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The Sun
Never Sets on
the English

The Many Faces
of Western
North Carolina

The Mystery
of Rick Boyer

Just Do It!

Just the

How to Get

English on the
Fast Track

Telling (True)


Change of Heart
Leads to New

The World

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The Mystery of Rick Boyer
by Charles White
When you first walk into Rick Boyerís office, you see someone who enjoys his comfort. Instead of grading papers behind a stodgy desk, Boyer prefers to sink into an old Barca Lounger that oozes down-home personality. His manner is informal and he has a gift for casual talk. This is not your fatherís professor.

Boyer, a native of Evanston, Illinois, majored in English at Denison University and earned an MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Iowa, studying under renowned sci-fi writer Kurt Vonnegut.

Boyer has taught high school, served as a college sales rep for Little, Brown & Co. and since 1988, taught English at Western Carolina University,

The author of over 20 fiction and nonfiction books, Boyer won the Edgar Allan Poe Award for his Doc Adams series. I sat down with Boyer to hear his thoughts about the world of mystery writing and the trends he sees with aspiring student writers.

CW: What first drew you to write in the mystery genre?

RB: I donít like the mystery genre. Iíve never been a fan of mysteries, particularly whodunits. If someone is murdered and there are eight suspects, that tells me the guy wasnít very well liked anyway, so why should the reader care what happened to him?

I prefer the thriller genre because it brings the danger into the present. A suspense novel can be a really great novel; a mystery, even if done well, is usually only okay.

My first book, The Giant Rat of Sumatra, was an extension of the Sherlock Holmes saga. I wanted to learn from a classic.

CW: The returning hero of your thriller series, Doc Adams, isnít a police detective or private investigator, but a well-to-do oral surgeon who keeps getting drawn into adventures. What led you to make Doc an ordinary guy?

RB: Doc Adams is me in more extraordinary circumstances. So that made it easier for me. I was pretending to be somebody else. But the experiences are different with Doc. Things happen with Doc; people come after him. With Doc, I tried to combine the unexceptional guy, basically a suburbanite, who runs into extraordinary circumstances.

CW: Doc Adams has now appeared in nine separate novels. What do you see as the main advantages and disadvantages of writing a serial character?

RB: The big advantage is that the universe is already given to you. You just have to change the story line. The second advantage is if people like your books they keep on buying them. It feeds on itself.

Docís being married was the disadvantage. It didnít allow any new love interest in the books. You have to keep reinventing the romance between Doc and his wife just as you have to do with any real marriage that lasts over five years.

CW: In the Fall 2000 semester you taught a topics class in suspense writing. What strengths and weaknesses do you see in aspiring student writers?

RB: The kids today who write are smart, but theyíre too TV oriented. They lack subtlety. Itís just one bloody, sexy thing after another. I blame TV for that. Nobody reads enough.

Whatever his genre, Boyer knows the fundamentals of producing good, readable fiction. He encourages hard work from his students. Thereís no mystery about the road to success.




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