barrett Thriller series, which will be published on March 19th. Ron still lives in his hometown of Ottawa, Canada, with his family, and from where he writes his thrillers from a Study in a Century-old House, Not Far from a Good River. All right, so here we go with episode number 198, Ron Corbett.

[00:01:42.360] – Alan Petersen
Hey, everybody. This is Alan with Meet the Thriller author. On the podcast today, I have Ron Corbette. It’s his latest book, Cape Rage, is the next gripping crime thriller in the Danny Barrett series, which will be published on March 19th. Welcome to the podcast, Ron.

[00:01:58.430] – Ron Corbett
Well, Alan, thank you very much. Thanks for me.

[00:02:00.510] – Alan Petersen
Just to kick things off, can you tell us a little bit about your background and what inspired you to start writing these mysteries and thriller novels?

[00:02:07.620] – Ron Corbett
Okay. Well, I’m speaking to you from Canada. I’m Ottawa, Canada. Anybody listening, if they don’t know that, It’s not Toronto, it’s not Montreal. It’s Ottawa, which is the capital of Canada, halfway between Toronto and Montreal, which is my hometown. This is where I was born and raised. My background is a journalist. I was a newspaper columnist for many years. There’s two newspapers in Ottawa. Still are two newspapers in Ottawa, which I guess is a bit of an achievement, maybe. I worked for both of them as a newspaper columnist, a city columnist. Just fortunate. I had my dream job, the job I always wanted to have. Jimmy Breslin, people listening. Maybe I’m dating myself saying people like Jimmy Breslin and Mike Royko. But that’s the job I had. I wrote crime, spent a lot of time in court at police stations, getting paid for it, let’s be clear about this, those are the stories I wrote. I had that job for a great many years. That was my background as a journalist. Ottawa has Carlton University, the University here in Ottawa, a very good journalism program. I even went to school in Ottawa, in my hometown.

[00:03:16.980] – Ron Corbett
So that was my background. And newspapers were doing very well. Anybody might remember those days as well. It was a great job. I did that for a great many years. Before I started writing novels, a lot of those stories that I covered as a newspaper columnist, there were a great many of them, you’ll find in my novels. I have two series going. Danny Barrett is a Berkeley publication. So that’s a Penguin random house in print. This is the second one that comes out on March 19th, Cape Rage is the title. I also have Frank Jackobusky’s Mysties, which have been published up here in Canada. There’s four of those. So a lot of the stories that I covered as a journalist have found a way into these novels. I was also in radio for 10 years. When newspapers started petering out, I jumped the ship and did a radio show for 10 years, an open-line show. You’re in radio, you’re doing podcast a little bit, so I did radio for 10 years and started writing novels. My very first novel, I was fortunate, my very first novel, which was a Canadian novel, Ragged Lake, the first one in the Frank Jackabusky mystery, was nominated for an Edgar Award, which is where I met some of the people that We’re publishing Cape Rage. So I met some of the people down in New York. I didn’t win, but I got a dinner, nice dinner down in New York, and I met some of the people that are involved with Cape Rage. So I think that brings you right up to date, Alan, on my background and how I’ve I ended up doing what I’m doing now.

[00:04:46.210] – Alan Petersen
I’m just so curious, too, because there’s so much similarities between the United States and Canada. But do you see a lot of differences between the publishing business between the two countries? Oh, night and day.

[00:04:55.390] – Ron Corbett
It’s night and day, man. It’s night and day. Let me start. In Canada, you can survive. Well, publishing companies certainly can survive. I don’t know about writers, but publishing companies in Canada can survive on government money. You don’t really need to have a successful book. Well, sales. You don’t really need to have books that sell and make money. What a radical idea in Canada. The government will give you money to sustain Canadian publishing. In the States, your books better sell. So it’s a night and day difference right there. I don’t know whether American publishers get money from the Maybe they do. I haven’t heard of that. But in Canada, we have a lot of government programs that support Canadian publishers. So it’s an irony that way. So that’s a night and day difference right there. And the scale is just smaller. It’s smaller Canadian. The biggest Canadian publishing company would be a medium size at best, publishing company in the States. We do not have a Penguin random house. Although they have a bred, the Penguin random house. There’s Penguin Canada. And some very big name Canadian authors have started with Penguin Canada. So the scale is different. The business model is different. Those are two examples right there.

[00:06:13.120] – Alan Petersen
Interesting. And so were you a fan of the genre as a reader before you started to write these?

[00:06:18.870] – Ron Corbett
Very much. I love mysteries. Absolutely love mysteries. You amaze me because you’re covering every mystery there is going, I believe, Allan. You’re writing, you have outright readers. You write Cozies under a pen name. I don’t know how you’re doing it. You’re covering every genre there is within the genre. But I love readers. I love noir. Cape Rage, I guess we’re here to promote the book, but some writers that I admire, I’m looking at the book right now if you’re wondering where I’m tearing my head, but who was it? Mark Cameron, author of Breakneck. He said, The Shades of John D. Mcdonald and Dash O’Hammet. I can’t tell you how much that touched my heart because I have just about every Travis McGee book there is. Dash O’Hammet is just an idol of mine. These are writers that I admire. The writers that I’m still reading, I’m on a Ross McDonald kick right now. So, yeah, these are writers that I greatly admire. And so, yeah, it’s a kick to be able to write those stories as my job. It doesn’t feel like a job, but as what I do right now, it’s a real kick for sure.

