Dana Perry thriller author.

Dana Perry is an award-winning author of crime fiction and a journalist in New York City where he has had a long career as a top editor at the New York Post, New York Daily News, Star magazine and NBC News.

As R. G. Belsky, he is a contributing writer for The Big Thrill magazine and has published 20 novels—all set in the New York city media world

The first three novels in his new Nikki Cassidy series, starting with THE NOWHERE GIRLS, will be published on April 2.

Dana Perry’s latest series, starting with “The Nowhere Girls,” introduces readers to the intriguing character of Nikki Cassidy, an FBI agent with a troubled past. Set in a small town in Southeastern Ohio, the story unfolds as Nikki delves into a new case, uncovering secrets that lead her to revisit the unsolved mystery of her sister’s abduction and murder. Perry’s skillful storytelling weaves together a tale of suspense, intrigue, and unexpected twists that will keep readers eagerly turning the pages.

What sets Dana Perry’s writing apart is his ability to draw inspiration from real-life events and infuse them into his fictional narratives. With a knack for creating strong, kick-ass female characters like Nikki Cassidy, Perry brings a fresh and dynamic energy to the thriller genre. His background as a journalist covering high-profile cases such as the Son of Sam serial killer adds a layer of authenticity to his storytelling, making his novels both captivating and thought-provoking. If you’re looking for a thrilling escape into a world of mystery and suspense, Dana Perry’s books are a must-read for any fan of the genre.

Connect with Dana Perry

Other books by Dana Perry

Show Notes and Transcript

  • Dana Perry, an award-winning author of crime fiction and journalist, was interviewed in this episode.
  • Dana Perry has had a long career as a top editor at the New York Post, New York Daily News, Star magazine, and NBC News.
  • Dana Perry also writes under the name R. G. Belsky and has published over 20 mystery novels, all set in the New York City media world.
  • Dana Perry discusses his writing process and transition from journalism to full-time authorship.
  • He talks about his experience writing under pressure and meeting deadlines due to his background in journalism.
  • Dana Perry does not outline his novels and enjoys letting the characters surprise him as he writes.
  • He shares insights into his new book series featuring FBI agent Nikki Cassidy, set in a small town in Southeastern Ohio.
  • The series consists of three books: “The Nowhere Girls,” “Last One to Die,” and “The Only Ones,” released simultaneously on April 2, 2024.
  • He was interviewed in the Netflix documentry about Son of Sam, The Sons of Sam: A Descent into Darkness.
  • Dana Perry’s website is www.rgbelsky.com, where readers can find more information about his books and connect with him on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
Click here for Transcript

Please note that a machine generated this transcript, and a human made only minimal edits, so there may be errors/typos.

[00:00:00.000] – Alan Petersen
You are listening to Meet the Thriller Author, the podcast where I interview writers of mysteries, thrillers, and suspense books. I’m Alan Petersen, an author of mysteries and thrillers myself, and it’s been a privilege to interview amazing authors in the genre that I love to write and read. So far, I’ve interviewed over 200 authors, including thriller icons like Dean Koontz, Walter Moseley, Tess Gerritsen, Lee Child, and many more. You can find an archive of all my interviews with show notes, resources, book reviews, and a lot more over at my website at THRILLERAUTHORS.com From there, you can also join my Thrilling Reads newsletter for book deals on great thriller and mystery books. So head on over to THRILLERAUTHORS.com and check all that out.

[00:00:45.990] – Alan Petersen
In this episode of the podcast, number 199, you’ll be meeting Dana Perry. Dana Perry is an award-winning author of crime fiction and a journalist in New York City, where he has had a long career as a top editor at the New York Post, New York Daily News, Star magazine, and NBC News. As Arjibelski, he is a contributing writer for the Big Thrill magazine and has published 20 mystery novels, all set in the New York City media world.

[00:01:14.460] – Alan Petersen
As Dana Perry, his first three novels in his new Nikki Cassidy series, Starting with the Nowhere Girls, will be published on April second. Had a great time chatting with Dana Perry on his writing process, on his incredible career as a journalist, including being part of the Netflix documentary on the Son of Sam serial killer from the 1970s in New York. It was a lot of fun talking to him about that and a whole lot more. So stay tuned here for my interview with Dana Perry coming right up.

[00:01:48.990] – Alan Petersen
Welcome to the podcast.

[00:01:50.350] – Dana Perry
Hey, Alan. How are you? Good to be here.

[00:01:52.320] – Alan Petersen
You have a fascinating with your background because you have had an extensive career in journalism. We’re talking like with NBC, New York Post, the big boys.

[00:02:00.450] – Dana Perry
You can put the New York Daily News in there, too.

