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What group did you hang out with in high school? I went to boarding school in Lake Placid, N.Y. “Hanging out” wasn’t on the list of activities. We studied, played sports, worked on the school grounds on Saturday, and went to chapel on Sunday. No drugs, no bullying, just a lot of learning. All that got me into Brown, so I can’t complain.
What are you passionate about these days? I am passionate about physical and mental exercise. As you get older both are incredibly important. I ride my bike every other day for 3 hours, maintain a heartrate of between 140 – 150 bpm, and burn around 1,400 – 1,600 calories. I make sure that I work at my writing for a couple of hours every day, and try to read for 1 – 2 hours as well. Also, when I wake up every day, I make sure I am on the right side of the dirt and am then am thankful that I live in America.
If you had to do your journey to getting published all over again, what would you do differently? I didn’t start out to be an author, and I have an MBA and a JD. If I had planned to be a writer as my first career, I would get an MFA and try to plug myself into the established writing community and understand how to sign with an agent and be published by a major house. As an alternative, I would figure out a way to use social media to promote myself in a big way. I misjudged how important social media can be in establishing a presence (look at Donald Trump). If I were starting over, today, I might create some crazy, offbeat image of myself, and promote, promote, promote. Oh yeah, I would also write something.
E-book or print? And why? I started writing only 10 years ago, and my first book came out only in paperback. Since then, every subsequent book has sold fewer paperbacks and more e-books. My last book sold 15 e-books for every paperback. I really question the expense, effort, and waste of resources to produce a hard copy of a book. E-books are easier to buy and read and I think people are much more likely to buy them. The only negative is that the behemoth, Amazon, controls the e-book market, you have to play by their rules, and that isn’t wonderful.
What is your favorite scene in this book? My favorite scene is when Jorge (the Mexican orphan) and Felix (the drug smuggler) confront each other on the deserted dock on the backside of Catalina Island. Jorge is protecting the lizard and Felix has come to take it away. I won’t ruin the scene by relating what happens, but it is unexpected. The interesting thing is that I myself had no preconceived idea of what would happen. As I wrote and described their confrontation, there was only one logical, spontaneous outcome. I think the readers will enjoy it.
My second favorite scene is the last paragraph in Alejandro’s chapter, where he arrives in Sinaloa, having driven all the way from Guatemala with his “cargo.” This scene I did imagine in advance. My readers are always caught completely by surprise at this scene.
by Kurt Kamm
GENRE: Mystery/Crime Thriller
Kurt Kamm has written a novel that’s a literary crime novel, with a strong thread of non-fiction running through it. The Lizard’s Tale is a tale of crime—with an a wide-ranging cast of characters. When the DEA goes up against the Sinaloa Cartel, an orphan and an endangered lizard are caught in the conflict. The action moves from Guatemala to Mexico to Catalina Island off the coast of California. Alejandro, a middle class Guatemalan, wants his share, and makes a deal with the cartel. Now he’s risking his life to deliver the goods. El Dedo, a brilliant financier, is the Sinaloa Cartel’s banker. He worries about what to do with the billions of dollars collecting dust in his underground vault. Ryan, a DEA Special Agent, needs to make a high profile case to get a promotion. Is the big yacht headed for California carrying a Mexican drug shipment? Kate, a wildlife officer on Catalina Island, smells smoke. When she heads out in the middle of the night to investigate a fire, she makes an astonishing discovery. Jorge, an orphan from the streets of Mexico, is abandoned in the United States. Will he find his way back home and track down his mother’s killer?
Dedo was one of the few outsiders at the top of the cartel hierarchy. He came from a different background than most of the drug lords, who had grown up in poor towns in the Sierra Madres where people suffered a hard existence living in hovels made of cinderblocks. Dedo had no poverty to escape. He grew up in Mexico City and lived a blessed childhood. His father owned a small Mexican chemical business that grew large when it began to supply the Cartels with the ingredients used to make methamphetamine. His mother was Swiss, and had worked for a chemical company in Basle when she met his father. Dedo inherited his intellect and business sense from his father. His grey eyes came from his mother.
When his father brought him to the State of Sinaloa for the first time, Dedo stood in the dust and blasting heat and felt the moisture evaporating from his skin. “Those mountain highlands,” his father had told him, pointing off into the distance, “are ideal for growing poppies. All they need is sunlight and moisture.” Then he turned and pointed in the direction of the Pacific Ocean, and continued, “And out in those valleys between the mountains and the coast, the climate is perfect for growing marijuana.” Finally, his father looked at Dedo and told him, “Fortunately for us, sunshine and water don’t produce methamphetamine. For that, they need chemicals—a lot of chemicals—and that’s why we’re here.”
Malibu, California resident Kurt Kamm has written a series of firefighter mystery novels, which have won several literary awards. His newest novel, The Lizard’s Tale, provides a unique look inside the activities of the Mexican drug cartels and the men dedicated to stopping them.
Kurt has used his contact with CalFire, Los Angeles County and Ventura County Fire Departments, as well as the ATF and DEA to write fact-based (“faction”) novels. He has attended classes at El Camino Fire Academy and trained in wildland firefighting, arson investigation and hazardous materials response. He has also attended the ATF and DEA Citizen’s Academies. After graduating from the DEA Citizen’s Academy in 2014, he began work on The Lizard’s Tale.
Kurt has built an avid fan base among first responders and other readers. A graduate of Brown University and Columbia Law School, Kurt was previously a financial executive and semi-professional bicycle racer. He was also Chairman of the UCLA/Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center Foundation for several years.
Visit his author website at www.kurtkamm.com
Kurt Kamm LITERARY AWARDS
TUNNEL VISIONS (MCM Publishing 2014)
2014 USA Best Book Award -Fiction: General – Finalist
HAZARDOUS MATERIAL (MCM Publishing 2013)
Best Novel 2013 – Public Safety Writers Association
Winner of the 2012 Hackney Literary Award for best novel of the year ($5,000 PRIZE)
Reader’s Favorite 2013 – Finalist – Urban Fiction
The 2012 Dana Award – Finalist
Eric Hoffer Award – Finalist (2014)
Excerpt published in Birmingham Arts Journal http://www.birminghamartsjournal.com/pdf/baj10-2.pdf
ONE FOOT IN THE BLACK (MCM Publishing 2012)
The 2012 USA Best Book Awards – Fiction: General – Finalist
The 2013 Beverly Hills Book Awards – Fiction: General – Finalist
Excerpt published in Felons, Flames and Ambulance Rides: Stories About America’s Public Safety Heroes
CODE BLOOD (MCM Publishing 2011)
Writer’s Type – First Chapter Competition. January 2011- First Place
2012 International Book Awards – Fiction: Cross Genre Category – First Place
National Indie Excellence Book Awards – Faction (fiction based on fact) – Winner of the 2012 Award
The 2012 USA Best Book Awards – Fiction: Horror – Winner
LuckyCinda Publishing Contest 2013 First Place – Thriller
Reader’s Favorite 2013– Finalist – Horror Fiction
Knoxville Writer’s Guild – 2011 Novella or Novel Excerpt – 2nd Place
RED FLAG WARNING Aberdeen Bay 2010
The Infinite Writer– Mystery 2010 – First Place
The Written Art Awards – Mystery/Thriller 2010 – First Place
Royal Dragonfly – Mystery Category 2011 – First Place