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Today, let's welcome crime fiction author Kevin G. Chapman!
Kevin G. Chapman is the author of the Mike Stoneman Thriller series: Righteous Assassin and Deadly Enterprise. Righteous Assassin was named one of the top 20 Mystery/Thrillers of 2019 by the Kindle Book Review, and was a semi-finalist for the 2019 CLUE Book Award for Mystery, Suspense & Thriller Fiction.
He is the author of the political drama A Legacy of One and the hardboiled mystery Identity Crisis. He has also written several short stories, including “Fool Me Twice,” the winner of the New Jersey Corporate Counsel Association’s 2010 Legal Fiction Writing Competition.
Kevin G. Chapman graduated from
Columbia University with a bachelors' degree in English and has a law degree
from Boston University. He is an attorney specializing in labor and
employment law and lives in central New Jersey with his wife and
I’m currently working on a crime fiction series featuring a New York Homicide detective named Mike Stoneman.
The stories bring together Mike – a somewhat crusty veteran who is pushing 50 – his recently-assigned partner, Jason Dickson – a youngish Black detective with a bit of a chip in his shoulder in the beginning, and county Medical Examiner Michelle McNeill – a few years younger than Mike and a bit of a loner but with a sharp wit and a complicated backstory.
There are many other characters, including the detectives’ captain, a few other recurring detectives in their group, the police commissioner, the mayor, and a nosy and intrusive reporter for The New York Times.
The first book, Righteous Assassin, is a serial killer chase. The second book, Deadly Enterprise, involves a drug and prostitution ring with some surprising leaders. The third book, Lethal Voyage, involves our group of main characters taking a vacation on a cruise ship, but with a killer on board.
Each plot is very different, but the main driving force is the characters and their relationships. In each book we learn more about their backstories and they grow together as the readers follow along.
I’ve been really surprised and pleased at how much my readers care about the characters and want to know what’s going to happen next in their relationships. One reader recently wrote a review in which she lamented that she wanted Mike and Jason to spend more time together in book #2. She’ll be happy about how their relationship develops in book #3!
I always loved the genre as a reader, especially hard boiled detectives. The first fiction book I ever wrote was a P.I. story.
I recently came across the original story outline for that book, Identity Crisis: A Rick LaBlonde, P.I. Mystery, which was dated December, 1991. But the real genesis of the Mike Stoneman series was a short story writing competition in 2012 sponsored by the New Jersey Corporate Counsel Association.
I was working on a serious literary fiction novel at the time, but I took a short break to write a story for the contest. It had to be crime or law. I chose crime, and created the story featuring Mike Stoneman. Years later, when I had published my version of The Great American Novel, I went back to the Mike Stoneman character because he's fun to write about.
I'm still having fun writing his stories, so I expect to keep at it for a while.
You write about what you know, and I know New York City.
We lived in the City for 9 years after graduating from law school, and also 4 years in college at Columbia. We still have many friends in the City and visit regularly.
It’s such a great setting for stories, and the people there are the most interesting characters you can imagine (or make up). So, naturally, New York is the place.
I really try to get the locations and the “feel” of the city right in my books. As an example, Mike Stoneman’s apartment at 68th and Broadway is in the building where I used to live, so all the locations in that part of town are part of my personal experience. Other locations are places I’ve been to and love (like the Nam Wah Tea House on Doyer street, which makes a few appearances).
In Book #2, Deadly Enterprise, I also have Mike and Michelle take a road trip to the home town of a young woman whose death early in the story is the major plot line. I made her hometown my hometown (Port Angeles, WA) so that I could take my characters back to my old stomping grounds and show my readers around the Olympic peninsula. That was also fun – again, writing about what you know.
The original idea for the Mike Stoneman series came from a short crime fiction story that I wrote as my submission for a short-story writing completion sponsored by the New Jersey Corporate Counsel Association. So, my work as a lawyer directly resulted in the creation of the character.
As a lawyer, I’m a writer – my job is to tell stories about my cases and make them interesting, as well as trying to persuade a third party that my position is correct on the facts and the law. Writing well is something that helps in any pursuit and any genre.
I used to teach legal writing at New York Law School. That was a great experience – trying to explain to law students that you don’t need to try to write “like a lawyer,” you just need to write well and clearly and succinctly. Once they get that idea, it’s all downhill.
I’m planning on working in some more “legal” themes into the Mike Stoneman books going forward, and perhaps have Mike testify at a trial. That will be fun, but it’s on the distant horizon for now.
Certainly nothing involving crimes or murders!
In my work life I deal all the time with investigations into alleged wrongdoing – some more serious than others. I’ve been involved in investigating some very important and serious incidents, where business was impacted and people got fired (or could have been), so those investigations are something I draw from in my writing. Not so much my personal life, which is much less exciting.
I enjoy poker because of the strategy and player-vs.-player aspect. It’s very logical and requires great concentration. It’s a wonderful diversion from my day-to-day work.
I’ve been playing live and online since the early 2000’s. If you look me up on The Hendon Mob website (which tracks poker players) I have just over $50,000 in live tournament winnings. Every year the goal is to break even.
Poker is very social. I play regularly with a couple of different groups, and all my poker player friends have been hounding me to get a poker scene into a book. So in book #5 of the Mike Stoneman series, Mike and his gang will be on a trip to Las Vegas and there will be a poker scene. There will also be a poker scene on the cruise ship in book #3.
Deadly Enterprise, book 2 of the Mike Stoneman crime fiction thrillers, has just come out in audiobook!
You can find my audio books here:
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