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A Conversation with Larry Seeley

Larry Seeley sits down to answer a few questions about the success of Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves, his upcoming novels, 17 Degrees North and Bridge to Americas, his career in the gaming business, and life on his Santa Fe ranch.

  • Your main character, Jack Sloan, is involved in the casino and gaming industries, a world you know very well., having spent a good portion of your professional life in the casino business. What drew you to the gambling business?

I grew up gambling. When my uncles came back from the war, they spent a lot of time at our house teaching me to play cards and taking my pennies. My dad ran a punchboard company, and I traveled with him every summer. We’d drive around the Midwest dropping off merchandise, eating hamburgers, and meeting his business associates. Interesting people. A guy named Nick the Greek put my dad out of business.

  • In addition to building and running casinos, you were also quite a gambler yourself. How did your gambling philosophy compare to your business philosophy?

When I gamble, I push the envelope, but always with the certain knowledge the game can turn against me. When it does, I back off and come back another day. Same with business, although I found through hard experience that it’s easier to win at the dice table than the boardroom table.

  • The casino business can be cutthroat and vicious, as your books certainly portray. How did you know who to trust?

That’s easy-nobody. I’m a trusting person by nature. It helps me live a happier and more productive life to include other people. I learned to do this and still view every transaction as not legitimate until proven to be so. On the other hand, I believe in revenge.

  • When did you first know you wanted to be a writer? Have you always been a storyteller?

The stories I told as a child were mostly fibs to my mother, but they were good ones. I started reading at a young age and worked hard in the fields to make money to buy books. When I was about eight, I started buying westerns and gradually evolved to Hemingway. I read four or five books a week for years. My dream was to be a writer, but women always got in the way (my obsession with them). I kept getting married, had a few children, was forced to earn money, etc. etc. I didn’t have the time to write until I was about sixty-seven. I haven’t stopped since.

  • Your first book, Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves, was very successful, winning awards and gaining fans right out of the gate. What do you think it is about Jack Sloan and your stories that your readers love so much?

Jack thinks about and does things they’d like to do, but will never have the opportunity. I suspect most of my readers have conventional morals. Jack doesn’t. He’s honorable and true, but likes to walk the edge. Readers can live vicariously through him.

  • Who are the writers that you’ve admired and been inspired by?

Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Heller, Capote, James Thurber, James Crumley, Mark Helprin, James Lee Burke, Larry McMurtry, Harper Lee. Bruce Catton, John D. McDonald, Carl Hiassen, Dennis Lehane, Louie L’Amour, and many others.

  • Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves is set amidst the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the southernmost range of the Rocky Mountains. The location itself is almost it’s own character in the books, in a manner reminiscent of the late Tony Hillerman. You live in these mountains yourself. What attracted you to this area?

The smell. We came to this area on vacation many times before we bought our house in 2006. We liked the people, the town of Santa Fe, the culture, and the remoteness, but most of all, I love the smell of pinion. We were able to afford a 140-year old adobe that we rehabilitated, along with a little land. It gives us space to raise our animals and sufficient isolation from the human race that we can now appreciate some characteristics of our fellow humans.

  • The writing life is solitary, quiet – a far cry from the casino lifestyle. How do you like this phase of your life as compared to your previous lives in the hustle and flow of the gaming industry?

Sometimes I miss it, but there’s no comparison in terms of peacefulness and tranquility. Plus, I don’t have many opportunities to get into trouble. My wife and I worked at the same company for several years, and it was exciting to see it grow into a powerhouse in the educational industry, but those days are long gone. We’re both happier and more content on our rancho than we were in the big-time.

  • Animals play an important role in your life. Can you tell us a little bit about the animals at your ranch?

All the usual pets people have in their homes—we just happen to house many of them. Four dogs-Jem, Atticus, Izzy, and Luca. Izzy is an Italian Greyhound we received from my youngest son. She is a true pain in the ass. The others are boys and they’re pretty good-sized. Each runs about eighty-five pounds. They have the run of our place which is surrounded by coyote fence, and during the day, they can travel to the river and surrounding environs. Lots of freedom. They’re good dogs. Great watching the place, but they’d never attack or bite a human or another animal unless told to do so.

Nine cats. We had Scout, but a coyote got her. The others are Dill, Nicola, Talia, Calpurnia, Robbie, Berto, Lena, Sarah, and Boo. We named lots of the pets after characters in Mockingbird. The other cat we lost was Jack. He was one-eyed from birth and had twenty-six toes. Everyone loved him and he lived for twenty years. We miss him.

We had a dozen chickens, but Alexander, the seventeen pound rooster who ruled the place, died unexpectedly. We don’t know the cause, but he wasn’t eaten, so no critter to blame. Maybe he froze to death or had a heart attack from tending to his many duties. KT has names for her girls. They crank out lots of eggs, and she keeps our friends supplied.

  • As a follow up to Gypsies, you’re releasing another Jack Sloan story, 17 Degrees North, in February. What’s the significance of 17 Degrees North?

17.4 degrees North is the latitude that separates Ciudad Juarez and El Paso. It’s the line that the cartels are not supposed to cross, but, of course, they do. The story concerns a kidnapping in Juarez and a ransom payout in New Mexico. Money and sex are big motivators, but there’s a cast of new characters, both good and evil, that make it interesting. The ending may surprise everyone.

  • You’re putting the finishing touches on a third Jack Sloan novel, Bridge to Americas. How many Jack Sloan books can your fans expect?

Provided I survive long enough, I’ll do at least one more Jack Sloan, but I intend to crank out a novel a year until I punch my ticket to hell.

 

Date →
Dec 27

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