Historical Romance

Historical Romance with an Inspirational Touch

Friday, January 15, 2010

Spotlight on: J.B. Kohl and Eric Beetner

Authors of: One Too Many Blows to the Head
Publisher: Second Wind Publishing
Available from Second Wind Publishing and Amazon and The Mystery Bookstore in Los Angeles

Kansas City, 1939.
In a world of fixed fights and mob influence Ray Ward and his brother Rex are two of the only clean fighters in town. With Ray in the corner and Rex in the ring they are headed for the big time. Until that fateful night. Now Ray has a score to settle using a lifetime of lessons in how to fight back.

Dean Fokoli is a detective with a new partner, an alcoholic wife and a guilty conscience. At least the boxer on the radio who just got beat to a pulp won’t end up in his homicide file. But when the dregs of the crooked fight world start turning up dead, Fokoli is on the hunt for the killer. The chase will take him to the underbelly of the Kansas City night and hopefully keep him one step ahead of his past.

AMY: Thank you for joining me. What else would you like to share with us regarding your book?

JB: As readers know, this book was a collaborative effort between Eric and me. We’ve talked a lot about the fact that we’ve never met, the art of collaboration, how our relationship works.

But beyond that, it’s important to keep in mind that writing is still writing. Eric couldn’t put my words to the paper for me and I couldn’t put words to the paper for him. There has to be the drive in a writer somewhere to get it done.

Eric and I were preparing to post for another blog this week and in the discussion he mentioned the fact that having someone else out there expecting pages from him was a great motivator. I’d have to agree with that. And I guess I’d like to point out to that Eric, unlike me, is a very clean writer. He doesn’t mince words. His writing is truly noir, complete with the grit and darkness that goes along with it. I’d have to say his writing influences my own—pushes me to refine a little bit.

ERIC: And JB is a much better technical writer, as in less mistakes and dumb errors. So she keeps me honest with some of my bad habits.

AMY: Were there any surprises that came about while you were writing One Too Many Blows To The Head, or did your story stick with the plan you had set?

JB: I’d have to say that we outlined the whole story from day one. We worked from that outline and refined / re-did it as needed, so there were no big character epiphanies for me. I think what was most surprising was how well we got along and how well we wrote together. I’ve heard so many bad things about collaboration including the “What are you crazy?” when I told people I was writing a book with someone else. Writing the book was fun. And I can’t wait to get the next one out there.

ERIC: It was nice having an outline we believed in and stuck to. I am not a good re-writer. I like to get it right the first time or usually I never take the time to go back and fix it, I just move on to the next thing. So if the first draft was full of holes I doubt it ever would have gotten finished.

AMY: What inspired you to write this book or these particular characters?

JB: Fokoli is a character I’ve had on tap for a few years. I like the characters that have some bad habits, that maybe aren’t all that likable . . . the folks you wouldn’t necessarily sit down and talk with.

I’d been saving him for a story where he’d be put to good use. As for the plot: that’s all Eric. I was initially pretty scared when he sent me a sketch of his character and the crime. I thought “Boxing? Oh hell.” (Don’t tell him I said that. He’s very sensitive.) But once we started writing it ended up being incredible.

ERIC: JB and I met through our love of film noir and boxing is a common theme. There is very little actual boxing in the book though. My grandfather was a boxer in the 1930s and I stole his name for the book. Although he made a living punching people in the face I don’t think he ever reached the heights of violence that my fictional Ray does in the book. I hope not.

AMY: Tell the readers about your writing journey and how you ended up with your publisher.

JB: Wow. There’s not too much to tell about this. All writers know what hard work it is to get a book out into the world. We started the book in June of 2008 and finished it in October. I have to go back and check the dates on the files every once in awhile to make sure I haven’t been accidentally sniffing paint or some other substance . . . writing it went very quickly. Eric had a very busy job and I write full time so it made sense that I would do the querying. Querying is very unglamorous. And heart wrenching at times. But like all determined writers, we knew we had something good. And it’s nice to be associated with Second Wind.

ERIC: Rejections become expected so I don’t get that upset about them. I’m much more surprised when someone actually agrees to publish something. It’s incredibly humbling especially for a small press because you know it is only a tiny group of people doing it for next to no money. It’s up to us to put a few dollars in the company till so that more books can find a home.

AMY: If there is one piece of advice you could give an unagented / unpublished author, what would it be?

JB: It’s easy to lose sight of the joy of writing and all that goes along with it. The reality is that writing can be work at times. Procrastination is much easier than sitting down and getting words on paper. If I sit down with the thought in my head “I’ll never be as successful as Stephen King” then my next thought is invariably “Why bother?” So my advice is just write. Write what you like. Write because you find joy in it.

