You may know Troy from his work with Plottr. We’ll get to that. Troy is also an author – which is one reason Plottr has been so successful. The people working there know writing and use that knowledge to fashion a great tool.
If you haven’t heard about Troy’s writing, tune in today as we discuss his books and writing. Troy has written over 30 books in the mystery and thriller genre. We discuss his books, which he doesn’t get to do as much as talk about the company he works for. The current series is focused on Max Boucher and we talk about book 2.
so I’m excited to get on with this. All today on Discovered Word Smiths. I have Troy Lambert and if you don’t recognize that name, go listen to a few other podcasts.
He’s been on several and we were joking at the beginning being on Jay Thorns. So I’ve snagged a couple people from Jay at times. Troy you do work for a company we’re gonna talk about, but tell, before we do that, we’re gonna talk about your books. Tell us a little bit about you and who you are, where you’re from, that type of thing.
What you like to do besides writing and working on software company stuff.
Troy: Oh, my goodness. So besides writing and working on software stuff I have two very talented dogs and one of them is a German Shepherd. And if you wanna establish a writing and basically routine for your life, get a German Shepherd because they’re very German.
And they’re going to they want a rigorous routine. You don’t take ’em for a walk on time. You’ll get out, you’ll get your steps, I promise. Nice. But anyway, , so I just wanted to throw that in there. But so
Stephen: that’s our best writing advice I probably ever heard. You wanna be a good scheduled writer, get a German Shepherd, get a German
It’s that’s the answer to all of your, if everyone had one, the world would anyway. No, probably not true. But anyway but I’m like a lot of other people I wanted to write when I was young, I knew I wanted to be a writer. I was six years old, wrote my first book. George and the Giant Castle never been published, oddly enough.
Didn’t get picked up. But but when I was about 14, I knew I wanted to write full-time. I knew this was it, this is what I wanted to do. But all of those wise people in your life, like college counselors and parents and stuff like that, told me it was an impossible dream. I said, you’re a creative guy, but you need to be able to do something that makes money.
And being a writer full-time is an impossible dream. And so I believed them and I tell people, basically three decades later, a collection of hairnets and name tags and various career starts, I decided I should probably figure out this writing thing because otherwise I wasn’t sure what I was gonna do with the rest of my life.
And things were just kinda a mess. I’m like, I didn’t know. I honestly didn’t know what am I gonna do? And so yeah, so basically then I decided to write full-time and my timing was pretty good. Indie publishing was just becoming an accepted thing. It wasn’t quite as dirty of a word by then.
And so there was that, there were a lot of small presses emerging. Because of the digital first options of publishing, there were a lot of small presses coming out that could, that would actually take on writers that were a little lesser known and you didn’t have to deal with the agent thing all the time and things like that.
So that resulted in, for me, a hybrid career. I’ve been working as a writer full-time since 2009. Oh, nice. Just
Stephen: a little bit before the revolution.
Troy: Yeah. Before the revolution happened, I was in the middle of the revolution and didn’t know I was in the middle of a revolution. I was just trying to exist in my writing career with what was happening and re and later on we all realized, oh, we actually were in a revolution, but most of us were just head down trying to get the work done and had no clue how this was disrupting the rest of the world.
Stephen: Most people know you from plotter if they’ve heard you on other podcasts, and we’re gonna talk about that. But other than that, you’ve written many books. I think Roland said 25
Troy: Finish number 31 about two weeks ago, . Wow.
Wow. We need update somebody. Yeah. I told him, I said, you gotta update the stats. Even though it’s one of those, when you say 25 or more books by that point, what people know about you is you can write a book. And you can finish one. And so I’m like, eventually the number doesn’t really matter.
It’s more just about the fact that I’m writing full-time and it that I know how to write and I know how to sell books, and that’s really what it’s about.
Stephen: Nice. That’s pretty good. So tell us about your latest book. I believe it’s called Teaching Moments. Give us a little bit about what it’s about without giving it away.
First, what genre do you like to write in?
