By Nick Daniels
D.B. Henson left the real estate industry to become a novelist. Her debut novel, however, is still close to the real estate world. Deed to Death, released this month by Simon & Schuster, is an exciting mystery full of twists and action:
“Real estate agent Toni Matthews’ problems begin when her fiancé, Scott, plunges to his death from the top floor of a hotel under construction. Having to bury the man she loves on the very day they planned to be married is almost more than Toni can take. Dealing with her loss becomes even harder when Scott’s estranged brother, Brian, contests the will, threatening to take away her home. After learning Brian is in deep financial trouble, Toni suspects he may have murdered Scott. Determined to find the truth and frustrated with the police, she begins her own investigation. Toni soon realizes she didn’t know her fiancé quite as well as she had thought. Scott had been keeping secrets. Secrets that make Toni the killer’s next target.”
D.B., your debut novel, Deed to Death, releases this month but you are already a bestseller. How come?
When I was writing the final draft of DEED TO DEATH, I came across a blog post by another author detailing his success self-publishing on Amazon. Prior to reading his blog, I had never even considered self-publishing. I had planned to pursue the traditional publishing route and already had a list of agents to query. However, I knew that contacting all of the agents would take months, and I might only end up with a pile of rejection letters. I wasn’t even sure my novel was saleable. Since it was my first book, I decided to take a chance and publish it on Amazon Kindle. I was shocked when DEED TO DEATH landed on the bestsellers list.
Yours was not the traditional route to publication, but one could say a “very lucky one.” What would you say made a difference in making your book successful and noticeable to an agent?
I was very blessed to have several things come together at just the right time. When I self-published DEED TO DEATH, there were far fewer self-published novels available on Amazon than there are today, and the choices for lower-priced books was more limited. I was also fortunate that several members of the Kindle forum read the book, enjoyed it, and began recommending it to others. To my amazement, DEED TO DEATH climbed onto Amazon’s top 100 bestsellers list.
When my agent, Noah Lukeman, saw the book on the list, he decided to check it out. I had read and reread Noah’s invaluable book, The First Five Pages: A Writer’s Guide To Staying Out of the Rejection Pile, and had even recommended it on my blog. I was stunned when he contacted me the day after Christmas.
Where and how was the idea for Deed to Death born?
The idea for DEED TO DEATH came to me when I was touring a high-rise building under construction. I’m afraid of heights, and as I walked along the top-floor balcony, I thought about how terrifying it would be to fall. It was late in the day and all the workmen had gone home. With the site deserted, my imagination kicked into overdrive. I realized how easy it would be for someone to push me over the edge and make it look like an accident. I knew that I had found the perfect place to stage a fictional murder.
Your heroine, Toni, is a real estate agent, which is your former profession. How much of her personality or experiences are drawn from your own life?
Toni’s experiences as a real estate agent do reflect my own; however, we don’t have much else in common. I wanted to explore a character who came from a completely different background. I grew up in a very close, supportive family. What if I had come from a broken home? How would I be different? How would a childhood trauma alter the way I relate to the people around me? My answers to those and similar questions helped me understand Toni’s personality.
Do you miss the real estate world or are you living your dream as a writer? Why so?
Real estate is an exciting field to work in. It’s very fast paced and you meet a lot of wonderful people. However, I can’t say that I miss it. I don’t really remember a time in my life when I wasn’t writing. It’s such an integral part of who I am. I’m just so thankful to have been given the opportunity to make a living doing something I love so much.
What’s next for DB Henson the author?
I’m currently working on my second novel. It’s the first book in a series featuring a female police detective in a small southern town.
For more information on D.B. Henson, please visit her website.