Interview with Author D.M. Pulley

Interview in progress sign on office door

 

 

Interview with D.M. Pulley

 

*In the beginning of your writing career you underlined the struggles you had, but in the end you said, “But I had  a story to tell.” I love that! Can you tell us about this feeling?

 

The building that inspired The Dead Key haunted me for ten years before I really sat down to write the story. In that time, I changed jobs, I got married, and I had children, but no matter where life took me, the abandoned vault below the Euclid Avenue and its unclaimed safe deposit boxes followed. It nagged at me in daydreams and every time I picked up a novel. Whenever I talked about the vacant building with friends, I could tell they were intrigued. When I considered what treasures and secrets had been left buried in the basement of that old bank, my toes would curl up with anticipation. The story just wouldn’t leave me alone.

 

*How did the story about the torso killer emerge and made you want to tell it?

 

Another abandoned building in Cleveland inspired The Unclaimed Victim. I had no idea that the Torso Killer would become the focus of the story. I just began researching the empty Union Gospel Press building’s history, particularly its years as a religious mission in the 1920s and 1930s, and became fascinated with the nun-like “Sallies” that lived there and the city of Cleveland during the Great Depression. The labyrinthine factory cried out for a serial killer in the mold of H.H. Holmes (see Devil in the White City by Erik Larson), and the Torso Killer became an obvious, albeit daunting, choice. So much has been written about the Torso Murders, I was reluctant to take on these true crimes, but as I delved into the research, it became clear that not every story about the murders had been told.

 

*Describe how you came up with the title, The Unclaimed Victim.

 

With this book, I wanted to tell a serial killer story from the victims’ perspective. So many thrillers are told from the detective’s or the killer’s point of view, and the victims become more like objects than people. The fact that only three of the thirteen official Torso victims were ever identified or claimed by their families struck me as another injustice of these crimes. It was my intent to breathe life into the Torso Killer victims with the hope that one might just get away.

 

*What was your first reaction when you heard about the Torso killer?

 

First I was horrified, then morbidly fascinated, then ultimately skeptical of the official findings. The Torso Killer became a media sensation as one of the nation’s most notorious maniacs back in a time before the term “serial killer” even existed. The detectives and coroners that worked the case were certainly devoted and professional, but they had no concept of modern profiling or access to modern forensics. After looking at the facts, I couldn’t shake the feeling that some evidence and potential suspects slipped through the cracks. The killer was never officially identified.

 

 

 

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*Describe your experience writing about him, the unclaimed victim, and the final conclusion (no spoilers of course!).

 

It took eight months of research and drafting to really find the story I wanted to tell and another several months to finish it. I don’t outline, so I usually don’t know the answer to the mystery until I write the ending. As a result, I’m on the edge of my seat as the final scenes unfold. The process of writing this book took me to some pretty dark places where I considered murder on an intimate level from many angles, and asked myself almost daily what it would take for me to kill someone. My kids gave me funny looks for a few weeks there.

 

 

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*How does it feel knowing the success you have today versus the struggles you began with?

 

I feel unbelievably lucky that my books have found an audience and I am able to write full time right now. I try to be thankful each day I sit down to work. I am currently editing my fourth novel, and I’ve found that every book presents different struggles and challenges. I still try to write my first draft like nobody will ever read it. I still worry the literary police will take me away in handcuffs any day now for impersonating a writer.

 

*Do you like historical fiction?

 

I love historical fiction, but I generally prefer to write and read stories about the 20th century. Some of my favorites right now are The Paris Wife by Paula McClain, All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, and The Stranger House by Reginald Hill.

 

 

 

History Wooden Letterpress Concept

 

 

 

*Are your stories always based upon true crime?

 

I like to use real history as a backdrop for my stories. The Dead Key wasn’t based on true crime as much as Cleveland’s history of political corruption and financial default. Similarly, The Buried Book was inspired by true events like the 1953 Flint-Beecher tornadoes and Detroit-area history. My third and fourth novels were inspired by true crimes from Cleveland’s past.

 

*What would you say to all the struggling writers out there?

