Monday, March 29, 2010

D.P. Lyle

Author Interview: D. P. Lyle

Alfred Hitchcock’s 1954 movie Dial M for Murder spins a tale of someone trying to plan the perfect murder. The killer miscalculates and his plan goes awry. If anyone could get away with murder—forensically—my money would be on author Doug P. Lyle. He’s a practicing cardiologist in Southern California, written several non-fiction books on murder and forensics for writers, and authored several mystery novels. He knows how to write about murder.

Author D. P. Lyle, MD is the Macavity Award winning and Edgar® Award nominated author of the non-fiction books, Murder and Mayhem, Forensics For Dummies, Forensics and Fiction, and Howdunnit Forensics: A Guide For Writers as well as the fiction thrillers, Devil’s Playground and Double Blind. His next medical thriller, Stress Fracture, will be released in April, 2010. He has worked with many novelists and with the writers of popular television shows such as Law and Order, CSI: Miami, Diagnosis Murder, Monk, Judging Amy, Peacemakers, Cold Case, House, Medium, Women’s Murder Club, and 1-800-Missing.

MARK: Your next novel, Stress Fracture, is scheduled for release in April. New York Times bestselling author James Rollins writes about your novel: “If Michael Crichton had written an episode of Law and Order, here might be the result.” Is this a fair assessment? Give our mystery readers a taste of what to expect in this Dub Walker series.

DOUG: Those were very kind words from Jim and I greatly appreciate them. The story is a fast-paced thriller with little downtime for the reader. It has a brutal and confusing killer, a lot of forensic science, and hopefully it will give the reader some entertaining hours of reading and maybe a sleepless night or two. The story deals with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD and its effect on an unstable individual. The reader knows the killer early on but he does not know why he is doing what he is doing. And of course Dub Walker must not only interpret the forensic information but also get into the mind of the killer in order to track him down.

MARK:  Tell us about your main character, Dub Walker? What is his background? What are the demons he’s battling?

DOUG: Dub is a character with a history. He was a good high school athlete and a very bright student who did well in college and attended medical school. Before completing medical school, in fact only months away from graduating, he failed to meet his younger sister in a parking lot near the medical center as he had promised. He was an hour late and when he arrived he found only her purse and a single shoe. She was never seen again. This happened some 12 years before this story begins, but this is the life event that will haunt him forever as he feels responsible for not being there for her. This is what drives him to solve cases. This is what drives him to figure out the criminal mind.

After his sister's disappearance, Dub became despondent and ultimately, to shake himself from his depression, joined the Marines and served as an MP for two years. After his discharge, he returned to Huntsville and worked for several years in the forensic science lab, where he gained his expertise in forensic science. He spent time with the Behavioral Assessment Unit of the FBI as an observer and student and learned more about criminal behavior. He then became an author and wrote many books about forensic science and criminal psychology. He also possesses an innate ability to read crime scenes and evidence and to dig inside the mind of the bad guys. His current role is that of consultant on difficult cases around the country. It is the murder of an old friend that drags him into the case in Stress Fracture.

MARK: Is Dub Walker a reflection of D.P. Lyle?

DOUG: I would have to say that he has many of my characteristics and some of his own. I think most authors are that way when they create a protagonist. He has a love for science and is fascinated by abnormal behavior. He likes problem-solving. He has a strong sense of justice and personal responsibility and doesn't believe that anyone should get away with a crime. Those are the things that he and I agree on.

MARK:  Tell us about the killer. Is there anything about this guy that might generate some empathy with the reader or is this villain pure evil?

DOUG: I don’t want to give too much away because this story is not so much a whodunit as it is a whydunnit. That said, even though the killer is totally out of control, there are parts of him that I believe the reader will empathize with. I'll just leave it at that and let readers decide for themselves if the bad guy has any redeeming qualities.

MARK:  In terms of genre, where would you classify Stress Fracture? Police procedural? Medical/forensic thriller? Combination of these and others?

DOUG: Genres are always hard to peg and that seems to be getting more difficult every day as one bleeds into the other. But if I had to classify Stress Fracture I would say that it was a medical and psychological thriller.

MARK:  You’ve authored an array of non-fiction books on forensics—Forensics and Fiction, Forensic Science for Writers, Forensics for Dummies, and the ever-popular Murder and Mayhem: A Doctor Answers Medical and Forensic Questions for Mystery Writers. Tells us a little about your background and how you’ve become a medical forensic expert to writers.