[00:02:03.470] – Alan Petersen
New York Daily News, so a lot of experience in journalism. I’m curious now, are you writing your own novels? Was that always in the back of your head while you were working as a journalist?

[00:02:12.600] – Dana Perry
Well, it was not only in the back of my head, it was in the front of my head because I wrote a lot of novels while I was a journalist. It’s funny because my last full-time job was a few years ago at NBC News, where I was a managing editor. I had spent a lot of years, as you say, in journalism at The Post, at the Daily News, at Star magazine, and eventually at NBC and NBC News. When I stepped down and left, and I have written a series of books since then, the traditional way people see it is, Oh, yeah, that’s great. You retired from journalism, and now you’re writing books, so you’d have more time to write books. I’m like, No, that’s not the way it happened at all. I’ve been writing books all the time I was in journalism. When I was back at the New York Post in the ’80s, I sold my first novel. I sold a series of them in the ’90s. Now, it is true, I probably have done more writing now because I’m doing it full-time. But I always love doing it. People would always say, Well, you work all day in a newsroom writing news stories.

[00:03:17.420] – Dana Perry
Why in the world would you want to go home at night or get up in the morning and write a book? The answer is because it’s just a completely different thing. I always say, as a journalist, my job basically was to get the facts right. I basically had to make sure that every fact was there and I had to do a lot of research, checking of things and all that. As an author, I don’t really do much of that at all. I just make stuff up, and that is fun. It’s actually the two careers together have worked out really well for me. I’ve used one with the other in the sense that most of my books are drawn in some way on my own journalistic experiences, either in the characters or in the stories and the plots. I’ve covered an awful lot of big stories in my life, starting back with Son of Sam. Most of those stories have found their way in some form into my novels, thriller novels.

[00:04:20.140] – Alan Petersen
You’re so used to writing on deadlines and all that. To have a book deadline is probably like…

[00:04:26.500] – Dana Perry
Oh, I’m real good at it. I might not be the best writer in the world, but I’m real good at deadlines because look, I’m used to working at a daily paper. Well, at NBC, it wasn’t even daily. I worked on the digital website for NBC News. They had to get it up immediately. So if some big story happened, you just did it. So when a publisher… I mean, I’ve had publishers come in and they say, Is there any possibility you could have a book completed for us by a year from this September? And I’ll be I can give you this September if you wanted. When do you want it? Just tell me. The Nowhere Girls, for example, which is the book which will be coming out April second, you made a reference to it. I think I wrote that book in about three months. I know a lot of people say it takes a year to write a novel, but that’s not the way I do it. I sit down and pretty much go through it every day. If you just do the numbers, a novel is generally around 75,000 words, the ones I do.

[00:05:38.680] – Dana Perry
If you write a thousand words a day, which is not that big a deal, Within three months, you’ve got a novel. Now, you still have to do the editing and stuff, but that’s the way I work. I bring a lot of my newspaper background to writing the novel. Again, I know there’s a lot of great novelists who don’t work like that, but deadlines are something I’m pretty familiar with.

[00:06:08.130] – Alan Petersen
Well, it’s a good transition for you to full-time author with all the changes in journalism. It’s sad. All the newsrooms are shutting down.

[00:06:15.570] – Dana Perry
Yeah. Well, there’s a lot of changes in publishing, too. But obviously, like I said, I went through some of them because I worked in print at the New York Post, New York Daily News. But when I went to MBC, I wound up working on their digital stuff, both with their local stations here in New York and around the country, and later with MBC News. Obviously, that’s still very viable, the digital side of it. Tv, obviously, is still around, too. But I thought when you were talking about the transition, the toughest transition I had from going to journalism to a novel is that I sometimes attempted to write a novel. We talked about deadlines, but I sometimes tried to write a novel the way I would write a news story. I’m a tabulate journalist. I come from places like The Post and Daily News. We’re taught all our lives, you got to put the lead in the first paragraph. That’s it. You don’t mess around. Well, you’re writing a mystery novel. You can’t put the lead on the first page or you don’t have a mystery. One of the criticisms I got from editors, which is, I think, I’m unusual with a lot of writers, is that I went too fast.

[00:07:34.810] – Dana Perry
I think a lot of writers it’s like, No, you got to get to the point quicker. I tended to go from A to B to C really, really quickly because that’s where my background was. The one transition I’ve had to make from being a journalist to a novelist is to slow down. Don’t tell people so much in the beginning. Hold some of that stuff out. I know how to do that now, but it It’s an interesting thing you have to make a change on.

[00:08:06.600] – Alan Petersen
Do you outline your novels then before you start to- Never.

