Don’t worry, the book isn’t about you: Author Ron Cherry discusses his inspiration and his new book | TheUnion.com

Don’t worry, the book isn’t about you: Author Ron Cherry discusses his inspiration and his new book

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Author and The Union columnist Ron Cherry will be doing a book signing as well as discussing how the local scene played a part in his writing. He has written six books, one suspense novel, one Celtic historical novel, two P.I. Morgana Mahoney mysteries and two Father Robert Bruce mysteries.

His latest book, "The St. Christopher Murders," is the second in his Father Robert Bruce series. Having lived in Nevada City for over 18 years, his inspiration for the books came from the local community and Trinity Episcopal Church, where he has been a regular since moving here.

Surrounded by inspiration

Here he tells of how the community played a part in this series:

"To say that our patch of Nevada County is colorful and unique would be an understatement," Cherry said. "In my Father Bruce books, I use places and people inspired by living here. He lives in Buggy Springs instead of Nevada City, but it's a lot like Nevada City dragged over to Downieville's location."

Fans and locals have often speculated if Cherry is writing about them.

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"Nothing and no one, however, is a direct copy," he said. "I make them composites, taking a little from here and a little from there, drawing upon Nevada City's 'wild and crazy' character. For instance, the now-defunct Café Mekka became Mocha Arabesque, but with a few tweaks and changes. "

Nevada County has clearly been a huge source of inspiration for Cherry as he uses location and attitudes to write his books.

"Often I would combine a couple or three locations into one in the book. The actual places were inspirations, not patterns. Same with the characters. I've had people who read my first Father Robert mystery say, 'I know who such-and-such really is.' But they're wrong. No person is a copy of any real person."

Cherry has been in Nevada County for several years and uses his personal experiences to enhance his writing.

"Some places and events are closer to reality than others," he said. "I've been heavily involved in this community almost since the day I moved here."

In talking about his time in Nevada County, Cherry was particularly fond of his time with the Gold Country Celtic Society.

"I'm proud of my Scottish heritage and joined the Gold Country Celtic Society. I've been chief of the society four times over the years and been its Parade Marshal for about a decade, organizing our flag-carriers and pipers in our local Fourth of July parades. We've won first place in our category twice, I might add."

Cherry is such a fan of the parade that it inspired a scene in his new book.

"Father Bruce is a member of such a group [Gold Country Celtic Society] and in the opening scene there is a Fourth of July parade right after he has marched with the Scottish flag," he said. "Everything about the scene was inspired by my times marching in the parade when it was in Nevada City. Well, except for the dead body he stumbles over. I've never done that."

Creating character

He also described his motivation in creating Father Bruce, an Episcopal priest who solves murders:

"I love mysteries, both books and movies. It started when I read tales of Sherlock Holmes when I was in junior high school," Cherry said. "Then I moved on to Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler as I grew older. But I also read the Father Brown series by G.K. Chesterson. I won't say that the plots or characters in those books were great, but the idea of a priest who used his wits to solve crimes was intriguing. I also read Ralph McInery's Father Dowling.

Using inspiration from his favorite author's, Cherry found he wanted to add upon what they had built.

"While I enjoyed them, an elderly, celibate Roman Catholic priest/detective was missing something for me," he said. "I wanted a more robust protagonist who could date and marry, someone with whom I could identify a little more. I considered writing my own detective story."

As much as he wanted to write these stories, Cherry was focussed on making a living and having a family, so he delayed doing so. However, when he finally found (or made) the time he created the protagonist he had always envisioned.

"After writing my first four books," he said, "I decided to create a new clerical crime-fighter: Father Robert Bruce, an Episcopal priest. He's young and studly, handsome and virile. He uses his power of observation, especially of the nature of people, and his logical mind. He thinks before he acts. He can marry and is a normal male, not a saint. But he always tries to keep his actions ethical and moral. He's human, but never forgets his priestly vows."

Cherry will be holding a book signing from 2-4 p.m. Sunday at Booktown Books for his latest book, "The St. Christopher Murders" and answering questions about how the local community inspired the book. He said he would also be happy to talk with anyone about cars as he has been The Union's columnist the past 12 years.

KNOW & GO

WHO: Author and The Union columnist Ron Cherry

WHAT: Book signing for his latest book, “The St. Christopher Murders” and answering questions about how the local community inspired the book.

WHEN: 2-4 p.m. Sunday

WHERE: Booktown Books, 107 Bank St. at S. Auburn St., Grass Valley

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