"After 67 years, I've found what I really love doing," said Jamie Stoudt.

He recently authored "Don't Get Caught," a legal thriller dashed with some humor that takes place in Alexandria. It's Stoudt's second book in his arsenal of literature and he has two more to be released soon, one in November and the other possibly next June.

While the original "Don't Get Caught" story happened in Jamestown, Stoudt decided to have the story take place in one of his favorite places in the world, Alexandria.

"I have been all over the world, and Alexandria is one of my favorite places to visit. I love the town. Summer or winter, Alexandria, in my mind, is the perfect town. It isn't too big or too small, the weather is wonderful, the people are great, and the lakes are beautiful," said Stoudt, "There is something in my heart that always draws me to Alex."

Stoudt has made many visits to Alexandria throughout his life. For many years his parents owned a cabin on Lake Blanche by Ottertail, and they would make stops in Alexandria while visiting the cabin. Stoudt's son's mother-in-law grew up in Alexandria, living on Lake Ida, and her father was Robert "Bob" Carlisle, partner of Carlisle-Andrews Insurance.

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While the story takes place in Alexandria, most of the landmarks are fictionalized as not to take away from the story by readers getting distracted by environmental markers.

The book follows Ryan Driscoll, an attorney from Stillwater — Stoudt's current home — and his brother Kelly, an Alexandria businessman with a moral compass, as they seek to preserve Victor Driscoll's, their father, "honest" business, with the business model of "Don't Get Caught."

Along the way, they team up with a profane but intelligent office manager, Margaret "Mags" Kratski, and her girlfriend, Donna Carlasccio, a former marine with more close-combat kills than long-range ones. Together they uncover greed and corruption while working to clear Victor's name and business.

The cover of Jamie Stoudt's second book, "Don't Get Caught," features his daughter Sarah, far right, his son, Dan, middle, and his daughter's childhood friend on the left. Contributed photo
The cover of Jamie Stoudt's second book, "Don't Get Caught," features his daughter Sarah, far right, his son, Dan, middle, and his daughter's childhood friend on the left. Contributed photo

"Margaret is my favorite character," said Stoudt. "She is such a sleeper; foul, obnoxious, profane, insulting, but underneath she is brilliant and sensitive. Her character grows and blossoms throughout the story."

The story, while mostly fictionalized, is inspired by true events that took place in Jamestown, North Dakota — Stoudt's hometown.

"I don't say much about the true stuff because some of the people involved are still alive today," Stoudt said.

Stoudt began writing the story about 13 years ago after the true events took place. He created an outline of the story and wrote about 40 pages before shelving the story altogether.

"I thought it was terrible," said Stoudt, "It read more like a documentary."

Then, about two years ago, Stoudt's girlfriend found and read the story.

"She thought it was good, but I disagreed," he said. "She suggested changing the context; make it fiction, make it funny."

So that is what Stoudt did. Keeping his original outline, he tweaked and twisted the story, adding humor and exaggerating characters from their original muse.

"It really worked well as a fiction story. And made it a more enjoyable story to tell," said Stoudt.

Stoudt, now retired and living in Stillwater, MN, graduated from the University of North Dakota with a degree in communications and has since built up quite the resume — from owning and managing a Ford dealership, working as director of client services for a technology company, doing home renovations as a licensed contractor, and owning/operating a lefse company. But four years ago, a life-changing event set him on the course of becoming a serious and invested writer.

"I write for two reasons. One, I want people to enjoy my books and two, when I am compost in someone's garden, I want my grandkids to hold up my book and say, 'My grandpa wrote this.' I want them to be proud."

Stoudt says writing is a kick he can't describe.

"It isn't in my head until I put my hands on the keyboard, then the words start to flow. Generally, it ends up being funny.," said Stoudt. "That is the magic I feel when writing."

His first book, "Back Again," was released in January of this year and will have a third book released before the end of the year. A sequel to "Don't Get Caught," titled "Donna Carlasccio," highlights Donna's rise in the ranks with the Marines and follows up with the aftermath of "Don't Get Caught."

Stoudt's third book, Donna Carlasccio, follows up as a sequel to "Don't Get Caught" and touches on the backstory of former marine Donna Carlasccio. Contributed photo
Stoudt's third book, Donna Carlasccio, follows up as a sequel to "Don't Get Caught" and touches on the backstory of former marine Donna Carlasccio. Contributed photo

"I lived with the main characters [from "Don't Get Caught"] for almost a year, and I couldn't just say goodbye. So, I wrote a sequel," said Stoudt.

Stoudt publishes his books through Beaver's Pond Press in St. Paul, which he mentioned has been very helpful when it comes to editors wanting to act more like "ghostwriters."

"I came up with my own acronym, which was used quite frequently when working with an editor, LAIWI, Leave As I Wrote It," Stoudt chuckled, "And one of my main rules is, "Don't mess with Jamie's jokes!"

What has surprised Stoudt on his journey of becoming an author is how hard it is to sell books. He says unless you are partnered with a big-name publishing company, distribution is next to impossible, especially for an independent author. Right now, his books are available directly through him on Amazon or his website, jamiestoudtbooks.com.

"It is hard to sell on Amazon," said Stoudt, "I read that 900 titles are added to Amazon every day. It can feel impossible to break past those other books and stick out as unique.

Stoudt's advice to budding authors, "Don't think about getting rich. Think about writing a good book — 100,000 words is longer than you think, outline, outline, outline, then outline some more. Then you will know you will have more to write tomorrow."