Mysteries, thrillers, home of PI Thomas Black

More website news

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I’ve finished repairing the damage done to this website and I’m working on an article about writing and the thirteenth Thomas Black. It should appear sometime the first week of November. Nothing earthshaking, just some of my thoughts on writing and publishing.


Website work

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I’m still cleaning up some problems created by installing a new version of WordPress. I thought my site got hacked, but an alert reader told me it probably happened when I was installing a new version of WP. I think he was right. I’ve got most of it fixed but there are still some problems.

By the way, if you live in the northwest, I think the premier site for general weather information is Cliff Mass’s blog. I go to it several times a week. He includes a podcast from his Friday series on public radio where he explains recent weather patterns. You can find it here: Cliff Mass Weather Blog.

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I recently received this:

need a book….PLLEEEASE!!

I came to Seattle three years ago, your books were a welcome introduction to areas of Seattle to which I had become familiar. I greedily read every book I could find at Central Library, and requested any other EE book available through the library (sorry, no private
library in my backpack). I have waited and waited for a new book to come out,
and I have read many other authors, but none capture my attention as you. Please
finish your latest work, and please please please do everything possible to
bring out a few more new books very quickly after that!!! I promise I will
recommend the read to anyone looking for a Seattle book, or a good
suspense/mystery.   I am glad to see that all of your titles are available on Kindle now!

Susan H.


Susan: I’m working as quickly as I can. I spent close to two years on a book I’ve now put aside. Sometimes that happens. Writing is a craft but there’s also some magic to it and sometimes the magic simply does not happen. I am now going great guns on a Thomas Black. It’s going well and I expect it to be finished early this winter. After that, I’m planning two or three more Thomas Blacks in quick succession.

As far as the Kindle versions go, I’m not so sure about that. Some of my books are in Kindle, but not all are.



It’s That Time of Year

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Click on the photo for more info.

This is one of my favorite places in the world. I do this hike maybe two or three times a week in the autumn getting ready for the x-country ski season. I generally do it with poles and run part of the way. It's a killer hike. I recently ran into a young woman who'd gone to the top in an hour and twenty minutes. Her round trip would have been around three hours. For a non-athlete, that was a fantastic time. It's about a mile high and from where I'm standing you can see Seattle, Mount Rainier, much of the Cascade Mountain Range, Bellevue, Snoqualmie, and directly below the point where I'm standing, my house. This same mountain was called Mount Gadd in my Mac Fontana series. His house was right on the Snoqualmie River which snakes through this photo.

This picture was taken on our trip down from Sunrise on Mount Rainier this summer. Wearing the helmet is my longtime friend and state hillclimb champion, Garth Ferber. We rode in the mountains for about four hours, got 7500′ of climbing. And no, I couldn’t keep up with the hillclimb champ.

I’m still hard at work on Monica’s Sister, the working title for my new Thomas Black. I should finish by the end of the year. More later. Click on photo to enlarge. By the way, the proliferation of wildflowers was so stunning I drove up a week later with my wife, and we did some day hikes in the area. Awesome.

Current Work

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Dear Earl,

How is your work on Order 17 coming along?


Dear Edd,

I’ve been meaning to write about this for a while now. Order 17, the book I worked on for nearly two years, has been temporarily shelved. Some writers might use that term for a book that will come out at a later date, but I’ve never gone back to a shelved book and finished it. In other words, Order 17 has been round-filed. It rarely happens that I start a book and fail to finish it. I don’t think it’s happened to me in the last twenty years, at least not that I can recall. I won’t bore anybody with why I’m not finishing Order 17 or what went wrong with it. It’s the nature of the business that at times large swaths of a writer’s life are literally thrown away. As my mother would say, “Tough tittie.”
The good news is I’m two-thirds of the way through the first draft of a Thomas Black mystery, a book I’m very excited about. I’m going to write mysteries only for a while. My thinking is that the country and the world is in bad shape and things seem to be getting worse every day. Fewer people are reading. The Internet and other new gadgets have blotted up a lot of free time that was formerly spent reading fiction. No fiction author I know of is immune to this. Thus, I’m writing a Thomas Black and plan to write two or three more in quick succession. If I can work things out with the new publisher, I will try to bring out a new book more often than one book per year, which has been the industry standard for years, and my habit. More on this later.


