Author Bio of Debbie Dyke: Debbie Dyke is a novelist and businesswoman from Alexandria, Virginia, and has a background in military intelligence, the stock market, executive recruiting and writing. An Army brat, she’s lived in Turkey, France, Germany, Italy, Albania and Holland. She graduated from the American High School in Naples, Italy then attending University of Maryland, Munich Campus. She graduated from Georgetown University and holds a Bachelors of Science and Masters degree in National Security. Debbie has two grown children, Lisa and Jordan and has been married to Michael for over thirty wonderful years. Debbie has written 5 screenplays, one Wall Street calendar and two novels.
Q & A with Debbie Dyke
Describe yourself by using only five words: Happy. Engaging. Competitive. Persistent. Curious.
What’s the writing/editing/publishing process like for you? I’m also a very fast typist and can get things out of my head onto the keyboard without much of a struggle. As a military brat, I draw on all my life experiences to bring out unique characters and situations. Having worked in military intelligence and the stock market, I have plenty of unusual situations to draw upon. I find such joy in writing; it comes natural and doesn’t feel like work. I like finding out things about people and new worlds. I’m naturally curious so this inspires my work and hopefully the reader can feel the energy in my writing.
As for my surroundings, I write at my old teak desk cluttered with files, sharpie pens and several large screens. I live in an historic house built in the 1850’s and have my office here. I have several large black leather comfortable chairs, oriental rugs, and wall to wall bookshelves filled with an eclectic mix of books. My office is very cozy and conductive to writing with abandon. When I go into the edit mode, I sit in my comfy leather chair with my feet propped up and red pen in hand.
My style of writing is fast paced, lots of action moving the story along. I don’t give long winded descriptive or deep reflective passages. I like to set up the scene, give a few key details and then let the dialog and characters take over. I try to write scenes that advance the plot and make the reader hungry for more. I started as a screenwriter and learned to be very succinct in descriptions and dialog, it’s what makes you turn the page. I don’t get bogged down in morality, life observations, but use themes and phrases that move the story along. I put movement and dialog on every page and try for bigger action every three or four chapters. I want to shake up the story and vary the tension/speed of the scenes to keep the reader guessing. I am telling a story that I hope will interest the reader to not want to put down the book and to find out more. I send my lead character on a quest and place her investment girlfriends on the run.
The most challenging part of writing a novel is keeping the story moving along. There needs to be urgency in the story, you need an action line or heart beat that keeps the reader turning pages. The ultimate compliment for me from a reader is that my novel is a page turner! I learned this ‘urgency’ technique writing scripts — always leave a scene at the earliest and start the next scene at the latest. It creates interest and energy in the story.
For me, the hardest part of writing The Bloody Mary Club was…. rewriting. After 17 rewrites over several years it took a lot of concentration to keep track of the characters, the dialog and plot points and making the changes organic from begging to the end. Several times I wasn’t even sure which scenes were cut and which were still in. I had to come up with outlines and note cards to keep track of the story, the characters, plot points, arcs and while at the same time keep the pacing tight. One of the most helpful tricks was to create an ‘edit/cut’ file for sections or passages that I deleted. I was able to go back to that file when I did the final rewrite and add parts back in that were needed. Once the writing was done, I set it down for several weeks for a cooling off period. I needed to get some distance so that I could read it with fresh eyes.
I went the literary agent route and it wasn’t good for me. I ended up firing my agents after 17 re-writes. They had me chasing every trend in women’s lit, “make it more Sex in The City”, “more Devil Wore Prada,” get a little more “Ya-ya Sisterhood” After I cut them loose, I rewrote it to my original concept. I don’t blame the agents one bit, they are part of the industry and the reason that self-publishing has flourished. Let me just add that agents are chasing the money trail and don’t want to take chances on something that’s unique or off the beaten path They are squeezed by publishers who want them to put resources into books that have an immediate large market. They don’t want to take chances on new writers. It’s easier to publish Grisham, Picoult, and Baldacci, they have instant markets. Those books sell. The publishing industry falls back into mass market best-sellers. Just like Hollywood with all their sequels. Often when a publisher finds a writer that they want to back, they try to make their work ‘marketable’ by chasing trends.