[00:07:34.780] – Alan Petersen
Yeah, it’s a good pivot, too. Like you said, as a journalist, all that changes now with newspapers going away and all that. It’s such an upheaval now with the state of journalism right now.

[00:07:46.370] – Ron Corbett
We have to find something. Yes, it is. We have to find something to do, right? It’s not the- This is good timing. Yeah, it’s not the vocation that it once was. It certainly isn’t. And a lot of people have found… You do find something. Now, newspapers are still there. And as I said, Ottawa is lucky. Both the newspapers I work for are still publishing, which isn’t a conflict. Ottawa, as I said, is the capital of Canada. So there’s a lot of politics here, right? So they have a There’s an engine here. There’s stories here. There’s a way that newspapers can survive just on the politics. Now, I never covered politics. It didn’t do that much for me, and I never wanted to cover politics. It didn’t do much Not much to me. But newspapers in general, unless you’re the New York Times, you’re not doing as well as you once did.

[00:08:38.350] – Alan Petersen
Tell us a little bit about the Cape Rage then. Was this based on something that you had covered as a journalist Just or?

[00:08:46.520] – Ron Corbett
This one, no. Not so much this one. This doesn’t have… Let me just think here. Was there any part of… No, there’s not really an end to it. Some of these novels… But again, there’s two series that I have going As I said, there’s the Frank Yackabusky mysteries. That started with Ragged Lake. Again, I was fortunate enough to be nominated for an Edgar with the very first one. Ragged Lake is just littered with stuff that I would have covered as a journalist, including the location. I’ll tell you just a bit, that Penguin is going to have my head because I’m here to promote Cape Rage, not the Frank Yackabusky mysteries. But to give you an example, the very first Ragged Lake. This is my first novel. I’m still working as a journalist. I’m still working as a journalist, getting my exit strategy ready. I do what every journalist did. I type it away late at night, five o’clock in the morning, that thing, getting the book ready. It takes place on the Northern Divide, which is a real place. It’s a continental divide. It runs from Newfoundland, Labrador. Peters out in Minnesota. Peter’s out, interesting enough, not far from where Bob Dylan would have been raised. Three Hills, I think. Anyways, it was in the miles where Bob Dylan was raised is where it Peters out, the Northern Divide. I wrote stories on the Northern Divide. I didn’t just do crime. I did anything I wanted to, basically. I did wrote some features on the Northern Divide because it’s the headquarters of the Ottawa River. Now I am getting distracted, but I’ve been to the Northern Divide, and I use that as a location for my fictional Detective, Frank Jakubusky. I completely reimagined the Northern Divide. It’s cool because I love the name Northern Divide. It just sounds interesting, Northern Divide. I just reimagined all this. It’s just littered with real locations, made-up locations, places I’ve been to, people I’ve met. A lot of that is real. Six novels down the road, it’s not quite as heavy with the stories. But it’s places I’ve been to, like Cape Rage takes place Pacific Northwest, Dan Danby Island, which again, it’s a real location that I reimagined. There is no Danby Island. If you’re down in Bellingham and you’re looking for Danby Island, you won’t find it. But I lived on Vancouver Island for a year and a half. There is a Vancouver Island. If you’re plotting or trying to locate where this novel takes place, it would be 20 miles south of Vancouver Island. But again, you’re not going to find it. I told you I was on a Ross McDonald kick right now. You’re not going find a San Teresa anywhere around San Bernardino. Look, anywhere, you’re not going to find San Teresa. I’ve done the same thing with Cape Rage, which can be a lot of fun. I don’t know if you’ve done that with your novels as well. Have you placed them in a real, real place?

[00:11:46.720] – Alan Petersen
I haven’t so far, but actually, the one I’m working on now, which is… I’m still writing it, so it’s off yet, but I made it up myself, too, because it’s more freedom.

[00:11:57.020] – Ron Corbett
Has it ever?

[00:11:57.840] – Alan Petersen
Yeah, it’s based on a town. Actually, it’s in Minnesota. You mentioned Minnesota. So it’s in my head, the town and everything, but it’s made up and so much I like it. It’s a lot of freedom.

