Laurie: Thank you so much, David, for taking the time to answer a few questions this evening. You’re a very prolific author, with five books recently published and two more planned for release in the next several months. How long does it take you to write each book?
David: I began seriously writing mystery fiction in 2003. I delayed coming to market with my books because I wanted to study the craft and write-write-write before inflicting my early efforts onto an unsuspecting readership. By the time I brought The Beholder, a Maddie Richards Mystery to market, I had four novels finished, subject to the constant tinkering that authors do. As my study of the craft gave me greater skill, I went back and reworked each of the novels to reflect the lessons learned. I wanted to launch with several books to establish myself as a quality writer capable of supplying loyal readers with a continuing stream of stories.
Laurie: You proceeded with a great amount of patience—much more than a lot of authors do. Your write about a number of different protagonists. Do you foresee any of them reappearing as part of a series in the future?
David: The short answer is yes. In fact, this process is already started. The leading man of Who Murdered Garson Talmadge, a Matt Kile Mystery, will star in a second novel that will come out in June, The original Alibi, a Matt Kile Mystery. The Blackmail Club, a Jack McCall Mystery, is my second mystery starring Jack McCall; the first was The Third Coincidence. These two McCall stories are already available. The Beholder, a Maddie Richards Mystery, has been very popular. My second mystery featuring Maddie Richards will come out in the spring of 2013. The working title is Empty Promises, a Maddie Richards Mystery. Maddie will be joined by Ryan Testler who costarred beside Linda Darby in The Woman, a mystery well flavored with romantic suspense. So, yes, I love series characters and my readers will continue to see Matt Kile mysteries and Maddie Richards mysteries.
Laurie: Your fans definitely have something to look forward to. How much of your own personality do you put into your main characters?
David: I suspect every author slips a little of himself or herself under the front door of his fiction. I certainly do. My sense of humor is definitely in evidence. Matt Kile is the protagonist through whom I most displayed the humor, but it is in all the stories to some degree. Also, I am a romantic so I strive to deliver enough of a romantic side story to please my female readers without being too much for men folk. Beyond that my twenty plus years as a financial analyst gives me the attention to detail which comes into play as I plan the crimes, the salting of clues, and the solutions. I am also a big believer that justice should prevail, in some fashion; however, the justice doled out is often not in the traditional structure.
Laurie: It’s quite a trick to write a book that appeals to both genders. What about your secondary characters? Are any of them based on people you’ve known? How do you come up with your characters?
David: Some characters are based, at least in part, on people I know. Sometimes the victims are based on people I don’t like. I encourage my friends to be nice to me so they won’t end up on the floor of one of my mysteries. Life and living brings us into contact with people constantly. Also I am a great observer of people. I see tics and talents I find interesting and often these are brought out in my characters.
Laurie: Now you’re going to have all your acquaintances in a who’s who guessing game. In Who Murdered Garson Talmadge, there is a dog named Asta. Are you a dog lover? Do you own a dog?
David: Asta was a fictional dog owned by Nick and Nora Charles in the wonderful book, radio, and movie series, The Thin Man. I used Asta as an historical drop-in to bring a smile to those readers who saw the connection, yet structured it so it would not be distracting to readers who did not see that connection. I do like dogs, have owned several, but not at the moment.
Laurie: I’m a dog lover myself, and saw the connection right away.
Would you name some of the authors who inspire your work?
David: So many who have come and gone, sticking to my own genre: Dashiell Hammett (Sam Spade and the Thin Man), Raymond Chandler (Philip Marlowe), Mickey Spillane (Mike Hammer), Willard Huntington Wright (Philo Vance), Earl Derr Biggers (Charlie Chan), Rex Stout (Nero Wolfe), and, of course, Agatha Christie and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I shy away from mentioning living authors as there are so many whose works I admire.
Laurie: Do you have any writing pet peeves?
David: I interpret that question to mean pet peeves with how other writers do a certain thing. If I did them, I’d just stop, thereby avoid the pet peeve. Like most readers, I am turned off by overly lengthy descriptions of almost anything, the exception being tense scenes. These should be broken down into inches and seconds to present the heightened stress at a nearly real-time pace. Two-thirds of a page describing a sunset or a bush or whatever is too much. We’ve all read books where we find ourselves skipping ahead to the next paragraph when the writer falls victim to diarrhea-of-the-mouth descriptions. As a reader, I also lose patience with stories which start too slowly, and keep that pace too long. For me, those books become wall bangers just before I pick up a different novel. I don’t want my books to be wall bangers for anyone.
Laurie: Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?
David: Yes, if I may, a statement to everyone reading this posting. The last several years I have been writing well enough to allow me to say: My stories are good. Take a journey with me. Laugh. Hold your breath. Cheer. Boo. The characters are rich, and the plots are grabbers. I promise most of you that you will be very glad you came along. I’d promise all of you, but nothing is liked by everyone. Some people don’t like golf, or chocolate, or apple pie, or even a hearty laugh. But I’ll bet you like some of that stuff and I’ll bet you’ll like my mysteries.