DOUG: If you are a physician and go to a cocktail party people ask questions about their cholesterol or their gallbladder, but if you are a physician and go to a writers conference you're immediately asked questions about how poisons work and how to kill someone with a gun. So I simply began answering questions for writers on medical issues and that immediately bled into forensic issues, which in turn led me to educate myself in that arena. I was a chemistry major in college with a minor in biology and have a medical degree and specialty training in cardiology, which is what I practice here in Orange County. So my love of science has been since childhood. I never considered doing anything else but medicine and in fact knew that cardiology was the field that I would practice even before I started medical school. Forensic science is also fascinating to me. My self-education in forensic science was actually quite simple. You can't get through medical school and specialty training without being well-versed in all the “ologies.” Pathology, physiology, pharmacology, 

Monday, March 22, 2010


Homicide Investigations

Detective Mark Mynheir
Palm Bay (Fla.) Police Department

Killers have murdered and tried to cover their sins every since Cain struck Abel and tried to hide it from God. In mystery novels, murder looms as that shadowy threshold heroes and villains must confront. Hunting down these Cains has captured the imagination of readers since man first put ink to paper. And homicide investigations have become to crime fiction what guitars have become to country music—indispensable.

What goes through the minds of those called to investigate these horrendous crimes? And how does one approach a crime scene to investigate the murder of another?

Detective Mark Mynheir visits us today from Palm Bay Police Department (PBPD), an agency located midway on Florida’s east coast. Mark is a man of many talents currently assigned as a homicide investigator with PBPD’s Criminal Investigations Unit. He also served as a member of the department’s SWAT team, with prior experience as a narcotics agent and a patrol officer.

Mark also has another talent. He is a gifted writer with four published novels under his belt and all with a common thread—cops as protagonists. (Check his web site at for more information about him and his novels, Rolling Thunder, From the Belly of the Dragon, The Void, and his latest, The Night Watchmen).

Today, we’ll focus on Mark’s experiences as a homicide investigator.

MARK YOUNG:  Mark, thanks for joining us once again. Could you fill us in on some of the blanks in your resume we’ve missed? How long with PBPD?  What led you to a law enforcement career?  How long have you worked in CIU?

MARK MYNHEIR: Thanks for having me, Mark.  I’ve been with PBPD for almost twenty-one years.  I was with the Cocoa Beach Police Department for two years before that.  I’ve been a detective for about twelve years now, mostly working homicides and violent crimes.  I also did a three-and-a-half year stint as a narcotics agent and was on our S.W.A.T. Team for a while. 

I got into law enforcement because I was getting out of the Marine Corps and didn’t have a job.  All my Marine buddies were becoming cops, so I thought I’d give it a try.  I wasn’t that enthusiastic about it until I applied for the academy.  After that, I knew it was going to be my career.

MARK YOUNG:   Let’s focus on your latest assignment as a homicide investigator. Many of our blog readers are readers and writers of crime fiction, so we’d like to get a little insight into the mind of an investigator. Let’s start with getting the call. How are callouts assigned in your department? How are investigative teams comprised? 

MARK MYNHEIR: Unfortunately, there are only four of us in the Major Crimes Unit, so when a homicide happens, we’re all called out.  We try to rotate the responsibility of being the Lead Investigator, but it doesn’t always work that way.   People go on vacations or are at schools.  I once caught three in a row in a two week time period.  I was exhausted, to say the least. 

MARK YOUNG:   What starts to click in your mind when you start to respond to one of these calls?

MARK MYNHEIR: After the coffee (which is the important first step), I make a mental check list of what I need to do—witness statements, potential search warrants, or phone subpoenas.  I will generally have a vague idea what has happened from dispatch or the sergeant at the scene who has called.  I then whip out some phone calls to the rest of the team to get them to the scene. 

MARK YOUNG: In many departments, a dead body call is forwarded to homicide investigators from patrol based upon certain criteria—unattended death (physician was not involved in providing medical care), questionable circumstances surrounding the death, or an investigation larger than patrol might be able to handle. What are be some of the determining factors in your department that might jump a dead body call from patrol investigating and closing the case to CIU investigators stepping in?

