Interview with best-selling thriller author, Dan Padavona

Dan Padavona: The Business of Writing (Interview)


Welcome to Thriller author Dan Padavona!


You are going to love this interview with Dan! I’ve been following his career since he first broke onto the indie scene back in 2014, with the publication of his dark Vampire Horror novel: Storberry. Over the course of 3 years he continued to make waves as an Indie Horror author, publishing a succession of well-received Horror novels and novellas.


In 2017/2018, Dan took the plunge and re-emerged as a prolific writer of dark Serial-Killer Thrillers with the introduction of his Scarlett Bell series – followed soon after with the Darkwater Cove, Logan and Scarlett, and Wolf Lake series. 


With the popularity and success of his thriller books, Dan was able to commit full-time to writing as a career in 2021, retiring from his previous career as a Meteorologist.


With over 40 novels and novellas to his name, and no sign of him slowing down any time soon, I talk to Dan about his writing process and how he measures success as an indie author.


Without further ado, here is the man himself: Dan Padavona!


When you made the crossover from writing horror to dark psychological thrillers, how much of the way you write (writing process) did you need to change to launch yourself as a thriller author?


I see my genre choice in terms of a Venn diagram. In one circle, I make a list of genres I love to read and write. The other circles includes genres people read voraciously. The overlap is the sweet spot. For me, these were serial killer thrillers and dark mysteries.


After switching from horror to thriller and mysteries, I implemented story beats into my planning process, rather than writing from the seat of my pants and creating the plot on the fly. My process is to devote a short paragraph to each chapter before I start the first draft.


Story beats keep me writing—I never take a day off because I can’t figure out where to go with the plot. Beats also make it easier for me to track clues and important twists that make up the mystery portions of my thrillers.


When you come up with a story idea, do you think of it from a visual or cinematic perspective before you put your ideas on paper? Have you had any experience with screenplay writing and would you ever consider turning your novels into screen adaptations?


For better or worse, I grew up watching television and movies. I naturally think cinematic perspective.


Though I wrote screenplays during college, I’ve never considered doing so for one of my books. I have feelers out for adapting my books to the screen.


What is your process for writing a long-running episodic series? Do you write an origin story with a future series in mind or is it more of an organic process because of the way you build such a strong setting/world in the first book?


Good question. I suppose it varies from book to book, but I always have a series in mind when I write a story. A series allows me to better flesh out character arcs and develop long-running subplots. It also attracts more readers, as my target demographic prefers series over stand-alones. 


A series is also easier to profitably market because I can use the first book a loss leader. Provided I write a compelling story and keep my readers entertained, people go on to read several books in the series. This pulls my advertising out of the red and into the black.


How important do you think ‘world building’ is in terms of writing a series and how do you approach this aspect of your writing?


It’s less important for thrillers and mysteries than it is for fantasy, obviously. But world building is an important part of my workflow because I enjoy living vicariously through my characters and in their environment.


Take the Finger Lakes, for instance. This is the setting to several of my novels. Because I love to visit this region and will one day retire there, I’m proficient in building fictional settings near the lakes. This gives me a stronger sense of my surroundings and allows my storytelling to flow freely.


Do you intentionally incorporate elements of your own character (and those around you) into the characters of your novels? Detective Thomas Shepherd of your Wolf Lake Thriller series has Asperger’s syndrome, did this aspect of his character come from personal experience or is it merely a narrative device used to increase the depth of character and complexity in the series?


Whether intentional or not, relationships and past experiences shape our fictional counterparts. Some of my friends and family members inspire fictional characters, and key moments in my life, positive and negative, influence plot-lines. We write what we know.


I know several parents of children with autism and Asperger’s. When creating Thomas Shepherd’s character, I wanted added depth, and Asperger’s seemed to fit the traits I imagined him displaying. The Asperger’s angle took on a life of its own. To this day, I receive thank you emails from parents of autistic children for presenting Thomas in such a positive light. I never intended to build awareness of Asperger’s and autism, but I’m happy my books help others.


Considering the previous question, how important do you feel it is it to add realistic character traits and complexity to your characters and what effect does it have on the overall strength of the narrative?


