D.R. Bailey is Back!
Hello Readers and Writers!
We are so happy to have one of our favorite authors back for another interview! We talked to D.R. back in March and he has been incredibly busy since then! Read on to find out what D.R. has going on.
RL: Welcome back! What have you been up to?
DRB: Thanks so much for having me back. I really appreciate you taking the time to interview me again. In fact, I feel very privileged to be able to talk further about my work with you. Six months on and time certainly flies. I’ve been mainly writing and have published The Cardinal Transgressions, the fourth book in the DI Gallway series, as well as the first of a brand-new series, The Innocent Killing.
As an aside, I also completed my Doctorate which I have been studying for four years, and I was supposed to be graduating this month. The graduation has been put off several times and is once more canceled due to the Covid19 restrictions. However very shortly I will be a real Dr of Philosophy to live up to my D.R. Bailey name. The doctorate is in an unrelated field of Virtual Reality and was practice-based. I say unrelated but I did write a short story about VR, The Date, which fans can get for free, too. So, the writer thread weaves through everything I do. Haha!
Anyway, in NZ we’ve had lockdown and so forth before a return to normality, plus lockdown again, such is life in a COVID world. Lockdown as a writer didn’t affect me too much since I spent a lot of time at home anyway, even when studying. Although I also do other part-time work which was curtailed, but the NZ government has been very helpful to self-employed people and businesses, thankfully. I haven’t written any pandemics into my books, and that’s the beauty of fiction, I don’t have to.
RL: Tell us about The Cardinal Transgressions, book four in the DI Gallway series.
DRB: Book four is what I call a rocket ride. It was always planned to be set in Rome and involves a main plot and then a surprise plot at the end. It poses challenges for Seamus working with the Vatican Police, and a series of gruesome murders. A whole new series of characters are introduced as well as all the usual suspects from Seamus’ team. Once the action gets going it doesn’t stop as readers will find. It’s a roller coaster for the reader with very little let up.
There are certainly going to be some other unexpected events that’s all I can tell you. Of course, it also continues to develop the relationships formed in the previous books and naturally, new ones may also be discovered. My die-hard fans have loved this book and I really enjoyed writing it. I think the setting in another country was challenging for me as a writer and of course, Seamus and his team find themselves in unfamiliar waters. How they cope and overcome these is, of course, part of the story. What I also enjoyed was developing the team interaction further and the bonding of the team members, as would be expected were this real life.
RL: How far do you want to take DI Gallway? Do you see any end for that series?
DRB: I want to keep going with it and indeed I had begun Book five recently with a brand-new plot back in Ireland. I also have the Book six plot ready in principle. I don’t see an end to it at the moment, and feel it has plenty of mileage left on the tires. I love the characters and I do have fans looking forward to more episodes so how can I disappoint them? I am now four books in, and the characters have become a little bit like my make-believe family, and so when I’m writing I really get into their lives. Each book is, of course, unique in the sense of its plot and at the same time carries forward the stories of the characters which are an integral part of the way I write.
RL: This series has operated a little bit like your fictional universe with characters from some books branching into their own series. Was this intentional?
DRB: At the moment it’s just one character from the Deathbed Confession, a barrister Bernadette Mackenna who features heavily in that book. However, other characters from DI Gallway have found, and are likely to find, their way into the Mackenna series but not necessarily as main characters. It wasn’t really intentional, it’s just that I liked her very much and felt there was a story worth telling. I had thought about her having her own series since I wrote Deathbed Confession, but I wanted to complete four DI Gallway books first. I don’t have any plans for further branch out characters, although… I wouldn’t rule it out either.
RL: Tell us about The Innocent Killing.
DRB: The Innocent Killing is a first in series starring Bernadette Mackenna. She is a topflight barrister based in Dublin and she shot to prominence in my fictional world in the Deathbed Confession as I have said. I developed a soft spot for Bernadette and felt for a long time she could star in her own series. I’m also very fond of courtroom drama and indeed there are almost two books in one with the Deathbed Confession, one story being a trial where Bernadette conducts the defence. You would have to read the book to discover how she gets on and if she wins or not.
The Innocent Killing takes place at an unspecified time after the Deathbed Confession and takes up a case of a kidnapping victim accused of murder. It’s an interesting story and particularly with the dynamics of the victim and her kidnapper. The book is not solely set in the courtroom, but like all good dramas, the investigation itself is very much a key part of the plot. I suppose you would regard the trial as the climax of the book, and rightly so.
