Today DV Berkom joins me on my blog to be questioned to the third degree. 🙂
Hi D, great to have you on my blog today. I’d like to get started by asking you a few personal questions so that we can get a feel of the person behind the author. If that’s okay with you?
Absolutely. I’m an open book.
Great,that means I won’t have to use my truth serum. Let’s not waste any time and get started then.
I know you are a literate woman, but given the choice what would you rather read, a sit down, dig in and don’t put aside mystery or an action packed spy novel?
Definitely an action packed spy novel. I enjoy a good mystery now and then, but I prefer more of a fast-paced, heart-pounding kind of read. Writing a book is enough mystery for me–especially trying to keep all the sub plots and characters and past plots straight, making sure there are no plot holes or inaccuracies, keeping the tension building throughout, etc. When I read, I want action!
Another choice question. Live on a boat, or on dry land with no water even near?
Most definitely on a boat. I grew up in the Midwest and although there were a gazillion lakes to choose from, it was still landlocked. I tried living in Arizona, and yes, it’s gorgeous and I love the place, but I realized I need to be close to a large body of water, preferably an ocean. After dozens of moves trying to find a place that fit, I finally found a home when I moved to the west coast. Prior to that, my favorite place to live was on a sailboat in Mexico. That experience was formative, to say the least, and started me on my quest for the perfect place to call home.
Being well educated (I know you have a BA in Political Science) do you ever find it pleasurable to watch/read mindless entertainment?
Define mindless 🙂 . But seriously, you have to give your brain a rest or it does it for you. My favorite ‘mindless’ stuff is along the lines of most of the shows on television. I avoid watching crime shows when I’m writing a novel, as I’d hate to have the inaccuracies that are (always) in them filter into my subconscious and then into my writing. It’s hard enough keeping your facts straight. I find a good comedy works wonders to keep me from being too serious.
It does! There’s too many people forgetting how healthy a good belly laugh is, and not only for the mind. Well, that wasn’t too bad, or was it?
Wait—that was it? Aren’t you going to ask me about that time in the Mexican cantina with the cute windsurfer…er, well, maybe not.
What! That was you? Best not mention that again. Hahahahaha.
But you’ve come here to talk about your work, so can you tell us the title of the book you would like to talk about?
Sure. The name of the book is Yucatan Dead. It’s the sixth in the Kate Jones Thriller Series, but you don’t have to read the others to enjoy it. The series deals with the fallout of a bad decision Kate made in her twenties when she took off for the border with a pack full of stolen money from the ruthless leader of a Mexican drug cartel. In Yucatan Dead Kate’s offered the chance to fight back. Here’s the description:
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She was a dangerous man’s lover…now she’s his dangerous enemy.
For Kate Jones, being on the run from her former lover–the vicious leader of a Mexican drug cartel–was never going to be easy. But with a new identity, a new lover, and a new life in Arizona, she was beginning to believe she’d made it through the worst.Then, in an act of twisted revenge, Kate’s kidnapped and imprisoned by her deadly enemy, his intention to force her to pay back the money she stole before he kills her.
Fate intervenes and she finds herself working against the cartels deep in the Yucatan with a group of off-the-grid commandos. From peaceful northern Arizona to the steamy jungles of Mexico, Kate Jones must decide for herself if she’ll continue to run…
…or turn and fight the evil that pursues her.
Did you have difficulty coming up with this title?
Actually, no. It’s a line from a scene in the book and when I wrote it, I knew it was the one: “I’ll give you a worst-case scenario. Yucatan Kate is going to be Yucatan dead.” I am having a heck of a time with the one I’m working on, though. Once I’m finished with the book if I haven’t figured out the title I’ll open it up to my writing group and do some brainstorming.
If you would have to change the genre in order to be able to publish it, what would it be then? i.e. would you conform to the market?
Not a chance. I write what I write because I love to read those kinds of books. I’ve been extremely fortunate in that some people like to read what I write. If there comes a time that no one is buying or reading my books, I’d still write the story in my head. On the other hand, if I woke up one morning inspired to write something completely different, then yeah, I’d write it, whatever the genre. But conform to the market, nope. I’m afraid I’m not built that way. Probably make a ton more money, but it is what it is.
Can you tell me how you celebrate finally getting that tricky chapter (or para) right?