Realistic traits are important because I want my characters to be memorable. I broke an unwritten rule in the Wolf Lake series by adding a few more characters than writers recommend. Give readers too many people to keep track of, and they’ll get confused and lose interest. By infusing my heroes and villains with strong, defined traits, readers are able to remember who they are.


When I wrote Her Last Breath, the first book in the Wolf Lake series, I found Thomas kept performing amazing acts of kindness normally not seen in traditional dark mysteries and thrillers. The acts made sense. Thomas spent his life overcoming Asperger’s and forcing himself to open up and display emotion. He sees the world through sympathetic eyes. Thomas rubs off on the other characters, and the various characters merge to become a family of sorts.


Click cover to grab your copy now!

What kind of marketing did you do to re-establish your author brand as a thriller author, and what do you think is the most successful marketing for self-published authors? Is there any one thing that has helped you sell more books – i.e. could you outline your path to establishing your brand and your most successful sales method/s?


From the beginning, I realized I wouldn’t survive as a thriller author without successful marketing. This is a highly-competitive genre, and I was starting from scratch. Rather than stroke my ego and assume my storytelling would win me readers, I utilized AMS and Facebook advertising to grow my following.


I accepted that I would lose money for a few months (or longer) before sales caught up to ad spend. But I saw those losing months as investments in my future.


My bread-and-butter is advertising the first book in a long series. As I stated earlier, this is my loss leader. The profit comes from people reading the rest of the series. I doubt it’s possible to profitably achieve scale while advertising stand-alone novels in competitive genres like thrillers and mysteries.


How do you go about soliciting reviews for your work, or is it a more organic process for you in that the reviews come on their own accord? Do you have any advice for indie/self-published authors as to the best way to gain reviews?


I utilize beta readers to catch typos my editor missed and to seed my reviews with honest opinions. These first reviews were very important early on, as they established social proof that my books were worth reading. Since then, my readership has grown to the point where I receive far more organic reviews than I dreamed possible. Beta readers still play an important role, but I get all the reviews I require from readers.


You have many of your books available in audio format – do you think audio books are worth investing in for self-published authors? I.e. is it a revenue stream that pays dividends in your opinion? What’s your selection process for finding a narrator that your readers will want to listen to?


This is a controversial topic. I know successful authors who swear by audio-books and see them as the future. I’ve been disappointed with audio-book sales so far. Despite hiring professional producers to record books which are highly-ranked, audio-book revenue remains a small, insignificant portion of my total earnings.


That said, even if you aren’t experiencing strong audio sales, the inclusion of audio-books looks more professional. When readers visit my buy page on Amazon, they see the e-book, the paperback, and the audio-book. I’m hopeful the future will be brighter than the present.


You often refer to Dean Koontz as being an inspiration and a favorite writer of yours. What aspects of his writing inform your own and how important do you think it is (especially for independent authors) for writers to have good quality role models within their own genre/s?


Besides penning amazing prose, Dean Koontz writes tense and frightening thrillers while placing importance on family. Not every scene needs to be full-on darkness. In a Koontz book, I get a healthy dose of happiness to go with the scare factor. It feels more realistic and hopeful, and that makes me care more about the characters he places in jeopardy.


Koontz also ends his stories on optimistic notes. It’s hard not to finish one of his books without feeling positive about the future. I don’t know another dark thriller author who manages this as well.


Can you offer any advice to fellow writers if you could go back in time and “do it all over?” What’s your top tip for other indie authors?


If you want this to be a career, start with the Venn diagram. There’s no point to writing stories in a genre without enough buyers. That doesn’t mean you have to sell out. What it means is finding a happy medium between what you love and what sells.


Of course, if all you care about is the art, write in any genre you love or create your own. That’s wonderful, and I support your efforts. Just don’t complain about lack of sales. Do it for the love of writing and forget about making a living from your stories.


Finally, thanks for sharing your thoughts on writing and independent publishing. Where is the best place for readers to find your books?


I encourage everyone to visit my Dan Padavona: Thriller and Mystery Author website, where I keep readers up to date on my writings. I also include an advice section for authors.


Readers can also find my books on my Amazon page.


Thanks Dan.


I recommend and encourage every one of my readers to share this interview and check Dan’s books out. You won’t be disappointed.