MARK MYNHEIR: With our department, it has to be a case where the deceased has no significant medical history in which a doctor would sign the death certificate, and/or there’s obvious trauma or suspicious circumstances—like apparent suicides.  We wouldn’t investigate a Hospice situation.  

MARK YOUNG:  As you arrive at the scene, how do you prioritize what needs to be done? For example, who do you need to contact right away and who do you wait to call? How do you determine the size and scope of the crime scene? Do you have field technicians available to process the scene? How do you handle witnesses? What kind of things do you start taking a closer look at?

MARK MYNHEIR: When I arrive, I meet with the first responding officers and get briefed from there.  I like to wait until I have another detective or two on scene before I interview witnesses, so we can make a plan.  But, like many things in law enforcement, it doesn’t always work out that way.  Sometimes I have to jump in and start talking with people right away. 

We start with the initial witnesses (like the person who discovered the body and such) and work our way out.  I like to have neighborhood contacts done as soon as possible.  Sometimes we’ll call in burglary detectives or our tack team to help us if we need it.  Our Crime Scene Unit will respond, and we’ll have a sit down with them and make a plan how to approach the scene—because each one is different.  I will then try to stay out of their way after that.  They need the time to conduct a methodical search and documentation of the scene. 

The newer technology is helpful here because we all carry digital recorders, and I record every statement with witnesses at the scene, so I don’t forget or miss something, and I don’t have to take the witnesses back to the station. 

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Brandilyn Collins

Author Interview: Brandilyn Collins

Hollywood script doctor Robert McKee, at the conclusion of his book Story, exhorts writers: “As you follow the quest for stories told with meaning and beauty, study thoughtfully but write boldly. Then, like the hero of the fable, your dance will dazzle the world.”

“Dazzle “seems an apt description of novelist Brandilyn Collins’ literary achievements over the past decade. But before this dazzle, she devoted years of thoughtful study and hard work to improve her craft of writing.

Success did not come easy.

Ten years before her first novel came out, Brandilyn decided to begin focusing on her fiction writing almost full time. Along this journey, she produced a non-fiction book that created quite a stir in the general market. A court trial caught her attention as she began research on a novel in the early nineties. The trial—dubbed the “Diary Girl” murder case—centered on the mysterious death of a four-year-old girl and the diary of her 14-year-old sister. Their mother found—inside the older sister’s diary—a passage where the girl claimed to have killed her younger sister. Fascinated by the court trial, Brandilyn later wrote a non-fiction book, A Question of Innocence, published by Avon in 1995. Publicity from that book catapulted her into the media’s eye on such nationally televised shows as Phil Donahue and Leeza.

She continued to focus on developing her fiction writing craft until Brandilyn's first women’s fiction novel, Cast a Road Before Me hit the shelves in 2001, later picked up by Zondervan while also publishing her first suspense novel, Eyes of Elisha, also in 2001. In 2002, John Wiley and Sons published Brandilyn’s book on fiction-writing techniques, titled Getting into Character: Seven Secrets a Novelist Can Learn from Actors, which garnered praise from The Writer magazine as one of the best books on writing that year.  Seventeen more novels have followed over the last decade, with two more scheduled for release this year.

We have just enough time to question Brandilyn about her latest novel, Exposure, before Zondervan releases two more novels this spring and summer. (Readers can learn more about Brandilyn's writing career and other challenges she's faced at or her well-visited blog  Forensics and Faith).

MARK: Thanks for joining us today, Brandilyn. Let’s start by focusing on Exposure, a suspense thriller located in Wilmore, Kentucky. Would “facing your fears” be a fair summary of what protagonist Kaycee Raye struggles with in this novel or are there other underlying problems that intersect with those fears?

BRANDILYN: Yes, facing your fears is the main one. But the theme of Exposure is more than that. I wanted to leave readers with the understanding that (1) our fears can keep us from being all we’re meant to be if we don’t conquer them, and (2) God does provide us the strength and fortitude to conquer our fears. He is above and greater than fear. There is a second underlying theme, but I can’t go into that one without saying too much about the plot twists.

