Kindle Author Interview: Paul Mansfield Keefe

Paul Mansfield Keefe, author of Diggers's Bones, discusses his book, his journey as a writer, and self-publishing on Kindle.

DAVID WISEHART: What can you tell us about Digger's Bones?

PAUL MANSFIELD KEEFE: Digger’s Bones is the first book in the Angela Cooper series. It’s intended for ages 17 and up. It’s an action thriller with a heart pounding pace. There’s an underlying religious controversy that I hope many book clubs may find interesting, but it never derails the intense forward motion of the story.

Here’s the official blurb:
Archaeologist Angie Cooper’s colleague and friend, Tarek “Digger” Rashid, is murdered in front of her. But not before giving her cryptic photographic clues to a hidden tomb and the two thousand year old bones within. Angie must battle a ruthless hitman, hired by a U.S. senator with presidential aspirations, and a sociopathic religious zealot while overcoming severe acrophobia. Caught in a web of lies, deceit, and betrayal, she works to unravel the secret of Digger’s bones. Bones that affect the lives of all they touch.

Digger’s Bones is an action packed thriller that takes you from the churches and burial tombs of ancient Jerusalem to the harrowing cliffs of Bandelier National Monument and the glacier capped Zugspitze in Germany. Angie Cooper, her career in shambles, finds herself on the run from mercenaries, the Holy See, the FBI, and Interpol while trying to solve one of archaeology’s great mysteries. Yet some things are better left in the past.
DAVID WISEHART: What research did you do for your book?

PAUL MANSFIELD KEEFE: I did an extensive amount of research of the archaeological, architectural, and historical significance of each location in the book. I wanted to assure the reader that they could trust me in telling a story that, for all intensive purposes, could actually be true. To that end, I gathered research from archaeological experts and, of course, searched Wikipedia and other online sources for information and was sure to cross-check my facts as much as possible.

I also researched the Catholic Church to ensure that I understood the impact that an archaeological find might have upon the church. Again, I wanted the reader to put aside their own judgments and simply live inside the story, and that could only be accomplished by my understanding the people and institutions in the story through research.

DAVID WISEHART: How do you create and maintain dramatic tension?

PAUL MANSFIELD KEEFE: Dramatic tension is created through the perceived danger of the unknown and the characters methods for handling it. It’s a matter of plotting. Each character has wants and needs that conflict with each other and at the same time they all seek, or fear, the same object. The tension is the conflict of their inner desires opposing the outer world of reality and how it plays against their personalities.

DAVID WISEHART: How do you develop and differentiate your characters?

PAUL MANSFIELD KEEFE: I knew from the start that Angie Cooper would be an every-woman, no super heroic powers or hard whiskey drinking personality. I wanted Angie to be able to dig deep down when in trouble and find her inner-fighter, like most anyone might do when in trying circumstances. She needed to be trustworthy and dependable, someone who would follow through on a dangerous adventure because of a promise to a friend.

The antagonist was a different sort of character. He needed to be ruthless, professional, and just plain scary. As the story unfolded he changed with it, not his role of antagonist but rather his own world view. The story allowed him to become a fully realized character rather than an ordinary and overused bad guy stereotype.

Other characters came about to support the plot. Each has a significant role to play in telling the story but none of them overpower the two main characters.

DAVID WISEHART: Who do you imagine is your ideal reader?

PAUL MANSFIELD KEEFE: Reviewers of the book have posited that Angie Cooper is like Indiana Jones, and that the book itself is similar to a Dan Brown book. What I like about those ideas is that they point to the type of reader that I think would enjoy the book. Anyone seeking a fast-paced, action-packed, thriller who also enjoys a little bit of historical detail will love this book. Note that the book, although it has an underlying message, was written first and foremost as a thriller; it’s an old fashioned page-turner. Not unlike a Hollywood blockbuster, Digger’s Bones lets you forget about your day for a moment and just have some fun.

DAVID WISEHART: What was your journey as a writer?