Top 20 Scary Horror Movies

William Cook’s Top Twenty Scary Horror Movies


These are my Top Twenty scary horror movies. These films all have the ability to give the audience a frightful experience by inducing a sense of fear and horror. ‘Jump scares’, psychological triggers, and scenes of terror are all used to great effect in these films.


Some of my choices may be slightly controversial but please remember, this is my list – these are the films that resonated with me and caused me to feel scared on some level. Believe me when I say that it takes a lot to scare me, and these films did just that. 


Please let me know in the comments what your favorite ‘scary films are.


Note: this list is no particular order.


1.       Silent Hill (2006)


Silent Hill is one of those Horror movies people seem to either love or hate. I love it – there are some really dark psychological triggers in this film that played on my subconscious to the point where I had bad dreams. Believe me when I say it takes a lot to scare me, let alone give me bad dreams. If you haven’t seen this movie, you’re in for a treat. Also, worth another viewing if you saw it ages ago.


2.       Hellraiser (1987)


This film is the stuff nightmares are made of. As an avid reader of Barker’s early horror stories this film did not disappoint and caused a few ‘WTF?’ moments.


3.       Maniac (1980)


William Lustig’s ultra-creepy horror is horrific and disturbing in ways that make watching the film seem like you’re in the nightmares of a psychotic. And you are – Joe Spinell’s acting is brilliant as the deranged killer.


4.       Halloween (1978) and Halloween II (1981)


Have gone for both of these films in the franchise as they never fail to frighten. Watch these on your own at Halloween and I guarantee you’ll be checking the locks on the windows and the doors before bed!


5.       The Evil Dead (1981)


When this was released I remember being the first in our town to rent it from the Video store. This was unlike any other horror I’d ever seen at the time and holds a special place in my nightmares. If you haven’t seen this version (i.e. the original), you need to watch it ASAP.


6.       The Abandoned (2006)


This under-rated film is incredibly creepy and is filled with atmospheric scenes that will leave you with your heart in your throat. Highly recommended.  


7.       Sinister (2012)


This film is disturbing in all the right ways – creepy, intense, and down-right scary in places. The frights will linger after the credits finish.


8.       The Babadook (2014)


A psychological horror that is unique in its ability to tap into subconscious human fears and leave the audience reeling from the experience. Brilliant but draining in its heaviness.


9.       The Shining (1980)


Stephen King hated this version of his book, but I loved it. Kubrick’s ability to insidiously effect the audience’s perspective is played out with a ratcheted string of nightmarish scenes and some brilliant acting from the cast.


10.       The Grudge (2004)


This one crept up on me and got me good. My introduction to Japanese horror led me down some very dark paths.


11.       The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)


When I first saw this film, it blew my little mind to the point where I felt nauseous. It wasn’t the gore that made me feel like that, it was the fear that was induced as a result of the terrifying world I found myself in. A very scary film about that most terrifying of all creatures – humans!


12.       Pet Sematary (1989)


This movie is a slow-burn but once it gets going, it hooks deep into your subconscious fears and doesn’t let up until the finish. Every time I watch it my Achilles tendon aches!


13.       The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988)


A suffocating horror film about Voodoo that is incredibly tense and frightening. One of my all-time favorite horror movies.


14.      Hereditary (2018)


A foreboding and well-crafted film that follows a grieving family tormented by a demonic entity after the death of their secretive grandmother. This movie is like a fever-dream that becomes more horrifying with each viewing. If you haven't seen this and love psychological horror that'll twist your mind and should inside-out, watch it! 

15.       28 Days later (2002)


This movie is a disturbing vision of the apocalypse and more relevant now than ever before. The cinematography and soundtrack crank up the scares, as this high-paced horror delivers an unrelenting exercise in sheer terror.


16.       The Ritual (2017)


A slow burn with the creep factor. This movie uses standard horror tropes in a way that give the audience more than enough scary moments to savour.


17.       Pandorum (2009)


I chose this movie instead of Alien because I felt it surpassed it with tension and scary scenes. This choice will no doubt be controversial but as far as Sci-Fi-Horror goes, I feel it outperforms Alien. Highly under-rated and well worth a watch if you haven’t seen it.


18.       The Amityville Horror (1979)


This is a classic. In my opinion, it is still is a good film for its age and will definitely play on your mind and fears.