ERIC: Exactly. If it ceases to become fun – stop. There are plenty of books out there. You need to be satisfied and creatively fulfilled even if no one ever reads a word you write. But if you keep at it you will only improve and good work truly does find a home.

AMY: Besides One Too Many Blows To The Head, which we highlighted here, have you published other books or are there some that are yet to be released?

JB: My first book, The Deputy’s Widow, was published in January of 2008 through Arctic Wolf. It’s a book set in 1948 upstate New York and, naturally, is a detective novel.
Here’s the synopsis:

1948 is drawing to a close and things couldn't be much worse for Private Detective Hamilton Baker. It starts with a simple phone call from Diana Kramer, a smooth tongued woman who begs the detective to find letters she's written to her lover, Sheriff's Deputy Chester "Chet" Ferrebee. Chet is to wed another woman this afternoon and Diana, the scorned mistress, wants the letters back where they belong.with her. Hours after the wedding, when Chet turns up dead in a roadside motel room, his bride beaten beyond recognition and unable to remember anything, Baker fears his client is somehow involved. As he searches for the letters, he unwillingly digs into the past of the sleepy town of Crane Haven and uncovers the dangerous secrets of a group of men who shattered a young girl's mind, as well as her chance for happiness, years ago.

ERIC: And it’s really GOOD! I read that and it was what made me contact JB and send her one of my stories which is how this all got started. I’ve had many short crime stories published on several webzines and have a few shorts coming out in anthologies. I have two solo novels that I am shopping around too. And coming soon is another book JB and I are working on together now.

AMY: How can we find you on the internet (facebook, twitter, myspace, blog, website addresses)
JB: Some of the places you can find us are: MySpace at myspace.com/jbkohl.and.ericbeetner, jbkohl.wordpress.com, www.jbkohl.com

ERIC: my writing home page is ericbeetner.blogspot.com which has links to all my shorts. We’re on Facebook as well both individually and as a fan page for the book.

AMY: Is there anything else you would like to share with the readers?

JB: I just want to say thanks for reading books published by independent publishers. It’s so nice that there are readers out there who look for something different . . . there are all kinds of writers writing all genres out there and thanks to independent publishers and the readers that support them writers have the opportunity to have their words read. So thanks!

ERIC: I just want the readers of your blog, Amy, to know this is a very different book. I love that you are willing to help us promote a book that is miles away from what you write. But hey, a great story is a great story be it romance, crime, sci-fi or otherwise. Our book is not for the faint of heart but it is a compelling read, or so I’ve heard.

AMY: Is there anything you would like to ask the readers?

JB: I’m always interested in hearing from readers. What sorts of genres do you read? What are your favorite books or authors? As a writer I read constantly and I love to talk about reading as much as I love to talk about writing. Send me your thoughts any time.

ERIC: Me too. Hearing back from and meeting readers, virtually or not, is a great reward to writing which is such a solitary act. I want to know what readers like in a series. I don’t typically read a lot of series work but the mystery field is crowded with them. What’s the appeal? We’re working on a sequel right now and I want to get it right.

AMY: Readers, are there any questions you would like to ask JB or Eric?

JB and Eric have been generous enough give away an autographed copy of One Too Many Blows to the Head. I am sorry but this is limited to U.S. residents only, due to the cost of postage. If you would like a chance to win the book, simply comment and leave your e-mail address. A winner will be picked and announced Saturday night. Good luck.


  1. Great interview, everyone! I'm always fascinated by authors who collaborate...I've never done it, but it seems like a great motivator. And I love your advice to new writers...spot on! Looking forward to reading your book!


  2. I love your title. And I would be thrilled to win a copy of your book. Good luck on your virtual book tour. I know I'm supposed to leave my email to win, but I'm not sure where I'm supposed to leave it. So here it is: wordladymom@yahoo.com

  3. Excellent interview! I commend you for doing a collaboration. My mother taught me to share but I'm so stubborn I have to have it my way lol. It looks like an interesting read. Love your interviews Amy- you always hit on the best questions!

  4. Glad everyone is not too scared off by the book. I love that Amy has taken the time to host us but we write very different books. Three cheers for diversity in reading!

  5. A complete, wonderful interview. I'm amazed you pulled off writing a great from two separate geographical locations. I can't wait to read it--best of luck selling thousands of copies.

  6. I have the utmost respect for collaborations such as Too Many Fists. I don’t think I could ever collaborate with another writer on a novel; I’m too controlling, beyond obsessive compulsive when it comes characters, narrative, dialogue, editing. I probably wouldn’t live to see the piece through to completion—the other person would likely kill me!