Interview with Mystery Writer Brad Geagley

Brad Geagley is the author of two mys­ter­ies pub­lished by Simon & Schuster: Year of the Hyenas (2005) and Day of the False King (2006).

Brad has recent­ly writ­ten and self-pub­lished a new, noir thriller, The Stand In, which  appeared on Kindle and eBook in December 2011. The new mys­tery is set in Hollywood in 1957, is burst­ing with mur­der, intrigue and sus­pense.

As an estab­lished author who decid­ed to take self-pub­lish­ing into his own hands, we’re inter­view­ing Brad about his deci­sion to self-pub­lish ebooks.

What can you tell us about your­self?

I’m a writer.  Baby Boomer.  I worked in the Entertainment Industry for many years as a Producer, end­ing up as a VP of Production for a firm locat­ed in New York City.  Lived down the street from the World Trade Center, and watched the tow­ers fall.  Decided I couldn’t put off my writ­ing career any longer.  Four books pub­lished.  One play pro­duced.  I love Ancient Egyptian, French, and American his­to­ry.  I’m an expert on the 1963 film “Cleopatra” and cur­rent­ly live in Palm Springs, CA.

What can you tell us about your book(s)? We see that you are writ­ing in the noir style of the 1940s. What authors were your inspi­ra­tion? Are you fan of Rex Stout, Raymond Chandler, Mickey Spillane and oth­er authors from this peri­od and style?

I can’t say that I’m writ­ing in the noir style, though I love Raymond Chandler and, par­tic­u­lar­ly, James M. Cain, who wrote Mildred Pierce and Double Indemnity – what a sto­ry­teller!  In fact, the more that I think about it my style is, in this instance, more Cain than Spillane (Ha — I rhymed!). The Stand In is set in Hollywood of the 1950s and we put it into the hard-boiled cat­e­go­ry for read­ers because that’s usu­al­ly the decade when all those kinds of sto­ries occur.  For mod­ern mys­ter­ies and thrillers I have one author to whom I always turn for inspi­ra­tion and guid­ance – Martin Cruz Smith (who wrote the Gorky Park series, and many oth­er nov­els.)  Other authors who have influ­enced me are Shirley Jackson (the so-called Virginia Werewolf of American Fiction), Pearl Buck, Patrick Dennis and Gore Vidal.

Do you use any orga­ni­za­tion­al soft­ware for writ­ing?

For screen­plays (I teach “Writing for Film” at Mt. San Antonio College) and plays I use Final Draft 8.  All of my prose is com­posed in Microsoft Word.  That’s about it.

Do you set spe­cif­ic dai­ly hours or word count goals for your­self?

I start work about 8:00 in the morn­ing, hav­ing fin­ished the New York Times and the Washington Post, dur­ing which I have downed copi­ous amounts of black cof­fee.  The muse joins me and I work until about 11:30 a.m., then resume work at 1:30 p.m. and work until 4:00.  Sometimes, if I’m on a roll, I work in the evenings, too.  But I try to quit at least an hour before I go to bed, sim­ply because the process of writ­ing jazzes me up so much I can’t go to sleep direct­ly after­ward.  I try to write three usable pages per day, though I’ve done as much as thir­ty.  (That occurs, usu­al­ly, dur­ing the thrilling con­clu­sion of a nov­el – I’m going so fast I can’t stop.)

Why self-pub­lish­ing? Was the deci­sion dif­fi­cult?

I lost my edi­tor, the sub­lime and leg­endary Michael Korda, dur­ing a palace coup at Simon & Schuster.  The edi­tor to whom I was then assigned was mere­ly an assis­tant who was pro­mot­ed to edi­tor-hood dur­ing the shake-up.  I want­ed to write his­to­ry, she want­ed chick-lit.  The twain did not meet.  The Author’s Guild had been telling us writ­ers for years that, with the Internet, we no longer need­ed pub­lish­ers; that we could tar­get our audi­ences even more specif­i­cal­ly than before.  I was also appalled at the amounts of mon­ey the pub­lish­ers col­lect­ed above and beyond what the author made – a fac­tor of 10 to 1.  I sim­ply want to see if I can do bet­ter than that.  If not, then I will go back to tra­di­tion­al pub­lish­ing.  The Stand In is a bit of an exper­i­ment.

