MY INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR DANIEL KUHNLEY
What’s your name and what genre would you consider your books to be?
My name is Daniel Kuhnley, pronounced like “coon lee.” I write dark fantasy and mystery thriller novels.
Tell me about your book. How did you come up with that (story, angle, idea)?
My latest release is The Braille Killer. It’s a mystery thriller with a paranormal/urban fantasy twist. The story follows a homicide detective named Alice Bergman who’s hunting a serial killer that murders blind girls. I have a female friend who is blind, and it always fascinates me to talk with her about how different her world is and the fears and struggles she deals with daily. It got me thinking about what it would be like to be blind and how terrifying even the sound of buzzing in your ear could be. You wouldn’t know if it was a fly or a wasp or something worse. On top of that, I’ve always loved murder mysteries. Serial killers are quite fascinating.
How did you get interested in writing this particular genre (historical novels, mysteries, sci-fi, children’s books, etc.)?
Passion for the genre. I absolutely love Dean Koontz and the thrilling and mysterious books he writes. Old Stephen King ones too, like Cujo and Firestarter. Mystery thrillers allow me to delve into the human psyche and tell tales of sick and psychotic characters that fill nightmares. It’s fun to imagine how people like that think and what drives them. It’s even more fun to write about flawed heroes and heroines who are trying to stop them.
What kind of research did you do for this book?
I read books and watched tv shows about serial killers and murderers, researched basic police and CSI procedures, and purchased some writing books on those subjects as well. On top of that, I spent a lot of time talking with my blind friend about all kinds of things from writing in braille to her guide dog to doing everyday chores. She helped tremendously.
Can you tell me about your Series?
Because I’ve only written the first book in my Alice Bergman series, there’s not much to tell other than I’m planning on releasing at least four more books following her life.
Do you have a favorite book out of this series?
The Braille Killer for now. 😉
Where did you get the inspiration/idea for your series?
Castle, Absentia, and my blind friend to name a few.
Was it always meant to become a series?
Yes! Not only are all my novels part of one series or another, they’re linked in some small way. Everything ties into my fantasy world, Centauria.
What’s a typical working day like for you? When and where do you write? Do you set a daily writing goal?
Well, I try to write 8-10 hours per day, Monday-Saturday. As far as typical hours in a day… 9am-Noon, 1pm-6pm. If I’m really pushing at the end to finish a project, then I’ll also write 8pm-midnight. Also, what I mean by “write,” includes research, writing, editing, formatting, advertising/marketing, social media, etc.
I have a dedicated office in my home where I do my writing.
My daily writing goal (when I’m in the middle of a WIP (Work In Progress)) is 3,000 words/day, and I shoot for 20,000 words/week. What’s important for me is to track my daily progress and project a finish date for the WIP.
Do you have a new book in the making and if so, what’s the name of your upcoming book?
I do! There are several, but I just finished the first draft of my next book in my dark fantasy series called Rended Souls. It’s the third book in my The Dark Heart Chronicles series. It’s full of magic, dragons, orcs, gnolls, dwarves, wizards, love, loss, mayhem, evil, and just about everything else you can imagine.
How important are character names to you in your books? Is there a special meaning to any of the names?
It really depends. If the character is fulfilling a specific role in the story, then yes. Often, names just come to me though. Alice Bergman was one of those. I woke up one morning with her name in my head. Other times, I take names of people I know and create something different. For instance, I have an older sister named Amber. In my dark fantasy series I created a character named Brema. Another example: Steven became Nevets. 😊
Where do your ideas come from?
This is a really good question. I draw inspiration from everything. Sometimes I get ideas while listening to a sermon at church or while sitting at the airport or watching tv. Stories are all around us.
Is there a genre that you’ve been wanting to experiment with?
I will eventually plunge into horror and perhaps a little bit of Sci-Fy. Definitely not hardcore science fiction but science fantasy. I have a great story idea that will further tie my mystery thrillers to my dark fantasy world. 😉
What is the hardest part of writing for you?
Outlining. I pantsed my first book, Dark Lament, and it took me 12 years from start to publication. With the second book, Reborn, I pantsed the first half of it and outlined the second half. It took about 14 months from start to publication. Those time frames may seem quite drastic, but I had lots of time where I didn’t write anything on the first book. I put the first book away for 7 years after writing the first 70 pages.
I loathe outlining, and I’m sure my wife loathes helping me with the process as well, but it’s a necessary evil. After outlining my third book, The Braille Killer, I wrote it in 2 months. That book went from start to publication in 6 months. So, outlining is both my kryptonite and my timeline shortcut.
What do you think of book trailers? Do you have a trailer or do you intend to create one for your own book?
From everything I’ve read, book trailers don’t generate enough sales to justify the cost of making them. I do find them fascinating though. When I was younger, I tried my hand at acting and love tv/film. So, maybe one day even if it’s not economically sane.
What do you consider to be your best accomplishment?
Finishing that first book. Until you’ve written a book, it’s hard to understand how daunting of a task it really is.
What’s the best thing about being an author?
Getting to sit down and make stuff up all day. Being able to explore feelings and ideas that wouldn’t be possible in real life. I kill people for a living! I am that serial killer I’m writing about or that man who has lost everything. I am everyone and no one all at the same time. Honestly, what could be better?
