Local mystery and thriller author John Bluck has celebrated the completion of a trilogy with the release of his latest novel. Bluck's series follows the main protagonist Luke Ryder, a game warden turned sheriff's deputy, as he finds himself in a series of action-packed adventures and uncertain circumstances.
The Livermore author's third installation, "Mayhem at Sea", chronicles the pirate hijacking of a cruise ship Ryder is on. Bluck spoke to the Weekly about his characters, writing inspiration and future novel ideas.
"I try to be entertaining with my work, so that it's not really like an expository essay or anything like that, but mainly just to entertain people," Bluck said.
While researching for his novels, Bluck tried to find interesting characters that would help advance the plots forward with conflict.
"What I did is I took a psychology book and picked out different personality types to create characters that would butt heads and create drama," he explained.
Bluck's work has received critical acclaim from various literary outlets, such as the New York Post. The East Coast publication recommended "Mayhem at Sea" among its top 20 "action-packed books to bring on vacation this summer."
The novel was also honored in July with an award from the Public Safety Writers Association.
Bluck's second book in the series, "Murder at NASA", also received a PSWA award. The middle installation follows Ryder undercover at a NASA center in California as he investigates a cold-case homicide.
The first book of the series, "Death in the Holler", was originally published in 2020. The novel introduces the Ryder character for the first time. It is here that he attempts to solve a murder that takes place on a Kentucky farm food plot.
Bluck began his writing career during the Vietnam War in which he was an Army journalist based out of Fort Lewis, Wash. Later on, he worked as a general reporter for ABC News Radio.
"I covered crime, many homicides, bank robberies and all that sort of thing. I saw a lot that way," Bluck said. The future novelist would then go on to work at NASA for over three decades in public relations.
"Following my work in radio and TV, and then at NASA, I met a lot of interesting people like astronauts and so forth," Bluck said.
He explained that his main character, Luke Ryder, grew up not fitting in and later experienced struggles in his life due to alcoholism.
"Luke Ryder is sort of an outcast. He lives in the holler, which is a valley in Kentucky," Bluck said. "He has a drinking problem, so he's struggling with that throughout each of these novels."
"Your protagonist, the main hero, generally speaking has to have some sort of fault that he or she has to work on bettering themselves. That's what Ryder is going through in these books," Bluck added. "(But) Ryder is a good investigative talent, that's why he gets called to help or solve these very tense situations."
The author said that having character flaws can make a novel more engaging and relatable to the public.
"That's part of writing a book, that your protagonist can deal with their fault and sort of overcome it or at least take a big step forward. I think that really helps the readers too because everybody seems to have some sort of fault and it's nice to relate to that," he said.
For his writing routine, Bluck says he prefers not to stick to a strict schedule but rather lets the ideas come to him when they do.
"I'm kind of a spur-of-the-moment type of person anyway. I'm not one of those people who gets up every morning to write at a specific time. A lot of writers do that and they have a routine, but I just write whenever I feel drawn to it," Bluck said.
Bluck often draws from his own unique professional experiences for his literary inspirations.
"I remembered flashes of things I saw during my career, or I'll think about tricky scenarios for Ryder," Bluck said.
Bluck plans to write more novels in the future and is actively plotting the next few he hopes to publish.
"I could certainly do another series or write about other subjects," Bluck said. "I hope I can continue writing books that entertain people (and) about things that interest me."
To contact or find out more about Bluck and his writing, visit his author page at www.bluckart.com.