Tag Archives: Tim O’Mara

Author Showcase with Ross Klavan, Tim O’Mara, and Charles Salzberg

Triple Shot

Ross Klavan “Thump Gun Hitched” – I’ve got two main characters. . .Ty Haran and Bobby Dane. Both start off as cops in LA and both end up without badges and in real trouble. Haran is older, an experienced special officer and a decorated veteran who fought in the Middle East and has no illusions about heroism. He’s also trying not to let Bobby Dane drive him back to drinking (and failing at that). As for Bobby Dane, he’s been like a son to Haran, looks up to him but never really caught on to what Haran’s been trying to tell him—“Try not to get yourself killed.” These two guys have had one another’s backs for years…and ultimately, that’s what gets them into hard times.

For questions. . .

–If I had to ask each of them personally, the question would be. . .”What the hell were you thinking?” I guess Haran would say that watching out for one another became a habit and eventually they ran up a bill between them, a debt, that nobody could pay. So when Bobby Dane needed help, Haran listened, even though he wanted to wash his hands of the guy. And I think Bobby Dane would say that he wanted to be like Haran, or at least his fantasy of what kind of guy Haran was, and that kind of thinking can lead you to trouble, the kind that you can’t turn back from.

–I’d ask myself. . .are these guys based on anyone real? Good question. They’re a combination of certain guys I knew in the Army and when I was reporting the news, mixed in with fictional characters so that the reader gets an interesting take on this kind of story. And, I used to know a guy who taught hand-to-hand combat and was mostly hired by the police and military. He said he was once a cop. . .until he spent a year in prison after doing something really stupid with a handgun while drunk at a cop party. That’s what gave me the germ idea for the story.

–I’d also ask about the tone of the story—it’s really sort of a Western with automatic weapons. As a city boy, I like the desert. . .I like the way it looks and the feel of just that much lurking danger. I have a lot of respect for the desert and the Sun and what’s out there and have had enough experience not to go too far out. But I enjoyed writing about two guys who were friends who wind up in real danger in a place that’s dangerous just because it is.

The lead character in Smoked, you can call him Aggie, is a low-level marijuana and crystal meth dealer doing business in an unnamed Midwestern state. He’s the kind of guy who—when not selling illegal substances—is either lying or rationalizing. (You can tell because his lips are moving.) After getting in way over his head, and putting the few loved ones he has in jeopardy, he finds an inner strength he never knew he had in order to make things right. Back east in New York City, we refer to this realization as “Growing a pair.”

Question: Is Aggie based on someone in your life?
Answer: Yes. And to answer your next question, I’m pretty confident I’m safe from any liability as this person doesn’t read all that much and would have to admit to some pretty shady—read illegal—activities if he (or she) ever decided to prove Aggie was based on him (or her.)

Question: Why base the story in the Midwest? Aren’t your Raymond Donne novels all set in the New York City (mostly Brooklyn) area?
Answer: I spend a lot of time in the Midwest as that’s where my wife grew up and my in-laws still live. I visit with my wife and daughter twice a year—summer and Christmas—and have developed quite a fondness for the location and the people. As much as I love NYC, I need to get out every once in a while, either physically or through my fiction. Writing about a location I don’t actually live in was quite a challenge and I learned a lot from taking it on.

Question: Will we see “Aggie” in a future novella?
Answer: Read Smoked—and the other two novellas in Triple Shot—and then you tell me. Since he is a first-person narrator with a penchant for manipulating the truth, it could go either way.

Trish Sullivan, approaching forty, is an on-air TV investigative reporter, working for a Syracuse, New York daily newscast. She’s smart, talented, and most of all ambitious. She realizes that if she’s going to move up on the food chain, which means getting signed by a network like NBC, ABC, and CBS, or a cable news network like CNN, MSNBC or Fox, she’s going to have to do it soon. And the only thing that’s going to get national attention is a big story. And so, when Trish is contacted by Meg Montgomery, who’s serving a life sentence for murdering her husband and two young children insisting she’s innocent, Trish thinks this might be the breakout story that gets her where she wants to go.

