Letting the story take control

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By Kirsten Laskey

James Doss had a vision for his book but the story quickly assumed control.

Doss said he wanted the story to be set in Colorado but did not intend for it to be focused on Native Americans. The book, however, had other ideas.

Thirteen books later, the fictional Colorado town still exists but Charlie Moon and his aunt Daisy have taken things over.

The Moon mysteries are set on a Ute Indian reservation and features Moon, a police detective, his aunt Daisy Perika, a Native American shaman and Scott Paris, another detective on the force.

The newest addition to the series, “Widower’s Revenge,” will be out in October.

The stories may be works of fiction, but Doss commented, “They evolve in the sense you and I do.”

For instance, something unexpected happened to Moon four-five books into the series and times were tough for this main character. However, his situation brightened in the “Grandmother’s Spider.”

Doss said events in the books happened naturally; he doesn’t drive them. “I have to follow the characters. They do evolve but not in the way I foresee.”

For instances some characters have made an appearance in one book, disappear in later additions in the series, and then returned again.

So why does Doss involve himself in an art with a mind of its own? “(I) mainly do the writing because I enjoy it,” he said.

It all started while working as an electrical engineer at Los Alamos National Laboratory. He explained that in the late 1980s, a scientific discovery was made and as this discovery was unfolding, he began to think it would be great to write about the situation but completely disguise actual events with fictitious characters.

Doss will share his passion for writing during the upcoming Authors Speak series at 7 p.m. in Mesa Public Library’s upstairs rotunda.

Similar to his writing, Doss is taking a relaxed approach to his presentation.

He said he is going to “let the audience lead me. It’s more of a conversation.”

Doss explained people ask really poignant questions, which can spark great dialogue.

In fact, sometimes  readers offer great ideas for other stories.

Doss said they can see things in the series that he does not.

Not everything is left up to chance.

For instance, Doss said one his highlights in writing the series was traveling to Colorado to do research. He said it felt more like a vacation than work.

 Another highlight was meeting some residents on a reservation.

Besides the Moon series, Doss has other stories he is interested in telling.

Before starting on the series, Doss said he had written a mystery for young adults that he would love to return to when he has the time.

He said he would love to churn out a few books a year but “I like to write something that is the best (work) that I could do.”