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Author interview: Rick Bylina

by Donna Brown (writer), West Yorkshire, December 13, 2011

Interview with Rick Bylina, author of One Promise Too Many

Today I'm interviewing Rick Bylina, author of One Promise Too Many (A Detective Stark Mystery).

About Rick

"Rick Bylina lives with his wife, Carrie, and their 19-year-old cockatiel, Sydney, near Apex, North Carolina. Ongoing corporate downsizing convinced him to tap into his passion. He scribbled down any crazy idea that crossed his mind. After gaining discipline, he wrote his debut mystery novel, "One Promise Too Many", the first in a series featuring Detective Roger Stark. Writing happens spontaneously between housework, gardening, cooking, fishing, and wrestling alligators."

Where were you born?

Somerville, New Jersey

What did you want to be when you grew up?

Fisherman

Other than author, what jobs have you had?

I've had a variety of jobs, which I believe has helped expose me to people from many walks of life. I worked in a supermarket in my youth. After high school and a failed attempt at college, I worked briefly on a crisis hot line, the state mental institution, a special needs center, and as a truck driver before joining the all-volunteer army. What a trip! I got loaned out to one of those three-letter secret outfits while stationed in Berlin, Germany. Back at college, I worked in radio, as a newspaper stringer, resident assistant, and other various jobs in a small town. I ended up with $2.41 in my pocket in the Denver area after graduation and worked as a typesetter, office assistant, and then technical writer. Finally, a career in technical writing, project management, and program management until I had enough of it and started to write full-time, supplementing it with census work, grading papers, and other odd jobs.

About Rick's most recent book: One Promise Too Many

Roger Stark, Marshfield's newest detective, is paired with ex-NYPD detective, Ed Jones, "...fresh from a boring retirement...," to investigate the abduction of a volatile CEO's five-year-old daughter. Despite past entanglements with the CEO, Stark promises him that he'll find his little girl by the 42-hour deadline imposed by the kidnapper. However, Stark doesn't count on an elusive schizophrenic suspect or that the kidnapping is a ruse to divert attention from another far-reaching crime by a vengeful person playing by a different set of rules.

Told from Stark's and the schizophrenic's point-of-view, the story explores the collision of styles between Stark and Jones as the stress of the investigation intensifies. It shows the struggles of the schizophrenic as his hold on reality slips away while trying to solve the kidnapping the police suspect him of having committed, and his uncertainty about whether or not he could have done it. "One Promise Too Many" also demonstrates the depths to which someone will go to extract revenge on people once loved, regardless of who gets hurt.

"One Promise Too Many" combines strong elements of a police procedural with the soul of a literary classic that should keep readers turning pages fast enough to create a breeze.

How did you come to write this book?

Organically. I wrote a scene with the co-protagonist in this story back in the early 1990s and put it aside. I wasn't ready to write a novel. When I left corporate America, I took a novel writing class and wrote a different novel. When the class was over, I came back to ONE PROMISE TOO MANY and wrote a great deal of it during NANOWRIMO in 2003. It stunk like a pair of gym socks in a dark locker after a week. Fortunately, I found the Writers Retreat Workshop. I attended and got the additional direction I needed. Critiques from the Internet Writing Workshop moved me forward. And 276 agent rejections angered me enough to keep refining it until it got some recognition by agents, but no sale. Self-pubbing was the answer.

What's the opening paragraph?

"I was eight-years-old when Mother captured Father's dimpled smile with her camera just as I had reached for his red hair. The next day, someone murdered him. Fused onto a three inch square memorial magnet, my father's image from that day is a constant bittersweet memory. Twenty-four years later, I saw his face stare back at me whenever I looked into a mirror. I grew into him with the dimpled smile, familiar blue eyes, and same copper-colored hair. I idolized him. At his funeral, I made a promise only a naive boy could make. I had promised to find his killer. It was a promise I felt honor-bound to accomplish as a man."

Rick said he would rather:

Win a Nobel Prize for Literature but only sell 20,000 copies than sell a million copies of this book but never win an award

Now for a bit of fun...

What's the most exciting book you've read this year?

Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

Describe your perfect weekend...

Actually, I'm having it as I write this. I'm up at the isolated family cabin with a high-speed connection, cable TV, all my comfort foods, my wife doting on me (don't let her read this), a nice fire with all the firewood split by someone else, several books to read, no chores, no clocks to remind me of deadlines. The only thing that would enhance it: why aren't the fish biting?

Describe a more realistic weekend...

Fortunately, a more realistic weekend includes some of my perfect weekend elements. But it does include household chores: feeding the birds, working in both the flower and vegetable gardens, cutting the grass, writing, critiquing, reading, and probably some friends for dinner with some in-laws over for a late Sunday brunch. Sprinkle a movie in there and a planned project (chopping wood, car maintenance, or going to the dump), and it is quite typical.

You're having a dinner party and you can invite one writer, one musician, one monarch, one villain and one president. Who do you invite and why?

Assuming I can raise the dead, it would be:

  • Billy Boy Shakespeare - to lay to rest lingering doubt that he wrote what he did.
  • Amadeus Mozart - a genius to inspire me.
  • Princess Catherine - have to have something beautiful and intelligent to break up the boys.
  • Osama Bin Laden - I just want to know "Why?"
  • George "Bubba" Bush - always have some comedy relief

You get to spend the afternoon with my six cats - heaven or hell? Explain!

Hell. Despite the fact that animals love me, cats included, sometime around my 27th year on planet Earth, I developed some allergies, and that includes cats. I do enjoy their independent nature and short attention span. Their ability to change direction inspires me when I write. This trait reminds me to keep the reader on his/her toes with unexpected plot twists and sudden changes of fortune.

Share one blog that you love to read...

Out in Left Field

Fill in the blanks - how did Rick finish these openers?

He took her trembling body in his manly arms...

...and burped.

He tipped his hat and turned away. After a few steps he stopped.

...He turned back to her, knowing he'd never be able to escape her orbit.

In the darkness, I heard the sound of...

...a thousand clawed feet running away, and I knew I should heed the warning.

Word association - how did Rick respond to these word prompts?

Writer... me

Bestseller... Stephen King

Ambition... success

Cheese... Wisconsin

And finally...

Now you get to ask me a question...

What is the number of books sold that you consider a self-pubbed book crossing the threshold to being a best seller?

Phew, that's a tricky one. I think sometimes we become obsessed with copies sold at the cost of weighing up other information. After all, you might sell 100 at $2.99 with negligible marketing costs but someone else could sell 1000 at $2.99 but barely make a profit after marketing and promotion is paid for. So, let's say any author who has:

  • Sold more than two hundred books (excluding to friends and family)
  • Made enough from sales to offset publishing and promotional costs
  • Hit a Top 100 chart on Amazon at least once

But that's just my humble opinion!

Thank you so much to Rick for answering the questions. To find out more about Rick Bylina and his writing, you can stop by his blog, follow him on Facebook or find him on Twitter.



About the Writer

Donna Brown is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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