Sunday, January 6, 2013

Mystery Author of the Month, Stephen L. Brayton

I'd like to welcome Stephen L. Brayton. Stephen has a delightful sense of humor which comes through in his responses to my questions.

Patricia: Stephen, where did you grow up? Did your childhood contribute to your desire to be a writer?
Stephen: I grew up in the vast wasteland of northwest Canada, hunting caribou, reindeer, and seals and living in igloos. I knew as a youth I was destined for something better and a place a whole lot warmer...
Actually, I grew up in both the Quad Cities and then southeast Iowa. I don't know as my childhood contributed to my wanting to be a writer, I just thought writing was interesting. I have always been an avid reader and after reading countless mysteries, thought I could write something that people would want to read and enjoy. I wrote skits and plays and short stories up until high school.
Patricia: Where do you live now? Do you use that locale for settings in your novels?
Stephen: Right now I'm traveling across the miles of the Sahara with a bunch of Bedouins (bevy of Bedouins? Flock? What do you call a group of Bedouins?). Did you know camels are not nice animals?
 Seriously, I live in south central Iowa in Oskaloosa, which is Indian for 'Last of the Beautiful'. I used Oskaloosa for one scene in my first Mallory Petersen mystery, Beta. Mallory also visited the Quad Cities. (Which is where she spent her early childhood. Coincidence?)
Patricia: What inspired you to write your most recent novel? 
Stephen: When the writing bug hit me back in the middle 90s, I was involved with taekwondo. I thought a protagonist who was both a martial artist and a private investigator sounded pretty cool. I had learned so much from all of the women in my organization I had to make the character female but with a lot of my personality and sense of humor.. Thus, Mallory Petersen, Fourth Degree Black Belt and PI who lives in Des Moines was created. The first plot of her investigation into her boyfriend's murder came soon afterward.
Patricia: When did you know that you wanted to be a writer?
Stephen: This is a difficult question and I don't think I have an answer. I mean, there wasn't a particular moment where I stopped and said, Hey, I want to write. I just did. I will give credit to my parents for my continuing to seek writing success. I recall after I'd completed a bunch of short stories, maybe a few children's stories, my dad encouraged me to really try to make something of my writing. He's still after me to revisit the children's stories for publication.
Patricia: Name three of your favorite authors in the mystery/suspense genre. What makes them your favorites?
Stephen: I can pick only three? How unfair. I suppose since you're holding a gun to my head, threatening to force feed me coffee, and have cued up the first of several hours of opera if I don't answer, I'll have to go with:
Ellery Queen. I have all but four or five of his books. I like the puzzles. I was not logical enough to figure out any of the solutions before Queen did, but I still enjoyed the challenge.
Erle Stanley Gardner: Again, I have all of his Perry Mason novels as well as most of the others. He had such wonderful characters and I would love to meet a real life Della Street someday.
A tie for third between Rex Stout and F. W. Dixon (and those who took over after Dixon stopped writing). Nero Wolfe is such a wonderful character. Stout put so much detail and stayed consistent with his creation throughout the years. And of course, I can't forget the creator of the Hardy Boys. I'm 46 and I still read their mysteries. 
To read about Stephen's novels and/or to order a copy, go to: