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May 31, 2021

Bird’s debut novel, Double Vision—which PW called a “creepy, nightmarish debut,” add- ing that “fans of thrillers with a supernatu- ral tinge will be pleased”—follows a former police detective who begins to investigate an alarming number of disappearances in the area after he wakes in the hospital, wounded from a gunshot and with no mem- ory of how it happened. Only later does he find the vanishings may involve “some unseen boundary between this world and the next.”

As a first-time author, can you describe your writing process?

Well, it has definitely changed over the years. In the early days, I had a fairly rigid schedule, holding to a daily word count and writing rough drafts within three to five months, then drafting for several more. I wrote a few novels that way, but nowadays I work more freely, fitting in time with the words wherever I can. Some days I don’t write at all, and other days I may write for six or more hours—other nights, I should say, as I’m primarily a night owl and have my most productive sessions between midnight and 5 a.m. I’ve heard of never waiting on the muse, but I do follow my own passions in choosing which ideas to follow and conceptualize, because that’s the way my engine runs. I’m always scouting for fire and usually find it.

When you were coming up with the story of Double Vision, what made you add supernatural elements?

Those elements actually came first! They were always ingrained, an integral part of the story. In fact, it was the mystery and hard-boiled elements that I had to brush up on. Every novel I’ve ever written has touched on the supernatural in one way or another; it’s my lifeblood and my favorite branch of the genre tree. That’s the Stephen King effect, I suppose, but sometimes novels with only the insinuation of otherworldly forces are even more resonant—novels like Rosemary’s Baby or The Exorcist, for example.

You think supernatural mystery/thrillers have a wide appeal. What’s convinced you of that?

I think interest in horror and the supernatural has had a resurgence in recent years, along with the explosion of shows like Stranger Things and American Horror Story and the success of It, which is currently the highest-grossing horror film of all time. But now that genre has blurred with the more traditional mystery/thriller genre, and you have books like Home Before Dark and others by Riley Sager and The Whisper Man and The Shadows by Alex North, among others. My favorites, however, are Broken Monsters and The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes, the latter of which involves a time-traveling serial killer and is presently being developed as an Apple series. I think that readers of both the speculative and mystery/thriller genres are meeting in the middle on this one and that the trend will continue for some time.

Do you have any advice for new authors who want to self-publish?

I’m relatively new to the business side of publishing myself, so I may not be the best person to answer this. I had written for years and years, querying agents and pursuing traditional publication—which I still intend to do. In the meantime, I decided to experiment with putting Double Vision out into the world. But at the heart of it, I would say you had better believe in the story, believe in the writing, and study the business itself. Grammar, formatting, and presentation matter, so don’t skimp on the details. And last of all, have a plan in place and be ready to switch caps from writer to publicist and then spread the love!

Are you working on a new book?

Most definitely! I have just crossed the 90,000-word mark and am rounding third to home base on a new novel, a supernatural horror story that is a bit darker than Double Vision. It’s the most complex novel I’ve ever attempted, but it’s shaping up to, hopefully, be something very special.

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