Welcome to my stop on the tour for Lizard’s Tale by Kurt Kamm.
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Guest post by Author Kurt Kamm
THE INTERNET – RESEARCHING THE LIZARD’S TALE
Let’s imagine that it is 1964 instead of 2014 (when I actually sat down to write The Lizard’s Tale). My book is an international mystery novel and the first section deals with Guatemala: the life of the people in the jungles; the poverty; the conditions on the highways and mountain roads; and the cartel violence. How would I research this in 1964? I could spend time and money actually travelling in Guatemala, although I doubt if I would actually be able to see the things I needed to see without risking my life savings as well as my life. I could head to the Los Angeles Public Library and spend months poring through books and pictures, although I don’t speak Spanish. I could try to find natives of Guatemala living in LA who would be willing to take the time to talk to me. All of this would be incredibly time consuming, and in all likelihood, not achievable.
Of course, a good imagination always helps a fiction writer, but there is a limit to imagining places you have never visited. How could I ever conceive the small town of Estanzuela in eastern Guatemala where one of my characters arranges his transaction with the cartel? How could I describe the huge Kafes Guatemala coffee plantation where this same character plans to cross over the border into Mexico? How could I envision the ancient Mayan ruins he comes upon in the jungle?
Because I began The Lizard’s Tale in 2014, I was able use the Internet and have never had to do the grinding, slow kind of research required in previous eras. Sometimes I have to marvel at the effect the Internet has had on writing a novel. Just think, at your fingertips, in a few seconds you can research any fact or see any place in the world. People post everything about anything on the Internet. I was able to tap into journals of adventurers slogging through the Guatemalan jungles, families driving VW buses over the treacherous dirt roads in the Chuchumatanes Mountains, and read firsthand stories about the drug violence.
In my first novel, One Foot in the Black, my main character got off a bus at the Greyhound Station in Chicago. At the time, I thought I had a problem. How did that station look? What was it like inside? I had no idea, but incredibly, someone had posted pictures of the exterior and interior of that shabby, crummy place on the Internet. I was able to take a quick look, get what visual information I needed in a matter of minutes, and move on. That was when I realized how much easier all my future research would be.
Readers have commented on how real the Guatemalan (and Mexican) locales are in The Lizard’s Tale. Several people have asked if I actually visited those places before writing the book. I just smile and say, “Sure, I was there.” I hope you enjoy reading The Lizard’s Tale. Guatemala is just the first stop.
The Lizard’s Tale
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.”
Author Kurt Kamm
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
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