Today I’m very lucky to be interviewing Denise J Bryson the author of the bestselling book “In The Footsteps of a Killer”
Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
Hi DJ thanks so much for having me it’s a pleasure and I appreciate you asking me to be here. Well let’s see, I was born and raised in Detroit, MI. A lifer here in the “D” I guess since I have no plans on moving. I have 2 sisters, two brothers, two nephews and one niece. I went to Marygrove College where I graduated with a 3.3 GPA. I currently work as a Flight Attendant for a major airline and I am a huge Detroit Redwing Hockey fan.
What were you like at school?
I was a sneaky nerd. I was book smart and a smart aleck. I used to sit in the back of class and tell jokes under my breath so the teacher wouldn’t hear me and then when the kids around me started laughing out loud they would get in trouble and try to blame me. The teacher never believed them I always looked so innocent. I used to lead the other kids and then sit back and watch what would happen. They still liked me I don’t know why…lol
Were you good at English?
Lord no. I hated English, too many rules. What I discover instead was drama class. I was only supposed to be able to trade off one semester but I ended up being so good that the teacher requested that I continue to take drama. She need my acting skills for her plays and I was all about it.
What are your ambitions for your writing career?
I would love to see my books in libraries, in book stores, in people hands. I would like for my writing to become my sole source of income. How cool would it be to make a movie about In The Footsteps of a Killer?
Which writers inspire you?
I’m inspired by the classic writers like Robert R. McCammon, Edgar Allen Poe, Bram Stoker and then there’s Stephen King, Dean Koontz and I have read others outside of my genre. But in general I’m a horror nut and well a nut don’t fall to far from the tree.
So, what have you written?
(*Include books, novellas, short stories, poems, blogs, awards or anything of interest.)
In chronological order there is Dark Reflections, A thru Zack, The Last Cattle Round up, A Thing Called Evil in a short story collection called Creative Differences A Collection of Inventive Stories and my current In The Footsteps of a Killer. All of these titles can be found at amazon.com.
Where can we buy or see them? (* include American, European and any other relevant links. Free, free promotions or prices can be included)
They can mostly be found on Lulupress.com but with the exception of “A Thing Called Evil a short story in Creative Difference A collection of Inventive Stories and In The Footsteps of a Killer” they can be found on Amazom.com “In The Footsteps of a Killer” is also available for download at amazon. http://ow.ly/zMU3302aGPz
The link to receive a paper copy of “In The Footsteps of a Killer” is paypal.me/artisticwordspub/14.95
Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special?
Leah Moore is a Detroit girl, who has seen her share of crime through the lenses of her camera and not much gets to her. The special thing about her is that she has a direct connection with a dead serial killer. Albert Cain Macarthur, the two of them communicate in her dreams and because of his deal with the Devil he has come back to kill.
What are you working on at the minute?
I’m working on the sequel. Through the Eyes of a Killer. Leah and Albert meet up once again and this time Albert has a better deal with the Devil. He’s been given a rare second chance to get it right. He however has instructions not to go near Leah but he of course has other plans. He wants Leah dead and even if he has to cross the Devil again he will kill her.
What’s it about? (*if relevant)
Albert has gotten a rare second chance from the Devil and he is given extra help to aid in achieving his goal as long as he stays away from Leah. Which of course he can’t do, his main goal is to kill her.
What genre are your books?
I write paranormal horror and thrillers.
What draws you to this genre?
Sitting with my Mom watching all the classic horror movies. Dracula, Frankenstein, Werewolf, Mummy reading the books she read. How could a kid be afraid of watching scary movies and reading scary books when you’re doing it with Mom? I don’t know what drew her to that genre but me being her little sidekick is what drew me to it.
Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book?
There are so many new talented young women of color now it’s hard to choose. But I could see someone like Thadie Newton, or a Halle Berry type. Someone who is not only pretty but smart and can-do action and make it look easy.
How much research do you do?
