Dear readers, tonight in an interesting twist we have both a character — and his author! He’s a lawyer assisting the protagonist, and has his own style of doing things.
Debbie Burke: Tillman Rosenbaum is the brilliant, arrogant, cynical attorney who elbowed his way into
the first book in the Tawny Lindholm Thriller series and refused to leave. Today, I’m interviewing Tillman for The Protagonist Speaks. Thank you for talking with me, Tillman.
Tillman Rosenbaum drinks Glenfiddich single malt scotch while his intense dark eyes pin.me to my barstool. His baritone sounds like God in a cave.
TR: Get this straight right up front—I didn’t agree to this interview. Tawny did.
DB: You seem hostile?
TR: We can talk all day about landmark cases, precedents I’ve set, innocent people I’ve
gotten acquitted. But nothing personal. Understand?
DB: Uh, okay. Since Tawny is one of the innocents you saved, why don’t you tell us how
you first met?
TR: Tawny had unwittingly gotten involved with a terrorist (Book 1 – Instrument of the
Devil). Feds were after her, seized her bank account. She was in deep shit and her only crime
was trusting the wrong guy. I like a righteous cause.
DB: You’re the crusader hero?
TR: I’m the asshole who backed down Goliath. Afterwards, I offered her a job. She was
broke from her late husband’s medical bills, doesn’t have much education, dyslexic—helluva
time reading, can’t spell. But she’s really bright and has this gift. People open up to her. Clients
tell her the secrets they’re afraid to tell me.
DB: You’re six-seven, aggressive, and sarcastic. Can’t imagine why clients would be scared
TR (snorts): I scare prosecutors and judges, too. Underneath this gruff exterior beats a heart
of stone. In more than twenty years of practice, I only lost three cases.
DB: Your style of questioning differs from Tawny’s.
TR: Hell yes. I jump on ’em with both feet. She just smiles, like the sun breaking through
clouds, and then she listens. Finds out the damnedest shit that way. (shakes his head in
DB: So your skills complement each other?
TR: Oh yeah. Like when my old man was targeted by this sexy con artist (Book 2 -Stalking
Midas). He’s a smart financier, made millions, but an unprincipled prick. Serial womanizer.
Drove my mother to suicide. Suddenly he’s broke. Refuses to talk to me. But damned if Tawny
doesn’t get him to open up. She cracked the scam. Unfortunately, the con artist almost killed her
in the process. (looks away, blinks hard, and swallows)
DB: Spoiler alert. That’s when you two got personal.
TR: Hell, she actually snared me the first day we met. But any lawyer knows it’s felony
stupid to get involved with an employee.
DB: Yet you did.
DB: Any regrets?
TR: She worked her magic on me. Got me to confide shit I’ve never told another soul.
DB (smiles): What secrets did you tell her?
TR: What are you asking me for? You wrote it all down and published it for the whole
goddamn world to read. Fucking authors have no respect for confidentiality. Why did I allow this
DB: Because Tawny asked you to.
TR (slams his fist on the bar): She did it again. Hell, she’s even got my kids talking to me.
DB: They’ve had their problems (Book 3 – Eyes in the Sky).
TR: I’m not proud of the father I’ve been. My lousy old man wasn’t much of an example.
But I’m doing better. When Tawny thinks I’m too hard on them, she doesn’t say a word—just
gives me this look.
DB: What about your ex? She won’t win Mother of the Year.
TR: Drop-dead gorgeous, smart, a college professor. Brings men to their knees…right
before she eats their hearts.
DB: She did that to you?
TR: I don’t have a heart.
DB: Tawny might disagree.
TR: Told you she’s naïve.
DB: Now that you and Tawny are married, what does she do that really pisses you off?
TR: Let me count the ways. She’s still too damn trusting and gullible. Gets herself into
problems because she thinks people are basically decent.
DB: And you don’t.
TR: People are assholes.
DB: That’s often how you refer to yourself.
TR: I don’t discriminate. I’m as rotten as everyone else.
DB: Do you really believe that?
TR: Let’s put it this way. If I was in an overcrowded lifeboat, I would shove everyone else
overboard except for Tawny and my children. If Tawny was in the lifeboat, she’d be pulling
those people back aboard. That pisses me off about her.
DB: But you’d let her do it.
TR: Because that’s the way she is. She’s kind, soft-hearted. And a damn fool.
DB: Since Tawny’s been working for you, she’s had some close calls.
TR: Her kids are pissed at me about that. Gotta admit, they have a point. Because of my
clients, situations can get dangerous. (Book 4 – Dead Man’s Bluff). But when she’s on a trail,
she won’t walk away. She keeps digging until she finds the truth.
DB: What’s next for you and Tawny?
TR: This latest case (Book 6 – Flight to Forever) happens during the pandemic. The mother
of Tawny’s best friend is locked down in a memory care facility. She and her husband have been
married 50 years. When he isn’t allowed to see her, he busts her out. Injures two people during
their escape, one of them a police officer. That sparks a law enforcement dragnet to track them
down. Tawny figures out where they’re hiding and follows them into the mountains of the Bob
Marshall Wilderness. She’s trying to stay a step ahead of the cops and talk the husband into
surrendering. But he’s a stubborn old Vietnam vet and won’t go down without a fight. Read the
book for details.
DB: Thank you for talking with me, Tillman.
TR: This is my last goddamn interview with you.
DB (smiles): We’ll see about that.
Debbie Burke is a suspense novelist, award-winning journalist, and blogger at The Kill Zone, a popular writing website. Her thriller series plunges crime-solver Tawny Lindholm into fast-paced, twisty plots with quirky characters and snappy dialogue, set against the rugged scenery of Montana.
Join us next week to meet the two owners of NYC’s premier supernatural detective agency. Please follow the site by email (bottom-right) to be notified when the next interview is posted.