Richard ‘Ricky’ Bush has been listening to, playing, or writing about blues music for most of his adult life, so once he sat down to write a novel he naturally folded his passion of the music into his fiction. His protagonists, James ‘Mitty’ Andersen and Pete Bolden, are blues harmonica musicians, and trouble intersects at some dark crossroad in each of his novels. HOWLING MOUNTAIN BLUES (March 18, 2015, Barking Rain Press) is the third in his series following RIVER BOTTOM BLUES and THE DEVIL’S BLUES. I sat down with Ricky to find out more about him, and his writing.
Tell us a bit about your latest novel, HOWLING MOUNTAIN BLUES.
The band is hired by a “hot shot” blues guitar star, Wyatt “Earp” Ringold, who sat at the top of the blues world until he took a long hiatus. After sitting in with Mitty and Pete’s band, Ringold is convinced they are the right band to back him up for his first “come back” appearance, and books them as headliners for a blues festival in Belize.
The setting shifts from Houston to Belize and their gig at the blues festival in San Pedro. Trouble in paradise creeps in while they sling the blues and follows them to Wyatt Ringold’s condo in the smaller town of Placencia. Eventually, they end up deep in the fictional jungles of Howling Mountain, habitat of the famous howler monkeys and a madman who calls himself Big Bossman.
What or who inspired you to become a writer?
Can’t really say that anyone inspired me to write. I majored in journalism and taught high school for 29 years, so writing became a natural progression. Listening to the blues and learning to play the harmonica might have been as much of an inspiration on my writing as anything else. My first publishing credits stem from interviewing and writing about blues musicians and their music. I always knew that there was a book in there somewhere.
What’s the best writing advice you have ever read or been given?
Do you have a favorite author or series?
I’m auditioning favorite authors to replace the one’s who were. When John D. MacDonald passed away (years ago) I was at a loss as to a go-to guy in the genre. His Travis McGee series roped me in early on. Elmore Leonard filled that void remarkably well. Now he’s gone, so I’m on a search once more. Both men had a style that, to me, set them apart from the field. Very different styles, but very distinctive. Outside of the mystery/thriller genre, I’ve always been partial to Larry McMurtry.
What’s next for Ricky Bush?
I just finished the second draft of a tale that breaks away from my series. The working title is The Oaxacan Kid with a new protagonist. As of now, it is a standalone, but could evolve into a series. Never thought that my first book would be the beginning of a series, so you never know. Working with a new protagonist at the helm has been an adventure in itself. I do have plans to attend Bouchercon 2015 in Raleigh, North Carolina, this October, just to get out of my cubbyhole and meet up with some like-minded folks.
Thank you, Ricky. I look forward to chatting with you at Bouchercon!