Interview with Harvey Burgess – Indie Excellence Award Finalist
September 11, 2012 by jenowenby
I’d like to welcome Harvey Burgess author of “Kiss Her Goodbye“. Harvey kindly agreed to an interview with me, and share his success with his first Indie novel, available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. I read his book a few weeks ago, and fell in love with the characters, the plot moved well, and it’s very well written. You should check it out!
Harvey, thank you for talking with us today. For people who aren’t familiar with who you are, please tell us a bit about yourself.
I began my professional writing career as a journalist, starting out as sports editor for a small paper in Eastern North Carolina. I worked as a reporter, columnist, radio news director and newspaper editor for several years, then took a couple of years to work as a deputy sheriff in eastern NC. My motivation for the law enforcement gig was twofold: I wanted the experience behind the badge, of course, but also my father had been a career policeman in Charlotte and, honestly, I wanted him to see at least one of his five sons in uniform before he died (in 1982), so I joined up. After the law enforcement stint, I went back into journalism and was the editor of a small daily in Elizabethtown, NC, then an investigative reporter in Anderson, SC, then an associate editor and front-page columnist for a newspaper in Charlotte. After that, I worked for United Press International, then launched my own local news wire service in Charlotte, which I ran for ten years.
I then became administrator of a non-profit organization for a few years, after which I decided it was time to launch my fiction-writing career, and that’s where I am now!
Can you tell us more about your law enforcement experience?
I served as a deputy sheriff in Robeson County, North Carolina. The sheriff’s department was the primary law enforcement agency for the county and we were involved in ‘routine’ patrol, traffic enforcement, felony investigations and such. I also helped with crime scene search/investigation as a photographer and was involved with the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team.
Where did you get the idea for “Kiss Her Goodbye”? Is any of the story based on your experiences?
I’d always been a fan of ‘hard boiled detective’ and noir fiction and, with my experience both behind a badge and writing about law enforcement, figured it would be a natural fit. I try to write my Houston Cash series in the ‘classic noir’ style, but am also doing some things with ‘straight’ crime fiction and even a bit of fantasy in future works.
And Houston Cash?
Houston is a bit of an amalgam of people I’ve known with a dash of ‘me’ as well.
What was your process for developing Houston? Did it differ for your secondary characters?
I already had him in my mind, a strong character, a good detective, an ex-cop with good street smarts. Then I surrounded him with a variety of people (most based on people I actually know or have known) and put him on some cases (there are more in the works, of course) that emanate, in part, from actual cases I’m familiar with.
Did you approach your novel with an outline? If so, what method worked best for you?
I have a very basic outline to start, but I am inclined to let the story take me where it will. Some of the twists are as new to me as to the reader in many cases. I’ll sometimes wake up in the middle of the night with an idea for a twist or turn, jot it down and incorporate it the next day. Activities of any given day are never certain for Houston and certainly aren’t for me. That’s part of the fun of writing!
Can you share with us your experience with publication? With your marketing process?
I had initially opted to go the traditional route, then learned that it takes so long from presentation to publication, and I’m not a particularly patient person. So I began investigating independent publishers, found one that seemed a good fit and was off to the races. I knew I wanted to do the book in all formats (hardcover, soft cover, e-books), which was part of my decision-making process. I have learned that marketing is far and away more rigorous and time-consuming than actually writing a novel, particularly for the independent writer. When you’re new and not all that well-known outside your ‘sphere of influence’, marketing becomes a full-time job, particularly in this age where social media is such an integral part of spreading the word. Still, if I had stuck with traditional publishing, I honestly don’t think I’d be as far along the literary trail as I am now. I’ve gotten national recognition (Indie Excellence book award finalist, scores of rave reviews on Amazon and Barnes&Noble) and picked up quite a fan base locally, nationally and internationally, and I doubt I could have done that any sooner with traditional routes.
What can we look for in your next novel?
I’ve actually got four more in various stages of development. The next one to see the light of day will most likely be the second in the Houston Cash series, and he’s involved in a case that will actually take him to Scotland and other exotic locales. It’s been extremely enjoyable to write and I believe the fans will like it, particularly concerning the returning characters and some new ones I’ve developed in Houston’s world.
What words of wisdom have you learned and would like to share with everyone?
One of the most important things a new writer needs to do is find a good editor. Trust me, that shows in everything you write. I’ve also learned from experience that the independent writer needs to be involved in marketing his or her books right out of the gate. I had other people doing initial work and it honestly served only to prolong and, in some cases, delay the process. Had I jumped in earlier I would probably be much farther along.
Anything else you’d like to share?
One little anecdote: I believe everyone has a story to tell. That was my guiding principle as a reporter and helped me accumulate the ‘ammunition’ for current and future writing projects. There are few things in life more rewarding than seeing your work find the light of day and be accepted by an always-hungry reading public. I believe we’re at the beginning of a fantastic era for novelists. Where some people believe that the influx of indie publishers and electronic media will bury us in a tidal wave of mediocrity, I believe instead it’ll be a surge that will propel the craft to new heights and that good writers will be right there on the top of the wave!
Harvey, thank you so much for stopping by. I’m looking forward to the next Houston Cash novel!
Until Next Time…
Tears in the Sun
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