Meg Montgomery is in her early thirties, blonde, very pretty—thing a young Meg Ryan. She’s married and has two children, both under the age of 10. Or rather she was married with children. Now she’s in prison, convicted of killing all of them. She claims innocence and, with no other avenue open to her to prove that, she writes a letter to a local TV news reporter, Trish Sullivan, in hopes that Trish will investigate her case and perhaps uncover the real killer.

In effect, Meg and Trish are not so different—opposite sides of the coin—and this is perhaps what attracts them to each other.

Questions for Trish Sullivan
1. What made you go into the news business?
I’ve always been a news junkie. When I was a kid every night I looked forward to the news. I imagined myself up there, telling a story, breaking news to the public. My idol was Barbara Walters. She was tough, honest, and not afraid to ask the right questions. That’s who I wanted to be when I grew up. I wanted to interview important people. I wanted to travel around the world. I wanted to watch news being made and I wanted a hand in making the news.

2. What made you decide to investigate Meg Montgomery’s conviction?
Frankly, I saw a bit of myself in Meg. She looked fragile and yet she was obviously tough. She had to be to go through what she did. I was predisposed to believing she was innocent, but I wanted to make sure, which is why I offered her the choice. I wouldn’t investigate her case unless she took a polygraph test and passed. When she did, I was thrilled. This might be the story I was looking for, the story that would get the attention of the national news organizations. And if I could find enough evidence to get her a new trial, I was sure it would get me out of Syracuse and onto the career path I always wanted.

3. How did you feel when you realized you were being manipulated?
Betrayed. Embarrassed. Ashamed. I’d put my faith in Meg and she’d used me. My credibility was damaged, perhaps beyond repair. I knew I had to do something, otherwise my career would be over.

Questions for Meg Montgomery
1. Why did you marry your husband?
I was the girl from the wrong side of the tracks. The cute girl who was always popular in school, but still looked down on simply because I didn’t come from a family with money or prestige. Marrying my husband was a step to change all that.

2. What was your marriage like?
It was more like a business partnership more than a marriage. My husband gave me something: legitimacy and instant prestige. He got a very pretty woman to be by his side, which raised his stock as much as he raised mine. That’s why I say it was a business deal more than a love match. But love fades anyway, so I didn’t think I was doing anything particularly wrong. He gained something and so did I, but in the end I gave more than I got, because he was not the man I hoped him to be.

3. Did you feel remorse or guilt for what happened?
I’m not the kind of person who looks back. I do what I do, what I have to do to survive, and I try not to judge myself. I know other people judge me all the time, so why would I have to judge myself?

Shadow towns, smugglers and secret notes—this trio of New York authors are a Triple Shot of twists and turns in three novellas published by Down & Out Books, August 2016

Payback leads to an unmarked grave in Ross Klavan’s Thump Gun Hitched. A freak accident forces two L.A. cops to play out a deadly obsession that takes them from back alley payoffs to hard time in prison, then deep into the tunnel networks south of the border to a murderous town that’s only rumored to exist. Before the last shot is fired, everything they thought was certain proves to be a shadow and everything they trusted opens into a trap.

Life was so much simpler for Tim O’Mara’s marijuana-selling narrator in Smoked when all he had to worry about was keeping his customers, now ex-wife, and daughter satisfied. When he forges a reluctant alliance with his ex-wife’s new lover, he realizes there’s lots of money to be made from the world’s number one smuggled legal product—cigarettes. Unfortunately, his latest shipment contained some illegal automatic weapons. Now he’s playing with the big boys and finds the price of the game way over his head. Murder was never part of his business model.

And finally in Twist of Fate, Charles Salzberg follows Trish Sullivan, an ambitious TV reporter working in a small, upstate New York market. She receives a note from Meg Montgomery, a beautiful young woman convicted of murdering her husband and two children. Montgomery claims she’s innocent and Sullivan, smelling a big story that may garner some national attention, investigates and turns up evidence that the woman has, indeed, been framed. What happens next changes the life of both women in unexpected ways.