[00:12:09.040] – Ron Corbett
Well, that’s a great thing about being a fiction writer, Alan. As a newspaper columnist, it used to drive you crazy. It’s part of the job. You can’t complain. But you’d write something and somebody would complain about the most minor thing. That store was on the northeast corner. You had it on the northwest. I said, Okay, you pull your hair. But that’s a beautiful thing about fiction. You can place on whatever corner you’re on. Nobody’s going to call you on it. It’s really fun. On the Northern divide in particular, you can get so many things. It is a real place, but you can have some fun with it. Ross McDonald had a lot of fun. You almost think there has to be a San Teresa. You start looking at maps, it’s got to be. But no, there’s no San Trace. Stephen King does the same thing with Maine. I forget what his town is in Maine.

[00:12:54.850] – Alan Petersen
Castle Rock, I think, isn’t it?

[00:12:56.760] – Ron Corbett
Sorry, what is it?

[00:12:57.400] – Alan Petersen
No, Derry. It’s Derry.

[00:12:58.970] – Ron Corbett
But you think it’s got to be there. The town is got to be there, but it’s not. It’s completely… And it’s fun, fictionizing someplace that is real, but you make it fiction. And why not do it? You can have a lot of fun with it.

[00:13:13.870] – Alan Petersen
Yeah. John Sandford does that, too. One of my favorites. He writes those Virgil flowers and Lucas Davenport novels, and he makes up the towns.

[00:13:23.920] – Ron Corbett
I don’t know how you do it. You have three series. I think I’m doing okay because I have two going, but you have three going, right?

[00:13:29.750] – Alan Petersen
Yeah. Yeah, well, I’m just focusing on one now. So yeah, on two, but I’m focusing more on one. I’m not juggling all three at the same time. It’s just too difficult.

[00:13:42.200] – Ron Corbett
Yeah, it’s funny because I have a Frank Yakabuski one that just came out end of November. So I finished one-off just not too long ago. I find interesting doing two because my protagonist, Danny Barrett and Frank Yakabuski, they’re very different. So when you’re ready to put one aside, it’s nice to pick one up. I didn’t know how you were juggling three. So that’s interesting. You’ve never had juggled three then?

[00:14:09.350] – Alan Petersen
No, I just focused on one. The Cozy and the Thriller, I always have one or the other. So I do do those two. But it’s been a few months now since the last Cozy went on. So right now, I’m just focusing on the Thriller.

[00:14:22.950] – Ron Corbett
Okay. That’s interesting. You keep yourself busy, that’s for sure.

[00:14:26.530] – Alan Petersen
Yeah, it’s fine. But yeah, it It can be a little confusing sometimes, especially there’s such different genres between the two, a thriller and a cozy. You got to keep things in the light.

[00:14:39.710] – Ron Corbett
Yeah, that’s one thing I’m not doing. The genres are similar. Both these are, well, they’re noir. Well, hopefully, well, they are noir. I haven’t changed the genre to the two series.

[00:14:52.610] – Alan Petersen
I really like your cover of Cape Rage, too. It’s a very…

[00:14:56.000] – Ron Corbett
Yeah, I do, too. It’s a dynamic cover. Not AI, by the way.

[00:15:01.380] – Alan Petersen
Oh, yeah, that’s the big thing. Everyone’s so worried, concerned about everything now about AI, but we’ll see how that pans out in the next few years.

[00:15:10.500] – Ron Corbett
Well, if I was a graphic designer, I would be worried about it, but yeah, no AI.

[00:15:14.610] – Alan Petersen
Well, I have read some of the designers that I follow are thinking that’s going to help them with a little stuff, so they’ll still…

[00:15:22.860] – Ron Corbett
Let’s hope so.

[00:15:24.320] – Alan Petersen
Yeah. You’ll still think you’ll need a human input, at least in the foreseeable in the future, but who knows, right? That’s fast as things are changing. Who knows? Yeah. So you said this, so Cape Rege is the second one in the Danny Barrow series? Okay. And so how did the series come to you? Just curious about your process Do you envision it as a series when you first started thinking about it? And how did you get it?

[00:15:50.860] – Ron Corbett
Yeah, it was always envisioned as a series. And this is how it came about. The Frank Yakabuski series, it’s very much rooted in place. Place has a lot to do with all the novels. And as I said, the Northern Divide, Frank Yakabuski, all those series are going to take place in the Northern Divide. It’s going to be very important to that series where it takes place. It’s going to be very important to that character. Danny Barrett is going to be something completely different because this character, he’s an undercover police officer who travels around. And that was the whole idea. That was the starting idea behind this series and this character. So to be something completely different. Don’t stay in one place. Come up with this character that will move around so that every novel will be in a different place. I can’t think just off the top of my head what series, but there’s a few series that do that. There’s a character, and they’re always in a different place. That’s what’s going to happen with Danny Barrett. The first novel in the series, The Sweet Goodbye, he was in Maine, and he was in the woods in Maine.

