Posted on June 10, 2019 at 8:53 AM by Sadye Scott-Hainchek
Today we’re interviewing Ted Clifton, an award-winning mystery author.
Clifton is currently writing in three mystery series — Pacheco & Chino Mystery series, the Muckraker Mystery series and the Vincent Malone series.
Clifton’s focus is on strong character development with unusual backdrops. His books take place in Southwest settings with some of his stories happening in the 1960s, 1980s and current times.
The settings are places Clifton has lived and knows well, giving great authenticity to his narratives. He has received the IBPA Benjamin Franklin award and the CIPA EVVY award — twice.
Today Clifton and his wife reside in Denver, Colorado, with frequent visits to one of their favorite destinations, Santa Fe, New Mexico.
SADYE: How did you come to see yourself as a writer, and what inspired you to seek publication?
TED: From a very early age, reading was a vital part of my life.
I think many avid readers imagine themselves writing a book someday — and I was no exception. Family and career dominated my life for the majority of my working years, so I never wrote that book.
Towards the end of my career and as indie writers had more opportunities to get a book published, I decided to give it a try. It was not a complete disaster — but close.
From that humbling experience I spent time learning a new craft, along with understanding the process of writing and publishing. Some years later I published my first book, The Bootlegger’s Legacy.
Currently I have written ten books and now self-identify as an author. You can’t change your past, but if there is one thing I would redo, it would be the waiting so long to become a writer.
SADYE: Tell us something about your writing process that’s unusual or that you haven’t revealed before.
TED: The unusual thing about my writing process is that it is not unusual.
I write at a desk with a laptop and an extra-large monitor. Most of my writing happens in the morning.
I’m an early riser and will have written for several hours by the time the household begins to stir.
I may write some throughout the day, but the heavy lifting is always in the early morning.
SADYE: Which of your characters would you most and least like to trade places with?
TED: While he is probably my favorite character right now, he would also be the character I would least like to trade places with — Vincent Malone. A man so flawed he is almost toxic.
From what was going to be a great life of privilege and honor; disaster occurred as everything fell apart due to his weaknesses. For the next few decades he punished himself because of his failings.
I wanted the reader to sense that Malone was a good man who had lost all of his confidence and was merely looking for a way to die in peace. He was done, a broken man.
He had paid the price for his tremendous shortcomings and now wanted to be left alone. That is how Santa Fe Mojo starts — he's just about at the end.
The story of how he finds his “mojo” in Santa Fe is uplifting, but I don’t think I would like to experience the lows of Malone’s life.
The character I would most like to trade places with is Joe Meadows from The Bootlegger’s Legacy.
This may be odd in a way because Joe is probably the character most like me. It is not me, but we had many similarities.
Through twists and turns that can only occur in a book, Joe finds wealth and great happiness. Most everybody would want to be like Joe.
SADYE: Which of your characters would you most and least like to become romantically involved with?
TED: One-word answer for most likely: Sally.
A portion of The Bootlegger’s Legacy takes place in the past when a 1950s Oklahoma bootlegger and his mistress (Sally) plant the seed that is the “legacy” which drives the main story about the next generation.
This is my favorite portion of any of my books, and Sally is one of the best characters I’ve written about.
Least likely would be Joe Louongo — I shudder at the thought. He is a secondary character in the Muckraker series.
Louongo is a loud, foul-mouthed attorney who has no ethics and maybe no redeeming qualities of any kind — but a great addition to those books.
These less-than-admirable characters make writing so much fun.
SADYE: What advice, as relates to your writing career, would you give your younger self?
TED: The best advice is to keep doing. I have had many different occupations and few have offered the satisfaction I have gained from writing.
It would have been very easy for me to think that the chance to be a writer was something I had passed up, but that was not true.
My advice to my younger self would have been to not give up on your dreams.
SADYE: What experience in your past or general aspect of your life has most affected your writing?
TED: I had a long career in business which impacted my writing. Much of that time was as a financial advisor related to business acquisitions.
While number crunching does not lead to very many novels, I have been fortunate to meet an amazing number of unique characters.
That stored resource of all of those wonderful, awful, funny, sad, smart, stupid and unique people has been a fantastic treasure trove to populate the books.
And it’s not just the characters. My next book, Four Corners War, is loosely based on actual happenings I experienced while working on a business transaction in New Mexico.
My books have consistently been affected by what I actually saw and then enhanced by a few murders, millions in lost treasure, dogs, crazy sheriffs, and heroic detectives.
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Categories: Author Interview