By the way, Mark, I appreciate this question right up front. I want readers to understand all my novels have underlying meaning. A lot of times readers overlook this in a suspense novel. Many readers just want to read for the surface suspense plot. So I give those readers the best, twisting suspense I can. For readers who want to see beneath the surface, there is much more to be taken from my novels. Every word I use, every phrase and scene, is for a purpose. Example: I’ve heard from a few readers who said they couldn’t connect with Kaycee because of her myriad fears. In other words—they don’t have such fears, so they couldn’t relate. I believe they’re missing the point or are simply not being honest with themselves. All of us have fears of some kind. If the protagonist in Exposure has multiple fears and seems a bit over the top to them—perhaps they should ask why I included all those fears? Might it just be, through showing Kaycee’s struggles, I’m trying to say something about the human condition we all share?

MARK:  Fear is a debilitating emotion that most people face at some point in their lives. Kaycee’s struggle with this issue—starting with the opening line, “She’d forgotten to turn on the porch lights”—continues until the last page. How did you research this topic and what did you learn about ways people cope?

BRANDILYN: Frankly I didn’t have to go far to research this topic. All I had to do was look at my own life. I have some similar fears to Kaycee’s—I don’t like heights, closed-in spaces, bees (I’m allergic, and they really do love my red hair), and going to the dentist. In fact the whole sequence of Kaycee’s visit to the dentist comes straight from my own life. I don’t share Kaycee’s largest fear—the paranoia of being watched. But I’ve observed in myself and others how the fear of failure or looking stupid or not being worthy—you name it—can creep in when we’re not paying attention and affect our lives in very negative ways. In the Bible we’re told we’re not given the spirit of fear. Yet we Christians allow ourselves to walk in it so frequently. That’s not okay. That’s not acceptable. God wants so much more for us.

MARK:  In Exposure, Kaycee is a syndicated newspaper columnist writing about coping with fear with the column heading Who’s There? How did you come up with this concept?

BRANDILYN: I wanted to give Kaycee a bit of self-deprecating humor as a way of inserting some comic relief into a tense story. Also through her column I could depict Kaycee’s everyday struggles with her fears. Third, I wanted to give Kaycee a manner of making money that allowed her to stay home, because her home is where much of the suspense plot takes place.

MARK:  You did a great job of creating a picture of Wilmore, Kentucky in the reader’s mind. We can visualize this town—where you actually grew up—as the story unfolds. Is there a special meaning for you in deciding to place Kaycee in this town? Tells us a little about growing up there.

BRANDILYN: My mom still asks, “What took you so long?” She still lives in Wilmore at the age of 93, and I visit as often as I can. She was thrilled for me to set a story in her beloved town. In plotting the story I had a great time running around Wilmore with my sister Sandy, noting all the businesses and taking pictures. Much had changed in the downtown area since I grew up there. And the town is considerably bigger now. When I lived there as a child there was only about 3000 people.

MARK:  Since this blog is “where mystery readers, writers and law enforcement connect,” tell us about your contacts with Wilmore Police Chief Steve Boven and Officer Mike Bandy. How did you meet them and how did they help you develop the story?

BRANDILYN: Chief Boven was wonderful. I went in with Sandy in tow, told him what I was doing, and he gave me an immediate interview. I was able to take note of the layout of the station, including the downstairs basement with the old D.A.R.E. car. There really are cameras posted around town with numerous monitors in the station watching those areas live. These monitors are behind the Chief’s desk. I had no idea those things were around town. I was able to incorporate those cameras into the story.

I posed questions to Chief Boven about a character like Kaycee. “What would you do if a woman called you and insisted someone had broken into her home, and this was someone who’d called about such an incident numerous times before? You know this gal. You know her fears never pan out.” Chief Boven leaned forward, and clasped his hands, and immediately went into character. He looked me in the eye and gave me the lines he’d speak as if I’d been the caller. I, too, went into immediate character and responded back. We segued into this so smoothly we left my sister behind. She said, “Wait a minute. She”—she pointed to me—“isn’t who we’re really talking about.” I had to laugh.

Later I went back and didn’t find the Chief in the station but did find a very helpful Officer Mike Bandy. I asked him how the department would handle the disappearance of a child when it looked like she’d just run away. I was surprised at his answer—how quickly they’d spring into full-out search mode. He said even with an apparent runaway situation, they’d respond as if her bedroom were a potential crime scene.  Of course I wrote my story accordingly. Also, as I mention in the author’s note at the back of the book, it was Officer Bandy who told me how I could pull off the last scene. I knew what I wanted to do but I didn’t know how in the world to make it plausible. He very enthusiastically gave me four different ways to make it work. I chose the one to best fit my character.

