November 28, 2011

Mystery We Write 2011 Winter Blog Tour Presents Mike Orenduff



Buy Link for the latest book:

The Pot Thief Who Studied Pythagoras, The Pot Thief Who Studied Ptolemy, The Pot Thief Who Studied Einstein, and The Pot Thief Who Studied Escoffier are published by Oak Tress Press and are available as paperbacks in many Barnes & Nobles, Hastings, and Independent bookstores and as ebooks on Kindle and Nook readers.

“Hubert Shuze, pot thief extraordinaire, operates an ancient pottery resale shop, not entirely legally, in the middle of Albuquerque’s town square. His activities, both in the selling and creating of ancient pots and their knock-offs, tend to get him mixed up in an assortment of marginally ethical activities, murder generally being the most profound. Shuze operates by a complex set of ethics that allows him to sell questionably legal pots, burglarize, and launder money — but never to lie, cheat or steal. Along the way, Shuze, a perpetual student of life, educates us on his philosopher du jour. His previous novels featured the philosophies of Pythagoras, Ptolemy and Einstein.  “The Pot Thief Who Studied Escoffier” is a quirky repast of piñon-infused chimeneas, New Mexican sunsets, and a delightful band of foodie misfits.  It is best enjoyed in the fading glow of a Southwestern sunset, a fire crackling beside you, a faithful dog at your feet.” The El Paso Times

Mike Orenduff grew up in a house so close to the Rio Grande that he could Frisbee a tortilla into Mexico. He came by his love of pueblo pottery during weekends, buying small pots from the pueblos his family visited and – in one case – acquiring one when his sister traded chocolate chip cookies for it. His love of pottery expanded to a general interest in archaeology which he studied as an undergraduate.

While in graduate school at the University of New Mexico, Mike worked during the summer as a volunteer teacher at one of the nearby pueblos. He went on to serve as President of New Mexico State University and as a visiting faculty member at West Point and President of Bermuda College. After retiring from higher education, he rekindled his love of the Southwest by writing his award-winning Pot Thief murder mysteries which combine archaeology and philosophy with humor and mystery.  Among his many awards are the New Mexico Book of the Year, the “Lefty” national award for best humorous mystery and two “Eppies” for the best eBook mysteries.

His first book, The Pot Thief Who Studied Pythagoras, was described by The Baltimore Sun as, “funny at a very high intellectual level and deliciously delightful,” and his latest, The Pot Thief Who Studied Escoffier, was called “the perfect fusion of murder, mayhem and margaritas” by The El Paso Times.

The hardest thing I had to learn about putting a publishable manuscript together was actually something I had to unlearn. I had written scores of articles for scholarly journals over the
course of my career as a professor. When I tried to write fiction, my background as an academic got in the way.

Another academic who wrote murder mysteries was Robert Parker. He had a Pd.D. in English, but he learned how to write in such a way that it didn’t show. His first book, The Private Eye in Hammett and Chandler, was his doctoral dissertation, pruned – in his words – “of the more egregious academic excesses.” He goes on to say of the work that, “it stands before you still a
bit unseemly in its scholarly circumlocution, with excessive demonstration, and insufficient insight.”

I know exactly what he means. Despite my efforts to overcome my academic background, my first drafts still contain the odd circumlocution here and there.

Only 200 copies of The Private Eye in Hammett and Chandler were printed, and I’m lucky to be the owner of a signed copy. Parker’s Spencer series sold a lot better than his re-written dissertation. And a lot better than my Pot Thief series, alas. However, I’ve published more scholarly articles than he did. Can you see the jealousy dripping from my words?

Here is an example of a circumlocution from one of my articles on the English ethicist, G. E. Moore: “Instead, the quoted passage is Moore’s explanation of what has been called ‘imaginative
isolation’, the process whereby we can presumably determine whether something, X, is identical with goodness by considering what is actually before our minds when we focus first on X and then on goodness.”