[00:08:09.840] – Dana Perry
No. This is the traditional question. Of course, you know this. Everyone asks this question, are you a penser or are you a plot? Or every conference you go, are you going to do your outline? And of course, there’s no right or wrong answer to it. But my answer is absolutely not. I’ve never outlined a book in my life. There are many, many wonderful authors who have said the same thing. Like Hank Philippe Ryan is a big author. I sat next to her to conference. We were talking about it one day, and she was the exact same way. We both were talking about how you’re in the middle of a book and you’re like, I have no idea how I’m going to get out of this, how I’m going to do. You’re just flailing around aimlessly until you get it. There’s other authors, great authors. I think Jeffrey I believe, is one who not only will outline, but will outline so extensively. I think he does outlines of, I believe, he or one of somebody like him, literally does a 200-page outline before they write the book. If the book is 350 pages, you’ve pretty much written the book before…

[00:09:21.950] – Dana Perry
Then you take the outline and it becomes the book. There’s a lot of people who do it that way. I don’t know when I start a book where I’m going to go with it. I like the idea of letting the characters breathe and surprise me. Many times I’ll think a book is going to go one way, and then somewhere during the book, I’ll go, No, I’m going to switch it the other way. A lot of people, when they read my books, one of the things that the feedback I get is, Wow, you’ve got so many twists and shocking turnarounds in the book. I I think one of the reasons I’m able to do that is because I’m as shocked by some of the twists as anybody, and I’ll be like, Oh, okay. Well, okay, let’s do that. Why not? But again, you can talk to 10 authors, and I’ll bet half of them would say they outline and half of them would say they’re not. Maybe a few would say, Well, I outlined. But I do none of them.

[00:10:26.700] – Alan Petersen
Yeah, that’s about right, because I’ve interviewed over 200 now, and that’s probably a 50/50 in between.

[00:10:33.390] – Dana Perry
I’ll tell you it’s a secret or whatever. Another little thing that I do, which I don’t think all authors do. I know it’s probably some do. I have gotten to the point where… I’ve now written more than 20 published papers I’ve written more than that, but I’ve published more than 20 books. As I’ve developed as a writer over the years, my techniques for writing have changed in the sense that when I write a book now, I don’t necessarily write it in the order that you’re going to read I don’t necessarily do chapter 5 after chapter 4, chapter 6 after chapter 5. I sometimes will approach it like you’re making a movie with a movie script. I’m sure you know that when a director is making a movie, he doesn’t necessarily make the climactic scene at the end. He might make it at the beginning or you shoot different scenes and then you edit it, you put it together. I do some of that with my books. If I I have to myself, wow, I’ve got a great idea for an action scene, I’ll just write that scene. I’ll write that chapter, even though I’m not at that chapter yet.

[00:11:38.330] – Dana Perry
Same with a romantic scene. If I have a relationship thing, I’ll write that. Then I just keep going with the book with the chapters not necessarily in order. Then I go back and obviously, like a movie director would, I put them in an order. Again, it’s somewhat surprisingly, it works.

[00:12:06.210] – Alan Petersen
What do you use? Do you use word or to do all this?

[00:12:11.220] – Dana Perry
Well, here’s the other unusual thing as a writer. I write all my books out in longhand on a legal pad, which is crazy because I always worked on a computer when I was in a newsroom. But in terms of being creative, I can’t be creative on a computer. I don’t know why. So I just sit with a legal pad and I write it out, and then I put it on to Word or why use Word. Yeah, and that’s it. But I don’t have index cards all over on bullet boards or anything like that. I print everything out, and then I read it. Sometimes I’ll do the old-fashioned way of literally moving chapters around manually and go, I’ll put this here, put that there. It works in the end.

[00:13:06.690] – Alan Petersen
Yeah, 20 books published. It’s working. Yeah. I was curious, now, were you a fan of readers and mysteries before you started to write these type of books?

[00:13:17.260] – Dana Perry
Well, I have been in most of my life now because I started writing them. But the answer is no. I don’t think I’d ever read a mystery or thriller like when I was growing up or in college or anything like that. I don’t know. I used to read science fiction and things. I read a lot of non-conviction, politics, sports, things like that. But at some point early on, after I got out of college, I wanted to write fiction. I wanted to write short stories. I think I started out reading Ring Lardner, who was around the turn of the century, but wrote all these great funny short stories. I started trying to write some Ring Lardner short stories. One day, and this was long, long time ago, I was in a used bookstore, and I’m going to give you my inspiration, which is the same inspiration many mystery for the Reds head, but I picked up a copy of The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler. I never read Raymond Chandler. I didn’t really know, I guess, who he was. I probably had heard of him. I just bought it and I read it, and I just fell in love with the whole idea.

