Interview with Randall Reneau
South of Good
Reviewed by Michel Violante for Reader Views (05/15)
Article first published as Interview: Randall Reneau, Author of ‘South Of Good’on Blogcritics.
Randall Reneau is the author of five novels, including “Diamond Fields,” a Royal Dragonfly Book Awards grand prize winner, and “Deadly Lode,” a Richard Boes Memorial Award winner. He is also a two-time winner of the Pinnacle Book Achievement Award. A former international geologist and Vietnam veteran, he lives with his wife, Lynne, in Austin, Texas.
Susan: Welcome Randall, and thank you for being here today. Can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself and your decision to become a writer?
Randall: Thank you, Susan. For some thirty-five years I worked around the world as an exploration geologist. I’d come back from an assignment and tell stories about my adventures, and my friends would tell me to write a book. So I wrote five . . .
Susan: “South of Good” is the first book in your Hardin Steel series. What can you tell us about the book, the series and protagonist, Hardin Steel?
Randall: Hardin Steel is a former DEA agent, forced out of the agency before his retirement due to marital and drinking problems. He manages to “clean-up” his act and snags a job as the sheriff of Cameron County, Texas (the southernmost county in Texas, and probably his last “stop.) He’s soon tangled up with the Ochoa drug cartel, a Russian mercenary, and even the Cuban Mafia. The plot spills over into Mexico, Grand Cayman, and Cuba.
“South of Good” is the first in the series. I plan a sequel in 2016.
Susan: I love the nickname for Steel, known as “Stainless” to his friends. What is the basis for the name?
Randall: I once worked with a fellow named Steele Maloney, and of course everybody called him “Stainless.” The name always stuck with me, and I was looking for a place to use it . . . and along came Hardin Steel!
Susan: Our reviewer, Michel Violante said "In my opinion ‘South of Good’ by Randall Reneau is a five star read that will be enjoyed by all fiction crime story fans who like unique characters and a different angle of a recurring drug theme.” How are you so inspired to breathe fresh air into such a popular topic?
Randall: I once got some very good advice from a writer buddy of mine. He told me to give the characters some “rein” and I’d be surprised where they’d take me. So that’s pretty much what I did with “South of Good.” I let the big dogs run and was surprised where we ended up . . .
Susan: You have another on-going series featuring protagonist, Trace Brandon. This series ties into your personal background as an international geologist. How else do the two series differ, and what are your plans for this series?
Randall: I just released the fifth in the Trace Brandon series, “Legend of War Creek,” and am working on the next installment, “The Medinandi License,” set in Mali, W. Africa, and you’re right, the Trace Brandon series is loosely based on my personal experiences working in Mexico, Africa, and S. America. I just changed the names to protect the guilty . . .
The Hardin Steel series is totally from my imagination, and no mining or mineral exploration is involved. Although I did see a good bit of drug activity when doing mineral exploration in Mexico, so was able to incorporate that experience into the book. And as I mentioned, the sequel to “South of Good” will be out in 2016.
Susan: What is it that drew you to write thrillers?
Randall: Thrillers best fit my life experiences and background. My latest, “Legend of War Creek” is my first mystery, and is loosely based on historical fact. But I return to “pure” thrillers in both “The Medinandi License” and the sequel to “South of Good.”
Susan: Before we sign off, will you tell us about your website and what additional information can be found there about “South of Good” and other works?
Randall: Sure. My website is http://www.randall-reneau.com, and there is a Facebook link on the home page. The website features synopses of each book, covers, awards, and reviews with links to bookstores. I’m also on Twitter @RandallReneau.
Susan: Randall, it has been a pleasure chatting with you, and I look forward to seeing many more books from you in the future.
Randall: Thank you, and thank you for taking the time to interview me.