Rollie Link, of Ames, always wanted to write a book, but he couldn’t get past the writer’s block that had been frustrating him for nearly a decade.
Then in the winter of 2016, it happened. The retired Ames Police officer and 1968 graduate of Nevada High School broke through that block while he and his wife were at their winter home in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
He did it with the help of his main characters, Max and Skip, two fictional police officers who had done the nightly “bar beat” in Ames and dreamed of what they’d do if they won the lottery.
Those interesting characters not only won the Powerball, they broke Link’s writer’s block and took over his thoughts, practically writing his first book for him.
“I had limited control over what they did in my head,” Link said.
Today — with one book finished and available on Amazon, a second book about to be published, a third book being edited and a fourth in the outline phase — Link and his two fictional friends, are on a roll.
“I’m going to keep writing (books) as long as (the ideas and content) come to me,” he said.
All of his books are part of the “G&B Detective Agency” series. The G&B Detective Agency is what Max and Skip started with their Powerball earnings. The first book, “Case of the Missing Tucker,” will introduce readers to a set of recurring characters in the books, including Monica, an ex-stripper who the two hired to be their receptionist, and Milton, a still active police officer who the two usually talk into doing things he probably shouldn’t.
“These aren’t really ‘by-the-book’ kind of officers,” Link said, highlighting once again that he’s writing fiction.
His stories are certainly based on some of the familiarities of the Ames and Story County area, but the content isn’t always true to fact.
“With fiction, you change the facts to fit the story,” he said.
The characters, too, are based on many individuals he’s known and worked with, but are not based on any one particular person.
When it came to publishing his books, Link admitted that was a big learning process. The former cop went through a dozen or more literary agents, and finally got an answer from one in New York who gave him some advice: “Self publish your book.”
Link learned publishing has changed a great deal, and now there are more people than ever who are publishing on their own, especially if it’s their first book.
Link works with CreateSpace, an affiliate of Amazon. This happens to work out well for him, especially, because his wife, Denise, worked as a professional editor. And, he said, the process is much quicker.
“I’m 67 years old,” he said. “I don’t have time to wait for somebody to publish me … This way, it’s my property. I want people to read it and not have it sitting on a publisher’s desk.”
Denise, originally an Oppedal from Story City, and Rollie met while both were English majors at Iowa State University. Rollie, in fact, said he thought he was going to become a technical writer or maybe go to law school.
He had done a stint in the Navy after high school and went to a junior college in Florida before coming back to Iowa and attend ISU. While in the Navy, he did some shore patrol, so when he saw the Ames Police Department was looking for police officers, he put in an application as a way to earn extra money and help finish paying for college. He started in 1978.
“I figured it would be a temporary job … I was there 29 years,” he said.
He stayed with it because it was a good job and had good benefits, but in the back of his mind, he always wanted to write a book. He figured he’d be one of those people who starts writing one and never finishes it. Then 2016 came around, and he was not only inspired, but having fun with his writing.
His second book, “Case of the Lonelyfarmer.com,” is about a scammer who takes advantage of a woman who works at an ethanol plant.
His third book, “Where the hell is Angie?” is about a missing woman who contacts Monica and says, “Can you help me?” then hangs up.
His fourth book is going to be called, “Case of the Cold Case.”
His wife, he said, is having as much fun editing the books as he is writing them.
“She often asks me (at the end of a day he’s been writing), ‘Well, what did Skip and Max do today?’” he said.
Marlys Barker is the editor of the Nevada Journal and the Tri-County Times.