I’d like to welcome B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree DV Berkom to talk with me about her book, The Body Market. DV is a slave to the voices in her head. As the bestselling author of two award-winning thriller series (Leine Basso and Kate Jones), her love of creating resilient, kick-*ss women characters stems from a lifelong addiction to reading spy novels, mysteries, and thrillers, and longing to find the female equivalent within those pages.
Raised in the Midwest, she received a BA in political science from the University of Minnesota and promptly moved to Mexico to live on a sailboat. Many, many cross-country moves later, she now lives near Seattle, Washington with the love of her life, Mark, a chef-turned-contractor, and several imaginary characters who love to tell her what to do.
DV, How did you discover indieBRAG?
I’d seen the medallion on several books and had hosted a group of B.R.A.G. honorees on my blog, so was curious. I submitted The Body Market and was thrilled to learn that The Body Market had been selected.
Tell me a little about your book, The Body Market.
Former assassin Leine Basso is hired by a wealthy Beverly Hills power couple to find their missing daughter, Elise, last seen partying with her boyfriend at a club in Tijuana. At first, police believe the two teenagers are the victims of a carjacking. But when Leine finds their missing vehicle with the boyfriend’s mutilated body inside, and the local cartel warns her away, she knows if Elise isn’t already dead, she will be soon, or worse. In the lethal world of organized crime, there’s always a worse. As Leine races to uncover the reason behind Elise Bennett’s disappearance, she must also battle the powerful interests fighting to keep her from the truth.
Who designed your book cover?
I created the first cover myself. I wanted a dark and moody feel, and was pretty happy with how it turned out. That being said, I’ve just re-branded the Leine Basso series with a professional cover artist from Deranged Doctor Design. Each of the 4 covers are completely different from the old ones and have a uniform feel to them, making them instantly recognizable. It’s exciting to see another person’s vision of the series.
How did you come up with the title for your book?
Titles are either really easy or really hard for me—never anything in the middle. Since I was having a hard time coming up with a title for this book, I asked my writing group for some ideas one night at dinner. A fellow thriller aficionado came up with The Body Market and it stuck.
Tell me about Leine’s strengths and weaknesses?
Leine’s been trained as an assassin and has worked all over the world perfecting her craft, which, at the outset, seems like it would be a strength. But after taking a on a job that went sideways due to her deceitful former boss, she vowed to never again work in that arena, thereby turning the strength into a perceived weakness. In Serial Date, the first book in the series, she agrees to act as security for a hugely popular reality show, and ends up having to use her training to try to outwit a serial killer. This allows what she views as a weakness to once again turn into a strength. She also finds it hard to allow herself to love. Burdened by guilt for what she did as an assassin and not feeling worthy of love, she struggles with her attraction to homicide detective Santiago Jensen.
Leine seems to get in sticky situations with unsavory people. Could you give an example of how she deals with those challenges?
Being a trained assassin Leine tends to look for a more straight-forward approach to resolving problems, and is no stranger to dealing with unsavory types. Often, her past gets in the way of a peaceful resolution, and she’s forced to match her enemy’s methods, including the use of lethal force. I set out to create a female character who could go head-to-head with the Jack Reachers of the world. Judging by the response from readers, it worked.
How did she get involved in solving crime in the first place?
In Serial Date, Leine is pulled deep into the twisted world of a serial killer when he kidnaps her daughter. In the second book, Bad Traffick, Leine finds what appears to be her true calling, and a way to fight the guilt she feels for having been a hired gun. In this novel, while acting as security for an A-list actor, she becomes caught up in a search for a missing runaway and uncovers a human trafficking network. By the third book, The Body Market, Leine is working full-time for SHEN, an anti-trafficking organization, and is hired to search for the missing daughter of a Beverly Hills power couple. Cargo, the latest release in the series, deals with both human and animal trafficking, and takes an unflinching look at ivory poaching and canned hunts, as well as the greed, corruption, and deadly methods prevalent today in the trafficking of endangered species. In this fourth book, Leine has come full-circle and she’s starting to understand herself and her role in the world, using her talents and abilities to right wrongs and fight crime.
Why did you choose Los Angeles and Tijuana as the settings for your story?
In The Body Market, Leine was living Los Angeles in order to be close to her daughter and her love interest, Detective Santiago Jensen. I was having dinner with a writer friend and discussing story lines, when we came up with the idea of having a spoiled teenager from Beverly Hills cross the border into Mexico to party, and end up on the wrong end of a criminal organization. I’m familiar with Mexico, having lived there for a time, and enjoyed writing about it again. Mexico figures prominently in my other series, The Kate Jones Thrillers.
Where can readers buy your book?
The Body Market is available online at major retailers like Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBooks, and KOBO.
What are you working on next?
I’ve received several emails and Facebook messages from readers to write another Kate Jones thriller, so am playing around with the timeline for what will be the eighth book in that series. I love writing from Kate’s point of view, so am really looking forward to revisiting her and the rest of the characters! After that, I’m planning a possible prequel with Leine Basso that will answer some of the questions raised regarding her early years and her work as an assassin.
Do you stick with just genre?
I have, yes. I love thrillers in particular and suspense in general, and doubt I’d be any good at writing sci-fi, or fantasy, or romance. I’d probably end up putting a grisly murder in with the romance, and couldn’t promise a happily-ever-after
Where in your home do you like to write and what is your process?
I have a dedicated writing office with a big window. I used to be a seat-of-the-pants kinda gal (start writing with just an idea and no outline), but after attending a workshop on plotting a few years ago I’ve become more of a hybrid writer. I don’t really use an outline, per se—I plot out a timeline, making notes of scenes I’d like to use, working things out so I keep the tension building throughout the book. It’s like a road map and makes my job easier. If I can come up with 15-20 scenes I know it’s an idea that will sustain a book. I’ve found I write much more quickly that way, with way fewer dead ends and plot holes.
When I’m working on a book, time spent writing varies between 5-6 hours every weekday, less on the weekends. The rest of the time I’m answering emails and working on promotion. I go over what I’ve written the day before, checking for typos and incorrect grammar before I continue on. Then I go over it again before I submit sections to my critique group, all of whom go over it yet again and will usually find things I need to address. Once the first draft is finished, I run through it at least twice more before I send it out to beta readers for their input. After I receive their suggestions and I’m satisfied with the draft, I send it to a professional editor.
When you’re stuck on a scene in your story, what do you do?
Stop writing and do something else. Getting stuck is just my subconscious telling me it’s still working on the story and to give it time, or that I’ve taken a wrong turn somewhere. I trust my process, so usually don’t get too worried if I’m “blocked.”
Is there a favorite food or drink you like to enjoy while writing?
I’m one of those boring, healthy writers J I drink water and on occasion snack on carrots or something salty with some crunch.
Is there a particular hobby you enjoy when you’re not writing?
Anything that involves the outdoors like hiking, kayaking, camping, snorkeling, swimming. My husband and I love to travel, so we plan our trips wherever those activities are prevalent. I used to be a professional photographer, and enjoy doing that, as well.
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A Message from indieBRAG:
We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview DV Berkum who is the author of, The Body Market, our medallion honoree at indieBRAG . To be awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion TM, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as, The Body Market, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.