Interview with Donovan York

What is your writing process?
Something catches my mind, and I think "What if?" That sets the general milieu and theme. Then I need a crime. Once I devise a crime, I solve it, as the detective character would. When I taught I had every lecture laid out from the first class to the last. With writing, I let the crime take me to the next event. I just sit down and start typing, and sometimes have a tough time typing as fast as my thoughts and dialogue are flowing. Then I go back to clean it up, and often the work will change on the second pass. The second pass is also where back stories are fleshed out.
How do you approach cover design?
I want something that evokes the story waiting behind the cover. I do not want covers that are too busy, or look too "stock." For Never Die in Havana I went with a dark photo of Havana at night, with the title in letters that look like molten gold. The dark photo reflects both the time of the main events and adds, perhaps, a slight sinister edge.
What's the story behind your latest book?
I collect antique cigar labels. I focus on those made in 19th century Cuba, as they make the best art for display. In doing research on one of the lithographers of the era, I came across news accounts of the time about a fire at his premises at the end of 1895. The police had reports of gunshots, but assumed it was just another fire. The fire itself is just a few pages, but took off in my mind as being related to murder today.
What are you working on next?
I plan a another in the Lieutenant Rocher series. That story has him moving about the Cuban Chinese Community in search of the murderer of a famous Cuban Soccer star. There is again fusion of police work and espionage as Rocher works his way through the case, as well as some back stories. I also want to write a more serious work, set in New York City, which is more psychological in nature.
Why is Never Die in Havana only 45,500 words?
I start with the premise, then the crime, then the solution and add back stories. More than anything I want a good read. For this story, I wanted a laser, fast paced account that moves ever forward. Even the few flashbacks to 1895 serve to explain something about what is going on in the investigation today. In the second draft I added some bulk. On re-reading it, I felt it was just bulk for the sake of bulk, and did not help the story, or the reader experience. I actually took out several thousand words to make what I hope is a sharper story.
Your book is not checked as having adult content. How can you write a modern mystery without sexual situations?
There is one mild love scene that serves to move the story forward, The word picture is not very explicit, and is not sufficient to rise to the level of sexual content that would merit the Adult filter. Broadcast television programs are more explicit. I considered marking it as adult until I saw the company I was keeping in that category. The Adult filter would give the wrong impression to those seeking that content, and exclude many who would otherwise download and enjoy the book without being offended.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
When not at my office, I am at home with my wife and English Bulldog. We raised a daughter, and would be in an empty nest, except now we feel as if we are raising the dog. We especially enjoy travel, which serves to inspire good ideas for the next writing adventure.
Published 2014-03-02.
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Books by This Author

Never Die In Havana
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 46,520. Language: English. Published: March 29, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » General
A fire in Manhattan in 1895, and murders in present day Havana, are connected by conspiracy, deceit and greed. Against a backdrop of legends, politicians, lovers and spies, Havana Police Lieutenant Arturo Rocher pursues the killers, even as he himself is a man pursued.