[00:14:33.380] – Dana Perry
I was like, Okay, well, this is what I want. I could write this a book. I immediately tried to write a book, which I think I’d best describe it as being a very bad imitation of Raymond Chandler. I kept reading. Then I discovered Agatha Christie, which is a completely different book. I read all the Agatha Christie books because I love the story. I mean, Render Chalet was about the character with Agatha Christie. I mean, yes, you had Perol and everything, but it was the twist and the stories, 10 Little Indians and all those. Then I went into Ross McDonald, the other great mystery writer, read all his stuff. I just kept reading people like that. I discovered Robert Parker and Spencer, and I drew upon all these things to create my own style and feel for a book. I started writing part-time while I was a journalist. Eventually, and it doesn’t come easy, eventually, I was able to publish my first novel, and then another one, and then a few more. I’ve been doing this a long time, and I’ve been in the mystery thriller world a long time, and I’ve followed all the people that have come since, the Michael Connelies, and the Sue Grafton, and everybody.

[00:16:06.650] – Dana Perry
I’ve used all them to some degree to inspire me, but it was a happy accident. If I hadn’t If I hadn’t picked up that Raymond Chandler book, we might not be sitting here talking to this.

[00:16:19.940] – Alan Petersen
Yeah, I love his stuff, too.

[00:16:21.090] – Dana Perry
Oh, yeah. Well, my favorite book of all time is The Long of I. I mean, that I thought was the best of all of my books. The other thing about the mystery thriller field, I find is that one of the things I love about it is that there’s a structure to it. In other words, if you pick up a novel, a novel novel, it might be a great novel, but it’s all over the place and talking about the trees and the sun. I don’t mean to say that there are wonderful novels, but there’s something about a mystery thriller that has this structure to it that I like. I’m not the only person that does. It was It’s funny. I got a chance to meet the late student, unfortunately, who wrote the Kinsey Malone Alphabet books, which it’s a wonderful series if anybody hasn’t read it. She was on a panel, and she was just talking about this, and she said basically all she read was mystery readers, and that someone once came to her and said, You got to read a real novel. I mean, as if mystery readers weren’t really important, you need to read a real novel.

[00:17:29.490] – Dana Perry
She She said, so she took this novel, which was supposed to be really great, and she started reading it, and she got, I don’t know, 50 pages in, and she suddenly put it down and said, When is something going to happen in this book? That is the great thing about a mystery thriller because something is always happening. I mean, if you’re going 50 pages on anything happening in a mystery thriller, you got a problem. I just love the genre. I mean, I read, I work for… I still some journalism, in the case, but mostly interviews and stuff of authors like you do. I work for the Big Thrill magazine, which is put up for the International Thrillers organization here. I get a chance to not only interview a lot of major names, but I read their books. I read most of the big readers that come out. I love the feel, which is good since I’m writing in it. It’d be very difficult, I guess, to write in a genre that you weren’t enthusiastic.

[00:18:33.570] – Alan Petersen
Yeah, I’d imagine that would be tough. I’ve wanted to know because here’s some of your insights on the Nowhere Girls. I’m just curious, what inspired the story? What themes Are you exploring in it?

[00:18:47.130] – Dana Perry
Well, The Nowhere Girls. Yeah, The Nowhere Girls is a bit of change. Most of my books… Let me just give a little preface to people who don’t know. The author of The Nowhere Girls, which is me, is Dana Perry. My actual name, which I write other books under, is R. G. Belsky, but I’ve written a series of books under the Dana Perry name. Most of my other books have been said in New York City because that’s what I know, and they’ve been said in the New York City media world because of what it does. That is what I know. The Nowhere Girls is completely a different approach for me. My character is an FBI agent, which I’ve never been, and so I have no background in that. So I had to learn a little bit about law enforcement, FBI agents. She’s a woman, FBI agent, who’s based in Washington, where I’ve never worked. So I had to learn a little bit about that. But Most of the book takes place in a small town in Southeastern, Ohio. And that I do know something about because I’m originally from Cleveland, Ohio, and I went to college in Southeastern, Ohio, in a small town.

[00:19:58.110] – Dana Perry
So this This is her hometown, and she goes back there. The premise of the book is that years earlier, her sister had been abducted and murdered, and the killer had been put in prison, and everybody thought the case was over. But now there’s a new case that raises questions about what really happened to her sister 15 years ago, and she has to go back and solve the current case to unlock these secrets. It was a really interesting book for me to write, and The Nowhere Girls refers to the fact that there are obviously other examples of other young girls like her sister who have been abducted and/or killed.

