Bob Ainsworth of Marlborough went with the “write about what you know” concept by writing a series of books set in Nantucket, all dealing with financial scams.
Ainsworth is a retired finance executive who started writing in a notebook on his way to work in Boston.
The series – planned to span five books – revolves around a criminal investigator, Harry Bartlett. Ainsworth originally wrote Conned, about scammers and scam artists who prey on tourists. He followed that with “Duped,” about the art theft at the Isabella Stewart Museum in Boston. An upcoming book, due in December, is titled “Beguiled.”
He has learned a lot from his days taking notes on the train.
“About eight or ten years ago, I tried to write a mystery,” he said. “I’ve had my CPA, I’ve been a controller and a CFO all my life. I’ve written 75 pages and I’ve come to a dead end. I had no idea what to do. I put it aside and didn’t touch it again. But I’ve always liked mysteries.
“I started thinking about what I could do in retirement. At the time, I was working in Stamford, Connecticut teaching finance. My students always loved trick-or-treating stories. But I only had a few. I started thinking I could write something using a fraud detective.”
For his characters, he decided early on to use characters based on people he liked for the “good guys” and people he didn’t like as the “bad guys”. This decision, he said, made it easier to move forward with character building.
He began writing without knowledge of the craft, but sought criticism from friends and others. A friend, he said, “hit me; it made me realize I had to do better. I appreciate that they did. I’m an accountant who tries to write.”
He knew what he liked to read, however, and studied those authors, including Harlan Coben, Hank Phillippi Ryan, Michael Connelly, Elmore Leonard and, of course, Earl Stanley Gardner.
Now his retirement schedule includes a writing period from 6 to 10 a.m., with occasional morning sessions when he can’t sleep. Each book involves multiple critiques and rewrites before he considers it ready.
He modeled his hero, Harry, on a former employer. “Harry is the smartest and best leader and entrepreneur I’ve ever worked for,” he said. “I threw in some bad traits to make it.” The real “Harry” he calls a genius.
The fictional Harry helps those he meets who have been victimized by fraudulent criminals. He’s kind and smart, likes limericks — and shooting a small ball at sunset on Nantucket.
Ainsworth says he writes because he enjoys it, with no plans to make money. His books are self-published on Amazon, where they can be purchased.
So far, he has sold 60 books, after a free book offer attracted 100 initial readers.
He is also a board member of the Seven Bridge Writers Collaborative, having become involved after taking writing courses there.
He has not stopped readers checking his work. “Scammed,” due out before Christmas, went through 30 rewrites, he notes.
“I do this because I like it. Others seem to enjoy it too, so I just keep going.”
The local poet publishes
Brian Fournier of Orange has written a collection of poems and drawings that have been published by Haley’s Publishing in Athol. Fournier writes about a child’s emergence through pain, innocence, creativity, and sensitivity in “About My Cat.”
In a follow-up from Candace Anderson of Petersham, the book is described this way: “The gentle tone rewards the reader with the sweetness of innocent intention, followed by a punch of acute pain from an unexpected act that annihilates the sweetness.”
An Air Force veteran, the author holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Fitchburg State University. His book is available at Haley’s, Petersham Country Store and New Salem General Store, and online through brianfournierbooks.com.
Book club meetings
• The Heywood Library Book Group will meet Sept. 28 at 4:30 in the library to discuss “Educating an Idealist: A Memoir” by Samantha Powers.
•Worcester Public Library’s True Crime Book Club will discuss “The Dead Girl” by Melanie Thernstrom at 7 p.m., Oct. 12. Meetings are on Zoom.
•At the Simon Fairfield Public Library in Douglas, the Intrepid Readers Group will discuss David McCullough’s “The Great Bridge” at 6:30 p.m. on September 13.
•Book wizards at Simon Fairfield will meet at 4pm on September 15 to discuss The Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica Hesse; is a World War II novel set in Amsterdam.
Book club meetings to decide their picks for the season are welcome to share them in the column. Send to email@example.com.