I recently had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing published author, David Bishop. If you’ve read my post about stepping outside your genre box, he is the author I was referring to. His brillantly written characters and intense plots captured my attention and reminded me how much I loved reading mysteries. Here’s my interview with this talented author. Enjoy!!
You can find more about David Bishop at his website www.davidbishopbooks.com
For you, what is the most rewarding part of being of novelist? Two responses quickly come to mind. First, the opportunity to use my imagination to entertain through writing fiction provides a longer reach than simply being the quip at a dinner party. Second, being able to work whenever I want and do so wearing whatever I wish. Like you, I’ve seen the advertisements for the new phones which allow people to see rather than just hear the person they called. Let me issue a public service message: no one who calls me when I’m writing should be allowed to use one of those phones.
For us all, at the end of a hard day, or after a difficult night, or for company while sitting in the sun or in an airplane, a book makes things more pleasant. To contribute to that for others is very rewarding. On a more immediate level, I love inventing people, giving them personalities and then putting those new people in jeopardy. I find that when I do, after having invented them, they often tell me how they will behave in each scene.
To what extent do your friends and relatives find their way into your stories? Maybe some upon whom you do not look favorably?
Ah. Yes. Nothing beats writing someone you hate into a novel and then making them a victim. However, I’m careful to do this in a manner that will not allow anyone to detect their own identity, but I know, so it’s an inside joke at which only I get to laugh. Now, please, all of you who know me don’t read my stories and try to figure out if you are the victim who was dismembered. Then again, don’t get on my bad side either.
Will you tell me a little about yourself?
I was born in Washington, D.C., the son of a Navy man. From there, my life likely mirrored that of a lot of my readers. We moved around. I got some education, played some sports, and got more education. As an adult, I’ve owned and operated my own businesses for about forty-five years: title insurance, chemicals, liquor, brokerage, minor league professional sports franchise, business valuation consultant, and now a novelist. I enjoy the challenge that comes with accepting the downside and benefitting from the upside. I handle my writing the same way. I author my stories, and hire editors and publishers while controlling all the rights over my work.
When did you start writing your first book?
Technically my first book was a business book started in 2000 and published in 2001 on how to value businesses for mergers and acquisitions. In 2002, I started writing my first novel. I decided I would be in no hurry getting published. Instead, I wanted to practice the craft and study the publishing and book businesses. It is an exciting time to be involved in the industry. The publishing and retailing of books is in the midst of a magical revolution or evolution, both actually. Anyway, I have continued to write fiction since 2002, working at it full time.
How did you choose mystery as your genre to write?
Mysteries are such fun, peeling away the layers of the unknown. We all pigeonhole novels into genres: mystery, romance, western, sci-fi, and so on. In truth, novels are nearly always amalgams. My mysteries and thrillers always include a romance interest. And romance stories commonly include some mystery or suspense. So in the end, these genres are mostly about grouping books into separate stacks and are not totally descriptive of what the reader will find inside.
Where do you get your ideas?
The plots can come from a current or historical event. In other cases they come from reading a novel or seeing a movie and thinking that the writer had taken the story in a different direction than I would have. I then totally redesign the plot and characters and take the story down the road I felt would be the more entertaining, but the original inspiration came from that other book or film. Then there are the screwy, scary, and unjust things that happen in our lives and the lives of those we know. The characters come from us, people we know, clerks or customers in a store. Watch people, notice their traits and mannerism, listen to their voices, what they say, how they walk, all of that and more. Take a little from one observation and put it with something from another observation and you have the start of an interesting character.
Can you tell me a little bit about your writing process?
I’m rather eclectic. I can write pretty much anytime: early, late, or in between, read the last paragraph or two and pick back up. Sometimes I write two hours, other times twelve hours. I never experience writer’s block. On a new project, I start with the crime. Then in a general way I picture the villain, choose a hero, and most often first write the ending. When a family goes on vacation they don’t load up the car, put the kids in the backseat and pull away from the curb without knowing their destination. That’s the end of the story where the hero and the villain come together and justice, in some form, is served. Then I go back and start the story. When the mystery is finished I have often wildly changed the beginning while only tweaking the ending.
One of the major challenges of building a mystery is deciding where the clues should be salted within the story. Real clues can be left in plain sight to appear innocuous, or obfuscated to encourage being overlooked. Clues can be as large as a log or as tiny as the bump thereon. There are also the distractions of false clues, called red herrings, which point to someone other than the real villain.
Who are your readers?
Simply put, my readers are folks who enjoy reading mysteries, and like a taste of romance within the stories they read. They prefer that, in some form, justice will prevail. That while murder or mayhem of some fashion will occur they prefer it not be needlessly graphic or gory. They enjoy the extra challenge that comes with reading mysteries, that being the competition between the hero and the reader to see who first reasons out the guilty party. This is apart from the challenge within the story between the hero and the villain.
What advice do you have for unpublished authors?
Write. Just write. There is no perfect time in life to do any of the things we someday want to do, so just start. Make time. At your point in life it may not be a lot of time, but you will find enough if your drive to do it is strong. Then while bathing, driving, or falling asleep you’ll think about your characters, your plot, the setting for the story. You’ll start trying to figure out when you can get back to the keyboard to make notes or integrate those thoughts into your story. Then, one day, you’ll say, oh, my God. I’ve got a first draft of my first novel. Celebrate. Have champagne. Holler at the moon. Buy a new pair of shoes. Make love someplace you never have before for you’ve just done something you’ve never done before. After that, go into rewrite. And when you’re done, rewrite it again. Each time you’ll make the story more exciting by trimming out the overly wordy parts.
Writing is like life with the boring parts cut out. Often we see a friend we haven’t seen for a good while and we ask, “Hey, what’ve you been up to?” The person’s initial answer is usually, “Oh, nothing, really.” Then after a few minutes they’ll say, “I almost forgot. Last summer we went to Paris and . . .” What they just did was process out the boring parts and then they were ready to tell their story. That’s what you do as a novelist. Cut out those boring parts. Avoid too-long descriptions of almost everything and tell your story.
Tell us a little about your current novels and any future releases.
All my novels are available in both eBook digital and print editions. My first released novel was The Beholder, a Maddie Richards Mystery. Maddie is a divorced homicide cop in Phoenix, Arizona. My next was a modern noir story, Who Murdered Garson Talmadge, a Matt Kile Mystery. Matt is a former homicide detective who writes mysteries and can’t seem to keep his nose out of real life whodunits. My third, The Woman, is the story of an ordinary woman living an ordinary life in a quiet Oregon coastal town. Then her best friend is murdered and what follows changes what she thinks, how she feels, and how she lives the rest of her life. My fourth release was The Third Coincidence, a political thriller.
In late March or early April of 2012 I will release The Blackmail Club, a Jack McCall Mystery. This is an interesting twist on the traditional blackmail story. The blackmailer, once paid, returns the damning evidence he held over his mark and never contacts him again. Instead, the master criminal sets up an assembly line producing marks to be blackmailed.
My website is www.davidbishopbooks.com. On that site you will find a brief synopsis of each of my novels and their primary characters, together with lots of other interesting sub pages. There are also links to the major online book retailers and a place to order printed novels I have signed.
Why should readers trust your books will be good reads?
The last several years I have been writing well enough to say: My stores are good. Take a journey with me. Laugh. Hold your breath. Cheer. Boo. The characters are rich, the plots are grabbers. I promise most of you that you will be very glad you came along. I’d promise all of you, but nothing is liked by everyone. Some people don’t like chocolate, or apple pie, or golf. But I’ll bet you like some of that stuff and I’ll bet you’ll like my mysteries.