Interview with DV Berkom

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in the Midwest region of the US, dividing my time between a small town and a major city (my parents liked to move a lot). I think the work ethic instilled in me while growing up helped me immensely with my writing. Self-discipline is key to any real output, at least for me. That, and being able to adjust to change. Small towns and big cities are vastly different from each other and I like to think learning to adapt has helped me deal with the shifting sands of self-publishing.
When did you first start writing?
The first thing I remember writing was an illustrated short story about the joys of housework at age seven. Even then, I had tongue firmly in cheek...

As for novels, I finished my first in 2006. Even though I made every mistake known to newbie writers (and some unknown) the rush of accomplishment I experienced had me hooked. Now I can't imagine myself doing anything else.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I love the ability to direct my own career. I've had several small businesses throughout my life, and self-publishing seemed like a no-brainer. Then, when readers emailed me about how much they enjoyed my work, I knew I was doing the right thing.

Also, I'm an impatient person and being able to set my own schedule and publish when I feel the book's ready is ideal.

Being impatient, however, is not such a good character trait for an indie writer...
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
I've used Smashwords from the beginning and am so grateful for the ease of distribution. The information I've gleaned from the Smashwords site and blog is priceless and has helped so much in my journey as an indie writer. The SW Style Guide gave me the tools to understand formatting issues so that I could avoid them when there wasn't much other help out there. Mark Coker is approachable and accessible and I'm always impressed with his vision for self-publishing.
Who are your favorite authors?
There are so many! Carl Hiaasen comes to mind, not only because of his fabulous characters and scathing satire, but also because he taught me that an author can write an entertaining book that deals with important issues without being preachy.

I'm also a fan of John Sandford, Michael Connelly, James Lee Burke, Joseph Wambaugh, Daniel Silva, Philippa Gregory, John Grisham, Ken Follett, JK Rowling, Sue Grafton and about 30+ more.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I'm an avid photographer and organic gardener, and love all things outdoors (snorkeling, surfing, camping, hiking, swimming, kayaking, etc.) I also love to cook and discover new wines. Traveling is as important to me as writing, and I get some of the best ideas when I'm on the road, be it in another country or here in the U.S.

Sleeping comes in a close third or fourth, but I don't always get to indulge in it as much as I'd like...
What is your writing process?
An idea will take hold, usually after seeing a news story or documentary, and won't let me go until I've at least given it some thought. The characters appear soon after that, if not simultaneously, and I'll know I have a story. Then, I'll long-hand some ideas, using a timeline to see if I have enough scenes to fill a book. If not, I brainstorm ideas with my writer's group, all writers with whom I've worked for several years. Once I've got a general outline, I write the book, going back over what I've written the day before, continuing on until the first draft is done. Sometimes it's easy, like with SERIAL DATE, which came out of a bizarre dream I had. Sometimes it's more difficult, like with BAD TRAFFICK, but only because the subject matter really took it out of me. Either way, it's always a process of discovery.
How do you approach cover design?
In the past, I created my own. I changed tactics for YUCATAN DEAD and A ONE WAY TICKET TO DEAD and used a designer. I'm so glad I did. I think she really captured the feel of the books. I plan to use her for future books.
What do you read for pleasure?
Thrillers, spy novels, action/adventure, mysteries, and satire, mainly. Although, I've been known to enjoy literary and historical fiction on occasion.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I own a Kindle Touch.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
Word of mouth is the by far the best way to gain readers. Besides that, book giveaways and putting the book on sale, followed by paid advertising.
What's the story behind your latest book?
My latest book is the 3rd Leine Basso Thriller, The Body Market. As with most of the books I write, it was sparked by a news story I read and my imagination just took off from there. As it's currently on pre-order and not yet available, I don't want to give away the story. In lieu of that, here's the description:

A retired assassin is called in when a celebration south of the border turns into a nightmare.

Former assassin Leine Basso is hired by a wealthy Beverly Hills power couple to find their missing daughter, Elise, last seen partying with her boyfriend at a club in Tijuana. At first, police believe the two teenagers are the victims of a carjacking. But when Leine finds their missing vehicle with the boyfriend’s mutilated body inside, and the local cartel warns her away, she knows if Elise isn’t already dead, she will be soon, or worse.

In the lethal world of organized crime, there’s always a worse.

As Leine races the clock to uncover the reason behind Elise Bennett’s disappearance, she must also battle the powerful interests fighting to keep her from the truth.

