Interview with B.T. Alive, Author of Murder Feels Deadly

11 Aug 2023

What’s the story behind the story? What inspired you to write Murder Feels Deadly?

When we first meet Mark Falcon, the Empath Detective, in the first book in this series (MURDER FEELS AWFUL), he’s already in his mid-thirties and he understands that he has this secret power where he can feel people’s emotions.

For this new book, I wanted to know: how did he first find out he has this power? This isn’t the Marvel universe; he lives in the ordinary “real world” and he’s never met anyone with psychic powers. What’s it like to go through life feeling all this background pain and having no idea why? And of course, how could younger Mark discover his power while also getting mixed up in his first murder investigation?

What’s your favorite genre to read? Is it the same as your favorite genre to write?

Do I have to pick a favorite? Probably thrillers, at least lately. The mysteries I write have thriller elements, but I haven’t written any straight-up thrillers yet (though I do have ideas). But I also love both reading and writing comedy, science fiction/fantasy, and kids’ books… and especially combinations thereof.

What books are on your TBR pile right now?

Don’t ask. I’m afraid to look. If that pile wasn’t mostly virtual, I’d live in fear of my kids knocking it all over on themselves and ending up in the hospital.

What scene in your book was your favorite to write?

Probably the sequence where Mark and his risk-averse housemate Zack are sneaking around the basement of their condo on the trail of a suspect who may also be the latest victim. I never get tired of throwing ‘normal’ characters into stressful movie-like situations for their first time; their increasingly desperate banter practically writes itself.

Do you have any quirky writing habits? (lucky mugs, cats on laps, etc.)

Just the boring yet alarmingly effective stuff you read anywhere: figure out a comfortable routine that your mind can associate with Writing Time. For example: I sit on the couch in my home office (location), with my laptop (tool I use mainly for writing), with no Internet and with headphones playing repetitive, instrumental music (avoid distractions), first thing after breakfast (time of day when I can best focus).

I also need to break down the massive project of “write a novel” into a process of distinct, smaller steps and goals, but that’s a topic for a longer conversation. And I should add that sometimes Life Happens (like, I don’t know, a global pandemic?) and even the best habits won’t save your writing time. But you may find they’re waiting for you, like a candle in the window, when you’re ready to return.

Do you have a motto, quote, or philosophy you live by?

Again, I can’t really pick a favorite here. Life happens in the tension between conflicting ideals… just like a story. I think it was Flannery O’Connor who said something like, if I could tell you what my story was about, I wouldn’t have had to write the story….

No, I butchered that, here’s the real quote: “A story is a way to say something that can’t be said any other way, and it takes every word in the story to say what the meaning is.” She also said, “I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say,” and I agree. I’m still figuring out my philosophy, one novel at a time.

If you could choose one thing for readers to remember after reading your book, what would it be?

The ending! Which I hesitate to spoil. But seriously, one problem I have with whodunnits is that they tend to “other” the murderer, like they must be some incomprehensible inhuman monster, utterly separate from us. But Mark is an empath; he can literally feel what others are going through, so it’s not so easy to isolate himself in righteous contempt.

I don’t mean this to minimize murder at all, nor to see humanity as utterly depraved. For me, this somehow works out the other way round; if you can broaden your heart to have a hint of compassion even for a (fictional) murderer, you might find yourself just a little more understanding toward everyone. Even yourself.


B.T. Alive is the author of the new book Murder Feels Deadly

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