Many of my books start in my imagination and dreams. I typically will dream a story almost like I’m at the movies watching. But I sometimes have to do research. I look for if things like what I want to write about have ever happened before. I look at things like hauntings, haunted places and objects. I look to see what paranormal hunters are coming across. Doing research for something that may or may not be real is challenging but interesting.
Have you written any other novels in collaboration with other writers?
Yes I collaborated with some other fine Authors in Creative Differences A Collection of Inventive Stories that are still available at amazon.com.
Why did you do decide to collaborate and did that affect your sales?
The collection was created as an introduction tool for myself, the other authors and Artistic Words Publishing.
When did you decide to become a writer?
I think writing decided for me back when I was twenty or so. I always dream stories and well they just don’t stop until I write them down.
Why do you write?
I love it. I’m compelled to it. It owns me…lol. My Mom was a huge horror fan and now I write for her as well.
What made you decide to sit down and actually start something?
Mom was a huge horror fan. An avid and voracious reader. She also had her own supply of great story ideas. We were supposed to sit down together and get our writing on. She had this one story and she actually started it but never finished and sadly I don’t remember it now
Do you write full-time or part-time?
Unfortunately, due to my full-time job I have to write full time in my off time. My job takes me away from home for days at a time and while I’m able to write once I get there in the time that I’m on the airplane I’m unable to break out my computer. I can on my work break and often times I do but most time the break in only an hour and since I fly international I need that time to actually take a break and rest.
Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?
No, I really don’t have a special time I just try to write all the time. When I’m home I like to sleep. When I do get up its somewhere around 8. I make some coffee and maybe some toast. I watch the early news then I sit and start. I usually hit the social media sites to see what happening. I post something interesting about my book or something related to me to inform the readers then I get to the writing.
Do you write every day, 5 days a week or as and when?
I’d like to be able to write every day but I have a full-time job that takes up my time days at a time. I’m also not one of those who wakes up before the sun and gets it in, this girl likes to sleep.
Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day?
I write until I am satisfied. I don’t limit myself or restrict myself to a specific word count or page number. Some days I may only have a few pages or a few words and I don’t want to stress myself out trying to adhere to a goal. I suppose the more I get into this as a career that will change but for now, no. And knowing me if I did set some type of goal I would sit all day until I reached it and then re-read later and not like what I wrote.
Do you write on a typewriter, computer, dictate or longhand?
I started out long hand on a legal pad. Then from there a typewriter until a computer nerd friend of mine put together a desk top for me to use. I eventually brought a laptop and that changed my life. An interesting story. When I had my typewriter, a Brothers, it had a handle. I would carry it to work with me and type on my layovers. So here I was in places like Germany, London and along with my three suitcases I had a typewriter. Now that was an adventure.
Where do the your ideas come from?
I dream most of my story ideas. They can come to me out of the blue. I remember once on a flight we had a little down time and I was having a snack and a short story idea came to me. I wrote it down, later transferred it to my computer read it out loud for some friends to a rousing round of applause. Mostly however they come to me in dreams. I have to sometimes decide whether or not to write a dream because I didn’t like what happened in it. It seemed to come from a darker place then where I wanted to go.
Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?
I mostly write by the seat of my pants. But I discover that when I don’t have a good grasp on where I want it to go an outline is very helpful. I am using an outline with my sequel and it really is helping me to keep thighs on track. I think I’ll be using one from now on
How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?
I think it’s still evolving. As I move along this road called writer I can see things in some of my earlier writing that I can improve on. Not necessarily grammar or English stuff but in what I wrote as a story. I can see where my creative mind is now always thinking, how can I make this seem real, how can I cause this to happen.
What is the hardest thing about writing?
The self-discipline that it takes to get up sit down and write. Once I’m down I’m good. I can write for hours. But sometimes planting myself in that chair takes a minute.
What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?
Well my book is about a serial killer. Typically, in his crazy world of our women and children fall prey to that type of killer. So, writing about the killing of the women was the hardest part. I had to tell myself that while there were women dying there was also a woman who was gonna fight this killer.
