St. John’s Alumna Achieves Success as Author of Mystery Thrillers
It is no mystery that the lucky few are those who discover their creative passion when they are young and are able to successfully pursue it during their lifetime. For Daniella Bernett ’93SVC, published author, that passion is mystery writing, and that vocation—honed as a student at St. John’s University—still regularly takes her and her dedicated readers on adventures to new literary places.
In her professional career, Ms. Bernett is the research manager for STV Incorporated, a nationally prominent engineering, architectural, and construction management firm. In addition, she is also the author of a contemporary mystery/thriller series that is laced with action, murder, intrigue, suspense, and romance.
Ms. Bernett is the creator and published author of seven fiction books in the Emmeline Kirby/Gregory Longdon Mystery series. Her seventh and latest book, Viper’s Nest of Lies, chronicles the ongoing adventures of Emmeline, a journalist, and Gregory, a reformed jewel thief, who are both partners in life and partners in solving crimes. The popular espionage, murder-mystery thrillers—with a touch of romance—are written to appeal to readers of all ages.
“I have known since I was nine years old that I wanted to be a writer,” she recalled during a recent interview. “I credit my parents and my fourth-grade teacher for cultivating in me a lifelong love of reading and writing that makes me a better author—for a writer is a reader at heart.”
A native of Bayside, NY, who now resides in Flushing, Queens, Ms. Bernett attended Bayside High School before enrolling at St. John’s University to study journalism. While a student, Ms. Bernett was involved in the Journalism Society and Sequoya, the student literary magazine, and cites professors like Frank Brady, Ph.D., and the late Roger V. Wetherington, Ph.D., as influential faculty mentors. She graduated summa cum laude in 1993.
She wrote the manuscript for her first mystery novel in the four months immediately following her graduation while looking for full-time employment. Later, while working as a copywriter for Penguin Books USA, she summoned the courage to pitch her story to an editor at the company. The editor, impressed with her creativity, suggested that she develop a series—advice that the aspiring author took to heart.
Later, Ms. Bernett revised her first book and submitted it to several agents, who all turned it down. Rejected but not dejected, she continued her lifelong love affair with the written word, penning two poetry collections, Timeless Allure and Silken Reflections, and the first three mysteries of what was to become her series. Eventually, she found a supportive publisher in Black Opal Books, a small boutique outlet dedicated to producing quality books for readers and helping both experienced and debut authors find a home for stories that must be told.
With a love of international travel and a keen sense of perception, Ms. Bernett transmits to her readers the sights and sounds of the settings that help tell her stories; they are almost always set in London, England, and other parts of the United Kingdom and Europe. A self-professed Anglophile, she cites British dramas Masterpiece and Mystery! as television shows that influence her creative process. A story’s setting is as important as character development, she suggests, and admits to always thinking about the next twist and turn of her plot lines.
“Writing is like breathing to me,” she described.
She writes in the evenings and on weekends, but confesses to always thinking about her books; she is known to randomly jot down ideas that may be inspired by a place, or even a random thought, in the middle of the night. Ms. Bernett likes to have the basic skeleton of a plot planned in her mind before she sits down to unfurl her tale and says that she will stop writing about her protagonists when she runs out of ideas or stories to tell.
When asked to provide advice to aspiring authors, Ms. Bernett stated: “You must write the stories that you want to write—not what the market trends are—and read whatever you can, as that will always help you to become a better writer.”
Optimistic and ever forward-looking, it takes her almost a year to write a book. “You can’t give up. If you persist, you will find your way.”
Ms. Bernett appreciates the value of peer networking and enjoys making appearances at book signings and talking to other writers. She is a member of the Mystery Writers of America NY Chapter and International Thriller Writers and is currently working on Emmeline and Gregory’s next adventure, having recently completed the eighth and soon-to-be-published book in the series.
“A joy that never dims,” is how she describes the feeling of seeing a book with her name on it—bound, published, and appearing on a bookstore shelf. “To write a great story, you have to breathe it, live with it, and nurture it throughout the entire process.”
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