# # # # # # # # # # #

Meet the authors
Ross KlavanROSS KLAVAN’s novel, Schmuck, was published by Greenpoint Press in 2014. He recently finished the screenplay for The Colony based on the book by John Bowers. Nominated for an Independent Spirit Award, his original screenplay, Tigerland, was directed by Joel Schumacher and starred Colin Farrell. He has written screenplays for InterMedia, Walden Media, Miramax, Paramount, A&E and TNT. As a performer, Klavan’s voice has been heard in dozens of feature films including Revolutionary Road, Sometimes in April, Casino, In and Out, and You Can Count On Me as well as in numerous TV and radio commercials. In other lives, he was a member of the NYC alternative art group Four Walls and was a reporter covering New York City and London, England.


Tim O'MaraTIM O’MARA has been teaching math and special education in New York City public schools since 1987, yet he is best known for his Raymond Donne mysteries about an ex-cop who now teaches in the same Williamsburg, Brooklyn, neighborhood he once policed: Sacrifice Fly (2012), Crooked Numbers (2013), Dead Red (2015), Nasty Cutter (January 2017). His short story, The Tip, is featured in the 2016 anthology Unloaded. The anthology’s proceeds benefit the nonprofit States United To Prevent Gun Violence.


Charles SalzbergCHARLES SALZBERG is the author of the Shamus Award-nominated Swann’s Last Song, Swann Dives In, Swann’s Lake of Despair (re-release Nov. 2016), Devil in the Hole (re-release Nov. 2016), Triple Shot (Aug. 2016), and Swann’s Way Out (Feb. 2017). His novels have been recognized by Suspense Magazine, the Silver Falchion Awards, the Beverly Hills Book Award and the Indie Excellence Award. He has written over 25 nonfiction books, including From Set Shot to Slam Dunk, an oral history of the NBA, and Soupy Sez: My Life and Zany Times, with Soupy Sales. He has been a visiting professor of magazine at the S.I. Newhouse School of Communications at Syracuse University, and he teaches writing at the Writer’s Voice and the New York Writers Workshop where he is a founding member.

All comments are welcomed.

Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a print copy of Triple Shot. US entries only, please. The giveaway will end September 19, 2016 at 12 AM (midnight) EST. Good luck everyone!

The Locker with Raymond Donne by Tim O’Mara

Dead Red“So,” I said to Alberto, “if I were to go through your book bag right now I wouldn’t find Amanda’s cell phone?”

“Nope,” the sixth grader said, confidently sliding his bag over to me with his foot. “Why’m I gonna steal her bootleg phone for anyways?” He reached into his pocket and took something out. “I got my own.”

“That,” I said, looking at his phone, “should be turned off and in your locker. If Amanda followed that rule, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.”

I’ve learned from too much experience over the years that kids who steal from other kids usually have a reason why they didn’t steal. And it’s almost always the same reason: “I don’t need her fill-in-the-blank.” It’s the ones who are unjustly accused—the ones who wouldn’t think of taking another kid’s stuff—who don’t have a reason; they just say they didn’t do it. End of story.

I looked down at Alberto’s book bag and knew what I’d find if I opened it. Or rather what I wouldn’t find.

“What if I wanted to check your locker?” I asked.

His eyes widened for the briefest of moments. When he got them under control, he said, “You can do that?”


“Don’t you, like, need a warrant or something for that, Mr. Donne?”

There’s that law degree from the University of TV and Couch. Everybody knows his rights. Or thinks he does.

“That’s for the police,” I said, making sure I sounded like the cop I used to be. “We teachers can pretty much do what we want.” I shook my head and pretended to think of something. “I can’t remember the last time a parent accused me of violating their kid’s constitutional rights.”

He pondered that for a few moments, as I stayed quiet. Alberto wasn’t a bad kid. He was just an eleven-year-old sixth grader who saw an opportunity and took it. Along with another kid’s property. It’s not like he woke up this morning planning on stealing another kid’s cell phone. There he was sitting in Social Studies looking over at the seat next to his, saw Amanda’s phone in her opened book bag, and got caught up in the moment. Now, he was just caught. I could tell by the look on his face that he felt pretty crappy about the whole thing and wished he could find a way to turn back the clock and undo what he’d done. My job here was to give him a way out without giving him the idea that robbery was a possible career path. But I needed his help.

