When I first published my book Fun4babies, I was interviewed by Northwest Herald Newspaper. It was such an exciting honor to reflect on my writing. When the post came up in my Facebook newsfeed, I decided that I would love to learn what others feel about their careers, hobbies or passions. My first interview is with a fellow ChicagoNow Blogger and writer, Brett Baker. He recently published two books, Must Come Down and For The Trees. Mia Mathis is the main character of both books. As an agent for The Summit—a secret, underground crime-investigation organization—she travels around the globe to right wrongs, hunt down bad guys, and apply her own particular style of justice. I really enjoyed the process of asking questions and reading his answers, so I hope that you enjoy this too.
When did you first want to be a writer?
I didn’t enjoy reading or writing until after high school. During college, in the late 90s, I started writing a daily “column” that I’d send to a list of readers I had recruited through AOL, plus family and friends. It was essentially a blog, although no one was using the term at that time, and it wasn’t hosted on a website. I did that for a couple of years before deciding to try fiction. My writing has gone in fits and starts the past sixteen years. Only the past couple of years have I decided to do the work required to make a living doing it. I’m not making a living yet, but I’m getting closer everyday.
How did you come up with the character of Mia Mathis?
The idea of a female action character appealed to me, and Mia just sort of appeared. I’d written The Death Market a couple of years before, and I’d heard from quite a few people that they liked a character in that book named Johnny Mathis. So I decided that Mia would be Johnny’s sister and she’d work for a secret crime investigation organization. That’s all I knew. I’ve created everything else as I’ve written, including her refusal to use a gun.
The series doesn’t build on itself, so I don’t know how many books there will be. Each book can be read by itself. The characters and themes of the series will carry throughout each book, but each plot will be distinct. They’re fun to write, and as long as they remain fun I’ll keep doing them.
If there are more, do you know where the series is headed, or will you write each book as the ideas come?
I have no idea where the series is headed. I don’t even know where each book is headed until I write the words. I start with a basic idea, which becomes the first chapter, and then figure out everything else as I go. That way the story’s a surprise to me as I write it.
I have not read these two yet, but I did read Death Market, which was your first book published in 2014. Is there any connection to this series?
The series is unrelated to The Death Market except that Mia Mathis is Johnny’s sister. He doesn’t appear in the first book, but he is in the second book, and I suspect he’ll appear from time-to-time in the future. He’s a fun character to write, and he’s very smart, so he might be useful to Mia in future books.
What is the “Good” in being a writer or writing this series?
The good in being a writer is that it lets me engage with my creativity and express myself. I love making up a story and inventing characters and putting them in difficult situations and figuring out what happens. It’s an entire world that doesn’t exist until I make it exist. I like that. And on my blog, Dry it in the Water, I express myself in a more literal way. I can talk about politics or sports or my kids or life in general. That’s a different sort of release, and more immediate.
Anything else you would like to add?
All through my day, no matter where I go, or what I do, I am always looking for the good. I try to find the good in people, in the world, in my life or even just in my day.
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