Thursday, May 01, 2014

Please Welcome Crime Novelist D.B. Carew

Omnimystery News: Author Interview with D.B. Carew
with D.B. Carew

We are delighted to welcome novelist D.B. Carew to Omnimystery News today.

D.B.'s debut crime thriller is The Killer Trail (NeWest Press; May 2014 trade paperback and ebook formats) and we recently had the chance to catch up with him to talk about the book.

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Omnimystery News: We introduced The Killer Trail as a crime thriller. Would you agree with that?

D.B. Carew
Photo provided courtesy of
D.B. Carew

D.B. Carew: It could be categorized as a psychological thriller, suspense or mystery novel as it shares these elements but I don't get too concerned about the category, for me it's crime fiction.

OMN: Are any of the plot elements based on real events?

DBC: Yes, the original idea for the story came about after I found a cell phone on a snowy trail and tried returning it to its owner. I started asking What If questions and let my imagination run wild with questions about who the phone might belong to, resulting in the opening scenes for the book.

OMN: How much of your own personal or professional experience have you included in the book?

DBC: Well, like Chris Ryder, the main character in the book, I work in a forensic psychiatric hospital as a social worker. I knew early on that I wanted part of the setting to take place in a psychiatric hospital. I initially considered having the main character working as a psychiatrist or psychologist but realized there are already a number of protagonists in other stories who come from those professional backgrounds. I thought a forensic psychiatric social worker might bring a different perspective and one that I could easily draw upon, from the write what you know point of view. However, I also knew that once I made the decision to make the character a social worker, some people would undoubtedly wonder if the character is based on me. He's not. Unlike Chris Ryder, I'm not suffering career burn out or struggling with a crumbling marriage, or fighting a psychopathic killer. Thankfully!

OMN: Did you based any of the characters on people you know?

DBC: Yes and No. It would be difficult for me to say that I wasn't influenced by certain people in some way or another at some point in the writing of this story. But at the same time, I made a concentrated effort to ensure that the forensic psychiatric hospital setting, as well as the patients and staff in that setting were purely fictional. In my opinion it would be inappropriate for me to draw upon real experiences from my workplace or base characters on patients or staff with whom I've worked.

OMN: What is the best advice you've received as an author?

DBC: As a new writer starting out, I hear so many stories about how hard it is to make it in the writing world, and it's easy to receive conflicting messages on how to successfully navigate this industry. One piece of advice though, which seems to be consistent is "Don't quit your day job". I love writing and I dream about getting to the point where I'm able to make a living doing what I love. But I'm not there yet, so in the meantime the challenge for me is to do my best in balancing family, work, and writing, and making the most of the time I have for writing. It definitely becomes a matter of quality time as opposed to quantity.

OMN: What advice might you offer other aspiring writers?

DBC: My advice would be to follow your passion and believe in yourself. I know it sounds cliché and I can hear Journey's Don't Stop Believin' playing in my head as I say it! But it's also true. I started writing because I was curious how far I could go in developing a story about a guy who finds a cell phone. Along the way, I was fortunate that a friend and work colleague encouraged me to join him in entering a writing competition for the Crime Writers' Association's Debut Dagger in 2010. By the time the deadline came around I was only about five thousand words into the story and really only had a rough draft, so I didn't get anywhere in terms of that competition. But the experience galvanized my resolve to finish the story and once I finished it, I became curious as to how far I could go in terms of publication. I've had the great fortune of being shortlisted for the Debut Dagger in 2013 and am looking forward to the book being released through NeWest Press in May. That's not to say there haven't been setbacks along the way. There have. I'm a runner and for me writing is like running a marathon in that you need to pace yourself and be prepared for those grueling moments, never losing sight of the end goal, whatever that end goal may be. In my opinion, it's about passion, hard work, determination, perseverance, timing and luck.

OMN: How did you go about researching the plot points of the book?

DBC: My first hand experience of working in a psychiatric hospital helped me when it came to fact checking for my book. I was also able to consult with colleagues in psychiatry when it came to certain aspects such as Dangerous Offender status and the Psychopathy Checklist Revised (PCL-R).

OMN: What was your most exciting topics to research?

DBC: Researching psychopathy and creating the psychopathic villain Ray Owens was one of the highlights in writing this book. While I would never want to tangle with a Ray Owens — like character in real life, writing his dark and twisted character into scenes in the book was a blast.

OMN: Complete this sentence for us: "I am a crime novelist and thus I am also …".

DBC: "… prone to look for an imaginative criminal twist to even the seemingly mundane elements of daily life."

I've always been curious about human behaviour and why we do the things we do. As a student I was drawn to courses in psychology and criminology and my work life has primarily been in the field of forensic psychiatric social work. It's probably no big surprise, then, that when it comes to writing, I'm drawn to stories that involve an exploration of human behaviour in some form or another.

OMN: Where does the book take place?

DBC: The early part of the book takes place on a trail called Woodland Park, located outside the Lower Mainland of British Columbia. Although the park is fictional, I wanted to keep the setting true to its geography and local environment so while the Lower Mainland is not prone to blizzard like conditions on a regular basis, when these conditions do occur it creates havoc as in the book.

OMN: How important is setting to the plot?

DBC: This setting played a key role in the plot because the main character finds a phone in the park, which sets a series of acts in motion for the rest of the book.

The other key setting is the Institute of Forensic Psychiatry and while this is a fictional setting, it is modeled after what a typical forensic psychiatric hospital would look and operate like in reality.

OMN: If The Killer Trail were to be adapted for television or film, who do you see playing the key roles?

DBC: An easy choice for the villain Ray Owens would be Woody Harrelson based on the memorable roles he's played with those types of characters in the past.

When it comes to the main character, Chris Ryder, who is a tormented soul trying to do the right thing under extraordinarily difficult circumstances, Kevin Bacon readily comes to mind. But this is subject to personal opinion and I'd be interested in hearing the views of others after reading the book.

OMN: Have any specific authors influenced how and what you write today?

DBC: My earlier influences included Stephen King, Patricia Cornwell, James Patterson and Jonathan Kellerman to name a few. These days I tend to read Michael Connelly, Linwood Barclay, Jo Nesbø and Michael Robotham for starters.

OMN: How about films?

DBC: The Silence of the Lambs was a definite early influence, the book and the movie.

OMN: What are some of your outside interests? Have any of these found their way into the book?

DBC: Some of my hobbies outside of writing include running and music and both activities have managed to find their way into my book.

OMN: What's next for you?

DBC: The Killer Trail is the first installment in what I've been calling "The Fighting Darkness" series. I've completed plot outlines for books two and three in the series and I'm presently at the early stages of writing the second book and very excited with the direction it's taking!

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BIO: D.B. (Derrick) Carew was born in Newfoundland and Labrador and has called British Columbia home for the past eighteen years where he lives with his wife and their two children. He has his master's degree in social work from Dalhousie University and currently works at a forensic psychiatric hospital in B.C. An avid runner, he is a member of the Crime Writers of Canada and the Federation of B.C. Writers.

For more information about the author, please visit his website at or find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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The Killer Trail by D.B. Carew

The Killer Trail
D.B. Carew

When Vancouver psychiatric social worker Chris Ryder spots an abandoned cell phone during his afternoon jog, the innocent discovery drags him into the psychotic games of Ray Owens, a suspect at the centre of a high-profile kidnapping and murder case.

Now if Ryder is to survive, he must examine the darkness in his own soul as he walks the killer trail. Print/Kindle Format(s) Print/Nook Format(s)  iTunes iBook Format  Kobo eBook Format


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