Writers Tricks of the Trade VOLUME 8, ISSUE 4 - Page 22

consistent I accidentally stumbled into poker around 1996 and wound up becoming a real stu- dent of the game. I read every book I could get my hands on and played around South Florida at every opportunity. I turned out to be a pretty decent player. I ventured up to Biloxi, Mississippi, where they had legal casinos and tried my hand at it up there. The going was a little more difficult, but I persisted (that confidence thing again). A few more trips to Biloxi, and I finally ventured out to Las Vegas. I eventually spent two weeks out of every month in Las Vegas. By 2006, I had left Key West and moved out there to play poker at the professional level. winners. WTT: When does the writing kick in for real? MD: In 2009. Remember I said I wrote a third novel that took me three or four years to finish? Well, that was called THE TAKE, and Morgan, thanks to you and your efforts with a publisher, I was of- fered a deal. I returned home from the Bellagio poker room on August 1, 2009 to find an email waiting for me with the of- fer. I accepted it immediately, of course. Twenty-two years after I wrote my first word of fiction, I was finally getting a book deal! I was ecstatic. WTT: Now there's a big leap! WTT: How long did the ecstasy last? MD: Not as big as it might sound. Like I say, I'd been spending half my time out there already, so the move just cut down on the traveling expenses and allowed me to play every day. Plus, I had moved my Mom, who had developed Alzheimer's Disease, into an assisted living facility out there, so I could see her every day. My house was less than ¼ mile from where she was living. I spent a lot of time with her right up till her passing in May of 2009. MD: Not long. The moment after I accept- ed the offer, I realized I had no promo- tional mechanism to complement my novel. So I made the decision to quit pok- er and concentrate on writing. WTT: So how did the poker go? MD: Very well, actually. During my four years in Las Vegas (2006-10), playing vir- tually every day, I never had a losing year. Which is pretty good, when you realize that only 10% of all poker players are W RITERS ’ T RICKS OF THE T RADE WTT: Just like that? MD: Just like that. I never returned to the Bellagio. Instead, I started a series of Key West noir novels. Needless to say, I was fired up by receiving the offer, so the books just poured out of me. I finished three novels inside of five months. WTT: Were they all released by your publisher? MD: No. I was not at all thrilled with their efforts. Turns out they were a very small P AGE 17 W INTER 2019