 

Keep writing. Keep reading. Don’t fall in love with your words; just find and follow the story. Don’t be afraid to try and fail. Always be willing to re-write, rework, and re-examine. Don’t give up. I also recommend reading craft books including On Writing by Stephen King, No Plot, No Problem by Chris Baty, and Save the Cat by Blake Snyder.  

 

*What are you working on next?

 

My fourth book is a historical mystery about a hundred-year-old mansion in Shaker Heights, Ohio and the decades of secrets and lies hidden behind its facade.

 

 

 

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About D. M. Pulley

Before becoming a full-time writer, D.M. Pulley worked as a Professional Engineer, rehabbing historic structures and conducting forensic investigations of building failures. Pulley’s structural survey of a vacant building in Cleveland inspired her debut novel, The Dead Key, the winner of the 2014 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. The disappearance of a family member formed the basis for her second historical mystery, The Buried Book. Pulley’s third novel, The Unclaimed Victim, delves into the dark history behind Cleveland’s Torso Killer and is due out November 14, 2017. She lives in northeast Ohio with her husband, her two children, and a dog named Hobo, and she is hard at work on her fourth book.

 

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Amazon

 

 

 

 

 

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From Author To Screenwriter: Tips For Taking your Books To Hollywood With Huss McClain

IT’S TELEVISION TUESDAY!

 

 

 

Old Classic Television In A Room

 

 

 

From Author To Screenwriter: Tips For Taking your Books To Hollywood With Huss McClain

 

 

 

 

 

What do you think? Tell us in the comments!

 

 

 

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.mysterythrillerweek.com

The Artist’s Journey With Steven Pressfield & Joanna Penn

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The Artist’s Journey With Steven Pressfield

 

 

 

 

 

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“No one’s insights about the craft and journey of being an artist have guided me in the day-to-day struggle of this profession more than Steven Pressfield. Wherever you are, whatever you’ve been called to make, you need to read this book…and everything else he has written.”

— Ryan Holiday, Bestselling Author of Ego Is the Enemy and The Obstacle Is the Way

YOU ARE AN ARTIST … AND YOU HAVE AN ARTIST’S JOURNEY

I have a theory about the Hero’s Journey. We all have one. We have many, in fact. But our primary hero’s journey is the passage we live out, in real life, before we find our calling.

The hero’s journey ends when, like Odysseus, we return home to Ithaca, to the place from which we started.

What then?

The passage that comes next is The Artist’s Journey.

On our artist’s journey, we move past Resistance and past self-sabotage. We discover our true selves and our authentic calling, and we produce the works we were born to create.

You are an artist too—whether you realize it or not, whether you like it or not—and you have an artist’s journey. Will you live it out? Will you follow your Muse and do the work you were born to do?

Ready or not, you are called.

 

Amazon | Goodreads

 

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

www.mysterythrillerweek.com

 

 

 

 

The Power of Collaboration with Mark Dawson

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SPF Podcast 126 Rhett Bruno & Steve Beaulieu Collaboration

 

 

 

 

How do you feel about collaboration? Tell us in the comments!

 

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.mysterythrillerweek.com

 

 

 

Strategy And Business Plans for Authors With Johanna Rothman

It’s Television Tuesday!

 

 

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Strategy And Business Plans for Authors With Johanna Rothman

 

 

 

 

What do you take away from this? Tell us in the comments!

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.mysterythrillerweek.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Writer Tony Harrison Discusses his Work in Progress

3d under construction

 

 

 

What is your approach to writing? Outline, spontaneous, or both?

I’m a little of both. I’ll jot down random thoughts at first, then piece them together in the order I think works best. Most are just one-liners, that become the basis for full-blown scenes or character POV’s.

 

Where does your story take place?

I actually have two ebooks out, with first one taking place in Aberdeen Scotland, along with snippets in Glasgow Scotland, Belfast Northern Ireland and Dublin Ireland. The other takes place in Marseille France, with snippets in Algiers, Algeria and Morocco.

 

Name your biggest struggles writing this book.