Troy: So most of the time I write in mystery and thriller simply because that’s become my author voice, and that’s another, that’s a whole podcast by itself. But teaching mo what teaching moments about is it’s about a detective who I introduced in the first book in the series called Harvested.
And he’s a former Seattle pd. His family was brutally killed, and so he basically broke from the police department and decided he was going to investigate their deaths full-time as much as possible. But he needed to pay the bills. And so became a detective and got roped into kind of being a pet detective type thing.
So he gets hired for these cases, basically to find missing animals and things like that. So harvested is kinda about that. Teaching moments is the, it starts with a similar story, but it’s actually a serial killer thrill. It is a dual plot line. There are two plots happening exactly at the same time, and they don’t tie in until the very end.
And you’ll think that you know what’s going on about halfway through and you are wrong. You’ll find out in the end what is actually happening, and that’s without giving it away. That’s the plot of the story.
Stephen: And that sounds like something mystery people would be like, oh yeah, that sounds great.
And dual plot lines. I know that can be difficult. I bet there’s a good tool that could help you with plot lines in your book, .
Troy: There is came in. Talk about that. It came in very handy because honestly like for people who are new writers, writing a dual plot line thing is not something I’d recommend you do for your first book.
I always recommend you keep your first book rather simple. You’re showcasing to a reader that you know how to write and that you can finish. And when you add complication to it, there’s a certain amount of skill involved in tying those things together without giving things away. And things like that.
And it’s just a little more work. And your first books, you really just want to get your momentum. And then you can do the complicated stuff later. Because I didn’t even realize, I just thought, this is really cool to have two plot lines. And by the time I got done, I was like, man, this is a lot of work.
It was worth it. I love that book. It’s one of the favorite books of any book that I’ve written. And it’s just super, it’s really awesome the way things turned out, but that getting them to turn out that way was a significant amount of work.
Stephen: It’s something that, as you mentioned, your skill as a writer, as it grows, it gives you the ability to do that because you’re not so focused on sentences and words and punctuation cause and plot holes.
You, you’re able to expand. So it’s like you said, not something to tackle right away. .
Troy: Yeah, for sure. I don’t know if I, there’s some experienced writers, I’d tell ’em, man, don’t tag. This is just it’s a lot. It’s hard. Not to discourage anyone, but anyway.
Stephen: Mystery thriller.
Are there any books or authors you can think of that yours are similar to, to give people an idea of what yours are like? So
Troy: really it’s interesting because mine are more similar to Dean Coonish, if you mis mixed him with mysteries. So if you mis mixed him with like Lisa Scott line. Type books or clai is another one that comes to mind that’s got some thriller mystery ish type stuff where it’s more, there’s a little more psychological to it.
It’s a little bit darker in some ways than some other fiction like that. But it’s Dean Kunz. There’s always a dog in my books. People are always I obviously the German Shepherd has some kinda influence and and they’re also, most of the time they’re set in the Pacific Northwest cause that’s where I live and I love it.
Perfect. So there, there’s those two things that kinda combine. Although I have written one set other places, but yeah, so like Lisa Scott line type books, but with a Dean Kuk type feel, that sometimes a little paranormal stuff happening. Other stuff like that, depending on.
Stephen: And that’s a great answer for readers, it’s I know what I like and if you tell me this person’s similar, it makes it easy to say, yeah I wanna go check ’em out or Yeah, I don’t usually read them, so it’s probably not of interest. And I think a lot of authors miss thinking that way.
And I think it would help find readers. So I love your answer cuz it was very clear. I love that .
Troy: It, yeah, it’s helpful from an author perspective, it’s helpful to know whose books are like yours because there is this myth with young authors where they go and I I had it too, where I was like, who?
They’d be like, who are your books for? And I’m like, they’re for everyone. Everyone I love my books. Not true. Okay. I don’t care how great you are, it’s just not true. There are gonna be people that don’t like your books. I teach a lot about writing. There are some people that don’t like my teaching style.
