Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Featured Author: David Burnsworth

About the book: 

Gunshots echo down an antebellum Charleston alley. Brack Pelton, an ex-racecar driver and Afghanistan War veteran, witnesses the murder of his uncle, Reggie Sails. Darcy Wells, the pretty Palmetto Pulse reporter, investigates Reggie's murder and targets Brack.

The sole heir of his uncle's estate, Brack receives a rundown bar called the Pirate's Cove, a rotting beach house, and one hundred acres of preserved and valuable wetland along the Ashley River. A member of Charleston's wealthiest and oldest families offers Brack four million dollars for the land. All Brack wants is his uncle's killer.

From the sandy beaches of Isle of Palms, through the nineteenth-century mansions lining the historic Battery, to the marshlands surrounding the county, Southern Heat is drenched in the humidity of the lowcountry.

Interview with David Burnsworth

David, how long have you been writing, and how did you start?In answering this question, I used to say since about 2006 when, after telling my wife that I wanted to write a novel, she hounded me to get started. She will always deserve the credit for getting me started on this publication path. But, I loved writing as far back as grade school. I just didn’t think I could actually write a book until my wife told me it was time.

So in this instance, a wife telling you what to do was a good thing. Do you have another job outside of writing?
I sure do. I am an engineer with a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Tennessee. After graduating from U.T. in ’97, I was fortunate enough to land a job as a manufacturing engineer. I’ve held various positions in manufacturing ever since. Now I help coach people to improve their jobs both for them and the company. And I love what I’m doing now almost as much as I love writing.

How would you describe your book in five words?

Southern noir in the lowcountry.

How did you create the plot for this book?
Trial and error. It took me a while to get the characters. Once I got them, they took over and wrote the book. I just had to keep up with the typing.

How do you get to know your characters?
I spend a lot of time with them, even when I’m not at the keyboard. Sometimes they are in my head when I need to focus on other things.

Which character did you most enjoy writing?
It would be hard to choose between them. The main ones, Brack, Brother Thomas, Darcy, Shelby, and Mutt are favorites. But then I enjoy the minor characters as well. The police detectives that Brack has to interact with. The other women Brack crosses paths with. It is so much fun pouring them all into a soup pot, stirring them up, and seeing what comes out.

If you could be one of your characters, which one would you choose?

Brack Pelton, my protagonist. In some regards, he’s got a few of my bad traits at amped-up levels. Like overreaction and an uncontrolled mouth. My tongue is not as tame as I’d like it to be, while his has never seen a leash. But, he’s the hero, albeit a dark one.

Who are your favorite authors?
I love James Lee Burke, Lee Child, John Sanford, Hank Phillippi Ryan, Michael Connelly, Elmore Leonard, Walter Mosley, Susan Boyer, and C.J. Box.

How long is your to-be-read pile?
Longer than I have time to read as long as I have a day job!

You get to decide who would read your audiobook. Who would you choose?

Very good question. The obvious choices are Dick Hill and Will Patton. Those guys are phenomenal. But I think Billy Bob Thorton would be a very interesting choice. There are so many people with great voices out there. I know when the timing is right, the perfect one will be there.

What book are you currently reading and in what format?
Normally, I have a few books going on at once. I’ll start with the bible. I perpetually read a chapter most days. Next is usually a mystery or thriller, or history; one in print or ebook and one on audio in the car. Right now, I have Alex Berenson’s Twelve Days rolling in the car, and I’m reading K.M. Rockwood’s Brothers In Crime ebook. She and I will be on a panel together at Malice Domestic this year.

Cool. Do you have a routine for writing?
Not really. I try to get in some time before work in the morning, and then in the evenings after my trip to the gym. And of course Saturdays and Sundays. Anywhere from five to fifteen hours a week.

When and where do you prefer to do your writing?
I have an office at home that my wife avoids because it isn’t the neatest. My desk faces the street in front of our house which, during daylight hours, provides enough of a distraction when I need it, yet isn’t so active that I can’t focus when I’m ready to resume. I’ve written in hotel rooms and airplanes and airports. When it comes crunch time, there isn’t anywhere I’ve found I can’t write.

Where’s home for you?

Boiling Springs, South Carolina. It is peaceful here and the cost of living is reasonable. Both my wife and I work in the area so that is why we are here.

Tell us one weird thing, one nice thing, and one fact about where you live.
In the winter season, Spartanburg has an ice rink in the downtown area. I’d call that both weird and nice. We live by two battlefields: Cowpens, a civil war battlefield, and Kings Mountain, a revolutionary battlefield. I love the history of the Carolinas.

Your last meal would be . . .

I like the way you think. Would you rather work in a library or a bookstore?
Library, for sure. The access to just about anything is so much greater.

You won the lottery. What is the first thing you would buy?
My wife’s and my dream home.

You’re given the day off, and you can do anything but write. What would you do?
Daydream about my next book. I’d get things mapped out in my head. One of my bad habits as a child has paid off in my adult years. I have a pretty active imagination. That’s how I form some of my scenes now anyway.

You can be any fictional character for one day. Who would you be?

Wow! What a question. Mad Max comes to mind. Something about driving fast cars and running down rogue bikers. Gotta love that.

What would your dream office look like?
A lot like the one I currently have, except maybe room for a couch and more bookshelves.  And a view of nature or a body of water would also be nice. For the most part I am a simple person. I have a nice long desk that seems to perpetually be cluttered with things needing attention. But my laptop is front and center, where it needs to be. Everything in the room revolves around it, from the view out the windows to the speakers from my late-eighties stereo.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Patty and I love to travel for vacation. New England is a favorite area. This year we are heading to Jackson Hole. We are so excited about seeing Yellowstone! I also am a car buff, but I seem to be in a transition more to classic cars than new ones. Could be my age.  Another passion is music. Listening to, not playing it. I love eighties music the best, but the University of Tennessee has a great jazz program and Knoxville has a great jazz scene. When I was in college, I spent many a night with my friends in one or more of the jazz clubs there. Some of those nights I actually remember, too.

What are you working on now?

I’m finishing up the third book in the Brack Pelton series and thinking about the fourth.  The names are a secret right now.

About the author

David Burnsworth became fascinated with the Deep South at a young age. After a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Tennessee and fifteen years in the corporate world, he made the decision to write a novel. Southern Heat is his first mystery and Burning Heat will be out October 21, 2015. Having lived in Charleston on Sullivan’s Island for five years, the setting was a foregone conclusion. He and his wife along with their dog call South Carolina home.

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