Stephen L. Brayton owns and operates Brayton’s Black Belt Academy in Oskaloosa, Iowa. He is a Fifth Degree Black Belt and certified instructor in The American Taekwondo Association.
He began writing as a child; his first short story concerned a true incident about his reactions to discipline. During high school, he wrote for the school newspaper and was a photographer for the yearbook. For a Mass Media class, he wrote and edited a video project.
In college, he began a personal journal for a writing class; said journal is ongoing. He was also a reporter for the college newspaper.
During his early twenties, while working for a Kewanee, Illinois radio station, he wrote a fantasy-based story and a trilogy for a comic book.
He has written numerous short stories – both horror and mystery.
His first novel, Night Shadows (Feb. 2011), concerns a Des Moines homicide investigator teaming up with a federal agent to battle creatures from another dimension. His second book, Beta (Oct. 2011), was the debut of Mallory Petersen and her search for a kidnapped girl. In August 2012, the second Mallory Petersen book, Alpha, was published. This time she investigates the murder of her boyfriend.
Christine: How long have you been a writer?
Stephen: Well, I can’t claim I was a writer right from the womb, but soon afterward. ‘Soon’ being a relative term, of course. I loved books from an early age, and one day I thought that with all of the books I’d read, mysteries and science fiction and horror, I’d like try my hand at writing some stories. I created a character called Sam P. Petersen who lived in the Quad Cities (where I spent my early years) and worked for the East Moline Police Department. I wrote short stories featuring him. Those were my first attempts at short story writing and character profiling. From the time I started talking about writing, my parents encouraged me to continue creating stories. I wrote during college and became serious in the late-90s.
Christine: What have you published recently?
Stephen: Well, my last book, Alpha, was published in August of 2012, but my most recent publication has been the first part of a serialized short story called “White Belt Weapons” in Taekwondo Times magazine. The March issue published an interview with me as a ‘Person of Interest,’ and the May issue began what I hope to be a long-term relationship with them on short stories.
Christine: Are you solely a writer or do you have multiple occupations?
Stephen: I’m a Fifth Degree Black Belt and own and operate a taekwondo club in Oskaloosa; plus, I have a full-time job. I have to find time to write during the slow hours or days off.
Christine: What is a typical day like for you as a writer?
Stephen: Depends on the day. My schedule is never the same from week to week. I could work weekends or nine nights in a row. Usually, I’m on the graveyard shift from 11-7; sleep until the middle of the afternoon; class on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings; back to work at 11. During the night, I have plenty of time to write. On days off or afternoons, I may head outside to write or fish or visit family. I wish I could tell you I was an international spy in a different locale every day… At least the travel part sounds fun.
Christine: What is the title of your most recently published novel and a description of it?
Stephen: Alpha is about Mallory Petersen, a Fourth Degree Black Belt in taekwondo and private investigator in Des Moines, Iowa. Usually her cases involve the oddballs of society, but every now and then she takes on a serious investigation. In this book, she’s relating a story to her current boyfriend about her involvement in the investigation of the murder of her previous boyfriend. Along with that case, she’s also searching for a missing woman.
Christine: What are your favorite characters that you have created? Tell us about them.
Stephen: Of course I’m in love with Mallory. Six feet tall, blonde, blue eyes, drop dead gorgeous, excellent martial artist and instructor, strong, independent, quirky sense of humor, and a romantic.
I know an author is supposed to know almost everything about all the characters, but I’m still discovering things about Mallory’s office manager Darren. Currently, he doesn’t have a last name. That issue will be solved in the next book. He’s enigmatic, quiet, loyal, and always seems to know where Mallory is and what she’s doing. This drives her crazy sometimes.
Christine: Where can we find your novels?
Stephen: Alpha – www.amazon.com/Alpha-Stephen-L-Brayton/dp/1610091159
Beta (Mallory’s introduction. Ebook only) – www.amazon.com/Beta-Mallory-Petersen-Mystery-ebook/dp/B005UHEWPC
Night Shadows (eBook only) – www.amazon.com/Night-Shadows-ebook/dp/B004O0VD1M
Christine: Who are your favorite authors?
Stephen: Ellery Queen – I think I’ve read almost every one of his mysteries.
Erle Stanley Garnder – Ditto.
H. P. Lovecraft – The master.
Clark A. Smith – A close second to Lovecraft.
Elaine Viets – She helps inspire my humorous creativity.
Sparkle Abbey – Who doesn’t like dog and cat mysteries?
Robert Pobi – A true genius with words.
Frank Kane, Carter Brown, Day Keene, (and others in the same genre) – Pulp fiction mysteries. I really enjoy the flavor of these stories.
Christine: Where can we find you on the Web?