Interview With Kurt Kamm

Author Kurt Kamm is a new member of the Public Safety Writers Association. I will be interviewing various members, hopefully every Friday on my blog. Following is the interview:

Marilyn: I always like to know how a new member found out about the PSWA organization. Would you share with us? Because we've had mostly members who are connected to law enforcement, we are thrilled to be joined by those in other public safety fields.

Kurt: I learned about PSWA from a small press, Aberdeen Bay. They have a mystery author (Madeline Gornell) who recently won a PWSA award.

Marilyn: Do you want to tell us a bit about yourself and your fire-fighting career?

Kurt: I am not actually a firefighter. I had a career in finance and was a semi-pro masters bicycle racer. I retired to Malibu and shortly thereafter one of the frequent firestorms swept through the area and almost destroyed my house. I got the idea of writing firefighter novels.

Since then, CalFire and LACoFD have been incredibly helpful. I have been through a number of their training academies as well as attending El Camino Fire School. In connection with my second novel, Red Flag Warning, I was privileged to attend CalFire arson investigation training classes. Living in Malibu, I have been on the scene of several very scary wildland fires, and have full wildland turnout gear at my house for "stay and defend." I am active in the Malibu CERT and have search and rescue training.

Marilyn: When did you become interested in writing?

Kurt: When I moved to Malibu in 2005, I discovered that within a couple of miles from my house, LACoFD has two fire camps in the hills.

Camp 13 is a female inmate fire camp which trains women to assist wildland fire crews.

Camp 8 is a wildland Helitack fire camp with aFirehawk (Blackhawk) attack helicopter. All of this sounded like something I had to find out about. When I had 15 minutes to evacuate my home at 4:45 AM during a 70 mph wind driven firestorm, my neighbor's home was already on fire, and there was a fire crew outside my front gate, I decided firefighting would be something I wanted to write about. The rest is history. Camp 8 and its (fictional) crew are at the heart of One Foot in the Black.

Marilyn: Please tell me more about One Foot in the Black and where it can be purchased.

Kurt: "The Black" is an area on a (wildland) fire line which has already been burned. One foot in the black is at once the most dangerous spot - close to the flames - and the safest - offering an escape into a burned area. One Foot in the Black is a coming of age story about an 18 year old from an abusive family who finds a new family in his fire crew. The story traces the excitement and tragedy of life as a wildland firefighter in the West. The title is a metaphor for the life of the young protagonist who finds emotional and physical security and also high risk in his new life as a firefighter.

The book is for sale on Amazon or can be purchased through my website I recommend my website which has some spectacular pictures of fires.

Marilyn: You have another book being sent out for publication I understand. Would you like to tell us briefly about it?

Kurt: Red Flag Warning is a mystery story about a serial arsonist setting wildland fires in Los Angeles County.

In a two-week period during peak fire season, you will go behind the scenes of a fast-moving serial arson/homicide investigation to follow the interrelated lives of firefighters and arson suspects. You will plunge into infernos in the hills of Southern California, and face the smoke, heat and danger with the men on the fire lines. During a Red Flag Warning and Santa Ana winds, an incendiary fire destroys homes, kills people, and threatens the city of Malibu.

While “NiteHeat” prowls the hillsides in the darkness, setting fires and taunting investigators, the Fire Department’s Arson Unit struggles to find the fire setter and stop the devastation. I've got some wonderful characters, including a frustrated 911 emergency dispatcher, a kid who steals fire gear and thinks he is a firefighter, and a fake priest who claims the arson fires are the work of the devil.

I expect Red Flag Warning to be published in the summer of 2010.

Marilyn: Is there anything else you'd like my blog followers to know?

Kurt: My website has a blog called "Firefighter's Words" I have 225+ entries from firefighters all over the world telling funny, sad, frightening experiences. It is an incredible window into the lives of firefighters.

Marilyn: Thank you so much! When you come to the PSWA conference be sure and bring copies of your books with you.


M.M. Gornell said…
Kurt, welcome to PSWA! Sure hope you enjoy being part of this group as much as I do. Looking forward to meeting you in person at the conference, if not sooner. Much success with both your novels!

And Marilyn, what a great idea interviewing new members.
Cheryl said…
Wow! These books sound amazing. What a great story of how he came to write about firefighters.


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