I'm also including a bonus short story at the end of the book, titled, "Privilege". I hope you enjoy it!
Describe your desk
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Beyond connecting with readers, which is one of the best parts of writing, being able to get all the stories out of my head and onto the page in coherent form gives me great pleasure while at the same time lowering the cost of therapy.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Published 2014-12-06.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Kate Jones Thriller Series, Vol. 2
Series: Kate Jones Thriller. Price: $8.99 USD. Words: 198,940. Language: English. Published: January 23, 2015. Category: Fiction » Adventure » Action
The Kate Jones Thriller Series, Vol. 2 includes the complete text for 3 full-length novels: CRUISING FOR DEATH (Kate Jones #5), YUCATAN DEAD (Kate Jones #6), and A ONE WAY TICKET TO DEAD (Kate Jones #7).
The Body Market
Series: Leine Basso Thriller. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 74,580. Language: English. Published: January 8, 2015. Category: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Crime thriller
A former assassin is called in when a celebration south of the border turns into a nightmare.
A One Way Ticket to Dead
Series: Kate Jones Thriller, Book 7. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 69,510. Language: English. Published: March 7, 2014. Category: Fiction » Adventure » Action
After years of running from her ex—a vicious Mexican drug lord—and his subsequent death, Kate Jones is ready to bury the past and try to piece together a new normal. But first, there’s a loose end to tie and it involves digging up old ghosts that are best left alone. Unaware her actions have attracted the notice of a powerful enemy Kate is plunged into a deadly fight for survival.
Let Sleeping Dogs Lie (A Kate Jones Short)
Series: Kate Jones Thriller. Price: Free! Words: 6,950. Language: English. Published: October 1, 2013. Category: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Action & suspense
A fast-paced Kate Jones Short Story. (Originally appeared in Serial Sleuths: Vol. 1 Anthology) With time running out, Kate Jones searches for her missing friend, Rana, and comes face-to-face with a Navajo shapeshifter... ...or does she?
Yucatan Dead (Kate Jones Thriller #6)
Series: Kate Jones Thriller, Book 6. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 64,930. Language: English. Published: June 25, 2013. Category: Fiction » Adventure » Action
Hunted by a ruthless cartel boss, Kate Jones finds herself deep in the Yucatan determined to fight the evil that pursues her.
Bad Traffick, A Leine Basso Thriller
Series: Leine Basso Thriller, Book 2. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 59,270. Language: English. Published: March 22, 2013. Category: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Action & suspense
Dangerous obsessions take center stage when a former assassin and a homicide detective race against the clock to find a missing girl before she's sold to the highest bidder.
The Kate Jones Thriller Series: Vol. 1 (Boxed Set)
Series: Kate Jones Thriller. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 82,840. Language: English. Published: October 10, 2012. Category: Fiction » Adventure » Action
A boxed set of the first four novellas in the best-selling Kate Jones Thriller Series. Includes Bad Spirits, Dead of Winter, Death Rites and Touring for Death.
Cruising for Death--The 5th Kate Jones Thriller
Series: Kate Jones Thriller, Book 5. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 65,880. Language: English. Published: April 27, 2012. Category: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Action & suspense
CRUISING FOR DEATH is #5 in the Kate Jones Thriller series and is a full-length novel. Kate and Cole are on a luxury cruise in the Caribbean when a passenger dies of an apparent heart attack and the ship is boarded by modern-day pirates. Along with two other passengers, Kate is kidnapped by a long-lost enemy who wants to settle an old score.
Serial Date: A Leine Basso Novel
Series: Leine Basso Thriller, Book 1. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 66,900. Language: English. Published: February 12, 2012. Category: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Action & suspense
When a former assassin's daughter is abducted, she's drawn into the twisted game of a serial killer who may be a grisly remnant from her past.
Touring for Death--The 4th Kate Jones Thriller
Series: Kate Jones Thriller, Book 4. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 30,870. Language: English. Published: September 16, 2011. Category: Fiction » Romance » Suspense
TOURING FOR DEATH-(Novella #4) Kate Jones is hiding out from her shady past driving jeep tours through the rugged high desert of northern Arizona, determined to stop looking over her shoulder and find peace from her mistake of a gun-toting, former life. Testifying against a Mexican drug lord and a dirty DEA agent didn't turn out to be a life enhancing choice and she's been on the move ever since.
Death Rites--The 3rd Kate Jones Thriller
Series: Kate Jones Thriller, Book 3. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 19,300. Language: English. Published: August 14, 2011. Category: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » General
DEATH RITES (Novella #3) When Kate has to leave Alaska (and Sam) behind, she runs to the last place she remembers feeling safe: the North Shore of Oahu. Against her better judgment, she re-establishes old connections, and soon faces a new problem in Alek, a gifted carver and avid surfer.
Dead of Winter--The 2nd Kate Jones Thriller
Series: Kate Jones Thriller, Book 2. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 11,900. Language: English. Published: July 17, 2011. Category: Fiction » Romance » Suspense
DEAD OF WINTER (Novella)Kate Jones is hiding out in small town Alaska when she witnesses an execution-style murder. Convinced the killers are Salazar's men, she reports the crime to local law enforcement, hoping to put them off her trail so she can escape. What she gets is Sam, an enigmatic officer with a mysterious past who's been assigned to watch over her as the hunt for the killers deepens
Bad Spirits Books 1-5
Series: Kate Jones Thriller, Book 1. Price: Free! Words: 25,540. Language: English. Published: June 1, 2011. Category: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » General
BAD SPIRITS (Books 1-5) is the first novella in the Kate Jones Thriller Series. Kate Jones is on the run with a backpack full of money, intent on finding her way back to the United States from Mexico. Unfortunately, a ruthless drug lord named Salazar is just as intent on finding her, retrieving his stolen money, and making her pay for ever having left him. Is there anyone she can trust?