Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Interview with Dv Berkom

October 2006— Eastern Europe Leine checked her watch as she waited for the target to emerge from the concrete block building. Practical as only Soviet-style architecture could be, nevertheless the crumbling façade gave the impression of faded power, like a once-famous tenor now down on his luck and sucking on throat lozenges in order to save his voice.” -DV Berkom. A Killing Truth

Thus begins the long-running Leine Basso series by Author of the Month Dv Berkom, a Washington state-based novelist who publishes her USA Today-listed bestselling Leine Basso and Kate Jones series through her own publisher, Duct Tape Press.

14) Dv, did you ever imagine that just four short years ago the Basso series was going to stretch to 10 installments by 2020 and that you’d be here now?

Honestly? Not a clue. I wrote the first book in the series, Serial Date in early 2012 after having a wickedly bizarre dream, and had no intention of continuing with the character (which explains the über irreverent tone in that book compared to a more serious take in subsequent installments). My readers had other ideas and wrote to tell me how much they liked Leine Basso and wanted more. Not long after that, my local community college featured a documentary on child sex trafficking and I was so horrified by what I learned I decided I had to do something—so I wrote about it. What better character to right that kind of wrong but a woman assassin? After that, I had way too many ideas for plots involving Leine, so kept on writing.

13) Give us a little background on Leine Basso. She’s a former assassin. So what does she do now and what makes her tick? What are her strengths and weaknesses?

Leine Basso is driven by several things: first and foremost is her need for atonement. She’s battling tremendous guilt for having been a seriously flawed mother, for being an unwitting participant in a heinous act that had massive repercussions for both her and her daughter, for participating in government-sanctioned murder under the auspices of a shadowy agency and an equally shady boss. Early in the series she’s asked to help rescue a young girl who’s been sold to the highest bidder by a human trafficking organization. Through the course of the book, she realizes her particular skill set can be used for good. Until this happens, she’s on a self-destructive trajectory, allowing guilt to rule (alcohol abuse, a failed marriage, a destructive relationship with her daughter, etc.) Her strength is that she’s a survivor and that she fights for those who can’t fight for themselves. I’m a big fan of redemption stories, obviously.

12) Unlike Leine, Kate Jones isn’t a trained assassin, secret agent or soldier. So how does she prevail at the end of every book?

I love to write about resilient characters, especially women. Resilience and persistence are both underrated qualities, but I’d have to say they’re both prevalent in most of the women I’ve known or read about. I created Kate Jones because I wanted an “every woman” that readers could relate to, and show her gaining strength through the series, ultimately becoming her own best defense against the challenges she faces. Although, she does tend to be her own worst enemy at times.

11) Where does an author go to learn about the shadowy world of assassins for hire?

I’ve been fortunate to have met several folks through my travels and through friends who are knowledgeable about the criminal world, international arms dealers, Russian oligarchs, snipers, police detectives, Special Forces operations, CIA, FBI, DEA, organized crime, politicians and politics, etc. I find the differing perspectives on the issues fascinating and have conducted interviews with folks from all walks of life. That type of research is one of my favorite things about writing. I supplement that information with a boatload of other research as well as boots on the ground—either my own or friends who live where I set the books. As for assassins for hire, there’s a surprising amount of information on the subject.

10) I’ve read your latest blog entry when you announced the launch of Shadow of the Jaguar last April. But for the readers at home, explain what your reasoning was for a book launch during a pandemic.

The launch of that book coincided with a huge spike in Covid-19 cases and I didn’t have any idea if readers would welcome an action-adventure thriller with all the uncertainty and stress that everyone had to deal with at the time. But then I put myself in my readers’ shoes (I highly recommend it) and realized whenever I was stressed out, freaked out, whatever-out, my go-to was to get lost in a good book by one of my favorite authors. It was a “duh” moment, for sure. So I launched the book, and it’s been one of my bestsellers to date.

