About Mystery Writer Don Lewis
I think a lot of people have someone else write their bios for them because they’re a little embarrassed to talk about themselves. Well, so am I, but over the years I’ve read a lot of bios and they remind me of report cards, and I always hated those things. How many bios do you really read, anyway? My guess is it’s not many; they’re just too boring. I don’t want you to look at my life as if it was a report card. I want it to be something you’re going to enjoy reading.
If you’re reading this now you’re at least thinking about spending money to buy one of my books. On Kindle and Nook, they’re only $2.99, but that’s enough for you to want to know a little about me before you decide whether to buy. So, since I’m the only one who can tell it true, here goes.
I was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and attended North Catholic High School in that city. I received a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Waynesburg College in Pennsylvania and a Law Degree from Duquesne University Law School in Pittsburgh. I spent the next 31 years as a criminal trial lawyer in Pennsylvania and Florida, 17 years as a prosecutor, and 14 years as a defense attorney. I had a great deal of success in my practice and enjoyed a good reputation. I loved my practice, and credit much of my success to the fact that I always played by the rules, I never put a witness or client on the stand I knew would lie, and never made a personal attack on any witness.
My life has included a series of interesting and exciting adventures. These experiences began when I was a kid and continued on until I hit 63 when I finally decided to stop risking my life for the fun of it. Before that, however, there was a lot goin’ on.
In 1959 I went to summer school at Waynesburg, and decided to take flying lessons. I took my training in an Aeronca Champion that had already crashed once. I don’t know what it costs today to take flying lessons, but back then it was only $10 an hour with the instructor, and $8 an hour for solo flight. I soloed after 10 hours and on my 19th hour, feeling pretty confident of my flying abilities, I decided to buzz the dormitory at school and told all my friends to be out in the parking lot. Long story short, I just missed the dorm by a couple of feet; my dad heard about it; no more flying lessons.
I was a pretty good athlete in high school, but didn’t play much football, mainly because I was too small and didn’t show much talent. I broke my leg in my freshman year, and my shoulder the next. I recall playing in a total of two plays. The good news? By the time I went to John Carroll University, I had caught up to the other guys in size and I went out for the freshman football team. Since I never really played in high school, I wasn’t sure what position I would try out for. Turned out there had been no high school quarterbacks in the freshman class, so I and a couple of other guys, tried out for that position. I won and was the starting QB. We had a rather small squad and I also played Safety on defense. It was a really good squad. We went undefeated and had only 12 points scored against us all year. Of course, all year was only three games; Case Tech, 31-0, Western Reserve, 14-12, (they were separate schools then), and Wayne State in Detroit, 19-0. I really enjoyed that year and even set a President’s Athletic Conference record with three touchdown passes against Case. I don’t know if that was a record just for freshman teams, but I was told it was a record. My dad had played for Pitt and was the starting right guard in the 1930 Rose Bowl against Southern Cal. He came up for the Case game and was very proud.
I was a two-time high school boxing champion — would have been a three-timer but in the championship match in my junior year I stepped in front of a great right from a kid named Bernie Gerlock. It was like; “Down goes Frazier! Down goes Frazier!” I was out cold.
In 1962 after getting kicked out of college again, I and several friends from school drove out to Seattle to look for jobs at the Worlds Fair. We ended up in Los Angeles that summer and stayed for about a year, before signing up for the Army.
In early 1963 a friend, Dewey Galletin, and I spent six weeks hitch-hiking through Mexico; a fairly dangerous adventure then, an impossible one now. We were all over Mexico, from Tijuana to Mexico City, to a beautiful little town called Cueneravaca. After spending a week in a small hotel in Acapulco, and being stung by a scorpion just north of there on the way back, we went over to Nuevo Laredo, where we crossed into Texas. After spending a night in a San Antonio jail (just on a vagrancy beef which added to our resume, the title “ex-cons”) we went down to Del Rio, Texas.
