Posts Tagged ‘Harley Mazuk’

Harley Mazuk was born in Cleveland, the last year that the Indians won the World Series. He majored in English literature at Hiram College in Ohio, and Elphinstone College, Bombay, India. Harley worked as a record salesman (vinyl) and later served the U.S. Government in Information Technology and in communications, where he honed his writing style as an editor and content provider for official web sites.

Retired now, he likes to write pulp fiction, mostly private eye stories, several of which have appeared in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. His first full length novel, White with Fish, Red with Murder, was released in 2017, and his newest, Last Puffs, just came out in January 2018.

Harley’s other passions are his wife Anastasia, their two children, reading, running, Italian cars, California wine and peace.



About the Book:


Frank Swiver and his college pal, Max Rabinowitz, both fall in love with Amanda Zingaro, courageous Republican guerilla, in the Spanish civil war. But the local fascists murder her and her father.

Eleven years later in San Francisco in 1949, Frank, traumatized by the violence in Spain, has become a pacifist and makes a marginal living as a private eye. Max who lost an eye in Spain but owes his life to Frank, has pledged Frank eternal loyalty. He’s a loyal communist party member and successful criminal attorney.

Frank takes on a case for Joan Spring, half-Chinese wife of a wealthy banker. Joan seduces Frank to ensure his loyalty. But Frank busts up a prostitution/white slavery ring at the Lotus House a brothel in Chinatown, where Joan was keeping refugees from Nanking prisoners.

Then Max sees a woman working in a Fresno cigar factory, who is a dead ringer for Amanda, and brings in Frank, who learns it is Amanda. She has tracked the fascists who killed her father and left her for dead from her village in Spain to California. Amanda wants Frank to help her take revenge. And by the way, she says the ten-year-old boy with her is Frank’s son.

Joan Spring turns out to be a Red Chinese secret agent, and she’s drawn a line through Max’s name with a pencil. Can Frank save Max again? Can he help Amanda avenge her father when he’s sworn off violence? Can he protect her from her target’s daughter, the sadistic Veronica Rios-Ortega? Join Frank Swiver in the swift-moving story, Last Puffs.


.5 out of 5 stars Wonderful Read – Easy and Fun

February 10, 2018

Format: Kindle Edition| Verified Purchase

Frank Swiver is a detective. Murder investigations are his specialty. He likes wine, loose women and fast cars. Not necessarily in that order. Swiver inhabits an earlier world that is archaic and, without doubt, politically incorrect by today’s standards. Harley Mazuk recreates in Swiver a character from another era whose story is fun and entertaining. Mazuk has an impressive knowledge of wines and cars which permeate his narrative. As to his knowledge of women, I am not competent to judge. I do know that the geography and time period portrayed is well researched. There are many twists and turns to the plot as well as an injection of espionage that keeps the reader guessing. Fans of old fashion detective novels will enjoy this book. I know, I did.

— Amazon Reviewer


Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Would you call yourself a born writer?

I’m a born story-teller perhaps. Nothing I’d like better than sitting down on the barstool next to you and telling you a story. But although I wanted to be a writer, even back in my college days, I was not a born writer. I studied the craft in various writing classes and workshops. Most of all, I read.

What was your inspiration for Last Puffs?

The main inspiration was a piece I heard on National Public Radio about an old-fashioned cigar factory like they had in Havana or Tampa. The workers rolled cigars by hand while a lector read to them. That idea—a factory so quiet that someone could read to the workers—appealed to me. I knew I wanted to write a scene in which a beautiful dark-haired, dark-eyed woman rolled cigars on her tawny, bare thigh while the lector read. It was a small seed, but the whole book grew from that.

What themes do you like to explore in your writing?

Non-violence—my series private eye, Frank Swiver, is a pacifist. The importance of courage. The duality of human nature—how villains can have some good, and how our heroes are often flawed, flawed to the point where they act in evil ways. The breakdown of civil order in society at certain times and places—for example during the Spanish Civil War in Last Puffs. How do characters act when there is no rule of law, when society cannot protect the weak or powerless? Finally, there are the classic noir themes like love, lust, loneliness, greed, jealousy, tough guys, lying dames, violence, double-crosses, and murder.

How long did it take you to complete the novel?

The first draft came along quickly—no more than 18 months, I’d guess. The first draft was good; it seemed to be what I was aiming at, but there were many disparate themes and plot lines. I had to pull it all together, and I probably spent twice as long on revisions. Last Puffs was not the only burner I was keeping lit at the time. I had short stories on the fire too, and all along, I was shepherding my first novel through the editing/publishing process.

Are you disciplined? Describe a typical writing day.

I’m lucky to have learned discipline early. I delivered the Cleveland Plain Dealer, a morning paper, for nine years. That meant getting up every day at 6 a.m., and in Cleveland there were about 14 snowy winters in those nine years! It took discipline to go out to deliver 100 papers on a morning that was not fit for man nor beast. I also learned discipline taking four years of Latin in high school. Reading 50 lines of Caesar or Virgil every night for homework—that too was discipline.

I’m retired now, so I have a very casual schedule. I used to write in the morning, but now, on a typical day, I run about three miles when I get up. I make myself breakfast, do household chores, and run errands. When I’m done with everything else, I settle down to write. Typically, I shoot for a minimum of 500 words, but I’ll go 1,000 some days if the mood is on me.

What did you find most challenging about writing this book?

My character’s backstory is tied up in his experiences in the Spanish Civil War, where he fought with the Abe Lincoln Brigade in 1937-‘38. But Last Puffs is also about a Red Chinese spy in San Francisco, a private eye, and a murder in Fresno in 1948-‘49. The challenge was tying these ideas together into a coherent narrative, spanning the continents and the years.

What do you love most about being an author?

I love writing and a wise person once said, “If you’re doing what you love, you’ll never have to work a day in your life.” I love not working.

Did you go with a traditional publisher, small press, or did you self publish? What was the process like and are you happy with your decision?

I went with a small press for my first novel, White with Fish, Red with Murder. They were perhaps too small. My book couldn’t support the publisher, and they went out of business in October. That put my second book and me back at square one. I sent my manuscript around to publishers who accept unagented submissions. Those are mostly small presses—folks who publish and sell e-books and print-on-demand books via online retailers. Last Puffs is a good book but getting published is a matter of finding the right home for your novel. I feel fortunate to have found New Pulp Press.

Since I signed with them, the process, the production of the book, has been quick, and very easy for me. I am quite happy with New Pulp.

Where can we find you on the web?

My web site is www.harleymazuk.com. I blog at http://harleymazuk.blogspot.com/. I’d be happy to hear from you on my Facebook author’s page, https://www.facebook.com/HarleyMazukAuthor/.


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