Author D.A. Bale and I met when I discovered her terrific blog. Its tagline is: A blog about indie authors for indie authors and readers alike. You will recall I had the pleasure of being interviewed by her last month.
I’m happy to return the favor and really enjoyed learning more about DA. I know you will too.
Please welcome Ms. Bale and discover her books.
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Welcome DA, let’s start off by telling my readers about your greatest extravagance.
I’m kinda a frugal person in most cases. As a single mom, most extravagances were spent on my son and providing him with incredible experiences. When he was a freshman in high school, he was chosen to be a part of a music tour of Europe. After reading the nomination letter, he just looked at me and asked if we could afford it. I told him I’d go in hoc for the rest of my life if I had to in order to make that happen for him. Ended up that I didn’t have to resort to such an extreme, but I’d have given my right arm to have enjoyed such an opportunity at his age. Travel opens up such a wonderful view of the world and you’re never the same for the experience it affords. I’ll always consider that trip to be a huge turning point in my son’s outlook, and no price is too great for that.
Perfect. I agree the lessons learned from travel are invaluable. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I’d learn how to sit down and shut up. Seriously, I can run off at the mouth and talk for days on end (as long as you feed me). When in Junior High, I even had a teacher who would give a party at the end of the week if I could remain silent from the moment I stepped into his class until the moment I walked out for the week. That earned me a lot of encouragement from fellow classmates – and much ribbing as well. Needless to say, I think we only had two or three parties in his class that entire year. At this point, I think I’m a lost cause. 🙂
I would’ve never guessed :D. What is one thing you want to do before you die?
This is an easy one! It has always been my dream to visit St. Petersburg, Russia someday. When I was a young girl, such an idea was a big deal because of the communist Iron Curtain under the Soviet regime. I never thought such an opportunity would be afforded in my lifetime, but after the dissolution of the Soviet state, the dream is now one step closer to reality. I hope someday to tour the Winter Palace and Tsarskoe Selo’s Alexander Palace and perhaps discover what really happened to the Amber Room after WWII.
I think you can definitely accomplish this one. My dream is to visit India. Do you have a motto you live by?
Just because you have the right to do something, doesn’t make it the right thing to do.
Agree. What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?
Besides raising my son? My greatest accomplishment otherwise would have to be the day I became a published author. From the time I was a little girl, I wrote, and wrote, and wrote. Teachers always commented on my papers and stories and about how vivid they were. My mom even kept some of her favorites, one being a paper about my first visit to the ocean and frolicking with the birds along the beach. Her accolades were the greatest praise I could’ve ever received. To this day, she still thinks a lot of my writing – and no matter how old I get, it continues to mean so much to me.
That is wonderful praise indeed. Let’s discuss your writing. Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Oh gosh, EVERYWHERE! My life. Experiences. Emotions. People. Places. I have very vivid and disturbing nightmares sometimes that provide much fodder for stories and novels. Sometimes I will sit down and just write book blurbs for stories that don’t yet exist. Many times this exercise will inspire an idea I need to explore further, so I’ll write a little treatise on characters and places to include in the story. Sadly, I will probably never find the time to write down ALL of them.
What is the best advice you’ve received as a writer?
Make your bad guys really bad. In my first novel RUNNING INTO THE DARKNESS, I originally started writing it and merely alluding to the atrocities committed by the antagonists. After some encouragement and a little hand-holding, I decided to plumb some serious depths and write out the scenes to show them as they happened. It was amazing the myriad of emotions writing such scenes brought out in me. I experienced anger and fear, horror and such creepy feelings when crawling into the skin of said characters in order to write those scenes, many times I felt the urge to bathe repeatedly when finished. I cried buckets too. It’s these scenes that either grab or disgust readers when they comment or review. I guess the evoking of emotions in others means I did my job as a writer.
And here is a blurb for Running into the Darkness.
Samantha never intended to kill the President. As a doctor, she swore an oath to protect life – not take it. But that was before he ordered the murder of her family.
Swept from the frigid New York City winter, Dr. Samantha Bartlett returns to the Midwest to once again confront the sting of death – and face those she left behind. But she’s not alone. A strange man she dubs “Shades” haunts her every step as she seeks answers to the inferno which claimed her grandmother’s life, an eerie reminder of her parents’ deaths. The secrets Samantha uncovers forever shatter the image of those she only thought she knew.
Confronted by Shades, Samantha joins a secret underworld known only as the Elite, where a web of power and control is woven deep within governments worldwide. Their sights are set on the seat of domination behind the Resolute desk that is the powerhouse of nations – the presidency of the United States of America. Samantha becomes the Elite’s unlikely key to infiltrating the White House at its most intimate levels.
