Retired Siskiyou Judge Pens Thriller
By Skye Kinkade
Posted Dec 13, 2019, Yreka California
Reprinted with permission from Skye Kinkade, Siskiyou Daily News, August 12, 2020
Retired judge Bob Kaster has jumped into a new career – that of a novelist – with the release of his first book, “The Septuagenarian: An R Rated Thriller”.
Siskiyou Daily News columnist and retired judge Bob Kaster said the main character in his recently completed thriller “The Septuagenarian: An R-Rated Thriller” is based on himself, although the story itself is complete fiction. And that’s a good thing, too – otherwise Kaster might be involved in some not-so-legal goings-on.
“The characters do some outrageous things,” said Kaster, who will be signing copies of his novel at Zephyr Books in Yreka this Saturday afternoon. “If you read the story, and think you recognize the characters, please don’t believe that the real people the characters are based on did those outrageous things or had outrageous things done to them.”
In the book, Bob the Septuagenarian and his dog, Bebe (also a septuagenarian, but in dog years) stumble across a horrific crime in progress – the torture and murder of a young girl. While attempting to save her, Bob is shot by her killer.
After recovering from the gunshot wound, Bob learns that no law enforcement agency has made a genuine attempt to solve the crime.
After being ordered to “stand down,” he resorts to unorthodox methods, and with Bebe’s help takes the law into his own hands to track down the killer.
Bob soon discovers the crime doesn’t involve a lone killer, or even a serial killer, but something much more sinister – an international human trafficking organization that reaches into the highest levels of the U.S. government.
While he was a judge, Kaster said writing clear, well-reasoned judicial decisions was a regular part of his job. This kept him so busy that he didn’t have time to write for fun.
After retirement, he began reading more and gravitated to fiction, especially mysteries and thrillers, because they were generally easier to read than non fiction and “more fun.”
“Listening to audiobooks while walking or jogging, I started imagining plots of my own, thinking, ‘I can do this,’” said Kaster. “There is an adage that everybody has a book inside of them. I thought I would give it a try.”
Kaster said he sat down one day and started to write with no plan and no idea how his story would end, drawing inspiration from his 40-plus years as a lawyer and a judge.
“I wanted it to be fast-paced fiction, but sprinkled with some of the history, geography, and wonders of Siskiyou County,” he said.
It took him more than two years to finish the initial manuscript, Kaster said.
“I didn’t write continuously. I would write for a few hours, on a roll, then discover I had written myself into a corner, and come to a grinding halt. I would let it go for a few days, then have a revelation to get out of the corner – usually at three o’clock in the morning. I would write for a few more hours and repeat the process.”
Kaster said at first he was self-conscious about the quality of what he was writing and wouldn’t let anyone look at it.
“Weeks after the initial manuscript was finished, I finally gathered up enough nerve show it to a good friend whom I have known for years, an avid reader of novels in the mystery/thriller genres,” Kaster said. “I knew he would be honest with me, and tell me if it was crap.”
After getting a generally good review, Kaster said he began providing the manuscript to others and received good reviews from them, as well.
“Bolstered by the responses, I finally built up the nerve to publish the book,” he said. It’s now available in print copy and on Amazon.
“Although the book is selling well locally, in the absence of a miracle I have no illusions of cracking the New York Times best seller list,” Kaster said. “Regardless of how many copies are sold, there is something immensely satisfying about seeing my story in printed form, with my name on it, something I can pick up and hold in my hands, and show to others.”
Kaster said strangers have come up to him to tell him they read the book and couldn’t put it down, which is a gratifying experience.
Kaster is about a third of the way through a sequel to “The Septuagenarian,” which is also based on actual experiences living and working in Siskiyou County.
“I have been privileged to know many remarkable people and to experience memorable events, some funny, some tragic,” he said. “There is no shortage of colorful characters. I draw on these events and people for inspiration to create fictional stories. I like to mix into the plot descriptions of the rugged natural beauty and wild west history of Siskiyou County.”
Kaster said he’s fascinated with “the fierce independence and rugged individualism of the people who live here, exemplified, to an extent, by the State of Jefferson movement.”
Kaster often writes about Siskiyou County topics in his periodic Siskiyou Daily News column, “The Septuagenarian Speaks.” He also recently completed a five-part series about the courthouse gold heist which was published in the SDN.
Kaster will be signing copies of “The Septuagenarian this Saturday, Dec. 14 from noon to 2 p.m. at Zephyr Books and Coffee, located at 328 W. Miner Street in Yreka.
Copies of the book will be available for purchase at the event for $9.95 each. The book can be purchased online at https://amzn.to/33XIaCT .