DUSTIN STEVENS: MOTIVE IS A POLITICAL-MURDER-MYSTERY THRILLER
Posted by Ognian Georgiev
Dustin Stevens is a very productive writer. His books are perfectly rated by readers in Amazon. His last one Motive was published on October 10 and we’ve got a chance to take a closer look around the novel thanks to the author himself.
– What is your last book Motive about?
– Motive is a combination political/medical thriller/murder-mystery set in Honolulu. The few short paragraphs that summarize it best would be:
Just months before Hawaii’s gubernatorial primary election, a body is found on the floor of the open air capitol, a macabre scene specifically manipulated to draw attention to a sitting governor with waning political support. Frantic, he calls on the Honolulu Chief of Police Walter Tseng, demanding that the perpetrator be brought to justice as swiftly and silently as possible, fearful a scandal might destroy whatever chance he still has at gaining re-election.
Blackmailed into complicity and unable to draw from his active force, Tseng calls in Kalani Lewis, a young detective three months off the job. Still battling her own demons from an investigation that resulted in the death of her partner, Kalani is forced back into action, pulled into a life she isn’t certain she still wants to be a part of, a family friend that was once a military policeman and now a full-time surfer as her only support.
Inch by inch they work their way through the investigation, navigating mounting crime scenes and intense bureaucratic pressures as the election looms ever closer, the killer growing more emboldened by the day…
– How did you decide to write the story?
– This story came from two distinct things coming together.
The first was standing on the third floor of the Hawaii State Capitol Building during a hearing last spring (in my day job I am a health policy attorney). At the time there was a group demonstration occurring and a somebody had dropped a large covering in the center of the mosaic. From that developed the images that become the opening scene in this novel.
The second one came when my best friend called me around the same time and said she had discovered something during her med school studies she thought would make a good storyline for a novel. From that came the motivation for the antagonist.
Once those two came together, the rest of the story just tended to fall into place.
– What was the biggest challenge during the write up process?
– As a matter of pure coincidence, Hawaii is currently undergoing an election for a new governor. While this story is set during the run-up to the gubernatorial primary, it has nothing to do with real life, and is no way a commentary on anything happening therein.
– Tell us something more about your main character? Is it close to someone from your real life?
– There are several key characters throughout the story, but the one that was most enjoyable to write (if that is even the right word, given her character back story) was Kalani.
In a non-answer of sorts, Kalani is nobody I have encountered living in Hawaii, but at the same time is much like many people I know. The state is such a melting pot of cultures and ethnicities, her family lineage, and the transient nature of them, fit the islands perfectly.
– How much time did you need to finish the story and to publish it?
– I tend to write faster than most people, averaging somewhere between ten and twelve pages an hour. The first draft was written in three weeks back in the spring, after which I let it sit for a couple months and then returned to it. At that time I spent another week editing and shoring up some things before beginning the publishing process.
– Tell us more about one of your most popular novels 21 Hours?
– 21 Hours is a story that grew out of something that was happening in the real world. Four years ago, I was visiting my family in Tennessee and saw a news report of a string of recent abductions of young children in the area. After hearing about it several times, the idea for a story formed in my mind, centering around the main character of O, who isn’t a parent, but an uncle of the abducted girl.
The story is named 21 Hours b/c it follows the time O has remaining before the infamous forty-eight hour window that exists in kidnapping instances took effect. It is a breathless, straight-ahead storyline chronicling in real time what he goes through to get his niece home safely.
– Be My Eyes gathered 4.7 average stars on Amazon from 129 reviews. It seems a big hit. What is the story inside?
– It is pretty well known that I tend to write a variety of stories, but Be My Eyes is an outlier, even for me. It began as a screenplay, and when I first set out to write the story, I wanted to create a character driven piece. From that grew Ruby and then Cole, followed by the storyline.
As a whole, the tale follows Ruby, a young, blind, terminally-ill African-American woman living in the American South who enlists the help of Cole, a floundering young Caucasian man to drive her across country to meet the mother she never knew.
– Who are you?
I take great pride in the fact that you could probably ask this question to ten different people and get different responses.
Using the simplest terms possible though, I am a son, a brother, a lawyer, a writer, a traveler, a surfer, a hiker, an English bulldog lover, a college football fan, a fisherman, and these past few years, an extremely tall fella that can at times appear quite out of place on Oahu.
– What are your writing habits?
– I tend to be extremely flexible in my writing, making it possible for me to write in virtually any location at any time. I don’t need extreme silence or any particular music playing, though I prefer to work on my laptop. Aside from that, I’ve been known to produce pages everywhere from an airplane to sitting in conferences.
– Are you satisfied by the sales of the book and do you plan another one?
– Motive is my sixteenth novel, and already three more are in various stages of development. Fracked will be out in about a month, the fourth in The Zoo Crew series, followed by two standalones, The Lam and The Boat Man.
– What are you doing to promote your book by the best possible way?
– To answer the first part of the previous question along with this one, I am fortunate that after writing so many novels, I am beginning to develop somewhat of a following. B/c of that, early sales have been better than with previous works, and have done so before much concerted marketing effort has occurred.
Despite that, I am now working on the promotion side of Motive, which includes soliciting consumer reviews, providing emails, working with an email list I have put together over time, and even the occasional press release.
As anybody that knows me can attest, this is far and away my least favorite part of the writing process, but I continue to do what I can to hopefully get my work out and entertain as many people as possible.
– You moved a lot from city to city. What was the reason to do not stop on one place for a long time?
– My nomadic lifestyle has come through a combination of professional and educational pursuits. Since leaving home a dozen years ago, I have attended undergraduate and law school in different locations. In addition, the job I held between the two required me to transfer to a new city every 4-5 months, allowing me to see a great swath of the country. After a while, the gypsy lifestyle started to grow on me, and even now in my non-writing career I have been fortunate to relocate often.
– With so many quality books in your background, what kind of advices you would give to newbie authors?
– The two big ones that have been said so many times by so many people, I will actually borrow quotes from people far more talented than I to explain.
The first is read. Anything and everything. Stephen King once said, “If you don’t have the time to read, you don’t have the time, or the tools, to write.” He is absolutely right.
The second, obviously, is write. Even on days when it feels like work, even on projects that don’t seem to be going well. I once read an interview with Lisa Gardner who said, “It’s a lot easier to edit a bad page than a blank one.”
– If you may ask yourself one question in the interview what it will be? (Don’t forget to answer)
– To go completely off-script, I will ask myself: which four teams do you think, at this point in the season, will end up in the college football playoff this year?
Oof…thus far this year has been crazy, with surprise teams and disappointments by the handful. Right now I would say Florida State is a given. Along w/ them I will place Alabama (who appears to have been angered) and Mississippi State, just edging out Auburn and Ole Miss from the SEC West (both could easily make it though). The fourth will either be Michigan State or Oregon, depending on how their respective conferences shake out.
Check out more about Dustin Stevens on his Web page