Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Watching the Detective: Bob Hamer

By Jill Amadio

It’s rare to find an author who is actually the authentic fictional sleuth himself.

Bob Hamer is one of those writers. He has lived the harrowing life of his protagonist, Matt Hogan, and experienced the riveting plots of his novels – right down to shooting the bad guys and being shot himself.

As an FBI undercover agent for almost three decades, Hamer played the roles – sometimes for as long as three years – of a contract killer, terrorist, drugs and weapons dealer, gambler and pedophile. He became an expert on Western art, was hired as a stuntman, joined Los Angeles and San Diego street gangs and became a trusted member of the Mafia and Russian mobs.

A charismatic speaker, Hamer talked to members of the Orange County chapter of Sisters in Crime at their June meeting. With little need for research, since his own experiences supply his material, he said that he simply sits down at the computer and pounds out his stories using just two fingers and the memories of the cases he has worked. A former U.S. Marine and lawyer, he’s just signed a movie contract to bring his latest thriller, Targets Down, to the big screen.

Hamer knows his way around Hollywood, too, as a screenwriter, tech adviser and consultant for “Law and Order: SVU,” “The Inside,” “Angela’s Eyes” and other television shows. He’s also written 18 short stories.

His initial writing effort, The Last Undercover, also under option for a television series, was a 2008 nonfiction account of a “dangerous dance with evil,” as the book cover proclaims, a gripping account of his most shocking and difficult case. The book won several awards and testimonials.

Turning next to fiction, Hamer introduced Matt Hogan in his debut novel, Enemies Among Us. The author gives Hogan the ability to find a sliver of goodness in even the most violent of criminals, just as Hamer himself had to do to stay alive in the most dangerous of situations.

While undercover, Hamer began a journal to keep a record of his life for his son. After his retirement from the FBI, the journals became the basis for the thriller series, albeit with an almost renegade approach to writing. He knows that coincidences, for example, are best avoided in fiction – yet his own life with criminals was full of them, so he writes them in.

His writing habits include slamming through a raw, rough first draft as quickly as possible. Once it’s written, he relaxes and has great fun with the rewrites, aiming for 1,000 words a day, constantly checking the word count, then stopping as soon as he reaches his goal. He says he’s still learning what “platform” means, how to use social media and trying to get his talk show interviewers to stop talking so he can give them his answers.

Jill Amadio is an award-winning journalist, author, collaborator, ghostwriter and screenwriter. She is the author of the bestselling biography, Gunther Rall: Luftwaffe Fighter Ace and NATO General, now available for Kindle, and has co-authored several books and ghostwritten a crime novel. Currently, she is at work on a new mystery series. For more information, see jillamadio.com.


Jennifer Perry said...

Now this is what I want to read. The man has lived it, done it, and he don't need no stinkin' t-shirt!

Polly said...

Nothing beats experience. Write what you know, and Hamer knows it. I'd love to be in his head for five minutes.

Katharine A. Russell said...

Sounds like he was the perfect speaker to chase away the June gloom! What a great sir name for a guy with his credentials.