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
God willing, I’d like to see at least one of my books hit a best-seller list.
Have you always liked to write?
Yes! I’ve been writing since middle school. Lots of poems and songs when I was younger. A few short stories here and there, and several failed attempts at novels.
What writing advice do you have for aspiring authors?
Never ever give up! As I said before, the first one is the most difficult. You will be full of self-doubt as an author and often feel like a fraud. It’s okay. We all feel that way, no matter how many books we write. Every story brings its own baggage of self-doubt and fear of rejection. No matter what, don’t give up if writing is your passion.
If you didn’t like writing books, or weren’t any good at it, what would you like to do for a living?
I was a software engineer for more than 20 years, so I’d continue to do that. In a perfect world, I’d be a rock star, actor, and author!
Do you read reviews of your book(s)? Do you respond to them, good or bad? How do you deal with the bad?
Okay, this is my opinion on reviews. Yes, I read reviews. I can’t help it. I want to know what people think. Sometimes you can get some good criticism and grow from it (not often though). The ONLY time I respond to reviews, good or bad, is if the review was requested. i.e. a blogger or something. NEVER EVER would I respond to a Goodreads or Amazon reviewer. As far as dealing with the bad reviews, you must remember everyone is entitled to an opinion even if it attempts to crush you just for the sake of doing so. Think of it like anything else. Some people love pizza and some people hate it. That doesn’t mean that the pizza is worthless, it just means that the pizza didn’t satisfy that person. If you put something out there, there will be lovers and haters of it. Period. And yes, it still stings, but don’t let it stop you from writing the next book.
What is your least favourite part of the writing / publishing process?
Advertising and self-promotion. I do not like talking about myself or my books. I fear giving away too much of the story when talking about them and feel that every last bit of the story is a secret that the reader should discover for themselves. :p
Why did you choose to write in your genre? If you write in more than one, how do you balance them?
What really drew me into fantasy and wanting to write it was Terry Goodkind’s series, The Sword of Truth. The first book, Wizard’s first Rule blew me away with the characters and depth of story. I’d never really read anything like it before. I knew I had to write character-driven stories like his.
As I said before, I’m a huge fan of Dean Koontz and also Ted Dekker. Their stories are always action-packed and thrilling. It’s fun to just dive into mystery thrillers, especially ones about serial killers.
Balancing them is tough. I want to keep fans of each genre happy with producing quality works in a timely fashion, but it takes me a lot more time to write fantasy novels than it does mystery thrillers. Going forward, I’m going to need a better balance between the two. Maybe two mystery thrillers and one fantasy novel per year. I’m just not sure what the best answer is.
Where did your love of books come from?
This is a tough question. How far do I go back? Perhaps a few examples would be good. I loved The Monster at the End of This Book, The Berenstain Bears and the Spooky Old Tree, and Where the Wild Things Are when I was young. All three of them have a fantastical and sort of scary story. I think those led me on to books like A Swiftly Tilting Planet. This book opened my eyes to a new world where I could escape from everyday life as I read it. The characters and world and adventure stole my heart and made me want to write stories of my own. There were many other books as well.
Do you have any favorite authors or favorite books?
Yes! I love Dean Koontz, Tosca Lee, Ted Dekker, JK Rowling, Terry Goodkind (fantasy only), RJ Batla, Joshua C. Chadd, and Ben Wolf to name a few. One of my all-time favorite books is Terry Goodkind’s Wizard’s First Rule. Another is Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One. Oh, and Midnight by Dean Koontz.
Of all the characters you have created, which is your favourite and why?
So far, I’d have to say my favorite character is Emorith Darkridge. She’s a complex woman, and I’d love to explore her more in the future. You can check out her story in Scourge, one of my dark fantasy novellas you get for FREE by joining my newsletter.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
To be honest, it goes both ways. There are times where the writing is flowing really well, and I’m excited to get the story down and discover what’s happening with my characters. But then there are the times where I feel writing constipated. The words are in my head, but I can’t seem to push them out no matter how hard I try. This third dark fantasy novel has been that way. I know the story and all the events that must take place, but I’m struggling to get the words out at a decent pace. Sometimes you just have to take a step back and focus on something else for a while. I’ve done that, and I’ve finally started making progress again.
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
I know there are certain tropes that are expected in different genres, but I don’t worry about that so much. What I think is important is to deliver well-written, engaging, character-driven stories that the reader can connect to and identify with. The tropes are there as well, but not as the first thought of what to write. I write the stories that my characters demand written about them.
What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
Oh man… this is a huge list. I get encouragement, critiquing, idea swapping, mentoring, beta reading, and just all around honest friendship from so many. I’ll name a few and hope all those I forget forgive me. Ben Wolf, Joshua C. Chadd, R.J. Batla, Steve Rzasa, Kat Heckenbach, Randy Streu, D.M. Kilgore, John K. Patterson, and Tiger Hebert.
If you were writing a book about your life, what would the title be?
The Art of Beating Yourself Up
What question have you always wanted to be asked in an interview? How would you answer that question?
I’m honestly not sure.
Where can your fans find you and follow??
Thank you for taking your time to do this interview ❤️