« BACK


Blazing Pages

newest book in mystery series focuses on fire

Ken Szymanski, photos by Andrea Paulseth

LOCAL WRTER JON LOOMIS WON’T PUBLISH ANYTHING UNTIL HIS “SPECIAL EDITOR” HAS A LOOK. Fire Season is the UWEC professor’s third mystery novel.
LOCAL WRTER JON LOOMIS WON’T PUBLISH ANYTHING UNTIL HIS “SPECIAL EDITOR” HAS A LOOK. Fire Season is the UWEC professor’s third mystery novel.

What do you do when you find a severed human head in a restaurant lobster tank? If you’re a fan of Jon Loomis’ acclaimed mystery series, you keep turning pages…never knowing what the characters will face next. Recalling that scene from his latest book, Fire Season, Loomis himself ponders, “What would you do with those lobsters? Set ‘em free?”

Loomis, an English professor at UW-Eau Claire, is similarly off-handed about his success. Fire Season, due out on July 17, has already received a starred review from Booklist. His past novels in the series (High Season and Mating Season) earned praise and profile in The New York Times Book Review, Washington Post, and NPR.

(Loomis’) campy plots are balanced by fully developed characters and a compact, punchy writing style. Add the setting of the eccentric tourist town ... and it’s a wild ride for the reader. 

Loomis shrugs off the accolades, insisting he writes the books because it’s fun—though he describes pushing through the drafts in time to meet publisher deadlines to be “kind of a ball-buster.”

It’s obvious from the books, though, that the “have fun/work hard” approach works. His campy plots are balanced by fully developed characters and a compact, punchy writing style. Add the setting of the eccentric tourist town of Provincetown, Massachusetts, and it’s a wild ride for the reader.

For Fire Season, Loomis based the plot on Provincetown’s real life unsolved arson cases from 2008. “Arson destroys evidence,” Loomis says, making the perpetrators elusive. When he traveled to Provincetown to research the arson cases for the book, Loomis got more than he expected. “It was funny because everyone I talked to had forgotten about the arson cases,” he says, “and all they wanted to talk about were UFOs.” Loomis rolled with it and worked the sightings into one of the book’s subplots. 

Like a detective who leaves no lead unexplored, Loomis will even take plot suggestions from, of all people, his characters. “When I’m really engaged with a character, they take on a life of their own,” he says. “They tell me what’s going to happen next. I don’t decide what characters do; they tell me what they’re capable of.”

Loomis, while currently enjoying time with his family and away from the deadlines, thinks he could pen two or three more books in the series. “I joke that the last one will be futuristic/apocalyptic story called Flood Season,” he says. “I’d set in the year 2050 and just wipe everybody out at the end.”

This would effectively set Loomis and his characters free—like lobsters from a certain terrifying tank.

All
CSAs