Local author Kevin Doyle is living a double life. But, unlike the characters in mystery and detective novels like the ones he writes, his second identity isn’t a secret.
As both a novelist and high school English teacher, Doyle juggles two worlds: the world of books and the world of … writing books. His latest release Heel Turn, the second book in his Sam Quinton detective series, was just released this spring. We spoke with Doyle to get to the bottom of his newest release and find out how he first got into mystery writing.
Inside Columbia: “So, your day job is a high school composition teacher. The jump into writing isn’t that big, but how did that happen?”
Kevin Doyle: “I started writing short stories decades ago for small magazines and that’s all I ever really intended to do; write on the side for fun. But over time, they started to get longer and longer until they became novel length. I was writing short stories long before I ever envisioned getting into teaching. I began teaching in Kansas at a community college in 1996 and switched to novels about 18 or 19 years ago, but only in the last nine years have they started getting published.”
IC: “Why murder mysteries?”
KD: “No idea. When I first took a shot — pardon the pun — at short stories I tried two or three different genres and when I sat down and tried a horror one, it just clicked and felt right. It seemed more natural. My short stories were almost entirely fairly grim horror stuff, and I do have one novel along that line but for some reason as my writing got longer, it gravitated away from horror and more toward mystery.”
IC: “Your latest release is part of a series based on a private investigator/former professional wrestler. Where did the concept of his character come from?”
KD: “I do read a fair number of mysteries and one of the longest running series, until the author died, was the Spenser books by Robert B. Parker, in which the main character is a former boxer. Five or so years ago, I was looking for something a little more lighthearted to write about and it just so happened that several of our senior class guys could only talk about pro wrestling. And at first, I kind of snickered, but then I thought I can’t be too hard on them because when I was a senior, we were all into “Scooby Doo.”
“So, one day I was in there listening and a couple of things started connecting. About a week later, I sat down and thought let me come up with the most ridiculous premise I completely can and I thought of a pro wrestler and private investigator and was off and running. In a way, I owe Quinton’s character to the senior guys that year.”
IC: “Why does the setting of this series seems oddly familiar?”
KD: “It’s funny you should ask, it’s actually a very thinly veiled form of Columbia. As I was sitting down to do the first in the series, I let myself get as cliched and ridiculous as possible, so I thought why not base it on the current town that I live in? Everything is changed name-wise, but if you’re fairly familiar with the area you should be able to pick out various locations. One example is that the town is named Providence.”
IC: “What are you working on right now?”
KD: “The first book in the Sam Quinton series came out around March of 2020, the second in March of this year and I’m contracted for one more, which I’m currently working on. I am trying to slow down a little bit; I got myself into a bit of a bind and actually between two different companies, Heel Turn is the third book I’ve had published in the last 12 months. Hopefully from now on, I will be working on two books at one time instead of three to four, because teaching itself is a 55-to 60-hour job.”