[00:20:42.030] – Alan Petersen
Are you familiar with Ohio, with the Cleveland area?

[00:20:44.360] – Dana Perry
Yeah. How do- I went to school in a town called Athens, which is Southeastern, Ohio, and I patterned this town, which is a picture of after that town. That’s why I say I have… I like to write areas where I have some familiarity because I just think it comes across as more realistic.

[00:21:05.210] – Alan Petersen
Yeah, I agree with that. It’s a little easier. Then you have to do as much research either because I would imagine you already know the area.

[00:21:12.270] – Dana Perry
Yeah. I feel pretty strongly about this, which is there’s only so much research you can do. Yes, you can go on Google. Pretty much the only place, locales I ever write about our places. I also wrote a series of book that I’m at this vineyard because that’s where I go on vacation every year. Yeah, I could write a book. If I had to write a book, you’re in San Francisco, if I had to write a book about San Francisco, I’m sure I could Google tons of information about San Francisco, but I certainly wouldn’t be as confident in writing about it as I am in the books I write. There’s always the chance that you can’t learn everything on Google. A lot of times you have to be there to get the feel of the city. The I always use in New York, which is a very simple example, but there’s a main street in New York which is spelled H-O-U-S-T-O-N, like the city, Houston. It looks like it should be Houston, except that’s not what it’s called, it’s called Houston. You’re never going to see that on Google. You’re going to read it and you’re going to write it.

[00:22:20.530] – Dana Perry
In my book, in one of my books, I have a character making a joke about that, the difference between Houston and Houston. It’s little things like that. I’m sure you have a lot a lot of stuff in where you are, too, that you know because you’re there. The last thing you want to do in a book is to let the reader know that you’re not really familiar with what it is you’re writing about.

[00:22:42.540] – Alan Petersen
Yeah, it’s actually right out of the story when that happens.

[00:22:45.040] – Dana Perry
I have had one or two occasions where I’ve literally put a book down because somebody had made a mistake. The thing with that, too, is in a book, you can create fictional places or you can or you can use real places, but it’s got to be consistent. When I was doing the media stuff, if I had my character working out of a fictional newspaper, the New York Bullet or something, and I make it up. I can put that paper anywhere. I can put it in Times Square or anywhere. If I have a character at the New York Daily News or the New York Times, I need to make sure that the location… I can’t have that in At the Empire State Building. It’s got to be where the Times or the Daily News or the Post is. That’s a tricky thing, too. I tend to use a mix of them. I use some real facts in my books But then I obviously use a lot of fictional things, too.

[00:23:48.910] – Alan Petersen
Yeah, that’s always important in the mysteries and thriller books, too. It’s the setting, right? I mean, like Connolly, LA.

[00:23:55.860] – Dana Perry
I think that’s… Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I guess there’s three important things in a book. One is the… The most important is the character itself. The other is the setting, and the other is the story. I sometimes think the story is the least of them, because if you look at all The great characters, like you mentioned, Michael Conley, LA, Chandler, LA, Robert Parker, Spencer, Boston. It’s just so Boston. I just think that’s really, really important. That’s what I’ve tried to do in most of my books. Most of it has been set in New York. But wherever you do, that setting is crucial. You got to get that right. That’s why I’ll I would write a book about a character in San Francisco because I’ve only been there once or twice, and I just don’t think that would be a good… I don’t think that would be a good book if I tried.

[00:24:55.790] – Alan Petersen
For the aspiring writers listening to this podcast, do you like writing Do you write every day? Do you write from the same spot? I’m curious about yours.

[00:25:02.830] – Dana Perry
All of the above. I write every day. If somebody wants to be an inspiring writer, that is the number one rule I would tell them, is just sit down every day and write. You cannot wait until you’re inspired by being creative or you’ll never write it. There are many days I sit down in the morning, which is when I write, and I’m staring at a blank page and I have no idea what it is. I’m I’m going to write, and I force myself to put something down, even though it could be crap. Many times I do, and I think, Oh, this is going to be terrible. Then I’ll read it the next day, and a lot of times you’ll be surprised at what you got, or it’ll lead you to something else. But the number one rule is if you want to be a writer, and I’m not the first person to say this, is you need to write. Being in the media business, pretty much everybody I’ve ever worked with will come to me and say, I want to write a novel. I think I’d like to write a novel. What do I have to do?

