Garrison bases ‘female James Bond’ character on the ladies in his life

Author T.R. Garrison (Independent Newspapers/Wendy Miller)

Author T.R. Garrison (Independent Newspapers/Wendy Miller)

T.R. Garrison’s mother, Juanita, has always been a small woman with a big presence. He recalled she could take on just about anyone when he was growing up.

“She weighed about 110 pounds and could hit like a man,” Mr. Garrison, who resides just outside Apache Junction, said during an interview. “She grew up on moonshine and could out-drink any man.”

During World War II, she worked as a riveter building B-25 bombers and even learned to fly an AT-6 aircraft, he said.

So when he was crafting the details for a novel he decided to write, he said he did not have to look further than his childhood for the inspiration for his lead character.

In June, he self-published “The Lady Was A Spy,” a thriller about a former World War II hero and CIA agent turned private investigator. Its protagonist is Jean Webb, a woman ahead of her time who chooses espionage over baking during an era when society relegated most women to baking and housecleaning.

Following in the footsteps of her Marine lieutenant father, Ms. Webb decides to serve her country by joining the ROTC during World War II, according to a press release. After learning German, she is recruited by the Office of Strategic Services as an operative. Following the war, she continues to work as a CIA agent catching escaped Nazis. Finally, she settles down to a calm life as a private investigator. That is until she learns someone wants her dead. That’s when she is called back into action.

Mr. Garrison said he also infused Jean Webb with his grandmothers’ indomitable spirits. His said his paternal grandmother, Tillie Beulah Garrison, had “personality plus.” He said she was a smart, joyful person, who played the piano by ear and told him his first risque joke when he was 12.

Another woman — his maternal grandmother, Lorene Jones — encouraged his love of film. She would often babysit him and he remembers them going to a movie when he was 8. They would see all the films, especially war films, he said.

Mr. Garrison also used some of his own military experience to add detail to the book. He served three tours in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from 1958-61, serving in South Korea in 1960-61.

He then worked for an engineering firm for six years, learning all about mechanical systems, HVAC and plumbing.

He moved to Arizona in 1987 to help build the Good Samaritan Hospital in downtown Phoenix. He did not get the job, he said, but another big project came his way — the Union Bank building on Central Avenue and Osborn in downtown Phoenix.

He spent 32 years working for a mechanical contractor going from project engineer to president/CEO. About four years ago, he retired at the age of 72.

Mr. Garrison — whose given names are Thomas Robert — said his love of the written word was sparked during his youth. During his senior year in high school, he went shopping with his mother and saw a row of paperback books at the store. He selected one, read it and has been hooked on reading ever since.

As an adult, his favorite author is James Patterson whose detailed style of storytelling he admires. He says he’s read about 80 percent of the author’s more than 130 novels that range from murder mystery to action adventure genres. He said he tailored his own style of writing after the prolific author’s techniques.

Another woman — his wife of 17 years, Cindy — plays a prominent role in his newest career as an author, he said.

“I’m the storyteller, she’s the writer. She knows how to structure sentences,” he said. He said he writes pages and she “bleeds all over them,” referring to the red ink his wife uses to edit his writing.

He began dabbling in writing in 2004 but became dedicated to the art form once he decided to write his novel. When he is in his writing mode, he said, he is a disciplined writer who works four to six hours a day in the morning when his mind is fresh. He said he does more research than writing, and that’s OK with him.

“I enjoy the research. I enjoy learning, and I want the stories to be realistic,” he said.

“The Lady Was A Spy” is the first in a series of five books with the Jean Webb character Mr. Garrison is working on. Book two — “Deadly Ghost Arrows” — was published in mid-October. He has plans for book three, “The Storyteller,” and book four, “Murders In Wyoming” and no title yet for book five.

“The Lady Was A Spy” and “Deadly Ghost Arrows” can be purchased at Barnes and Noble, Amazon and iUniverse.

The latter is an Author Solutions LLC supported self-publishing services provider that partners with Berrett-Koehler to offer Open Book Editions and True Directions – in partnership with Tarcher – a division of Penguin Books.

Reach staff writer Wendy Miller at

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