Okay. Cool. There are other teachers out there. It’s amazing, right? Not everybody has the same taste in the same the same appeal. For me I’m like, it’s more about let’s focus on readers that do like this type of thing. And the ones that don’t, I’m not worried about. I’m not trying to read win over Nora Roberts band to go, yeah, you should read Troy Lambert’s.
Stephen: And there’s people that don’t like King and there’s people that don’t like KOTs and there’s people that don’t like JK Rowling and they’re all the tops you would say as far as sales and Debbie McComber. I wouldn’t read one of her books if you handed it to me for free, cuz it’s not what I like.
Troy: And right and Nora Roberts, she also writes under JD Rob, I believe it is. Is that right? Yeah. JD Rob which actually I love those books tho. That’s another author I would consider comparable is JD Rob. But I wouldn’t compare myself to Nora Roberts different pen name, completely different genre, completely different style of books.
So you know, there’s, like I said, everybody just has different tastes and the reason she has two pen names is Nora Roberts fans who like that genre are not gonna cross over to jd. Yes. For the most there will be some crossover and I But there will be very little because they’re so far apart,
Stephen: but she doesn’t hide the fact that she’s writing as different people.
And the point is to keep ’em separated. And some authors agree and don’t agree with that, but it seems to work so .
Troy: And I would say in today’s world, you’re not gonna hide a pen name for very long. No . Just to be honest with you, it’s not gonna happen. There are internet sleuths out there that are deliberately trying to find out who you are and so you’re not gonna hide it for very long. So in some ways I like her approach. You’re just coming straight out with it and saying, Hey, this is me and this is me too. And they’re both me.
Stephen: Yeah. So what type of feedback are you getting from readers for,
Troy: from your. Oh man. I’ve gotten some of those readers that are really mad because I kept them up all night and I’m okay with that.
That’s a great thing, is kinda my goal. But I’ve got really great feedback on both harvested and teaching moments as far as especially people identify with that main character. And I didn’t I, when I initially crafted him, he was one of those, I figured he’s just gonna be this kind of a cookie cutter, kinda the gray man or whatever.
The real, he’s the backdrop to the real story is the bad guys, but people really sympathize and like that character a lot. And so that’s one of the biggest feedback things that I’ve gotten. Is it changed, it actually changed the way I’m writing the next couple books in this series. And having him be a little more character focused on his character journey.
That series, I have five books planned and then it will be over. And I know what the last book is gonna be and I know exactly how it’s gonna turn out. Oh, in interesting. Cause my next question was gonna be, what’s your plans coming up? You’re, this is book two, you’re working on book three now, using the same plot or same characters and all that.
Stephen: What can you tell us about what is coming up from your books?
Troy: So the there’s actually a lot of things going on. So one of the books, the book I just finished is actually what’ll be the last one in this part of the Capital City Murder series. It’s a series. I started with another author he had to drop out because of some family health issues.
And so this book is actually a real pivotal one for that series cause it’s changing the tone of the series and where it’s going. To something that’s more because when I was writing jointly with him, it was kinda more his lead and his style, and now it’s flipping to mine. And so I, this book ha I had to have create some kinda a transition.
That’s what this book is one I just finished. So that’ll be out later this year. And then next in the Max series is a book called Compelled. And all I’ll tell you about the start of that one is, it’s basically about a serial killer who’s been repressed for a while and suddenly decides kinda like Stella gets a groove back, only more murder, like way more murder and And and my wife read the first part of that, which is you can find the introduction to that in the end, at the end of teaching moments. And she said, this is almost too real. This is very scary. And I’m like, It is very scary. It’s intended to be very scary. So great. Anyway, it, that one’s gonna be a lot of fun.
And then towards the end of this year, maybe a little sooner, depending on how fast I can write I’m actually starting a new series, which is a crossover series between murder, mystery, thriller, and romantic comedy. Wow. So it’s about serial killers who fall in love and it’s going to be a blast.
Stephen: So that, that sounds great.
