iUniverse author Dale Rominger discusses his new murder mystery, The Girl in the Silver Mask.
Please briefly describe your book . . .
I guess to begin – the title. The title is The Girl in the Silver Mask. The book has a good deal of humor in it and the title itself is part of the joke. You’ll have to read the book to get the joke, but have you noticed lately how many books are out there with the word “girl” in the title?
Silver Mask is the second book about Drake Ramsey and Zuri Manyika finding themselves mixed up in a murder mystery. Drake and Zuri first appear in The Woman in White Marble (also published through iUniverse). We find Zuri and Drake living in New Orleans this time and the book takes place at Halloween and the “Krewe of Boo!” Parade. The humor centers around Drake’s personality. He can be a bit full of himself, but I always think that tendency comes from insecurity rather than conceit. And while the book is funny in parts, there is a darker undercurrent running through the story.
Do you have any particular literary influences?
I read widely and a lot. I’m a big fan of Philip Roth, Toni Morrison, Chuck Palahniuk, Zadie Smith, Dave Eggers, Kurt Vonnegut, Barbara Kingsolver, Roberto Bolaňo, Haruki Murakami, Margaret Atwood, Julian Barnes, and Joyce Carol Oates – to name a few. Oddly, however, both The Woman in White Marble and The Girl in the Silver Mask are influenced by Raymond Chandler more than anyone other author I just listed. The reason is personal.
White Marble was a story written to celebrate a friend’s life, who had passed away suddenly. The details aren’t important, but the story quickly fell into place in my mind and the main character, Drake Ramsey, was also clearly defined from the very beginning. I saw him as a reporter in the gumshoe tradition and so I began reading Chandler. Why I imagined Drake in this way is unclear to me, and I am not a writer who claims my characters tell me what to write. They don’t. I tell them what to do and say. Still, Drake was clear in my mind and I enjoyed having fun with the gumshoe genre in both books.
What inspired you to write your book, and how long did it take you to finish it?
As I just said above, the two main characters first appeared in The Woman in White Marble and I enjoyed them so much I decided to write another Drake Ramsey mystery. I took them to New Orleans, which is a great city to have as a character in a mystery story. In The Girl in the Silver Mask Drake is still bigger than life and Zuri is developed into a deeper and stronger character. In White Marble the underlying deeper theme centered around sexism and sexual violence. In Silver Mask it centers around race and racism, themes I wanted to explore.
I write late at night between 10:00 pm and 3:00 am. It’s when I’m most creative. The world seems asleep and it is a very peaceful time. It took me about four months to write the first draft of Silver Mask. The book then went through a rather extensive editing process which includes structural editing, line by line, and finally proofreading. I read it over in hard copy, made changes, and then again on screen. I printed that version for my wife and we went through three more versions. It then went to a professional editor for structural and line by line editing. This led to two more versions. Finally proofreading, which was just minor corrections. All that took about six months.
What is the one message you would like to convey to your readers?
The past is not over.
Are you working on a sequel to your book?
I’ve started researching and outlining the third and last Drake Ramsey mystery. Three of the characters from The Girl in the Silver Mask will be back, including Drake and Zuri, of course. In the next book the action will move to San Francisco.
Are there any events, marketing ideas or promotions planned for your book?
Now that the book is available for sale and my copies have arrived, there are a few things in the works. First, the book opens in the Treme Coffeehouse in New Orleans and four of the main characters live within a few minutes’ walk of the café. I visited the coffeehouse on numerous occasions and know the manager as well. We are talking about the coffeehouse selling a copies on consignment and, hopefully, of holding a book reading/signing in the café.
The cover image was done by a New Orleans photo artist by the name of Alan Zakem of ZakemArt.com. We are planning a joint art display and book signing in the gallery where his work is displayed and sold. Also, Alan is introducing me to a store in New Orleans that might want to sell copies on consignment.
A small bookstore in L.A., the Pipe & Thimble, is displaying copies of both The Girl in the Silver Mask and The Woman in White Marble.
I am just about to complete the sell sheet for The Girl in the Silver Mask and will be making appointments with three Seattle bookstores (I live in the Seattle area).
Finally, I live in a small community development of some fifty homes. We are holding an open house for a reading/signing with refreshments in our home for our neighbors (some have already purchased The Woman in White Marble).
Those are the immediate plans.
What was your favorite part of your publishing experience, overall and with iUniverse?
I guess what I appreciate about iUniverse is the policy of calling writers on the phone to discuss the various stages of the publishing process. I also value the challenge of seeking Editor’s Choice and Rising Star. White Marble and Silver Mask are better books because I went for, and reached, both those goals.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Find the time and the environment where you feel the most creative, if that is at all possible. Mine is late at night into the early morning in my study. When it comes time to pursue publications, do the research and decide what you want out of the process – meaning if you do not pursue traditional publishing, know what you want to pay for and what you want to do yourself. Having said that, in my opinion we all really should pay for professional editing. I know that can be tough and for some impossible, but I’d still push for professional editing.
Author of The Girl in the Silver Mask and The Woman in White Marble