[00:16:59.140] – Ron Corbett
In a way, the location wasn’t that different from a Frank Yakabuski series because the Northern Divide, he’s in the woods. It’s in the woods. The trees changed slightly, but it’s basically in the woods. I wanted to do something very different with Cape Rage. He’s on the other side. He’s jumped from one ocean to the other side, from one side of the country to the other. It’s the ocean. We’ve opened it up. Vistas, horizons, woods aren’t all that important. Well, you can see on the cover, it’s the ocean. It’s the ocean, so it’s a very different setting. Place is always going to be important to my novels. I think the novels that I like the best, Chandler, if you want to get back to Noir for a minute. When I think of Chandler, you think of LA, you think of the sand, and it wins. Place is important. I think a great story has a great sense of place. That’s what I try to do with my writing. People tell me it works when it goes well. That’s what they’re talking about. When somebody says it’s evocative, I think that’s what they’re talking about. When they say atmospheric, I know that’s what they’re talking about. I like describing. I like descriptive passages as well. I think that great noir writers. You think of them being snappy and short in these short cutting sentences, but they’re really great ones like Chander, like Hammet. His very first novel, Red Harvest, do I have that right? It starts with a description of a place, Poisonville. If you read that very first pages of Hammett’s very first novel, it’s a description of a place. The dialog is very snappy, and you get the bad guys right away, and somebody’s dead within three pages. There’s a woman that’s going to break your heart within four pages. But it starts with a description of a place. That’s going to be a big part of the Danny Barrett series, and he’s going to move around, and place is going to be very important to it. On the third one, he’s going to be in Florida. I spend a lot of time in Tampa during the winter, and so he’s going to go down south. I realized he’s going to… When I’m talking, I realize he might go from ocean to ocean. Maybe he’s going to do four corners of the United States and then-Yeah, the corner is covered. We’re going to have to dive into the middle somewhere, Indiana, for the fifth one. So that was a whole idea, getting this character, and an undercover character. He has an interesting background that I’m hoping to develop. He’s become an undercover police officer because he arrested his brother. He betrayed his brother. The very first sentence in the sweet goodbye is my very first undercover case. I arrested my brother. That was the first sentence of the first Danny Barrett story. So he’s carrying a lot of baggage. He can’t go home to Detroit. So he’s ended up as almost this lone wolf, undercover cop. He’s a specialized in that. If you have a case, if you’re an FBI, it doesn’t have to be FBI, by the way. Some people think it’s always going to be FBI. Could be ATF, could be anybody. If you have a case that is falling apart, you need some help, you pick up the phone and you might get Danny Barrett, and he’s going to come in because he’s got specialties.

[00:20:21.710] – Ron Corbett
You’re far too young, Alan, to remember this, but there used to be an old TV series called Wise Guy. That was the premise behind that show. He was an undercover Undercover Cop that he got called in. Do you know Blonde? Do you know the group Blonde? The music group Deborah Harry? In the second season of Wise Guy, Debra Harry and Tim Curry from Rocky Horror. They were in the entire second series. It was a cool second series. The main guy and wise guy, Ken Wall, then self-voted, and that was the end of wise guy. I stole the idea. So it’s an undercover cop that will go from case to case to case. And that’s what we have. That’s what Danny Barrett is.

[00:21:04.000] – Alan Petersen
Yeah. And so place takes a big part in it, you said. When you’re reading a novel, do you make sure that you’ve visited the place? Is that important to you?

[00:21:14.720] – Ron Corbett
Well, Luckily, so far, I know these places, so I haven’t really had to visit them so far. But yeah, I’m familiar with them. As I said, the Frank Akebusky series, The Northern Divide, I wrote stories about that place. And when I was writing stories about it, I thought, This is a cool place, right? This place is abandoned. There’s a cabin there, and there’s no other cabin around for 20 miles. You can do anything up here. I was thinking, God, this would be a cool place to set a crime series. I’m familiar with the place. The main woods, not that far from the Eastern township in Quebec. I’m familiar with Eastern township in Quebec. The Pacific Northwest, not sure if I mentioned this already, but I lived on Vancouver Island for a year and a half, so I’m familiar with there. When we go down to Florida, I’m familiar with the Tampa area. So it’s not research so much as I’m familiar with the areas. I wouldn’t write about something that I’m not familiar with. I think that’s the way of getting in trouble. I think in your series, you’re writing about areas that you’re familiar with, too.

[00:22:22.510] – Alan Petersen
Yeah, the same way, too. If not, I’ll feel lost.

[00:22:26.800] – Ron Corbett
Yeah, exactly. And you’re going to get caught, too, I think.

[00:22:30.150] – Alan Petersen
There’s no left turn on that street or whatever.

[00:22:37.300] – Ron Corbett
Well, that’s just silly. But I think if you want to describe a place, which is fun. Quite often, that’s It makes me want to write a story. I’m looking, I think it’s different motivation for different writers. Maybe some writers, you imagine a story from beginning, middle to end. But quite often with me, I’m walking down the street and I’ll see a river or I’ll see this or I’ll see that and say, I want to describe that. I think it’s the same way with Chandler. There’s no way he can describe the Santa Ana wind and running down and, Oh, he’s got some beauty. He’s experienced that and he wants to write about it. So, yeah, it’s not research so much as wanting to describe what you’ve already experienced.

