By George Ebey
David William Pearce brings us the second book in his Monk Buttman series, A TWINKLE IN THE EYES OF GOD.
Having successfully survived the Marshan affair, Monk Buttman is looking forward to nothing more than a peaceful life filled with days at the beach. However, an unexpected call from his estranged daughter, Rebekah, pulls Monk back to Virginia and back through his past, something he doesn’t want to do. But family ties run deep, and before Monk can think it through, he, Agnes, and Rebekah find themselves on the road searching for Rebekah’s runaway husband, encountering ghosts and angels, God and love, and murder along the way.
The Big Thrill recently checked in with Pearce to learn more about Monk Buttman and his ongoing series of adventures.
For the uninitiated, can you gives a little background into what your series is about?
In a nutshell, the series is about a low-level guy named Monk Buttman, who just wants to live a quiet, anonymous life. Unfortunately for Monk, things don’t work out that way and through the series we see how quickly life can become complicated by the present and the past.
Tell us about your main character, Monk Buttman. What has his journey been like up until now?
Monk Buttman is a contact man for a large law firm in LA. Born on a commune in Northern California and shuffled off to Virginia in his teens after a violent incident with the local drug dealers, Monk returns years later to California after his marriage fails. In the first book, Where Fools Dare to Tread, Monk gets sucked into a fiasco involving drug money, revenge, and murder and barely gets out of it alive. He finds love, makes a little money, and comes to terms with what happened to him and his friends after they were confronted by the drug dealers which left one of them dead. Having survived that, he assumes he can get back to his anonymous life only to have the unhappy past come back knocking in the form of his estranged daughter, Rebekah, asking him to help find her missing husband, Farrell. The new book, A TWINKLE IN THE EYES OF GOD, explores faith, family, and how running away from your past isn’t as easy as you might think.
When conceiving of the series, which took shape first: plot, characters, or setting?
The characters, specifically the main character, Monk Buttman. I really enjoyed doing the first book, and a number of people who had read it asked if there would be more. That got me thinking, and I decided to delve more into Monk’s background and history, much of which is in this story.
What attracts you to this book’s genre?
A think it’s a great way to tell stories, to talk about the issues of the day, and to keep the readers hooked because they want answers and the author wants to do just that.
How does this book make a contribution to the genre?
I feel it adds the lineage of “characters” that mystery books are made of, that readers come back to, and look forward to because of the character’s appeal, be it doggedness, competence, smarts, or how relatable they are.
No spoilers, but what can you tell us about your book that we won’t find in the jacket copy or the PR material?
Outside of the main plot of who’s killing whom, for me the most important aspect is the relationships in the book, between Monk and his daughter, his ex-wife—in fact, all of the previous life he wants to avoid and how that’s just not going to happen. This is juxtaposed by his deepening relationship with Agnes, his newfound love.
What are some of the challenges of writing a series vs a stand-alone story? The advantages?
The most obvious challenge with series is what happens from book to book and how does that affect the characters in the series. In a stand-alone you can bump off whomever you want, but in a series you have to be careful how you handle the main characters because readers become attached and may not like that. The advantage is that you know so much about your characters, or should, which allows you to make them much more complex and interesting. It also allows you to expand the stories and relationships of secondary characters.
What authors or books have influenced your career as a writer, and why?
In the mystery genre, it would be Raymond Chandler and Walter Mosley. Chandler because his characters, most famously, Marlowe, are thinking detectives with a cold, clear eye for the world around them. Mosley’s books have these wonderful character arcs that take us through the life of the character such as Easy Rawlins, where there’s this deepening of the humanity of the character.
Where is God?
The answer, as with such a question, depends on how we see God, and for the characters the question is interwoven into the situations they find themselves in and must face. The beauty in such a question is that it can be explored and exploited in many ways.
An engineer for 40 years, Mr. Pearce, following open heart surgery, decided to pursue his muse and write. After completing a debut novel, Mr. Pearce so enjoyed the experience that he began writing the Monk Buttman series. When not writing, Mr. Pearce is the accomplished recording artist Mr. Primitive. He and his wife live in Kenmore, Washington.
To learn more about the author and his work, please visit his website.