19.       The Omen (1976)


One of my favorite horror films. This film operates on many different levels but is essentially a very scary movie for its age. The cemetery (at night) scene is brilliant. Highly recommended.  


20.       The Ring (2002)


A fantastic film that will give you the chills. Great acting and some very creepy scenes that are capable of inducing nightmares.


So - agree or disagree? What are your top scary movie picks of all time? Please add in comments below and thanks for reading.


Free Horror Book Potpourri

A very quick post today to let you know about a bunch of FREE kindle books of mine that are up for grabs. Head on over to my Amazon Author Page or follow the links below to grab your free kindle copies of some of my best horror short stories. There's also a bunch of discounted books available at the moment. 

While you're there, if you haven't already, why not check out my latest collection/series - Psychological Horror Stories (details/links below).

If you like what you've read it would be great if you could share this post and leave a quick review, or at least a 'rating,' on Amazon.

Thanks heaps.


Here are the freebies:

New series/collection - Psychological Horror Stories

Psychological Horror Stories: 

A Collection of Psychological Horror Fiction for Adults

This terrifying collection of psychological horror stories will make your flesh crawl.

Enter a disturbing world of psychological horror and paranoid fear from the unique imagination of William Cook.

25 tales of psycho killers, haunted spirits, and evil creatures conjured from the depths of hell, haunt over 350 pages in this latest collection from the author of 
Blood Related.

Disturbing love stories, psychopathic existentialism, spirits thirsty for vengeance, demons hunting for fresh souls and a perverse array of other grotesqueries are the subjects of these twisted tales.

Some are new* stories, while others are readers’ favorites that have been reanimated with fresh edits and, in some cases, rewritten. These vivid and often-disturbing stories reveal the horrors that dwell within the human psyche.

Read with caution.

R18+ Some stories may contain graphic descriptions of psychological horror, violence and/or abuse. Not for sale to minors.

New Release - Psychological Horror Stories: A Collection of Psychological Horror Fiction for Adults

Greetings. This post marks the end of three months of writing, editing, and formatting a new collection that brings together old and new stories. Psychological Horror Stories: A Collection of Psychological Horror Fiction for Adults is a 364 page collection of my best psychological horror stories. The collection is the omnibus edition of a 4-volume series and all covers are illustrated by artist and author, Jeffrey Kosh (see right sidebar for link). Some of the stories are from previous series, Serial Killer Thrillers, which have been rewritten/edited and are now included as part of this series (Serial Killer Thrillers is still available as a single-volume) print/kindle edition collection).

Psychological Horror Stories: A Collection of Psychological Horror Fiction for Adults

Psychological Horror Stories: A Collection of Psychological Horror Fiction for Adults is a collection of dark tales that deal with the horror inherent in the human psyche. Sometimes supernatural or macabre, but always darkly psychological in the effect on the reader, these twisted stories will linger in the imagination long after the last page has been turned. This omnibus edition is available in paperback and ebook format.

Psycho killers, haunted spirits, evil creatures conjured from the depths of hell and disturbed ghouls haunt the pages of this terrifying collection of psychological horror stories.

Disturbing love stories, psychopathic existentialism, spirits thirsty for vengeance, demons hunting for fresh souls and a perverse array of other grotesqueries are the subjects of these twisted tales.

*Note* All volumes contain R18+ material not suitable for minors. Includes depictions of graphic violence and scenes of horror.

Volumes in the series are all available exclusively from Amazon (click on cover image/s to purchase) and are detailed below:


Psychological Horror Stories (Psychological Horror and Macabre Fiction V1) 

This volume contains the following stories:

Creep – A dark story of a young woman's date with death! Serial Killers don't always get away with murder, no matter how hard they try.
Blinded by the Light – A teenager discovers his father is someone who he needs to be afraid of. Very afraid!
Pretty Boy – A killer on the loose visits a small town and realizes he’s made a bad decision he might not live to regret.
Legacy – The brutal origin story behind the novel ‘Blood Related. A novella-length dark tale of a serial-killer family and twin-brothers who continue the family tradition with terrifying efficiency.
Singles’ Night – A lonely hearts predator bites off more than he can chew when he unwittingly falls into a web of violence while stalking potential victims.
Time After Time – A drifter with a penchant for alcohol and horse racing tries to adjust to a ‘normal life,’ but fails with horrific consequences.

