Interview: D.P. Lyle

Please give a warm Mysterista welcome to D.P. Lyle, author of A-List!

AL 500X750Tell us about your main character.

Jake Longly is one of my favorite characters. He’s a handsome guy who more or less skates through life without any great ambitions, trying to avoid bumps in the road. He had played Major League baseball for several years as a pitcher for the Texas Rangers but suffered a shoulder injury that ended his career. He then bought a bar/restaurant that sits on the sand in Golf Shores, Alabama, his hometown. It’s called Capt. Rocky’s. Jake’s life plan is to hang out there and chase bikinis. His father, Ray, is an ex-military special forces type who runs a PI agency, also in Golf Shores. He can’t understand why Jake won’t work for him. They are as different as different can be so Jake absolutely refuses to get drawn into Ray’s world. However, time and again he is. So, Jake is a lovable and likable guy, who is not very ambitious, who wants to live a calm casual life running his bar and having fun, and avoiding conflicts at all cost. He’s not the smartest guy but he does have his moments. And his charm and wit get him through life.

Tell us a bit about your new book.

In the first book in the series, Deep Six, Jake is asked to do a little surveillance work for Ray and reluctantly agrees. While watching the house of a suspected adulteress, the woman is killed “right under his nose.” He is then drawn into the investigation. In the new book, A-List, Jake and his girlfriend Nicole head to New Orleans where a murder has occurred. Nicole’s uncle, Charles Balfour, is a Hollywood mega-producer and his franchise product is called Space Quest. Kirk Ford is the star of this series and is the franchise, A-list actor in the series. It’s Kirk that wakes up in the famous Monteleone Hotel with a dead girl beside him. Oh, the girl turns out to be the niece of a local mafia type named Tony Guidry. Complications ensue, as they say.

What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started out?

I think the biggest thing I learned through 20 years of writing and now 17 books, is to get out of your own way. As you’re learning to write, you don’t have the confidence in what you’re doing or that the final product will turn out as you wish it would. You work too hard on trying to make everything perfect. But fiction isn’t perfect. Fiction is messy. And it should be. I wish it had not taken so long to find my voice, that is my way of telling the story, but that’s part of the process. I recommend that any writer do two things: read and write. Botha re critical. Most things in life are an apprenticeship. You learn from others. Medical training is certainly that way. You hang around with people who know more and know how to do things and you learn from them. Writing is the same. Your mentors are the books you find in libraries and bookstores. Read voraciously. Learn from everything you read. The second part of the equation is to write. The more you write the more skilled yo will become. And then, get out of your own way. Write the first draft as quickly as you can, in your own voice, your own way, and then go back and fix it. Remember writing is an art and craft. Don’t let the craft kill the art. Get the story out, then fix it.

What is your favorite/least favorite thing about the writing process?

I still dread first drafts. That’s the heavy lifting. That’s the hard part. And even after 17 books it doesn’t get easier. There’s always that moment in the middle of the book where you feel that it’s not working, that you’re complete fraud, and that what you’re doing is stupid. The only advantage to having done it many times is that you know you’ve been there before and it always works out. Just keep moving forward. However, with the first couple of books, this is a very uncomfortable situation. But, you learn to press on and get that first draft done. It’s always a great feeling, when you cross the 50,000 word mark because after that it’s all downhill. Then once you’ve got the first draft done you enter the editing process. This is my favorite part. This is when you can really shape the story and have fun with it.

What’s next for you?

I’m working on the next Jake Longly story. It will be set in Florida where all kinds of craziness happens and of course Jake and Nicole, as well as Ray and Pancake, will get involved in another insane situation. It’s going very well and I’ve just passed the 50,000 word mark of the first draft – – always a great feeling. I’m also working on a nonfiction project as well as two other stories that involve an entirely new protagonist. Coupled with that, I have many duties with International Thriller Writers (ITW), where I am the VP for Education and run  our three thriller writing schools: CraftFest, Master CraftFest, and Thriller School. These are always ongoing projects. And then of course I try to keep my blog updated and continually work as a story consultant for other novelist and screenwriters.


dpl2016-13D. P. Lyle is the Macavity and Benjamin Franklin Silver Award winning and Edgar(2), Agatha, Anthony, Shamus, Scribe, Silver Falchion, and USA Today Best Book(2) Award nominated author of 17 books, both non-fiction and fiction, including the Samantha Cody, Dub Walker, and Jake Longly thriller series and the Royal Pains media tie-in novels. His essay on Jules Verne’s The Mysterious Island appears in THRILLERS: 100 MUST READS and his short story “Even Steven” in ITW’s anthology Thriller 3: Love is Murder. He served as editor for and contributed the short story “Splash” to SCWA’s anthology It’s All in the Story.

He is International Thriller Writer’s VP for Education, and runs CraftFest, Master CraftFest, and ITW’s online Thriller School. Along with Jan Burke, he was co-host of Crime and Science Radio. He has worked with many novelists and with the writers of popular television shows such as Law & Order, CSI: Miami, Diagnosis Murder, Monk, Judging Amy, Peacemakers, Cold Case, House, Medium, Women’s Murder Club, 1-800-Missing, The Glades, and Pretty Little Liars.



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9 thoughts on “Interview: D.P. Lyle”

  1. “I still dread first drafts. That’s the heavy lifting. That’s the hard part. And even after 17 books it doesn’t get easier. There’s always that moment in the middle of the book where you feel that it’s not working, that you’re complete fraud, and that what you’re doing is stupid.”

    Thank you, you have no idea how much I needed to read that this morning! Jake sounds like a delightful character – it’s about time I meet him.

    Welcome to Mysteristas, Doc, and thank you also for having kept me on the straight and narrow with Forensics. It lives on my desk. Invaluable.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s not first drafts that are hard graft for me because it’s just a case of getting the story out and seeing how both characters, events and consequence take the story, although I do do a plot plan it’s flexible. It’s editing that gets me and ensuring there’s flow and the nitty-gritty, like sentence structure, spelling, continuity, etc. Oh, and remembering names.

      Also, though stories are a-plenty inside my head, not to mention the stories that come out of those I’ve already written, it’s getting them down on paper sufficiently quickly not keep the flame burning.


  2. Thanks for dropping by, DP. At Book Passage’s Mystery Writers Conference, you said, “Read writers who are better than you. Read writers who are better than you. Read writers who are better than you.” And, I thought, “he really means it”. I bought so many books, they had to ship for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Welcome back, D.P!

    “Get out of your own way.” Oh, how true. I wrote the very first draft of the book that’s coming out in August back in 2013. Then I joined a critique group because…that’s what you do. Except I wasn’t sure enough of my own voice and story to know what advice to reject and what to take. The story wound up a true mess. Fortunately, I joined a new group a couple years ago, and they not only helped me gain that confidence, but find my voice and fix the book.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I LOVE first drafts because I outline. It’s finally my chance to get moving on the story. But no matter which parts you love and hate, this should resonate: “The only advantage to having done it many times is that you know you’ve been there before and it always works out.” I have to remind myself that way too often!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks for “stopping by” Doug. I laugh all the way through your books. I always enjoy hearing you at The Book Carnival in Orange, and I see that you will be at “High Tide and Homicide” luncheon for the Anaheim Library Foundation. I’ll see you there.


  6. Hi, Doug! So glad to see you hanging out with the Mysteristas gang.

    I agree with you on first drafts. No matter how much you’ve thought about the story, whether your a plotter or a pantser (or in between like me), until you push yourself through that first draft, you have no idea if a story is going to hang together.


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