The Rules of Ten
Ex-cop. Ex-monk.
LA’s newest P.I.

Interviews with Gay Hendricks and Tinker Lindsay

How do you write a novel about a character who lived his formative years as a Tibetan monk but has now become a private detective? Gay Hendricks and Tinker Lindsay speak about how Ten was formed and what kind of research they've undertaken to get Ten's pre-PI life just right: 

Tinker: When Gay described the character of Tenzing Norbu over the phone to me, during our first conversation, I was blown away (and maybe a tiny bit jealous.) As I told him at the time, original detectives are almost impossibly rare these days, yet he had somehow birthed one. What I brought to the mix was an insistence that Tenzing be a bit more damaged, especially in the arena of romance. Given Gay’s area of expertise, it was just too delicious an opportunity to make our hero a kind of poster boy for flawed relationships.

What were some of the challenges in bringing Buddhist wisdom into the detective novel? 

Gay: We've been blessed with hundreds of amazing reviews. I've never seen anything like the way readers have responded to the mysteries. I've been especially touched by some of the reviews from Buddhist readers. I gave a copy of a Ten book to Jack Kornfield, somewhat nervously, because Jack's years in Asia combined with his forty years of Buddhist teaching made him potentially the worst sort of critic. Fortunately he said, "I loved it!"

Although I've spent time in Tibetan monasteries and been a long-time meditator, I'm definitely not a Buddhist scholar. A lot of the best Buddhist details come from my genius co-author.

What does Tenzing represent to each of you?

Tinker: For me, Tenzing represents the place of longing for wholeness that resides in each of us. Like me, he is deeply human, endlessly flawed, yet ever-hopeful that transformation is possible. Ten’s desire to live fully in the outer world while maintaining inner serenity, to be mindful as well as fully engaged, mirrors my own aspirations. Writing him has become its own ongoing spiritual practice! 

What from your individual life philosophies do you bring to your Tenzing Norbu series?

Tinker: I am equally obsessed with mysteries and mindfulness, and bring both passions to these books! I am drawn to the dark side of human suffering, yet also practice as much as possible inviting in the light. I have meditated in some form or other for over thirty years yet have absolutely no interest in retiring to a cave. I believe in the benefit of deep, ongoing, inner exploration, and have loved bringing that commitment to inner growth to Tenzing’s world.

You have written more than 20 non-fiction books, and been very successful doing so. What led to your interest in writing fiction?  And particularly, to writing mysteries?

Gay: I have loved reading mysteries my whole life, starting with Hardy Boys and accelerating when I discovered Sherlock Holmes. I read so many Sherlock stories in 9th grade my teacher started calling me “Sherlock” as a nickname. It was a dream of mine for 50 years to create a character as interesting as Sherlock. I’m incredibly delighted by the way the series has developed.

We all know about the unlikely buddy cop team, but how about an unlikely author pairing? How did a bestselling relationships guru team with an expert screenwriter to produce a Buddhist detective series?

How do you work together? Is collaboration an easy process for you?

Gay: It's a dream collaboration for lots of reasons, starting with the fact that Tinker Lindsay is an angel on temporary loan to me by a beneficent universe. I still cannot believe that I even know a person like Tinker, with her huge heart and wild mind, but that I get to write books with her is like being on vacation in the writing process. The basics are that I write the first draft. I get up at 5 a.m., meditate and stretch to get get in the groove then write until 7:30 or 8. After about six months of daily excursions into Ten world I've got a solid first draft. Then Tinker starts her magic. She loves research, so she will start to fill the book with interesting detail and bits of dialogue based on real-life interactions she's had with cops, paparazzi and politicians. We're also blessed with our Hay House editor, Patty Gift, who first saw the potential of the Tenzing series. Patty's keen editorial eye, along with her constant encouragement and dedication to bringing out the best in us, has meant more to the work than she will probably ever know.

How did you two meet?

Tinker: Gay says he “manifested” me, and I have no doubt he’s right. But on this earthly plane, he asked a mutual friend if he knew of a good fiction editor, and the friend, with whom I had worked as an editor on both a fiction and non-fiction project, suggested me! As it happened, I had several Gay and Kathryn Hendricks books on my shelf, and was already a huge fan of both his writing and his work.

At what point did you decide to collaborate, and why?

Tinker: I was first hired by Gay to edit his manuscript of The First Rule of Ten, before it even had a title! I loved the draft, but felt it was not yet a complete book. I presented him with a number of conceptual changes I felt would make it work as a detective mystery, and he invited me to complete the changes myself! Voilà – I went from editor to co-writer.

Who does what?

