Thursday, June 20, 2013

Interview and Giveaway with D. A. Bale, Author of Running into the Darkness

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.

Where did you grow up?

DAB: I had the luxury of growing up in a small, Midwestern town. There’s something so nice about being a child and free to roam about without the concern of the boogeyman – or even being aware of his presence. Plus, when you live close to middle-America, you can get to either end of the country in a matter of hours. My parents were both teachers and we would spend the summers traveling hither and yon. I can barely remember the summers we spent in Arizona while my dad worked on his Masters, but those excursions created wanderlust in me – the travel bug bit quite early.

When did you begin writing?

DAB: When I was a little girl, my mom bought me an assortment of hand puppets, and I’d write these little “plays”, made a stage box out of big cardboard boxes (complete with a drawback curtain), and commandeered my middle sister for extra hands and voice to put on these silly little skirmishes. It kept us – and our friends and neighbors – entertained for hours during the summers.

But the desire to be an author hit me big-time during sixth grade, when a teacher read us Agatha Christie’s Ten Little Indians (also known as And Then There Were None). I’d always been a voracious reader, but that story was so unique at the time. From then on, I’ve been a big lover of the suspense/mystery/thriller genres. I attempted a novel then, but quickly got lost in how complex my story got and couldn’t keep all of the threads together in my mind. Now I don’t seem to have that problem – the more complex it is, the better I enjoy it!

Do you write during the day, at night or whenever you can sneak a few moments?

DAB: Whenever I can sneak it in – though it’s got to be more than a few moments usually. When I get going, sometimes the entire day just washes away and suddenly it’s midnight or one o’clock in the morning – and I’ve perhaps forgotten to eat throughout the day. Those moments are so great for getting really deep writing done. It means I’ve immersed so readily into the characters that I’m actually “in” the story. Some of my best writing occurs during this time. Other times, I’ll pop down an idea or a scene real quick in one of the notebooks I have scattered around the house and in my car. But that’s generally bare bones kinda stuff or just an idea that came to me. I’ll more fully flesh it out when I have time to sit down at my computer.

What is this book about?

DAB: Running into the Darkness explores the question, “How far would you go to seek revenge?” Dr. Samantha Bartlett has seen the ugly side of reality first-hand when at the tender age of five she witnessed her parents die. Later in her profession, she sees the abuse of the Hippocratic Oath – lives considered less than worthy are allowed to extinguish with little to no concern. The death of her grandmother leads her to the breaking point – and she discovers a long-standing plot involving her family. One critical decision places Samantha on a path she never would have chosen if the desire for vengeance hadn’t overwhelmed every rational thought. However, she soon discovers the plot involves more than her own family and could have critical consequences for those she still cares about – and even for America itself.

What inspired you to write it?

DAB: Several things actually. A love of history had me digging into the World War II era pretty much all of my adult life. These studies made me wonder how a man like Adolf Hitler could rise to power and become pretty much untouchable no matter the atrocities he committed against his people and the World. It blew my mind that people would even follow such a person, but such is the nature of evil – much of the time there is no RATIONAL explanation. Others just bury their heads in the sand and won’t believe what’s right in front of their face, because to acknowledge it means they should stand against it. Hard to do when your life and more so the lives of your loved ones are on the line.

Then I’ve also wondered, when bad things happen, why one person will fall over the cliff into an abyss while others rise above their circumstances. In my search, it many times boils down to having someone walk beside you during the tough times or to reach a hand to help you up. We see in Running into the Darkness that Samantha is devoid of that helping hand – or maybe it’s more the wall of protection she’s built over the years that keeps potential help from getting through to her. Read the book to decide for yourself.

Who is your favorite character from the book?

DAB: I know many times she’s not very likable because of her chip of anger and her eventual despicable actions, but Samantha is so much more than who she appears in this first book. She’s a richly layered individual, carrying so much hurt, fear, and a sense of justice for the downtrodden of humanity, while also making choices that make you want to slap some sense into her. Eventually she comes to realize, much to her horror, the person she’s become – and she’s disgusted with herself and makes an important decision near the end of the story, though it may cost her life. There’s so much growth to her throughout this storyline, and I’ve enjoyed the journey of change alongside her.

