What inspired you to write this book?
First Four is a collection of my first four thrillers—including the W. H. Smith First Novel Award finalist—Fire Eyes. Over the last three years I’ve written four books in my new crime series which begins with Bone Maker. Now I realize that the crime series is going to absorb my attention for many more years. So I wanted to package the earlier books into one collection for readers who might enjoy those books in a boxset format.
That sounds like an interesting collection! How long have you been writing?
I started to write at an early age (before my teens). Mostly poetry. When I was twenty-five I tried to write a novel (now tucked safely away in the bottom drawer of my desk). My first novel, Fire Eyes, came out when I was thirty-six.
Are you an outliner or pantser?
A bit of both. I like the first and last scenes of a new novel to “appear” in my imagination before I begin to write the first draft. Then when I’m in the groove, I tend to map out the direction in chunks of four or five chapters. I always like to reserve plenty of room for the plot and characters to find their own direction, which makes me more of a pantser, I guess. However, outlines are important to me.
I agree, outlines really help shape your books. I tend to be both though, only outlining key points to my book. Then sometimes I will get stuck because I haven’t planned it out enough. Any tips on how to get through the dreaded writer’s block?
I experienced a ten-year block between my second and third novels. I actually thought I was finished as a writer. Done. Then an new idea occurred to me and I decided to follow my intuition and instincts from the first word to the last (so maybe I am a true pantser). The result was The Good Lie, a novel I am very proud of.
What are your hobbies aside from writing?
I now write almost every day. It’s an obsession. However, I garden and hit the gym a few times a week. I also love music concerts and the theater. Dining with friends is always enjoyable. My family also is extremely important to me. I’d be a different person without them.
Where is one place you want to visit that you haven’t been before?
Rome, Venice, Florence. From Italy I’d like to cross the Adriatic Sea and explore Croatia.
You were just given an Island. What would you name it? And who would live there with you?
The island is called Family Island. The inhabitants would include all my relatives going back ten generations. They would have a lot of stories to share, don’t you think?
Shamrock Pancakes from The Huffing Post
I would love to get to know some of my relatives before I was born. I even found out there’s an author in my family! So let’s have fun… What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten.
Green pancakes. My cousin made them for me when I was about 10. Delicious. His mother just about killed him.
If you could bring one of your characters to life, who would it be?
Hmmm. Some of my characters are pretty darned scary. Others are messed up but harmless. However, Teejay Flood, the young girl In Exit From America, has a remarkable personal toughness mixed with the heart of a young saint, and an emotional IQ that is through the roof. I’ve already learned a lot from her. Seeing her in reality every day would likely make me a better person in every way.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
I taught creative writing for decades at the local university. My advice is to set aside at least an hour a day to write on your own. It’s called meeting the muse. Writing novels is a long and lonely game. You need to enjoy the act of writing, so be sure to write what *you* want to write.
That’s great advise! Can you share an excerpt of your book with us?
Of course. Here are three opening paragraphs from my first novel, Fire Eyes. As you can see, it begins with a bang!
The bomb went off a little after one in the morning. It was a beautiful thing. There was blues and greens and thick yellows that blended in with the smoke to make it all look like mustard gas in some World War I movie. And the sound of it was much louder than I thought. I guess it could have been the noise alone that brought the cops. But the look of it — the colors — they were much more than I hoped for. Damn it, they were beautiful.
But what happened to Renee, that’s something else. It was the last thing I expected. She tried to make everything so casual, carrying the bomb the way she did under her arm. First she spins around and smiles like there’s no care to the world and moves up the sidewalk in her dream of ballet. She points her toe to the ground once, twice — then, as she turns on one foot, the bomb explodes and breaks the night into a thousand smoking greens and yellows and reds, with a huge blast like a rocket burst echoing off the walls of the mountains. And then it’s all over before you can really see it and in the end she’s worse than dead because the bomb blew everything apart. There’s a crater gutted into the sidewalk and suddenly all the lights in the First City Electric building black out. A minute later there’s a flicker of light in the windows and then the power surges back to life. Only the front door has any sign of damage, two windows shattered from their steel frames. And along the sidewalk, halfway up from the road, her handkerchief rests where it fell. Except for that, there’s nothing left at all. Not even the baby.
Yes, she’s the one that didn’t come back. I remember her saying it would be like a war, and in a war there’s always some that don’t come home. I always thought she was talking about me. Specially when I put the bomb together in the lab.
D.F. Bailey is a W.H. Smith First Novel Award and a Whistler Independent Book Award finalist.
In 2015 D.F. Bailey published The Finch Trilogy — Bone Maker, Stone Eater, and Lone Hunter — three novels narrated from the point-of-view of a crime reporter in San Francisco. He is now extending the trilogy in a series of stand-alone books.
His first novel, Fire Eyes, was optioned for film. His second novel, Healing the Dead, was translated into German as Todliche Ahnungen. The Good Lie, another psychological thriller, was recorded as an audio book. A fourth novel, Exit from America, made its debut as an e-book in 2013.
Following his birth in Montreal, D.F. Bailey’s family moved around North America from rural Ontario to New York City to McComb, Mississippi to Cape May, New Jersey. He finally “landed on his feet” on Vancouver Island — where he lives next to the Salish Sea in the city of Victoria.
For twenty-two years D.F. Bailey worked at the University of Victoria where he taught creative writing and journalism and coordinated the Professional Writing Cooperative Education Program — which he co-founded. From time to time he also freelanced as a business writer and journalist. In the fall of 2010 he left the university so that he could turn “his pre-occupation with writing into a full-blown obsession.”
IN PRAISE OF…
“Fire Eyes is a taut psychological thriller with literary overtones, a very contemporary terrorist romance.”
—Globe and Mail
“A dynamite read. Combines a remarkable literary finesse with the tightly wound mainspring of a psychological thriller. A new writer of the very best.”
— Andreas Schroeder, author of “Renovating Heaven”
Healing The Dead
“You start reading Healing the Dead with a gasp and never get a proper chance to exhale.”
—Globe and Mail
Click HERE to buy First Four!