The RV Book Fair – Breakfield and Burkey

Welcome to The RV Book Fair! Charles and Rox, tell us about your latest book and what inspired you to write it?

Our newest book, The Killer Enigma, is book 16 of the Magnolia Bluff Crime Chronicles. We participate in this series with the Underground Authors. Each author creates a cozy mystery story in our fictional town of Magnolia Bluff, Texas. We were invited to participate in the series and thus far have contributed two stand-alone books.

A brief teaser for The Killer Enigma, released August 20, 2023.

JJ and Jo learn privacy doesn’t exist. They decide to return to Magnolia Bluff to check on their friends and recapture the small-town anonymity.  No one in Magnolia Bluff suspects their fame. They discount the status as urban legends, earned during their first visit in favor of acceptance and a quiet, peaceful life. After all, a supermodel needs time and space to recharge between jobs. A geek wants time to adore his wife. 

Past, present, and future collide in a perfect storm no one expected. JJ and Jo take action to uncover the truth. Chief Tommy Jager likes them but feels they’re a lightning rod for trouble and disruption in his small town. Who will live or die to prevent the facts from being exposed? The answers may be in the graveyard with fresh flowers on a gravestone.   

How do you approach the process of writing? Do you have a specific routine or ritual?

It all begins with the four most terrifying words in our vocabulary, I have an idea.  We have a virtual meeting sometimes from our respective offices to rough out an outline, using our spreadsheet, of both characters and story. We sketch out ten to fifteen chapters and select the ones we each want to write. Then we apply our patent-pending technique, Literary Badminton, bat the chapters and characters back and forth until each is finely polished. The story evolves this way until we finish. A lot of our exchanges are done electronically but we meet together to discuss any serious issues. 

What is the most surprising or unexpected place or situation where you’ve found inspiration for your writing?

Great question. Inevitably, we’ll be in the middle of a story, crafting a new chapter and one of us has a story character arguing about the story direction and their development. People think we’re joking, but many times, a character demands whatever and refuses to whisper to us until we meet the request. Generally, we listen to these creations, and the story gets a new twist that juices the thriller/suspense attributes.

Many authors have a favorite place or environment where they prefer to write. Where do you find you are the most creative and why?

Our work careers mean we must schedule time for writing, editing, and discussion on story direction. We each prefer the early morning to writing efforts when fresh and before meetings surround us. The balancing act is like a tightrope walker carefully navigating to the other side. We have home workstations and our office workstations—working from home for us is ideal. Funny, but Breakfield seems to have most of his inspiration when he dreams and then calls Burkey and says, I have an idea.  

How do you choose the titles for your books, and how important do you think book titles are in attracting readers?

We feel titles are essential, must be short, and must quickly convey the book’s intent. Enigma is part of our branding and symbolizes a layer of technology between the pages. Before settling on The Killer Enigma, we searched for cozy mystery titles and other crime/suspense titles. For us, Enigma is a branding element.

What themes or messages do you hope readers will take away from your work?

The technical world we work in has many good attributes to help our civilization, but we believe, Technology is the weapon of choice. We say that because it can be leveraged to harm, blackmail, extort, and cheat people. We hope people will enjoy the storytelling aspects of our books but learn not to be too trusting of answers from a computer or as they travel across the internet.

Are there any specific authors or books that have influenced your writing style or storytelling?

For Breakfield, it would be Kevin J. Anderson. Kevin is a consummate storyteller and prolific writer. For Burkey, it is JRR Tolkien for his incredible world-building and realistic characters. Both of these writers have stood the test of time in attracting fans.

How do you develop your characters? Do you draw inspiration from real people or experiences?

We keep an eye on evolving technology and, its evil twin, cyber threats. Seeing what bad actors from the Darknet are launching at mankind gives us ideas on defeating the enemy. The bad guys are always ahead of the good guys so a lot of our inspiration for characters comes from real life experiences, people who cross our paths, and our imaginations. For us, it’s discovering the puzzle and then figuring out how to plug people in to solve it. The technical problem helps to sculpt the character development. There is a little bit of Breakfield and Burkey in our characters. The good ones and, yeah, the bad ones too.

Can you share some insights into your creative process? Do you outline your stories or let them unfold organically?

We use both techniques. We do begin with an outline, but we interweave that that with freeform writing. We discuss and frame a story concept, discuss the problem or threat in play and then sketch chapters. Our characters and their roles within the story start with the primary and then get filled in with their likes, dislikes, behaviors, and thoughts to help them become three-dimensional realistic beings that readers can easily relate to.  story concept will be discussed, and ten-plus chapters will be sketched out. As we write, the characters tell the story through us, which is why sometimes they disagree with the direction and make us fix it. The story progression, to a degree, is structured chaos. The outlined spreadsheet may be altered numerous times as it unfolds. The most challenging part is polishing to make stories sound like a single voice.

Are there particular genres or topics you enjoy writing about the most?

We write in two primary genres, technothrillers and cozy mysteries for our novels. These also contribute to their respective series. Our short stories reach different markets because the genres are different—contemporary women’s literature, science fiction, historical fiction, and romance. We write for reader enjoyment. With our professional careers as a backdrop, thrillers with a hint of cyber threat remain our favorites. Please note: our historical fiction, Out of Poland, is a prequel to the found of our heroes, the R-Group.

Can you share an anecdote or a behind-the-scenes story from your writing journey that readers might find interesting or amusing?

Breakfield and Burkey have been known to pick up broken pieces of cast-off old antique furniture left on the side of the road. Odd, but the refinishing results bring the old back to be better than the new. They learned upholstery, webbing, wood refinishing, and proper spring infrastructure. The recycling efforts spanned a story a couple of years about castoffs in a family home’s attic that scared a child into believing. But that short story is for another time. Take care.

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