I like comedy in my action, my mystery, my thrillers and all that. I’m not a huge mystery thriller reader by itself, but you throw a little comedy in with it and that’ll draw my interest. One of my newer favorite writers Jeff Strand writes comedy horror often, and I fell in love with it and it’s give me more
Troy: I love, that’s one of the ones that I love. Another friend of mine just writes Hers are almost straight humor and they’re hilarious. And I read them when I just need a break from the serious. Although I tell people you should hang out with mystery and thriller writers when you go to conferences and stuff.
And the reason is we get all of our darkness out in our books and then in bar, we’re really funny. So you should come hang out with us because we’re a lot of fun. Because we don’t, then in real life, we are not as inclined to wanna kill people,
Stephen: We’ll save that for the page, .
Troy: Yeah, exactly.
Works out, works for me.
Stephen: Great. So Troy if you were given a choice this series of books, would you like to see them turned into movies or a TV show?
Troy: Oh, for this particular series, I would say probably movies. And the reason is because each book is un, unless it would be more of a challenge to break each book into se, into what am I trying to say?
Episodes. Rather than, and make it into a season, each book would then be a season. But that would be, I think, more challenging. Now. I’m not like, I’m not a script writer. I go to guys that do write scripts and I say, what do you think of this? So I think they would do better as movies cause each one has a different setting and all that kinda stuff.
Nice. But the capital city murders books I have always thought would make a great television show. They’re shorter. So you could make shorter, almost short, little like triplets of the different books into, and you could make those into episodes and probably make a pretty cool series out of it. So that one I would think differently.
Just it all, a lot of times it just depends on the book and the story, how it would. Nice.
Stephen: I like that you’ve have different answers depending on the book. That’s something that all authors think about , but I think more of us are lately with all the streaming and everything going on,
Troy: well, and there’s a lot of small studios out there and a lot of independent stuff being made and it’s what do you like?
What do you want from sure, I would love for Netflix or somebody to just pick it up and it turned into something, but if a smaller studio made something first and then it caught on, I would not be upset by that at all. We’re living in a different world of streaming where you could have episodes on YouTube and be making nearly what you’re gonna make from a major series if you had the right viewership.
I just at this point, for authors and for others, I’d say just don’t discount the options that are out there. There’s tons of different ways to get your workout into the world and use them all. Yes. And have a good time with it cuz one of the most important things is that you’re having
A agreed. Do you have a website Troy, that people could go to?
Troy: Yep. Is www.troylambertwrights.com. It’s in the middle of an overhaul but at the moment. But there are still some really cool book trailers there and there are places where you can order signed books if you’d like. Or you can find my books all over the place.
Just Google me and you’ll find it. And if I don’t come up, when you Google me, your internet service is down and you need to get in touch with your provider and as soon as they get you back up and running, you’ll be able to find them.
Stephen: Easy to find. Which is bad for the mystery people cuz who knows who wants to kill you but the other thing with mystery people is you don’t get harassed as much as other people do because people know, oh yeah, that guy knows how to kill people. I don’t think I’m gonna show at his. And he mentioned that German Shepherd, yeah. Which is when I’m doing podcasts and stuff, I’m like, if a German Shepherd comes in, suddenly I’m not being arrested.
Troy: The police have not shown up at my house. He’s actually mine. And he just wants to be a part of what’s going on and he’s wondering why he wasn’t invited. So we’ve
Stephen: had many four-legged furry sidekicks on the podcast at times, . So lemme ask you what are some of your favorite, besides Koons and a few others, what are some of your favorite books and authors?
Troy: Oh man. So I just read a book now. I can’t remember the name of the authors. You gotta have to look it up. It’s called weed Lie Here. And it is super. So I’ve read a bunch of books at the beginning of the, of this year. The other guy that’s one of my favorites and he’s a friend of mine, so I but I still don’t feel bad promoting his stuff with Vincent Zand.
