Busy Alameda 'writer guy' is up for an Edgar

Busy Alameda 'writer guy' is up for an Edgar

Patti Cary
Steve Hockensmith

Photo by Patti Cary.

Writer and Bay Farm Islander Steve Hockensmith is a busy guy. A prolific author, husband, father of two and some-time dog wrangler, Hockensmith published four books in the last year – no easy feat when you’re also holding down a nine-to-five day job.

This April, he’ll be undertaking an additional task: traveling to New York City as a finalist for a prestigious Mystery Writers of America Edgar Award, his second nomination since he was up for Best First Novel in 2007.

The Edgars, named for the infamous Allan Poe, honor the best of all of the factions in the mystery-writing genre.

Hockensmith’s first Edgar nomination was recognition for the delightful debut of Holmes on the Range, the tale of two cowboy brothers and their Sherlock-fueled adventures on the Cantlemere Ranch in the 1800s. The book, described as “dazzling” by the Boston Globe, was the first in a popular, ongoing series.

This year, he’s nominated for Nick and Tesla’s Super-Cyborg Gadget Glove, an installment of the wildly inventive and scientifically sound, Nick and Tesla (get it?) stories aimed at middle-graders that he writes in collaboration with award-winning science teacher “Science Bob” Pflugfelder.

Both of these critically acclaimed series are educational and funny, and a joy to read.

At 46, he reflects, “I was a kid who gravitated to storytelling early on and I guess I always felt like an old soul.”

Like his books, Hockensmith communicates with an adept dry wit and subtle smarts, making it easy to imagine he could throttle you in a game of Jeopardy! while you’re doubled over, too busy laughing to compete.

Moving from Indiana via West Virginia via Kentucky, he made his way West, then sort of stumbled upon and eventually settled in Alameda to raise a family.

“Discovering Alameda was like (being) 15 minutes into the Wizard of Oz, where she steps out of the house and it goes from black and white to color. We’re so happy to be here. Alameda is the jewel of the East Bay, a true hidden treasure,” he said, with only a slight hint of irony.

The Dorothy reference is pure Hockensmith. Talking with the author, you get the feeling he too may have just arrived from a distant time and place, possibly Victorian England or the O.K. Corral or maybe even Kepler-442b. The notion is not so far fetched.

He happily acknowledged having come of age on a steady diet of ‘60s time-traveling science fiction television shows like “Star Trek” and “Doctor Who” (he now happily watches the current version of the British show with his 11-year-old daughter). When you add in a healthy dose of “Monty Python’s Flying Circus,” a sense of the author’s writing style starts to take shape.

“That was the biggest gift from living in West Virginia – public television,” he said.

Those early influences nurtured an insightful humor and brainy imagination that oozes out onto every page, whether he’s writing one of the popular Pride and Prejudice and Zombies mashups (Dawn of the Dreadfuls in 2010, Dreadfully Ever After in 2011) or 2014’s The White Magic Five and Dime – A Tarot Mystery, geared toward a PG-13-and-older audience.

But in this TARDIS-like (see “Doctor Who”) whirlwind of activity, Hockensmith takes most of the compliments and his many accolades in a pleasant, Midwestern-with-a-dash-of-Southern-sass stride. His biggest worry about his Edgar award nomination and the upcoming award ceremony seems to be whether or not he can still fit into his previously owned, somewhat famous (having been liberated from a Phil Bronstein estate sale) tuxedo come spring.

At a fancy hotel ballroom in New York on April 29, whichever author’s name the Mystery Writers of America call out when they announce the winner of Best Juvenile mystery book, one thing is for sure: Steve Hockensmith is going places.

Hockensmith’s books are available at Books, Inc., and you can read more about him on his website, Steve Hockensmith, Writer Guy. You can also follow him on Twitter, @MrHockensmith.

Comments

Submitted by Amy Rosenkoetter (not verified) on Thu, Feb 12, 2015

Great article except for one correction. The Holmes on the Range series is not geared toward middle grades. That would be the Nick and Tesla series. Holmes on the Range is most definitely for grown-ups! :)

Submitted by Leslie Witty (not verified) on Thu, Feb 12, 2015

Another asset is Steve's father Ron. Ron can name the actors in almost any motion picture that has ever been produced. I'm sure that father and son discussions have wondered into numerous movies. Not to leave ou Mom whom I believe has helped in providing names and places possibly mentioned in some of Steves books. Ron and Sandy are two of the most careing parents that we have ever known, and proud to call them our friend's.