Kindle Author Interview: Dave White

Dave White, author of Witness to Death, discusses his book, his journey as a writer, and self-publishing on Kindle.

DAVID WISEHART: What can you tell us about Witness to Death?

DAVE WHITE: Witness to Death is a dark thriller about down on his luck teacher, John Brighton. He follows his ex's new boyfriend to prove the new guy is a cheater, but instead encounters a gun battle on the banks of the Hudson River. From there John is on the run and being hunted by a vicious assassin. There are terrorists, torture, explosions, a love triangle and all sorts of other fun stuff you find in a thriller.

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

DAVE WHITE: Lots and lots of revision. Each of my characters starts with as a particular type—a young teacher, a badass spy, that sort of thing, and they build from there. But, I find, when I finish a draft, there are times where certain characters sound alike or does something that doesn't fit with the rest of his motivations. So that's when it's time go back find out what's trying to drive someone to do something. What was their past like? How are they different or similar to their friends? Each draft changes the characters in the book slightly until each is his or her own person.

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

DAVE WHITE: It's funny, but I don't often imagine an ideal reader. A lot of people like different types of books depending on their mood. I love thrillers and PI novels, but right now I'm looking to try out some sci-fi. For Witness, I think anyone who loves an action-packed thrill ride is going to enjoy this book, but they might be surprised to find there is actual heart here. The characters are in their late 20s and are trying to figure out who they are. Anyone who's looking for a book that is filled with nail-biting moments and packed with real emotions is going to enjoy this one. I'm hoping this book will sucker punch the reader on multiple levels. a good way.

DAVID WISEHART: What was your journey as a writer?

DAVE WHITE: I started writing Internet-based short stories about a New Jersey Private Investigator, Jackson Donne. In 2002, I wrote a story called "Closure" that dealt with the after effects of 9/11. The story won an award and gained some attention. I wrote a few more Donne stories (collected in the Kindle anthology More Sinned Against), and then decided to try a novel. I ended up with two PI novels: When One Man Dies and The Evil That Men Do. Both featured Donne, and were nominated for the Shamus Award. Now I've written Witness to Death and have decided to try publishing it myself. The results so far have been pretty good.

DAVID WISEHART: What is your writing process?

DAVE WHITE: By day, I'm a teacher. So, I try to write when I get home. You know, go to the gym, get home, settle in, and bang out 1,000 words. I don't outline my first drafts, but have outlined revised drafts. In the summer, when I have more time, I'm more able to focus and get longer writing days in. I usually try to save the summer for revisions. This summer the plan is to dig in and really revise the heck out of the novel I'm working on.

DAVID WISEHART: What authors most inspire you?

DAVE WHITE: Oh, wow. There are so many. I grew up on a steady diet of Robert B. Parker, so his Spenser novels really stand out. But I think I learn something from everything I read. When I read or watch something really special, that usually inspires me. Right now Steven Moffat's work on TV is pushing me to be a better writer. I really think he's too clever for his own good. I'm always blown away by his work.

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

DAVE WHITE: Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane. A great puzzle book. A great interpretation of gothic horror. And a terrifically dark ending. It's stuck with me for years.

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

DAVE WHITE: I've hit the Kindle boards, I've done interviews, I've tried to get featured on Kindle sites. I've tried to use Twitter and Facebook, but backed off that because I was pretty worried I was going to annoy people. But every little bit helps, so I tried to do as much as possible.

DAVID WISEHART: Why publish on Kindle?

DAVE WHITE: I was inspired by a great ebook-only book. Choke on Your Lies by Anthony Neil Smith is my favorite book of 2011 so far. When I read that, I realized how many quality novels were being published as ebook exclusives. Smith and I share an agent (Allan Guthrie) so I asked my agent about the Kindle. He thought Witness could do well. So, I gave it a shot.

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

DAVE WHITE: It's tricky for first-time authors, isn't it? If I hadn't been previously published, I probably wouldn't have given this a shot. I think it helps to have a reputation of some sort, whether it's writing short stories that people can seek out or having a previous book deal. That's not true for all cases, but I'm new to the Kindle game and definitely don't have all the answers. The only thing I can stress is to write the best book you can. Go over it with a fine tooth comb. Revise, revise, revise. Get it professionally edited. Do as much as possible to put a professional product out there.

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


Dave White is the two time Shamus Award Nominated author of When One Man Dies and The Evil That Men Do. His work has been nominated for the Strand Critics Award, the Million Writers Award and won the Derringer Award for Best Short Story. When not writing, he teaches English to 8th graders in New Jersey.

Read his blog and follow him on twitter.

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