Was the road to publication smooth sailing or a bumpy ride?

DAB: Oh very bumpy indeed! I spent years attempting to find an agent through the traditional publishing route. Traditional publishing has been in such a chaotic flux for so many years now, few (if any) of the established publishing houses are willing to take a chance on an unknown. Therefore, I and my fellow critique group members began studying the self-publishing/independent publishing route. Ebook publishing is so easy and readily available now that it made a good deal of sense for me. I thought about going through a small, independent publisher, but a good friend from my critique group has had a really bad experience through that venue and is considering self-publishing all of the remainder of his work that doesn’t relate to the other particular characters they hold the rights to. Once you learn the in’s and out’s of self-publishing through the electronic mediums, it’s the best opportunity out there to an unknown like me. But it takes a lot of time for self-promotion, something I’m still not very good with – but I’m getting there. :)

Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?

DAB: Any eBook format: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Sony, Kobo, Diesel – you name it. Once the series is completed, I also plan to make it available in paperback form, but that’s going to require more work and a learning curve. Right now I’d rather be writing!

What is the best investment you have made in promoting your book?

DAB: Time – you’ve got to find time to promote your work in order to have any chance of success. Then also keep your expectations realistic – you aren’t going to make a living right out of the starting gate. I know a lot of people have bought the “How To’s” of other self-published success stories, but the one thing every single one of them leave out is that they’ve paid hundreds and thousands of dollars BUYING reviews. Nothing wrong with it in theory, but trying to sell your method without actually telling the whole of your method is deceitful – and that’s something that still gives many of my fellow writer’s cause for grief.

My preference is to make friends – connect with other fellow writers, readers, and bloggers. Eventually the trust is there that we exchange each other’s work, actually read it, and post an honest review. Or we host each other on our blogs. It’s scratching each other’s backs and in the process, making a friend at the same time. I keep in touch with many fellow writers/bloggers on a regular basis – most of whom I’ve never met in person. My hope is that as my work becomes more known, I can introduce my readers to other good writers and help everyone in turn.

What is one piece of advice you would like to share with aspiring authors everywhere?

DAB: Work hard – do everything in your power to write the best you possibly can. That means to go back to the basics, learn the proper structure of a sentence, maybe take a continuing ed class, research, research, research, know the rules (and when to break them) – and also read as much as possible in your selected genre(s). It’s amazing how many times I pick up a book and find either a completely disjointed mess or a lack of even rudimentary writing structure. If you aren’t involved in a GOOD critique group, find one! It doesn’t even have to be an in-person group, what with the huge number of online groups out there. Just make sure you put your big boy and girl pants on, ‘cause you’re gonna need them. If you’re thin-skinned and can’t stand a little heat (balanced with some encouragement) then don’t bother trying to go the way of becoming a published author. The more open you are to solid, constructive criticism, the more opportunity you will have to grow as a writer. Then dig in and just get busy writing!

What is up next for you?

DAB: The second book in the Deepest Darkness series is already out – Piercing the Darkness. Now I’m busy working on the third and final book in the series – Rising from the Darkness. Somewhere in there I’m also hoping to finish the fan requested sequel to my short story, "The Study," but it still needs a bit more work. I’ve never written for fan requests before, and though it is such an honor to be asked to do so, it’s also quite a bit more difficult.

Thanks so much to The Book Connection for being so gracious in hosting this stop on my Tribute Books blog tour. This has truly been an honor.

Price/Format: $1.99 ebook
Pages: 236
Publisher: self-published
Release: November 3, 2011

Kindle buy link ($1.99):

Nook buy link ($1.99):

Smashwords ($1.99):
GIVEAWAY: ($25 Amazon gift card or PayPal cash):

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Tribute Books said...

D A, I like your approach when it comes to making friends with bloggers, etc. You and Cheryl are the embodiment of that philosophy, so I'm delighted you were able to connect :)

D A Bale said...

Cheryl - thanks so much for the insightful questions. I had fun spending some time walking down memory lane (it's a loooong journey these days). :-)

Thanks, Nicole! It makes the solitary existence of writing feel more like a family.

Anon said...

Is the giveaway open worldwide or only to US residents?

Anon said...

Is the giveaway open worldwide or only to US residents?