Tuesday, May 31, 2016

A Conversation with Mystery Author Darin W. Fortner

Omnimystery News: Author Interview with Darin W. Fortner

We are delighted to welcome author Darin W. Fortner to Omnimystery News today.

Darin's first in a new series mystery is Bring the Judgement (February 2016 trade paperback and ebook formats) and we recently had the chance to spend some time with him talking about the book.

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Omnimystery News: Tell us a little more about your new series character. What is it about him that appeals to you as a writer?

Darin W. Fortner
Photo provided courtesy of
Darin W. Fortner

Darin W. Fortner: My character, Major Booth Sommerlott, was inspired by aristocratic series characters such as Lord Peter Wimsey and Philo Vance, and in the process of plotting the novel he became a landowner from South Carolina. I suppose, coming from my particular background, that I find the idea of a cultured and gentlemanly sleuth attractive. At the same time, I seem to be drawn to the trope of the talented amateur who is not always bound by police procedure.

OMN: How do you expect him to develop over the course of a series?

DWF: In the classic mode, the detective changes little from book to book, and this will be true of Major Sommerlott, although time will advance with each novel. Which means that I will need to address the personal choices which would result in his remaining as he currently is.

OMN: Into which genre would you place this series?

DWF: Primarily the Major Sommerlott series could be described as cozy, or as traditional puzzle mysteries. I find that due to my setting the book several decades in the past it could also be described as a historical mystery. The greatest risk with labelling the book "historical" is that knowledgeable readers may discover that I know less about life in the past than I've convinced myself I do!

OMN: When starting a new book, which comes first: the cast of characters or the storyline?

DWF: Most of the time I find that the germ of the story starts with the identity of the murderer. Some authors go into a story without knowing the ending, but I find that I need to have the core situation (X kills Y in such-and-such a manner) firmly in mind before I can begin the actual plotting of the book.

OMN: Describe your writing process for us.

DWF: There seem, for me, to be a series of steps: first the core idea, then a very brief outline, then choosing the main characters and naming them (I find that the process of settling on names for the characters helps me to give them individual personalities, so that they become vivid in my mind), then a VERY rough draft/synopsis, which will eventually become the finished novel. I've described writing to my wife as very similar to sculpting marble: an idea becoming a general shape, then being progressively whittled at and polished until it at last feels like a finished product.

OMN: How true are you to the setting of the stories?

DWF: The series takes place in a fictional small town in 1930s South Carolina. While the town and its surrounding county are products of my imagination, I try to research that general locale and use what I uncover as much as possible. My protagonist exists solidly in that time and place, and knowing how the social pressures and customs of the era would affect his speech, personality, and actions is important. Without that particular background, he would be a different character altogether.

OMN: How did Bring the Judgement come to be titled?

DWF: I was looking for a title that would relate to the Bible-Belt setting of the novel while also giving some indication of the plot. One story that I enjoyed reading some years ago was a novelette by Ward Moore called Bring the Jubilee (which asked the question, What if the Confederacy had won the Civil War?) Aha. So very Biblical, so very Southern. So I tweaked that title to Bring the Judgement — which still sounds Biblical, and also gives a hint of the murderer's motivations and eventual outcome.

OMN: What kinds of books did you read when you were young?

DWF: I remember reading the adventures of Sherlock Holmes, the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, Tom Swift Jr — and quite a few other books — but with those as a starting point, I think it was almost a foregone conclusion that I would write mystery novels myself.

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Darin Fortner lives with his wife in a tidy little house in west central Indiana, where the two share a fondness for puzzles and mysteries of all kinds. A volunteer minister who works in customer service, he is currently at work on the second novel in the Major Sommerlott series.

For more information about the author, please visit his author page on Goodreads.

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Bring the Judgement by Darin W. Fortner

Bring the Judgement by Darin W. Fortner

A Mystery Novel of the Old South

Publisher: Darin Fortner

Amazon.com Print/Kindle Format(s)BN.com Print/Nook Format(s)

Bishop's Hill, South Carolina … the sort of quiet, sleepy town where everyone knows everyone else, and little of importance ever seems to happen.

And then the dead body of a recently-returned village son is found abandoned along the roadside.

To Sheriff Talmadge, the solution is obvious. The deceased was a bully and a blackmailer, and it was only a matter of time before one of his victims turned on him. When the attacks continue, however, and the death toll begins to rise, the town council insists on enlisting help from an unexpected source: Major Booth Sommerlott, a veteran and local landowner known for his analytic mind and keen powers of observation. Together the two men will follow the evidence to a startling confrontation with a ruthless killer.

Bring the Judgement by Darin W. Fortner. Click here to take a Look Inside the book.

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