[00:26:05.580] – Dana Perry
I’d say, Well, you got to sit down and write it. 99.9% of them never do that. They talk about it, but they don’t do it. But the people who put out novels do what we just said, which is you sit down every day and you write. If it doesn’t work, then you just keep writing. In answer to the second part of your question about how the specifics of how I I almost never write. Right now, I’m in my home office, but I hardly ever write from here or from home. I like to work in public spaces, and I think a lot of this has to do with all my years in a newsroom with the noise and the hub. But I love people around and talking. I write most of my stuff actually in coffee shops. I’ll go to a Starbucks or whatever to sit and people will be screaming around me. For me, that’s inspiring. But I’ve written a lot of places. I’ve written on the beach, I’ve written on the subway, I’ve written obviously on trains or planes. That’s just me. But I very rarely get up, sit in my house, and write at the computer.

[00:27:21.640] – Dana Perry
I take a legal tablet, and I sit somewhere, or sit in a park, or sit on a bench, and all this stuff. But again, that’s just me. Everybody writes differently. There’s no good way or bad way as long as you’re producing a book.

[00:27:42.090] – Alan Petersen
Yeah, he’s got a vision of all the President’s men with the newsroom with Robert Redford. It doesn’t have it.

[00:27:47.460] – Dana Perry
Well, that was obviously the big inspiration for so many people that went into journalism. One of the funny things is like everybody thinks that’s what every day in a newsroom is like. And of course, it isn’t. Newsrooms can sometimes be pretty boring, too. But that was the high point of journalism.

[00:28:14.690] – Alan Petersen
It’s a good I’m curious, too, before I let you go to now. Nicky Cassidy is the protagonist of the Nowhere Girls. I was wondering if you could walk us through her development and how you worked getting her onto the book.

[00:28:26.540] – Dana Perry
Well, yeah, there’s something else I need to tell you about her. But I have written, like I say, more than 20 published novels now. The Nowhere Girls will be my 22nd, actually. The vast majority of them have had female characters. The reason for this is I’ve worked with a lot of really great women in my media days, but I just find it gives me more opportunity to make the character to come alive as a woman, because with a man, a lot of times I just feel like I’m doing traditional stuff that I’ve been done in the past. Certainly when I started out writing characters, the role of women, certainly in the media, was a lot different. For a woman to be covering a murder story was very unusual. Most women were relegated to covering cooking or features and stuff like that. It wasn’t a very fair situation. There weren’t a lot of women characters in mysteries at the time until people like Janet Ivanavich and Sue Grafton came along, Sarah Peretzky. But so in the beginning, I loved writing female characters because you could have You could have so many more obstacles. You could have the boss who says, I don’t want a woman covering this.

[00:29:50.630] – Dana Perry
You belong in the kitchen or whatever, and then you can have her sticking it to them and coming up with the big story. But even now, I don’t know. I love writing what I refer to as a kick-ass woman. It’s like Kinsey Malone is like that. Stephanie Plum from Janet Vana. She’s like that. Bjar Warshawski, Kinsey Malone was like that. I love those characters, and that’s what I’ve tried to do with Nikki Cassidy, to create that woman character. She’s in her early 30s, and she’s got a troubled life on some level with the loss of her sister years ago. She doesn’t have a steady romantic life, and her life is her job, and she throws herself into her job. That just allows me a lot of opportunities to I think, create interesting, to make her an interesting character. One of the best things that anybody can ever say to me as an author is not even so much of, Oh, the book was great or the twist was great, but, Wow, I love Nikki Cassidy. She’s terrific. Now, having said that, I should point out, and I’m not even sure if you’re totally aware of how this is going to come out, Alan, but there’s not one Nikki Cassidy book, but there’s actually three Nicki Cassidy books that are going to be coming out in April.

[00:31:18.520] – Dana Perry
The company that is publishing them, Bookature, has come up with this idea of putting out a succession of readers at the time. The Nowhere Girls has a story that will end. She will solve the story by the end of the book. But there’s an overriding story that goes on to another book, which is called Last One to Die. Then same thing there, she’ll solve the mystery. But then there’ll be another overriding thing that will take you into a third book called The Only Ones. The idea here, I think, is like what we all tend to do on TV these days, which is binge watching, where you finish one episode and then suddenly you’re in the second episode, you don’t really want to watch it, but there it is. The idea, and this isn’t my idea, this was the idea that they came up with, was that people read one book and they don’t want to wait a year to see the next one. They originally were going to do one a month, and they came up with the idea to put them out simultaneously. So on April second, The Nowhere Girls will come out, but at the same time, the other two books also will be released.

