Destination Mystery Interview

Wow. This year has really flown by, hasn’t it? It’s been a busy and productive year, though, and I couldn’t be happier about that. However, 2017 isn’t over yet, and I’m pleased to share that I’ve done one final interview before the new year.

The wonderful and lovely Laura Brennan hosted me on her fantastic podcast, Destination Mystery. I had so much fun chatting with her, and I hope you’ll give it a listen!

Talk Nerdy to Me Podcast

A huge thank you to the fine folks at the Talk Nerdy to Me podcast for having me on this week’s episode. We chatted about many cool things, including my writing process, the wacky world of professional wrestling, how Mass Effect fan-fiction became the basis for my next novel, and so much more!

Check it out below, or download wherever you get your podcast fix. If you’re in a rush, my interview segment comes on at 1:13:10.

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Interview on Hyrule Hyrulia

My sincerest thanks to Ashley Barry at Hyrule Hyrulia for the opportunity to chat! Ashley is a wonderful writer, and it was an honor to speak with her about our writing projects, my day job at BioWare, and of course, the video games we’ve come to know and love! Final Fantasy fans in particular are sure to enjoy listening to us gush about the franchise for a considerable chunk of the interview. 🙂

Check it out here:

Designing a Book Cover: Meet Eve F.

I’m just going to say it: I suck at art direction. While I’m able to visualize my created worlds in great detail, I’m utter crap when it comes to visualizing book covers. Many writers love having that level of creative control, but me, I know my limits, and feel quite relieved handing over the reins to someone more qualified.

Although I try to add input during the cover creation process, a professional designer possesses an eye for art that I lack. I’ve worked with many designers over the years, and haven’t been disappointed yet. However, after five years, the time has come to freshen up the look of my books going forward, and I’ve found just the right person.

Allow me to introduce you to Eve F., an extremely talented graphic designer from Germany. Working with Eve has been a collaboration in the truest sense, as we’ve spent hours upon hours together discussing ideas and reviewing concepts (thank all that’s holy for her unbelievable patience). She is the ultra-gifted mastermind behind the cover for my latest release Dollhouse, but it won’t be the last project we’ll work on together. More on that at another time. 🙂

So, without further ado, let’s get to know Eve:

[DAVIDHULEGAARD.COM]: To start things off, tell everybody where you’re from.

[EVE F.]: I’m originally from near Stuttgart, Germany, but now I’m based closer to Frankfurt.

[DH.COM]: When did you first discover that you had artistic ability?

[EVE F.]: I’ve been drawing for as long as I can remember. I haven’t always been good at it, but my interest in drawing and painting kept me practicing and continuing over the years. When I finally got my first drawing tablet in my early teenage years, there wasn’t much doubt about my passion for art anymore.

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[DH.COM]: Can you remember the first thing you ever drew?

[EVE F.]: I don’t remember my very first drawings anymore, but there’s one noteworthy example from my past I still remember. When I was in kindergarten, the kids in my group were painting a picture of a green field with the sky above. Everyone else painted the sky as a blue line on the very top of the paper, but I made the effort of filling in the entire paper except for the green floor. That is how it was in real life, so I painted it like that, and I remember being a little bit sad that not everyone would do it like that.

[DH.COM]: What are some of your favorite objects or scenes to illustrate?

[EVE F.]: Characters, people, creatures; mostly from the fantasy genre. These categories have been my focus for years now. When it comes to objects, I prefer metallic, reflective materials (like armor) or leather (like armor as well). In general, I enjoy painting pictures that challenge me, and make me learn and improve in the process. Considering that, there’s probably nothing I don’t enjoy drawing.

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[DH.COM]: How did you come up with the cover concept for Dollhouse?

[EVE F.]: Sometimes I come up with good ideas right before falling asleep—that odd state in-between conscious and unconscious. I always keep a pen and paper right next to my bed in case I come up with something during the night. That is exactly what happened the night I read the story, and went to bed some hours after.

Mental images of Dollhouse kept occupying my mind until I hit the point where I came up with the idea, which I then scribbled down, half-asleep. The next morning, I didn’t even remember having done that until I stepped on a bell on a string–which I use to play with my cat–and apparently she had carried it into my bedroom. When I heard the ring of that tiny bell, I had one of those “Oh, yeah, I remember!” moments. I instantly started working on the cover.


[DH.COM]: Some people have mentioned being pretty freaked out by the cover. Did creating it give you any bad dreams?

[EVE F.]: I didn’t have any bad dreams. In fact, quite the opposite happened. It made falling asleep very hard for me. The male mannequin in particular popped into my head occasionally when I closed my eyes, which then had me wide awake every time.

[DH.COM]: Was Dollhouse your first book cover?

[EVE F.]: Yes. I’ve made a couple of music-CD covers before, and some story illustrations, but this is my first real book cover.

[DH.COM]: Did you enjoy the collaboration process with a writer?

[EVE F.]: Yes, a lot! Working with Dave has been very pleasant and uncomplicated. In general, it felt like we’ve been on the same page for the entirety of the process, from start to finish.

[DH.COM]: Where can people see more of your work?

[EVE F.]: The best ways to find more of my work are my tumblr page, my deviantart page, and my website. I haven’t been as active lately as I’d like, due to starting a new job, but that will change once I’ve settled into my new environment.

Interview: David K. Hulegaard & Tony Healey Talk Playlist

Release day is finally here! After months of collaboration, authors Tony Healey and David K. Hulegaard have unleashed volumes 1 & 2 of the Playlist series upon the world. In the interview below, Tony and David talk about the series, what readers can expect, and why David secretly thinks Tony is a jerk.


What is the concept behind Playlist?

[TONY HEALEY]: Dave and I are both heavily influenced by the music we listen to, so when it came to discussing what we’d collaborate on, it was sort of a no-brainer to bring music into it. Our two pieces, Dark Beyond the Blue and City of Night, use music as their inspiration. If not for their plot, then the emotions or general mood behind them. It’s all quite interesting, and I don’t think it’s been done before that I’m aware of.

[DAVID HULEGAARD]: Tony deserves all the credit on this one. I remember pitching him a few ideas for a collaborative project, and he came back with one of his own; something he’d been chewing on that combined his love of writing and music. As an avid music lover myself, it took me all of about three seconds to get on board with his vision.

