What started you on your journey to be a writer?
I wrote my first book (an illustrated tome about the joys of housework—very tongue in cheek) at the age of seven. I flirted with writing throughout my life—mainly short stories—but never took it seriously. In 2005 I found myself with some spare time on my hands, so decided to try writing a book. It was a satire/fantasy and it took me about a year to finish. Not knowing anything about the publishing business, I submitted it to an agent. Needless to say, I figured out pretty quickly that the writing was awful. Since I love a challenge, I decided to learn the craft to see if I could write something worth reading. The next book took me six months for a first draft, and a year and a half of editing. I’m now working on my twelfth book, have two thriller series, and am constantly trying to improve. I love writing (most of the time) and would feel as though my left foot was missing were I to quit.
Do you listen to music while writing?
I’m one of those writers who need quiet to be able to concentrate. Believe me, I’d love to be able to listen to music while I write, especially for those times when there’s stuff going on in the house, but I’ve tried and it just throws me off my game.
What are your favorite hobbies?
Other than writing and research, cooking, gardening, hiking, traveling, photography, and wine are the top hobbies that spring to mind. I’m especially happy when I can combine all of them together J
What’s the most memorable thing (good or bad) that’s happened to you while promoting your work?
Once, when I first started doing signings, I was at a local library and a woman with a seeing-eye dog came up to me and asked me if I was the author of a blog post about creating an accessible web site. I said I was, and she said she’d come to the signing especially so she could thank me in person for spreading the word about how to accommodate non-traditional web users such as herself. I’ve never forgotten her words and continue to try to make my work as accessible as possible to all kinds of readers.
With more books being released each month now than ever before, what do you believe sets your work apart from the others?
Several readers have thanked me for creating realistic female characters who know how to take care of themselves. Kate Jones is more of an every-woman while my other character, Leine Basso, is a former assassin. Both are approachable and I think most women can empathize with them. I’ve heard from male readers as well, who have told me they enjoy them both—I’ve even had several confide in me that they’re a little in love with one or the otherJ. A lot of times in fiction, female characters are portrayed as either superhuman or manly (what I like to call putting lipstick on a dude and calling it good). I prefer reading and writing about someone with whom I can identify—someone who has some depth and lots of flaws. Apparently, so do a lot of other people.
What would you like to share with writers who haven’t reached the point of publication yet?
My biggest piece of advice is to wait until you’ve had several people read your work before even thinking of submitting it to anyone or publishing it yourself (and no, I don’t mean your family or best friend). If the feedback is less than stellar, write another book. And then another. Then send it to a professional editor before uploading/submitting. You don’t want a reader’s first impression of you to be that you don’t know what you’re doing. Many won’t give you a second chance and then you’ve lost a potential reader.
How important do you find the communication between you and your readers? Do you reply to their messages or read their reviews?
It’s hugely important. Not only is it rewarding to hear from readers who enjoy my work, but being a writer is often isolating, and communicating with other people is key to staying semi-sane! I try hard to reply to everyone who contacts me. Sometimes it takes a while, but I usually can get back to folks within 48 hours or so. As for reading reviews, sure, I occasionally check to see how a book is being received. I think most writers do, whether they admit it or not. It’s interesting to see what people think of my work. And, if there’s a problem with a book I’d like to know in case it’s something I can fix, like grammar or typos.
Where can your fans find you?
Amazon Author Page:
Smashwords Profile: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/dvberkom
Give us a list of your published titles in chronological or series order:
The Kate Jones Thriller Series:
Dead of Winter
Touring for Death
Cruising for Death
A One Way Ticket to Dead
The Leine Basso Crime Thriller Series:
The Body Market
Share with us an elevator pitch (no more than 30 seconds) of your latest title:
Money—the universal merchant. Anyone can be bought, anyone can be sold.
Haunted by memories of an op gone bad, former assassin Leine Basso travels to Bangkok in search of a missing backpacker. With help from an old contact, she discovers the man responsible for the girl’s disappearance is connected to a violent Hong Kong triad and is the linchpin of an extensive trafficking network—both animal and human.
Making enemies isn’t new for Leine, but making one in the triad is—she soon finds herself a prisoner onboard a cargo ship headed for sub-Saharan Africa. To ensure her survival and to continue her hunt for the missing girl, she must join forces with Derek, an ivory poacher who promises to help her.
For a price.
Where can we buy it?
Amazon (global link): http://bit.ly/cargoAMZ
Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/cargo-dv-berkom/1122295857
Are you working on anything new and if so when can we expect to see it?
I’m currently working on a prequel to Serial Date, as yet untitled, where we learn some of Leine’s secrets and meet people I mention in later books. I hope to have it available by March of this year. Then I’m going to start work on the next Kate Jones. I’m very excited to get back inside her head and am looking forward to writing the story.
DV Berkom is a slave to the voices in her head. As the bestselling author of two award-winning thriller series (Leine Basso and Kate Jones), her love of creating resilient, kick-ass women characters stems from a lifelong addiction to reading spy novels, mysteries, and thrillers, and longing to find the female equivalent within those pages.
Raised in the Midwest, she earned a BA in political science from the University of Minnesota and promptly moved to Mexico to live on a sailboat. Several cross-country moves later, she now lives just outside of Seattle, Washington with the love of her life, Mark, a chef-turned-contractor, and several imaginary characters who like to tell her what to do. Her most recent books include Cargo, The Body Market, Bad Traffick, A One Way Ticket to Dead, and Yucatán Dead.
Thank you for having me on the blog today, PJ!