with D.A. Bale
We are delighted to welcome novelist D.A. Bale to Omnimystery News today, courtesy of Tribute Books, which is coordinating her current book tour. We encourage you to visit all of the participating host sites; you can find her schedule here. Tribute Books is also giving our readers a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card or PayPal cash; details and entry form, below.
D.A.'s latest suspense thriller is Running into the Darkness (D.A. Bale, October 2011 ebook formats), and we recently had a chance to talk to her about the book.
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Omnimystery News: Running into the Darkness is subtitled as Book One of the Deepest Darkness Series. What prompted you to write a suspense series?
Photo provided courtesy of
D.A. Bale: For me, it's more a matter of story complexity. When I set out to write Running into the Darkness, it was never intended as a series, but the more I got into the storyline, the more I realized it was too complex to entertain just one book. Thus a series was born!
OMN: Did you come up with a plot outline first, then decide whether or not it is more suitable for a series character?
DAB: I wish! I'd get a lot more written in a year if I did an outline, that's for sure. However, the writing process is very organic for me. I always know the overall story arc, the beginning and end, but then I leave room for the characters to “talk” to me and layer the story with secondary characters and subplots to give it a deeper and richer flavor. Only one time have I ever attempted writing from an outline, and it was a disaster. The process felt completely constricting. I stopped writing for awhile, eventually scraped everything I had and started from scratch. That's so hard for me to do as a writer — throw away months and sometimes years of work. I'd almost rather have my eyes clawed out. Very frustrating!
OMN: We introduced the book as a "suspense thriller". Would you agree with that?
DAB: To be honest, categorizing my work is one of the most difficult things for me to do. I rely heavily on my critique group to assist with that once I've completed a novel or short story. There are so many facets to most of my stories, they could fit into any number of genres and subgenres. Presently most of my work has been geared toward the suspense/thriller genres, but I have other unpublished work that is geared toward fantasy (à la "Lord of the Rings"). I even have an odd story rattling around in my brain that might be more of a paranormal historical, if that's possible.
OMN: Do you find it difficult that readers tend to categorize books into niche markets, sometimes even before they've even read them?
DAB: Most definitely! My short story, "The Study", has been classified as suspense, but most of the time sites only allow for "Thriller/Suspense" as the category and then shorten it down further after publishing to only "Thriller", which it really isn't. I've even had one reviewer give it two stars only because they thought it was some other genre entirely, so marketing that one has been extremely challenging. However, Running into the Darkness fits the "Thriller/Suspense" genre category pretty well, so I think it's reaching my target audience in regard to marketing.
OMN: Did you incorporate any of your own experience into Running into the Darkness?
DAB: Quite a lot actually — some more than others. The protagonist, Samantha, endures loss, abuse, the desire for revenge, and confusion over how she could sink so far. I think we all can relate to her on an emotional level because most of us have endured those feelings at key points in our lives. The difference is that most of us have probably never acted on the desire for revenge. Unfortunately for Samantha, she does act on her anger. In regard to the places she goes, I admit, I live vicariously through Samantha. In a previous career, I traveled and spent considerable time in the locales where we find her — and I really miss some of the places I've had the opportunity to visit. RITD also contains some historical references too, and I'm a HUGE lover of history.
OMN: Describe your writing process for us.
DAB: With all of my writing, I keep varying levels of detail on all of my characters, particularly if they are important and/or reoccur. I account for things like background, personality quirks/habits, occupation, past/present connections to other characters, etc. Samantha also has a facial feature that has a back story as well as becomes a significant identifier, so in order not to get confused on exactly where it appears, I made sure to notate that particular tidbit in her character summary. It's funny too, because a long time ago I was writing a short story and ended up somehow making a doctor AND a detective have the exact same last name. Took a fellow writer to pick up on that one — so embarrassing, but they didn't rib me too hard.
Like I said before, outlines are not for me. I like to let the story ebb and flow, the characters to make "decisions" that sometimes change the course I originally had in mind — in other words, to stay very flexible. But I always know ultimately where the overall story will go. I think that is key to avoid getting lost in the minutia when writing without an outline. However, once I finish a first/second draft, I always leave it alone for a few weeks then go back and read it with fresh eyes, making notes in my handy-dandy notebook(s) about plot holes, loose ends, dead space that needs a little excitement, ideas of how to connect point B to point T, and so on. It's sometimes amazing to me how a seemingly insignificant character or situation can explode in my mind into a much more important component to the storyline (usually it occurs in those last few moments before falling asleep, which then causes sleep to elude me). Even though it takes me longer to write without an outline or synopsis, I love those moments as everything comes together and just falls into place like a completed puzzle. It's very satisfying for me as a writer, and I hope that translates to more excitement, believability, and intrigue for my readers.
