Please welcome guest author DV Berkom to our question and answer session today. She’s a fellow member of the Guppy Chapter of Sisters in Crime. She describes herself as impatient, determined, involved, passionate, and kind. Her writing is action-packed, kickass, contemporary, exciting, and about truth. I’m wondering how she’s going to decide her third guest, have the contenders shoot rock, paper, scissors?
You have a table for four at your favorite restaurant and can invite any three people, living, dead or fictional. Who are your guests (and why) and where are you eating (and why)?
Only 3? Ack. Okay, how about war correspondent Martha Gellhorn for advice on writing and to hear some great war stories, Dorothy Parker for her wit and sarcasm, and, although I’m not particularly religious, either Jesus or the Buddha for their insight into spirituality and modern life. The restaurant would be outside of a crumbling villa in Umbria on a warm spring day, with copious amounts of fabulous Italian food and wine…because Italy.
What makes a great short story?
Pacing, and the ability to cut out everything except the most essential information and still have a complete story with character arc and a compelling narrative.
What is your most productive time of the day (and do you need caffeine)?
Morning, and yes, I most definitely require caffeine. Lots of caffeine.
How many books do you read in a typical month? Do you read in your genre while you are writing? What’s your most recent “great” book?
I usually read 3 or 4 thrillers a month, combined with a non-fiction and maybe a historical, so about 5-6. It’s been a long while since I’ve read a book that knocked my socks off, although I thoroughly enjoyed Tim Hallinan’s Poke Rafferty character and plan to read more of his work. I have become quite a bit more circumspect in my praise since becoming a writer. I’ve tried reading the big bestsellers and have been underwhelmed, especially the more recent novels incorporating unreliable narrators. Just not my type of main character, I guess.
What themes do you regularly employ in your writing?
Redemption, empowerment, fighting injustice, and family. The main theme that keeps cropping up for me deals with empowering women to take care of themselves, to stop allowing anyone to victimize them. I feel strongly about people (not just women) taking the reins in their lives and making choices that empower, rather than diminish them. That being said, I also strongly advocate an action-packed, kickass read where good almost always triumphs over evil J
What motivates you to write?
What doesn’t? Seriously, though, all I have to do is read the headlines and something will piss me off enough to want to write a book. If I’m passionate about an issue, then I know my interest will be sustained over the course of writing the novel. If I get bored writing about something, then I assume it will bore the reader, and that’s never good.
Cargo is the result of reading an article about ivory poaching in Tanzania, and how several groups are working to stop it. Anywhere from 25-65 elephants are killed per day for their ivory, and it’s conceivable that at that rate, elephants could be extinct in this century. As if that wasn’t enough to piss a person off, during the course of researching the book I also discovered several other practices that exploit wildlife, such as tiger and lion bone wine (apparently it’s used for medicinal purposes), and canned lion hunts (where a human-habituated lion is stuck in a pen with anywhere from 2-5 “hunters” with rifles who have paid upwards of $40k for the opportunity).
Another shocker was learning that the body parts of albino children are thought to be “magical” and have, among other properties, the ability to ensure a successful election for the purchaser. There are documented cases of albino children being murdered in Tanzania for just that reason.
Pissed off yet?
What motivates your protagonist (if not a series, then use the protagonist of your most recent novel)? What influenced who they are today?
Leine Basso is a former assassin who decided to quit the life after her boss used her for a job he shouldn’t have. Although she was an assassin who only took out the bad guys, throughout the series the guilt from killing so many drives her to find a way to make up for her past profession and become the mother she wants to be in the eyes of her daughter. In Bad Traffick, the second novel in the series, she finds herself working for an anti-trafficking agency, which ticks all the boxes for her—she’s able to use her considerable talents to look for the victims of human trafficking, as well as fight bad guys when they get in the way.
To find out more about DV Berkom and her writing, check out her website: http://www.dvberkom.com And while you are at it, here’s a teaser for Cargo:
Money—the universal merchant. Anyone can be bought, anyone can be sold.
Haunted by memories of an op gone bad, former assassin Leine Basso travels to Bangkok in search of a missing backpacker. With help from an old contact, she discovers the man responsible for the girl’s disappearance is connected to a violent Hong Kong triad and is the linchpin of an extensive trafficking network—both animal and human. Making enemies isn’t new for Leine, but making one in the triad is—she soon finds herself a prisoner onboard a cargo ship headed for sub-Saharan Africa. To ensure her survival and to continue her hunt for the missing girl, she must join forces with Derek, an ivory poacher who promises to help her.
For a price.