[00:23:22.030] – Alan Petersen
What’s your writing process like then? If we get into the nitty-gritty of writing, do you outline or do you write?

[00:23:29.700] – Ron Corbett
I do it. It’s funny. I just had to do another interview. Now, this is funny. With the death of newspapers, everybody, an interview nowadays is they email you questions, right? You have to answer. That’s what passes for an interview nowadays. This isn’t an interview. I’m basically doing your work for you. This isn’t an interview. He’s sending me questions by email. But I just had to do this. I come up with scenes, and I’ve done some reading recently, and Chandler was the same way. I’m Well, I guess I am comparing myself to Chandler. I’m not saying that I’m comparable to Chandler, but Chandler was the same way, and you could see it in his stories. It caused him some problems sometimes because it didn’t always hang together. Do you know the great story about Chandler with the chauffeur?

[00:24:15.600] – Alan Petersen

[00:24:16.450] – Ron Corbett
I forget. Was it the long goodbye? I forget which one, but there’s a chauffeur that’s killed. I think it was the long goodbye. There’s a chauffeur that’s killed in one of his stories, and he never wraps that up. He never says what happened to the chauffeur. When they were making a movie of it, Billy Wilder called him up and said, Who killed the chauffeur? Chandler’s response was, I have no idea why. Then he said after a pause, Why? Do you think it’s important? Why do you think it’s important? But Chander wrote by scenes. He’d imagine scenes, and he’d have all these scenes, and then he’d string them together. Some of his novels, The Long Goodbye Beat One, were actually short stories that he’d string together. He’d have some Philip Marlowe short stories, and then he’d string them together in, Here’s a novel. So it wasn’t a beginning, middle, end story a thing. I’m the same way. I have scenes, and then I have to string them together. I wish it was beginning, middle, end. I think it would be a lot easier if it was beginning, middle, end, because quite often you have these scenes, and how do you connect them? I can see how you get here to there to there. But this one’s sticking out in left And I don’t know how in the world you’re going to connect this. So that’s how the process and how the logistics of it is early in the morning. I get up early in the morning, 5:00 in the morning, that’s when I start writing. And that’s the process. I do it by scene, by scene, by scene, which I think a lot of people do. I’ve read recently, it was a fellow that wrote Gray Man.

[00:25:57.210] – Alan Petersen
Oh, Mark Greaney.

[00:25:58.650] – Ron Corbett
Yeah, I believe he I think he does the same thing. I saw an interview with him recently. I think he does the same thing. I think James Lee Burk does the same thing. You imagine some scenes. The question I was, the interview, the fake interview. Thank God for you for doing a real interview. But the fake interview Do you start at the end? Quite often, the scene I have, which compounds my problem, is at the end. I’ll have the final scene. Then, Okay, that’s great. So where did we start? I don’t know. Where should we start?

[00:26:27.920] – Alan Petersen
How did I get there?

[00:26:28.780] – Ron Corbett
How did I get there? The one exception, interestingly enough, is Cape Rage. It’s the one exception out of the, I guess, seventh novel. With this one, I did have the opening scene. The opening scene is one of the first things I had, which made it a little bit easier. But the one before the Sweet Goodbye, it was one of the very final scenes that I had. Then you got to back it all the way up. What about you?

[00:26:54.150] – Alan Petersen
I outlined. I tried to outline. I did the scene by scene summary, and then I flush it up from there. I should try that one of these days. Half the time, I don’t end up following it anyway. But it just helps. It helps me get organized, I guess.

[00:27:12.650] – Ron Corbett
I’m trying to do a bit more of that. I did try to do it. Well, on the fourth, the Yakabuski one that I just did, I did do a bit more of that. And it did help. Although, as you just said, it’s not flawless.

[00:27:24.930] – Alan Petersen
I think it varies because I’ve interviewed a lot of writers, and some wouldn’t be able to write if they had it all outlined. They need to have just figured out as they go.

[00:27:36.350] – Ron Corbett
I don’t quite… That’s what I used to do. Just completely jump off a cliff and hope you build a plane before you smuck your face. I think that’s a little bit foolish now. I have a variation of that. Somewhere in the middle, I think, is where you want to be, probably.

[00:27:51.310] – Alan Petersen
Yeah, I agree. That’s what Lee Child does. He just says every September, he starts… Well, he retired now, but every September, he will start to write a story and figure it there.

[00:28:02.200] – Ron Corbett
It’s nerve-wracking. It’s a younger man’s game. Maybe that’s why he’s retired and let his brother go through all that stress. Here you go.

[00:28:15.310] – Alan Petersen
Let him deal with it now.

[00:28:17.580] – Ron Corbett
That’s funny.

[00:28:18.400] – Alan Petersen
That is something that I’ve seen with Danny Barrett, like going from town to town. It reminds me of Jack Reacher a little bit, how Jack Reacher goes around. A little bit, I guess so.