The Hippocratic Oath. All doctors swear by it. But the most despicable deeds must be avenged. The quest for blood swallows Samantha in a veil of darkness and threatens to destroy everything she once stood for.
And from the darkness there is no escape.
Name a few of your favorite authors and books, and why you like them.
Love Clive Cussler’s original works with the larger-than-life Dirk Pitt character. TREASURE and SHOCKWAVE are probably my absolute favorites in that series. One of my all-time favorites is Dean Koontz’s INTENSITY – and trust me, it lives up to the title. J.R.R. Tolkien’s LORD OF THE RINGS tops the fantasy chart, while Charlotte Bronte’s JANE EYRE is one among the classics I try to read nearly every year. I love Jane’s journey, the strength of her character and passion for living. She ends up doing what she believes to be right, regardless of what others may tell her. Perhaps I relate to her a little that way, as I’m a teensy bit of a self-minded individual too.
What are your favorite and least favorite parts of being a writer?
Well my favorite part is easy – writing! Seriously, I love exploring the characters in a story and seeing how they change from perhaps how I initially saw them to becoming so alive they could almost leap from the page into the real world. There’ve been many times in writing a character within a situation where suddenly they take a turn I didn’t expect. Case in point, in RUNNING INTO THE DARKNESS a character was supposed to span the first two books, but then as I was closing in on finishing book one, he came up to me (in my mind, of course), laid down his weapon and said he would give up his life to save my main character. I fought him. I told him he was crazy. In the end I capitulated because in a small way, that action redeemed his earlier deeds. Of course, that left me in the lurch for PIERCING THE DARKNESS.
The least favorite aspect of writing…hmm. I’ll have to get back with you on that.
Okay, here’s a blurb of Piercing the Darkness while you think on that ;).
Samantha Bartlett is running for her life. Haunted by her past actions and with nearly every government agency on the manhunt, Samantha lives alone and off the grid. But those who have come under her care won’t let her simply shove them aside. Surrounded by the unlikeliest of humanity, Samantha still feels the sharp sting of loneliness, but for the first time in years she also tastes the sweetness of freedom – for the moment.
For FBI Agent Joe Roberts, Washington D.C. has become too dicey since President Warner’s murder – and a constant reminder of his encounter with their primary suspect. An opportunity arises to continue investigating Oleander Enterprises and what has become known as the Hitler Survival Conspiracy. Key documents are making their way from classified vaults back to where experiments first took place. Joe stops at nothing to intercept them, even when his actions place him on the Elite’s short list – and the FBI’s.
Debrille’s plans for an Elite Empire are nearing fruition, but without the brilliant Dr. Marcus, his life’s work threatens to crumble. The Bartlett woman needs to be silenced before ruining his carefully devised schemes. Debrille is tired of games with mere jokers, but the ace is in position – and only waiting to be played.
The search for the truth brings the participants to a breaking point collision. The battle lines are redrawn as reality pierces a lifetime of lies – and freedom can only be found in truth.
What part of writing a novel do you enjoy the most? The least?
I love developing the characters, having them come alive to me so I can make them come alive to my readers. The whole ‘what makes me tick’ part is interesting to explore because this is what truly fleshes them out to me. Rarely do I realize every detail about a character until I start placing them into situations and scenes in my novel – especially when they’re in those hot water moments. They even surprise me!
The least? That’s a hard one. Maybe not necessarily the writing of the novel itself, but the condensing into the book blurb/description. When you have to take your 70,000 to 100,000 word tome and strip it away into a three or four paragraph summary, you might as well strip the skin from my bones. Ouch!
I agree it’s an art to summarize a novel and make it sound enticing. Is it important for you to know the title or ending of a book before you write it?
Title no. Ending yes – or at least some reasonable semblance of an end. Before I sit down to start a new novel, I generally have the beginning and end firm in my mind, with a few key moments thrown in here and there. Otherwise, I let the story and characters cut the remainder of the trail. The process is quite organic.
What is your best advice for new authors?
Regardless if you’ve had experience in another writing discipline in the past (screenplays, articles, poetry, etc.) you must learn today’s novel-writing techniques. The most important of these are:
Understand proper point-of-view usage and the importance of scene/chapter breaks to delineate shifts in character viewpoints. This is KEY if you want your readers to immerse themselves into your characters, to see what they see, feel what they feel, smell what they smell, and touch what they touch.