PAUL MANSFIELD KEEFE: I started writing in high school, poetry, song lyrics, and the like. I truly loved writing and did a lot of it. However, I had a high school teacher that did everything in his power to make my life miserable. He accused me of plagiarism for a poem I wrote saying it was too professional for the likes of me, and I had to bring in my rough drafts to prove I had written it.

That turned me off to writing for many years. Some time ago I was creating animated characters and started thinking of some scripts to use them in. I soon realized that I had more in me than a script and started writing my first story. A little over two years ago I had the idea for Digger’s Bones and I refocused my writing on it. It started slowly as there was a lot of researched involved. More than once the story shifted and I had to rewrite large portions of it. I promised myself that no matter what, I was not going to have an unfinished novel that I tell people about for the next twenty years. So, I pushed through, even when I doubted that I could pull the plot together, I pushed, and eventually my first novel was complete.

DAVID WISEHART: What is your writing process?

PAUL MANSFIELD KEEFE: I write mostly by seat-of-the-pants. Ideally I would like to be able to create an outline that would allow me more time and a more focused approach, but it just doesn’t happen that way. I find that sometimes I’m writing a scene near the end that inspires me to change huge sections elsewhere. But if it drives the story forward than I believe it’s worthwhile. So, I sit in my chair in front of my computer and I dream up a scene I want to work on and then I type and type and type until I’m done. Then I do the one thing you aren’t supposed to do, I go back and edit the scene again and again. Sometimes the scene gets thrown out and so the editing is wasted, but other times a gem is found in the ashes and is moved to another scene.

DAVID WISEHART: What authors most inspire you?

PAUL MANSFIELD KEEFE: I have some trepidation with this question because I think it gives readers the idea that you write like the authors that inspire you. For some I suppose that’s true, but for me it isn’t. In the mystery category I’ve always loved David Baldacci, Tony Hillerman, Sue Grafton, and James Patterson, in sci-fi and fantasy, Frank Herbert, J. R. R. Tolkien, and Piers Anthony. None of which I write like.

DAVID WISEHART: What one book, written by someone else, do you wish you'd written yourself?

PAUL MANSFIELD KEEFE: I guess I’d have to say, Dune. I think, more than any other book of my youth, this inspired me to think about a story on a broader scale. Socio-political values, family values, right and wrong from a purely human point of view, all mixing to tell a grand story. It was very inspiring.

DAVID WISEHART: How did you create your cover?

PAUL MANSFIELD KEEFE: I created it using Adobe Fireworks. I bought a photo of a skull and made it look more aged, created a background that looked somewhat tomb like, picked out a font that I thought matched the look and was done. I used a template from to size the image correctly for the print version.

DAVID WISEHART: How have you marketed and promoted your work?

PAUL MANSFIELD KEEFE: As any typical new author might tell you, I have a very limited marketing budget. Up until now I have been using mostly Facebook and twitter, as well as a few review blogs, to promote my book. Next I’m headed to my local Barnes & Noble and Indie book sellers in an effort to see if they will carry a local author’s book if I do a book signing; fingers crossed.

DAVID WISEHART: Why publish on Kindle?

PAUL MANSFIELD KEEFE: Kindle was my first thought when it came to publishing. I have one myself and have a wealth of great novels I’ve found because they were initially on Kindle. I really believe that Kindle breaks down the barrier for Indie authors, allowing them to reach a much broader audience at a reasonable cost.

DAVID WISEHART: What advice would you give to a first-time author thinking of self-publishing on Kindle?

PAUL MANSFIELD KEEFE: Do it. Don’t hesitate, there’s no time like the present to reach out to your potential audience through the Kindle. It’s easy to do and there’s no upfront cost. If you’ve gone the route of traditional agents and publishers, like I have, and found the doors to be closed to all but the few, then join the many on Kindle and publish your novel today.

DAVID WISEHART: Thanks, and best of luck with your books.


Paul Mansfield Keefe was born in Lowell, Massachusetts and grew up in Manchester, New Hampshire. He worked as a multimedia artist and programmer for non-profits and corporations creating websites and applications since the early years of the Internet. Music and animation led him to realize his story telling talents could best be put to use in writing novels. Digger’s Bones, the first book in the Angie Cooper Series, is his first novel.

Visit his website.

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