A thriller in West Linn
Local author sets first mystery novel in West Linn
When Ken Baysinger first discovered his gift for writing, he was a teenager working on a deadline.
Hed waited until the very last minute to write a term paper for his high school English composition class and in between a couple of weekend dates typed furiously at his fathers Smith Corona typewriter. The paper may have been thrown together, but he turned it in on time.
When his teacher returned the paper, there was no grade, but rather the dreaded see me after class note. Anxious and confused, Baysinger visited the teacher.
Theres no way you wrote this, the teacher said.
The paper, in his teachers eyes, was simply too good to have been produced by a junior in high school. Baysinger didnt know what to say the paper was, in fact, his.
When offered the chance to re-write the paper, Baysinger refused on principle, and he failed the class as a result. But it was a formative experience, one that Baysinger remembers now as he promotes his mystery novel, El Camino, which is set in West Linn.
That was the first true indication that I had some kind of writing ability that may be extraordinary, Baysinger said.
El Camino, which is Baysingers first novel, tells the story of a private investigator named Corrigan, who sets out on the trail of a forgotten cold case after a Chevrolet El Camino car is pulled from the Willamette River. The book is set in the 1980s, and local readers will find plenty of familiar settings throughout the storys progression.
All of the locations mentioned in the story are real, Baysinger said. You can get in a car and follow the story, location to location, as it develops.
For Baysinger, who has lived in Oregon City since 1974, keeping the book local ensured a sense of realism.
You read Stephen King books and they all take place in Maine or thereabouts, because thats what hes familiar with, Baysinger said. You read John Grisham books and they all take place in Mississippi, or the south. It would only make sense for me to put my story here.
Though the idea for the story percolated in Baysingers mind for decades, it wasnt until November of 2011 that he began writing in earnest. Working his day job at Windermere Real Estate, Baysinger carved out free time when he could and wrote the book in just five months.
November is the start of the slow season in real estate, and 2011 was a very slow period of time, Baysinger said. So having time to write was not an issue ... it was easy to sit down for maybe four to five hours a day to write the book in a five month period.
Going all the way back to that high school term paper, one of Baysingers greatest talents is writing quickly, with a purpose. Writers block, wasnt an issue; if anything, he had too many ideas.
The funny thing is that some of the best parts of the story were things that happened spontaneously while I was writing, Baysinger said. They had no particular inspiration, werent part of any plan, they just showed up.
And so from time to time, Id have to back off and say, Well I like that, now how does that contribute to the conclusion of the story? And sometimes it didnt, and would have to go.
As he works on his second book, which will feature many of the characters from El Camino, Baysinger says he is inspired by writers like Tom Clancy, Michael Crichton and Frederick Forsyth.
I say this with reluctance because I dont pretend to be Tom Clancy, Michael Crichton or Frederick Forsyth, Baysinger said. But those are three writers whose material I really always liked. And the reason I liked them is they made their stories real by telling me how things happen they included that level of technical detail.
Promoting the book has proven to be perhaps even more difficult that writing it.
Its just been a huge hurtle, Baysinger said. The book is out there, but most book stores are not putting it on the shelf, because space is limited, and theyll go with John Grisham every time ... well get there.
Baysinger is set to appear for a book signing at Bullseye Coffee Aug. 13 from 4 to 6 p.m. On Aug. 24, he will be at Concordia Universitys George R. White Library and Learning Center from 4 to 6 p.m., and he is also scheduled to appear at the West Linn Rotary Club Sept. 24 from noon to 1 p.m.
The book is available at Grahams Stationery in Lake Oswego.
For more information, visit kenbaysinger.com.
Contact Patrick Malee at 503-636-1281 Ext. 106 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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