Wednesday, May 21, 2014

An Interview with Dyal Bailey, author of The Artisan: An Artistic Assassin Thriller

Are you ready for one of our most complete and insightful interviews yet? Buckle your seat-belts, all you aspiring writers out there. I can say that I, personally, have already learned quite a lot from our next author interview. I plan on incorporating some of her suggestions into my own writing process, particularly the helpful advice she gives regarding her use of I never before thought of using the site in that way, but I realize now how beneficial it could be for my own work. Please pay close attention to the words of this next author. Today, we are speaking with Dyal Bailey, author of The Artisan: An Artistic Assassin Thriller.

-Thanks for joining us today, Dyal. We’re all extremely excited to hear about your book, The Artisan: An Artistic Assassin Thriller. What can you tell us about this book?

DYAL: First off, it’s fun. Most readers read for amusement and diversion, so I really worked hard to take the reader on an enjoyable ride.

Secondly, it’s a fast read. I’ve formatted this book very specifically for rapid eye movement on and across the page. I frequently separate a single sentence out for emphasis. Most paragraphs are fairly short, except for the one-sided and very humorous phone conversations between Antonio and Gunter.

Third, there are no cardboard characters. Everyone to me is interesting and I like creating very unique, quirky characters that stand out. I want readers to remember all my characters long after they finish the book.

-It this your debut novel?

DYAL: This is my debut novel that I’ve published. I wrote and tossed a mystery called Murder-on-the- Half-Shell (very wretched, very therapeutic) and I’ve written four screenplays.

This book actually started as a novel, was converted to a screenplay—keeping only about 30% and that was mostly just the Gunter scenes—then I converted the screenplay back to this novel.   

-Now, this blog is dedicated to new authors, many of which are still trying to make it in the publishing world. If you could speak directly to them, what advice would you give them in terms of what they’ll need to do end up a published author?

DYAL: Write. The way to become a professional writer is to become proficient and to become proficient you need to practice. They say it takes ten thousand hours to become an expert at anything. But I think you can become a good writer much faster than this, because we use our language every day. You are essentially composing every time you open your mouth. 

But at some point, you must actually write, so start with baby steps. Write to your mom or your friends, just 20 to 2000 words worth in an email every day. Type your thoughts about your most trying moments of the day into your iPhone. Get on Facebook and leave very “honest and detailed” responses to pictures of puppies and babies and kids winning trophies.  

Stop comparing yourself with others. Stop kicking yourself for not being like some 18-year-old you heard about that wrote their bestselling vampire book in three days while riding the school bus. 

Don’t let people say you are too old. Someone once said, “No one has anything worth saying until they’re fifty.” 

Don’t let anyone tell you that you are too young. What you lack in wisdom, you can make up for in freshness and individuality.

And go ahead and start that book - NOW! 

Don’t try to be perfect and don’t over think it. Allow yourself to write a “sloppy, horrible” first draft. And write quickly. With rapidity is honesty.  

When I’m feeling stuck, I pop on my microphone headset and use my (only $50.00) Dragon Naturally Speaking dictation software. This really speeds up the process and keeps me from stopping and editing too much.

When you’re done with your “beautiful monster” of a draft, spend a few days (or maximum a week) going over it and editing it yourself. . And don’t worry if your very thin book manuscript is topping out at 60 pages, it will fill out in time.

DO NOT give it to friends or relatives to read or correct. This is a fabulous waste of time.

Instead, buy multiple proofreading and editing gigs on “” and send it through a minimum of “three or four” editors at once. The reason you should buy “multiple editing gigs” at the same time is because you always, always want to get a consensus. Much of editing is opinion, but if two or three people tell you to make changes, then you most likely need to adjust something. And by doing it this way, you kind of soften the blow. Having anyone critique “your baby” (even when it is a barely-formed youngling) is going to hurt. By having multiple editors, it will help you to realize that making changes is just a process—a very necessary process. And is great for this, because most of the editors are also writers.

Then as the cliché goes, rinse and repeat. Go through the editing suggestions, update your manuscript (I use an extra video monitor attached to my laptop so that I have two editors notes on one screen and my original manuscript  on the other screen), and make the changes to your plot or grammar or characters. Then play with is for a couple of days and send it through another three or four “totally new” editors. I do reuse the same editors over and over again, but only after I’ve let them skip two rounds.  I want their brains and their outlook to be fresh.

-How do you think readers will react to your heroine, Dr. Rafaela Ramos? How did you originally envision her and did she evolve from that initial idea as you wrote the book?

DYAL: My readers really dig Rafaela, probably because she’s hot, smart, and sexy, but she’s also deadly. Guys want her and women want to be her. Your second question made me laugh, because Rafaela started as a man. She was Nicolas Carteret and his love interest was a bartender named Rachel. But it just wasn’t working for me. Then I saw how they had converted the screenplay “Salt”, meant for Tom Cruise into one for a Angelina Jolie, and I realized that my hero needed to be a heroine. Things that are incredibly bad-ass for a female character for some reason don’t come off as well for a male. As soon as I made those changes, the plot really started to flow.

