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Interview: Brett Battles, Author of Shadow of Betrayal

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Brett Battles lives in Los Angeles, and is the author of three acclaimed novels in the Jonathan Quinn series: The Cleaner, which was nominated for a Barry Award for Best Thriller and a Shamus Award for Best First Novel in 2008; The Deceived, which has been nominated this year for a Barry Award for Best Thriller; and his latest Shadow of Betrayal. He is also one of the founding members of Killer Year, a group of thriller novelist who all had their debut books come out in 2007, and a member of both International Thriller Writers and Mystery Writers of America.

Thank you for this interview, Brett. Can you tell us a little about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?

Brett: Sure. I guess you could say I’ve always been a writer. At least, I know that’s what I wanted to be since sixth grade. Of course, life kind of got in the way as I went along. In college, I studied film and television production and history, and landed a job at a small television studio in Hollywood. Somehow that led to a career in television graphics. All the while I kept writing, and finally broke through with my debut thriller The Cleaner in 2007. I’m an avid traveler, and am always interested in visiting new places, and learning new things.

Do you write full-time?

Brett: Yes. I was able to start writing full-time last year.

You’ve met an old friend from high school and you want to pitch your book to him/her in five minutes or less. What would you say?

Brett: If you enjoy adventure, intrigue, and thrilling stories with an international flare, you should give Shadow of Betrayal a try. Quinn’s a freelance operative who specializes in making bodies disappear. Sometimes things go smoothly, sometimes they don’t. In Shadow, they definitely don’t.

Who is your intended audience? Have you been able to crossover into other audiences as well?

Brett: Anyone who enjoys thrillers, international settings, and adventure.

Why did you choose your particular genre?

Brett: I think the genre kind of chose me. The Cleaner, my first published novel, was just the story I had in me, and, thankfully, it has turned into a series that I continue to enjoy writing.

Do you ever experience self-doubts with your work?

Brett: Always. I don’t know of any author who doesn’t. You always want to do your best, so you’re constantly checking yourself, which naturally leads to those moments of self-doubt. And even when you’re done, and the book is coming out, you worry about how it will be received. It’s natural.

Where do you write?  Do you have a favorite place?

Brett: I tend to like to write in coffee shops and cafes. I love having other people around. It inspires me. When I try writing at home, there are too many distractions. The internet, the TV, books I want to read. But at a coffee shop I can get a ton of work done.

What kind of research did you have to do during the writing process?

Brett: Locations, particularly international locations, play a big part in each of my novels. Often I’ll actually travel to the place the story is going to be set so that I can get a feel for the city or the country, and can get a sense of how it works. Because each place operates differently than any other place. Beyond that, I do a lot of research on the Internet and through sources I have.

Who is your publisher and how did you get accepted by them? Did you pitch your book yourself or go through an agent?

Brett: I’m published by Delacorte/Bantam Dell. My route there, though, was not typical. Originally, I sold my first novel, The Cleaner, to a small publisher in Los Angeles called Ugly Town. But before they could release my book, they ran into financial problems and were forced to close down. I thought I was back at square one, but the publishers at Ugly Town weren’t going to let that happen. They sent my manuscript to an editor friend they had at Bantam Dell, and a month later Bantam had purchased my contract from Ugly Town, and had given me a new, three-book deal. And all of that was done without an agent. Of course, I have one now, but not then.

How are you promoting your book thus far?

Brett: I started by attending Thrillerfest in New York City the week my book came out. Then have been doing a west coast book tour that has taken me north as far as Seattle, and southeast as far as Phoenix. I’m also doing a lot of online appearances to help spread the world. I will also be attending Bouchercon, the large mystery fan conference in October.

If you could give one book promotion tip to new authors, what would that be?

Brett: You can’t do everything, but try as much as you can. From book-to-book, you never know what’s going to work best. But the worse thing you can do is to do nothing.

What’s next for you?

Brett: I’m just finishing up edits on the next Jonathan Quinn thriller due out next year. Then I’ll spend a couple months working on a stand alone before I dive back in on the next Quinn novel in October.

Thank you for this interview, Brett. Can you tell us where we can find you on the web?

Brett: Sure. You can find my website at: www.brettbattles.com . Thanks for having me.

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