What is the easiest thing about writing?
Is there an easy part?…lol. Pretty much once I have a story idea the actual writing of the story is easy.
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
It depends. My first one took me twenty years. The others between eight and eleven months. In The Footsteps of a Killer took a little over a year. I’ve been working at the sequel for just about a year. My short stories take a few days, sometimes less.
Do you ever get writer’s Block?
I have in the past when I doubted that I was a writer. Not as much now. Then when I do get it, I just get up from the computer take a walk or pick up a book that’s not horror and sort of take my mind away from what I’m working on at the time.
Any tips on how to get through the dreaded writer’s block?
Take a walk, read a different genre book, take a drive anything that helps you clear your mind and don’t stress. Then slowly start with writing a word or two unrelated to your story, then maybe a sentence. Then look and see if what you wrote fits anywhere in your story. Chances are something will and then there ya go.
If this book is part of a series, tell us a little about it?
In The Footsteps of a Killer is about a young woman who is mentally connected to a dead serial killer by means of an electrical shock. She watches him in her dreams as he kills and is the only person on earth who can stop him. The sequel called Through the Eye’s of a Killer which starts right where “In The Footsteps of a Killer” leaves off and it places the heroine back in the sight of the killer, who this time wants her dead.
What are your thoughts on writing a book series.
They can be fun. They can also be challenging. The fun is coming back to familiar characters. It’s like visiting a friend and having a cup of coffee to catch up. It’s challenging because now you have to take that friend and place them into some new situation or as in my books some new terror. Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors.
For your own reading, do you prefer e-books or traditional paper/hard back books?
I read a little less than I used to only because I’m trying to get these two off the ground. But When I do I read Stephen King, Dean Koontz, John Saul. I’m a traditional paper girl. It was what Mom read. I sit at my computer all day when I’m able so a real book is a welcome change.
What book/s are you reading at present?
I started one by Lorretta R Walls called The English Family, something a little different than my genre.
Do you proofread/edit all your own books or do you get someone to do that for you?
I do proof read but with Artistic Words Publishing I have an editor as well. Carla Dean. That lack of proper English education because I was in drama class instead makes me a perfect candidate. If I didn’t have an editor I sure would pay for one.
Do you let the book stew – leave it for a month and then come back to it to edit?
I like that analogy, stew…lol. Yeah I do so that I can look at it with fresh eyes and read it like a book and not my book.
Who edited your book and how did you select him/her?
When I signed on with Artistic Words Publishing I signed with the best. Carla Dean is the publisher/editor and she does a wonderful job at both.
Tell us about the cover/s and how it/they came about.
Once again Artistic Words Publishing came through for me with that. They asked me about what I though and I told them and they came up with something I hadn’t even dreamed of and it was perfect.
Who designed your book cover/s?
Artistic Words Publishing.
Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the buying process?
Yes, most definitely, it’s the cover that first catches the eye. A good cover should represent what’s on the books inside and give the potential reader that feeling of “hey what’s this book about”.
How are you publishing this book and why? (*e.g. Indie, traditional or both)
I went traditional because I’m old fashion and I think that I should leave it up to the professional.
What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around?
The main advantage for me was that I don’t know the business of “Books” And make no mistake writing is a business. I am learning along the way but I didn’t want to learn and write at the same time. I enjoy the interaction with AWP and appreciate their care for my career and all the work they put into my book.
How do you market your books?
Right now, I am working with Artistic Words Publishing and we are using social media as well as doing the traditional book signings at places in and around Detroit.
Why did you choose this route?
Social media is what’s moving things right now.
Would you or do you use a PR agency?
Sure, I would use one if Artistic Words Publishing wanted me too.
Do you have any advice for other authors on how to market their books?
No, I’m still learning, I’d like to know what they are doing to market.
What part of your writing time do you devote to marketing your book?