“Here’s the situation, Alberto.” I made a point of looking at my watch and letting out an exaggerated deep sigh. “I’m really busy for the next couple of hours. I have to meet with two parents, fill out some suspension paperwork, and touch base with the principal. Then I have lunch duty. So…I’m not going to have time to check your locker until the beginning of seventh period.”

He blinked a few times, swallowed hard, and said, “Okay.”

“If,” I paused for effect, “Amanda’s phone somehow shows up before then—heck, maybe it’s under all that stuff in her book bag—I obviously won’t have any reason to check your locker. I’ll check in with Amanda before I pick you up from your seventh period class. How’s that sound?”

He got out of his seat and grabbed his bag off the floor. “Sounds good, Mr. D.”

“I’ll see you later, Alberto.”

“Yeah, right. Seventh period I got Math. And, uh, thanks, Mr. D.”

“For what?”

After struggling for a few seconds, he realized didn’t have an answer for that. “Just thanks.”

He left my office and hurried off to lunch. Or maybe his locker. I’m sure I’d find out in a few hours.

You can catch up with Raymond in Dead Red, the third book in the “Raymond Donne” mystery series, published by Minotaur. The first book in the series is Sacrifice Fly.

New York City school teacher Raymond Donne had no idea how bad his night was going to get when he picked up the phone. Ricky Torres, his old friend from his days as a cop, needs Ray’s help, and he needs it right now in the middle of the night. Ricky picks Ray up in the taxi he has been driving since returning from serving as a Marine in Iraq, but before Ricky can tell Ray what’s going on the windows of the taxi explode under a hail of bullets killing Ricky and knocking Ray unconscious as he dives to pull Ricky out of harm’s way.

Ray would’ve done anything to help Ricky out while he was alive. Now that he’s dead, he’ll go to the same lengths to find out who did it and why. All he has to go on is that Ricky was working with Jack Knight, another ex-cop turned PI. They were investigating the disappearance of a PR giant’s daughter who had ties to the same Brooklyn streets that all three of them used to work. Is that what got Ricky killed or was he into something even more dangerous? Was there anything that Ray could’ve done for him while he was alive? Is there anything he can do for him now? Filled with the kinds of unexpected twists that make for the best crime fiction and with secrets that run far deeper than loyalties, Dead Red is the most thrilling mystery yet in Tim O’Mara’s widely acclaimed series.

Meet the author
Tim O’Mara has been teaching math and special education in the New York City public schools since 1987. O’Mara was inspired to create the character of Raymond Donne after making home visits while a schoolteacher in a disadvantaged section of the Williamsburg neighborhood in Brooklyn. He lives with his family in Manhattan, where he currently teaches in a public middle school, and is a proud member of Mystery Writers of America, Crime Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, and several teacher unions.

O’Mara recently finished Smoked, a crime e-novella that will be available in early 2015 at Bookxy.com, for Stark Raving Group, “a shameless purveyor of titillating short novels at ridiculously low prices.”

Visit Tim at his website, on Twitter or on Facebook.

A Day in the Life of Raymond Donne by Tim O’Mara

Crooked NumbersThere’s an old joke about the two best parts of teaching being July and August. I don’t make that joke myself—I like the challenge of working with kids too much to find much humor in it—but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy the much needed summer vacation. Until recently, my summers consisted of sleeping in until seven, catching up on my reading, going to the movies during the day, hitting the usual bars on the Northside of Williamsburg and discovering new ones on Manhattan’s Lower East Side.

Then I met Allison Rogers.

A reporter for a New York City tabloid, Allison doesn’t get much time off. But when she does, she heads west to the ranch her parents own in the middle of Missouri. This explains why there is currently about a thousand pounds of horse between my legs. I usually prefer my transportation to come with four wheels, not four legs, but when in Missouri…

“That’s where the fox got in last night.” Allison’s father is pointing at the hole in the chicken wire. His horse is much bigger than mine, and he sits on it like he was born up there. “Never had this problem before, but it may be time to go with the electric fence the guys at the diner’ve been telling me to start using.”