He writes some great award, dark thriller type stuff. His Chase Baker series is one that I just eat up. And another one is Diane Capri, like I really love her. Her Finding Reacher series where she has these couple FBI agents that are chasing Jack Reacher and it’s that one’s a pretty cool series.
Like it was one that Lee Child said, Hey man, go for this. You should write it. That’s cool. Advocates her series. And she, for, and the other thing is she’s just such a wonderful person. But she writes some great like mystery thriller type things that really that’s the kind of stuff that I love to consume because of course that’s the kinda stuff I love to write.
The other one is the Gray Man series. The Gray Man series is, . Th those books are just a lot of fun. It’s like Jack Reacher with a guy that’s a little older, so I can relate to him a little more. So I do a geek podcast, geek nerd type podcast, and my co-host has been reading The Gray Man and ranting about it.
Stephen: So yeah I’ve seen the show and I’ve got the first book on hold at the library right now yeah.
Troy: Extremely well written. And again, another guy that’s a super great guy as well he’s a super great human being, but he’s, he writes some fantastic books.
Stephen: Great. Do you have any bookstores that you really like to go to close to you in your
Oh, yeah. We, so we have a bookstore that’s called Rediscovered Books, and I have two locations in our area, so live about an hour from Boise area. Okay. So they have a bookstore there, and then they have one in Napa and Caldwell, which is another area around us, and they also have an online store.
And they are some of my favorite people on the planet. When Covid hit, they figured out how to weather that and they it’s been a bookstore for years and these, the owners are fantastic and amazing people. But the other thing that’s really cool about them is they’re very vested in local and indie authors.
They’re like, if you have a solid book, it doesn’t matter what your path to publication is, what matters is that you have a good story and they will actually find people in their staff who will read your story and they’ll champion your story to readers. So they’re actually not just about putting your book on a shelf, on a dark space in a shelf that says local authors in their store.
But they’re about showcasing local authors and really promoting them. Nice super great group of folks. And if you don’t, if you don’t have an indie bookstore in your area look them up and order from them online because it’s a great way to support independent bookstores and independent publishing because as we’ve seen in recent weeks, we, some of us already knew this, but big publishers have no idea what they’re doing either.
Stephen: Yeah I totally agree. That’s I why I always ask that question because I put links and a map on the show notes to encourage people if you’re traveling, go look up some of these areas and find some of these bookstores and goes to my kids And I, every time we’d go on vacation, going to a bookstore was always on the list of things to do, no matter where it was.
When we went down to Disney, we went to a bookstore and found one. So we’ve got some great bookstores. We found great stories.
Troy: Oh yeah, I can get lost. I’m, I have to be careful when I go into a bookstore, I have to set a timer or something because and have a budget restriction in mind. That’s the bigger thing.
Leave your friend. Especially if it’s a used bookstore. I walked in this used bookstore, so this friend of mine, I, quick story, this friend of mine and I wrote a non-fiction book about Star Trek called The Tile Trek. Ok. Ok. Talked about the philosophy of Star Trek throughout the years. And we’re, we were just finishing up writing this book and stuff like that. And I went to visit a friend of mine over in Idaho Falls, which is my hometown, where I grew up and I saw, Hey, there’s this cool new bookstore there and I haven’t been there. This in the place used bookstore. I’m gonna go in there.
And somebody had come in and sold to the bookstore owner their entire, like all these Star Trek books in his whole collection. And so I went home. To Boise with a lot more than I left home with. Yes. But simply because I found that and I was like, that’s a complete collection. Like what?
Why did you sell that to this store? And I go up front, not too sheepishly, like here, I will just take this stack. Just ring them up. I didn’t look at the prices, I just swiped the card at the end and just hope. Come on. But,
Stephen: Yeah. Speaking of Star Trek you’ll probably appreciate this.
I got to talk to Armon Shimerman on the podcast cuz he wrote a series of books. It was such a wonderful conversation, such a great man. But it was so hard not to geek out , but I will say with all my nerd friends I had a lot of nerd credit going on there. .
