Friday, March 28, 2014

Interview with David Burnsworth, author of 'Southern Heat'

David Burnsworth became fascinated with the Deep South at a young age. After a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Tennessee and fifteen years in the corporate world, he made the decision to write a novel. Southern Heat is his first mystery. Having lived in Charleston on Sullivan’s Island for five years, the setting was a foregone conclusion. He and his wife along with their dog call South Carolina home.
His latest book is the southern noir/mystery, Southern Heat.

Visit his website at

Gunshots echo down an antebellum Charleston alley. Brack Pelton, an ex-racecar driver and Afghanistan War veteran, witnesses the murder of his uncle, Reggie Sails. Darcy Wells, the pretty Palmetto Pulse reporter, investigates Reggie's murder and targets Brack.

The sole heir of his uncle's estate, Brack receives a rundown bar called the Pirate's Cove, a rotting beach house, and one hundred acres of preserved and valuable wetland along the Ashley River. A member of Charleston's wealthiest and oldest families offers Brack four million dollars for the land. All Brack wants is his uncle's killer.

From the sandy beaches of Isle of Palms, through the nineteenth-century mansions lining the historic Battery, to the marshlands surrounding the county, Southern Heat is drenched in the humidity of the lowcountry.

Purchase your copy at AMAZON

Can you tell us what your book is about?
Sure. An emotionally wounded Afghanistan War veteran and ex-racecar driver investigates the murder of his uncle, his only real family.  Set in modern day Charleston, S.C. and its surrounding islands, Southern Heat takes in the mixed culture of the lowcountry.

Why did you write your book?
This question is a good one.  I guess I wrote down what came out.  It didn’t start out the way it ended up, but I’m very happy with the cast of characters and the setting.

Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters?
Brack Pelton, the protagonist, wears his heart on his sleeve.  His wife died of cancer six months after she was diagnosed and his way of coping was to retire from racing and sign up for the Marines and be shipped off to Afghanistan.  Not only didn’t he die, which he half expected to, but his decision led him to do a lot of things he regretted, the memories of which he has to live with.

Darcy Wells is the pretty reporter who is charged with finding the story behind the murder of Brack’s uncle.  She has a resemblance to Brack’s late wife in her blue-green eyes and blond curls and is a member of one of Charleston’s wealthiest families.  She uses her wealth, her wiles, and her drive to get the story.

Patricia Voyels is the owner of the newspaper and news network.  She sent Darcy to take on the story.  She also happens to the ex-wife of Brack’s uncle.
Brother Thomas Brown pastors the Church of Redemption in the projects of Charleston.  He become’s Brack’s moral compass when he’s willing to listen.
Altogether, they help Brack find the killer, and the real reason his uncle had to die.

Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel or do you discover it as you write?
For Southern Heat, it was a journey of discovery.  Because it was my first book, I spent a lot of time on the characters and they framed the story for me.

Your book is set in Charleston, S.C.  Can you tell us why you chose this city in particular?
I lived there on Sullivan’s Island for five years.  There is no city on earth like it and it is a part of my life that I will treasure forever.  Getting the chance to put it on paper was just a bonus.

Is it hard to get a mystery published?
I’m not sure I can answer the question.  For me, it was a lifestyle change to decide to write and follow through with it.  I started with minimal writing skills because my background is in engineering and spent the first two years finding my voice.  Once I had that, then I spent another couple learning the craft, which I’m still learning.  I believe the trick to getting published is to make sure you are at the right place and at the right time, both for yourself and your work.

Have you suffered from writer’s block and what do you do to get back on track?
If I’m having trouble with a scene, I mark it and move on.  Sometimes this ends up burning me because the next scene I jump to may or may not be the right one once I flesh out the one I skipped.  But for me, the secret is to always be writing or editing.  Even if it is total crap.  I once wrote a hundred pages, only to use two.  But those two pages helped me finish.

What would you do with an extra hour today if you could do anything you wanted?
I’d spend it with my wife.  We both work a lot.

Which holiday is your favorite and why?
Christmas, because I’m reminded how blessed I am and from whom.

If we were to meet for lunch to talk books, where would we go?
A place with a nice view.  My wife got me in the habit of enjoying my surroundings.  I like being close to bodies of water.

What do you like to do for fun?
My addiction is magazines about automobiles.  I get like twelve a month and struggle finding time to read them all.  With my wife, we like to travel and vacation which is not nearly frequent enough.

What kind of advice would you give other fiction authors?
If you want to publish, learn the business because it is a business.  I’m a novice, but I’m learning every day.  If you just want to write because it makes you happy and don’t care if it ever gets printed, then by all means write.  Writing and publishing are not mutually exclusive, but they are different entities.

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