Music is always playing in the background when I write, and I’d never stopped to think about how it influenced my work. This project allowed me that opportunity, and I realized that I absolutely do feed off of the emotion the artists put into their sound. The whole concept was pretty eye-opening for me.

How did this collaborative effort come together?

[TH]: Dave was already published when I started with my first short story, and he’s given me support and acknowledgement from the very beginning. I have had the fortune of falling in with a very fine crowd, and am proud to call people like Dave my friends. I don’t know about him, but I call it destiny that we worked on a project together. I wouldn’t be surprised if we write a novel together some day. I’m serious about that.

[DH]: I’ve been wanting to work with Tony for the last couple of years, but the jerk had to go on and become a best-selling author without me! 🙂 In all seriousness, though, I’ve always felt Tony and I are literary kindred spirits, and that we could create something memorable if given the opportunity to work together.

Playlist is not our first attempt, mind you. We’ve discussed other projects in the past that never got off the ground, and to be honest, I’m glad. Although I have no doubt we would’ve written something entertaining together, I’m more confident today than I was yesterday, and this project captures me at my very best. Perhaps we’ll have to collaborate again in a couple of years when I inevitably feel different. 🙂

What was the inspiration behind each of your volumes?

[TH]: We tried to work together in the past, and nothing came of it. We were both too busy, the idea fell apart, etc etc. We still wanted to collaborate on something, though. A few months ago, Dave and I started firing emails back and forth, throwing ideas around, and as these things go, we came up with the concept behind Playlist.

[DH]: Specific to Dark Beyond the Blue, I listened to Hammock on repeat. Hammock is a Nashville-based duo of the most talented songwriters I’ve ever heard. Ambient, post-rock, space rock, shoegazer music—whatever you want to call it—it’s nothing short of breathtaking.

Pitchfork once called Hammock’s albums “intensely visual music,” and I can’t think of a more fitting description. When I listen to them, full scenes play out in my mind’s eye with amazing clarity and detail. All of the stories in this collection were inspired by my emotional connection to the music.

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Is there a particular theme to each volume?

[TH]: City of Night is about the past: moving on from it, returning to it years later, and accepting it for what it is. In the case of my main character, it’s about how he locks the beast in the basement and realizes he has to let it loose again.

[DH]: Dark Beyond the Blue examines why we should never take anyone at face value. It’s in our nature to conceal certain elements of our existence from others—even those we’re closest to. These are usually secrets that fill us with shame, guilt, embarrassment, and various other emotions that can often leave us feeling conflicted. With that in mind, can you ever truly know someone other than yourself?

Although the stories in my volume aren’t directly connected, each digs beneath the surface of its characters to expose the real person inside, and I had a lot of fun doing it.

What can readers expect from Playlist?

[TH]: Something different. And cool. And a recommendation for five songs from each of us that will stir their soul, and move their heart. At least, we hope . . .

[DH]: I tried to explore a wide range of human emotion, from anger and sadness to apathy and regret. My hope is that readers will find traces in each story that they can relate to, even if it makes them a little uncomfortable at times. A couple of my beta readers confessed being moved to tears by the end, and I can’t think of a better compliment than that.

Of course, you’ll also find my signature brand of both traditional and dark humor, as well as my love of playing around in a speculative fiction sandbox. Oh, and one of these stories is actually a prequel for an upcoming full-length novel, but I’m not ready to tell which one just yet. 🙂

What do you like best about David’s work, Tony?

[TH]: He has a vision that’s all his own, and he has the strength and balls to follow his work through to the end. There were many times while writing Noble he could have gone the full commercial route and wrote your average thriller, but what he has with his trilogy is something unique. Each of the three books is different, but connected by the overall plot. I love that it’s not what you expect, and that he’s totally comfortable in doing whatever the hell he wants which, of course, is badass.

Something a lot of readers might not know is that Dave initially published Noble (book 1) without editing, and that when he realized every book needs a good editor he pulled it from Amazon, worked with his editor to bring it up to scratch, then reissued it. That’s his dedication not only to the craft, but to his readers. We’re all on this learning curve. We all make the odd hiccup here and there. The best of us are doing what Dave did. We’re learning by our mistakes in the beginning, putting the time and energy (and money) into something we’re passionate about, and really putting the best books out there that we can.

What about you, David? What do you like best about Tony’s work?

[DH]: Tony is a literary chameleon. His writing style is so captivating that he can explore any genre he chooses and deliver a quality story every time. When I first met him, his wheelhouse was epic space opera, but he also dabbled a bit in horror. Somewhere along the way he picked up elements of romance, which led to the only conclusion that made sense: hardcore alien sex stories. 🙂

All kidding aside, I am such a fan of Tony’s work, including my personal favorites: The Fallen Crown series and Dead Pretty. Of course, Tony is so prolific, that it’s entirely possible he published a new book while you were reading this interview. That may sound like a joke, but Past Dark literally went on sale as I answered these questions.

Any final thoughts?

[DH]: You should totally go get both Playlist volumes right now! You won’t be disappointed.

Magnificent Guns of Seneca 6 Review & Author Interview

Available now for Kindle
By comparison to life on Seneca 6, the old West depicted on the silver screen is about as wild as a kindergarten class dancing around the maple pole. The denizens on this ol’ mining rock are facing a rise in outlaw related activity, and the impending revolt of the planet’s native people. The townsfolk need a lawman. A man that won’t turn yellow in the face of danger. Sheriff Jem Clayton has faced insurmountable odds before–even lived to tell the tale–but something sinister is a’brewin’… something that not even Jem will be able to face alone.

Through the eyes of author Bernard Shaffer, the world of Seneca 6 has been greatly expanded upon in this follow-up novel, and Schaffer invites you to come play in his sandbox while his masterpiece unfolds around you.

As with all of Schaffer’s works, the reader will be able to count on two things: 1. Unparalleled character development. Each character’s path through the story is chronicled in meticulous detail, showcasing a broad range of emotion that is easy for the reader to feel. 2. Perfect pacing. Whether writing a flashback scene to flesh out the backstory, or carefully sprinkling hints at impending doom, Schaffer insures that the reader can sense something big lurking right around the corner.

