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Mysteries, thrillers, home of PI Thomas Black

The Author

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Dang. He was here a minute ago.

Points of interest: Heating pad on chair for bad back. Box under the monitor to elevate it for bad neck. Dictionary of American Slang. Paper shredder.  Xywrite, my favorite wordprocessing program of all time. WordPerfect, which I use now, is a close second. It allows the keyboard to be customized and has a redline function I use every day. Xywrite, sadly, went out of business.

Earl Emerson has been publishing mysteries and thrillers since 1985. He is best known for his Thomas Black private eye series set in Seattle. He has also written a number of thrillers with fire department backgrounds. Earl was a firefighter in Seattle for over 32 years. His books have been nominated for the Edgar Award for best mystery of the year and he’s won the Shamus for best private eye novel. Black Hearts and Slow Dancing was named one of the ten best thrillers of the year by the New York Times.

He lives in North Bend, Wa., with his wife and their emergency back-up cat.

Below is the old fire lookout at the top of Granite Mountain near Snoqualmie Pass. The views are fantastic just about all the way up but especially terrific at the top. It’s a tough hike, eight miles round trip, with well over 3800′ feet of elevation gain, all uphill one way, all downhill on the trip back to the parking lot. It’s not passable during winter months because of heavy snow and avalanche danger and is sometimes very hot on the exposed slopes in the middle of a summer day.

  1. Peggy Franz Said,

    When will your next book be published? Please make sure it also will be in large print, if possible. I really like everything you’ve written.


  2. admin Said,


    I’m not sure when my next book will be published. Right now my agent is shopping it around. If I find a publisher and a deal I like, it might be almost a year before it comes out. If my agent doesn’t find a deal I can live with, I’ll self publish, which should get the book out by the end of the summer. I’ll write a post on it all as soon as I have more info.

  3. Forest Hertlein Said,

    A friend mentioned that he read my brother’s name in one of your novels. He forgot which one.
    My brother, Dan Hertlein, was a firefighter in Kent and now is with Renton Fire Department.
    Does his name “ring a memory bell”? If so, I would enjoy buying him a copy of the book.

  4. admin Said,

    Hertlein does indeed ring a bell. The trouble is, I cannot remember which book it was in, either. My best proofreader, having recently gone through the five Mac Fontana novels, assures me it wasn’t in any of them. That leaves only eighteen novels you need to buy for your brother in order to make sure you’re giving him the one with his name in it. I wish I would give you a discount, but I don’t have the technical capability for that. I wish I could be more help.

  5. Lisa Swenson Said,

    Love the fact that you were a Seattle firefighter for so long and live locally. I am too a writer and very interested in your many successes. Ever have a chance to meet you in person?

  6. Laurie Lawhon Said,

    Dear Earl Emerson,
    I’ve been an avid reader of your books, since I happened upon Deviant Behavior in the ’80’s. You have so many memorable scenes in your books, and such great characters. Also, I’ve learned about all kinds of things I (hopefully) will never have to learn through experience: locked in the dog food freezer; being hung and then eating spray whipped cream; being dropped into a freezing below-ground oil tank….. Congratulation on the Willo award. Hope Stephen Cannell exercises his option on the Mac Fontana series. A lot of my copies of your books have been lost, lent out, or were bought used. I do plan to get them again.
    A question for you: Didn’t one of your books involve someone deliberately setting fire to a very tall skyscraper (Columbia Tower-oid)?
    (P.S. I remember decades ago reading about a system for rescuing people from the upper floors of skyscrapers. Basically, it was a lengthy, enclosed slide. Is that technology being used, or are skyscraper upper levels still death traps?)
    Anyway, keep writing please. And thanks for your books. Laurie

  7. admin Said,


    A number of things. First, thanks for the kudos. Always appreciated more than you can know. Also, if you need copies of any of the Fontana novels or all but one of the Thomas Black series, they’re almost all up on Kindle and Nook now. Soon to be on I-tunes. These are, for the most part, at a reasonable price. $4.99 each. I’m running a sale every so often on one or more titles, too. Right now I have three titles up at $.99 each.

    The Columbia Tower fire was in Vertical Burn.

    Ironically enough, I thought up that title on a plane trip and during the same trip I ran into a man who’d invented a way to rescue people from the upper floors of skyscrapers, a lowering system. I’ve never seen it implemented anywhere.


  8. debby peterman Said,

    Okay so you’ve written a book that includes bicycling, hiking and firefighting. I’m waiting for the one with a cross country skier in it. I always learn a few technical tidbits from your book. When I hit my first downhill bike ride in the deep grass, a little steeper than I was accustomed to, I sat back over my seat just like you said in your book and I made it down the slope just fine. Since I’m trying to learn to skate ski I’d appreciate a book with a skier and a few of your classic technique secrets.

  9. admin Said,


    Skating is almost too much fun to put into a book. I’m not sure I could do it justice. But, if you want to know how I improve, I watch youtube videos of the pros.

  10. AnneDK Said,

    Dear Earl,

    I recently found all my old cassette tapes, and since I still have a cassette player, I will be able to play the taped sessions from the Seattle Bouchercon from waaaaay back 🙂

    I also found the old VHS tape with your interview, and I’m keeping fingers crossed that my old VCR will still work.

    It’s no all bad to save a leeeetle too much old stuff.

    All the best from Denmark,


  11. Dan Guyer Said,

    I have read every one of your books up to Monica’s Sister, which I am reading now. Your best book yet.

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