A Welcome Murder, by Robin Yocum, is our MysteryPeople Pick of the Month for April. The novel follows the quirky denizens of an industrial town as they plot against each other, their actions resulting in unpredictable and unintended consequences. Our reviewer Meike Alana caught up with Robin Yocum to ask him a few questions about his latest.
- Interview by Essential MysteryPeople Contributor Meike Alana
Meike Alana: This book is both hilariously funny yet at times dark and depraved. Did you set out to hit both of those marks (which you did brilliantly, by the way!)? Or did the book start out one way, and then you added elements of the other?
Robin Yocum: When I start writing, I don’t necessarily have a direction in mind. Once I have a premise for a story, I create the characters and let them interact. When the interaction is good, it’s like taking dictation. There are lots of conversations going on in my head, and sometimes the conversations are funny. I am admittedly my own best friend, and I’ll be sitting at the computer laughing along with my characters. The humor seems to appear naturally in their conversations. But, there also is situational humor, too. For example, Johnny Earl gets a new cell mate in prison and it’s this hulking white supremacist. How can there not be humor in the ensuing interactions? Smoochie Xenakis, the town door mat, suddenly thinks he is Vito Corleone. The situation calls for humor. There certainly are dark aspects of the book, such as Dena Marie trying to set her husband up for murder, but the ridiculousness of the premise is funny. She hasn’t thought it out or planned it. Rather, she’s trying to take advantage of the situation. I don’t want to write a book that is so dark and serious that I can’t inject humor. To me, the mixture of the two makes for a much better read, especially if you can surprise the reader.
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- Post by MysteryPeople Contributor Meike Alana
Johnny Earl was once a great high school athlete—perhaps the greatest in the storied history of Steubenville High School, home of the Big Red. But in 8 short years his star has risen and spectacularly fallen—after a brief stint as a Pittsburgh Pirate (the highlight of which was a triple hit off Nolan Ryan and which ended when he blew out his knee), his second career as a cocaine dealer ended with a spell in the federal penitentiary.
As A Welcome Murder begins, Johnny has been released from prison and has returned to his hometown of Steubenville. He plans to stay just long enough to retrieve the drug money he hid before his incarceration, then head out for parts unknown– but just moments before he’s ready to hit the road he’s picked up for questioning in the murder of Rayce Daubner, the FBI informant who set him up on drug charges in the first place. While he’s spending the night in jail, his former cellmate shows up—the white supremacist who wants Johnny’s drug money to help fund the Aryan nation he’s founded somewhere in the wilds of Idaho or Nevada (he’s not quite sure of the location). He already has a pair of wives waiting for Johnny so he can do his part to further the cause.
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Event Staffer Meike Alana reviews Robin Yocum’s new novel, A Brilliant Death.
Robin Yocum’s new novel, A Brilliant Death, explores the fallout from family secrets too long kept in a small town. For almost two decades, the tale of Amanda Baron’s death in a night-time boating accident has been town legend in Brilliant, Ohio. Presumably, the boat on which she and her mysterious lover were trysting was struck by a coal barge; the boat was destroyed and the bodies of Amanda and her lover were never recovered.
Her son Travis was an infant when his mother died. Now in high school, Travis yearns to know more about the mother he doesn’t remember. His father, town bully “Big Frank” Baron, removed all traces of his late wife from their home and refuses to speak her name. So Travis enlists the help of his best friend Mitch Malone (our narrator) and launches “Project Amanda” to learn the details about his mother’s life and death.
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