Magnificent Guns of Seneca 6 is everything that a sequel should be. It’s bigger, badder, and packs one hell of a wallop! It’s somehow both new and familiar all at the same time. Fans of the first book will enjoy getting to see their old favorites return, while also becoming attached to the newbies stepping into the spotlight to shine.

Also, for new readers looking to take a chance on the series, this book is a completely stand-alone adventure, meaning that knowledge of the first book isn’t required, but encouraged.

The best thing about this series is that you don’t have to be a fan of Westerns to enjoy it. At the end of the day, it all boils down to the story, and with this book Schaffer has written something truly, well, magnificent.

Interview with Magnificent Guns of Seneca 6 author Bernard Schaffer

Thanks for stopping by during this exciting time to talk to us about your new book, Magnificent Guns of Seneca 6. First of all, congratulations! How are you feeling?

David, thank you for having me back. Congratulations to you as well. One of the best things about the Kindle All-Stars is that the core group of people involved have stuck together and evolved. I’m proud of you for all your hard work this year.

I feel good. I’m really looking forward to releasing this book. It’s strange to love something you create, not as a product but as a place. I write about Seneca 6 because in my heart, I wish it were real. Someday I’d like to ask JK Rowling if she felt depressed every time she finished one of the Potter books. I always feel bummed out when I have to leave.

Readers might remember from earlier interviews that you’re always working on multiple projects at the same time. How long had you been working on MGoS6?

I officially started work on it April 30, 2012. I only know that because Word says that’s when I created the file. I have earlier notes that go back to last year.

Upon the completion of Guns of Seneca 6, how long did it take before ideas for a sequel started coming to you?

Probably right away, but not many of them got used. I needed time to let everything gel into a coherent story. The ideas rolled in like trains and I’d greet them at the station and dutifully record whatever they were carrying. Eventually, I figured it all out.

So, Magnificent takes place a year following the events of the first book. Give us a quick overview of what’s happening in Seneca 6.

Guns ended with Jem Clayton taking over for his father as the Sheriff. Jem is a pretty badass character and as I sat down to write about him being in his office, all these little townsfolk kept coming in to bug him with their petty grievances. As I wrote it I realized that Jem would be thinking the same thing I am. “Get me the hell out of here.”

Ultimately, Magnificent Guns of Seneca 6 is about following our own destiny. Jem starts off as a Sheriff because he thinks it’s what he’s supposed to do. Haeinwa’tha goes off on a quest because it’s what he’s expected to do. Ultimately, their interpretations of their “perceived destinies” is what gets them into trouble.

If I had to describe this book in one word, it would be “scope.” There’s a lot going on in Seneca 6 and a large cast of characters in motion. Was expanding its figurative universe a conscious decision going in, or did it just sort of develop that way as you went along?

I realized early on that Seneca as a planet is much bigger than one little settlement. Look at Earth. We’ve got arctic regions, deserts, rain forests and more. Life of all different varieties exists everywhere you look. You can see drastic change just by jumping in your car and driving for a little while. Seneca is a lot more remote than we are, but I have yet to fully explore it in my mind. Who really knows what lies beyond the wasteland?

That being said I wanted to fully develop the area we’re focused on. I wanted to explain exactly who the Beothuk are as a rich and varied people of multiple tribes, much like our own Native Americans.

I also liked the idea of bringing Bob Ford back. In the first book, he’s pretty much a patsy for Jem’s Gentleman Jim. Something that gets thrown away. I wanted to explore what happens when you throw someone away and they come back.

In the original Guns of Seneca 6, Jem Clayton was the clear lead character. In Magnificent, it appears as though Seneca 6 itself has become the real star. Talk about what you learned from writing the first book and how that played into your creative process with the sequel.

Each of the characters was already a living, breathing thing by the second book. If you notice, I didn’t introduce anybody we’ve already met. There’s no preface. If you’re reading Magnificent Guns, I assume you already know whats going on. We just get down to business.

Speaking of your creative process, is it different for each series that you write? With Whitechapel, you maintained a painstakingly detailed timeline on a whiteboard next to your desk. With Superbia, you were able to draw from your own personal experience on the force. How does Bernard Schaffer prepare for a book rooted almost entirely in fiction?

It’s by far the easiest because I can just let fly. The Whitechapel books are difficult because they are constrained by reality. Timelines, vernacular, anachronism, all must be considered. Not always followed, as some of my British reviewers so kindly pointed out, but yes, considered.

Superbia is more a case of saying, “All right, I know what happened. A whole bunch of other people know what happened. How do I tell the story but tweak it enough to keep it interesting and fictional?”

For the Guns books, I just need to be in the mood. I included my Guns iPod playlist in the Acknowledgments section to pay homage to the songs that kept my fires going.

Guns of Seneca 6 was described by many reviewers as a steampunk/western hybrid with elements of science fiction. MGoS6, while still steampunk, appears to have left the sci-fi elements behind in favor of a more traditional Wild West flavor. Did you find that your influences varied a bit between the two books?

It was more of keeping the story consistent with who the people in the story are. The stars of this book don’t really have access to too much technology, so it doesn’t play that big of a role. And generally, when they do get their hands on some, it goes badly.

Readers got a taste of the native people of Seneca 6’s culture in the first book, but the Beothuk are at the heart of the story in Magnificent. Giving life to that culture, including language, must have been exhausting. How did you go about its creation?

I’ve spent an ample amount of time with Native Americans. My old partner is a Seminole, and through him I’ve been exposed to their culture in ways that I could never have imagined. Anything you see about the Beothuk in the Guns series begins with what I believe to be true about the American Indian. Most of the language in the books derive from Native American words, including the names of the main Natives who are based on real people.

The seed for the Beothuk involvement with this story began a long time ago with one of my mother’s friends.
It’s a common joke among Natives that every white person they meet has a grandmother who was a Cherokee princess. I’ve seen it happen.

My mother’s friend is kind of daffy, I mean, she’s a sweetie and would do anything for you, but you understand what I mean. So, long story short, I was telling her how we’d just gotten back from a powwow and her eyes kind of glazed over. “Those are my people,” she said. “All of my life I’ve felt a special connection to them and have visions of being one of them. I bet if I went to a powwow and TOLD them that, they would take me in as one of their own.” Yeah. Because the Native Americans have nothing better to do than adopt needy old white ladies, right?