I nod as if I know what he’s talking about. In reality, I know as much about raising and protecting chickens as Mr. Rogers—go ahead, I’ve chuckled at the name myself—knows about the New York City subways.

“They chew right through the wire,” he explains. “I fix ’em and a few days later they’re back and I’m down another bird or two. Dog does a good job during the day—the foxes smell old Rex—but we all gotta sleep, right?”

I agree with him and with as much poise as possible, dismount and walk over to the latest point of nocturnal entry. As a life-long resident of Long Island and Brooklyn, I admittedly don’t know much about farm life. As an ex-cop, though, I do know more than most about what a wire looks like when it’s been snipped by a cutter and I was looking at one now. Working in a middle school has also taught me the approximate shoe size of your average teenager. I’m careful not to step on the footprints as I turn back to Allison’s dad. He, like his wife and three employees, wears boots. I doubt anyone in the family besides Allison even owns a pair of sneakers.

I look up at Allison’s dad. He’s a proud man, works hard every day and has the worries that all people who make a living off the land have. Doesn’t matter how hard you labor, Mother Nature’s the boss out here and if you forget that, she’ll remind you. That’s what he knows and the last thing he wants to hear is what I have to say next.

“Allison says you got some new neighbors a few months ago.”

“Yep,” he says. “The Rudders had enough of trying to make a go of it and moved down to Florida to be with the grandkids.”

“The new people,” I say. “They have kids?”

“A boy, about fifteen. Likes his four-wheeler a bit too much for my taste, but I’ve been thinking about hiring him for the rest of the summer. Give my regular guys some time off and get him off than darn crotch rocket. Why?”

I didn’t want to come right out and say it. Ranchers—most folks out here like Mr. Rogers—trust their neighbors. You have to. Between the weather and the harsh reality of the rural life, you rely on each other more than most people do. The thought of his neighbor’s kid messing with that trust is not going to cross his mind right away. Me? It’s the first thing I thought of.

“How far away are they, these new neighbors?”

He motions with his head to the north. “About fifteen minutes.”

“By horse?”

If the word “Duh” was in this man’s vocabulary, now’s the time he would have used it. “How else we gonna get there, Ray?”

I smile, get back on the horse and spin him around just like I’d been taught.

“Let’s go for a ride,” I say. “It’s about time you offered that boy a job.”

Mr. Rogers gives me an approving smile.

“Allison said you were the kind of guy who gets things done. I like that.”

Without another word, we ride off to visit with the new neighbors. The kid’s first job is going to be repairing some chicken wire a fox had chewed through last night.

You can read more about Raymond in Crooked Numbers, the second book in the “Raymond Donne” mystery series, published by Minotaur. The first book in the series is Sacrifice Fly.

Meet the author
Tim O’Mara has been teaching math and special education in the New York City public schools since 1987. O’Mara was inspired to create the character of Raymond Donne after making home visits while a schoolteacher in a disadvantaged section of the Williamsburg neighborhood in Brooklyn. Further moved by his many interactions with the Youth Officers of the NYPD while he served as a middle school dean — and his brother’s stories as a police sergeant over the years — O’Mara believed that a character with experience in both worlds would make a great protagonist.

For the past 13 years, he has hosted and co-produced a bi-weekly reading series of poetry and prose in New York’s East Village with We Three Productions. He lives with his family in Manhattan, where he currently teaches in a public middle school, and is a proud member of Mystery Writers of America, Crime Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, and several teacher unions.

O’Mara’s third Raymond Donne mystery, Dead Red, is scheduled to be published on January 20, 2015 by St. Martin’s/Minotaur Books. He is currently writing Smoked, a crime e-novella available for sale eventually at Bookxy.com, for Stark Raving Group, “a shameless purveyor of titillating short novels at ridiculously low prices.”

Visit Tim at his website, on Twitter or on Facebook.

Follow dru’s book musing on Facebook for posting about discounted books, giveaways and some of my reading musings.