Sometimes it seems that’s all I do…lol. I try to do it a day at a time. If I get up and start writing the next day I’ll get up and do some promoting and marketing.
What do you do to get book reviews?
I ask all my readers to leave one. I have been looking into some review services
How successful has your quest for reviews been so far?
A little slow but you just have to keep plugging along.
Do you have a strategy for finding reviewers?
I didn’t know you could have a strategy for that.
What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews?
Good reviews tell you what you did right, bad reviews tell you what you did wrong. By. that I mean a good one means that you’ve pleased the reader the book took them where they wanted to go. A bad one means that somewhere along the road you missed the mark. The reader didn’t connect and you need to find out why so that you can write the next one better and maybe get that reader back. You want them to come back and say “now Ok that’s what I wanted to see.’
Any amusing story about marketing books that happened to you?
I really don’t have one I haven’t been at this long enough. I do have a story about selling one to a friend in the Netherlands. The book is 14.95 she hands me an American twenty and the looks at the conversion chart and then say I owe you still. lol
What’s your views on social media for marketing?
Social media is effective but I’d also like to use other means, after all what did we do before social media. We paid for advertising, word of mouth and things like that. I’m attempting to take advantage of those ways as well.
Which social network worked best for you?
Right now Facebook seems to be working the best. But I am on twitter, LinkedIn, Youtube and a few others.
Any tips on what to do and what not to do?
I would say stay consist. People are on social media at different time. If you post in the morning only people who sleep through the day because of a midnight job might miss it and vise verse. Post often and post a lot. I get behind sometimes because of my job and weird sleep schedule, when I’m not on it Artistic Words Publishing is and they will post something. Then send me a little reminder that I need to get something out there.
Did you do a press release, Goodreads book launch or anything else to promote your work and did it work?
I did use a press release and I am on Goodreads. They both were very effective in helping to get the word out that my book was available.
Did you get interviewed by local press/radio for your book launch?
No unfortunately not yet, I have however sent my book to some local celebrities to read, as well as a guy in Boston who use to be a soap star. And I have sent request to some local stations here in Detroit. I also plan to invite them to my book signings.
Is there any marketing technique you used that had an immediate impact on your sales figures?
No as I mentioned I’m still new to the game and haven’t got all the bugs worked out yet. Ask me that again a year from now I should have a better answer.
Did you make any marketing mistakes or is there anything you would avoid in future?
I just think that before I start for the next one I will look for other outlets to get the word out there. Social media is good but like I said books were sold, promoted and marketed long before the media. I’d like to use every avenue available.
Why do you think that other well written books just don’t sell?
Maybe lack of confidence, lack of true dedication meaning you have to get out there and get it done. I know before I signed with Artistic Words Publishing I doubted my abilities and the ladies were like “Girl please, you can write” Maybe a lack of knowledge as well. I know I have learned a lot and I’m still learning. The internet is a great tool that some people just may not have access to.
What do you think of “trailers” for books?
Yes, I love book trailers. Mine is way cool. And why not? We are visual creatures and if a book trailer is done well it will peak your interest and it could lead your book to a movie.
Do you have a trailer or do you intend to create one for your own book/s?
(* please provide a link to trailer if you have one)
I do indeed have one here is the link. It’s on Youtube https://youtu.be/daX0xcQZ83c it was created by Kim Perdue-Sims.
Do you think that giving books away free works and why?
I think it does but it depends on who you give them to. You can give one to your Uncle and he will appreciate it but he may not pass it on to someone who could help your sales. If you give it to a college professor and he may pass it on to his class as an assignment and who knows who knows who.
Did you format your own book?
No, I don’t, Artistic Words Publishing takes care of all the making of the book. I just wrote it…lol. No that’s where my publishing company comes into to play which is another reason why I chose to go traditional.
In what formats is your book available?
It is available in e book form … http://ow.ly/zMU3302aGPz and you can get it in paper at paypal.me/artisticwordspub/14.95
If formatted by someone else, how did you select them and what was your experience?