[00:32:40.270] – Dana Perry
And literally, you could read them all. Unlike a lot of my books and series, this is a series where you really would want to read them in order because there is an over… I’d compare it. I don’t know if you remember the TV show Monk, where He was constantly looking for the killer of his wife through the whole series. He would solve the crime, but he was always still on the overall thing of who killed his wife. That’s what I’ve tried to do in these three books. She’s still looking for answers, even though she finds a lot of answers. It’ll be an interesting publishing experience to have three books come out at once. Now, the downside of all this, of course, is for me, is that it required me to write three books at one time. I basically had to come up with almost, what, 1,200 pages of copy, and I ended up doing that, I think, in about 15 months. An awful lot of effort went into this. It’s not one book, it’s three books, but it’s fun. Because I like the character, it was fun to live with her all that time.

[00:33:54.980] – Alan Petersen
Oh, yeah. I didn’t know that. I just thought Nowhere Girls was publishing on the second.

[00:33:59.690] – Dana Perry
Well, everybody needs to start with Nowhere Girls because that’s the beginning. But when you get to the end of Nowhere Girls, there’s going to be a link to, Well, wait a minute. What happens now? And then you go. Now, Again, I just want to make clear it isn’t like I’m going to have a crime story that leaves you unanswered questions. She is going to solve the big crime story in each book, but she’s not going to have all the answers. There’s going to be a reason why, hopefully, you want to keep reading what she does next. All three books are going to basically be in the same, or they are in the same setting, which is this small town in Ohio, which is unusual because you’re going to have a lot of missing girls and a lot of people dying in a little town. It’s going to be a little bit like Jessica Fletcher and Where does she live?

[00:35:00.550] – Alan Petersen
Where the whole town is, 2,000 people and 500 of them have died.

[00:35:06.780] – Dana Perry
But it’s called what? Suspension of Belief. Fun part. Yeah. Anyway, It will be fun. But I know The Noir Girls by Dana Perry, not by my real name, The Noir Girls by Dana Perry is on presale now. As of tomorrow, because today’s Thursday when we’re doing this, so when this is recorded, it will already have been done. I realized because it won’t… But it’s going on presale tomorrow in February, which is when we’re talking. Very soon, anybody can order any of the three. They’re primarily available online at a great incredible price and also in I was going to ask you if there’s going to be more books, but we know there is.

[00:36:02.930] – Alan Petersen
What are you working on now? Can you tell us?

[00:36:07.320] – Dana Perry
I’m going to take a nap, I think. Three books at once. Well, I have another I have this other series written under my real name, R. G. Belsky, and I do want to mention that. It’s about a TV journalist in New York called Claire Carlson, another woman character, another kick-ass woman character. She’s different than Nikki, but there are some similarities. It’s called Broadcast Blues. She works in the media and solves crimes. This is the sixth book in that series that just came out. That just came out this past January. I’ve been really involved in that, too. Because once you get to the sixth book in a series, you really got to make I know that everything is in line with the first five books. I’ve been very happy doing her, too. Hopefully, there’ll be more Claire and hopefully more Nikki Cassidy in the future. But It’s going to take quite a bit of my time to be dealing with the three books at once now when they come out. Hopefully, there’ll be people who will sit and read them all the way through.

[00:37:30.210] – Alan Petersen
Yes, that’ll be fun. I do enjoy that. I’m one of those type of readers, too. I’m like, Oh, is there another one?

[00:37:37.530] – Alan Petersen
Don’t you do it with TV?

[00:37:40.000] – Dana Perry
I mean, I do it all the time. I just did it with Reacher and A lot of the times, you don’t plan to sit down and watch the whole thing, but you do, or you watch… Sometimes they don’t do all them, but they’ll drop four episodes at once. Like, Bosch, I think was like that. I think they dropped four episodes at the beginning, then they do two a week or something. But it’s very hard not to watch one of the Bosch series and not go… When it tells you in 15 seconds, you’re going to go to the next episode. It’s very hard to like, No, I don’t want to see that. Then you say, Well, I’ll just watch the beginning. This helped me a lot. You watch the beginning and then you get hooked. You’re like, Okay, well, I got to watch it a bit more. I think so much of our society has accepted that now with the Netflix and Amazon Prime and all the others. So it’ll be an interesting thing. I think this has been tried or is being tried by some other publishers, but it will be an interesting experiment. Again, I’ll make clear, it isn’t like I came up with this idea, but it will be interesting.

[00:38:59.730] – Dana Perry
I It’ll be fun.

[00:39:02.710] – Alan Petersen
All right. Where can the listeners find you online? Do you have a website?

