1. What is your book Shade City: The Dead Side Blues about?
It’s about a ghost hunter, named Dante Butcher, in LA. He’s an irreverent urban fantasy misfit who gives readers an outsider’s inside-perspective of a shadowy Los Angeles. He’s a party guy who goes out to clubs on the weekends, but he can feel things that no one else can. He knows when people are possessed. He kind of doesn’t have any goals in life, but he has strong feelings about right and wrong, and he decides to do something about it. That’s what Shade City is about: a guy hunting shades in the city.
2. How did you decide to write the story?
The idea of being in a bar or a club, this location where everybody is being reckless and having fun, yet having something important to do, really appealed to me. And personally, I have a lot of experience going out in Los Angeles and have a real affinity for the nightlife. I heavily feature real locations and history snippets in the novel. You could say that Shade City is my homage to LA.
3. What was the biggest challenge during the writing process?
I wanted Dante to be a real guy, not just a standard character archetype that everybody loves. He’s not a knight in shining armor. He has his faults. He’s a dick sometimes. But at the end of the day, when it’s time to pick sides, he’s someone you want on your team. It was challenging making sure that Dante was sympathetic enough to engage readers and convince them to hang on with him.
4. Tell us something more about your main character? Is it close to someone from your real life?
It’s funny, because Shade City isn’t my first novel, but it rings very true for me because, in a lot of ways, Dante’s experiences are based on mine. We were both born in Miami and moved to Los Angeles. He’s an exaggerated extension of my character and imagination. I think any great urban fantasy needs to have a larger-than-life character to balance the mystery of the city.
5. How much time did you need to finish the story and publish it?
I’m writing full time, and I really got into the swing of things with Shade City. Besides working through the idea and some of the scenes for more than a year, the actual writing process before I sent it to my editor was 6 months.
6. What about your first book The Seventh Sons?
The Seventh Sons was more difficult to write in a lot of ways. It’s third person, has multiple POV characters, and focuses on subjects that required a lot of research: homicide detective work, biker clubs, various branches of the federal government, and serial killers. I’m currently editing the sequel, The Blood of Brothers, and it’s almost twice as long. Anyone who likes detective mysteries, werewolves, and general spookiness should check them out.
7. Who are you?
A rebel. A writer. A malcontent. I’m an author who grew up in a generation of entertainment. TV, movies, video games, tabletop games- pop culture has really led me down my path. I worked as a programmer in the video game industry for 10 years, but to be honest, creating worlds on my terms is much more fulfilling. Through my stories, I think it’s obvious that I want to burn down overused ideas. Story structure, character arcs, ideas about romance and morality- I think there’s a desire for fresh takes on all of them.
8. What are your writing habits?
Simply put, it’s a routine. I don’t need to nourish my muse or find inspiration. Motivation is completely removed from the equation. I know that I have a block of a few hours here or there, every weekday, to write. So I sit down and do it.
9. Are you satisfied by the sales of the book and do you plan another one?
Is anyone ever satisfied? As of my writing this, I haven’t even been self-publishing for 6 months, so I’m still the new author on the block. My sales aren’t bringing in bags of cash yet, but initial success is about establishing yourself as a brand and getting readers to trust you. Part of that is building a backlist. Besides the sequel that will be released in the fall, I have two more books planned ahead.
10. What are you doing to best promote your book?
I’ve used some of the smaller ad services for book launches, along with sale prices, but nothing too involved yet. My biggest priority is to create a professional brand and backlist. Then, when I can prove that I have a lot to offer my fans, I’ll look into Bookbub.
11. If you may ask yourself one question in the interview what it will be? (Don’t forget to answer)
I guess I would ask, as an author, what am I trying to do different?
And I would say that I write grown-up fantasy. Not just because it’s gritty and edgy. Not just because of the alcohol and drug use. It has more to do with respecting the reader and not leaning on tired tropes like saving the world. It’s okay to deal with mature issues in a ghost story. It’s okay to take fantasy seriously. That’s my main message.
12. Tell us about your work in the video game industry?
It was great. Programming can be a very creative endeavor. In a game studio, you are surrounded by so much talent: artists, designers, audio engineers. It’s fast-paced and you always need to be learning something or you’re falling behind. I programmed a lot of the main heroes, weapons, and game mechanics. I took part in design meetings and story discussions. I ended up managing a team of programmers and designers. I loved it, but I needed to stretch my wings a little and get out of the office.
13. You mentioned that trouble is your inspiration. May you give some examples?
Heh, certainly. Trouble is, by its very nature, a provoking business. It’s scary. It’s exciting. It’s fun after the fact, but maybe not so much while it’s happening. When I was younger, roaming the streets of Miami, me and my friends were pretty brash and ended up in fights a lot. I never started them, but I would inevitably be sucker-punched or drawn into an argument because of a careless friend or lucky pool shot. So there’s some of that mentality in Dante Butcher.
14. Why is fantasy so popular for readers?
The contemporary fantasy I write, I think, has very obvious appeal. It’s the real world that we live in, with all its dreariness, but there’s a spark of something magical and different. Just the idea of raising the stakes of normal situations and unlocking completely new experiences stirs something in the soul. Like my old days in Miami, it’s trouble, only in the pages of a book.
15. What is the story behind your name Domino?
It’s funny, because Domino is more than just a brand. It means a lot to me. As tired as the line goes, I’ve always worked hard and played harder. Writing code for hours on end and then going out drinking until dawn sticks with a person. I’ve always appreciated the symbolism of a domino. Its dual nature. Black and white. Two numbers. Two sides: exposed and hidden. It says a lot about me as a person. Plus, DominoFinn.com wasn’t taken yet.
Interview conducted by Ognian Georgiev, a sports journalist and television broadcaster, as well as author of The White Prisoner.