Welcome to the Starboots Mobile Blog where you can read interviews with the stars of today and tomorrow. Starboots Mobile Blog's definition of a star is someone with an artistic endeavour that stands out from the crow. Today, we present debut novelist Dyal Bailey, who answers five curious questions about the new novel The Artisan: An Artistic Assassin Thriller.
Buy The Artisan at Amazon
1. Where did you get the idea for the atypical protagonist of The Artisan?
Rafaela kind of evolved. She started out as a guy named Nicolas Carteret, but after watching the movie “Salt” I knew I wanted the hero to be a heroine. Once I did the “sex change” thing, a lot of other things fell into place.
I was listening to Roberto Alagna singing an aria from the opera La Bohème, Che gelida manina, which translates, What Cold Little Hands – and I thought, “Ah hah! (insert sinister laugh) Nothing is colder than the hands of a biochemical assassin.”
So I decided to make Rafaela petite with tiny hands, yet deadly. And along that vein, I had her nickname from her Argentinian grandmother be “Manitas” (which means “Little Hands” – (it can also translate as handyman, but the true, literal translation is little hands).
Once I decided on these two factors, like all my characters, Rafaela just leapt out fully formed.
2. The Artisan is an unusual genre; a thriller with irreverent humor. Is this your natural writing style, or a style you adopted for this particular book?
Yes, and you are the first person to really hone in on this. I’m just such a smart Alec, I can’t help myself. And once I invented Günter, my metrosexual assassin, and Antonio my brilliant, quirky asexual mobster—they just ran loose and got funnier and more out there.
Really, I spend half my time putting a choke-chain on those guys.
3. As a debut novelist, what writing background did you bring to your novel?
I think the greatest thing I brought to the table was as a journalist and newspaper editor, for two reasons. One, I learned to just sit down and write. I don’t wait for a muse to dance on my shoulder or a big rush and flow of ideas; I just pop open my laptop and start writing. And when it stinks, I edit the hell out of it.
This leads to the second thing I learned, and that is to edit, edit, edit. I’m a compulsive editor anyway (I edit every email I send at least three times).
But the big biggy is that I use the editors and proofreader and beta readers on fiverr.com a bunch.
I mean, I use them a whole bunch.
After every full (top-to-bottom) edit, I would run it though fiverr.com and use three to four editors. By the way, I never use the same editor again until I let them rest for two rounds – I do this keep their minds fresh.
And I’m constantly dropping “nice” editors and looking hard for new ones who are super discerning and hopefully a bit constipated ones or are on permanent PMS mode.
Nice just doesn’t get the job done. Especially with editors!!
As a guess I would say that I put “The Artisan” through at least 17 rounds of editing on fiverr. Then take that 17 times at least four editors and you have like an awesome 68 edits, all in a fraction of the time.
And after about six rounds of fiverr edits, I would send the manuscript through my main editor, Judy Kellem in New York (who is perhaps the greatest and gentlest genius I have ever met). Then I would rinse and repeat.
Editing is soooo the key. How frequently you edit and “how” you edit makes you or breaks you as a writer. And my fiverr method really enhances and speeds up the process.
Above and beyond my journalism experience, the greatest influence on my writing is that I read “profusely” in every genre. I mean seriously. I’m such a ridiculous nerd. I read from— literary to thrillers to sci-fi to young adult to romance—I love it all.
Plus, 90% of what I read is non-fiction. I read a minimum of one non-fiction Kindle book a day (yes, Visine Eye Drops are my BFF).
I just finished “Digital Disruption” (which is mind-blowing-ly awesome) as well as Michio Kushi’s “Your Face Never Lies” (which is about oriental diagnosis. It’s really cool, but the truth is seriously scary).
Everything you “read or see or smell or feel” will affect your writing.
4. From the Amazon description, I picture a writer full of glee with a lively mind and a truckload of determination. Is this a fair description or am I wide of the mark?
I LOVE to write. I have such a blast. I’m usually laughing or crying or boogie-ing in my chair while I type, I’m such a nut.
The other day, I was getting ready to write and decided to download some of the tenor Plácido Domingo’s arias off of iTunes. Suddenly, I noticed he also had some songs from Man of La Mancha—so I kind of had an ober-downloading party.
And when I finally started listening, I was overwhelmed. This was the first time I ever heard this amazing voice (who I love so much—I can’t even describe how much I love this man) singing in English which, of course, is my native language. I listened to Dream the Impossible Dream over and over and over again and wept like a baby all over my keyboard.
It was awesome!! It was pathetic! It was the best writing I’d done in weeks!!
And when I get up to stretch, I put on Kanye West or Rhianna and do like a funky made-up line-dance to loosen up my muscles. My kids think I’m crazy. Probably they’re right.
5. Where to from here? Tell us a little about your new project(s).
I have already fully outlined four more books in this series and am knee deep writing the second book, called “The Nicodemas Project”. It’s going soooo smoothly. I can only describe it as molten glass. I think this book is smoother and easier to write, because I have my outline (I always write my ending first) and because most of the main characters are already in place.
Hey, here’s a small excerpt with Rafaela that I actually haven’t shown anybody except my proofreaders. But it’s unedited so, bear with me …
Excerpt - The Nicodemas Project:
A single, angry tear drifted down Rafaela’s cheek and into her bath water.
Here I am, in the most marvelous bathtub, in the most luxurious suite, in the most expensive hotel in Paris.
She clenched her fists, but relaxed them as the last rays of the sun slipped through the window blinds and caressed her arms. Sliding further into the water, she spread her fingers, blew the bubbles off, and examined her hands. They were small and soft, almost childlike, but they were deadly. Yes, she had killed more men than she could count with them. But still, they were made for love.
Letting her eyes roam over her arms and her slender shapely legs, she sighed. This was not a woman who was meant to be solitary. From her plump full lips to her smooth flat stomach to her tiny, attractive feet, she was made for a lover. And she yearned for one now.
- … Then it heads straight into a spoiler for “The Artisan” so I have to chop it there.
Again, with the first line you can see my love of opera cruising in. There is an aria of Donizetti’s called Una furtiva lagrima that translates “A Single Secret Tear” and I just smoogied the “Secret” out and put “Angry” in. I don’t know if you can tell from just reading that tiny bit, but I am just enjoying the heck out of writing this second book.
I actually hate it that I have to totally stop writing for a few weeks, because I’m heading to France in a few days (okay, I don’t hate it too bad J).
I try not to write when I’m on vacation though. I like to just live in the “now” and absorb. I think travel is great for writers. There’s going to be at least three scenes in Paris in the second book, so even though I go to France for at least two weeks every year (or else I fall into a Günter-like mega-self-pitying depression), I’m still calling this trip research. This way I can pretend that I’m hard at work (insert sneaky, schadenfreude-like giggle).
The book itself, lounging on an appropriately artistic background!
So, there you are then... itching to know more? The pop over to Amazon (here's that link again Buy The Artisan at Amazon) to pick up an ebook or paperback copy. Oh, and you may visit the author virtually at dyalbailey.com