History has really done a grave disservice to the American Indian. We’ve turned them into some sort of fairy tale. I suppose that’s better than the Scary Red Injun John Wayne preferred, but I’m not so sure all this post-Dances With Woves/ casino wealth myth is any better. Ask any average American if people are lucky to be Native American. I bet they say yes. I bet they say all Natives got rich off casinos. Meanwhile poverty, unemployment, and substance abuse is running rampant on most reservations. Christ, I sound like Marlon Brando. I can’t apologize for it though. It’s a serious issue.

Your ability to create rich, entertaining characters is well-documented. Readers always have a hard time identifying their favorites. What about you? Is there a personal favorite for you within MGoS6?

I love Sam Clayton. It’s one of those things because I killed him off so early in the first book but he just looms over everything. I’m still not done writing about Sam, though. Or Tom Masters, for that matter.

The other character I adore is Bug. It’s funny but I call them their nicknames in my head. To me, he’ll always be Bug, the daredevil child doing tricks on the back of his destrier.

Since you love to bury hidden references within your books, any hints to the readers as to what area of knowledge they should brush up on in preparation?

I think anyone who knows the history of the Old West is going to love the books. For the people who don’t, they are in for a treat because the Western genre is as deep as any other. If someone reads Guns and decides to watch “The Wild Bunch” or go read a Ron Hansen book, I did my job. If they go to a powwow and experience Native culture (without, somehow, managing to tell everyone about their Cherokee princess relative) then it’s a win.

I certainly didn’t invent the Western, or the sci-fi Western, or Steampunk Western. I’m just doing my part to carry on the tradition.

Without spoiling anything for the reader, I will just say that you’ve certainly left enough slack at the end of this book to pick up later. Are you already thinking about a third Seneca 6 book somewhere down the road?

A few people have called Magnificent Guns my Empire Strikes Back. I can promise you two things. One, the Guns of Seneca 6 will return. Two, it won’t have any Ewoks or music numbers.

You’ve got an amazing Superbia series. You’ve got an amazing Seneca 6 series. You’ve got amazing collections of short stories. You’ve talked about your impending return to Whitechapel, but you’ve been unusually quiet as of late about your upcoming plans. So, what’s next for Bernard Schaffer?

I learned earlier this year that I needed to shut my trap about my plans. Nobody cares what you say you will do. It’s what you finish and deliver that counts. From here on out, I’m only discussing projects that are definite.

Each series has its own audience, and my goal is to make every release from now on a major event.
I feel like my writing is only growing stronger and I want to bring that to Superbia 3 and Whitechapel 2. If you liked what came before, find something to hold onto because I’m not swinging for the fences anymore. I’m trying to put it out of the stadium.

For more information about Bernard Schaffer, please visit his official website

Superbia Review & Interview With Bernard Schaffer

Bernard Schaffer's Superbia. $2.99 on Kindle.
This is going to be the shortest review that I’ve ever written for a book. Why? Because I don’t want to waste precious time that you could be using to read this book.

There are so many things that I want to say about Superbia, but I truly believe that the best way to experience it is to go into it cold. That’s the way I experienced it. From being a fan of the author, I knew roughly what it was about, but when I began to read, it could not have been any further from my initial expectation.

Hands down, Schaffer is the very best independent author I have ever read. I buy his books with confidence knowing that I’m going to get a quality read. With Superbia, Schaffer has taken his game to an entirely new level. It’s obvious from the first pages of the book that he is very close to the subject matter, and that he’s speaking straight from the heart. He presents the reader with an opportunity to peek behind the curtain of real police work. It’s gritty and hard to stomach at parts, but when it’s over, I can close the book. I can’t even imagine what it’s like to face that kind of evil every day.

You have probably read a police procedural or detective story before. You have never read one like this. Schaffer’s story is dark, intelligent, eye-opening, and if you can believe it, funny. Superbia is somehow both the most somber and hilarious book Schaffer has ever written. I’ve already read it twice and I’m ready to go back again.

I have read all of this author’s books, and Superbia is my new favorite by a wide margin. If I had any criticism to offer at all, it’s that I have no idea how he’s going to top it, but I can’t wait to watch him try.

Q & A with Superbia author, Bernard Schaffer

Welcome back and thanks for dropping by! Let me start off by congratulating you on the release of not one, but two publications over the past few weeks. My God, man, when do you sleep? I feel like I should be warning Sarah Connor about you.

I appreciate the opportunity, David. The question about when I sleep and how fast I write has come up often lately. People who are balancing jobs and families seem mystified at how quickly I write and release products.

I wrote like this when there was no Kindle. I wrote like this when agents and small press magazines were laughing at me.

SUPERBIA is a project that you have been talking about for a long time. You and I touched on it briefly during your last visit to the site. Of all the projects swimming around in your head, why did SUPERBIA rise to the top? Why now?

No matter what book I released, people around me would say, “That’s nice, but when are you going to write a cop book?”

I was afraid to write SUPERBIA. I couldn’t see what they saw. Plus, I was still struggling with the belief that I would be a police officer for the next fifteen years or so. I knew that to really write it, I would have to let go of that belief because the consequences would be potentially disastrous to my career.

SUPERBIA is obviously a very personal story. Was it difficult reliving some of these moments over again for the book?

No. What was difficult was trying to describe them in ways that would not make their source immediately apparent. I know what really happened. I needed to bend the entire story enough that no one could come back and connect reality to fiction, but still resonate.

You have said that SUPERBIA might be the book that ends your police career. Have you shared the book with anyone on the force? If so, what has been their reaction?

I’ve told several people about the book, and heard back from one already. His quote, I believe was, “This was no shot across the bow. This was a direct hit from the Battleship New Jersey.”

Without giving anything away, talk about the book’s ties to Greek mythology. What inspired that pairing?

Completely accidental. I kept struggling with Vic’s last name, doing “Replace All” in the manuscript multiple times, until finally it occurred to me to make it something meaningful. After that, the rest seemed obvious.

Anyone who follows you on Twitter knows that the real-life Bernard Schaffer is often a humorous and jovial guy. As an author, your subject matter rarely lends itself to comedy, but SUPERBIA is surprisingly laugh-out-loud funny at times. Did you base the relationship between Frank and Vic off of real life experience?

