February 23, 2013

Stephen Brayton Directs Mallory Peterson in Alpha
Stephen Brayton is a Fifth Degree Black Belt instructor in the American Taekwondo Association.
In 1996, he opened his first taekwondo club in Grinnell, Iowa, and later assumed ownership of the club in Oskaloosa.
He’s been employed in various fields: radio broadcaster and sales, printing, warehouse/trucking, and hospitality. He’s a reader; a writer; an instructor; a graphic designer; a lover of books, movies, wine, women, music, fine food, good humor, sunny summer days spent hiking or fishing; and a catnip drug dealer to a thirteen pound cat, Thomas.
Brayton resides in Oskaloosa, Iowa.
Could you please start by telling us a little about yourself.
I was raised by desert mutants and until age eighteen participated in the kidnapping of unsuspecting cross country travelers. You know, families with beautiful young daughters...
Actually, I grew up in the Quad Cities and later in a small Iowa town. I attended Iowa Wesleyan College. Since graduation I've held a number of jobs, including radio, trucking, printing, newspaper, and hospitality. When I moved to Oskaloosa, I was involved with community theatre until I started attending taekwondo classes. Currently, I'm a Fifth Degree Black Belt and operate Brayton's Black Belt Academy.
Please tell us your latest news!
I have developed the power of invisibility. Yep, that's right. So watch out, if you ever get an eerie feeling you're being watched...it may be me...
Seriously, I wanted to let you know that I have three books published. The first, Night Shadows, is about a homicide detective in Des Moines who teams up with an FBI agent who investigates supernatural incidents, to solve a series of heinous murders in the capital city.
The second book, Beta, is the first in the Mallory Petersen mystery series. Mallory is a Fourth Degree Black Belt and private investigator in Des Moines. Most of her cases involved some oddball clients, but in this book, she searches for a kidnapped girl and ends up uncovering a child pornography ring. Both Night Shadows and Beta are available in eBook format.
My third book, Alpha, has Mallory investigating the murder of her boyfriend and discovering all of his dirty secrets. This book is available in trade paperback at Amazon and at Oak Tree Books.
How much research do you do for your books? Have you found any cool tidbits in your research?
I thoroughly enjoy research. I try to use actual locations and I usually end up traveling to the spots to get a feel for the area and to jot down realistic descriptions. I end up meeting some interesting people, some of whom have been included in the stories. One particular fun situation involved my experience at the Val Air Ballroom where I walked in on a Mexican birthday party for a fifteen year old girl. The place was packed with people, music playing, food cooking. After obtaining the information I sought, I knew I had to put this into the story. It fit so well with Mallory's style.
What are your hobbies?
Robbing banks, heisting cars, graffiti, a little arson now and then to empty buildings...
No, do not send the cops my way; I'm kidding. Actually, I am into taekwondo (of course), fishing, and although I haven't played in years, both golf and racquetball.
If you had to choose one person to have dinner with, who would it be? And why?
Miss July, 2001 for obvious reasons...
Just kidding (or am I?) I can't think of anybody I'd rather have dinner with than Jesus. Come on, dining and chatting with the Big Guy himself? I'd want to ask about his younger years. I mean, you read about his birth and then nothing till age thirty. What did he do as a child? With whom did he hang during high school? Did he have a nickname? And what exactly does the H stand for in his name?
Do you have a website recommendation for other writers?
Other than mine? Well, obviously, I have to promote the Posse. It's a group of writers and authors who share information about cool websites, marketing and promotion tips, blogs, and other useful tidbits about publishing and writing. I joined the Posse after meeting Sunny Frazier, Oak Tree's acquisition editor. I branched out on my own and have formed the Gang of my own writers and authors and fans. I keep them up to date on my projects and share tips. Check out the Oak Tree blog or www.sunnyfrazier.com and look under Posse Posts.
Do you have a ritual when it comes to writing? Example….get coffee, blanket, paper, pen and a comfy place.
A giant bong, a fifth of gin, and NPR classical music on the radio. A poster of Miss July 2001 on the wall for inspiration, and I'm ready to begin...
Uh, wait a minute. Scratch all of that except for the classical music. (And now that I've mentioned her twice, I know some of you are scrambling to find out who July '01 is. Come on, tell the truth.) Anyway, I usually write late at night when nobody is around at work. I turned the volume down on the radio so it becomes background noise. Besides, all classical music sounds the same (apologies to those aficionados, but it does). I usually start with pen and a legal pad because I can think faster than I can write. So while I'm writing, my brain is coming up with the next sentence or scene. Then I transfer the longhand onto the computer, which becomes my first edit. I write until I finish a chapter or my hand starts to ache.
Can you please give us a sneak peek at any of your upcoming books?
Well, I contemplated writing the next Harry Potter book, but thought btaining the rights to it would be difficult, so now I'm outlining a book about a ditzy bounty hunter in New Jersey...huh? Already done? Sigh!
Actually, I'm working on Delta, the next in the Mallory Petersen series. In this one, I really take her down to her lowest point and her most challenging experience. I also am trying (desperately) to get the sequel to Night Shadows completed. I've been working on this for many years and I haven't been satisfied. But there is hope. I also am sporadically rewriting a stand-alone mystery. Plus, outlining a couple of others.
Who is your favorite cover model? And why?
I don't think I've ever been asked this question? Sorry, I just can't pick just one. I take a second look at Kristen Bell, Maggie Lawson (who would be my choice to play Mallory in the movie), Avril Lavigne, and I'd buy several copies of any magazine featuring Elisabeth Harnois (oh my!)
Do you belong to a critique group? If so, how does this help or hinder you?
Excellent question. Without a doubt: yes and yes it helps immensely. I began writing Alpha back in the middle 90s but found a critique group around 2000. When I started reading the first draft (which at that time was only about 40,000 words), I realized I still had a lot to learn about the craft of writing. So, I settled on short stories while the idea for Beta bugged me and I started writing that one. Then Night Shadows came along. By 2007, I had been involved with three critique groups and I've been a member of three others since. The most recent one has many fine writers who are knowledgeable and provide very fine critiques on the intricacies of writing.
This group has been very helpful in showing me my strengths and weaknesses. I learn from every member whether beginner or published author. Writers need groups like this to assist them, to point out errors, make suggestions, and to have contacts that may lead to future success for both parties.
Fourth Degree Black Belt and private investigator investigates the murder of her boyfriend. Almost immediately, devastating secrets are uncovered and Mallory finds herself in mortal danger at nearly every turn. On top of the murder, she is asked by her landlord to find his missing daughter.
It’s high kicking action when Des Moines’ most gorgeous investigator enters a world of betrayal, murder, and illegal narcotics, as well as the usual assortment of oddball individual unique to Mallory’s world.
CONTEST:  Since this will be coming after February 14th, Mallory would accept belated Valentine's Day cards (to be put into the comments sections). The best poem, quote, compliments, or well-wishes receive a copy of Beta. So, I'd need an email link.

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