What were the chal­lenges of self-pub­lish­ing?

Basically, the chal­lenges are to repli­cate the ser­vices pro­vid­ed by a pub­lish­ing house; edit­ing, proof-read­ing, design, and pub­lic­i­ty (with par­tic­u­lar empha­sis on the lat­ter.)  I’m also con­sis­tent­ly sur­prised at how many legit­i­mate news­pa­pers and book review sites do NOT cov­er dig­i­tal lit­er­a­ture.  That will change, though, as the sales for down­loaded books are now exceed­ing that of hard­bound books.  As with music and movies, the pub­lic will soon have to con­tent itself with pur­chas­ing an expe­ri­ence, and not a phys­i­cal object.

Did you use a ser­vice to cre­ate the var­i­ous eReader for­mats?

I used Bookbaby.  Though they’ve been respon­sive to my inquiries, they offer no way to track the sales, but then nei­ther did Simon & Schuster.  I’ve adopt­ed a “wait and see” pol­i­cy as to whether or not I will use them again.

Did you hire oth­er experts, such as an edi­tor or cov­er artist?

I work with a won­der­ful­ly gift­ed online PR/Publicity agent, Ms Cynthia Copeland, who han­dles all the online pro­mo­tion for me – I could nev­er nav­i­gate the oppor­tu­ni­ties that she has found and exploit­ed there.  (For any­one look­ing to hire a publicist/PR per­son for their book, I enthu­si­as­ti­cal­ly rec­om­mend her.  She can be con­tact­ed at  Cynthia, in turn, found a cov­er artist for me, Augusto Ferriols, who cre­at­ed a won­der­ful book cov­er for me.

Some gen­res are doing bet­ter as eBooks than oth­ers. How is the mys­tery genre per­form­ing?

I have no idea.  I know that the Authors Guild, when advis­ing self-pub­li­ca­tion, was speak­ing at the time about non-fic­tion.  Fiction still need­ed shelf-space in a book store.  Now, with all the book chains dis­ap­pear­ing, fic­tion writ­ers need to do all they can to find (or re-find) their audi­ence.  Luckily, I have a fol­low­ing who knows my work and with any luck they have pur­chased eReaders. Mystery read­ers are avid read­ers and intense­ly loy­al.  I love them and know they will find their favorites – of which, I hope, I am one.

How are you han­dling the mar­ket­ing? What are you doing per­son­al­ly and what is your agent doing?

I write a blog at and have devel­oped a sur­pris­ing amount of fol­low­ers.  (I have to admit that I was opposed to writ­ing a blog, sim­ply because I thought it took up the time I need­ed for “real work”.  But I find that writ­ing it is both inspi­ra­tional and ener­giz­ing.  It’s far more per­son­al writ­ing, too, and I like that it’s part con­fes­sion­al, part lectern.  Very fun.)

With Cynthia’s help and guid­ance, I’m on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads and Shelfari. Cynthia lets me know of oth­er writ­ers to fol­low, oth­er blogs to com­ment on, and has found sites like yours where I can share a few words with your read­ers (and hope­ful­ly entice them into pur­chas­ing The Stand In – its premise being, what would a movie stu­dio do if they found out that the lead­ing man on their very trou­bled wide-screen pro­duc­tion might well be a ser­i­al killer?  How would they pro­tect their film, their stu­dio – their lead­ing lady?  The answer, hint hint, is in the title.)

Brad Geagley
On Twitter at @BradGeagley

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Author: Susan

Technical writer and engineer