Stephen L. Brayton owns and operates Brayton’s Black Belt Academy in Oskaloosa, Iowa. He is a Fifth Degree Black Belt and certified instructor in The American Taekwondo Association.
He began writing as a child; his first short story concerned a true incident about his reactions to discipline. During high school, he wrote for the school newspaper and was a photographer for the yearbook. For a Mass Media class, he wrote and edited a video project.
In college, he began a personal journal for a writing class; said journal is ongoing. He was also a reporter for the college newspaper.
During his early twenties, while working for a Kewanee, Illinois radio station, he wrote a fantasy based story and a trilogy for a comic book.
He has been involved broadcasting, trucking, hospitality, newspaper graphic design, and a pre-press camera operator at a publishing company.
Bio provided by author’s site.
It was our pleasure to get a chance get to know Stephen who is a very funny and active person! I love the answers to his questions and some of his insights. It takes a brave man, in my opinion, to write from a woman’s perspective. I very much look forward to reading his book set in Iowa, where we hail from, and get his perspective on the police force and life in general in Iowa. So grab a nice warm mug of your favorite beverage and please give a warm welcome to Stephen!
1. 1. What makes for a good hook in your stories? Where does your inspiration come from?
A: The aliens in chapter 30…no wait, that’s what I told my editor I would NOT put in my book. No, really, I swear, no aliens.
actually, I like the humorous situations in which my heroine, Mallory Petersen, constantly finds herself. In the middle of a serious case, she encounters a few oddballs.
2. Are you an organized writer? Do you do things like take notes and make lists of characters? Or do you free write and work it out as you go?
A: Organized? Are you kidding? I have piles of paper and books and folders and notes all over the place. However, that’s personal space. As a writer I don’t necessarily take notes on every character, but I do have in my head how the characters look and sound, maybe a few quirks to make them interesting. I do use an outline because I can’t work without one. I’d be so lost.
3. What is your normal writing day like? Do you write when you are inspired or do you have a schedule?
A: My day starts around noon when I awake from partying all night long. You know, high times with a keg or two, music cranked, and long about midnight the cops come busting in, then the party moves elsewhere and we do it all over again…uh, hold on, that’s what high school was like. (Right! No, I’m serious, high school was boring, no dates, no parties.)
Actually, my day starts around three in the afternoon after I awaken from working all night. I have taekwondo class about 5:30. A little television until eleven, then eight hours working the overnight shift. It’s quiet where I work, so I have lots of time for reading and writing. I try to stick to a schedule and most times I follow it.
4. Who is your favorite author and how did they inspire you to write?
A: I guess I hooked into H.P. Lovecraft early on when I started collecting books. I’ve read him a lot throughout the years and I enjoy the way he uses language and doesn’t show you the monster. He didn’t really come into play with the writing of Beta, but with Night Shadows I drew some inspiration from his stories.
5. It’s easy to see that you have a passion for writing but is there any part of it you don’t like?
A: When I’m not. And I mean when I’m not actively writing a story. I mean when I’m finished and have to edit and edit and edit. Marketing is a tough road also because it takes time and constant effort.
6. Do you make time to read and if you do what are you reading right now?
A: I’m reading the next question in your interview wondering how to frame the answer. Lol
I love reading. I’ve read since I was a kid and have hundreds of books on my shelves waiting to be read. At the time of this interview I’m reading a Stephen Cannell book.
7. How did you get started in writing in the police mystery type genre? Is there personal life experience in the writing?
A: Personal experience? Didn’t I send you my rap sheet? Uh, don’t post that, okay? Some of the stuff I ‘allegedly’ did is kind of personal. The incident on the football field was blown way out of proportion…uh, never mind.
Seriously, I’ve enjoyed mysteries for a long time. As a youth I thought it would be fun to write my own. When I moved to Oskaloosa and started martial arts, I was so impressed with the women in my organization that I had to make my main character a woman involved with taekwondo who also is a private investigator. My personal experience is shown through some of the techniques she uses in her fight scenes.
8. Your books have been published with Amazon.com, Does this mean you see the publishing industry headed this way?
A: The publishing industry is heading in all directions, including backward. With the explosion of eBooks and eReaders, it is so much easier to get published because so many people are learning how to upload material. That’s also the danger because it’s ever more a ‘buyer beware’ market because who knows what schlock you’re liable to get. Do your research before you buy. Does the author maintain a website and/or a blog and is he/she actively promoting on different sites? If the story not self published, who’s the publisher and what else have they done?
9. Do you have any online sites where others can read more of your writings?
10. Do you have any more stories in the works? What kinds of stories do you plan to write next?
A: I have an idea for a new vampire series. Instead of the vamps flying away like bats, I think they should sparkle and disappear…what? Already done? Darn!
I have the next Mallory Petersen book due out sometime this year, plus I’m working on a sequel to the first book, Night Shadows. I also am reading a new private investigator novel to my critique group. I also need to nudge a friend who said she’d help me with a romance story.
11. Who would be your first choice to play Mallory Peterson from your book “Beta (A Mallory Peterson Mystery)”?
A: The actress Maggie Lawson. I think she is absolutely gorgeous. However, since she wasn’t available for my book trailer, I had to use another woman. I know this woman from taekwondo tournaments and I am so thankful to her for agreeing to help me out. Check it out at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vn_mDGLOPe8
12. If you could meet anyone from any time who would it be and what would be your first question?
A: I have to go with Jesus. My first question? Dude, with all the miracles you did, you couldn’t whip up a bicycle for yourself? What’s with walking everywhere? How many pairs of sandals did you wear out? Then ask for forgiveness for the football field incident…again, all circumstantial evidence.
Actually, I’d love to just have dinner with Jesus and just talk. About anything. His life, the disciples. I mean, can you imagine the conversation?