Tinker: Gay is Mr. Genius First Draft! He comes up with both the initial twisty plots and turns, and fabulous cast of characters. He delivers the main melody. I am the “riffer.”  I tease out identifiable “rules” and underlying themes, from the material, and apply each to his overall storyline. I also add physical and descriptive detail, aided by research, which I adore doing. Sometimes I’ll add a few twists and turns of my own, in consultation with Gay. He is impressively open to, and supportive of my work, and I am astounded by the skill and originality of his.

What are the benefits of writing collaboratively?

Tinker: I have the benefit of working off of a preexisting manuscript, which means I get to play off of another’s work, rather than face the terror of that blank page.

The drawbacks?

Tinker: Can’t think of any drawbacks, but that has everything to do with Gay’s artistic generosity and innate flexibility. We really do share a commitment to conscious collaboration.

There’s a seamlessness to the books; it’s impossible to tell who wrote what. How do you accomplish this?

Tinker: I am so glad to hear this! I believe this seamlessness is possible for two reasons. First, Gay and I share a remarkably similar approach to life, and take the same joy in reading, or writing, a good detective yarn. Second, when I work on Gay’s drafts, I feel utterly free to run my writing wand over the words, as if I had written them myself. In other words, I act as if I am self-editing, so that in the end, I can’t even say what is his, and what is mine. This is possible because we have compatible voices.

Ten has been winning fans all over the world, so we wanted to share some behind-the-scenes thoughts from the people who brought you the series, discussing their inspirations and origins, as well as a few teases for where the series is going next:

Is Ten based on anyone in particular? Or do you recognise any of your own qualities in Ten?

Gay: Yes, he’s definitely a younger, wiser, better-looking and (especially) more agile version of myself! I’m notoriously clumsy and can’t operate any tool or weapon skillfully (other than, on some occasions, a golf club.) I’ve been a daily meditator for 40 years and have always been interested in spirituality, so Ten’s spiritual inclinations come naturally to me.

Why did you decide to set the series in LA?

Gay: That’s where Tenzing was standing when I first met him, so I never really had a choice. Personally, though, I can tell you that my own relationship with LA is different from Tinker’s. She clearly loves LA. My relationship with LA doesn't even qualify for love–hate; it's more like–hate. In fact, one of the great ironies of my life is that I would end up happily living in Southern California since 1995. Back in the ’70s I was visiting some friends in LA and we started talking about where we would live if we could live anywhere in the world. I remember saying, “Anywhere but here.” LA was a lot smoggier in those days; the first time I flew in there in 1972 the noon sky looked more like dusk, with the sun a barely visible blurry smudge of orange.

How has Ten been received thus far?

Tinker: Our reviews, both from bestselling authors, and from  hundreds of anonymous readers, have been extremely positive. I love that both the “self-help” world and the “mystery” world seem to love our books. My favorite responses, though, have come from readers who let us know that they were not only entertained, but in some way changed  by our story-telling: one woman said she was helped enormously when she applied Tenzing’s techniques for “letting go” to a difficult job; another man said Tenzing’s struggles with his father mirrored his own, and he’s resolved, after reading The Second Rule, to break the pattern, and make amends to his own son. Maybe my favorite review so far? “Good book. Taught me to meditate.”

And can you give your readers a hint as to what to expect in Ten’s future?

Tinker: Tenzing will find himself ensnared in the underbelly of human trafficking. He will also revisit, and ultimately commit to an ex-girlfriend, this time with an actual chance of success! Farther into the future, a deeply wounding, repressed relationship from his past will reappear, and wreak havoc on not only Ten, but his two best friends, Lama Yeshe and Lama Lobsang.

Author bios

Gay Hendricks, Ph.D.

Gay is the author and co-author of twenty-five books in conscious relationship, conscious business and bodymind transformation. Included are such enduring bestsellers as Conscious Loving, The Corporate Mystic, Conscious Breathing and Conscious Living.

Before founding his own institute, he was Professor of Counseling for twenty-one years at the University of Colorado, where he began teaching in 1974 shortly after receiving his doctorate from Stanford University. Over the past 24 years of their relationship, he and Kathlyn have raised two children, accumulated a million frequent flyer miles and appeared on more than 500 radio and television programs.

Tinker Lindsay

Tinker is an accomplished screenwriter, author, script consultant and conceptual editor. A member of the Writer's Guild of America, Independent Writers of Southern California and Women in Film, she has worked in the Hollywood entertainment industry writing and developing feature films for over three decades.

Besides the Rules of Ten, her books include The Last Great Place and My Hollywood Ending. She graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University in English and American Language. A practitioner and teacher of meditation, she can usually be found writing in her home office situated directly under the Hollywood sign.