Monday, March 8, 2010


Part II—Gang Investigations
Interview: Brian Parry
Consultant, FBI's National Gang Intelligence Center

Evil does exists behind the walls of our prisons. Mystery writers strive to capture these human hunters on pages of fiction, these predatory creatures that prey on the weak and helpless. We return today for a closer look at a problem that is welling up behind the walls of these institutions and spilling into the streets of our communities. Understanding the problem will allow fiction writers to write with more clarity, capturing the heart of this problem in stories that entertain, educate and ring with authenticity. 

On our last gang post, prison gang expert Brian Parry shared with us some of the challenges and success of the FBI’s National Gang Intelligence Center (NGIC) headquartered in Washington, DC. In this interview, Brian will give us a closer look at these prison gang organizations and the trouble their members carry into our communities.

Brian Parry has lived and breathed prison gang intelligence for years. He is currently a consultant to the FBI’s NGIC, providing expertise on the federal State Correctional Gang Intelligence Initiative. He sits on the Executive Leadership Council-National Major Gang Task Force, providing consultation and direction to an informational gang task force representing fifty states, Canada, and Puerto Rico. Since his retirement in 2002 as Assistant Director of the California Department of Corrections (CDC) , Brian consults with state and federal correctional facilities across the nation on prison gang issues. He has testified as an expert in many state and federal trials, including a case for the Attorney General in the State of Washington.

Brian witnessed many of these gangs rise to power, and he has been on the front lines trying to stem their tide of brutality and bloodshed. He began his law enforcement career on the streets of Los Angeles as a parole officer, and later as a supervisor and Special Agent in Charge of CDC’s Special Service Unit while liaison with national  criminal-intelligence units across the country. In his position as Assistant Director of CDC, Brian managed and directed all that agency’s investigative units consisting of over one hundred staff in eight field offices and gang investigators in thirty-three prisons.

MARK:  Brian, let’s begin with a quick history lessons as to how the prison gangs emerged in California and who they are?

BRIAN: The prison gangs started in the California prison system in the 1950’s. The Mexican Mafia was the first gang to form. They originally began with the leaders of fifteen to sixteen street gangs from Los Angeles. They wanted to become the gang of gangs. They wanted to control all of the prison rackets including drugs, contraband, prostitution, gambling and extortion. Later, they decided to move to control the drugs on the streets. The Nuestra Familia (NF) formed to protect itself against the Mexican Mafia. Most of the original NF members were from rural communities across California

These two gangs clashed in the 1960’s and have been at war with one another since. The warfare between the Surenos and Nortenos in California dates back to the problems between the Mexican Mafia and the NF. 

The Aryan Brotherhood also formed to protect the white inmates from the blacks and Hispanics. They were originally called the “Diamond Tooth “gang or the “Blue Birds”. Some of the original members had pieces of glass embedded between their front teeth and some had the tattoo of a bird on their necks. Some of the original members were biker types. 

The Black Guerilla Family (BGF) was formed to protect themselves from the other gangs and to organize the black inmates. The BGF was formed from a number of splinter groups which were active in the country. The BGF considered themselves as political prisoners and developed a Marxist philosophy. Later, other gangs formed including the Texas Syndicate, Northern Structure and Nazi Low Riders. In the late 1980’s the emergence of the street gangs such as Crips, Bloods, and Hispanic gangs only exasperated the gang problem.

MARK:  What is the status of these gangs today? For example, there have been many state and federal RICO prosecutions of these gang leaders who’ve subsequently transferred to the federal system. What challenges has this raised in law enforcement?

BRIAN: Despite vigorous suppression efforts these gangs continue to wreak havoc on the prison population and of course the communities in the state. Part of the problem is a seemingly unlimited supply of young street gang members who aspire to be in prison gangs and are more than willing to put in the work necessary to gain recognition and acceptance. And of course the work includes violence and drugs. Another problem which was unanticipated occurred when a number of gang leaders from the Mexican Mafia and NF went to federal prison. A division or rift now occurs between the leaders in the California prison system and the ones now in the federal prison system. So that has become a new challenge.