Maintaining consistency in time. Sometimes it is between morning, noon and night, while others is something happening on one day and jumping two days later.

 

What has been helpful to you?

Community and friends, both locally and via the web. HAving someone help me understand the subtle nuances in dialogue, setting and the treaded ‘showing v. telling’ is really helpful.

 

What have you learned in your writing journey thus far?

Each day brings a new challange; whether it is creating better dialogue, making my character’s more ‘believable’ or simply stringing the sentences together, it’s all a learning process.

 

Does your book feature a central protagonist?


Yes, Scotland Yard Chief Inspector Conor McDermott is the main character in the story. A former Royal Navy officer, he is assigned a case that began in Portsmouth when a dock worker who was killed is found.

 

How do you get to know your characters?

Having Conor as a police officer aligns with my grandfather’s brother who was a constable in Edinburgh. I also have two older cousin’s who are members of law enforcement, so Conor is a tribute to them in a small way.

 

What’s the overarching goal of the hero?

Conor is out to find out how his niece was drugged, which led to her death (she jumped from an apartment rooftop). He also looks to redeem himself as his tendency is to bend certain rules in pursuit of catching criminals.

 

 

A Goal Without a Plan Is Just a Wish sign on desert road

 

 

 

Thanks Tony!

 

Strangers to Superfans. Book Marketing With David Gaughran

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Strangers to Superfans. Book Marketing With David Gaughran

 

 

 

 

 

 

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From the author of Let’s Get Digital and Let’s Get Visible, this book will change how you think about marketing. Strangers to Superfans puts you in the shoes of your Ideal Readers, and forces you to view your marketing from their perspective.

*Learn the five stages in the Readers’ Journey.
*Identify where your blockages are and how to fix them.
*Optimize each stage to increase conversion.
*Boost sales by making the process more frictionless.
*Build an army of passionate readers who do the selling for you.

It’s not enough to know who your Ideal Readers are, you also need to imagine how they feel when a recommendation email arrives containing your cover. You must figure out why they hesitated before clicking the Buy button. And it’s crucial to determine why they liked your book enough to finish it… but not sufficiently to recommend it to their friends.

The Reader Journey is a new marketing paradigm that maps out the journey your Ideal Readers take in their transformation from strangers to superfans.

 

Amazon | Goodreads | Website

 

 

 

What did you take away from this interview? Tell us in the comments!

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.mysterythrillerweek.com

 

 

 

 

 

Author Christina Hoag Discusses her book Girl on the Brink

Various microphones aligned at press conference.

 

 

Interview with Christina Hoag – Girl on the Brink

 

Do you consider yourself locked in to one genre?

I write both adult and YA. What they have in common is that I write contemporary realistic stories about social/moral dilemmas and issues. My adult title “Skin of Tattoos,” where the protagonist is barely out of his teens at age 20, is a gritty tale about gangs, sort of an LA twist on “The Outsiders,” that seeks to delve deeper into the reasons kids join gangs and the consequences of choosing that life.

 

Did Girl on the Brink begin with an idea, theme, or factual events?

This novel was born out of my own experience in an abusive relationship. I really wanted to write about it because being a former journalist I know a good story when I see one and I knew this was a good story, despite the fact that it happened to me. Also, I felt strongly that I wanted to write sort of cautionary tale to alert girls at the beginning of their dating lives to the red flags of dangerous relationships, such as a fast ramp-up of a romance and being pressured quickly to making a commitment. These signs can be easily misinterpreted if you don’t know what they mean. Using the aforementioned example, that can be interpreted as a “whirlwind romance,” like something out of a movie, but it can be someone looking for control. This stuff isn’t taught in schools or anywhere else so girls and women aren’t trained to look for these signs.

 

 

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Did you get emotional while writing this title? 

I had enough distance from the actual events not to get emotional, but it did bring back a lot of memories. However, I found that helped me write faster because I just wanted to get through reliving this stuff and have the project done!

 

Who is Chloe?

