Ten years ago, five-year-old Tommy Lange disappeared without a trace from his front yard in Oceanside, California. Now his big sister, Addison Lange, is an Agent-in-Training with the FBI. She has a particular set of skills, honed over a decade of searching for her brother, and she’s about to unleash them in one final, desperate attempt to find him. But what she discovers is far more than she can handle by herself.
Special Agent and profiler Nick Keegan, suffering the devastating aftermath of his encounter with serial killer Aleksandr Zorin two months earlier, is compelled to help Addie in the search for her missing brother.
But Zorin isn’t yet done with Nicholas Keegan.
The Maelstrom awaits.
Hello book lovers! Today is a day where I will be writing another author spotlight for a well-accomplished author whose work I have loved. As you know book lovers I love learning about authors and the inspiration behind their work, it fascinates me and adds to the depth of the book because the reader will be able to better understand it. That is how the author spotlights were created because I soon discovered that you lovely readers ALSO love learning about author’s, so I am excited to tell you a little bit more about author D.J. Schuette whose book Maelstrom captivated me from beginning to end. I personally would recommend this book to all of those that love fantasy but really the book can be read by anybody as it is flawlessly written and highly enjoyable. With today’s author spotlight for D.J. Schuette, a biography of the author and an interview between us both will be shared, and I hope that you book lovers enjoy reading it! To kick this off here is an author bio about the wonderful D.J. Schuette!
D.J. Schuette is an author and editor currently lost somewhere in the midst of eastern Iowa’s endless corn and wind fields. His work covers a wide variety of genres—from dark thrillers, to horror, to YA Fantasy and beyond. He is a published and award-winning songwriter and poet and the creator of enterthemaelstrom.com, a fictional blog written from the perspective of Aleksandr Zorin, the serial killer featured in his first novel, Chaos. The second book in the Chaos series, Maelstrom, was released in late 2018. D.J.’s personal blog, a comprehensive list of works-in-progress, features on some of his friends and colleagues in the writing community, info on his editing business, and pictures of his adorable dog Pogo can all be found on his author’s page at djschuette.com.
Now, how wonderful does D.J. Schuette sound?! The author is a truly exceptional writer and I hope that you lovely readers have a read of the author’s work because you will not regret it! Please see below an interview between us both, I hope that you enjoy the author’s answers to my questions, they are incredible and provide some great advice too!
Thank you for joining us today at Red Headed Book Lover! Please tell us more about yourself.
Thanks for having me, Aimee! As mentioned in my bio, I’m a writer and editor living in Iowa. All indications are that I’ll be heading back to my “home” state of Minnesota in the next few months. I’m very much looking forward to reconnecting with family and friends there. I’ve been writing in some fashion or another since third grade—words and language have been my passion for as long as I can remember. I have a goal of completing a novel in every major genre, but dark and twisted is definitely my specialty, and I’ve definitely found a niche in psych thrillers.
Could you please tell us readers about your book and what inspired you to write your book?
Well, Maelstrom is the follow-up to Chaos, and my primary motivation for writing it was not being strung up by my toes for leaving readers hanging too long. I went against thriller norms and left Chaos with a cliffhanger of sorts so that the reader had to experience the same kind of horror and frustration as my main protagonist Nick Keegan. It was a risky but very conscious decision on my part; fortunately, readers seem to really enjoy the book nonetheless.
Chaos introduces the two primary characters of the series, FBI Special Agent Nick Keegan, profiler, and Aleksandr Zorin, serial killer. The two are, in many ways, mirror images of one another and are reminiscent of Hannibal Lecter and Will Graham (of Silence of the Lambs fame) and Samantha Waters and “Jack of All Trades” from the TV series Profiler.
Maelstrom is really three character perspectives that merge about three quarters of the way through the book. The main protagonist of this book is actually Addison Lange, an FBI NAT (New Agent in Training) whose specialty is computers (okay, she’s a hacker…). She’s searching for her little brother, Tommy, who vanished ten years ago from their front yard in California. Of course, there’s more of Nick and Zorin, and most of the threads from Chaos are now neatly tied up.
What would your advice be for aspiring writers?
I can mostly only repeat the same things that have been said a thousand times. Write every day. When you’re not writing, read. If you can’t do either, observe—you never know where or when inspiration might strike. If there is one thing I might be able to add, it’s to know your characters. Visit them often, have a little chat with them now and again. They’ll tell you most of what you need to know. Oh, and use a thesaurus! You don’t need to use the biggest words, just the right ones. Those usually escape me the first time around.
In your opinion, what is the most important thing about a book?
If you’re asking about the key elements of a book, to me it’s the characters and their development, but conflict is a close second. Those two elements sort of combine naturally to generate your plot. And if you know your characters really well, their motivations and subsequent actions become obvious. Often for me, it’s like the characters are pulling me along for the ride and not the other way around. That’s usually a hint that I’m on the right track.
But, if I’m being strictly literal, the most important thing about a book is the readers. A book doesn’t have much of a life without them, and connecting with them is the one thing you (as the author) and your characters really need to do.
What is your writing process like? (Note to Aimee: I’m going to skip this one, because #7 kinda covers it.)
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
I did TONS of research, especially while developing Chaos. I even taught myself to shoot and familiarized myself with several standard-issue law enforcement sidearms. Learning about the FBI’s structure and departments, the Violent Criminal Apprehension Program (ViCAP), and even viewing aerial satellite images of the FBI Academy in Quantico was crucial to creating a realistic storyline. I spent so much time on the Bureau’s website, that I’m fairly confident I’m now on a watchlist of some kind. I was lucky enough to attend a Writer’s Police Academy event, which was an amazing and eye-opening experience. I also had a few well-placed resources at my disposal who helped immensely. Even so, still there are still a few unfortunate mistakes I’ve discovered with subsequent research. The fault is completely mine.
