Ripped from the Headlines…Using the News to Spark the Muse

SONY DSCDV Berkom is no stranger to reading and writing fast-paced, exciting stories. Having grown up on a steady diet of spy novels, James Bond movies and mysteries, her natural inclination is to keep the reader on the edge of their seats and guessing until the last page.

Raised in the Midwest region of the US, she received her BA in Political Science from the University of Minnesota and promptly moved to Mexico to live on a sailboat. Several years and at least a dozen moves later, she now lives outside of Seattle, Washington with her sweetheart Mark, an ex-chef-turned-contractor, and writes whenever she gets a chance. 




Alien monster Eats Prime Minister’s Brain!

Woman Gives Birth to Rottweiler Quintuplets!

Nostradamus Predicts End of the World is Near!

I’m the first one to admit that novel ideas can come from anywhere: dreams, conversations, a song—you name it—it’s all fodder for the creative muse. As an unapologetic news junkie, I tend to look at the headlines first. My imagination takes off from there.

Bad SpiritsA news story about the illegal drug trade in Mexico and how it was affecting the civilian population got me thinking: how could I bring awareness to the escalating violence south of our border, but also entertain readers? The end result was Bad Spirits, the first novella in the Kate Jones Thriller Series. Kate gets in over her head when she chooses the wrong boyfriend and has to escape. The story follows her on the run through Mexico with a bag full of money she purloined from—you guessed it—the ruthless leader of a drug cartel. Having lived in Mexico for a time, I was able to pull from my experiences while there, adding a realistic patina to the story.

For the start of another series featuring another character, ex-assassin Leine Basso, the inundation of reality shows on television and their mostly scripted ‘authenticity’ produced a vivid and seriously whacked dream I had, which then became Serial Datethe basis for Serial Date. What would happen if a reality show about ‘serial killers’ and the women who date them caught the eye of an actual serial killer? Wouldn’t he want to be a consultant on the show? I mean, he is the real deal, right? I then saw something on the news about an assassination attempt, which gave me the protagonist. What better heroine to go against a serial killer than an assassin?

My latest book, Bad Traffick, just released in December, was the result of watching a documentary shown at my local community college about the rise of child sex-trafficking in the United States. I’d been aware of the problem, but hadn’t Car lights trails in a tunnelrealized how pervasive it had become. As many as 2.8 million children run away each year in the US. Within 48 hours, one-third of these children are lured or recruited into the underground world of prostitution and pornography. (National Center for Missing and Exploited Children). Bad Traffick follows the protagonist from Serial Date, Leine Basso, into the brutal world of human trafficking as she tries to save twelve-year-old Mara from the fate of so many young girls on the streets today.

I’ve also written several short stories that were sparked by headline news. It’s a deep well from which to draw, and many times, the real events turn out to be much more interesting than fiction.

I think I feel a dystopian, end-of-days short story coming on about an alien woman pregnant with Rottweiler assassin-puppies, who craves the brains of politicians…

Where do you find your inspiration?

DV Berkom Alien Road Sign