Interview with D.A. Winstead

What are you working on next?
I have just finished Ohio 2029, a political fiction set in Cincinnati, Ohio. Along the vein of the subtitle "Utopia has never been so wrong," the story begins after a catastrophic global economic collapse in late 2015. Later, when it is discovered that the Black Crash of 2015 was planned and carried out by Washington insiders, most people simply rise above all the fray and learn how to recover…with some conditions: What happened in 2015 was not just an attempt at bringing on a financial apocalypse; it was an attack on a way of life carried out by radical insiders, and it left a poor and angry nation seeking revenge and a conservative nation determined never to let it happen again. The entire nation turned red in 2016 and became hell-bent on killing liberalism once and for all. The problem is: the conservatives take their revenge way too far, creating city-sized reform zones for troublemakers who refuse to go along with a highly conservative economic recovery plan. The story also has a love interest: a young girl whose father is a conservative southern senator and a boy whose father is the extreme opposite. After the crash, the family parts ways, but years later, in 2029, the girl runs away from home and ends up with the boy and his family in downtown Cincinnati, the site of the nation's most notorious crime-infested reform zone. This is where my story begins: as a nation struggles to close down the nation’s last reform zone, in Cincinnati, the girl is kidnapped by a crime boss hidden away deep inside.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Writing fiction is a hobby. The non-profit I launched after resigning from the U.S. State Department in 2011 is my passion. Color Him Father Foundation seeks ways to inspire and motivate working fathers in Africa to create a nurturing home environment for their children. After working in Africa for over ten years, making my foundation stronger and more effective in helping African children inspires me to get out of bed each day.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
The Seventh Priest, a story set in Sudan's northern Meroe Pyramid region, was the first story I completed from start to finish. I traveled deep inside the Sahara Desert five years ago, while I was working in Khartoum. I decided on that day to write a fictional story, embellished with my own personal baggage: mean and corrupt fictional State Department characters. The story was also full of espionage, political suspense, terrorist talk, lore, and religious fervor. But it was my get-back-at-all-of-them time and I had fun. It wasn’t a bestseller, but it taught me how to write a novel.
What is your writing process?
I write better when I'm working on two stories at once. I work on the first book for about fifty pages, while making notes on the second. Then I move on to the second one and continue making notes and small changes on the first. I go back and forth seven or eight times, and then at the end, I'm set to finish both of them fairly quickly. That's why I generally come out with two books quickly and then I disappear again.
How do you approach cover design?
I have my title in mind before I begin writing a story, but I generally take a long time to design a cover in my head. The cover is usually focused on that working title; by the end of the manuscript, the title has changed, but the cover usually stays as is. Odd, hard to explain, but that's how it seems to work for me.
Describe your desk
My desk is dangerously messy, a mystery in itself. If I told you more, I'd have to kill you.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in rural North Carolina, about twenty miles from Raleigh. I love the country and everything about it influences my writing...the Baptist church I went to, my school, the farm, the haunted house nearby, the tobacco barn, the country store, and of course, the family. My first grade in school was the year North Carolina integrated. I talk about 1960 a lot in my second novel, Southern Crosses: An African Ghost Story, and I think this early schooling in a racially mixed environment helped mold my way of thinking. Diversity is not that complicated; it just needs to be understood so each and every one of us can live our lives to the fullest.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
After twenty-four years of working for the government, mostly struggling in Washington, DC, writing about all of it was the least I could do. It was my own personal therapy. It helped me recover and move on.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
When a stranger tells me: "I read your book and I got it." It's happened only once, but I will never forget the feeling.
What do you read for pleasure?
History books. I just read a 700-page book on the history of Poland. I loved it.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
Kindle
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
As a complete, head-to-toe introvert, I regretfully have to admit that this is still a struggle for me. Marketing my own writing is like...rocket science. Trying to promote my own writing is probably the hardest thing I have ever had to do, after so many years working and living overseas in post-conflict and poor-as-hell nations. I don't understand it, so that's why I like to blog a lot and that seems to help. I'll figure the rest out one day, but I may take a while.
Published 2014-01-27.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Ohio 2029: Utopia Has Never Been So Wrong
Price: $5.99 USD. Words: 77,510. Language: American English. Published: April 29, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » General
A provocative Orwellian thriller set in post economic collapse America. Those with open eyes knew the inevitable would happen one day…that economic implosion would put an end to our small world. It happened on June 22, 2015, and our world was never the same. Ohio 2029 depicts all the anger and revenge needed to recovery and shows that sometime forgiveness is all you've got to go back to.
Dragon Bones: Two Angels Leave at Sunrise
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 74,840. Language: American English. Published: February 1, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Historical » Paranormal, Fiction » Christian » Suspense
2013 Illumination Books Silver Award...What happens when people do things they shouldn’t—things so horrible that they are left racked with guilt and longing for redemption? Jules Bailey, a Christian witch working for the U.S. Department of State, is going to find out in Dragon Bones, the latest paranormal thriller from the pen of D.A. Winstead.
Wiggle Rooms: A Tale of a Fallen Anchorite
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 84,250. Language: American English. Published: February 1, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » General, Fiction » Historical » Paranormal
2014 International Book Awards Finalist...A friendly Ghost, two nice witches, a dirty demon, a hateful pedophile and an avenging father...what else do you need for a great late-night read? Set in Latvia, during early Soviet occupation, Wiggle Rooms is a mixed bag of old Baltic lore, superstitions, religious fervor, and diplomatic intrigue.
Southern Crosses: An African Ghost Story
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 103,020. Language: American English. Published: February 1, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Inspirational, Fiction » Women's fiction » General
2012 International Book Awards Finalist...Southern Crosses: An African Ghost Story captures the early period in Apartheid South Africa and traces the lives of a family that were forever changed during a horrible massacre. Now fifty years later, an American diplomat must embark on her own internal search for reason and faith to save the family once again.