Psychological Horror Stories (Psychological Horror and Macabre Fiction V2) 

This volume contains the following stories:

The Reader – A tragic tale of obsession and the horrifying fatal consequences that result from one man’s devotion to his hobby.
Axe Man – A surreal nightmare of a tale that recounts the narrator’s experience with a purgatorial harbinger of death.
That Sinking Feeling . . . – A dark story of ‘love gone wrong’ and the jealous rage that fuels the protagonist’s recourse to destructive violence.
Shadows in the Dark – An apocalyptic vision of the brutality of life and the trials of one family as they succumb to madness and death in a harsh rural landscape.
The Kaleidoscope Kid – The hellish story of a youth’s spiralling madness into a world of visions, demons, vengeance and, ultimately, death!
Love Hurts – A disturbing tale of extreme domestic horror and violence, culminating in a blood-soaked ending that will leave the reader reeling or running for the bathroom!

Psychological Horror Stories (Psychological Horror and Supernatural Fiction V3) 

This volume contains the following stories:

Hopeless – A young girl must face her biggest fear – her father. As she struggles to protect her mother from the man she once idolized, young Hope must confront her situation and the possibility that they may not get out alive.
Anomalous Perigee – Letting go of the person we love is the hardest thing to do, especially if they haunt you.
Dead Memories – Be careful what you wish for, it might just come true! A man’s enduring love burns strongly for his girlfriend despite her deceit and vengeful cruelty.
Night Walker – Obsession and desire keep one man’s love alive for his cruel mistress, even after his death!
The Dead Avenged – Sometimes the dead come back! A supernatural coming-of-age ghost story that deals with the consequences of bullying.

Psychological Horror Stories (Psychological Horror and Supernatural Fiction V4) 

This volume contains the following stories:

Death Comes Calling – The parents have gone out for the evening and return home to find the sitter and their son missing and a strange child in their house. A very strange child!
A Dream Realized – A young boy living in an orphanage retreats into his fantasy world to escape the cruel taunts of the other orphans and the sadistic brutality of the staff.
The Pale Stranger – A man turns his back on his family as his addictions suck him deeper into a debauched world until he meets a stranger who offers him a way out, but at a terrible price.
Devil Inside – This twisted tale winds itself around a disturbed young boy who discovers that when you make a wish, you better make sure you really want it. After all, monsters are sometimes real.
Conceived By Death – A drug-addicted couple who will do anything to score a fix find themselves hopelessly unprepared for the arrival of a baby with a hunger far greater than their own.
Thirsty Work – A young man escapes from his brutal father and finds work and lodging at a liquor store where the customers have an insatiable thirst for more than just alcohol.
Dolly Did It – When dreams become nightmares and the past refuses to die . . . A young girl’s old dolly, Samantha, haunts her dreams as her family begin to die one by one.

I hope you enjoy the stories. If you are new to my work I would recommend this collection as a good starting point to my dark fiction. For those of you who have read my work before, I thank you sincerely and hope that you enjoy (if you choose to get this collection) the redux versions of older stories and the new ones included.

Best wishes and hope these tales keep you entertained in these weird, uncertain times (please share this post with your networks).


Seven reasons why you should buy this psychological serial killer thriller

If you're a fan of good old fashioned thrillers or serial killer novels, here are seven reasons why you should give my novel, Blood Related, a read.

Here are some reasons why you should buy this book:

  • It's a bit different than usual serial killer thrillers.
  • It has over 50 5/4 star reviews on Amazon.
  • It has a bunch of endorsements from best-selling authors.
  • It's formatted, edited and designed professionally.
  • Both kindle and print editions are priced to sell.
  • It's guaranteed to give readers the 'heebie-jeebies'!
  • Did I mention that it's a really good price? 

Here's the book description:

Tough-as-nails Detective Ray Truman battles his demons as he tracks a family of prolific serial killers in this nail-biting psychological thriller.

For over two decades, Detective Ray Truman has been searching for the killer or killers who have terrorized Portvale. Headless corpses, their bodies mutilated and posed, have been turning up all over the industrial district near the docks. The remains of young female prostitutes have been the killer’s victims of choice, but now other districts are reporting the gruesome discovery of decapitated bodies. It seems the killer has expanded his territory as more ‘nice girls’ feel the wrath of his terrible rage. This disturbing tale of a family tree of evil will embed itself in the mind of the reader, long after the last page has been turned.