Most of my research is done on the fly. Authors will usually tell you to save it until afterward and keep with the flow of getting words on the page (and I’m sure they’re absolutely right), but that’s not my style. Usually, as I’m working on a scene, I’ll come across a few details that I’m unsure of. I’ll jump out of the writing for a few minutes, do some investigating (usually online or by firing off a quick email to a resource) and add in those crucial details that makes the scene a bit more realistic. It tends to keep my brain firing on all cylinders and keeps me engaged when I might otherwise get a bit sluggish. Learning something new often acts as a source of inspiration, so I take the opportunity when I can.
Do you have a set schedule for writing, or do you only write when you feel inspired?
Due to some unforeseen circumstances, I’m currently more focused on my editing business and the transition back to Minnesota, though I still find chapters of book three in the Chaos series sneaking onto the page every so often. But when I am writing, I’m most effective when I set an alarm, get up, go someplace (a café or restaurant that’s okay with me sitting there for hours at a time), and write. I have a minimum target of 1000 words a day when writing, though I’ve had days well over 5000 words. It all depends on how much research is needed and how well I’m able to keep outside distractions to a minimum.
Do you read much and if so, who are your favorite authors?
Loaded question! Yes, I read near constantly whether for business or pleasure. Stephen King is an all-time favorite, primarily because when I read him I immediately want to go write. Clive Barker is great at really pushing the limits of every genre he writes in, which is something I strive to do. Cody McFadyen is a brilliant thriller author who never pulls a punch; I think he’s the only author I’ve ever read where I literally gasped aloud. Brian Freeman is a great up-and-coming mystery author and friend of mine from the Twin Cities. Thomas Harris definitely inspired my current writing path. And then there are some of the true greats: Shakespeare, Poe, C.S. Lewis, Tolkien… All of them take up space in my head and on my bookshelf.
Can you give a little sneak peak of your work-in-progress?
Sure, readers of Chaos might be familiar with a psychopath known as the Garbage Man, who leaves dismembered body parts on the side of the highway in trash bags. Nick puts an end to his carnage, but he’s got a little cameo in book three:
Nick slipped his hand into his pocket. Wright’s face was contorted in rage and turning purple. Just as he took a deep breath, Nick slapped a circular object onto the table and gave it a little rattle.
Wright stopped cold, the roar caught in his throat. His eyes locked onto the round pill box on the table.
“It’s okay,” Nick called out to the guard. “We’re good. I just knocked over my chair.” He stood and walked around the table to retrieve the jettisoned chair. He pushed it gently to the back of Wright’s knees, who sank into the seat as if he had no bones. When Nick returned to his own chair, Wright’s eyes were still glued to the small plastic disk.
Nick gave the little container another shake. “There are eleven teeth in here, Aaron. But you know that.” He’d taken great pains to match the container, right down to the black smudge on the side. Inside were literally eleven teeth—molars to be precise—but not those of Wright’s victims. Those were evidence. These he’d borrowed from Brian Mulvaney, the Hennepin County Medical Examiner.
Wright’s gaze dragged back to him, almost as if he were in a daze.
“Was it only these eleven.”
Wright shook his head.
“How—” Wright started.
Nick cut him off. “How many times did you ruin her,” he asked.
Wright was slowly pulling himself out of his stupefaction. “Fourteen. Twice in Wisconsin. Once in Iowa. They were the first.”
As he was perfecting his modus operandi, Nick knew. “Before you started pulling the teeth?”
“Yes. Give them to me.”
“What did you do with the bodies?”
“I threw them in the Mississippi. Give them to me.”
“Only the last. It’s easier to move them when they’re in pieces. Give them to me.”
Something about his fixation suggested the teeth were more than mere souvenirs. Nick was curious. “Can you identify the girls?”
“Yes! I can tell you all of their names. What I did to them. How long before they broke. How they looked when they died. Where I left them. Give me the fucking teeth!”
What the hell?
“Why?” Nick asked.
Wright’s eyes flashed in the dim light of the room. His voice became serpentine—low, raspy, and dangerous. “Because they’re mine.”
Nick had to know. He made a conscious decision to violate the policy of passing an inmate anything and slid the rattling disk across the table.
No sooner had the container reached Wright’s hands than he had popped the lid and tipped it to his mouth. The teeth tumbled onto his tongue. He began to suck on them loudly like they were hard candy.
Nick retched and leapt up, nearly knocking over his own chair in the process.
Wright leaned back, his eyes rolled in the picture of ecstasy. After a second, a wet spot began to spread on the crotch of his prison-issued jumper.
Nick stood there with his mouth agape.
Enamel clicked and clattered together as The Garbage Man slurred, “I can taste their parent’s anguish. Their tears. I ruined them too.”
When can we readers expect to read more wonderful books from you?
Well, the next book may be a while in coming, but I do have plans to publish a handful of already completed short stories featuring some of the main characters in the Chaos series to tide readers over. There’s also always lots of twisted stuff to read and interact with on Aleksandr Zorin’s blog at enterthemaelstrom.com. I have a completed YA Fantasy that I’ll be making some publishing decisions on soon. There’s another really unique thriller series in my back pocket that I’m pretty excited about, and I’ve even got a non-fiction manuscript in the works and another trick or two up my sleeve when I finally have the time to buckle down and write again. Hopefully that will be very soon! Keep an eye on my website at djschuette.com or my author sites on Goodreads and Amazon.
Thanks again for the opportunity to connect with your readers, Aimee!
Its official book lovers, I am obsessed with D.J. Schuette! If you have liked what you have read about the author and are interested in learning more about D.J. Schuette, then please do have a browse of the links below and be sure to have a read of the preview too! You will not regret it.
Goodbye for now book lovers,