Friday, September 19, 2014

Glenn Nilson - Easy Rider

When Okeechobee writer Glenn Nilson was growing up on a small farm in the Sierra Nevada foothills, he got hooked on books.  “I was pretty isolated, so I learned to read at a young age and really took to it,” he explains. His mother read him the classics, and the local postmistress, who also served as the town’s unofficial librarian, got him children’s books from the county library. He soon found himself longing to be a part of the enchanting world of stories he had come to love. Fifty years later, he realized that dream when he published his first novel.

Nilson took a giant step on his road to becoming a writer when he was a freshman at California Polytechnic College. He enrolled in an English course which required him to write a story in class every week. He would stay up the night before and practice writing, and soon the professor noticed his efforts. “He told me I had a good imagination and suggested I get some training for it,” Nilson recalls. “I was really happy to have someone encourage me to do something I loved.” He went on to earn a Ph.D. in sociology, a subject that appealed to his inner writer because it helped him understand what motivates people.  He spent 25 years as a professor of sociology at Eastern Connecticut State University before retiring and finally having time to do the things he enjoyed most – riding his motorcycle and writing. He wrote two unpublished novels and joined a writer’s group to hone his skills. Then his wife, writer Lesley Diehl, suggested he base a book on his passion for motorcycles. “I toyed around with the idea until it morphed into a sustainable story,” he says. The result was his first published novel – Murder on Route 66. According to Nilson, “The old Route 66 TV show had an appealing hook – guys on the road who get involved in other people’s problems. I thought this would be a good situation for an amateur sleuth.”

Murder on Route 66 is the story of biker Bobby Navarro, a character Nilson describes as “a solo rider looking for the home and family he never had; a marginal person who cares about people and wants to help them; a biker who’s not a gang member or middle-class wannabe, but more an insider-outsider.” Bobby is taking a working vacation along Route 66 in New Mexico when his employer is murdered. Bobby promises the victim’s young son that he will find the killer – no easy task for an outsider in a small town.  “As a sociologist, I look at things through a sociological lens,” Nilson says. “I’ve always been attracted to character-driven stories, not so much whodunit as how lives are impacted by what’s been done. The human drama of how people change and grow is the real guts of the story.” 

With this in mind, Nilson has been working on a sequel, tentatively titled Murder on the Mother Road. In this story, also set in the Southwest, Bobby, a high-explosive expert, has just finished a blasting job for a friend when he attempts a stopover at the Grand Canyon. However, instead of viewing one of the great natural wonders of the world, he finds himself staring down at the lifeless body of a young woman who’s been murdered and stuffed in the trunk of a car left parked on the street.

Naturally the police must consider Bobby a suspect—an awkward situation made worse when he recognizes one of the officers as a woman he knew in high school. When the police arrest someone else for the crime, Bobby is told by the town eccentric that they have the wrong person in jail and that he knows who the right person is. The police officer/former friend recruits Bobby to help determine how much the disturbed acquaintance actually knows about the murder, and how much the eccentric may have been involved himself.

Nilson hopes his tales will help readers realize that even outsiders like Bobby can have something valuable and interesting to offer.  “Life’s a journey,” he says. “I want readers to enjoy the journey and feel that my stories relate to something important in their lives.”

For more about Glenn Nilson, visit his website at

Friday, September 5, 2014

William Eleazer - Legal Eagle

William Eleazer is a man who knows his way around a courtroom. This St. Petersburg writer has spent most of his career serving in some aspect of the legal profession. A Georgia native, Eleazer earned law degrees from George Washington and Emory University Law Schools. During his 25 years in the Marine Corps, he took on the roles of prosecutor, defense attorney, and judge. Upon returning to Florida and to civilian life, he served as a prosecutor for a few years and then spent 20 years as a law professor at Stetson University.In recognition of his contributions, he was honored with Stetson's Lifetime Achievement Award for Teaching Advocacy.
While at Stetson, Eleazer founded Elex Publishers, Inc., a company that specializes in reference guides for lawyers and law students. He is an active member of the Florida Bar, and an emeritus member of both the Georgia and District of Columbia Bars. With his extensive background in criminal law and trial work, he decided to weave his experiences into a novel: Savannah Law, a story of the suspense and intrigue surrounding a high-profile criminal trial.

While Eleazer had written several non-fiction books, he had always been a fiction fan— particularly legal thrillers by writers like Scott Turow, John Grisham, and Steve Martini. Since his busy schedule left little time for recreational reading, he enjoyed listening to audiobooks while commuting and traveling. “Some writers say they always had a book in them, but I didn’t,” he explains. “While listening to the audiobooks, I started to wonder if I could write books like those.” He found himself thinking about plot lines and characters, and before long, a story began to form. But he soon realized that there was “a steep learning curve” between writing fiction and non-fiction. “I sometimes found it hard to keep the reader in mind rather than writing what I wanted,” he says. “I found myself putting in too much detail, and it’s hard to cut after you’ve devoted so much time and effort to the writing. I believe most writers face that problem.” He also realized that a novel required lots of research. According to Eleazer, “Everything in my book is based on fact. The weather on a particular day, the furniture in the Savannah courthouse, the monuments in the cemetery, even the placement of streetlights all had to be researched. I spent a lot of time in Savannah, but it was something I enjoyed. I was born and raised in Springfield, Georgia, just 27 miles from Savannah, and it was fun going back and seeing the changes.”

Savannah Law is the story of an ambitious law professor's obsession with a female student and the politically-charged, media-frenzy criminal trial that pits the nation’s most successful trial lawyer against a prosecution clinic intern. Set in fictional Savannah College of Law, the book gives readers an intimate glimpse into the workings of the legal system. “Everything that happens in the book can and does happen in the courtroom,” Eleazer says. “I thought about the things I’d experienced and tried to put myself into each scenario. I also wanted to put to the test actual legal and ethical dilemmas that lawyers find themselves in and how to handle those challenges professionally and responsibly.” Eleazer’s efforts have been rewarded. Savannah Law was awarded the 2010 Gold Medal  for Adult Fiction by the Florida Publishers Association and was a Finalist for Best New Fiction in the 2010 International Book Awards.

While researching federal and state legislation for his legal publishing company kept him busy, he found time in 2012 to pen and publish a sequel to Savannah Law titled The Indictments. A brazen robbery by a masked man at one of Savannah’s finest restaurants results in the murder of a teenage girl and murder indictments against two defendants. The assistant DA assigned to the case believes one indictment is without merit, and his attempt to have it dismissed threatens both his career and his life. Characters from Savannah Law return to the Chatham County Courthouse to battle once again as prosecutors and defense counsel in the two criminal trials featured in the novel.

Eleazer is now at work on a third novel, tentatively titled The Two Witness Rule. Of course, all the action occurs in his favorite city, Savannah. The trials will take place once more in the Chatham County Courthouse, and readers of his previous novels will have the opportunity to again meet and cheer on their favorite characters as well as jeer the villains. The publication date is slated for early 2015.

For Eleazer, the fun in writing legal thrillers is “taking cases, putting myself into the situation, and thinking about what the characters would really do.”  He hopes his stories will make readers think about how they would handle similar dilemmas in their own lives.  But ultimately, he wants readers to close his books and say, “That was a good journey with a satisfying ending and a lot of fun along the way.”

For more information, go to