J. Mark Bertrand!
How long have you known that you were a writer? Did you receive a clear “call?” Or have you just loved writing all your life?
I always wanted to be a writer. But then I always wanted to be a spy, a detective, a general, and a ninja, too. None of the other options worked out (and in the case of spy, even if it had, I couldn’t talk about it) so there was nothing left to do but write!
LOL. What is the genre you write in? Would you explain what it is?
I write crime fiction, specifically police procedurals, a form of detective story with a high degree of realism. My books are about people doing terrible things, and the impact those transgressions have on both the victims and the police.
How do you spend your writing days? Do you set goals to reach a certain number of words per day? Can you give us a general idea of how long it takes you to write a novel?
When I’m writing a first draft, I focus on one chapter at a time. I’ve already done my planning, and probably written a few “false starts” trying to get into the story. Once I have a feel for it, I shoot for one chapter a day, moving forward through the story until I reach the end. Then I go back to revise and rewrite. I read the whole thing out loud to myself. I’m not done until I feel completely satisfied with the result. I can write a first draft in a month, month and a half, but all the work before and after requires time, too. For me, the process changes book to book, too.
Tell my readers about your new book (I loved it and posted a review). What can readers expect to get from reading it? How and where can readers buy your book?
I’m writing a series of detective novels featuring a Houston homicide cop named Roland March. In the first book, Back on Murder, which released in July, we catch up to him as his once-promising career is on the skids. He catches a break and suddenly finds himself at the center of two investigations: a multiple homicide at a Southwest Houston gang house and the headline-grabbing disappearance of a beautiful suburban teen. He’s the only one who thinks there’s a connection. The next book in the series comes out in Summer 2011. Readers can find my books in their local stores or order them online.
Do you ever feel like giving up? Most people don’t understand the stress, the work, and the joy of being a writer. How tenuous becoming a writer is. Do you care to share how it feels, what discouraging/encouraging times you’ve gone through? Who’s inspired you the most?
Since the people I write about have a very hard job that involves danger, dead bodies, and enormous amounts of paperwork, I can’t complain too much about getting to write novels. I enjoy it too much to think of it as work, even when it is, and so far no one has taken a shot at me.
Would you explain how you “chose” (or were chosen by) a publisher? Do you just go “inny, minny, miny, moe?” Grin. Now, that you’re published, can you sit back and relax from the success you’ve experienced?
Dave Long, my editor at Bethany House, suggested I try my hand at crime fiction. Not long after that, one of his authors, my friend Deeanne Gist, asked me to co-author a book with her. That’s how I ended up having two books, Beguiled and Back on Murder, releasing in 2010. The moral of the story? Do the best you can, and know the right people. Easier said than done, I realize.
The hard work begins once you’re published. The bigger the book, the bigger the risk, so there’s no question of sitting back and relaxing. Maybe some day, once there’s enough momentum behind my books. For now, though, it’s push, push, push.
Do you mind telling us some of your likes and dislikes? Hobbies, interests? Where would you like to travel if you could?
I’m a voracious reader, naturally. When I’m not reading or writing, I have an unusual sideline: I run BibleDesignBlog.com, the world’s foremost blog on Bible design and binding. (Well, it’s also the only blog on the subject, which explains the foremost part.) This ties in with the travel question, because there’s a company in Glasgow, Scotland called R. L. Allan that makes magnificent Bibles. My wife and I went to Edinburgh for our honeymoon, so I’d love to take her back and combine business with pleasure. Oh, and did I mention that I’m a Francophile, too? I grew up in Louisiana, where the Code Napoléon is still the law, so I’m always daydreaming about returning to France, too.
Would you give us your blog or webpage so everyone can check it out? Anything else you’d like to share? Promotional information?
Back on Murder has a dedicated webpage at http://www.backonmurder.com/. There are excerpts, endorsements, extras -- lots of good stuff to check out. I also blog about crime fiction at http://www.crimegenre.com/. Then there’s my main page, http://www.jmarkbertrand.com/, a clearing house for all things Bertrand-related. There are links to all my books there!
Thanks so much, Mark, for sharing a little of your writing life with us.
Blessings, dear readers!