The Next Big Thing

mountain-peakThis week, I participate in a group effort called The Next Big Thing. Some of you may be familiar with this and some of you may have participated. I was invited to participate by Chris Swinney and you can read material by Chris and other authors at Be sure to visit other authors who’ll I’ll tag at the end. Anyway, onto the questions about my projects.

What is your working title of your book?


Where did the idea come from for the book?

When the writing bug hit me back in the middle 90s, I had already become involved in taekwondo and I thought a combination private investigator / martial artist sounded interesting. Then I wanted a hook for my titles. When I considered the Greek alphabet, I planned to take the individual letters and use them in some other form than their original intent. So, alpha, in part, refers to not only the beginning, or the first book (which, ironically, in one sense, it wasn’t), but to an alpha male. The second book, Beta, has a reference to the old beta videotapes. My next book, Delta, will use the triangular symbol, and also a reference to a certain song. I even have a partial outline completed for Gamma. Of course, that story will have something to do with the Hulk.

What genre does your book fall under?

I classify it as an action mystery. It isn’t a traditional whodunit and definitely not a cozy. I try to put a lot of action scenes rather than have a sleuth skulking around looking for clues.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Oh, definitely Maggie Lawson. She’s who I imagine when I think of my main character, Mallory Petersen. However, for promotion purposes (bookmarks and book trailer), I have used other people, including my sister and a taekwondo friend who could also be a wonderful movie actress.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Mallory Petersen, Des Moines private investigator and martial artist, is involved with tracking down the killer of her boyfriend.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Alpha was released as a trade paper back by Oak Tree Press. It can be found at Amazon and It is also available for Kindle at Amazon.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I wrote the original first draft back in the late 90s. It may have taken a year or so, I really don’t remember. However, after reading it to a critique group, I realized I had a lot to learn about writing. So it was put aside and I concentrated on short stories and the second book in the series, Beta, started bugging me. While polishing up Beta, another story idea came on strong, so I completed Night Shadows. After Beta and Night Shadows were accepted for publication (both are eBooks), I resurrected Alpha, threw away a lot of material, added a subplot and a few more characters, and started fresh. This time the first draft and rewrites took a little over a year and a half to complete.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I tried not to copy or emulate anybody else. What is it that publishers always want? A fresh voice, a new perspective on subjects. However, other writers and readers see elements of Evanovitch and Grafton in my stories. There is also an old television show called Honey West about…a private eye who is also a martial artist. (No, I hadn’t realized this character existed when I came up with my idea.)

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I had created a character named Sam P. Peterson a long time ago. He was an East Moline police investigator. I wrote at least one short story with him. It was something simple and fairly traditional. When I set out to create a main character for the new series, I thought of using Sam, but admired all of the wonderful and beautiful women in martial arts, so I thought the name Mallory fit well. I worked with a guy named Petersen when I was at a radio station in Kewanee so the ‘son’ changed to ‘sen’.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? I’ve always felt close to Mallory. I’ve taken her to some low levels in her life but gave her some happy memories. She has loyal friends and colleagues. I think readers will enjoy her personality. The stories deal with some serious subject matters and I’ve had comments about people feeling uncomfortable with some of the scenes. That’s okay, I felt uncomfortable writing them. I feel emotional reading them again after so many years. To temper these serious scenes, I add some humor. Mallory deals with some oddballs in her life and that keeps her from sinking too low. She doesn’t always rely on her gun but manages to use her taekwondo skills to get her out of trouble.

Please be sure to check out these fine authors:

Angela Roe –

Mike Manno –

Categories: Uncategorized | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “The Next Big Thing

  1. Hey, that was really interesting, Stephen. I like that you’re a guy writing from a female perspective. Not that it hasn’t been done before, but I get the sense you make it fresh. I love the snow-capped mountain graphic. I hope it has something to do with the Alpha story!

  2. Thanks for commenting. No, the mountain was the best pic I could find that was ‘big’. At least something that wasn’t pornographic. You wouldn’t believe the crap I discovered when I put ‘big’ into the image search engine. lol

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