I wasn’t able to get Bloody Mary Club published even with representation by my two agents. Publishing is a business and they don’t want to put money into a project that might not have a built in following. Back in 2005, who would put money into promoting a book that’s a financial thriller? Really? Well, times are changing. After the stock market, real estate and banking meltdowns, people are more focused on their finances and worried about retirement. Folks are scared. It’s time for financial novels that are fun and readable to come into the mainstream.
The publishing revolution has come and I am enjoying the change of events. I decided to publish The Bloody Mary Club in E-Book and paperback. Honestly, I had a great team! I can’t say enough about my book designer, the cover is eye popping! It was just as I envisioned it — only better. My editor was amazing, she gave me great advice. She told me to publish in E format as well as paperback. And since I’m the publisher, I can say she’s a great gal to work with! Sure, there are lots of trials and tribulations dealing with marketing and publishing, but I love every minute of it. One has to keep in mind that the various publishing options weren’t available 5 years ago and it’s truly amazing how technology has transformed the publishing world.
Hard/paperback or eBooks? Why? I’m a big fan of paperbacks and eBooks. I think it’s smart to offer your work in both mediums. I like the easy of publishing an eBook. It took all of 15 minutes to load The Bloody Mary Club onto Amazon. E-books are cheaper to produce and cost less than a paperback. Also, as a publisher, you get to keep a greater percentage of the sale of the book. It’s a very exciting time to be an author because the e-book industry makes it easy to publish and you can reach a large audience within a short period of time. More and younger people are reading books online. These young people will soon be adults and their reading habits will follow them into adulthood. EBooks will become the industry norm in the near future. With the growth of computer technology and variety of e-book readers available (Kindle, Nook, etc) they will become cheaper and have amazing features. With that said, I’m also a believer in paperbacks, I’ve sold more paperbacks than eBooks right now and I think this is because people want them signed (you can’t sign an E-Book now can you?). As my publicity campaign kicks off, I’m sure this ratio will change and the scales will tip towards EBooks. Maybe I’m old school, but, I do like to hold a book in my hands. The nice thing about a paperback is that you can pass it along when you’re done reading. My editor convinced me to publish in paperback form along with E-Book because she said that there is still a market for good quality paperbacks and that it would be best to offer both. People might want to read it first in e-book then go back and buy the paperback — she was so right.
Where did the idea for your book, The Bloody Mary Club? My inspiration to write The Bloody Mary Club came to me in many ways. I’ve always been interested in the stock market and the idea of an all-woman investment club was my hook. I added the Bloody Mary Drink after hearing about its historical tie to Alexandria. It was a convergence of ideas and I knew I had to write this story. My first medium was in script format but it felt limited with just dialog and scene settings. It was an abbreviated version of the story in my head. When I wrote the novel the characters came to life and I knew it was meant to be a novel.
I always say people lie about two things: sex and money. I prefer to explore what money (not sex) or lack of it does to people and what lengths they will go through to get it. Fifty Shades of Grey does a darn good job of covering the sex side of things! I’ll stick to what I know — the money side of things!
What is your favorite word? Amore! That’s ‘love’ in Italian. Close tie with – Avanti! That’s Italian for ‘get ahead/move forward.’
How do you deal with writer’s block? Writer’s block comes and goes, but I know that one way to overcome this — forced writing. I’m a disciplined writer. If I wait for inspiration to strike, it could be hit or miss. A writer must overcome the block this from time to time. If writing isn’t your profession and it’s just a hobby then that’s fine., writers block isn’t a big deal. You can wait it out until inspiration hits. If you consider yourself a writer then, just like any job, you have to put in regular time. I write Monday through Friday and keep to a strict page count. I don’t leave the chair until I’ve written at least 5 to 10 pages a day. I always edit on the weekends.
