BETA by Stephen L. Brayton

About Beta: Mallory Petersen, private investigator/martial artists usually finds herself taking cases from the nuttier side of life. However, when she’s hired to find a kidnapped eight year old girl, she steps into a dark world of unspeakable crimes. The trail leads her around the capital city of Des Moines, to the Quad Cities, and back again.

Bio: Stephen L. Brayton owns and operates Brayton’s Black Belt Academy in Oskaloosa, Iowa. He is a Fifth Degree. He's a Black Belt and certified instructor in The American Taekwondo Association.

He began writing as a child; his first short story concerned a true incident about his reactions to discipline. During high school, he wrote for the school newspaper and was a photographer for the yearbook. For a Mass Media class, he wrote and edited a video project.

In college, he began a personal journal for a writing class; said journal is ongoing. He was also a reporter for the college newspaper.

He’s been a radio broadcaster, graphic designer, Echelon Press Editor. He lives in Oskaloosa, Iowa, with his cat named Thomas.

Links: Website:


Book review blog:

Stephen Brayton Interview:

Marilyn: Congratulations, you have a new book out! I always like to know what was the inspiration for this particular book.

This is a tough question and I know I’m going get asked it a lot. Unfortunately, the short answer is – I don’t know. A long time ago when I was na├»ve and clueless, I had written a story featuring Mallory Petersen, private investigator / martial arts instructor, where she tracks down the murderer of her boyfriend. Around 2000 or 2001, the idea for Beta hit me and wouldn’t go away. Maybe I’d heard something on television or the radio or possibly I got inspired by another critique group member’s material. I remember since I already had the character fairly developed, the other characters came pretty easy, the outline flowed fairly smoothly and all I needed was hours of research and several revisions.

Marilyn: Are you planning on doing anything different for the promotion of this book than for your last one?

Ideas such as skywriting and advertising on the New York Times Square marquee flash through my mind, but those might be a tad expensive. I’d love to get actress Maggie Lawson (who I envision as the part of Mallory in the movie) wearing a Sam Spade trench coat and hat accompanying me wherever I go, but I doubt that’s too feasible either. Sigh!

Actually, I’m planning on a book trailer to post on YouTube. With the last book, I had difficulty getting media attention. Since the story is based in Des Moines, Iowa, I’d love to get on the premiere radio station WHO for at least a short segment on one of the morning shows. A nice feature in the Register would be nice, too. I’ll have to focus my efforts on the correct media people.

Marilyn: Something my readers always like to know is, what was your journey to publication?

A bunch of missed flights, lost luggage, rude stewardesses, bad food, hard motel beds…no wait, that was my last vacation.

The road really started in 2006. My critique group was planning on attending the Love Is Murder conference in Chicago in February of the next year. A friend, Katherine Hinkson, and I were the only two in our critique group with stories ready to pitch to the attending agents. Unfortunately, they all accepted submissions, but then subsequently rejected them. So, jump ahead to 2009. The former critique group had faded into nevermore but Katherine hears about a conference in August in Tennessee called Killer Nashville. So, we polish up our pitches (I had two books ready by then) and off we go. It’s a wonderful conference. I meet Mary Welk from Echelon Press who wasn’t originally scheduled to accept pitches, but she ended up talking with authors about short stories and novels.

Throughout September, the three agents I pitched to all rejected me. In October I received an email from the senior editor of Echelon Press saying they wanted not one but both of my books.

Marilyn: Did you always want to be a published fiction writer?

Well, not in the womb, but shortly thereafter, sure, why not?

I wrote a fantasy type story while working my first job out of college but really hadn’t thought about getting published. I also wrote an introductory trilogy for a comic book character but that didn’t go anywhere. Not until I finished Beta did I start seriously considering seeking out publishers. I’ve written for many years off and on, whether short stories, journals, a poem or two. After attending critique groups, I started learning about the writing process, picking up tidbits here and there, and honing my craft. Even after I was accepted by Echelon I still had a lot to learn, i.e. the dreaded editing!

Marilyn: How much of you is in your hero?

Mallory Petersen is the type of person I’d love to be…okay as long as I can remain a male.

Mallory really started out many years ago as Sam P. Petersen, Quad Cities police detective. Then when I started taekwondo in 1990, and the writing bug infected me again, I reconstructed (if that is the correct word) the character. I gave her my height, blonder hair than mine, so many more excellent martial arts skills, a warm and romantic heart, my good sense of humor, and a very sincere sense of empathy.

Marilyn: What advice would you give anyone who wants to be a writer?

Check into the nearest mental health facility, because you are completely, one hundred percent insane. If you don’t think you are, you will be after taking a few steps down this path. However, should you choose to ignore my warning, and rush headlong into the deep, dark, and mysterious world of writing, you will find it the wildest trip you’ve made. Especially if you meet fellow writers along the way. If you’re serious about writing, find a critique group. Start up one yourself. Find people who are focused on improving their writing. In time, you’ll weed out the wannabes and the dabblers. Attend conferences. Killer Nashville has seminars for the beginner to the published wanting more marketing tips. Make contacts because they are invaluable.

Marilyn: Is there anything else you'd like to tell my readers?

Don’t let your mother comb your hair when she’s mad at you.

Sorry, old joke. I want to thank you for having me as a guest. I hope everyone checks out my book (ahem, buy it, it’s only $2.99 for heaven’s sake. Lol). May I pass along a warning? Please don’t let the kids read it. The subject matter is sensitive. If you don’t like the book, please tell me, but be gentle, I bruise easily. If you do like it, tell a friend. I also enjoy reading comments because I collect them to feed my ego. Wait, scratch that last part. I mean I collect them to post on my websites.

Oh, and that first story regarding Mallory and her murdered boyfriend? I rewrote it and looking to get it published.

Marilyn: Thank you so much, Stephen, I love your sense of humor. I wish you the best of luck with this latest book.


custom essay said…
Good work. Thanks for post!
Patricia Gligor said…
I not only watched your video, I posted it to my Face Book page with a teaser, "If you're into martial arts and murder. . . ."
"Beta" sounds like a great read! I wish you much success with it.
Anonymous said…
Yeah, I love that trailer, and this is a great interview. I'm buying the book!

John Brantingham
Alexander said…
Interesting interview! I really enjoy it!
Patricia, John and Alexander thanks for taking the time to read Stephen's interview.

Angela Roe said…
Stephen, your sense of humor shines in this interview and your writing style shines in this book. Wonderful read and terrific interview.
Thanks so much for the comments and please, share the book trailer.
Marja McGraw said…
Somehow I missed your trailer. I'll have to look for that. In the meantime, if you include your brand of humor in your books, then they definitely need to be read -- by me.

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