Chloe is a 17-year- old who wants to be a reporter so she gets a summer internship at the local weekly newspaper, where she meets Kieran on an assignment. She is smart and empathic, but she’s also going through the split of her parents and feels very alone. That makes her lean on Kieran all the more.

 

Who is Kieran?

Kieran is a 19-year- old aspiring actor. As a child, he suffered from an abusive stepfather and a father who left and never returned. So he is torn between loathing his real father for deserting him and desperately wanting his love and approval. This has created a huge insecurity in him, which is reflected in his desire to control and dominate Chloe. Although it’s never stated in the book, Kieran has borderline personality disorder, which is characterized by sudden, terrifying Jekyll-and- Hyde type rages.

 

 

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Is Girl on the Brink a standalone or will you write more YA novels?

I’ve got two more YA projects on the burner. Both are realistic contemporary stories that revolve around social issues, teens getting in trouble and learning from their mistakes. Both are also set in the same fictional town of Indian Valley, New Jersey, as Girl on the Brink, and involve some of the same characters.

 

What’s next for you?

I’ve been working on a few short stories and then will likely plunge into a YA novel. I’ve also got two half finished adult novels sitting in my proverbial drawer so I may dust one of those off. But my gut is feeling I should do one of the YAs so that’s what I’ll likely pursue next.

 

 

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“An engrossing tale of a dangerous teen romance.” – Kirkus Reviews

“Girl on the Brink is a must have for every high school and public library.” – Isabella Kane, author & school librarian

The summer before her senior year, 17-year-old Chloe begins an internship as a reporter for a local newspaper. While on assignment, she meets Kieran, a quirky aspiring actor. Smitten with Kieran’s charisma and his ability to soothe her soul, torn over her parents’ impending divorce, they begin dating.

But as their bond deepens, Kieran becomes smothering and flies into terrifying rages. He confides in Chloe that he suffered a traumatic childhood, and Chloe is moved to help him. If only he could be healed, she thinks, their relationship would be perfect.

But her efforts backfire and Kieran becomes violent. Ending the relationship is hard for Chloe and Kieran pursues her relentlessly to make up.

Now Chloe must make the heartrending choice between saving herself or saving Kieran, until Kieran’s mission of remorse turns into a quest for revenge.

 

Amazon | Goodreads | Audible

 

 

Christina Hoag author image

 

 

As a journalist, Christina Hoag had her laptop searched by Colombian guerrillas and phone tapped in Venezuela, was suspected of drug trafficking in Guyana, hid under a car to evade Guatemalan soldiers, and posed as a nun to get inside a Caracas jail. She’s interviewed gang members, bank robbers, gunmen, thieves and thugs in prisons, shantytowns and slums, not to forget billionaires and presidents, some of whom fall into the previous categories. Now she writes about such characters in her fiction.

Her noir crime novel “Skin of Tattoos” was a finalist for the Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Award for suspense, while her thriller “Girl on the Brink” was named to Suspense Magazine’s Best of 2016 YA list. She also co-authored “Peace in the Hood: Working with Gang Members to End the Violence,” a groundbreaking book on violence intervention used in several universities.

Born in New Zealand, Christina grew up as an expat around the world. She resides in Los Angeles and teaches creative writing at a maximum-security prison. She has also mentored at-risk teen girls in creative writing in South and East Los Angeles. She has been a speaker at numerous writers’ conferences and groups, bookstores, and libraries.

 

Amazon | Goodreads | Website | Facebook

 

 

 

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How to Shift from Hobby Writer to Pro Writer with Honoree Corder

IT’S TELEVISION TUESDAY

 

 

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How to Shift from Hobby Writer to Pro Writer with Honoree Corder

 

 

 

 

Do you have an accountability writing partner to help you achieve your dreams?

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.mysterythrillerweek.com

 

 

 

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Jasper Joffe talks Publishing on the SPF Podcast

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Independent author and publisher Jasper Joffe talks about the success his publishing house has had using a model very different to the traditional one.

 

 

 

 

 

I have you read any books published by Jasper Joffe books? Tell us in the comments!

 

Check out Joffe Books!

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.mysterythrillerweek.com