Troy: Yes. And here, so here’s the thing about Star Trek too, is this is a very unifying thing, and this is probably a whole other topic, so we won’t dwell on it for too long, but it’s a very unifying thing.
We go to conventions, fan conventions, and we literally, even if people don’t buy the book most of the time, they come up and they buy the book and then they talk to us. But sometimes they come up just to talk to us when they learn. It’s about the philosophy of Star Trek. It starts this huge discussion that’s An amazing unifying thing of all of us surrounding this fake universe that was created by Gene, rod initially.
And we begin to talk about how that has impacted the world and how the world has then in turn impacted Star Trek, which is exactly what the book is about. And so for me I don’t really care how many copies of that book we sell. In some ways what I care about is the conversations that allows me to start with people about aspirational thinking like that, that can move us forward better as human beings.
So I love that.
Stephen: And that really fits Roddenberry’s original thinking of the future in Star Trek. You’re living it right there.
Troy: Yeah. It’s actually, it’s absolutely amazing. It’s an amazing.
Stephen: All right, so Troy, before we move on, then talk author stuff and more about plotter. If somebody came up to you on the street and said, Hey, I heard you’ve written some books.
Why should I get your book and read it? What would you tell ’em? You know what
Troy: This is interesting cause Rod is gonna ask this question a lot, and the question I lead with first is I say, what else do you read? The question, the reason for that is very simply, this is exactly what we’re talking about before.
My books are not for everyone. So if that person tells me that they read Epic Fantasy, Brandon Sanderson stuff, I’m gonna say, you know what? You could pick up my books if you’re interested in a little crossover to mystery and Thriller. They’re thrilling, they’re exciting. There’s clues there.
They’re a lot of fun, but you may not be the type of person who likes to read about serial killers. Now, if you like True Crime Pro podcasts and you like solving mysteries and figuring out on TV before the. The TV detective does and those type of things, then my books are for you. They have clever twists, clever ending.
You’re almost never are you gonna start one of my books and know what’s going to happen in the end. Even if you think you do it, it’s like the guy that’s arrested in the first 20 minutes of law and order, we know you didn’t do it. We’re just waiting for the real bad guy to show up. So it’s kinda a similar thing, but I always ask him first, what do you read and see if it’s even related.
So if I even wanna make that kinda recommendation to them.
Stephen: And I really like that because it’s very true. You don’t want people reading your book that don’t read that type of book because that’s the ones where you get the bad reviews. It’s I normally read romance and this sucked well cause it is not a romance
Troy: well or things like the goat there, there are too many cuss words.
Okay. But I warned you, at the outset there’s, it’s pretty clear what type of book this is going to be. Cause I had a friend of mine that he had one and like he got this scathing review that goes, this was not Christian fiction at all. And I’m like, this is not in any Christian fiction categories on Amazon at all.
I dunno how you found this book and then said there’s just certain qualifiers that you say cause not everyone’s gonna like your work. My brother does not read my book. It’s okay.
Stephen: Yeah. My, my first book, my mother read it, and the only thing that bothered her was I needed the main character to be an orphan.
So for the first five chapters, she’s in this happy household and then they get killed and she couldn’t get past that. And I’m like, I needed it to happen in the story Yeah. Yeah. It there are certain triggering events that people are going to they’re gonna say, okay, I was gonna read your book, but this just, I couldn’t go past that point.
Troy: And it’s perfectly okay. It’s, again, it’s one of those things that every, not everyone’s going to love your work, so be okay. The sooner you’re okay with that, the easier it are. It is to look at reviews, the easier, it’s to just move forward with your author career.
Stephen: Agreed. Agreed. All right. Great. Troy, thanks for sharing all that, because like we talked about, I’m betting any authors listening to this probably didn’t even know you’ve written books.
And I know we get a lot of mystery readers. That’s a huge genre. Hopefully we’ll turn some more people onto your book. Thanks for sharing them.
Troy: You betcha. Thank you. Thanks for letting me.