Author of two bestselling thriller series featuring strong female protagonists (Kate Jones & Leine Basso), DV Berkom is no stranger to reading and writing fast-paced, exciting stories. Having grown up on a steady diet of spy novels, James Bond movies and mysteries, her natural inclination is to keep the reader on the edge of their seat and guessing until the last page. Her latest release, YUCATAN DEAD, is the 6th in the Kate Jones Thriller Series and continues Kate’s race to stay one step ahead of her enemy, vicious drug lord Roberto Salazar.
Raised in the Midwest, DV earned her BA in Political Science from the University of Minnesota and promptly moved to Mexico to live on a sailboat. Several years and at least a dozen moves later, she now lives outside of Seattle, Washington with her sweetheart Mark, an ex-chef-turned-contractor, and writes whenever she gets a chance.
What inspires you to write?
You name it, it inspires me. An overheard conversation, a snippet of news, a documentary, a dream. I’ve used all of these as jumping-off points for my writing. BAD TRAFFICK, was inspired after watching a documentary on child sex-trafficking. SERIAL DATE came from a seriously whacked dream about reality shows I had one night. BAD SPIRITS ended up being my response to the news stories from our neighbors to the south describing the rising violence and influence of the drug cartels.
After a recent trip to the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, I returned home with the kernel of a story that became YUCATAN DEAD. The idea formed somewhere between the ruins of Ek’ Balam and the Riviera Maya, and wouldn’t let me go. Before I left on the trip I’d been writing what I thought was going to be a mystery with my character, Kate Jones. But Mexico changed all that.
You don’t argue with Mexico.
So, my mystery turned into a full-on thriller about the ruthless drug cartels that have destabilized so much of that country. Since I’m a novelist and basically lie for a living, I made up a group of off the grid commandos working deep in the jungle, fighting the cartels. Little did I know at the time, but groups of locals have steadily begun taking up arms against the cartels, unable to stand by and watch them turn their home into a violent wasteland. Some of these groups have been backed by the CIA and/or the DEA, as well as the Mexican government. Some continue to operate clandestinely.
Here’s the description for Yucatan Dead:
She was a dangerous man’s lover…now she’s his dangerous enemy.
For Kate Jones, being on the run from her former lover—the vicious leader of a Mexican drug cartel—was never going to be easy. But with a new identity, a new lover, and a new life in Arizona, she was beginning to believe she’d made it through the worst.
Then, in an act of twisted revenge, Kate’s kidnapped and imprisoned by her deadly enemy, his intention to force her to pay back the money she stole before he kills her.
Fate intervenes and she finds herself working against the cartels deep in the Yucatan with a group of off-the-grid commandos. From peaceful northern Arizona to the steamy jungles of Mexico, Kate Jones must decide for herself if she’ll continue to run……
or turn and fight the evil that pursues her.
Tell us about your writing process.
Like I mentioned above, an idea will take hold, usually after seeing a news story or documentary, and won’t let me go until I’ve at least given it some thought. The characters appear soon after that, if not simultaneously, and I’ll know I have a story. I’ll spend some time thinking about the characters: What do they want? What was their childhood like? Who do they love?
Then, I’ll long-hand some ideas, using a timeline to see if I have enough scenes to fill a book. If not, I brainstorm ideas with my writer’s group, all writers with whom I’ve worked for several years. Once I’ve got a general outline, I write the book, going back over what I’ve written the day before, continuing on until the first draft is done. Sometimes it’s easy, like with SERIAL DATE. Sometimes it’s more difficult, as in BAD TRAFFICK, but only because the subject matter really took it out of me. Either way, it’s always a process of discovery.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
There comes a point in every book where the characters start to ‘suggest’ dialogue and actions. Many times the story will take a turn I hadn’t anticipated. I love it when this happens–it makes the book fresher for me and much more interesting for readers. A couple of times, characters revealed their true motivation near the end of the first draft. When I went back over the story to change it to match the new development, I realized my subconscious knew all along and I’d planted clues along the way.
And yes, I’ve had arguments with the voices in my head. The characters usually win.
What advice would you give other writers?
Read. A lot. Write more. Be aware that there are scammers out there whose sole job is to part you from your money. Educate yourself before giving anyone a dime. Make sure the writing you put out is your best. You won’t always get a second chance to make a good impression.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I love the ability to direct my own career. I’ve had several small businesses throughout my life, and self-publishing seemed like a no-brainer. Then, when readers emailed me about how much they enjoyed my work, I knew I was doing the right thing.
Also, I’m an impatient person and being able to set my own schedule and publish when I feel the book’s ready is ideal. Being impatient, however, is not the best character trait for an indie author…
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
Unlimited potential. It’s an exciting time to be a writer. There are so many ways to get your work out there. Do it!
What do you use?
Professional Editor, Professional Cover Designer, Beta Readers
What genres do you write?
What formats are your books in?
Both eBook and Print