BEHIND THE WORDS with Robert Dugoni


Welcome Robert, we’re excited to have you on Reader’s Entertainment. Before we talk about your latest release, how about you tell our readers a bit about yourself. Where you’re from, where you live? Is writing your full-time job?

I was raised in the Bay Area and lived there until 1998. A lawyer, I took a sabbatical with my wife and young son and we moved to Seattle, Washington so I could begin my career as a novelist. I’ve been writing ever since.

How long have you been writing?

I knew I wanted to write stories since the sixth grade. I had a marvelous teacher, a nun, who saw promise in me and told my mother I needed to read more. So my mom, an English literature major began to hand me classic books like The Old Man and the Sea, The Great Gatsby, The Count of Monte Cristo and many others. I fell in love with stories.

What does your typical writing day look like?

Pretty boring. I’m up early, have a smoothie and set to work at my computer in my home office. I take a break to work out and usually go until late afternoon when I head out to meet with friends and golf a few holes.

Tell us about your latest release A KILLING ON THE HILL. Where the idea came from? Perhaps some fun moments, or not so fun moments?

I was cleaning out the attic in our home and came across several scrapbooks. I opened them and found hundreds of newspaper clippings. They were all from the 1930s. The scrapbooks had been my wife’s grand-fathers. He had been a prominent lawyer in Seattle. I found one story in particular, a murder at the Pom Pom Nightclub on Profanity Hill. It sounded too good to be true and it was. The story was of a man, Frankie Ray, shot and killed in the early morning at this club by a gangster named George Moore. The trial soon became the trial of the century. This was in the midst of the Great Depression, Prohibition, bootlegging, Hoovervilles and these speakeasies and nightclubs where the rich would head out each night for illegal gambling and drinking and glorious dinners. I created a fictional news reporter, a young man cutting his teeth to tell the story, and he soon finds himself in way over his head.

Who has been the most difficult character for you to write? Why?

Victor Cruz, the Marine Sergeant in The World Played Chess was difficult for me because of the circumstances he was in during the Vietnam War. I wanted Victor to live, but 50,000 young men never came home from that war. It was such a tragedy. So sad.

If you could be one of your characters for a day which character would it be?

Oddly, I’d choose Sam Hell. Despite all the bullying he endures, he had a loving mother and father, as do I, and two of the best friends a kid could ever ask for.

If you could spend the day with your character, what would you do? What would that day look like?

I’d just like to go back to my childhood and relive growing up with so many brothers and sisters and so many friends. It was a magical time in my life.

What’s your take on research and how do you do it?

I do as much as I need to get my story started then continue researching as I go.

Are there any particular authors that have influenced how you write?

Stephen King. I love the way he uses all his senses in every scene he writes.

Do you have a secret talent readers would be surprised by?

Not really. I’m an average golfer, and a pretty good cook.

Your favorite go to drink or food when the world goes crazy!

I love a good sandwich on sour dough French roll.

What is your writing kryptonite?

Haven’t found it yet. Don’t want to. I love what I do and hope to do it forever.

What is the one question you never get ask at interviews, but wish you did? Ask and answer it.

What was it like growing up with so many brothers and sisters?

It was an education. I came to realize that although we have similarities, we are each different and unique. Genetics only goes so far. It was a marvelous childhood with 9 siblings. Not perfect, but on the whole, the holidays were magical and I was never bored. I don’t know how my parents did it, and I admire them for it.

Thank you so much for joining us today, Robert!

Reader’s, here’s a quick look at A KILLING ON THE HILL which releases today.

A gripping new thriller from New York Times bestselling author Robert Dugoni.

The Great Depression. High-level corruption. And a murder that’s about to become Seattle’s hottest mystery. It’s the kind of story that can make a reporter’s career. If he lives to write about it.

Seattle, 1933. The city is in the grips of the Great Depression, Prohibition, and vice. Cutting his teeth on a small-time beat, hungry and ambitious young reporter William “Shoe” Shumacher gets a tip that could change his career. There’s been a murder at a social club on Profanity Hill―an underworld magnet for vice crimes only a privileged few can afford. The story is going to be front-page news, and Shoe is the first reporter on the scene.

The victim, Frankie Ray, is a former prizefighter. His accused killer? Club owner and mobster George Miller, who claims he pulled the trigger in self-defense. Soon the whole town’s talking, and Shoe’s first homicide is fast becoming the Trial of the Century. The more Shoe digs, the more he’s convinced nothing is as it seems. Not with a tangle of conflicting stories, an unlikely motive, and witnesses like Ray’s girlfriend, a glamour girl whose pretty lips are sealed. For now.

In a city steeped in Old West debauchery, Shoe’s following every lead to a very dangerous place―one that could bring him glory and fame or end his life.


Robert Dugoni is a critically acclaimed New York TimesWall Street JournalWashington Post, and Amazon Charts bestselling author, reaching more than ten million readers worldwide. He is best known for the Tracy Crosswhite police procedural series. He is also the author of the Charles Jenkins espionage series, the David Sloane legal thriller series, the Keera Duggan legal thriller series, and several standalone novels, including The 7th CanonDamage Control, and The World Played Chess. His novel The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell was named Suspense Magazine’s 2018 Book of the Year, and Dugoni’s narration won an AudioFile Earphones Award. The Washington Post named his nonfiction exposé The Cyanide Canary a Best Book of the Year. Several of his novels have been optioned for movies and television series. Dugoni is the recipient of the Nancy Pearl Book Award for fiction and a four-time winner of the Friends of Mystery Spotted Owl Award for best novel set in the Pacific Northwest. He has been a finalist for many other awards. 

Robert Dugoni’s books are sold in more than twenty-five countries and have been translated into more than thirty languages. He lives in Seattle.  

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