About Randy - The Long Story
Before becoming a best-selling author, Dr. Randy Overbeck served a children for nearly four decades as a teacher, college professor and school leader, a career he cherished. This extensive and in-depth experience has infused his writing with a rare authenticity about the world of education, even as the protagonists of his tales tackle daunting, out-sized challenges.
In his career, Dr. Overbeck has held a wide range of positions and has brought this knowledge and insight to the characters he has created. For example, he began his educational career as an English teacher and student newspaper adviser, much the same as Dee Dee Sterber, the heroine of Leave No Child Behind. (Leave No Child Behind, a thriller about the takeover of a small town school by a terrorist cell and the teacher who confronts the intruders in her own hallways, was published in 2011).
Then, like Ken Parks, the assistant superintendent and protagonist in Cruel Lessons, Overbeck has also served in the role of school investigator, interrogating students and teachers in order to uncover the truth behind a crime at school. (Cruel Lessons, an atmospheric, amateur sleuth mystery about the death of four elementary students from a rogue hallucinogenic drug and the drive to uncover the murderer and drug dealer, is his newest work, released fall, of 2023). His doctoral studies instilled in Dr. Overbeck an enhanced skill set for research and analysis that inspired him to imbue the character of Darrell Henshaw, a history teacher and amateur researcher of the Haunted Shores Mysteries with similar abilities. This award-winning series includes Blood on the Chesapeake (2019), Crimson at Cape May (2020) and Scarlet at Crystal River (2021). A fourth installment is scheduled for release in 2024.
Though highly regarded as an educator, Dr. Overbeck has had his own share of struggles. During his years as an educator and student advocate, he has had to confront those in power—like his characters of Dee Dee and Darrell—often asking the hard questions, sometimes even costing him his job. These challenges notwithstanding, Overbeck’s passionate work for education has been honored by his colleagues and earned him both state and national awards including “The Teacher Leader Award” from the Reading Recovery Council of North America. His writing has continued this tradition of excellence, earning more a dozen national awards including the Gold Award from Literary Titan, Best Book Award from Chanticleer Books and Reviews, Thriller of the Year from ReadersFavorite.com and Mystery of the Year from ReaderViews.com.
When he is not writing, Dr. Overbeck is in much demand as a speaker to groups, large and small. His speaking experiences run the gamut from delivering a keynote at a national conference to a participant in a federal policy debate on education. During the past several years, he has shared his programs about teachers, ghosts and the world of publishing with hundreds of clubs, groups and organizations. Currently, Dr. Overbeck is sharing three multi-media presentations, “Things Still Go Bump in the Night,” and "A Few Favorite Haunts" and “Everything You Want to Know about Publishing.” Click here to request Dr. Overbeck speak to your organization, chapter or book club.
A member of the Mystery Writers of America, Dr. Overbeck is active member of the literary community, contributing to a writers’ critique group, serving as a mentor to emerging writers and participating in writing conferences such as Sleuthfest, Killer Nashville and the Midwest Writers Workshop. Dr. Overbeck is married to Cathy, his wife and partner of more than 50 years, and they have three grown children—settled in three different states across the country—as well as seven grandchildren, whom he loves to spoil. For him, time not devoted to writing and speaking is often spent traveling to visit family and other favorite spots around the US.
Five Things You Might Not Know about Dr. Randy Overbeck
Randy comes from a considerably large family. He is one of seven sons and, believe it or not, he’s the middle son. His nieces and nephews could staff several football or soccer teams and the numbers of grand-nieces and grand-nephews is growing. The Overbeck family is spread over several states but family members have managed to stay close and connected. The six brothers (his oldest brother Bob is deceased) take a trip together every six months to hang out and connect. Family is quite important to Randy Overbeck.
Dr. Overbeck is both an introvert and an extrovert. Like most writers, Randy savors the time alone, pounding away on the computer, creating his stories and living in his imaginary worlds. Most mornings he closes the door to his office and enters these incredible fictional worlds. But Randy is equally at home speaking to groups of fifteen or seventy-five, entertaining and educating his groups with one of his interactive, multimedia presentations. In fact, he is most balanced when he has a healthy dose of both solitude and quiet and boisterous interaction with his readers and audience.
Over his extensive career, Dr. Overbeck had the privilege to work with thousands of teachers, administrators, parents, board members, bus drivers, custodians—well, you get the picture. These real-life individuals have provided him with inspiration to craft the incredibly real characters of his novels. Most of these characters are fictional, but some are very close to the genuine article. Characters in the Haunted Shores Mysteries are a case in point. Consider Al McClure, the music director, who befriends Darrell in his first days at Wilshire High School in Blood on the Chesapeake. In fact, the real Al McClure—yes, actual wise-cracking music teacher and band director—befriended new teacher, Randy Overbeck, in his first teaching job. Even though Randy and Al had very different career paths, they managed to stay in touch as colleagues and friends for more than thirty-five years, until Al’s death. The fictional character is an homage to a good friend—done with permission, of course. Several other characters have been drawn from other remarkable educators Dr. Overbeck worked with over the years.
Through all of his adult life, Dr. Overbeck has been a tireless advocate for children’s literacy. He has even been recognized with state and national awards for his literacy work. In addition to his efforts in the districts he served, Dr. Overbeck served on two state panels for reading tests, reviewed reading tests for ACT, and spoke on a national panel on literacy in Washington D. C. As a member of a local Rotary Club, he headed up a volunteer reading program for third graders and was among the early champions of the Dolly Parton Imagination Library Project, which delivers a book a month to every child int the county from birth to age five. Dr. O continues his commitment to literacy now as an author becasue the latest research reveals three fourths of all American adults have NOT read a book in the past year!
Dr. Overbeck has had the good fortune of becoming friends with a few bestselling authors, each of whom has been generous with their time and advice. While still in his role as an educator, he met and got to know Jim Trelease, author of The Read Aloud Handbook. (If you don’t know this remarkable parent resource book, it went through eight US editions as well as six international editions, selling more than two millions.) Jim advised Randy on navigating the publishing world. William Kent Krueger, Edgar award-winning author of the bestselling Cork’O’Connor series. He wrote the first blurb for Blood on the Chesapeake and has advised Randy in his writing. Like other famous authors, Randy met Hank Phillippi Ryan, noted investigative reporter and multi-award winning author, at a recent writing conference. Hank has been a friend and a supporter since the day they met and even write a blurb . Each of these famous and successful authors have been kind, generous and supportive to Randy Overbeck and he would not be the writer he is today without those far ahead of him willing to give him a hand.