[00:28:27.200] – Ron Corbett
I hadn’t thought about that. A little bit. I know.

[00:28:30.900] – Alan Petersen
In this one, too, now, there’s a little bit of like the… I don’t want to give too much away, but there’s a powerful family that Danny Barrick is going to deal with and a psychopath. That’s a lot of fun. That’s two of my favorite things, mob type stuff, serial killers. How did that play into the story? And how did you get the ideas to combine the two?

[00:28:55.060] – Ron Corbett
The psychopath you referred to, that was what I met with one of the very first scenes. It’s that psychopath who gets betrayed. The family betrays him, leaves him for dead. So this is how he revenges a big part of the story. And that scene where he’s left for dead, but he’s not dead. And he suspects it’s his wife. I’ll give a little bit of story away. He suspects it’s his wife who’s part of his family has betrayed him. That’s one of the opening scenes. Actually, I just had a quick look in the book, getting ready for the interview. I had a quick look at it again. And I think that’s the first There’s a prolog, there’s a first chapter. There’s a prolog in the first chapter. That scene is in the first chapter. That’s the first thing I wrote, that he’s laying there wondering, Was it my wife? Was it my wife? Yes, it was my wife. I’m really angry at my wife. If I survive, what should I do? That was the first scene. I did want to set that up because another thing you haven’t mentioned, Allan, and whether you should, but the family lives on an island. I thought that would be interesting to have Barrett on an island, and they start to get suspicious of him. Imagine being on an island, you don’t have a boat. They’re not giving you the keys to a boat, so you’re on an island, and they start to get suspicious of you. So there’s that of creeping suspense on the island as this guy is making his way to the island because he was shot like a thousand miles away. So he has to get his way to the island. And I thought, that’s tense. That’s going to be suspensful. So that was in terms of plotting. That’s what I wanted to have, know that. I think it worked. I think that worked. So it was like double suspense, if you will. Like him being stuck in that island, trying to figure it all out. I won’t give too much away, but his undercover assignment is to try to figure out whether this family has robbed a bank, get evidence of that, as they all get a suspicion of him. I love the bad guy, that guy that was shot. His name was Henry Carter, and I just loved him as a bad character. I was sad when he didn’t make it. I don’t want to give too much away, but he doesn’t make it. The bad guy doesn’t make it. I was said, I think, It’s a real shame. I wish he could have made it because I would have loved to have seen him. I’m almost tempted to do another book where you get the young Henry Carter because he was quite a character. Anyways, that’s what kept me. Him being stuck on an island and this bad guy can boom, boom, boom. He makes quite Well, it’s a trip. Did you read the… I thought everybody reads it. They don’t want to put you on the spot, but it’s not easy getting his way to the island, right? He starts with nothing, so he has to get to the island. So there’s a few… There’s some adventures getting to the island. Anyway, I love that character. I just love that character.

[00:31:48.930] – Alan Petersen
Yeah. That’s interesting, too, because your different points of views. Is that something that you’re thinking- I do that all the time.

[00:31:57.060] – Ron Corbett
I probably do it way too much. It makes It makes it way too much work.

[00:32:01.630] – Alan Petersen
I like that as a reader, though. It keeps things more interesting when you get in from different perspectives.

[00:32:06.660] – Ron Corbett
What’s interesting about that, though, is it’s a first-person character, Danny Barrett. It’s a first-person protagonist. Well, look at this yourself, but I don’t know how often a first-person protagonist has the different point of view. I actually researched this. Chandler doesn’t do this. You stay with Philip Marlowe from beginning to end, Ross McDonald, Lou Archer. You stay with Lou Archer from beginning to end. It’s a bit unusual to have a first-person protagonist and have the two points of view. James Lee Burke doesn’t. It’s a bit unusual. I wish I could not do it. I’ve told myself so many times, Ron, Stop it, stop it, stop it. I tried. Actually, I tried it. But anyways, I ended up doing it. I enjoyed doing it. I think it adds something to a novel if you get the two points of view. I just can’t stop doing it. I wish I could. I wish I could just stay with I think it’d be simpler if I could stay with the one guy all the way through, and I just can’t do it. I don’t know why I can’t do it. But so I ended up with the two points of view. This one, I think, has three points of view at times. And there you have it. I just ended up doing it.

[00:33:13.700] – Alan Petersen
Yeah, that was going to be one of my questions, too, about do you ever surprise yourself in the direction the stories take when you’re writing it? And like here you said, you’re trying to do one thing and you ended up doing something else.