OMN: Many readers tend to visualize what the characters of a book look like. If your book were to be adapted for film or television, who would you pick for the key roles?
DAB: Oooo, that's a really tough one. I've never really thought about that possibility with Running into the Darkness and haven't ever had any particular actor or actress in mind when I write them. Okay, after thinking on this one a bit — not based on looks because they appear nothing like my visual of them — I'd have to say perhaps a younger version of Jodie Foster for Dr. Samantha Bartlett and Paul Walker for Detective/Agent Joe Roberts. I like how these two can play tough/angry characters and yet you can still see the vulnerable individuals underneath the surface. They are capable of bringing a lot of depth to the characters they portray, which I consider the most essential element to bringing stories to life. Maybe Jim Caviezel would fit in there somewhere too, but probably more in book two.
OMN: How important is setting to your story?
DAB: I believe setting is of major import to a story. Heck, setting in and of itself can many times "be" a character. The right setting, told well, adds another layer of tension, excitement, sorrow, etc to what the character(s) may be experiencing or feeling. There's a scene in Running into the Darkness where Samantha goes back home, remembering all the times growing up there, her grandmother, friends staying over — but now the house is silent and empty, and she will never again hear her grandmother's voice echoing up the stairs. The house becomes a piece of her life of which she can't let go. In another scene, one particular setting becomes synonymous with the bad guys. You'll have to read it to figure out where that is.
For the most part, I present the locales as is. Every city in my books I've been to, so it's just a matter of recalling what I've seen and experienced in order to write it. There's an exception in book two, Piercing the Darkness, but after extensive research I felt pretty comfortable writing about a certain area of Moscow. Russia is one of the places on my bucket list I hope to visit someday.
OMN: What kinds of books did you read when you were young?
DAB: When I was young, I always enjoyed reading pretty much anything I could get my hands on (except sappy, drippy romance — sorry!). There's one particular time I remember that had a huge impact on my love of mystery/suspense/thriller. Back when sixth grade was still part of grade school my teacher, Mr. Bowersock, would read to us during the study period at the end of the day, when the weather kept us in during recess, and on Fridays after lunch recess, IF we were good that week (mostly). He started reading us Agatha Christie's Ten Little Indians (also known as And Then There Were None). It was a more complex mystery/suspense story than the books I'd read up to that point, and I spent weeks trying to figure out "who done it". Needless to say, I was hooked from that point on. I've gotten so good at figuring out the "who done it" that now days it's extremely difficult to find a book (or movie, for that matter) that I don't figure out in the first few moments. But most of the time it's still fun to get to the end to make sure I was right.
OMN: What is the best advice you've received as an author?
DAB: Don't be afraid to make your bad guys REALLY bad. While initially writing Running into the Darkness I was skirting some of the really "difficult" scenes, either skipping writing a scene and alluding later to something bad happening, or writing a scene but leaving out much detail and drawing the curtain early so I didn't show exactly all of what happened. I hope that didn't sound confusing! It took a lot of courage (and a lot of pacing back and forth, arguing with myself) to go back and let it all hang out. It required me to plumb the depths of my own psyche and relive some not too pleasant experiences from my own past. Plus I had to allow myself to get under the skin and into the mindset of the type of person who would perpetrate such atrocities. But you know what? After shedding a lot of tears and allowing myself to get angry, I found the end process to be rather cathartic. It helped me to experience a bit of sympathy for how we all go through difficulties in our lives. The difference between becoming a good guy and a bad guy is how some use it as a springboard to overcome their circumstances while others allow it to twist them into a person they were never intended to be.
OMN: What is your favorite question from a reader?
DAB: "Is the sequel out yet?" It is so rewarding knowing that even one reader found pleasure in reading my work.
OMN: What's next for you?
DAB: The third and final book for this series, Rising from the Darkness, is in the early stages with a couple of chapters written. Questions will be answered, loose ends will be tied up — but maybe not as expected. And yes, more people will die. I'm also working on a fan requested sequel to my short story "The Study". Hopefully one of them will be in publishable shape by the end of the year. Stay tuned.
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In her previous career, D.A. Bale traveled the United States as a Government Relations Liaison, working closely with Congressional offices and various government agencies. This experience afforded her a glimpse into the sometimes "not so pretty" reality of the political sphere. Much of this reality and various locations throughout her travels make it into her writing.
For more information about the author and her work, visit with her on her blog, DABalePublishing or find her on Facebook and Twitter.
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Running into the Darkness
The Deepest Darkness Series (1st in series)
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