Do you have any guilty pleasures? If so, what are they? Of course I have guilty pleasures. There are so many things that secretly enjoy, my list is long: Pasta of any kind, Coffee ice cream, chocolate, red wine, watching “The Soup” and ‘Fashion Police,” singing along to any Tom Jones songs, watching “Anchor Man” and my all time favorite, “Malibu’s Most Wanted.” I make up my own rap songs and totally embarrass my kids!
Who inspires you? I’m inspired by working moms who overcome personal and professional obstacles and just keep going. Being a working mom is one the most challenging choices a woman can make. Out of necessity or choice, a working mom juggles lots of responsibilities and it’s a wonder how moms keep up with the pace of life. It’s a hard job and sometimes thankless. In this economy where it takes two paychecks just to keep afloat, being a working mom is even harder. The pressure to succeed at work, bring home the bacon, have quality time with the kids, drive them to sports and activities, do housework, workout, and keep the marriage flame going is sometimes overwhelming. Hats off to all the working moms!
How would you spend a perfect day? My perfect day would start out with a double espresso and croissant while reading the Wall Street Journal and watching the opening of the stock trading at the NYSE on TV. After a leisurely breakfast, I would go for a facial then to have my hair done. I would meet my girlfriends for a wonderful lunch topped off with goblets of red wine and lots of laughs. After such a challenging day, take a nap so that I would be refreshed for a fabulous happy hour with husband and kids.
What author(s) would you like to meet? Of course – it would be from the finance world! My all time favorite writer is Michael Lewis, he’s tops on my list for his expert financial writing and amazing story telling ability He’s written my two all time favorite books: The Big Short and Liar’s Poker. These are classics that are a must read.
Do you have any advice for new writers? It’s very hard to make a living writing. There are very few that can make decent living writing novels. The best way to insure success is to perfect your craft by writing, taking classes, accept criticism from readers, and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Don’t expect perfection from your first or even tenth draft. You will write badly, everyone does, so don’t get down on yourself for this. You will have plenty of time to rewrite. As in the financial world, there are no shortcuts, you have to keep writing and improving if you want to be a professional writer. Writers have to learn their craft. The absolutely best way to improve as a writer is to write… write… write. And then write some more.
Can you tell us about any upcoming projects? In between blogging, interviews, posting, attending book clubs and book marketing for The Bloody Mary Club I’m not sure when I’m going to have time to finish my second one! This book promoting is hard work! (It’s also very rewarding.) Seriously, I’m working on my second novel, Gina’s Tonic, which is the next in the financial series. I’m half way through the first draft. The gin is flowing and I’m having fun with it. Here’s what it’s about:
Numbered Accounts, banking secrecy, tax havens, bribery, kickbacks, laundered drug money, sham transactions and skimming — banking gone bad. This thriller takes on the world of international finance, money launderers and organized crime. Gina Van Story challenges her nemesis, a trust officer with sticky fingers working at Beck Bank. This thief helps herself to client accounts, skips town only to find that she’s taken a Columbian drug money account. She’s discovered and soon becomes the cartel’s day trader who must produce profits or be executed. Gina and her Bloody Mary Club gal pals masterminds a clever take down, recovers the stolen funds, hands over the rotten drug cartel to US government and saves Johnny’s bank once again. Loaded with twists and turns, this thriller delves into money laundering and organized crime.
I like to communicate with my readers through Facebook, my blog and Author webpage. I would love to receive feedback and encourage readers to reach out to me. I often get emails from readers asking me specific questions about investments, or trading strategies, or advice on how to finance college, I do not mind these questions because I sense that there’s a lot of bad advice out there. I’m always excited to receive contact from readers that I’ve know from my past. Out of the blue I will receive an email from someone living in Italy or Albania who’s read about my novel. I’m grateful to reconnect with people from my past and I’m happy to reach out to new fans.
Let’s pump up the interest in Financial Thrillers!
**Comments by Debbie: Thank you for the opportunity to discuss my journey with you. I hope you enjoy reading The Bloody Mary Club and come away with an appreciation of all things financial!
**Contact Debbie Dyke!:
Author website, Debbie Dyke
**Buy “The Bloody Mary Club!”