Laura Elvebak interview with David Alan Binder
Bio: After being a waitress, salesperson, go-go dancer, legal assistant and executive secretary, I am devoting the rest of my time on earth to writing about murder – the perpetrators, the victims, and the people who seek justice done. I’ve been working on my art since childhood unabashedly using a lifetime of experiences living, loving and writing in California, New York, Florida, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.
Throughout my career, I studied my craft, including Fiction, Screenwriting, Creative Writing – at UCLA, USC, and Beyond Baroque in California, and at Rice University in Texas, . As a playwright I co-wrote, directed and acted in a one-act play in Houston. As a screenwriter, I wrote and optioned three screenplays and co-wrote a script for the 48 Hour Film Project, screened in Houston. Each time I write I am learning more.
My passion is writing mysteries. I’m a full time writer, with active memberships in Mystery Writers of America, Sisters-In-Crime, The International Thriller Writers, and The Final Twist Writers. You can find my books at Amazon, iTunes, and Audible, and order from bookstores everywhere.
1. How do you pronounce your name?
El ve bak
2. Where are you currently living?
3. What is the most important thing that you have learned in your writing experience, so far?
That you can disappear into your stories and not be aware of your surroundings for hours at a time. That the characters become real and speak to you. You are there to listen and record and then direct.
4. What would you say is your most interesting writing, publishing, editing or illustrating quirk?
I dream in novels. Sometimes I become so involved in the dream that, if I awake before the conclusion, I’ll go back to sleep to see what happens next. I don’t always remember the whole story, but certain scenes may find their way into my books.
5. Tell us your insights on self-publish or use a publisher?
a. Who is the name of your publisher and in what city are they?
My first publisher, L&L Dreamspell was a small press made up of two women and were located just outside of Houston. They treated their authors with great respect and care. They took on projects they loved. Upon completion, the author was given a framed picture of the cover, title, author’s name, publication date, and a dollar bill. One owner did the editing and the other did the cover art. They produced my first two published books, The Niki Alexander Mysteries, Less Dead and Lost Witness in e-book form and print. Unfortunately, the company folded when one of the owners died of cancer. I re-released these two books and they available in e-book, print and audio formats.
My second and present publisher is also a small press located in Oregon. Black Opal Books has proven to be very professional, with a team consisting of editors, an art director and publicists. They communicate well with the authors and work with them. Each book goes through at least two editors. They published my standalone, The Flawed Dance and the third Niki Alexander book, A Matter of Revenge, due to be released January 28, 2017. They also accepted the first in a new series, The Past Never Dies, due out in 2017.
6. Any insights eBooks vs. print books and alternative vs. conventional publishing?
Any medium that attracts readers is a good thing.
7. Do you have any secret tips for writers on getting a book published?
Write the best book you can, then have it edited and critiqued. Then go through it at least two or three more times before you send it to an agent or publisher.
8. How did you or would you suggest acquire an agent? Any tips for new writers on getting one?
I do not have an agent. I do think the best way to get one, however, is meeting them at writers’ conferences. One agent I met at ThrillerFest, after reading the third Niki Alexander book, suggested sending it directly to a small press. This proved to be good advice.
9. Do you have any suggestions or helps for new writers (please be specific and informational as possible)?
Read widely in your genre. Attend writers’ workshops, join a good critique group, and don’t give up. Keep writing. Accept criticism and learn from your mistakes. The more you write, the better you become.
10. What was one of the most surprising things you learned from your creative process with your books, editing, publishing or illustrating?
I once taught a one-day workshop on writing at a prison for prisoners who were preparing to get released. Their eagerness was so contagious, and seeing them in front of the audience reading from their own work was a once in a lifetime experience.
11. How many books have you written?
At least ten that will never see the inside of a bookstore. I have had four published and another manuscript accepted for publication and due out in 2017. I also have short stories in four anthologies.
12. Do you have any tricks or tips to help others become a better writer (please be as specific and information as you possibly can)?
Get rid of passive voice. Don’t be vague. Get rid of adverbs. Okay, that takes care of some of my pet peeves. But I also recommend finding a good critique group that meets regularly, who writes in the same genre, and is a group you trust. Have someone else read your work aloud. I belong to two weekly critique groups, and have been working with them for over fifteen years. One group came from membership with Mystery Writers of America. The other group has a few loyal members and welcomes newcomers who come and go. They both provide insight and have made me a better writer with their suggestions.
13. Do you have any suggestions for providing twists in a good story?
If you are getting bored with your story, so will your readers get bored. Make something happen that is opposite of what is expected. Someone is murdered, or found. Turn the action around that no one could foretell. While staying true to your characters, show a difference side of a character that nobody expected.
14. What makes your or any book stand out from the crowd?
Characters that are fully developed, who show their drive and emotion and passions that readers can identify with. The scene must come alive with the smells, sights, touch, all of which get the reader involved in the story.
15. What are some ways in which you promote your work?
I use social media – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn. I do signings at independent bookstores, radio interviews, attend book festivals, and am available to speak at libraries. I take an active part in memberships such as Mystery Writers of America, Sisters-In-Crime, The International Thriller Writers, and The Final Twist.
16. What is the one thing you would do differently now (concerning writing or editing or publishing or illustrating) and why?
Write more on my blogs. It is a way of expressing myself and getting people to know me.
17. What saying or mantra do you live by?
Never give up your dream.
18. Anything else you would like to say?
I write because I have to. I study people wherever I go, trying to imagine the motivation behind their actions. I want to know why people act the way they do, why they love who they love, or hate, or kill. Everyone has a story. No one is like anyone else. My passion is to explore, discover their inner souls and reveal their secrets. I find the best way to understand people is by writing them into a story. I have lived a full life with experiences and relationships that is unique to me, and I milk the heck out of that vast landscape.