Interview with D.V. Berkom

Published 2016-05-06.
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.
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?
What's the story behind your latest book?
My latest book is the Leine Basso thriller prequel, A Killing Truth. This one was a challenge to write, in that I had already described several key scenes in other books in the series and had to keep as close to the story as possible. In A Killing Truth, we meet Leine when she's at the height of her profession, working for Eric and the Agency as one of their premiere assassins.

Here's the description:

A deadly assassin. A perpetual target. A double-cross she never saw coming…
They say the truth will set you free, but what if it kills you first?
Before serial killers and drug cartels, Leine faced the ultimate betrayal…

Leine eliminates terrorists for a living. After a routine assassination almost gets her killed, she chalks it up to a fluke. Her lover and fellow assassin, Carlos, has another idea altogether. He thinks their boss is setting them up for a fall.

When Carlos goes missing and a bombing thwarts another mission, Leine suspects the stakes are far higher than she could ever imagine, and wonders if the man in charge might have it in for her after all.
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