Sunday, March 6, 2011
Mitch Malone Mondays - Stephen Brayton
Today I have the pleasure of interviewing Stephen Brayton. Brayton has written two mystery/sci-fi books and I must say they look intriguing. Let's get to the questions and get all the dirt.
Stephen, pleasure to have you on the blog. I'm filling in again for the author, W.S. Gager, who seriously could do this now she has finished my latest adventure but for some reason she thinks she deserves a break. I see that in Night Shadows you have a Des Moines cop and an FBI agent team up. Do these two get along?
Not at first. I know in a lot of cases, the locals and the Feds work well together, but I take a traditional view where the homicide investigator, Harry Reznik, doesn’t like the intrusion of the agent into his case. Also, the agent, Lori Campisi, is a bit of an odd duck in Harry’s view. She’s unemotional and doesn’t provide too many details. Even when they discover the truth, of course Harry is skeptical about the supernatural element into the case, even when confronted with it time and again.
I've never been to Des Moines before but I think it is similar to Grand River where I write up all the crime stories. Are there a lot of homicides to keep Harry Reznik busy?
In my research, I discovered Des Moines isn’t New York or Los Angeles with almost daily murders. Des Moines has about a dozen homicide investigators and about that many murders per year. However, they say ‘write what you know’ and I know Des Moines fairly well, and not many stories, either mystery or paranormal, are set in Des Moines . I thought it would be something different to add to the Midwestern flavor. Plus, for a metro of about half a million, there are some unique areas. I like to use real setting in my stories and to not always have the scenes take place in one area. I use Des Moines and the Quad Cities in my second book, Beta, due out in July. Beta deals with a private investigator/martial artist who is on the trail of a kidnapped eight year old girl. The story concerns a serious subject matter, but I temper it with some humorous scenes. It’s definitely not for children, but I hope I’ve written it in such a way that it won’t make adults turn away.
Now I've had some experience with female FBI agents. One really got under my skin but I got the last word in. How does Det. Reznik get along with Lori Campisi?
Harry is a cynical but professional investigator. When we meet him, he’s stressed over the series of murders over a few days. These are not the run of the mill shootings or hit and runs. The killings are pretty gruesome and the medical examiner and the detectives are stymied because they have no clues and no suspects. Plus, he soon learns his wife is pregnant. Now, in walks an FBI agent wanting to assist on the cases. She is a little different from the normal type of agent. She doesn’t talk much, offers no opinions until she has something she believes is solid. When she does reveal the truth, Harry thinks she’s crazy. However, he is soon faced with nowhere else to turn except to trust her.
Wow. Your FBI agent sounds just like the one I met in A Case of Infatuation but mine never really comes clean. Enough of my problems. I don't believe in things that go bump in the night. I understand that some out-of-this-world villain appears in your book. Tell me about that?
One night at work, I’m listening to a radio show that usually discusses many supernatural topics, UFOs, Bigfoot, with a little science thrown in every now and then. This particular night the host and his guest were relating people’s encounters with shadow beings. Sometimes, story ideas just hit me and I run with them. I thought, “What if these shadows were real and started killing people?” Reznik’s name popped into my head and soon afterward, Campisi’s. The plot, with only a little tinkering, fell into line. I had to conduct a lot of research, including finding a dimensional portal. This took awhile until a friend suggested a particular art exhibit. Keep in mind, the places in the book are real and you can actually visit the art exhibit I use for the climactic scene.
What’s next for your characters? Will there be another book that features the pair or will one of them be flying solo, like me. I always work alone.
I have an idea for a three book series featuring Reznik paired with another ‘silent type’ investigator in traditional serial killer mysteries. I’m still working the outlines for those. As for Campisi, I’ve thought about having her in a solo adventure, but I like the interplay between her and Reznik. I’d like to keep them together because I enjoy his cynicism and the frustration she gives him. Night Shadows deals mainly with a personal connection to Campisi. In the sequel, I’d like to center on Reznik and his family’s past. For a third book, I’d like to have Campisi actually move to Des Moines , which would really irritate Reznik. In this one, I have them fighting a sewer monster and vampire who may or may not be real.
I think I could get both Reznik andCampisi to give me the exclusive on all the killing. Maybe I could make an appearance in Book 2. If you interested in seeing more of Night Shadows and his other works, check out www.stephenbrayton.com.