This is exactly the sort of letter/e-mail every author wants to receive, written by a thinking person who actually understands what I was trying to do with the book. Every once in a while I’m lucky enough to get one of these. Thanks, Barbara M.

Dear Mr. Emerson,

There are a few dozen authors whose work I cherish and collect, and you’ve been one of them for years.  But I’ve never felt moved to write to one of my favorites til today.  I have to thank you for what you’ve accomplished in writing Cape Disappointment.

I’m one of the huge number of thinking people troubled by anomalies and discrepancies in our common experience  — open questions where discussion is absolutely prohibited, whole groups of people saying, “But what about this?” dismissed as lunatic-fringe “truthers”.  And of course I’ve been wondering at both the precision timing and the instant spackling-over of the Wellstone “accident” ever since it happened.

You did SUCH a remarkable job of presenting the unpalatable reality in which we sure seem to live these days, while also defusing the inhibitions about paranoia and “lunatic” conspiracy theory that keep us from even thinking about it.  I am full of admiration.

Using Bert as the vehicle for Black’s wrestling with his own anti-paranoia programming, and thus walking the reader through the walls of their own, was simply brilliant.  And your understated prose style was so perfect for the exploration of this rant-inducing topic  —  I can’t think of many other people who could have pulled this off.  Plus you still managed to make it a really good mystery read, not a polemic.

This can’t have been easy to write, or to live with  —  thank you for doing it.  I’m thinking that I will probably be buying and giving away copies for awhile  —  you’ve done such a solid job of making the case for the truth, and fiction makes a much better carrier than nonfiction when a big change in thinking is required.

This book is a huge gift to America, and maybe also the only justice Paul Wellstone will ever get.  Thanks for it.

Barbara M.
Port Angeles, WA.

New Excerpts Page

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I just put up a new page with six titles available for browsing about twenty pages in each title. It’s the ‘Excerpts’  section on the main header menu. This is my favorite below.

Aaron Elkins (Old Bones, etc.) recently sent me this clipping. Interestingly enough, I spoke with Greg Bear a couple of years ago at Park Place Books’ anniversary bash and at that time he was quite keen on exploring new ways for author’s to publish. We spoke about the feasibility of the author doing books on tape himself. Here, Neal Stephenson says he’ll never make another deal with a traditional publisher.  With print-on-demand making it cost-effective to print one book at a time instead of carrying a warehouse full of thousands of books, there should be small companies springing up everywhere to take care of this new author attitude. Or maybe the authors will be doing everything themselves? Marketing? It’s all done on the Internet now. For the most part, brick and mortar publishers have all gotten so large and unwieldy they don’t have a clue what’s going on in their own back yard.


Rattlesnake Ledge, December 2007

Click on the photo for a better view.

Welcome to my new website. I’m still working on it, so please be patient.  At present the most complete information is under “Interviews.” If you have any suggestions please go to ‘contact earl.’ My aim is to answer within twenty-four hours, if possible.

I’ve included a complete list of my books in order. The fire thrillers and Cape Disappointment are all available in Kindle editions as well as print. The Rainy City and some other titles are available as books on tape, although I don’t like books on tape. Unfortunately, most authors have little control over the audio versions and some of mine are not up to snuff.  If your local independent bookstore doesn’t have what you’re looking for, try the Seattle Mystery Bookshop here. They might even have an autographed copy.

During the next year I’m planning to put out the five forgotten Mac Fontana thrillers in e-book form, probably Kindle first. Then I’ll see about getting the entire Thomas Black series out in e-book format.

Photo: This is the top of Rattlesnake Ledge, one of my favorite places. The trailhead is  just ten minutes from my home in North Bend, Wa. It’s a two-mile hike to the top with around 1200 feet of elevation gain, a great hike for all fitness levels. Note the snow blowing past my legs.  We were the only people on the trail that day.

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