I’m doing very limited press for this book, David, but since you’ve been so good to me, I’ll tell you something funny that no one else knows.

SUPERBIA did not turn out the way I originally intended it. I meant it to be my “Beach Read” book, a la John Locke. I read his book How I SOLD 1 MILLION EBOOKS IN 5 MONTHS! and the part about his writing style annoyed me. I think he said it was heavy on dialogue, light on description, and that he didn’t exert much effort.

My reaction was, “Shit, I can do that with my eyes closed.” I sat down and wrote out a few scenes between Vic and Frank that focused on dialogue, getting their back-and-forth conversational style down. Then, the monster kicked in.

I first encountered the monster during GUNS OF SENECA 6. After WHITECHAPEL, I was trying to write a lighthearted little sci-fi western to show people I can do more than just explicit gore, and these psychopathic cannibal hillbillies showed up. I sat there staring at my computer screen like, “You can’t be serious. Don’t EAT THAT GUY.” But they did.

The turning point for SUPERBIA came toward the end of the first draft when I realized what Vic’s fate was. I don’t mean decided, I mean realized. Here I was, motoring along, writing my cute little cop buddy book and it was like someone slammed a gavel down and said, “Vic Ajax is going to XXXX XXXXXXX.”

I was absolutely horrified. Pissed off. I couldn’t sleep.

In that one fell swoop, my funny beach read became a major work. Once you’re faced with that, you can’t back down. I am not sure how many MAJOR WORKS the universe gives you, but when it does, you better be ready.

I know that a magician never reveals his secrets, but I’ve got to know: The bit about the poster-sized African American penis. Please tell me that was based off of a real event. I had tears pouring down my face after that.

The ENTIRE book is fictional. Honest. I swear to God. (If you read the book, I’m hoping you pick up on that one.)

As a policeman, was it difficult to toe the line between authenticity and protecting sensitive information when writing this book? Not just in the crime stories, but also in describing what happens behind the station’s doors?

That was the hardest part of all. I don’t want to give people the impression that I wrote a different book about my real life experiences and then modified it to create SUPERBIA.

If I told you all of the bizarre things that have happened to me during the course of my career, it wouldn’t be readable. It would seem like I was just being outrageous. I grew up as a cop’s kid, and have spent my adult life in police work. Believe me, I’ve got stories out the wazoo.

The trick was to create a fictional world, with fictional characters, who experience real things.
Like a good friend of mine said, “If anybody complains about what they read in the book, they are basically admitting that’s how they act. They won’t make a peep.”

I can’t talk much about this without giving away plot spoilers, but I am very curious to know about the backstory involving the “Truth Rabbit.” I got the feeling that it could have been a tall tale used to spook the rookies, but it also sounded bizarre enough to be true.

The Truth Rabbit is a mythical beast that once reportedly roamed the basements of Philadelphia Police Districts. He’s an urban legend. That’s all I’m allowed to say.

When writing WHITECHAPEL, you talked about how listening to Morrissey for inspiration played a huge part in your process. Did you look to a specific playlist for inspiration for SUPERBIA?

I did, especially once I came to that division bell of the book turning from Beach Read to Major Work. It took me some time to absorb the ramifications of the story, and I relied on Chris Cornell and Hank Williams III to help me understand what it meant. Specifically, “Cleaning My Gun” from Chris’s Songbook LP and “#5” from Hank 3’s Rebel Within album.

Based on the early reviews, how do you feel about the warm reception SUPERBIA is getting?

Grateful. It’s like bringing your girlfriend home to meet your family, and when she goes to the bathroom, they all say, “She’s a winner. Where did a bum like you find her?”

I believe those were my parent’s exact words when they met my fiancée. So, was there any part of you that was concerned that your readers might not “get” your book?

I sent the second draft of the book out to five beta readers. Three of them got back to me immediately and put me to work right away. I sat down and started making adjustments and rewriting the manuscript.

Two of them waited until the last minute to tell me they’d only had time to read half of it and disliked certain things. One said she thought the “weird names were distracting.”

That’s a gut check when you have already finished the book and ready to release it. I stuck to my instincts and people have had no problem figuring out the “weird names.” Thank God.

Are you at all worried about SUPERBIA becoming the measuring stick for which all your future books are judged, or are you looking forward to the challenge of one-upping yourself?

You know, it never crossed my mind until reader reviews started making it an issue. I never set out to write “My Greatest Book” with SUPERBIA. I was just telling a story.

Once you become concerned with the formula for success, it’s over. I’ve been bitten on the ass by too many authors who thought they could crank out another book in a series just to take my money. I’d probably be making a lot more cash if I just wrote just one series. The problem is, I have more to say than that.

You’ve been talking lately about your ambitious plans for 2012: Publishing four books and earning over a million dollars. That seems like a lot of pressure for one writer to put on himself. Care to divulge your strategy?

Write hard and well. So far, so good.

Let’s talk a little bit about your agenda for this year. One of the books on your slate is WHITECHAPEL 2, which surprised me a little bit. What prompted you to revisit this series?

I miss the characters when I’m not spending time with them. Little things remind me of them, like old lovers. Take WHITECHAPEL. It might be a Morrissey song, or a commercial for the new Sherlock Holmes movie. I’ll start thinking about my characters and wondering what they’re up to.

With WHITECHAPEL, I did an enormous amount of research into the times and crimes of London’s East End during that period. One thing that always bothered me was that Scotland Yard missed something incredibly important.

They had a second serial killer at work right under their noses, but were so consumed with Jack the Ripper that they missed him.

WHITECHAPEL 2: INSPECTOR LESTRADE AND THE TORSO KILLER is going to correct that. The Torso Killer has been getting a free ride for over a century. Gerard Lestrade is back on the job, folks. He’s got a little something special planned for the one that got away.

In all the times we’ve spoken, I can’t recall you ever mentioning THE WIDOW SWORD, which is another book you’ve targeted for release. How about a quick overview?

The original WIDOW SWORD manuscript predates WHITECHAPEL, written before anything like Kindle existed. It was too short for me to send to an agent, and I mothballed it. Recently, I was going through some of my older work and found the book. When I started reading it, I was happily surprised at what I saw and decided to try and make a go of it.