I usually save the celebration for when I finish the final draft. Then it’s a glass or two of good champagne with my best friend. If I celebrated each little victory, I’d probably still be writing Bad Spirits and awfully drunk.
Sounds like that could be a good book too. 🙂
What do you do marketing wise and what do you think generates the most attention to your books?
I’ve found that good reviews and running a sale now and then work well, but really, the best marketing in the world is word of mouth from satisfied readers. If I didn’t have that, I doubt my books would sell half as well as they do.
Is there any food or beverage that is a constant factor in either your books or life?
Tequila. Don’t ask. 🙂
Hahahaha, okay, if you insist. Can you tell me instead what your favourite dish is and can you give me the recipe?
I’ve been enamored of late with the wild mushrooms available here in the pacific northwest like chanterelles and matsutakis, so a good chicken and chanterelle dish with garlic mashed potatoes, or sliced grilled matsutaki mushrooms with lemon-soy dipping sauce. The lemon-soy dipping sauce is just that: equal parts lemon juice and soy sauce, but the chanterelle concoction is my sweetie’s who’s an ex-chef, so if I told you the recipe I’d have to kill you…
Bugger! But I can come up with my own variation on the theme. 🙂 Click here if you want to see my chicken and chanterelle dish.
Would you be able to come up with a credible excuse why you haven’t written a whole day? Remember, I have to believe it!
I was snorkeling in the Caribbean and didn’t have a waterproof laptop?
Sounds plausible enough. 🙂 Okay now that we have the mandatory questions out of the way, shoot your mouth off. Tell me whatever you want the blab about. But please no cat’s, dogs, or children. Make me laugh, or cry, or even envious. Tell me something none has ever heard before from you. hehehe, love those little dirty secrets, real or make believe. 🙂
I’ve been extremely fortunate in finding great contacts who have the experience and expertise in the things I write about. Every time I write a book I find out how much I don’t know. I can’t tell you how many times serendipity has struck and someone appears with the knowledge I lack.
For example, before I began writing Bad Spirits (the first book in the Kate Jones series) I didn’t know much about the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) other than what I’d seen on television and in the movies and could look up online. Through asking a really stupid question on an online forum about prison time for one of my characters I met a retired DEA supervisor who took pity on me and has become my go-to source for information on the DEA and the drug cartels and how the various law enforcement agencies work together on both sides of the border. Without his knowledge and help my books wouldn’t be half as realistic and error-free (any errors or omissions having to do with guns, explosives, or anything remotely resembling law enforcement operations are all mine).
The same goes for the Leine Basso novels. A good friend of mine and her husband are retired detectives from Los Angeles and they’ve been invaluable in keeping the books true to life. I’ve interviewed other law enforcement personnel, soldiers, trainers, SEALs, you name it—along with some folks that I probably shouldn’t have. For me, learning what these people do and how they’d handle hypotheticals is one of the most enjoyable aspects of being a writer.
I’m glad you are one of the authors who does her homework. Thank you for being here and giving us the chance to get to know you a bit. If you ever want to come back with more news, or just to chat about something (you could be a Guest Blogger) holler and I’ll find you a spot.
I’d like to ask the readers at this point if they ever get put off when they read a book and tiny details aren’t right, or do you just ignore them and read on?
As a treat I’d like to offer the readers a sample of the book and wonder if after reading that they are curious enough to go and get it?
The stench of decay rose from the unforgiving mattress as I shifted to a sitting position. My breath caught as sharp pain lanced through my body from the effort. I ran my hands over my torso, checking for injuries.
Good, no blood.
The watery gray light from a high window covered in metal bars illuminated the block walls that formed my prison. Musty air gave way to a whiff of mold and mildew, reminding me of an old flooded cellar. The thugs who brought me here had masks over their faces and smelled of stale cerveza and garlic, a familiar and unwelcome aroma.
Judging by what I saw in the short trip from the cargo van to the hulking concrete building, I was somewhere in the tropics. Dieffenbachia and philodendron grew in wild profusion while aggressive vines climbed stately royal palms, choking the life out of them. The air oozed damp.
How the hell did you wind up here, Kate? Abduction wasn’t an entirely foreign event in my life, it’s just that it hadn’t happened in a while. Groggy from drugs and a vomit-inducing flight tied up in the back of a Cessna, pictures of a woman with short, blonde hair and familiar green eyes skated through my mind. Tired and disoriented, I couldn’t catch and hold the images to remember her name.
