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And Now He’s A Novelist…


Craig Smith, Executive Director of the Downtown Napa Association for over twenty years, as well as a contributing columnist at the Napa Valley Marketplace and the Napa Valley Register, has just finished his first novel, “Lies That Bind – How Do You Arrest Somebody Who Doesn’t Exist?”

Smith got the idea for the novel after hearing about someone “borrowing” twenty-five thousand dollars on a property he didn’t own. “The guy faxed his loan application, and the finance company sent an electronic payment to him. Nobody ever met or talked to him.” Smith wrote a draft of the incident, then sat down with the then-Chief of the Napa Police Department to see if the identity theft crime he had written about was really possible. “Chief told me it was,” said Smith. “Then he told me a story about a priest at his church asking for money, in cash no less, to do marriage counseling for a parishioner.” When the Chief went to the bishop to ask if this was common practice, he was told not only that it wasn’t, but that the incident he was asking about hadn’t happened, and that he must have misunderstood. Turns out, it was true and the bishop knew it. “The Chief was so upset he and his wife left the church. “He told me if I could make that part of my novel to have at it. I thought about it, and it made total sense, so I blended the two stories.”

Writing the book was fun, but sometimes frustrating. “I’d hit a wall and months would go by without my writing a word. Once, when I was stuck, I had an epiphany: ‘Oh, I’ll just shoot someone!’” The story is based in Napa. “I’ve lived here for almost twenty-five years,” said Smith. “I could picture places I was writing about and ‘see’ it all unfold. It made it more interesting for me.”

Smith said that while his novel is not autobiographical, he shares personality traits with some of his characters, and incorporated stories from his past. “It’s impossible not to weave in your own story. I mean, who do I know better than me?” He made sure at least one character is funny. “I could never write a straight ahead, serious book.” He also says that, unlike in his columns, some of his characters use profanity. “Hey, that’s real life.”

Smith will be at Napa Bookmine at 964 Pearl Street, on Tuesday, December 12 at 7 o’clock for a reading and to autograph books. “It’ll make the perfect Christmas gift,” he said with a laugh.

SAMPLE OF BOOK:

The opening of Lies That Bind:

Officer Danny Garcia tried to add up the number of times in the past two weeks that he’d been in a fast food restaurant, watching his partner, Sean Rawlins, eat. Was it thirteen? Fourteen? Whatever the number, it amazed him that Sean managed to eat all that junk without ballooning up. Where did it all go?

“That’s your third shake on this shift, dude.”

Sean barely stopped slurping to reply. “Second.”

“No, you had one with you when we started out today.”

“Doesn’t count. It was chocolate.”

“Chocolate? Who cares what flavor it was? It was a milkshake,” said Danny.

The straw still clenched in his teeth, Sean looked disdainfully at his partner. “You don’t keep up on things, do you? If you did, you’d know that scientists have proven that chocolate is good for you. I might as well be working out as drinking that shake.

“You are not telling me that shake was healthy.”

“Like drinking a V-8.” Sean looked out the window, shaking his head. “And you want to be a detective.”

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