Mike Orenduff, Author of the Pot Thief Series
Mike Orenduff has a wry sense of humor which definitely shows in his Pot Thief series. We share the same publisher and he is also a member of PSWA.
Marilyn: First, Mike, tell me a bit about your background.
Mike: I grew up in El Paso, a place I really loved, in part because New Mexico was at our doorstep. Growing up in the desert must have made me feel deprived of water. How else can I explain joining the Navy?
After I was discharged, I earned a BA from the University of Texas and went to graduate school at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque where my love affair with the state was rekindled. They didn’t offer a doctorate in my field, so I went to Tulane for my Ph.D.
I figured I’d settle in to being a college professor, but somewhere along the way I got waylaid into administration. That eventually led me back to the Land of Enchantment for a third time when I became the president of New Mexico State University. I left there to teach at West Point, happy to be back in the classroom doing something worthwhile. College presidents are basically professional lairs. But it turned out to be a lot harder to stay out of administration than it had been to get into it.
I succumbed to an offer to serve as President of Bermuda College. How could I refuse? I had gone there first in 1963 aboard the USS Forrest Sherman, then many years later with my wife, Lai, to celebrate our twenty-fifth anniversary. I’m not allowed to say what year that was, but it was well after 1963.
Marilyn: When did you first become interested in writing?
Mike" I can’t remember not being interested in writing. But my first serious attempt to write a book was while serving as president of NMSU. The job was making be batty and writing was an excellent escape. I wrote a murder mystery, secured a big-name New York agent, and have a collection of rejection letters from all the major publishers. I tried it again after I left Bermuda, and that led to the Pot Thief Series.
Marilyn: I loved your first Pot Thief book, waiting to buy the next one at the PSWA conference. What gave you the idea for this series?
Mike: The book I wrote at NMSU was more of a noir, so I decided to make the next one a cozy. I’ve always liked New Mexico pottery, and I love Lawrence Block’s burglar series. So instead of a burglar – sort of hard to justify breaking into people’s houses – I created a character who digs up old pottery, still illegal, but not quite so odious as burglary.
Marilyn: Give us a brief description of both books and where they can be purchased.
Mike" The Pot Thief Who Studied Pythagoras starts with a mysterious stranger trying to tempt Hubie into stealing an ancient piece from a museum. Hubie digs up pots, he doesn’t break into buildings, but he hates museums, so he figures he’ll take a look around. While in the museum, he realizes this is not a job for him, and he returns home to find a Federal agent who accuses him of stealing the pot. One thing leads to another as they always do in murder mysteries, and the agent is killed, Hubie becomes the prime suspect, and he has to solve the murder to clear himself, a task he is assisted in by his sidekick Susannah and the ancient mystic and mathematician Pythagoras.
The Pot Thief Who Studied Ptolemy finds Hubie trying to recover sacred pots stolen from the San Roque Pueblo. Unfortunately, he suspects they are cadged in an apartment in a high-security building in downtown Albuquerque, the residence in fact of the retired head of the University of New Mexico Anthropology Department who expelled Hubie from the program for digging up and selling old pots. The department head is murdered, and you can guess the rest.
Both books are available from the publisher, Oak Tree Press and online at Amazon (both paper and kindle), Barnes & Noble and a number of other online retailers. You can even bid on used ones on EBay! The books are also stocked in a number of bookstores in New Mexico and adjacent states. Of course any good bookstore can order a copy
Marilyn: Since your book has come out, have you had some interesting or unusual experiences you'd like to share?
Mike" All writers have stories about things that happen at book signings. I happened to arrive for a signing in Gallup, NM just a few days after the raid in Blanding, Utah where federal marshals arrested about a dozen people for illegal possession and trading of native artifacts. Someone looked at my book and asked me if it was about the events in Blanding. “Yes,” I said with a straight face, “print-on-demand technology is incredibly fast.”
Marilyn: See what I mean about his sense of humor? What's coming next?
Mike" The Pot Thief Who Studied Einstein will be out later this year.
Marilyn: Will you share some of your promotion ideas?
Mik: Any promotion ideas I have I got from you, Marilyn, and other writers who are always willing to share
Marilyn: Aw c'mon, Mike, I never did a book tour on my way to a PSWA conference. Yes, folks, that's exactly what he did. Anything else you'd like to tell my blog readers?
Mike: If they read your blog, they probably read your books, so I won’t preach to the choir. I’d like to tell them to support their local bookseller and keep the publishing industry alive. I know it’s convenient and saves trees to have electronic books, and ordering paper books is easy online, but do we really want to be a society where one or two mega corporations control what books we have available?
Marilyn: How true. Thank you, Mike. Looking forward to the next book.
If you are interested in attending the PSWA conference where Mike, along with his wife Lai, will be talking about book covers, good and bad, got to http://www.publicsafetywriter.com