MARK:  How does CDC work to limit gang influence once these gang members enter the prison system? How have the prisons evolved to house these gangsters?

BRIAN: The policy that initially worked was to identify and isolate the leadership from the rest of the prison population. That worked for awhile. But, the gang leaders recruited the street gangs to do their work in the communities and on the main lines in most of the California prisons. So the leaders now could direst the gangs activity from some of the most secure prisons in the country. The number of street gang members entering the system is overwhelming. The prison system is dangerously overcrowded and is at 200% capacity. And it is estimated that at least half the California prison population is involved to some degree with the gangs. So the housing options for controlling gang members have diminished tremendously rendering the system very dangerous.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Mark Mynheir

Author Interview: Mark Mynheir

A search for mystery novelists takes us to the sunny Florida coast today. Police detective and novelist Mark Mynheir visits us from Palm Bay Police Department (PBPD), an agency located midway on Florida’s east coast. Mark is a man of many talents, currently assigned as a homicide investigator with PBPD’s Criminal Investigations Unit while also serving as a member of the department’s SWAT unit. He has prior experience as a narcotics agent and a patrol officer.

Today, Mark shares with us another passion—writing.

Mark has four published novels with a common thread—cops as protagonists. Take the time to check out his web site at for more information about his writing: Rolling Thunder, From the Belly of the Dragon, The Void, and his latest, The Night Watchman.

Q: Mark, thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to share with us your writing life. First, tell us about your latest novel, The Night Watchman.

Mynheir:  Thanks for having me, Mark.  In The Night Watchman, the protagonist, Ray Quinn, is an Orlando homicide detective who is severely wounded in an ambush and forced to medically retire from the force.

Ray battles the haunting guilt for his partner’s death and the nagging physical injuries from the attack. Numbing the pain with alcohol and attitude, he takes a job as a night watchman at a swanky Orlando condo.

But when a pastor and an exotic dancer are found dead in one of the condos in an apparent murder-suicide, Ray can no longer linger in the shadows. The pastor’s sister is convinced her brother was framed and begs Ray to take on an impossible case–to challenge the evidence and clear her brother’s name.

Crawling from the wreckage of his former life, Ray struggles to find healing and purpose again.  But when the case of a lifetime is thrust upon him, Ray must decide whether he’ll succumb to his depression and pain or use the God-given gifts he still has inside him to catch a madman. 

Q:  Interesting story. Mystery readers are often interested how the author came upon the idea for the story. So … how did you come up with this idea?

Mynheir:  I saw an interview with a severely wounded police officer who was trying to rebuild his life after a violent assault that crippled him.  I wondered what would happen if I, like him, lost everything in an instant—my health, my strength, and my job, as well as the love of my life.  That idea blossomed into The Night Watchman.    

Q:  Your main character, Ray Quinn in The Night Watchman, is a very troubled soul. How did he come to exist in your mind?

Mynheir:  I imagined a police officer experiencing all the terrible things that Ray Quinn had but without the framework of faith to work from.  He’s trying to do it all on his own (like I used to do), and it’s not working out so well for him. 
Q:  Holding down two careers must be tough. In your forthcoming interview  on March 22nd,  you will talk about how you became a police officer. Now, tell us a little about how you become a writer? Many writers struggle to cross that threshold into the publishing world. Your web site explains the struggles you endured to become a writer and to acquire an education. Would you mind sharing a part of that story here?

Mynheir:  When I was growing up, writing was the worst thing imaginable to me. I loathed putting words to paper.  I’m Dyslexic and the very reason (I believe) that God invented spell check.  But soon after I became a Christian, I felt the Lord leading me to write.  It didn’t make much sense to me and seemed impossible.  I shared with my wife what I thought God was doing, and she encouraged me to go to school and learn the skills I needed to write.  

So, it took about ten years of classes, writing, and more classes.  I met my agent at a writer’s conference.  He shopped my first novel, which got some good reviews but didn’t sell.  I wrote the proposal for Rolling Thunder, my first published novel.  He sent it out.  I expected it to take six months or so before I heard anything.  But about a week later, I got an e-mail from Multnomah, asking if I would be interested in writing a series.   I had to wake my wife up to read the e-mail, just to make sure I wasn’t losing my mind. 

To say the least, I got kind of weepy when I held my first book.  But don’t tell anyone.