[00:33:26.570] – Ron Corbett
Yeah, even when I’m consciously doing it, I’m almost like trying to tie my hands down and say, Don’t do it, don’t do it. Then they come across a pastor and say, Oh, that would work just too well. Why not do it? I’m even telling myself, Because you’re making work for yourself, idiot. Okay, okay. Then you say, Okay, the next one, you do it on the next one. I’ve told myself, one of these books, you’re going to stay with the guy. It’s just if Chandler can do it, you could… There are these other people could do it. I’m not saying I’m going to write a book as good as Chandler, but maybe it’s a tension deficit disorder or something. I just cannot stay with the guy continuously. I keep on thinking, Oh, well, what’s going on over there? Then you just diverge and you go somewhere else. But maybe it is just a real skill that I don’t have, but to stay with the one character and not break away from that character, which is what happens with the Philip Marlowe story. You never leave Philip Marlowe. If you read Ross McDonald, you never leave Lou Archer. I’m not sure if it’s the same as Jack Reacher. Maybe it is. Maybe you never leave Jack Reacher. I haven’t done the research, but I have with Chender, I have with Ross McDonald. I think it’s the same with John D. Mcdonald. I don’t know, but I don’t think you never leave that character.

[00:34:42.660] – Alan Petersen
So it’s a skill. Yeah. That’s interesting. So you were reading those books, you started out as a fan, but then as a writer, you read them to try to study the craft? Is that- Yes, very much so. Yeah, I find that. But that’s the best way to learn, isn’t it? Is just to read some of the greats out there.

[00:35:00.750] – Ron Corbett
Yeah, no, absolutely. When I was fictionalizing the Northern Divide, when I started doing that, I was wondering, well, can you do that? Can you have real places and just drop in a fake place? Is that allowed? Is that going to kill people? Can you do it? And I thought, I thought. And then San Teresa from Ross McDonald. And I remember the day, I was like, Yes, you can do this. Have no fear. Boldly go. You can do this. And then Stephen King reconfirmed it. Yes, you can do this. Quit worrying about it. Yeah, doing some research.

[00:35:33.620] – Alan Petersen
I always ask my guests about the tools that they use. Do you write with Word or something different or by hand?

[00:35:41.410] – Ron Corbett
Microsoft Word.

[00:35:42.560] – Alan Petersen
Microsoft Word, yeah.

[00:35:43.710] – Ron Corbett
The only program I’ve ever used. Okay. Apple, Mac is the only computer I’ve ever used.

[00:35:50.250] – Alan Petersen
So you say you write in the morning, so you have set hours. You try to write every day?

[00:35:59.470] – Ron Corbett
I have, yes. The short answer, yes. Yes, I try to write every day. Although I have just finished the fourth, I said the fourth Jakubusky one. I finished it just before Christmas. It varies, right? When you’re finishing something, it’s very intense. And And that was very intense finishing that one. Christmas came, so it relaxed a little bit. I’m not totally religious about it. When you finish a major project, you relax a little bit. And then if you’re not Write right into it, it’s so relaxed. It doesn’t seem. But yes, I’m in front of a computer and I’m doing something every day. Yes. Yeah. It’s a different phase. I haven’t started something seriously. It’s different when you start something seriously and then it seems like then you have hours. It seems like you have office hours when you’re writing stuff. You seriously have office hours.

[00:36:51.140] – Alan Petersen
Yeah, especially at this phase now, now that you’re in the promotion, now you’re talking with people like me versus writing.

[00:36:58.410] – Ron Corbett
But I write in the morning. I write every day. That’s pretty much the short answer. I try not on the weekend. I do it for my family, so I give everybody a break. John D. Mcdonald. It’s funny how some people do it, and some people are very… He was religious. I just read this recently. John D. Mcdonald wrote 8, 9, 10 hours a day, but Monday to Friday. I guess the deal he had with his wife, and he made good money. He was a successful author for a long time. Monday to Friday, five o’clock on Friday, he knocked off and took his wife to the country the Golf & Country Club, and they had a big dinner on Friday. Then he was back at it on Saturday. But casual hours, Saturday and Sunday, but seven days a week. Then Monday to Friday, it was 9, 10 hours. But five o’clock Friday, knocked off And he took his wife to the golf and country club. He lived in Sarasota. I’ve been to his house. I’ve seen the golf and country club, and that was the deal with the wife.

[00:37:54.160] – Ron Corbett
Stephen King. He still keeps insane hours, I believe. Yeah.

[00:37:56.550] – Alan Petersen
He says he writes at least six pages a day, no no matter what, is what he tries to do, Steven King.

[00:38:02.460] – Ron Corbett
I bet he writes more than that. Yeah.

[00:38:04.930] – Alan Petersen
And John McDonald, those guys, they’re all writing on typewriters, too, back in those days.

[00:38:09.610] – Ron Corbett
Do you imagine?

[00:38:11.450] – Alan Petersen

[00:38:13.050] – Ron Corbett
Neither could I.

[00:38:14.860] – Alan Petersen
Can’t even imagine the pile of papers that you have to go through afterwards. Bad enough to do it in a word document.

[00:38:21.910] – Ron Corbett
I know. But it shows the interest. I wonder this. I can’t imagine doing it on a typewriter, but… Yeah, I don’t know. I don’t know how they did the editing, but it just shows you. They must have been so focused. It must have been just such a rhythm. Do you think maybe you get lazy on a computer? You just know that you can move things around, you can edit it? Do you get a bit lazy, maybe?