That didn’t stop the incipient panic sliding up my throat.
Footsteps broke through the fog in my brain and a curious cockroach I’d been watching disappeared through a hole in the bricks. I wished I could make myself that small and follow it, but it appeared my fairy godmother had taken the day off.
Not that she would have been much help. Hell, if changing my name, address, daily routines, and hair color didn’t make me disappear, then nothing would.
The sound of a key springing the lock echoed through the room. The door’s hinges creaked and I tensed, waiting to see who or what would emerge, working to combat the fear slithering up my spine. I tried to take a deep breath but couldn’t.
Hyperventilating is annoying that way.
Sunlight blazed into the room as the silhouette of a man stepped through the doorway.
The word came out as a deep grunt and matched the man who uttered it. Short and stocky with a deep scowl and no neck, his suave demeanor told me he probably wasn’t the resort director.
Although, the AK-47 in his hands might have been the clincher.
I rolled off the bed and limped out the door in front of him. The rough handling I’d received on the way to wherever I now found myself hadn’t exactly helped with my beauty regimen. It’s not like there’d been padding in the cargo area of the plane, which I could have used about half-way into the trip when we hit heavy turbulence. I could’ve also used an airsick bag, but that’s beside the point. Kidnappers R Us wasn’t known for their customer service.
It was early morning, judging by the sound of the birds and the lack of mosquitoes. Even though the sodden air clung to my clothes, the day’s heat hadn’t yet bullied its way through the relative coolness. We crunched along a gravel path, neither of us speaking. Palm trees dotted the landscape, interspersed with out-of-control tropical plants. The shriek of a howler monkey serrated the air. A couple of low block buildings with red tile roofs peeked through the vegetation.
We rounded a bend in the path and came upon a concrete drive lined with palms nestled in terracotta pots leading to a huge Spanish-style hacienda. The kind where an old colonial family had decided to recycle the current occupant’s building material for their own, whether a sacred temple or an ancient marketplace. The massive veranda spread across the entire front of the hacienda. Gleaming white marble steps climbed upward to meet an open doorway flanked by two wrought-iron chandeliers. Every few feet, a security camera dotted the roofline.
Evidently, this was the home of a wealthy and paranoid family. Judging by my guard’s use of Spanish and the surrounding vegetation we were somewhere in Latin America. My heart did a half-gainer into my stomach, wiping out any semblance of denial from which I might have been working. January in Siberia would have been preferable.
My talkative guard prodded me up the steps with his machine gun and I complied, hands cold and sweating, my heart racing past us, not waiting for me to catch up. I wondered how long I’d been unconscious from the drugs. By the taste in my mouth and the emptiness of my stomach, I’d guess quite a while.
We reached the top of the stairs and continued through a breezeway to an ornately carved desk with matching chair. A computer monitor rested on its surface, alongside a telephone and radio. Several more security cameras rested atop the ancient bricks in strategic locations.
“Stop,” he muttered as he keyed the mike. “We’re here,” he growled into the radio.
We waited in silence. His raspy breathing, too loud against the worn white bricks of the terrace walls, grated on my already frazzled nerves. A fly buzzed my face, trying to land; I slapped it away. My guard stiffened and repositioned his gun.
I decided to restrict sudden movements.
The radio crackled and a disembodied voice ordered us to proceed. The guard pushed me to the right, down another set of steps that opened onto a lush inner courtyard surrounded by a walkway. In one corner stood a three-tier fountain flanked by royal palms and verdant vegetation. Two peacocks strutted nearby, jabbing at the ground for insects. Parrots and cockatoos created a riot of sound that ricocheted through the courtyard and out into the dense jungle surrounding us.
We turned right along the walkway and continued until we came to another section of the sprawling home that jutted out like the short end of an ‘L’. Framed by large windows and even larger foliage, the French doors reflected the two of us as we approached, making it difficult to see inside. An armed guard dressed in dull green military fatigues stood to one side. His eyes flicked over me once before he snapped back to attention. We stopped and waited.
Memories from a few days ago decided at that precise moment to come flooding back.
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DV Berkom can be followed, befriended, and kept under surveillance at:
Facebook, Twitter, her website, blog, on Pinterest, and her Amazon Author Pages in the US and UK.
I have read and reviewed this book. Loved it and will read it again at some point in time.
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