"Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body." Sir Richard Steele

Friday, April 8, 2011

Interview With Stephen Brayton

I am very pleased to welcome my guest today Stephen Brayton. Stephen is a man of many and varied talents so lets get started and get to know him better.

BIO: I'm a Fifth Degree Black Belt instructor in the American Taekwondo Association. I started martial arts training in 1991, earned my black belt in 1993, and gained my instructor certification in1995.

I've written stories for many years, but started seriously while working at a radio station in Kewanee, Illinois. In 2009, while attending the Killer Nashville conference I was fortunate enough to meet Mary Welk of Echelon Press. Subsequent to the conference I submitted two novels to Echelon and in October, they were accepted for E-publication in 2011.

I'm a reader, a writer, an instructor. a graphic designer. a lover of books, movies, wine, women, music, fine food, good humor, sunny summer days spent hiking or fishing, and I'm a catnip drug dealer to my fifteen pound cat, Thomas.

1- Would you tell the readers a little bit about your book, Night Shadows, and how it came to be.
   I'm putzing around the motel room one night, because lets face it, eight hours of the graveyard shift in a small town motel isn't very exciting. I have the radio on and I'm listening to a popular radio show that usually discusses ghosts, aliens, Bigfoot, and similar topics. On this particular show, a guest talked about people's encounters with shadow creatures. After awhile, because my brain gets weird when it's inactive, I start thinking, "Hmm, what if the shadows came from another dimension and started killing people." Not too long afterward, the characters and plot all fell into place.

2- I know you have another book due out in July of 2011 called Beta, A Mallory Petersen Mystery. Can you tell us a little bit about it and how it came to be? Is there going to be other Mallory books?
   Years ago, I created a character called Sam P. Peterson, a detective in the Quad Cities. When I moved to Iowa and started taekwondo, I changed the character's gender, added some quirks, and started writing. I began with a book called Alpha which was a 40,000 word piece of pure schlock. Then the idea for Beta hit me hard and I started writing a better story. Beta follows the adventure of Mallory Petersen, a private detective and martial artist, who is on the trail of a kidnapped eight year old girl.
   After Beta was accepted for publication, I dusted off Alpha, took some of the better parts, added a subplot, and rewrote it. I also have a third book sifting around in my mind trying to get organized.

3- Is the PI, Mallory Petersen, based on you?
   Mallory is totally me. Well...except for the fact she's female, better looking, and a better martial artist. Otherwise, totally me. Blonde, blue eyes, six foot tall(I'm actually six-two...all right six-one and three-quarters, but who's quibbling?). The slightly humorous problem I ran into with her is because of her height, all the bad guys have to be bigger and taller. But, I've given her skills and training I've developed through the years.

4- Are there any WIP? If so, can you tell us about them?
   Well, like I mentioned above, I'm working on a polishing up Alpha, plus a sequel to Night Shadows. I'm working on outlines for a trio of stories with the detective out of Night Shadows. Straight killer thrillers. I also scribble down a few pages now and then on a thriller about a woman who gets revenge on her attackers by using Army Ranger training techniques. I also, surprisingly, have half an outline completed for a romance. Romance isn't my thing. I don't read them, but I'm a romantic at heart so I have a story I feel I'd like to share. It's coming along slowly.

5- I know you have your own taekwondo club. What made you decide to get involved with this particular sport?
   About a year after moving to Oskaloosa, I saw an advertisement offering two week's free classes at the local taekwondo club. I'd already been involved in community theatre and thought taekwondo would be interesting. After two weeks, I never looked back, dropped theatre, and started moving up in rank. I earned my First Degree black belt in '93 and my Fifth in '07. I enjoy it because unlike team sports, the focus is on the individual. Students move along and improve at their own pace.You don't have to kick face high to succeed. We teach the concept of personal victory. If I can kick high today and two inches higher tomorrow, that's a victory.

6- What exactly is taekwondo? What makes it different from other karate forms?
   All martial arts have the same or very similar basic moves. The punch, front kick, side kick, several blocks and other striking techniques. I don't think it's as much the style, as the organization behind the school, the instructors, and the curriculum taught. My organization, the American Taekwondo Association, is wonderful because it constantly seeks to improve the instructor, improve the student, improve the variety of options both can be involved with. There are business seminars, weapons classes, tournaments, instruction camps, and so much more. Nearly everywhere you go in America and about a dozen or so foreign countries, you'll find a school or a club under the parentage of the ATA.

7- I see you are a graphic designer. Do you work in this area for a living or is this a hobby?
   I was employed as a GD at a local newspaper years ago and worked a short stint with a sports camp registry outfit. I'd love to get back into it full time and expand my creativity. Right now I dabble in small projects to keep up the skills.

8- What do you do for fun and relaxation?
   Does pyromania count? Wait, don't let that get out, there are several unsolved cases of outhouse fires and...uh, anyway, I like to fish, I love racquetball, although since dropping my Y membership, I don't get to play as much anymore.

9- I know you are a reader. What types of books do you enjoy? Is there a particular author that you enjoy?
   Ellery Queen, H.P. Lovecraft, Erle Stanley Gardner, and Elaine Viets are four favorites. I like a variety of mystery and horror and a bit of science fiction. I have hundreds of books in my apartment and on my computer to read and I just pick one at random every now and then. I have several books in the car, a 'bathroom' reader, plus, I listen to audio books when I drive. Somehow I keep them all straight.

10- Is there anything special you would like to tell the readers about yourself?
   I like movies and camping and I'm looking for a good sense of humor in a woman...Oh, wait, that's my dating profile. Actually, I look at 'specialness' as unique to everyone. Everything about me is special. My cat, the fact I love seafood, I watch CSI, I like Corvettes, I write short stories and mysteries and paranormal, and on and on. But the special part is all of those traits and preferences and features, and more, are unique to me. Nobody else has the exact combination. Nobody can do what I do. Similarly, nobody has the characteristics and the skills as you do, or the guy next door. Nobody can be as exactly creative or do the things you do or what the guy next door does. That's why I enjoy talking to foreigners, because they have a different set of unique qualities unlike Americans that I yearn to explore.

I would like to thank Steve for giving me the opportunity to have him as my guest today and taking the time from his busy schedule so we can get to know him better.

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