A psychological crime novel in the vein of other power-packed thrillers like Thomas Harris's Silence of the Lambs and James Ellroy's Killer on the Road.

Here are some author endorsements:

"Dark and deeply disturbing." - Jonathan Nasaw, author of The Girls he Adored and The Boys from Santa Cruz

"Blood Related is a terrifying psychological thriller. William Cook is an author to watch." - Mark Edward Hall, author of The Lost Village and The Holocaust Opera

"William Cook tells a gruesome story with a sense of authenticity that makes you question with considerable unease if it really is fiction, after all." - Graham Masterton, author of the Katie McGuire series and The House that Jack Built

"Blood Related is a nasty but nuanced take on the serial killer genre. Cook's bruising tale of twin psychopaths who are as cold as mortuary slabs is not for the weak-kneed."
- Laird Barron, author of Occultation and The Imago Sequence.

"A thought-provoking thriller."
- Guy N Smith, author of Night of The Crabs and Deadbeat.

Here are some reader reviews: 

"Best I can say is that it reads like an Alex Cross novel and I love Alex Cross type stories." - rjseguin

"The characters are well-developed and tremendously disturbed. William Cook has written a frightening story that poses the question 'is it nature or nurture that determines the birth of a serial killer?'" - Colleen
"Cook has accomplished what few writers can with the serial killer story . . ." - Vincenzo

"I can promise you one thing-you will not be disappointed. William Cook's Blood Related, is an impressive work of fiction." - Quinn
"Blood Related kept me up all night on the edge of my recliner . . ." - Char

"I really enjoyed the psychological aspect of this book, it really had me hanging the whole way through!"- Lori

"This is a ferociously dark book, but in the best possible way. It will scare the hell out of you, but you won't be able to put it down." - Sheldon
"Blood Related is a psychological roller-coaster. I couldn't put it down." - Debbie

"This book was thrilling and scary. The mind of a killer is a horrible place. Highly recommended for horror fans!" - Book Nut

"Blood Related reads like a non-fiction book. A deep and insightful exploration of the mind of a psychopath." - Brokensea
"If you seek an intelligent terrifying read look no further. Highly recommended." - John

"Enter this world at your own peril. Even though you know it's only fiction, you'll lock the door before reading just to feel safe. A guaranteed work of masterful horror." - Anthony
"I've read many books about serial killers, and William Cook's Blood Related was one of the best." - Andthentherewerethree

Be warned - this novel does portray adult language and depictions of graphic violence and implied sexual violence.

Whether you buy a copy or not, thanks for reading this post.

Best wishes


Still not convinced? Why not take a free peek at the Kindle edition using Amazon's 'Look Inside' feature here or click on the book covers below (top for Kindle, bottom for print):

Gaze Into the Abyss: The Poetry of Jim Morrison. New edition released!

New release! Redux version for #kindle now available (UK & US links below). Print edition available also (please share this post ): 
In Gaze Into the Abyss: The Poetry of Jim Morrison, William Cook examines Morrison's written work in all its beauty and complexity, providing rich insight into Morrison's influences, themes, and poetic vision.

Iconic Doors photographer Paul Ferrara, who was also one of Morrison's best friends, says of the book: "No other rock poet went so deep into his soul. That is what separates Jim Morrison from the rest. Jim and his words were timeless and reached deep into those people who got it, turning them into worshipers. Even the new generations get it. This book by William Cook finally address the phenomena that was Jim Morrison the poet."

Finally James Riordan, author of Break on Through: The Life & Death of Jim Morrison, says that: "Gaze Into the Abyss ... offers new and valuable insights into Morrison's writing. Jim's poetic gift was often ignored and certainly not fully appreciated while he lived and I, for one, am grateful for this in-depth look."

All in all, Gaze Into the Abyss: the Poetry of Jim Morrison comprises a work no serious Doors or Jim Morrison fan will want to pass up. Available now in print and ebook from Unboxed Brain Books.

So you wanna be an indie horror writing superstar?

This article outlines the pros and cons of being an indie horror author on Hey, fellow writers! If you’ve got a penchant for wri...