Today’s guest is David Burnsworth, author of the southern noir/mystery, Southern Heat. David 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. 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.
Thank you for this interview, David. Can you tell us a little about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?
I turned forty-one this year, and have been writing for the past six years. My background is in manufacturing engineering and management, so obviously that wasn’t a big help directly. However, it gave me the opportunity to observe people, their mannerisms and conflict, and their joy. And those are pure gold to a writer.
Can you tell us briefly what your book is about?
Southern Heat is set in present day Charleston, South Carolina. Brack Pelton, an emotionally wounded Afghanistan War Veteran and ex-race car driver, witnesses the murder of his uncle, his only real family. The police investigation stalls with the theory that the murder is a random mugging so Brack delves into his uncle’s secrets to find the killer.
Why did you choose your particular genre?
The authors I love are James Lee Burke, Elmore Leonard, Mickey Spillane, and Michael Connelly. With their influence, my genre selection didn’t fall far from the tree.
What was your greatest challenge writing this book?
After I found my voice, which took about two years of writing every day, playing with characters and plotlines, and honest coaching from fellow South Carolina Writers Workshop writers, the focus became tying the whole thing together.
Are you published by a traditional house, small press, or are you self-published?
My publisher is Five Star, which is in the Thorndike / Gale / Cengage family.
Was it the right choice for you?
Yes. I wanted to go the traditional route and found a good fit with Five Star. They have been great to work with, answering even the most bizarre questions this novice could devise.
How are you promoting your book thus far?
Working with Rowe Copeland, the Book Concierge, we’re arranging local and not so local book signings. We’re building a following on Facebook , Twitter and a homepage . And we’re partnering with other authors as well because we’re all in this together.
How is that going for you?
Considering that as recent as November of last year, I had no online exposure, the fact that the number of our Facebook likes and Twitter followers keep growing is a great sign.
Can you tell us one thing you have done that actually resulted in one or more sales?
I use opportunities to get the word out. Before I got a contract, I made sure I found out what people around me were reading. Most readers, even if they don’t normally read your genre, will read your book if they know you. Now, obviously I can’t talk to ten thousand readers. But each of the readers I’ve had contact with knows other readers. Word of mouth is very powerful.
Do you have another job besides writing?
Yes, I still work in manufacturing management. It has provided a good life for my wife and me and has supported my writing thus far.
If you could give one book promotion tip to new authors, what would that be?
Get to know those in the industry through conferences and other authors. That’s how I got my website designed and found Rowe Copeland.
What’s next for you?
Hopefully, the second book in the series.
Thank you for this interview, David. Can you tell us where we can find you on the web?