Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Author Interview: T.D. McKINNEY

Author Interview by A.J. Llewellyn

1. Hi T.D. and welcome to the Divas’ Den! So nice to have you here. First of all I’d like to ask you about your southern influences. I know you have said that the history of the south has influenced you as an author and you experienced your first New Orleans mardi gras at the age of three. What do you remember of it and how much have they differed over the years?
Thank you, A.J. It’s great to be here. Thank you for inviting me. Ah, Mardi Gras – My favorite holiday. I will admit I remember very little of that one in 1963-64 (LOL – yeah, go ahead, do the the math). A man who in my admittedly fragmented memory had a nice smile and dark hair caught a bracelet and gave it to me. Just flat plastic bead strung on two strands of elastic but I thought it was wonderful. I suppose I should insert something here about relying on “the kindness of strangers.” At least with my accent it sounds right.

2. You wrote the well-acclaimed historical romance My Secret Yankee with Aimee Masion about a Union officer falling in love with a Confederate lady and set during occupied New Orleans. Your research was extraordinary with this book. Will we be seeing historic New Orleans as a backdrop again?
Thank you. I think authenticity adds to a book. As for revisiting occupied New Orleans, well, I might. It sort just depends on how the mood strikes. I do now have quite a few books on the War and lots of URLs I can delve into. New Orleans has marvelous history. The whole of the American Gulf Coast does. It’s an old, old land with all sorts of fascinating, interesting bits unique from the rest of the country.
I’d love to do something in Alabama with the Casket Girls in Mobile or with the massacre at Fort Mims or the yellow fever in Blakeley. It’s really easy for me to fall into something so lush and exotic. Well, exotic to the rest of the world. I grew up hearing stories going back over a hundred years. Fascinating ones about cursed love, hidden children, murderous duels, forbidden love, Indian battles where the natives weren’t the bad guys. I might actually do something based on my own great-great-grandmother who was disowned by her wealthy father for marrying a moneyless Scots-Irishman. There’s so much to tempt.

3. I am impressed that you received a sparkling review from my all-time number one hero, John Douglas, one of the pioneers of criminal profiling for the FBI. How did you get him to read Dancing in the Dark? Is he a big vampire fan?
John is my number one hero as well. I’m am tremendously proud to say he is also my friend and mentor. I adore the man. When I wrote Dancing, that research geek who demands authenticity rose up again and possessed me. I figured if I was going to write about profilers I better be damned sure I got it right. I contacted a dear friend who I knew was into the whole forensics thing (now remember this was before the CSI craze). She directed me to MindHunter by John Douglas.
I highly recommend this book to anyone with the least interest in profiling. I was completely fascinated and more than a little freaked at how close my fictional profiler, Jack Niemczyk, was to John (though John’s much nicer). I visited the forum attached to John’s website and found everyone there very helpful. John was fairly active on the site at that time. When all the final tweaks were done, I got brave or crazy enough to send him an email asking if he’d be kind enough to look it over. I firmly expected him to say no. Instead, I got a phone call from him in the middle of the day! We talked for an hour – well, mostly he talked and I listened!
Before we hung up, he gave me his address and told me to send the manuscript to him. Believe me, I was then and am now completely aware of how rare something like that is from him.
To have him tell me “you got it right, kid” about the profiling means more than I can explain. I was lucky enough to attend an 8 hour class he taught on profiling a couple years ago at the American College of Forensic Examiners. We had the chance to talk a good bit and he introduced me to fellow profiler Greg Cooper and some other L.E. people. It was great! I hope to get to see John in September when he’s here in DFW as keynote speaker at a conference.
LMAO!! As far as I know, John isn’t into vampires in general, but he likes mine. And boy, does that put a grin on my face.
4. I am so jealous. I met him at the signing for his book Journey into Darkness....but..sob! You really know him! Ahem...I see that Dancing is the first book for a slated Shield and the Darkness series. When will be seeing more of this fascinating character, Jack Niemczyk?
The next book, Walking After Midnight will be released by Amber Quill Press early this fall – probably September-ish. It’s about a year and a half after Dancing and Jack’s life has gone to hell. Baby’s left him to go to Europe with the Master and even though Jack still has the mansion, the car, and the money, he’d trade it all to have her back. Now, just to add to the misery, some wacko is killing Chosen – humans who are the bonded lovers of vampires. And it’s very personal, the killer is leaving notes at each scene addressed to Jack. Shall we just say that Jackie is not pleased!
I’m working on the third book, Going Down in Flames, between other projects. I love this series but it takes a lot of effort and planning. Writing it is a very emotional experience. I love the characters and I love being in Jack’s head. But I do dig about in some very dark psyches. Of course, I may be getting really good at that. I’ve been asked to co-author an authorized non-fiction exploration of the BTK killer in Kansas. I’m a tad conflicted on how I feel about crawling about in Denis Rader’s mind. But I have a wonderful co-author and John Douglas’s support, so I should be okay.