My ladies at Artistic Words Publishing take care of all that technical book work for me. Its good to have peeps.
How do you relax?
Exactally what is that? Lol. Between working my food job (flying) and my dream job (Writing) I find that when I relax I’m in a bed calling it a night. When I fly I do manage to squeeze in a happy hour here and there. I usually have a beer or two then it’s back to my room to finish off something. Writing another chapter or posting a link to my book or looking for something book related to help increase sales.
What is your favourite motivational phrase.
Still I Rise by the simply fabulous Maya Angelou. Yeah, I got oil wells pumping in my living room…
What is your favorite positive saying?
I like that poster with the little kitty and the words that say, “Hang in there baby”.
What is your favorite book and why?
My book cause I wrote it…lol…No seriously my favorite book is Swan Song which is a 1987 horror novel by Robert R McCammon.. It’s a work of post-apocalyptic fiction describing the aftermath of a nuclear war that provokes an evolution in humankind. And a little girl was the hero. Perhaps the first female hero I had ever read about.
What is your favourite quote?
My Mom used to say about the weather when we wanted to go out in January without coats because we had one warm day, “It ain’t soup yet”.
What is your favourite film and why?
The Star Wars stories, there are so many hidden messages in those movies. Every time I watch one I see something different.
Where can you see yourself in 5 years time?
In 5 years I’d like to see myself not working for the airline but sitting at my desk cranking out the next great scary novel. I’d like to see a movie or two made from my stories. I’d like to see Artistic Words Publishing in full on Author/book making famous mode. I’d like to see my books on the shelves with my literary heroes King, Koontz and the like.
What is your favourite movie and why?
A girl’s gotta take a break from all things scary. My favorite movie is Somewhere in Time. I guess it’s border line ghost movie but it’s such a beautiful portrayal of love and how love withstand all. Along that line What Dreams May Come is also my favorite because not only doe sit show how strong love, true love is it touches on what Heaven could be like. And how love can save you even in death. Again, I guess border line ghost story…lol.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
I would tell that little girl who skipped English for drama, don’t do it! Go to English and learn. Take writing classes in college, learn all you can about writing and the business of writing. Learn about publishing and the business of books. Learn about promotion and marketing and then you may be ready to write
Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why?
I think I’d like to meet Vincent Price. He was my horror hero. He could change his face and your blood would run cold. I even heard that for the most part he never used make up to achieve some of the looks of horror that his face showed. His voice could be smooth and melodic and then cold and menacing all in the same movie. Sometimes in the same scene!
If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why?
I would like to have authored Bram Stoker’s Dracula. That was the first true horror novel that I had ever heard of. I never actually had the pleasure of reading it, it’s on my bucket list but it spawned so many great movies.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Write. Write. Write. You can never go wrong. The written word when read or spoken has power but it has to be written to be read or spoken. Study your craft. Learn all you can about writing and the business of writing.
Where do you see publishing going in the future?
I don’t see anything replacing the “publisher” there is so much to this business I see more people who are gonna want to know about it and then decide to leave the real work to the professionals.
Is there anything else you would like to add that I haven’t included?
Oh, lets see… I’m a firm believer in holding on to your dreams. I think that people who dream and attempt to make that dream come true are exceptional people. And I don’t mean one dream. I had many dreams, I still do. You can have different ones but the trick is if you don’t try to achieve it you will never know if you were supposed to do it. I believe that everything I have experienced in life I was meant to experience. God knows you before you are named by your parents. He knows what path you will walk and He will help you along the way if you let Him. Of course, there are many who fall off the path and well that’s sad. Then there are many who know the path but are afraid. Then there are those who know the path, are fearless and walk that path.
How can readers discover more about you and you work?
Amazon Author Page: amazon.com/author/oneblackrose.webstarts.com
Book Links: (* American, UK, etc.) paypal.me/artisticwordspub/14.95