Saturday, November 14, 2009

Wayne Zurl

Wayne Zurl was born in New York and worked for twenty years with the Suffolk County Police Department on Long Island where he gained investigative and supervisory experience. For thirteen of those years, he served as a section commander.

During the Vietnam War, Zurl served on active duty with the U.S. Army and later went into the Reserves.

He graduated from Uniondale High School in New York and Empire State College at the State University at Stony Brook, New York. Thanks to the G.I. bill he later studied everything from sociology and public administration to celestial navigation.

After retiring from the police service, he and his wife, Barbara, moved to Tennessee where he volunteered at The Fort Loudoun State Historic Area and dealt with publicity for their living history program.

The volunteer position inspired him to study more and write about the French and Indian War era of colonial history. Over two dozen of his articles have been published in magazines.

In 2006, Wayne Zurl began writing his Sam Jenkins Crime Stories. Jenkins is an ex-New York police officer now employed as the chief in Prospect, a fictional small East Tennessee city. Zurl says Jenkins and he share similar experiences, probably sound the same, and both enjoy good Italian food.

He is currently a member of The Next Big Writer, an on-line workshop.

You’ve stated that Chief Sam Jenkins’ crime cases are based on incidents that occurred during your employment with the Suffolk County, New York Police Department. Does Jenkins’ role in the story reflect you when you worked for the Suffolk County PD?In most cases, yes. These stories are not autobiographical, but I’ve taken cases from New York and transplanted them into Tennessee. Many times I embellish them so they’re more readable. Real police work isn’t always as exciting as we make our stories. Occasionally, I’ll take an aspect of Tennessee life or a recent incident and weave those into a story, too. Sometimes I composite several incidents into one fictional case. I think if you write about your own cases, you can recall and recount the emotions you had at the time. That adds a touch of authenticity.

When did you first decide you wanted to be a writer?
Three years ago I decided I’d try fiction as a creative outlet. It seemed a lot easier to store a bunch of novels and stories than oil paintings or model airplanes. As part of my job, I always had to write something, certainly in the police department and even in the Army. When your written word may be the only part of you a senior officer sees, it’s important to make your reports look good and create a favorable impression. I’ve always tried to do that.

What is your preferred genre of writing?
Remembering the maxim of ‘write what you know,’ I think I should stick with police or detective stories, but I think I’d like to try a western sometime. Most of my stories take place in the 21st century, but at times I can’t help myself and I make something sound like an old-fashioned hard-boiled detective piece.

What do you think makes a good story?

About fifty years ago I read a theory that there are only eleven basic plots which can be written. I try to make an interesting plot based on actual incidents and other elements needed for a good story. But I think character development is the most important thing in any story. If a character lacks that certain something that grabs a reader and makes them care, either love them or hate them--depending on their role, the best plot in the world won’t make them like your book or story.

What is the most challenging part of the writing process for you?
Sometimes I get caught up remembering a police incident I really liked and I want to write about it. I have to think up a good way to convert an actual incident into something readable. Also, I had to get over my habit of writing fiction like a report. Reports must say everything; everything isn’t necessary in fiction. I like the ‘arrive late, leave early’ way of presenting fictional scenes. In a police report you’d get crucified for doing that.

What does audio production bring to your story?
When I write, I try to envision a character. I can’t formulate their actions or their speech without seeing them – as you can in a film. I write with a lot of dialogue. It’s important each individual has their own voice or dialogue sounds phony. The professional actors who read the audio books do a fine job of giving each character a unique voice. I’m amazed how well they can do that. They make a story come alive.

Are you working on any stories or other literary works at the present?
I’ve just finished the sixth novel length Sam Jenkins story and had it critiqued by other authors from an on-line writer’s workshop. Everyone seemed to like it enough that I’ve been encouraged to send queries to agents or publisher. I haven’t had any luck selling my first novel to a conventional publisher yet, so I may try the last one first. After that I have a western partially planned out, or if I’m struck by some great idea or inspiration, I’ll work on that.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I’ve always liked to travel, from the time the Army sent me around the world to the trip we have planned for next week. Photography goes well with travel; I do a lot of that. I also read a lot of general fiction and some non-fiction about Colonial American history, specifically the French and Indian Wars.

Wayne Zurl - Published Works:
Non-fiction magazine Early American history articles with Muzzleloader magazine, Smoke & Fire News, and The Leathercrafter’s Journal
Former staff writer with Buckskinner magazine -- wrote feature called Cooperstown, regarding fiction of James Fenimore Cooper; and other articles

Zurl's first novel-length Sam Jenkins book, A New Prospect, published January 2011 by Black Rose Writing. Learn More at

Author Interviews/Reviews:

The Daily Times on Bullets Off-Broadway
Blog Talk Radio
Jessie Ferguson of Swamp Lily Review

Published: 6-2014, Mind Wings Audio

Published: 6-2014, Mind Wings Audio

Published: 4-2014, Mind Wings Audio

Published: 12-2013, Mind Wings Audio

Published: 6-2013, Mind Wings Audio

Published: 4-2013, Mind Wings Audio

Published: 2-2013, Mind Wings Audio

Published: 12-2012, Mind Wings Audio

Published: 8-2012, Mind Wings Audio

Published: 1-2012, Mind Wings Audio

Published: 9-2011, Mind Wings Audio

Published: 6-2011, Mind Wings Audio

Published: 2-2011, Mind Wings Audio

Published: 12-2010, Mind Wings Audio

Published: 9-2010, Mind Wings Audio

Published: 7-2010, Mind Wings Audio

Published: 4-2010, Mind Wings Audio

Published: 11-2009, Mind Wings Audio

1 comment:

  1. My First Novel-length Sam Jenkins book, A NEW PROSPECT, is scheduled to be published in January 2011 by Black Rose Writing. You can follow the progress of this book, find out about public appearence dates, and see all my new Mind Wings Audio books on