[00:39:08.000] – Dana Perry
I do. It’s called R. G. Belsky, which, as I say, is my main author’s name. If you go to www. Rgbelsky. Com, most of the info on me is there. I’m on Facebook also as both R. G. Belsky and Dana Perry. You can look me up on Twitter is Dana Perry or R. G. Belsky. So one or other of the names, you’ll find stuff on me. And then, if If you want to Google me for any reason as a journalist, you’ll find a lot of stories that I covered. I mentioned Son of Sam, and I should just say this because it’s fun. But about a year or two ago, I was part of a Netflix documentary on Son of Sam. It was funny because for all the books you write, there’s nothing to get you attention more than being on TV. I had all these people on the street stopping me and saying, Oh, my God, you’re on television, whatever. I just found out Netflix is doing another Sam documentary coming up, and I’m about to shoot some scenes for that. It’ll be fun. But going back into the days of the big crimes I covered, Son of Sam, O.

[00:40:30.890] – Dana Perry
J, JonBenét-Ramsey. That’s always interesting. Like I said, a lot of the elements of those are what become the elements of my fictional books, too.

[00:40:41.630] – Alan Petersen
It just dawn on me, too, that I thought you looked very familiar, but I couldn’t place it.

[00:40:47.320] – Dana Perry
Probably from that.

[00:40:48.830] – Alan Petersen
I watched that documentary, and I remember they interviewed journalists that were in the case, covering the case.

[00:40:54.200] – Dana Perry
Yeah. Well, I was very young at the time, but it was the ’70s. If anybody was around, then they knew how… I don’t think there’s ever been a serial killer quite like that. I mean, would it be Ted Bundy or whoever? Because you basically had a city… Well, you guys had Zodiac, obviously, but Son of Sam seems to be the one that everyone… When you’re writing serial killer books, that somehow it’s that thing, a crazy guy killing women on the streets of the city for no reason. The living in terror. The other fascinating thing, it was a horrible things, obviously. But unlike most crimes, the craziest thing about Son of Sam, of course, is that there’s no real motive to it. Not even sex. Like with Ted Bundy, he would have sex sometimes with the corpses. They can be sick motives. Son of Sam, there was no even sexual thing. It was like he just shot women for no reason. As an author, I do find that interesting, and it’s something I’ve tried to use in some of my books, which is, in many ways, that’s the scariest criminal. The criminal that there’s no reason for what they do.

[00:42:14.810] – Dana Perry
In the traditional crime, somebody wants to kill somebody because it’s like a love interest or money interest, or somebody wants something, or they want to make sure the person doesn’t talk. There’s always a A motiveless crime is really hard to wrap your head around. That’s really what the Son of Sam is. It’s just a guy who, for whatever reason, got some thrill out of killing women on the street.

[00:42:46.280] – Alan Petersen
Yeah. Then it was so bizarre, too, because then he blamed it on his neighbor’s dog, and then that whole… Yeah, it was just- Well, that’s done.

[00:42:53.710] – Dana Perry
Yeah. Well, I mean, there’s so many stories about that, some of which I talked about, and I’ll be I can do that again. But he wasn’t really known as Son of Sam until really much later. He was originally the 0.44 caliber killer. The Son of Sam came because he left a note for Jury Breslin at the Daily News and talked about the neighbor Sam’s dog. So the name came Son of Sam. The other thing about Son of Sam, of course, is it isn’t like from the minute he started killing everyone, Oh, we got terrible serial killer. He killed a number of people for a number of months before anyone put it together because there weren’t a lot of the techniques now that people have with ballistics or whatever. There was a certain moment, several months into some of the killings, where police suddenly were like, Oh, my God, we think these three murders over a period of six months were all done by the same guy. That was the moment that the serial killer came alive. Those were all the things that I lived through as a newspaperman, culminating in the incredible night when he was gone.

[00:44:09.840] – Alan Petersen
That’s fascinating. That’s interesting. You got a lot of background to pull from for your novel, so that’s pretty cool.

[00:44:17.080] – Dana Perry
Yeah. Well, I write this a lot. People always say to me, Where do you get your ideas? My answer always is, Hey, all I did was go to work in the newsroom every day. There were a lot of ideas there. I don’t know that I’ve ever written a book that wasn’t inspired by some a real-life crime. They call it Ripped from the Headlines, and that’s what I do. Sometimes it may not be so obvious, but all that… I wrote one book about a celebrity murders, and I don’t know they make the connection, but the inspiration for that was covering the OJ trial for a year, which was the ultimate celebrity murder case. I’ve always been using these real-life events to come up with fictional versions of the stories.

[00:45:12.040] – Alan Petersen
All right. Well, thank you so much for taking time to talk with me about your books and your career. It was great having you on the podcast.

[00:45:20.280] – Dana Perry
Thank you, Alan.

About the Author
I write thriller and crime fiction novels and host the Meet the Thriller Author podcast where I interview authors of mystery, thriller, and suspense books.

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