9) Describe your typical writing day. Do you set word goals or not, do you draft exclusively in notebooks, your laptop or a combination of both?

Typical day? LOL. Ever since my parents came to live with my husband and me, along with the advent of this pandemic, I’d be hard pressed to come up with a typical anything! In fact, the first six or so weeks of the lockdown I found it extremely difficult to concentrate on anything but the news and making sure everyone in my household was doing all right. But then I got fed up with myself, planted my ass in the chair, and made myself start a new book, and the words started to flow.

That also goes for every book. None of them happened the same way. When I was first starting out I was a pantser (seat-of-your-pants writer) and just winged it. Bad idea, at least for me. I wrote myself into a lot of corners and spent way too much time trying to find my way out. Now, I do a kind of hybrid-style where I start with pen and paper and sketch out a timeline to see if the idea has legs. Then I’ll do a loose outline on my laptop, where I hit the highpoints of each chapter followed by some initial research. Then I dive in, writing 5-6 days a week, allowing myself to revise at will. Just having an idea where I’m going helps me stay on track and complete the first draft quicker.

8) You have to admit, there are few female authors of action-adventure fiction, a genre that’s almost completely dominated by male authors. What made you decide to tackle this genre?

I’ve always loved a challenge. My main reason for writing in the thriller and action-adventure genres is because I love reading them, but have been frustrated by the lack of believable, capable women as main characters. I grew up with a lot of guy friends and loved to go hiking, camping, fishing, traveling, fighting—you name it, I loved doing it. I also loved to read and cook and garden, and even played with dolls, but I digress. I thought it horribly unfair that women characters were mostly relegated to supporting roles. Why did male characters get to have all the fun? That wasn’t true in my world. My writing in these genres was/is a way for me to right that particular wrong.

7) Plotter, pantser or plantser?
Hybrid (see answer above)
6) When you were growing up, who were your favorite authors and did any of them influence your current work?

Ian Fleming, Robert Ludlum, Ken Follett, and whoever was available at the library, all had an influence on me. I read widely and enjoyed literary fiction, a dash of romance, and historical fiction, but kept coming back to the ones with action, action, action. Then I discovered Daniel Silva, Joe Wambaugh, and Michael Connelly, along with other thriller authors and never looked back.

5) Are there any plans to do a Leine Basso and Kate Jones crossover or do they occupy separate universes?

Maybe. I’ve been asked by several readers to do one, but I haven’t figured out the story yet. They’re vastly different characters, which would be fun to try, but it has to be right.

4) What would you say the split is between your male and female readership?

Every reader survey I’ve done comes back at close to 50-50. Lots of male readers have emailed to let me know they don’t usually enjoy women authors, but they enjoy reading my books. I love that my characters and stories appeal to both men and women.

3) Are there any plans to begin another series or are Leine and Kate enough for you to handle?

Funny you should ask that. I’m currently working on another series and hope to have a trilogy out by late fall. I’m not going to say anything further, since it’s so new. After I’m finished with that it’s on to the next Leine Basso.

2) Would you ever consider tackling another genre or do action-adventure thrillers do it for you?
See answer above J

1)  So, what’s next for Dv Berkom?

Continue writing the Leine Basso series for as long as readers enjoy it. I’ve also got a couple of ideas for different series rattling around in my brain that I’d like to work on. Rest assured any books will most likely have a lot of action, whatever the genre.

If you’re interested in learning more about Dv Berkom and her work, please make use of the links provided above and below.

If you’re interested in learning more about Dv Berkom and her work, please make use of the links provided above and below.

Links to New Release, Shadow of the Jaguar:

Barnes & Noble links to a couple of print editions:

Audible author page:


At June 30, 2020 at 4:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good interview. Leine Basso has turned into a wonderful character to write.
Chris Karlsen

At July 1, 2020 at 3:08 PM, Blogger DVBerkom said...

Thanks, Chris! Glad you enjoy Leine :)


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