Try working that into a murder mystery!

And, to demonstrate that I have, on occasion, overcome this handicap, I will end with a passage from my latest book, The Pot Thief Who Studied Escoffier:

“It’s the restaurant syndrome, Hubie.”

“Restaurant syndrome? I’ve never heard of it.”

“Maybe you know it by its original name, le syndrome de restaurant.”

I groaned. “Please, no more French words and phrases.”

“But that’s it. That’s the syndrome. You start working in a restaurant, and you have to learn all those French terms. It begins to affect your thinking, like the twins thing.”

“The twins thing?”

“Yeah. You know, like how twins have this special language that makes it easy for them to communicate with each other, but it messes them up when they try to deal with normal people.
Restaurant workers are like that. We may start out normal, but after you begin using words like prix fixe, hors-d’œuvres, à la carte, escargots, and raison d’être, you get a little crazy.”

Raison d’être?

“I think it’s a raisin soufflé.”

“No. I think the phrase for a raisin soufflé is au courant,” I said.

“Anyway,” she continued, “it affects your judgment, and pretty soon you’re doing crazy things like actually eating snails because you think of them as escargots and don’t realize they’re just slimy snails.”

Folks, thank you for stopping by, please don’t forget to comment so you can win one of Mike’s books!  Come back tomorrow for another great author!

Cheers, Beth

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15 Responses | | Comments Feed

  1. I am eager to read each of Mike’s books. I have to thank Alice Duncan and Earl Staggs for letting me know about this blog tour. Of course, I’m hoping I win at least one book. Okay, I’m HOPING to win lots of books. 😉

  2. I like indian pottery so this sound like a series that I’d enjoy.

  3. Again, Mike, this was a great post. Always glad to read anything you write.


  4. I think having drinks with Hubie would be a true adventure.

  5. An excellent example, Mike, of the difference in writing. I’m glad you left your other style behind. Hubie would not be nearly as interesting.

  6. I love this scene but my favorite from among your books is THE POT THIEF WHO STUDIED EINSTEIN. . . I wonder if Hubie would like my Navajo pottery collection.

  7. Great post Mike. Scholarly writing has always been equated with hot air in my book. Your exercism must have worked because I love Hubie.
    W.S. Gager on Writing

  8. I read Mike’s first book when he first showed up online and I loved it. Laughed or at least giggled through most of it, and I KNEW Mike was going to be big, big, big. I’m happy to see I was right, but, she modestly said, I’m always right when I see a huge, huge talent emerging. I see another one emerging in this 14 author blog tour, but I’m keeping quiet about who it is. It’s more fun picking someone and then just sitting back and watching it happen. 😉 (No, dang it, it’s not me.)

  9. Well Said, Mike. Academic prose has its place, and it ain’t in mystery fiction, even if your sleuth studies Ptolemy, Einstein, and all them other hifalutin Greeks. I was a copy editor for a university press, and it was lethal to my prose style. Luckily, I quit in time. Anyway, great post. You’re a fine writer

  10. Thanks for all the comments. I see I’m not the only one who had to cast out the demon of academic prose.

    O.K., Hotclue, you have me guessing. I like your style in not saying anything now, but when the time comes and you are proved right, I hope you will let us all know.

  11. Mike, I will make sure Beth gives you the scoop when it’s time, but by that time you’ll probably already know the answer. 😉 (Oh, I do adore a mystery, don’t you?)

    Cheers, Hotclue Herself

  12. Mike, After reading your posts, I’m looking forward to reading about Hubie.

  13. I will always think “raisin souffle” when I hear that phrase, Mike. For the rest of my life! Loved your post.

  14. The Pot Thief books make me smile and generally make me hungry. I enjoyed this post too! Thanks for the chance to win one of these great books!

  15. Hi Mike. I like reading these little bits of stories about all you authors and your characters. This is a great post. The Pot Thief books are definitely going on my TBR pile!








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