-Talk to us about Gunter. How is he different from the killers that we’ve seen in movies and other books? How does he stand out when compared to Hannibal Lector, Dexter, and the rest who came before him?

DYAL: Gunter, my metrosexual serial-killer-like assassin is very, very lovable, but just when you fall head-over-heels, he’s terrifying. In the past, I have joked and called him Hannibal Lector wearing a mauve leotard. But Gunter doesn’t eat his victims. Instead, he uses them as the stars of his performance arts videos. The finale, of course, is their rather bloody deaths. People ask how in the world I created such an unusual character as Gunter and all I can tell them is that he (like most of my characters) kind of popped out fully formed.

Having said that–it didn't take me long to realize that my subconscious mind had created a kind of caricature of my father.

Daddy was a surgeon, but beyond that he grew up hunting and fishing on the Satilla River - so he was truly amazing with a knife. He could fillet a fish in seconds, it was beautiful to watch.

My father was slightly effeminate, but he was a very heterosexual, metrosexual. And just as Gunter prefers blondes, all of my father’s wives were blonde. He was such a mess. He used to answer the front door wearing nothing but his underwear. It really never occurred to him to not do exactly as he pleased.

He had served in World War II and afterwards fell in love with German and French culture. He spoke both languages with great fluency. Languages are something that seems to come easily to our family.

-I hate it when I read a book and the author seems to have no idea what he/she is writing about. With your book, that certainly isn’t the case. You seemed to be as knowledgeable about the science behind the crimes as Dr. Ramos, herself. Do you have a background/experience in a similar field? I’d be shocked if you didn’t.

DYAL: I confess. I am such a nerd. I do a lot of in-depth studies on a variety of subjects. These have taken me anywhere from 20 and 200 books until my curiosity is satisfied. 
When I first started studying biotechnology, the only books available cost anywhere from $500 to $1000 dollars and the really good magazines were free, but reserved for only people in the field. So I did kind of a naughty, naughty. I pretended that my restaurant was a bio-lab, subscribed to Genetic and Engineering News and other magazines, and had them all delivered to Rhinehart’s Laboratories. Those periodicals were amazing and everything in them was cutting edge. Now, you can even buy Biotechnology for Dummies, but when I started my study, up-to-date information was a lot harder to find. With the Werther Algorithm, I kind of cheated. The last time I’d done an algorithm or a flow chart, I was programming in Basic on a TRS-80 (like thirty years ago). So when my main editor Judy in New York asked me to expand the algorithm arc, I wanted to send her nasty, anonymous emails.
But, I relented, and got on YouTube. After going through several video lectures from a multitude of sources, I found this awesome course on Beginning Algorithms taught at MIT by two rotating professors. I immediately fell in love with Dr. Devadas who is such a love kitten of a teacher (he throws out a free stadium cushion to anyone who answers a tough question). And Erik Demaine (who looks about 15-years-old) was so fabulous and accessible. When I got to (I think it was) Lecture 24 (the one with the Fibonacci Numbers), I found the algorithm I was looking for. So I created a sort of etched-in algorithm for Werther with a plethora of memoized equations, then the flow chart, and had my brother (who’s a mathematician and programmer) check my math. He said I was good, but he was appalled at my use of passé math lingo (like reoccurring when I should say recursive). At his insistence, I listened to the lectures all over again until I could “speck modern math” well enough to stop him from cringing.

-Does this story continue? Will there be a sequel? Without giving anything away, I was, personally, surprised about Gunter’s final scene.

DYAL: Yes, I have four more books outlined (and I’m toying with an outline to insert a fifth).

I’m 25% of the way through with the second book in the series, called The Nicodemas Project. You can see the finished cover on and in June I’m uploading an excerpt.

The series (at this point) goes like this: The Artisan, The Nicodemas Project, The Nephilim, the Municher, and The Joshua Algorithm.

-Anything else at all that you’d like our readers to know about The Artisan: An Artistic Assassin Thriller?

DYAL: Please download a free sample. If you read the first few pages, you’ll want to read more. And the pace of the book only quickens from there. I’m planning to put the first chapter (or a bit more) on my website: later today.

-Brief teaser for The Artisan: An Artistic Assassin Thriller:

DYAL: She’s beautiful. She’s the CIA’s biochemical assassin. She thinks she’s untouchable.

-Where can we buy The Artisan: An Artistic Assassin Thriller?

DYAL:— it’s on both the kindle and in paperback. 

Ok, so... I don't need to state the obvious here, but I'm going to. Not only was this interview a fascinating and educational read, but you've got a great little book on your hands here, Dyal. I read it myself and I want to urge all you readers out there to pick it up today. I promise you will not be disappointed.

I'm so serious about this that I plan on having Dyal back very soon to speak to us in even more depth about her experience in writing this novel.  Thanks, Dyal!

As always, find us and our interviews @BookTalkGuy and @RimerTom

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