The story is a sword and sorcery romp, where a Viking goes off on a journey to rescue his son from an evil sorceress. It’s my next Beach Read. Honest. I swear to God.

I, as I’m sure many of your fans are, am excited to see a sequel to GUNS OF SENECA 6 popping up on your radar. Have you given much thought as to where the sequel will take our favorite characters, or is that one still a ways off?

It is a work in progress. I’m still accumulating ideas for it. All you really need for any book is a decent starting point. I tend to write in spurts, working on multiple projects at the same time, until one really takes hold and everything else comes to a halt.

I love the world of Seneca 6. It is as different and interesting to me as the world of Whitechapel, but in a completely different way. Kind of like my kids. They aren’t alike at all, but I dig them both unendingly.

And lastly, there’s CODEX LEICESTER, which you’ve announced will be a collection of short stories similar to WOMEN AND OTHER MONSTERS. How’s that progressing?

Believe it or not, CODEX LEICESTER almost came out before SUPERBIA. I finished ANCIENT RITUALS and took a hard look at all the material that is finished for CODEX, and was tempted to just finish it. I created a cover and everything. What held me back was the third Sean Price (Agent Omega) story. CODEX LEICESTER won’t be ready until that piece is finished, and I’m not ready to write it yet. At the end of the day, SUPERBIA won.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the Kindle All-Stars project. After the successful launch of RESISTANCE FRONT last month, you are now offering professional editing and marketing services to indie authors under that same umbrella. Give me your best pitch!

There are a wide assortment of services available to authors out there now. God only knows what they’ll be getting for their hard earned money. I want to offer them a full service package that guarantees a professional looking product that is marketed correctly. It’s expensive, I realize that, but anyone who signs up with us is going to get the same attention I put into one of my own projects. I’m pretty sure no one would argue with my results.

You know everyone is asking, so let’s close this interview out with a little KAS 2 discussion. The clues are live on your website, and from what I hear, a few people have already cracked your code. So, that begs the question: If there is a KAS 2 coming, when are you letting the cat out of the bag?

A few people have applied themselves and come up with the correct answer. There will definitely be a KAS 2, but before we get there, we’re focused on a release for Laurie is hard at work assembling the right team for that project. KAS 2 will just have to wait for now. People need to keep checking the website.

Ah, well. Can’t blame a guy for trying, right?

Wouldn’t have it any other way.

Bernard, as always, it’s been a pleasure to talk books with you. I wish you nothing but continued success and hope to see you here again soon. The door is always open to you!

David, you’ve been with me from the very beginning, and I don’t intend on that ever changing. Thank you so much for the chance to come back.

Interview: Laurie Laliberte

Working with all the fantastic people that comprise the Kindle All-Stars project was like a dream come true for me. As a new writer, in the professional sense, it’s intimidating trying to get “out there,” and even after a full year of doing it I still don’t always know where I’m going. A lot of time as an independent author is spent waiting for the next opportunity to come along. Anthologies are a great place for an unknown writer to land and show off their work.

What I realized while getting to know some of the other authors involved with this project is that there are some amazing people out there that deserve to be more well-known than they are. Though I am proud of the work I have done, let’s be honest, I’m still a little unseasoned. It becomes painfully apparent when I read the words of people like Richard Roberts, Natasha Whearity, Tony Healy, Courtney Cantrell, and William Vitka. I talk to them and interact with them on Twitter daily. Not only are they incredibly talented writers, but they are friendly, pleasant, and always happy to discuss our craft. Imagine my surprise to find that the majority of these writers have less than 100 followers on Twitter. That’s just not right.

Sure, the Kindle All-Stars project has some big names attached to it, but you already know them. Who you don’t know is Laurie Laliberte. As hard as everyone worked to make this project become a reality, no one was more essential to its release than Laurie. She started out just like the rest of us—an aspiring writer looking for an outlet to share her story. But before it was all said and done, Laurie became the backbone of the entire project and earned a lifetime of respect from every person involved.

Why? How? I thought it would be best to let Laurie tell you in her own words. It’s my pleasure to have her as a guest on my blog today. Not only is Laurie my contemporary, but she’s also a dear friend. I am proud to know her, and it’s my honor to introduce her to you.

What was it that first attracted you to the Kindle All-Stars project?

I got involved for a purely selfish reason: my desire to publish. In my defense, I got involved with this whole project a day or two before Bernard made the decision to donate the proceeds to charity and I wholeheartedly embraced that idea. My KAS story is my first published fiction piece. I figured I’d take a chance and send Bernard my manuscript. I was in shock when I got the email back telling me he loved my story “except…” then the editing began.

You have two pieces of work featured in the book, but let’s start with your short story, “Fear of the Dark.” Why did you choose this story for your submission?

“Fear of the Dark” was one of those pieces that’s sat, literally, for years. Every so often I’d pull out the manuscript, give it a quick once-over, maybe tweak it a little and then tuck it away again. It’s similar to the way I’ve always handled my resume, whether I’m job hunting or not: I keep it up to date just in case I need it. I published “Fear of the Dark” on my blog earlier this year (under the title “Prey”) and it was the one piece in my fiction arsenal that I knew was closest to publication-ready. Additionally, it’s a story I’ve always loved and the one I’ve most wanted to see published.

I pulled “Prey” when I submitted it, but its sister piece, “Predator,” is still on my blog in pretty rough condition.

Most of the authors featured in this book that I’ve spoken to have all mentioned the edited process as their biggest challenge. What was it like for you?

Yeah, because I got on board so early in the project, I’ve had the opportunity to see Bernard Schaffer in action, both as a writer and an editor. He’s a tough editor, but he’s even tougher on himself. That said, I found Bernard’s editing process very easy. Most of the authors with whom I’ve spoken would not say that. I’m my own worst critic. I was also blessed with a few teachers in high school and in college who were terrific writers and extremely demanding editors, so I developed a very thick skin when it comes to my writing being critiqued by others. No amount of constructive criticism can bring me down. It simply motivates me to improve. I actually said to one of my college professors, “Stop telling me what’s right. Tell me what’s wrong so I can fix it.” That was the last college course I took.

My biggest editing challenge was leaving the story alone. After it went through its final edit, I closed the file and swore I wouldn’t look at it again. About a month later, I sent the file to a buddy, another KAS author. I reread it then, absolutely hated it, and ended up completely rewriting and resubmitting it. I’m really glad I did because I’m thrilled with the final product.

