Good Morning! Today's author interview is Mike Baldwin, an author who is a former sportswriter who now writes mysteries
Why do you feature female lead characters?
Mike: I enjoy writing dynamic women. Plus, it’s a literary no-brainer to sprinkle in a little romance to encourage romance novel readers to try a mystery. In "Dream Killer", the star is Veronica Townsend, a highly successful sports agent in a male dominated profession.
What is the intended audience for your book?
Mike: Anyone age 15 to 90 who enjoys a fast-paced mystery packed with fun characters, a story full of twists and turns. Like any good whodunit, can you figure out who did it?
Why do you specialize in mysteries?
Mike: I’ve always loved a well-written mystery that takes readers on a spellbinding journey. As a kid, I was an Agatha Christie addict. . . Many popular TV shows actually are mysteries, shows like “Major Crimes,” “Law & Order” and “Cold Case.” I contend many mystery fans enjoy a captivating plot to discover the why (motive) as much as the (who).
What makes "Dream Killer" stand out from the crowd?
Mike: The final 50 pages is a shocking conclusion that compels the reader to examine a “social” issue far too often swept under the carpet.
What is a fun fact about your books?
Mike: Readers experience diverse settings. "Dream Killer" is set in Burlington, a farm community in southeastern Kansas. My next novel is set on a college campus in Wichita Falls, Texas. My fall/winter is a classic whodunit. An NFL owner is murdered a few weeks after his team wins the Super Bowl, a story that’s set in Hollywood and Watts.
What are your all-time favorite books?
Mike: Four of my favorites:
- "To Kill a Mockingbird"
- "The Green Mile"
- "The Help",
- And the book that got me hooked on mysteries, Agatha Christie’s classic “Then There Were None.”
I admire John Grisham’s storytelling talent. Because I favor female lead characters my favorite Grisham novel is "The Pelican Brief".
If inspiration strikes you in an inconvenient place like driving a car or eating with friends at a restaurant, what do you do?
Mike: Write it down! ASAP! A note is invaluable to “jog your memory.” I’ve been known to pull off the road and spend thirty minutes scribbling down notes in an empty parking lot.
What are your current/future projects?
Mike: I’m marketing "Dream Killer" and I’m also writing a thriller, "Slam Dunk". (Spoiler alert) If you go read my blog at (mikebaldwinbooks.com), the novel I plan to self-publish in April is a twenty-year-old manuscript I recently found in the back of my closet.
The manuscript you found was 20 years old?
Mike: It was the equivalent of the best Christmas gift an author can ever receive! That manuscript in my closet represented a dream I’ve had for twenty years, a dream finally fulfilled when I self-published two novels in 2015.
Did you have any regrets after you discovered that manuscript buried in your closet?
Mike: No! I recently told a New York literary agent that I wouldn’t trade my sportswriting career to have written thirty novels the past twenty years. My first career was truly amazing. I interacted with sports legends and witnessed memorable games that became instant classics...But now I begin my second journey. It’s difficult to describe the joy to finally have time to do something I’ve always dreamed about — write mysteries that feature female lead characters.
If you could give readers all over the world one message, what would it be?
Mike: If your dreams don’t scare you...they’re not big enough!
What is the methodology for your initial “rough draft outline?
Mike: I view a novel as a movie script. Each chapter represents a scene. Write 30 to 40 scenes — thirty to forty chapters — and you’ve written a novel. As any author will tell you, that’s much more difficult than it sounds. The challenge is to make your next novel even better, but the actual fun is in the journey before you type those magical two words: THE END.
What is your writing process?
Mike: Symbolically, I “skip to the end” to find out “what happens.” After I’ve written a “rough draft” outline, I write the first five or six chapters, then I write the final three or four chapters before I write one word of the “middle” chapters. Some authors say they can’t write the ending until they build to a dramatic climax. Maybe I’m different but I don’t feel good about the plot until I’ve written a knock-your-socks-off ending.
What is the most gratifying aspect of being an author?
Mike: It’s an adrenaline rush when a character literally “comes to life.” Sometimes the character takes the story in a different direction than you envisioned in your original outline.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve heard for self-published authors?
- Make sure it’s publishing house quality edited
- It’s mandatory to market on social media. How much time do you devote to marketing? That’s the million dollar question.
- The BEST ADVICE is: Start writing your next novel!
About the Author
A former sportswriter, Mike Baldwin has transitioned to becoming a full-time novelist who specializes in mysteries that feature female lead characters. Mike writes classic whodunits that appeal to mystery fans of all ages.
Whether it’s a suspense-filled novel that keeps him up all night, or TV shows like “Major Crimes,” “Law & Order,” and “Cold Case,” Mike loves fast-paced stories packed with twists and turns that keep the reader guessing until the surprise ending.
Mike’s unique writing style is he uses multiple points-of-view to provide depth that allows the reader to see the plot form different perspectives. His goal is take readers to new places, whether it’s a rural setting in his current novel "Dream Killer" or Hollywood and Watts in his upcoming fall/winter project.
Regardless of the setting, Mike believes it’s essential that readers become emotionally invested in the characters, although the primary goal is to simply write a fun, thought-provoking mystery sprinkled with occasional humor and a dash of romance.
During his newspaper career, Mike covered Super Bowls and Final Fours, and interviewed countless Hall of Fame athletes and coaches. He was blessed to attend games in 80 of the 90 NFL stadiums, NBA arenas and Major League Baseball stadiums, plus visit more than fifty college campuses.
The highlight was when he was a beat writer who covered the Dallas Cowboys for The Oklahoman, the Oklahoma City newspaper. For seven years, Mike wrote daily stories during the Barry Switzer era when the Cowboys were led by future NFL Hall of Famers Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, Michael Irvin and Deion Sanders.
Mike was humbled and honored last year when he was voted into the Oklahoma Christian University Sports Hall of Fame.