It is also so much more than just a legal thriller. It’s also a romance, and more than that, it’s a same-sex romance, with Bernadette being one half of the romantic element. She was always created as a gay character and I think it gives a different perspective to the book. One which I very much like. I am heavily into romance in any case, and was brought up on Georgette Heyer, Jane Austin to name but two. Romance is embedded in my psyche. There are also other interactions which I enjoy about the books, including that of Bernadette and her junior counsel, Imogen, who is also female.
Innocent Killing did fantastically well on launch which was incidentally on my birthday. It charted in the top one hundred of several Amazon categories and got as high as ten in the Amazon Hot New Releases Legal Thrillers. I was absolutely thrilled with the reception, to be honest. So far, I have had really good personal feedback from my die-hard DI Gallway fans who have taken to the new series. They’ve said it was a page-turner, unputdownable, one even said she was unable to sleep while reading it because she was so absorbed. I was also told the romance was charming. It hasn’t had many formal reviews, but as all writers know these are always hard to come by.
RL: Why did you decide to create a female main character for this series?
DRB: As I said her character came from the Deathbed Confession and that lawyer was always going to be female due to the nature of the case. I suppose I have a particular sensibility for female characters since much of my reading was based around heroines rather than heroes (with Georgette Heyer and Jane Austen for example). I was also brought up around women, including two sisters much older than me who became confidants throughout my life. So, I acquired that perspective too. One of my sisters was an actress and so I mingled with people of all sexual orientations, as I have done since. I’m a big supporter of LGBTQ+ rights. I was brought up in an era of taboos and where for many being gay was a dirty word, and so forth. Much of what was acceptable in society towards gays then is, thankfully, no longer acceptable and rightly so. Discrimination laws, and same-sex marriage laws have taken care of that in many countries. I have taken an interest in this aspect of sexuality and also the fact that the rights LGBT people have today are very hard-won rights. We have family members who are gay and to me, love is love, nothing more or less.
I think an all-female relationship brings a different perspective again, because women are softer in many ways and far more understanding emotionally of each other, and other people. It allows for a whole different dynamic and interaction. Readers of DI Gallway books will know there are some very prominent main female characters, and indeed his team is more than fifty percent female. The Di Gallway books also feature LGBT themes and relationships for some of the characters, so I’m no stranger to this aspect. Many of my most die-hard fans are women, and I think they like the detail that I give the characters and the depth into which I go with their lives. I’ve certainly been told that from conversations I’ve had. The Innocent Killing was, naturally, read by women for any sensitivity issues.
Overall, I feel the book works and I’m very happy with the result. The fact that I write about the sexuality themes I do may lose me some fans, but I will hopefully gain more readers who are sympathetic to those types of genre.
Those who read about Bernadette or any of my main characters will find them very multidimensional. She is strong but also prone to self-doubt, and anxiety about certain things. She is not one hundred percent confident although in the courtroom she is supremely effective. She is, in a nutshell, many different things and she has a vulnerable side that comes out quite often. In other words, she’s human. I rebel against all tropes. I don’t write characters with tropes. My characters although larger than life are also very real, or at least I try to make them so. We are all subject to frailties, to anxieties of self, to doubts, and many other things. I want my characters to have these same traits, it all makes them what they are. There is also a little bit of me in every character, perhaps many parts of me in some cases. Perhaps Bernadette is the woman I would be, were I female. People can draw their own conclusions.
RL: Do you have any plans to write outside of the crime fiction genre?
DRB: Funnily enough, I do. I have submitted a story to a short story competition in NZ. The outcome of this will be in September and from that story I may well produce a YA type of book based in NZ. It will be very different, and I won’t let on what it’s about, but it could be another string to my bow as a writer. It will certainly be aimed at a whole new audience. Hopefully, it will also have some illustrations. Of course, it will still have well fleshed out characters which is part of my writing ethos.
RL: Is Deathbed Confession still your favorite out of all your books?
DRB: I would say not, now I’ve got five books out there. Of the DI Gallways, I’d pick The Cardinal Transgressions because I think it’s a very accomplished story. However, my most favourite book of all has to be Bernadette. Her first book is my favourite at the moment, and in some ways, I feel it’s perhaps my best writing. Why I like it, is partly because I feel it’s maybe the best romance I’ve written. Also, I love the character interactions and the cut and thrust of courtroom drama. Overall l love Bernadette as a character and of course the others in her orbit. I enjoy writing her. I think she’s one of my best creations.
Believe it or not, I’ve also spent some time in court in New Zealand. My wife and I were self-representing in a custody case. We went through the Family Court, the High Court and the Court of Appeal. We had many court appearances, cross-examining witnesses, and writing lengthy affidavits and so forth. I got to see first-hand the operation of the courtroom, the judges, barristers and so on. This plus the many courtroom dramas I have watched, and court case reconstructions have given me a huge reservoir to draw on. It also comes in handy since I have to research the Irish Law and practice in order to be sure I get that right. You would be surprised, for example, how differently Ireland treats murder, to say the UK or indeed the US. You have to be accurate in these things and naturally, it dictates the way you run the case, just as a real lawyer would.
RL: What advice would you give to an author considering publication?
DRB: This is always difficult. There are, in my opinion, too many people willing to give their five pence of advice. I have an advantage in that I grew up in the traditional publishing era and indeed, my sister was trad published for years. I’ve seen the evolution of the eBook and how the market has changed. I could probably write a book on that. Hahaha. There are many routes to go down now, and each has its pros and cons. I don’t propose to say them all here. I think there are some things one should consider. Self-publication or indie publication does give you a measure of control. You can write what you want in your book and leave it in or not, as you desire. Trad publishing puts you more at the mercy of publishers in that if they want you to change something or remove it, you are very likely going to have to whether you like it or not. Particularly if you are a new author. Some people may, of course, say that’s a good thing, but we won’t go down that contentious road.
On the other hand, marketing is solely down to you in self-publishing, whereas trad publishers can put some oomph behind you, and take some of the load. Self-publishing can be costly and time-consuming marketing-wise. However, even then don’t expect Trad publishers to be organising book signing tours, etc. unless you are someone, they really want to put money behind or are a top seller for them. Even then they may not. They can also take their eye off the ball too if they have many other authors to service. Once they have your book then it’s pretty much their say so when it’s published, etc. It will be out of your hands.
On balance, as a writer, I feel I’ve reached a point after a lifetime of honing my own craft that I know how to write. You never stop learning but I know enough to know that the way I’ve written my book is how I want it to be. I’ve gone indie and choose to remain so because I retain control of my medium that way and of my output. In the end, my readers judge my work, and they’ve judged it to be good to date. I can’t ask for more. There are indie writers who have made it and so I don’t feel that I can’t also make it or that it’s impossible. The beauty of the age we live in is that there are many ways to succeed as a writer and no one way is THE way.
When my next book is published, I will have written and published more than one million words in the space of less than two years. I think that’s an achievement and also, putting aside all that I wrote before, I’ve more than served my apprenticeship. Don’t get me wrong, I am very humble, but I know whether I can write or not, and I’m pretty certain that I can.
RL: What are you reading currently?
DRB: I have read quite a few indie books of late and have reviewed some of them. I’m not reading anything specific at the moment, although I’ve read some books within my latest genre. I don’t always review every book I read. I like to leave a good review and I will if I like the book. I think what I’d say about my own writing and particularly in the same-sex romance genre, is that my book is focused on the romance, and the legal thriller plot, there is sex in all my books but it’s not the main event. It’s not the focus. For some books I’ve read, the sex is the main event. That’s fine too but it’s not my particular style. Sex is part of life and relationships but it’s not all of life. However, that being said, I would feel cheated as a reader if it wasn’t included, so I write it in too but as a natural conclusion rather than a raison d’etre.
RL: What can readers expect from you in the future?
DRB: Well, I’ve one third to go on the next Bernadette Mackenna. I decided to focus on this because of the success of the last one. Also, because I wanted to write more about Bernadette. As I said I started the fifth DI Gallway and was sixteen thousand words in when Innocent Killing launched. Soon after I began Bernadette two, and I’ve been wholly focused on that for the last month or so. These books are shorter than the DI Gallways and run to around one hundred and twenty thousand words. The second book is not about a murder and is a very different type of case. That’s all I’m saying for now.
As I’ve also said there will be more Gallways to come, more Mackenna's and watch out for the new series which I’ll be looking at after September. If I could make a living from solely writing, I would just write. It’s what I love to do the most. It’s my passion and has endured for my entire life in one form or another. So, while I’m still walking this earth there will be more from me in the literary field, watch this space!