Would you describe yourself as a perfectionist or a tinkerer when it comes to finalizing your work?

I am most definitely a perfectionist, a control freak. Until I began working with Bernard, I wasn’t much of a tinkerer. Once I get a first draft down and have a direction set in my mind, I don’t really mess with it a whole lot. I take that piece or premise and expand it to get it “just so.” The benefit of working with an editor like Bernard, who is such a good writer in his own right, is that he helped me see what else could be done with this story and then set me loose with a different mindset than I originally brought to the project. He reminded me that, when it comes to writing, your only limitation is yourself and I was limiting myself. I think I was too close to this piece and rather than letting go and letting the story develop, I was holding it close and smothering it a little. Once I loosened my grip, I found the story had such potential and that’s when it really blossomed. It was emotionally draining at first, but now I’m so glad I did it because it’s definitely the best piece of fiction I’ve written to date.

What does “Fear of the Dark” mean to you personally?

Wow, first the obvious: I’m terrified of the dark. I’m not as bad as I once was, but that fear is still there. I had a LOT of nightmares as a kid, but the one that scared me the most, that I carried into adulthood, is the one that’s described in the story. I still have that nightmare occasionally. I no longer live alone, but when I did, I had night lights in almost every room of my apartment.

“Fear of the Dark,” as a project, is about me embracing, owning, and then letting go of my fears. It was really therapeutic for me. Of course, you’d have to know me to get that from reading the story.

When you first began work on your story, were there any real life elements that wound up sneaking their way in?

The biggest part of the story, the walk home from the bus stop in the dark, was the inspiration. The thought that kept me from losing my grip on my way home that night was, “I’ve got to absorb every detail, because when I get home I have to write this down.” I think I wrote the first draft the next day in all of an hour.

Every major element in the story came from my real life experiences: my own fear of the dark, the nightmare, the upstairs neighbor, even the magazine article mentioned in the story. They weren’t all presented as they occurred in real life, but they all came from real places. Even Antonio answering the door in nothing but his boxers. There’s so much of me in this story that when discussing it with my friend David Hulegaard after it was done, I told you I felt “skinned and gutted” by it.

How would you describe “Fear of the Dark” to a new reader about to sink their teeth into it?

A woman steps off a bus to find herself in the middle of a blackout. The story takes you with her on her trip home… and just a bit further. It’s written in the third person, but it’s very much a stream of consciousness story line that bounces a bit in the way that your mind would wander on a walk in the dark.

Your second piece in the book is a short essay called “We are All-Stars.” What has this project meant to you?

I really haven’t stopped to let myself think about that too much because every time I do I get completely overwhelmed. I mean, how many first time authors can say their work is appearing next to two living legends, their favorite living author, and a group of writers who’ve become very close online friends? How many people have the good fortune to recognize that they’re potentially making history? It’s just too much for me to process. Ask me five years from now and I’ll be able to answer that question, but I can’t right now because I don’t even know. This Project has the potential to literally change lives. It’s already changed mine.

How did you get from Laurie Laliberte, author of “Fear of the Dark,” to Kindle All-Stars second-in-command, La Consigliera?

Divine Providence? Dumb luck? Karma? Fate? Call it what you want to call it, it all boils down to being in the right place at the right time and answering the right tweet.

The morning after I got Bernard’s email telling me my story was officially part of the project, he tweeted that he was trying to put together a team to handle publicity. I responded. He told me to contact his point person, and we’d work from there. With 20 years in retail and a few years running my own online business, I had plenty of experience selling and dealing with social media. That, and Bernard and I just clicked. I like to think we’ve become friends. I went from offering a few suggestions about handling interviews and twitter to running interference right down the line. My biggest problem is that I have a difficult time saying no to certain people, and Bernard is a person to whom everybody has a difficult time saying no, so dealing with him in that respect is like a double whammy for me. There’s only one thing he’s asked of me that I refused and it’s more a postponement than a flat out no.

Incidentally, the nickname “la Consigliera” came about because Bernard was asked in an interview to describe my role in the KAS. He said he was the Don but I was the Consigliere, the one you really had to watch out for. Smart man.

Do you have any favorite stories in the anthology that you’re hoping readers will home in on?

That’s a tough one because I really don’t want to play favorites, but I do have a few I really love. Out of fairness, I’d rather not name names.

Bernard sent me a handful of pieces to read because we were getting close to the wire and asked me to vote yes or no on them. One in particular blew me away. I emailed him with the writer’s name and a note that said, “If I have to, I’ll fight you to the death to make sure this piece gets in.” Another made me sob when I read it the first time; one infuriated me; one made me laugh hysterically. A few have gotten under my skin to the point that I absolutely had to read more of each author’s work. I think our readers will react in a similar manner. Every piece in this book has merit and deserves to be a part of this anthology. And I think every writer will find new fans when all is said and done.

Now that you’ve had a taste of this whole book publishing process, what’s next for you? Will you write more stories?

I will continue to write; I would anyway, but this whole thing has really rekindled my love of writing fiction. I’ve got about a zillion ideas rattling around in my brain right now. One of which I really want to pursue either as a novel or a series of novellas. However, I’ve found, through all of this that I really enjoy the proofreading/editing/publicity angle, so I’m planning on continuing that as well. I’ve already been doing that for a couple of years, just not with fiction writing specifically.

Looking back, what would you say was your favorite part of being involved with this project?

The learning experience would have to be my first because I’ve learned so much in such a short amount of time. But I wouldn’t change any of it. I’ve met so many people, forged friendships, working relationships, possible partnerships. I tweeted a few days ago that the toughest part for me will be not being in touch with Bernard every day. Yeah, it’s not going to be easy for me when we’re done here. I don’t even want to think about it. My mantra through all of this has been a line from Buffy the Vampire Slayer: “Fire bad. Tree pretty.”


Laurie’s Webpage: Big Girl Blog

Laurie’s Kindle All-Stars Webpage: KAS Presents: Laurie Laliberte

Author Interview: Jesi Lea Ryan

I am pleased to welcome fellow author Jesi Lea Ryan to my blog today! Jesi Lea Ryan was born and raised in the Mississippi River town of Dubuque, Iowa. She graduated from Loras College with degrees in Creative Writing and Literature, and is now working on her MBA. She currently lives with her husband in Madison, Wisconsin. In addition to her debut novel, Four Thousand Miles, she has published several short stories and maintains a book blog.

