D.B. Corey didn't begin writing until he was in his mid-50s, after a wealth of interesting life experiences including a stint in the military and a career in IT. He now writes high-action suspense/thrillers that keep readers on the edges of their seats with expertly crafted characters and stories loaded with surprise twists and turns. If you enjoy intense fiction, D.B.'s got the goods!
I met D.B. a few years ago at the Creatures, Crime, and Creativity conference, and we immediately hit it off. I appreciate his willingness to answer a few questions for us.
Your first novel, Chain of Evidence, was published in 2013. Two more books, The Lesser Sin and The Unforgivable Sin, have been published since. How has your approach to writing changed over the years?
I'd like to say I keep my nose to the grindstone, write for hours on end, and have no social life. But I actually write when I feel like it. I guess that's why it takes me 18 months to write a novel. Self-publishing allows me to do that as there is no deadline, so to speak. I lean toward series writing now, though. When I finish the Hanna Braver series, I'm going to bring Moby Truax (in Chain of Evidence) back as a stand-alone series character, which differs greatly from writing a connected series of novels.
The Lesser Sin and The Unforgivable Sin are the beginning of the Hanna Braver series. In both books, Hanna is a CIA sniper in conflict over her profession and her Catholic faith. Just who is Hanna Braver?
Yes—book 1 and book 2, with book 3 on the way. Hanna is a product of my imagination. I've always been intrigued with the anti-hero, vigilante justice; the hero that does the wrong things for the right reasons. What better reason is there to do the wrong things than when justice fails you and the ones you love suffer? I didn't want a demure housewife who was wronged and must learn weapons, Kung-Fu, tactics, etc., like in Peppermint or The Terminator, so I created Hanna Braver, a gal with eyes like a hawk who works as a sniper for the CIA. That was fine for external conflict, but I wanted some gut-wrenching internal conflict as well. So, I threw in a healthy dose of my wife Maggie, a devout Catholic. I ended up with a strong female protagonist who is a woman of faith that kills within the confines of war, but struggles with her steadfast beliefs when she decides to commit murder and avenge her dead sister, thus jeopardizing her immortal soul.
Are you planning another novel in your Hanna Braver series?
Oh yes. Three is the charm as they say.
Have you considered writing outside the suspense genre?
I think Chain of Evidence was suspense/police procedural, but I think the Braver series is more action-oriented with elements of suspense running through it. When I think of suspense, I think of Alfred Hitchcock. He said (and I paraphrase), "It's not the bomb that creates the suspense, it's the minutes leading up to the explosion." Truer words were never spoken. I have putted around with Twilight Zone type horror, though. I have several ideas I'd like to get to one of these days.
Mickey Spillane, Dashiell Hammett, or Michael Connolly?
Spillane. I like his gritty characters, settings, and dialogue.
Have you written any short fiction?
I have. Several of them appeared in the Creatures, Crimes, and Creativity (C3) anthologies and one in Insidious Assassins. Others are as yet unpublished.
After college, you joined the USNR flying aircrew aboard a Navy P-3 Orion chasing down Russian subs. How has your military experience impacted your writing career?
Hardly at all. I guess if I wrote military fiction, I would incorporate some of my experiences for authenticity.
A traditional publisher published your first novel, but you decided to self-publish after that. Why did you take that route?
A mix of frustration and a feeling of futility. I wrote The Lesser Sin in a year, had it professionally edited, and shopped it around to a dozen or so agents for about six months. Got a lot of "doesn't fit our needs at this time" or similar responses. I determined that landing an agent/editor/publisher is mostly luck and timing. Maybe they were having a bad day. Maybe the wife ran off with the mailman. Maybe they have no vision (case in point, J.K. Rowling). So, I decided to see what the self-publishing industry could offer.
As a self-publisher, what have you found to be the most difficult? For most self-publishers, managing the marketing of the books seems to be the largest issue.
This is true. I am not a salesman and know little about marketing. But I found marketing avenues that take some pain out of it. Smashwords (eBook only) is free and has distribution. Amazon and Lightning Source, the same. And others. Most charge a fee to produce the book(s). The issue here is the learning curve required to format the books yourself, although some will do it for you for a price. BookFunnel ($100/year) is another marketing tool I use. But these require patience and stick-to-itiveness. One can also find interviewers, reviewers, and bloggers that will help get out the word. There's help there if you look for it.
What are you reading these days?
It's easy to read top-flight writers like Patterson, Connolly, Cornwell, Flynn, and Clancy, but they don't need the money. Now I spend my reading dollars on writers I know personally. I've read John Gilstrap, T.J. O'Connor, Austin Camacho, Bryan Nowak … a couple more. But I'm currently reading Tom Young's latest, Silver Wings, Iron Cross, a historical depiction of a downed American pilot and a deserting U-Boat officer forced to rely on each other to escape Nazi Germany. I met Tom at the C3 conference several years back and happened to sit at the table next to him during the author signing segment. I noticed there was a military aircraft on the cover of his book. Since I am former Navy and served aboard a P-3 Orion sub-hunter, I asked him if he flew in the service. Turns out, he's the real deal—saw Middle East action in the Air National Guard as a Flight Engineer aboard a C-130 Hercules. We hit it off immediately.
What are you working on now?
The third and possibly last installment in the Hanna Braver "Sin" series. No title yet, but it's sure to include the word "Sin."
Last question, just for fun: What movie script would you like to rewrite?
Law Abiding Citizen. I'd have had Clyde Shelton complete his mission, much in the same way as Charles Bronson in Death Wish.
Thanks, D.B. Good luck with your next writing endeavors!
You can learn more about D.B. at his website https://www.dbcorey.com/ and at his Goodreads page at https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7098522.D_B_Corey.
(A version of this interview was published in Suspense Magazine.)