In your latest book, UNTIL DEAD, your unknown villain is a bomber. As a writer, what draws you to these types of thrillers and suspense stories?
Thank you for inviting me. I enjoy books with a ticking clock. I also like to create an antagonist that is equal to my protagonist(s). In Until Dead, A Cold Case Suspense, my bomber is actually more than a bomber. He’s a Jack-of-all-trades’ assassin. He’s an explosives, weapons, and IT expert who no longer goes by his given name but calls himself The Tradesman.
How would you describe Special Agent Brian DiPietro to readers who may be new to your books?
Brian is a stand-up guy (says the woman who created him). He’s a good supervisor, although he hates the idea of supervising because of a tragedy that happened in his past. He tried to leave the Bureau afterward, but his superiors convinced him to take a demotion instead. So, Brian is no longer Supervisory Special Agent Brian DiPietro but Special Agent Brian DiPietro.
As I said, Brian balks at supervising others. Unfortunately for him, and the fun part for me, is to ensure he doesn’t get his way. By his experience and years with the FBI alone, he’s always thrust back into a leadership role—whether he likes it or not.
How much research, if any, goes into a book like this?
Quite a bit. I seem to be interested in complicated subjects. Good thing I love research. I also co-own a group called Crimescenewriter started by Wally Lind, a retired veteran police officer. I asked so many questions in the beginning, Wally made me a moderator. Eventually, he made me co-owner. Maybe he thought keeping me busy might make me be quiet.
Research doesn’t always have to come from books. I’ve taken citizens academies and volunteered for my local law enforcement. I am an auditory/tactile learner and often learn better by listening. If I don’t understand something I read, I call on experts to explain it in depth. I’ve found these fine people to be entirely generous, even to the point that a few have said, “Let’s have a phone call” or “Let’s Zoom.” These individuals make it into the acknowledgments in my book.
What do you enjoy about writing a story with team involvement, rather than using one lone detective?
I’m a fan of stories with lone detectives, but if you notice, the detective generally has a sidekick so that he/she can impart information to the reader. He also generally has an “in” in the police department so that he can advance the story. We don’t live in a vacuum, and if you’re writing mystery, the author still needs to create secondary characters to solve the case.
If I can pinpoint a series that made me focus on task forces, it started from a lone detective created by author Lawrence Sanders in his Deadly Sins series. In The First Deadly Sin, his protagonist Edward X Delaney is saddled with bureaucracy, and to combat it, he creates a task force made up of everyday citizens. Even the great Edward X Delaney (played later in a movie starring Frank Sinatra) couldn’t catch an ax-murderer alone.
There are some elements in this story that strike pretty close to home for the main characters involved. Can it be difficult balancing the emotional impact for the characters, with the hectic pace of the action?
A fiction book without emotion isn’t a very good book in my opinion. Another word for emotion is tension. Authors weave in character backstory and issues that somehow propels or hinders the characters’ objectives. What we should be careful of is long drawn-out narrative, too much backstory or information dumps that slows the story. I have trusted beta readers, a critique partner, and an editor who are quick to tell me if I’m missing the mark. They’re invaluable.
Is there any element – either a particular type of setting, or anything else that you haven’t fully explored in one of your previous books – that you’d like to write about?
I have entire files full of elements and settings I’d like to pursue. I’d like to play this question close to the vest, if you don’t mind, as ideas can’t be copyrighted.
Other authors I’ve interviewed have told me that the kinds of books they enjoy reading are different from the kind of books they enjoy writing. What do you like to read? Favorite books? Favorite author?
Oh boy, this is another tough question as there are so many brilliant authors out there. I mentioned Lawrence Sanders above. I love historical fiction. I admire Renee Ryan and H.W. “Buzz” Bernard, who write amazing World War II stories. A 1920s historical fiction novel I read recently and especially enjoyed was All That is Secret by Patricia Raybon. I have Daphne du Maurier and Taylor Caldwell on my “keeper” shelf. I would say Lady of Hay by Barbara Erskine is a fantastic 12th-century historical/reincarnation novel. (Oops. Looks like I lean heavily on historical fiction when I’m not writing, doesn’t it?) Okay, I will tell you one of the best suspense novels I’ve ever read was by Edgard-award winning author Mary Willis Walker for Under the Beetle’s Cellar.
What are you currently working on?
I am writing book three of my cold-case series. I have a standalone on deck, and I’m considering dusting off an old romantic suspense novel that took first place in Gothic Hearts and finaled in the Duel on the Delta contests years ago. A judge from one of the contests recently asked why I’d never published it. Probably because it was the second book I’d ever written? But it was quite a compliment that she remembered it so well. I’m thinking of yanking it out of mothballs perhaps as a hybrid experiment. We will see.
Thank you so much for having me! I enjoyed answering your questions.
Cold Case Suspense #2
This killer won't stop …until she's dead
When Lt. Everett T. Pope is notified of an explosion in downtown Denver close to the judicial buildings, his first instinct is gas leak. No such luck. As Incident Command and Pope's own Major Crimes unit move in, he discovers he knows the intended victims—an Assistant U. S. Attorney—and Pope's former partner, now a private investigator, has died shielding the injured AUSA with his body.
As ATF and the FBI take over investigating the bombing and unraveling motives behind the murder attempt, Pope is relegated to a peripheral role. But the injured AUSA's aunt is a United States senator used to getting results. She turns to the team that solved the Black Pearl Killer murders with a very big ask—find her answers and locate the bomber.
FBI Special Agent Brian DiPietro must recall his entire cold case team from their far-flung assignments knowing he's being asked to do the impossible. The senator, however, doesn't know the meaning of the word. All too soon, DiPietro finds his team working alongside ATF on a red-hot mission. One that uncovers a decades' old cold case.
Mystery Police Procedural | Suspense [Belle Bridge Books, On Sale: May 31, 2022, Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9781610261760 / ]
Multi-award winning Donnell Ann Bell knows statistically that crime and accidents happen within a two-mile radius of the average residence. For that reason, she leaves the international capers to world travelers, and concentrates on stories that might happen in her neck of the woods. Over the last few years, Donnell has fallen in love with writing multi-jurisdictional task force plots, keeping close tabs on her theme SUSPENSE TOO CLOSE TO HOME. Her single-title romantic suspense novels, The Past Came Hunting, Deadly Recall, Betrayed, and Buried Agendas, have all been Amazon e-book best sellers.
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