Dana King’s latest book is Pushing Water. It is the fifth book in his Penns River series of police procedurals.
Penns River is King’s fictional setting, a small Pennsylvania city. It was once a prosperous place, now it is down-at-the-heels. The local police department is up to its neck in work as crime is on the rise.
The main character of the series is police Detective “Doc” Dougherty – pronounced “Dock-erty.”
A couple of days ago, I asked Dana King a few questions.
ELGIN BLEECKER: Dana, what is going on in Penns River in your new novel?
DANA KING: An active shooter at a local discount department store leaves several people dead. No one is quite sure who the shooter is, as the man arrested at the scene definitely shot someone but claims to be a Good Guy with a Gun.
As if the cops aren’t busy enough, a Canadian fugitive passing through pulls a job to tide him over until his brother can get some cash across the border. The fugitive picks up a local partner and seizes an opportunity, robbing everything in sight while the police focus on clearing the mass shooting. The police turn out to be the least of the robbers’ problems, as they eventually hit a joint owned by what’s left of the mob.
ELGIN BLEECKER: What does the title, Pushing Water, mean?
DANA KING: There’s a scene where the Mountie who’s after the fugitive asks Doc how everyone on the force gets along so well under circumstances that are difficult at best. Doc tells him it’s out of loyalty for the long-time and beloved chief of police.
"Everyone knows we’re pushing water uphill every day and we keep doing it for him. I don’t want to think about what happens here when he finally retires."
ELGIN BLEECKER: Has this weird time we are living through had an effect on your writing, or your reading?
DANA KING: Not as much as for a lot of people. I’ve worked the day job from home for ten years now, so my schedule didn’t change much.
There are unusual external stresses—what The Beloved Spouse™ calls “buzzes”—but the time I spend writing and reading are my escapes, which provokes me to make time for them.
I also had some pretty serious vision problems that started about a year ago and affected my reading and writing. We started to get them under control about the time social distancing kicked in, so reading and writing became easier for me around then. I’ve been very lucky.
ELGIN BLEECKER: Glad to hear it, Dana. And thanks for doing this Q&A.