‘Hush Money’

Author Chuck Greaves makes noise with first two books

Chuck Greaves discusses his book, “Hush Money”, at his home in McElmo Canyon. Enlargephoto

Journal/Sam Green

Chuck Greaves discusses his book, “Hush Money”, at his home in McElmo Canyon.

As a boy, Chuck Greaves spent hours poring over books at his local library. The library opened a world for him with stories that lived not only on the pages of the books he would take home each week, but also in his heart and his mind.

Now, nearly 50 years later, Greaves is finding himself forging a new relationship with libraries and bookstores across the nation as the author of some of the magical books on the shelves.

A civil litigator in California for 25 years, Greaves, 56, walked away from his law practice in 2006 with the intention of filling the next 25 years of his life with the written word. Six years later he has three completed books to show for his effort, the first of which, “Hush Money,” hit book stores May 8.

Today, the author is at home in McElmo Canyon, with his wife and horses, and fills his days with the written word.

“I didn’t really ever write fiction at all until I retired and decided to write full time,” Greaves said. “I had a classic midlife crisis in December 2005 when I turned 50, and I realized that I’d been a student for 25 years and a lawyer for 25 years and I needed to decide what I wanted to do with the next 25 years of my life.”

The thought then occurred: Why not write a book?

“It was something I had always wanted to try,” Greaves said. “I love books and reading, and I love reading fiction. And it was something I thought I could do well.”

Greaves threw himself into his new career with the same single-minded determination that provided him success in law school and during his time as an attorney. For a solid year, he began writing at 9 a.m. each morning, taking a break for lunch, then returning to the computer to write until 3 p.m. Six days a week for two years, Greaves wrote.

“I have really just treated my writing like a job,” he said. “I have the benefit of being able to work at it full time, and I think it takes a similar type of discipline to the process.”

Greaves started each book with a solid beginning and ending, but allowed the story itself to develop organically, driven by the characters themselves rather than plotted out by the author in advance.

“I knew where the story started and where I wanted it to end and a couple of points along the way, but I just let the story of the character take me where it would take me,” he said. “I found it much more fulfilling that way.”

By the end of 2009, Greaves had two manuscripts, “Hush Money,” a legal thriller centered around the world of champion show horses and the character of Jack MacTaggart, a deputy public defender, and “Hard Twisted,” a work of historical literature that explores the real-life tale of murder and desperation set against the backdrop of the Depression-era Southwest.

Once his manuscripts were completed, Greaves began the tedious work of finding representation and a path toward publication. His initial attempts came up empty, and he received rejection letters from the agents and publishing houses he contacted.

The author’s luck began to change when he decided to enter his manuscripts in the SouthWest Writers annual writing contest. Of 680 entries, Greaves won three prizes: best mystery for “Hush Money,” best historical novel for “Hard Twisted,” and the overall grand prize for “Hush Money.” “Hard Twisted” came in second in the overall category. Suddenly, agents and publishing houses were pursuing Greaves.

“Things changed very quickly after that,” Greaves said. “That was the push I needed.”

In a short matter of time, Greaves found himself with contracts with an agent and two publishing houses and well as numerous glowing reviews of his books. The success and praise has been validating for the author, who intends to continue writing. The sequel to “Hush Money” has already been completed.

“I would like to do a book a year,” Greaves said. “As long as people still want to read what I write, I will keep writing.”

Greaves will hold a book signing for “Hush Money” at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, June 2, at the Cortez Public Library.

For more information, visit the author’s website at http://chuckgreaves.com.

Reach Kimberly Benedict at kimberlyb@cortezjournal.com.