Bowie Mystery Writing Duo Seeks Publication
Two local residents seek to self-publish their novel, more than 25 years in the making.
They may not seem like the likeliest duo to pen a mystery novel. Lawyer Tim Leahy and voiceover artist Matt Baker have been working on their fledgling writing effort for more than 20 years.
Now, the two hope to publish that novel with the help of an online tool that did not even exist when they began writing so many years ago.
The pair have been friends for more than 25 years, after meeting in a 7-Eleven as teenagers, where they both played video games and drank soda. One video game they played, Elevator Action, starring a fedora wearing spy who infiltrated elevators, was an early inspiration for their novel, now titled "Phillip Screwdriver: Last of Real Men Private Investigators in the Case of the Slaughter of the Sacred Herd."
The book is somewhat of a mystery novel spoof in homage to novelist Mickey Spillane and perhaps his most famous character, Mike Hammer (hence the name Phillip Screwdriver, get it?)
“‘Slaughter of the Sacred Herd’—it’s another way of saying we are going after the sacred cow,” Baker said.
Leahy began writing the book in 1989 when he was in college. Baker, who was in the Marines, would come home on the weekends and the pair would spend caffeine-fueled evenings punching out the story.
“Writing for the law is very technical and very precise and you use very defined formulas, that's why writing a book like Phillip Screwdriver was really fun because it was more stream of consciousness,” Leahy said.
Baker would bring the drafts back with him and read it to his fellow Marines in the barrack.
“They thought it was hilarious,” said Baker.
As much fun as they had writing that first draft, both men moved on with their careers, got married, started families and eventually settled in Bowie. Through the years, they remained friends and two years ago on a skiing vacation, they unearthed Phillip Screwdriver, a bottle of whiskey and decided to give it another go.
In the original version of the novel, which was written on a floppy disc, Screwdriver was man out of time—a 1940s-type detective living in the 1980s. So there was a need to update the pop culture references to the current decade. Now, they are finally ready to see their novel in printed form.
“It’s an epic battle with a great cast of characters,” Baker said of the book.
Phil Screwdriver does not use a cell phone or a computer, and he takes taxis everywhere. His father may or may not be Elvis. His best friend keeps dying and reappearing, though Screwdriver never recognizes him. Talk show hosts keep mysteriously disappearing while one host in particular keeps gaining weight and the characteristics of her fallen colleagues. Leahy and Baker feature prominently in the book themselves. Until they are killed off.
Baker and Leahy tried to go the traditional publishing route, but didn’t get anywhere. They learned about Kickstarter, and online funding platform for creative projects, and decided to go the self-publish route where they are hoping to have more success.
“It’s kind of surreal. We like to think it’s a literary masterpiece. But it’s not,” said Baker.
Interested in learning more about Baker and Leahy’s quirky cast of characters? Check out the attached video, or donate to their Kickstarter campaign here.