Pacing will either bog your story down or speed it up. Understand the pacing structures of your genre and how conflict comes into play to drive readers forward – give it some energy. Thrillers have action and fast pacing, whereas Fantasy will contain variations in pacing and moments of reprieve from the action to give readers a breather. Romance is guy meets girl, so it’s conflict and passion that provide the energy to move this one. Mystery is all about who-done-it, so make readers work and keep guessing to discover the prize inside. Just remember, no matter the genre, never be afraid to layer in some conflict to keep the pace moving. ‘Cause hey, that’s life!
Understand the concept of showing versus telling. Are you writing the story’s action and conflicts in real time so the reader experiences it as it is happening (showing), or are you just telling us what or why something happens after the fact? Do you, the author, feel it necessary to explain to readers why a character or situation within the story is written a particular way(telling)? The showing versus telling is probably one of the hardest concepts for new authors to grasp, but as long as you keep studying and learning about the difference, eventually you’ll find writing novels as showing to be effortless.
Lastly – edit, edit, and edit some more. Join a critique group. Open yourself up to criticism BEFORE publishing or else you’ll be sorely unprepared for the opinions of those who purchase your book(s). Think like an avocado and build a thick skin. Then keep writing!
What is the genre of your books?
I’m a lover of thriller, mystery and suspense, with a little fantasy thrown in for window dressing. RUNNING INTO THE DARKNESS and PIERCING THE DARKNESS (the first two in the Deepest Darkness series) are thrillers, while my novelette THE STUDY is suspense. I’m also working on a new series of mysteries with just a touch of humor. As most of my critique group will tell you, I’m not very good with humor, so I figured I needed a new challenge. Thus the BEFORE & AFTER series was born!
What inspired you to write your series?
The Deepest Darkness series encompasses so many facets of my own life, emotions, and experiences in the world of power and politics. It began as more of a cathartic exercise until I made the mistake of sharing it with my critique group. After that, it quickly grew in scope as I layered in more characters and elements.
What has the reception been to your books?
It’s been interesting. Readers either love it with a passion or hate it with an equal passion. There’s very little in-between. What touches me the most is when someone will email me about how this or that character or situation spoke to them. Fan correspondence is one of the best aspects of being an author.
What has surprised you the most about writing your books?
That so much of my family loves it. Seriously! I was terrified to let me mother read it, but she surprised me most of all. My mom has been my biggest supporter. I don’t care how old we all get, it’s still a great feeling when a parent or two voices their pride in you.
Moms are so special in that way ;). Let’s have a quick lightning round to finish off.
Favorite place you’ve traveled to or would like to travel to? My favorite place of travel thus far has been Alaska – I love the cold and the incredible beauty of the mountains. Someday I’d like the opportunity to visit and explore around St. Petersburg, Russia and perhaps Scotland.
Name a food you can eat everyday. Bacon.
Salty or sweet? Major sweet tooth here that can only be satisfied with chocolate.
Cat/dog/other pet? I have two cats, but eventually I’d like to get my son a Husky. My cats will hate me for that one.
Favorite style of music? I can’t pick just one of my favorites. I love classical, orchestral movie soundtracks, rock, pop, jazz…about the only music styles I don’t like are country and rap.
The best gift you’ve ever received? When my son was young, my mother always took him Christmas shopping for me. One year he searched high and low to find just the perfect gift – a beautiful jeweled bookmark of purple enamel. I was so surprised and astounded that at such a young age, he knew his mother so well to personally choose a gift that represented two of my favorite things. I’ll treasure it always.
So sweet ;). Your favorite season. Winter!!! I love the snow.
You and I are opposites there! Name something you cannot go a day without. A toothbrush and clean underwear. I know what you’re saying – TMI! TMI!! TMI!!!
Ha! Now THAT is an original and honest response! Thanks so much for coming by Eden’s Exchange, DA, and I’m thrilled we are connected.
Readers, please visit DA at all her virtual homes and buy her books using the links below:
Running into the Darkness
Piercing the Darkness
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Connect To D.A. Bale
Sometimes life emulates fiction.
Life is filled with tragedy and Ms. Bale’s writing reflects this reality. However, there is always a silver lining…even if one must spend their entire life searching for it.
In her previous career, Ms. Bale traveled the United States as a Government Relations Liaison, working closely with Congressional offices and various government agencies. This experience afforded her a glimpse into the sometimes “not so pretty” reality of the political sphere. Much of this reality and various locations throughout her travels make it into her writing.
She dreams of the day she can return to visit Alaska.