From there we jumped on an empty boxcar and about a week later after riding boxcars, gondolas, and piggy-back cars carrying automobiles, and after having been pulled off the trains three times by railroad bulls, we finally arrived back in L.A. The whole trip took just over six weeks. Naturally, by the time we got back, we had lost our jobs. In those days, however, there was always another job.
I rode my Harley Road King® solo from coast-to-coast and back each summer for three years, always using two-lane roads. I went through a lot of nice towns and met a lot of nice people. Have you ever been to DuBois, Wyoming, or Jordan, Montana, McCall, Idaho, or Bisbee, Arizona? They’re all very different towns, but all very nice towns with nice and interesting people. In DuBois I met a man who was older than dirt. He said he had been a cowboy and knew some of the survivors of the old Hole in the Wall gang. I spent the whole afternoon sitting on a bench outside a small restaurant talking with the Old man. On four other occasions I rode back and forth to Sturgis, South Dakota, to the annual Bike Rally, once with my wife who rode her Harley Fat Boy® out and back. All told, I’ve ridden in 41 states, including every state west of the Mississippi, except Hawaii and Alaska. On one of my trips I was granted the privilege of camping in New Mexico on the land of the Mescalero Apaches during one of their weekend powwows.
I’ve made over 300 free-fall skydives, most from 13,500 feet; most at Zephyr Hills, Florida. To many jumpers, 300 jumps aren’t very many, but most of those jumps were RW jumps, making formations with other jumpers in free-fall, and I enjoyed that very much. I also had the pleasure and privilege of making a four-way skydive with probably the most decorated skydiver ever, Jerry Bird. For a skydiver, that’s like playing a round of golf with Jack Nicklaus.
I even did a little scuba diving, mostly in and around Western Pennsylvania, but also out in Monterey Bay in California while I was at the Army Language School in 1964. I got into some serious trouble with kelp in the bay, but that’s a story for another time.
Anyway, the list goes on to everything from going over waterfalls in an inner tube to riding the rapids in the Snake River in Wyoming, to playing bass in my own band, to working as a prison guard at a maximum security penitentiary in Pittsburgh. I also played a few games for an all-black semi-pro baseball team. They didn’t have anyone dumb enough to play catcher, so that was the position I played. I don’t remember getting any hits though – probably why I didn’t last.
I’ll tell ya, it’s been a hoot. I have been a very fortunate man my whole life. While I have a few scars and several broken bones, I have never suffered a major injury.
While my dad was my hero, my mom’s encouragement and guidance was my strength throughout life. My parents were great people and always supportive of what I was doing, with the exception of the airplane thing, of course.
When I took the opportunity to serve my country as a paratrooper in the US Army’s Special Forces, they were both very proud. They were a little nervous, however, when I was assigned to the 5th Special Forces Group in Vietnam. I’m proud to have served there with great teammates on Detachment A-214 and returned home without being injured. I also received a Bronze Star Medal for that service.
Near the end of my career, it was suggested to me by several friends that with all of my experiences I should try my hand at writing. I embraced the idea and while I’m sure they were thinking novels, I began by writing a textbook for police officers preparing to testify in court. My experience had been that, while police officers are well trained before being sent into the streets, they are not so well trained on how to testify before being sent into the courtroom. Ten years later, that book is still doing well, and has been picked up by four colleges as a text book for one of their courses. Since then, I’ve had the pleasure of writing five crime novels and I’m told they’re pretty good. I’m enjoying it very much. I’m also working on a sixth novel.
My daughter, Shanan, and my granddaughter, and my son, Jason all live in Clearwater, Florida. My wonderful wife, Sheryl, and I live in Myrtle Beach, SC, very close to the beach, and while we miss our friends, we love it here, especially in the winter.
My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org and I would love to hear from you about your thoughts on my books, and about your lives. I will reply to every email and will happily answer any reasonable questions about my work or my life.
Finally, if any of you are thinking about writing, whether for fun or profit, I would heartily encourage you. Over the years it has provided me with a great deal of gratification and satisfaction.