[00:38:40.430] – Alan Petersen
I would think so. You’d probably write a lot cleaner if you knew you had to go back and retype things.

[00:38:45.940] – Ron Corbett
I would think so. Yeah.

[00:38:47.710] – Alan Petersen
So we’d probably write a lot dirtier because it’s easier to go back.

[00:38:51.230] – Ron Corbett
You wonder. You just have to wonder. I’ll fix it later. Yeah, you just move on.

[00:38:59.730] – Alan Petersen
So what are you working on now? So you said you just… Cape Rage comes out on the 19th. You have a new Yabowska that came out in December, right? So what’s that?

[00:39:10.290] – Ron Corbett
It came out at the end of November. Yeah, basically December. That one, Musky Falls. I like that one. That was a little bit different. Actually, I stole part of that idea from Stephen King. That started off as a short story that grew and grew. It was supposed to be a very casual thing. I think it still did end up being a very casual thing, but it was It was Jackabusky’s first case. He was being interviewed by a reporter. Actually, there’s some nice little twists and turns. It turned out to be a who done it. It had some nice things in it. But it’s a bit unusual because it’s not a full-blown Yackabusky. It doesn’t have the same big characters that a full Jackabusky would. It was just Jack being interviewed by a reporter recalling this first case, which was never solved. And so it goes back and forth from him talking to the reporter in current time, going, remembering in his first case, which was never solved. As he’s retelling that case, something occurs to him, about what he was missing. Then he goes back and he solves the case. There’s a neat character. One of the reasons I stuck with that was there. There were some neat characters in that. It was like a locker room mystery. Again, there was four suspects in that first case, but he could never figure out which one it was. Then he figured it out as he was talking to the reporter. It was a bit unusual. The structure was a bit unusual. Had a neat an ending, and people seemed to have enjoyed it. Musky Falls was titled that one. That came out just the end of November. I’m toying around with the next Danny Barrett one, which Again, it’s going to be set in Florida, around Tampa. It’s going to have a circus theme. Actually, it’s Sarasota. We’re talking about John D. Mcdonald. He lived in Sarasota. Sarasota is where all the circus performers used to winter. They’d travel in the heyday of the circus. They all traveled around on trains. And in the winter, they’d stop for a few months, and they lived in Sarasota in this town called Gipseton, which is a cool little town. It was founded by circus performers and carny performers. There was a difference between circus performers and the carny people and the freaks. A lot of the carny people did the sideshows, and they were the freaks. And Gibsontown was founded. It’s still there. It’s still there. It was founded by the freaks. And they have, what is it? The Carnival Travel. Anyway, there’s a trade association for these people. It was founded back in the ’30s. It’s still there. The Trade Association is still there. They have one of the biggest bars I’ve ever seen in Gipseton, Florida. Anyway, there’s going to be a circus theme to the whole thing. And Danny Bear is going to be down in Florida when the circus comes to town. So I’ve been playing around with some ideas on that. And I’m going to be going full bore on that, I hope in a couple of weeks. And that’s going to be me writing till the fall.

[00:42:10.170] – Alan Petersen
That sounds great. I really enjoy that movie, that old movie called Freaks.

[00:42:13.590] – Ron Corbett
I can’t remember that one.

[00:42:15.220] – Alan Petersen
It’s from the ’50s, I think. That was a very good movie about that whole scene.

[00:42:19.990] – Ron Corbett
I’m going to have to look it up. Well, that whole thing just fascinates me. The Wringling Brothers, their house is a big museum just outside of Sarasota, and the whole area around there. It’s just really interesting.

[00:42:32.170] – Alan Petersen
Interesting, yeah. Yeah. Okay, well, that’s great. So, yeah, looking forward to that one. And of course, Cape Rage comes out on the 19th. March 19th, yes. Yeah. By the time people are listening to this, go check it out. Go get it on Amazon. And Ron, so Yeah. Thanks so much for coming on the podcast. Really enjoyed talking to you.

[00:42:47.750] – Ron Corbett
Thanks so much for having me. It was a great conversation.

[00:42:50.890] – Alan Petersen
Thank you for listening to Meet the Thriller author. If you enjoy the show, please take a moment to rate and review it on your preferred podcast platform. Your feedback makes all the difference in connecting with fellow Thriller and mystery fans, and it helps them find this podcast on the podcasting apps like Apple and Spotify. For show notes, transcripts, and archives of hundreds of author interviews, please go to thrillingreads. Com. From there, don’t forget to sign up for the Thrilling Reads newsletter for exclusive access to giveaways, discounts, and astounding thriller and mystery book recommendations and reviews. Check out my thriller books at AlanPetersen.com. Remember, that’s PeterSen with an E, not a no. Until next time, keep the pages turning and keep the mysteries unraveling.

About the Author
I write thriller and crime fiction novels and host the Meet the Thriller Author podcast where I interview authors of mystery, thriller, and suspense books.

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