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Robert Thornhill Interview Published on: 23, Mar 2018

What is name of your hometown? What do you miss most about it?

I lived in Harrisonville, Mo. through my freshman year in high school, then moved to Blue Springs, Mo. As most old codgers, (I'm 74) the thing I miss most is how life was so simple and uncomplicated in a small town in the 1950's. We walked all over town, rode our bikes everywhere, and never once feared for our lives. We played baseball in vacant lots for free!

Growing up, what did you see yourself becoming in the future? What is your fondest memory of your childhood or teenage-dom?

Like most kids, I had no idea what I wanted to be. The fondest memories of my childhood are at my grandparent's farm, driving the old tractor, roaming the fields and woods with gramp's dog, and listening to old radio shows like Inner Sanctom in the evening.

Why did you choose to join Real Estate as a young adult? What is something unbeknownst to many about the property business? What's the most expensive house you ever sold?

I earned a Master's Degree in Psychology, but after 13 years in the field, we were just getting by financially. A good friend owned a real estate office. I got my license and started working part time. I soon found I could make more money as a realtor. Interestingly enough, I also discovered that I could help people in that profession as well. There's nothing more satisfying than helping a young couple purchase their first home. I was branch manager of Re/Max Hidden Creek in Independence, Mo. for 25 years. My wife,Peg, also an agent, and I moved to Maui, Hawaii in 2002. We sold real estate for Re/Max Maui for 5 years. Our biggest sale was an oceanfront condo for 4 million cash!

How does one go from studying psychology, to the real estate business then, finally to becoming an author? Why do you think it took you till age 66 to pursue this dream?

I already told you about the transition from psychology to real estate. At no time did I ever even consider the possibility of becoming an author --- until I rertired. I don't retire well. I was bored and started reading a lot of novels. A friend turned us on to Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series. At that time she had 13 volumes. We read them all and loved them. After I finished #13, I siad to myself, "Self, I think you could do that." So I went into my office, pretended I was Janet Evanovich, and wrote 3 chapters using Evanovich's Stephanie Plum characters. I gave the chapters to Peg who had also read the series. She laughed out loud and declared that Janet didn't need any help. She was already rich, and that I should write my own series. So, at the ripe old age of 66, having never written or published a word, I started my Lady Justice series. Now, eight years later, there are 29 books in the series with over 400,000 copies sold or downloaded. If you'd like to read those first three chaperts, you can go here:</p> What was the first book you ever published and how were you struck with the idea for it?

The first book in the series is Lady Justice Takes a C.R.A.P., City Retiree Action Patrol. I remembered from my high school English teacher that a person should write about what they know about, so my first book was about an old guy (like me) who retired from real estate and was bored to death, but instead of becoming an author, he became a cop!

Who or what is "Lady Justice"? How did you come up with the idea of Lady Justice?

Wat Williams, the hero of my series, witnesses an old lady being mugged. This gives him the idea that, even at the ripe old age of 65, he still has enough gas in the tank to give Lady Justice a helping hand. Evidently he did. Twenty-nine books later he's still going strong.

Does Puff the Magic Dragon hold any symbolic meaning in "Lady Justice and the Magic Dragon"? How do you use this book and your other ones to draw a parallel to real life?

Yes, the symblolism is in the words of the song. As children, we grow up in innocence, using our imagination to go to wonderful places and do wonderful things. Then, as we mature, we leave behind the magic of Santa and the Easter Bunny. In Lady Justice and the Magic Dragon, a child witnesses an event so tragic he chooses to reman in that state of innocence rather than face the terrors of the real world. Pretty much every novel in the series takes on some controversial issue in real life.

How long does it take you to design a book cover and book title? Who served as the inspiration for the Gumshoes?

When we were in real estate, my wife became very proficient in the use of Publisher and Photoshop to design our advertising. Using those same skills, we design all of our book covers together. After the novel is complete, designing the cover is one of the most enjoyable parts of the process. We can put one together in a day. All of the characters in my books are senior citizens. My fans love the fact that old folks still have a lot of spunk. The gumshoes were just three more old guys not yet ready to be put out to pasture.

What kind of man is Walt Williams and how do you think his character offers a peek into your own? How do you normally go about creating new characters?

Walt is my alter ego. In the series, probably 60% of all the stuff Walt goes through, I have gone through. (Not the murders, of course). Many of the characters are people I knew in real life. I actually owned the Three Trails Hotel, and it was exactly as depicted in the book, 21 sleeping rooms with 4 shared hall baths, run by a Mary with a baseball bat.

Why Lady Justice book was the most laborious to write and why? Which one was the most successful and to what reason do you attribute its success?

I think the one I enjoyed the most, and the one that required the most research was Lady Justice and the Conspiracy. It was about the chemtrails we see streaking across the sky almost every day. The premise of the story is that these trails are actually chemical agents being sprayed by our government for weather control and defense purposes. If that sounds absurd --- read the book. You may come away with a different attitude. I can't really say that any one of the novels has been more successful. My readers seem to love them all. Currently on Goodreads, the series has 3,178 ratings with a 4.17 average.</p> Besides being a form of entertainment for you and your writers, what does writing and being an author mean to you? Do you think one could ever retire from writing?

I'm an Elvis Presley fan. Even today, 40 years after his death, I listen to his music and it gives me joy. One reason I write is that I hope someday, long after I'm gone, someone will find a Lady Justice novel on the dusty shelves of a used book store, and it will bring them joy. It's a legacy I want to leave. I'm working on #30, and have no plans to stop.

When do you have the most fun writing? When are you most inspired?

I try to write a bit every day. When I get started, I get in a zone and the words just keep coming. My wife calls it diarrhea of the brain. Sometimes, especially if I'm stuck, I'll wake up in the middle of the night, and it will come to me.

Do you ever think about diverging from the LADY JUSTICE series and write something completely new and different? If so, what are some things you'd want to try your hand at writing?

Actually I did write a 7 volume series of children's chapter books, the Rainbow Road series, about an eight year old boy and his six year old sister. They follow a rainbow that leads them to the home of Lucky Leprechaun. My eight year old grandson was the inspiration for this series.

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