[DAVID K. HULEGAARD]: It’s been almost a year since your debut novel, Four Thousand Miles, was published. Looking back on it now, what do you remember the most about that experience?

[JESI LEA RYAN]: I loved the day my book was finally for sale. I had been working on this book for a long time, and to have my family and friends be able to read my work was incredible. I loved going online and seeing it listed for sale. I was such a nerd that I kept going back and looking at the listing!

[DKH]: What prompted you to choose England as the setting for the story? Was it somewhere you’d been personally that stuck with you?

[JLR]: I have always loved English history and culture, but the real inspiration came when I stayed at Elvey Farm in Kent. This place was so beautiful and romantic that I never wanted to go home again. Obviously, it isn’t possible for me to just abandon my life in the States like that, so I did the next best thing. I created a character that spontaneously moved to a B&B in rural Kent.

[DKH]: Did you have to do any extensive research in order to keep your story authentic to the English?

[JLR]: The single most vital thing for me as far as research was actually having visited all of the places in the book in person. I don’t think I would have felt confident to even attempt writing a story set some place without having that first-hand knowledge. In fact, the only place in the book that I haven’t been to was Herrod’s Department Store. I wrestled with whether to include it or not just for that reason. What I ended up doing was watching YouTube videos posted by tourists so I could experience it vicariously.

Other than my personal experiences, I used the internet extensively. Some of my searches involved learning Scottish slang, how to restore a 500 year old barn, and just about every Rob Pattinson interview available on YouTube (He was my inspiration for the character of Gavin.)

[DKH]: Once an idea enters your head, describe your process from conception to publishing.

[JLR]: Writing for me always begins with day dreaming. I have a vivid and emotional imagination. This allows me to visualize scenes, hear the voices, and flesh out details long before I sit down in front of a computer. When I get to the point of writing, I usually have a good idea of who the characters are and what the main action of the story is, even if I don’t quite know how it will end.

With Four Thousand Miles, I attempted to attract an agent for several months with no luck. Then, I decided to pitch my book directly to an editor while at the Romantic Times Convention last summer. Jean Watkins, the editor at DCL Publications liked my idea and offered me a contract. DCL was extremely easy to work with.

[DKH]: In addition to being a writer yourself, you also run a blog featuring other authors and book reviews. Talk a little bit about “Diary of a Bibliophile?”

[JLR]: The blog started because I love to talk with people about the books I read. Unfortunately, I don’t know anyone who reads as much as I do. I think I average about 150 to 200 books a year. So, I thought I would start doing book reviews. When I started, I didn’t think about the exposure I was giving to the authors, I just did it for fun. After I began promoting my own work, I discovered how important reviews are for authors to sell their work. That’s when I began also posting author interviews. I don’t get a lot of comments on my blog, but I get plenty of hits. I think the lack of comments is more a result of “BloggerFail” than anything else.

[DKH]: Do you feel that it is important for authors to band together and help each other out, or do you tend to view other authors as competition?

[JLR]: It is absolutely important for authors to support each other. When it comes down to it, we are not in competition with each other, at least not in any measurable way. Most readers read many books in a year, not just one. So if they have to choose between two interesting novels, it’s easy for them to go back and pick up the other later. I really think writers need to band together to encourage more reading in general. This will help all of us to sell more books. Not to mention, reading is so beneficial to developing well-rounded people.

[DKH]: Was there any advice in particular that you received prior to writing your first novel that really helped you?

[JLR]: I don’t think I could have got through the publishing process without Twitter. I’m serious. I went into this not even knowing what a query letter was, much less how to write one. Other writers on Twitter have been helpful every step of the way. It also connected me with my writing partner, a few beta readers, many book reviewers, and some local writers. When people tell me they want to begin writing professionally, I always tell them their first step should be to get on Twitter and connect with the writing community.

[DKH]: As a young writer, sometimes dealing with that first negative review can be a crushing blow to your confidence. How did your first negative review impact you?

[JLR]: I have a really thick skin. I was an insurance underwriter for many years. You have to be tough when you are canceling people’s insurance policies. They love to call you up screaming. 🙂

As far as reviews go, my reviews for Four Thousand Miles have been really good. The piece that I’ve had the most difficulty with is a short story that I wrote called Delia Boobelia. Childhood bullying has been in the news a lot this last year. When I was growing up, puberty hit me early and hard. Having an adult body at eleven years old was not only uncomfortable, but I was brutally harassed. I decided to write a story where I took my childhood and exaggerated it in order to show how cruel people can be to these young women. I knew that my topic was controversial, so I didn’t even bother trying to submit it anywhere. Instead I self-published it and crossed my fingers.

As I expected, people either loved it or hated it. I heard from several women who could relate to my character and her plight. Others completely missed the point and had strong negative emotional reactions. I think because I expected this before I put the story out there, the negative reviews didn’t bother me that much.

[DKH]: As if writing and blogging weren’t already time consuming enough, what is your involvement with Miricor Publishing?

[JLR]: Miricor is a side project involving myself and my friend Tori. So many writers want to enter self-publishing, but either don’t know where to start or they make poor decisions which result in bad product. I read a lot of self-published work and honestly, there are some wonderful ideas which fail because the author did not have professional editing. Tori and I want to help writers to self-publish by offering a la carte services such as the editing, proof-reading and formatting help a publisher would give them, but for a fixed price so that the author can maximize their royalties. If anyone is curious about the services we offer, they can check us out at .

[DKH]: So you’re certainly a busy woman these days! What can your readers look forward to up ahead on the writing front?

[JLR]: I just finished a young adult, paranormal romance that I will start shopping out in the next month or so. I also have a couple of romances started that I will be dusting off here soon. I’m also in the home stretch with completing my Masters degree, so I’m sure much of my writing time will be spent on term papers!

Thank you, David for hosting me today!

[DKH]: Thanks for stopping by! It was a pleasure to chat with you!

Buy Jesi Lea Ryan’s books on Kindle or Smashwords

Check out Jesi Lea Ryan’s blog, Diary of a Bibliophile