5. You have strong and vibrant tastes in writing - from sci fi, to historical – even gay historical with Paxton’s Winter, to crime, paranormals, contemporary romance. Which is your favorite genre to write?
LOL This is the question everyone always asks me because I do have books listed in so many different genres, sometimes the same one simultaneously. And I’m going to give you the answer I give everyone else – I don’t write genres; I write stories.
Honestly, I don’t have a favorite genre. See, I don’t worry about “oh I have to do this because this is a ROMANCE” or “all mysteries must have this” or “the rules say I need to do this in a gay romance.” that! I expend that energy on making 3-dimensional characters with real emotions and reactions. I work on atmosphere and settings. I’ll visit the places I write about so I can convey that sensory experience to the reader. I love a smooshie gay romance, I love an adventurous one, too. I love vampires and profilers and mucking about in a serial killer’s head. I had a blast doing Paxton’s Winter. Sort of my tribute to all those Louis L’Amour books I read as a teen. Gunfights are so cool. But it wasn’t about the genre stuff – it was about the Colorado mountains I remember living in for 6 weeks at age 16 and about all the westerns I watched as a kid and actually meeting Mr. L’Amour at a book signing 35 years ago. It was about the good memories.
I sit down to each story pretty much the same. A mystery or historical may need more research and plotting than a romance but some of the romances take just as much. I get some idea in my head (usually from listening to a song) and I need to write it. So I do.

6. You had a wonderful collaboration with Trixie Stilletto in Eight is never Enough. Can we expect to see more of these humorous contemporary romances from you and Trixie?
I love working with Trixie. She is a great person and a wonderful author. Such an amazing sense of humor. I’d love to do something else with her and we’ve batted around a few ideas. It’s sort of hard for Trixie to work with me when we’re at opposite ends of the country, though. So I’m not sure when you’ll see something from us.
I’ve been really lucky with having such wonderful co-authors. T.L. Lawrence/Terry Wylis and I practically think with the same brain. We’re working on a gay romance set in Maine right now.
7. I know you live in the Dallas/Fort Worth area of Texas and you and your husband share a love of vampires, sword collecting and Japanese. Do you have a lot of swords? And do you know any dirty words in Japanese?
No, but I can cuss in Cajun. :)
Yes, we have swords. I don’t know what you’d consider a lot. There’s a bit over a dozen. One day I’ll have to tell you the story of getting a very expensive tashi and an equally expensive autographed Highlander katana back to DFW from Denver on Continental Airlines… in a rifle case… in the cabin of the plane… with a switchover in Houston…

8. I know you juggle marriage, motherhood, writing and other careers. What is your writing routine like? Do you write every day?
Yes, I write every day. It’s very rare when I don’t write something. It may just be play. It may just be something for me (there’s an epic fanfic going that will only ever be seen by a handful of people) or for a friend. But I write. I have to. I’ll go nuts if I don’t.
I gave up sleep. Seriously. I used to sleep 8-10 hours a night. Now I sleep 4 or 5. I use the extra hours for writing. I often start writing for the day after 9 or 10 pm.
9. Now for a tough question. How old were you when you learned to tie your shoe laces?
OMG – that was the hardest thing! My first grade teacher thought she’d never get me to understand the concept! I always wore slip-on or buckle shoes. Poor Mrs. McGowen. But I had mastered it by the end of first grade. I still hate tie shoes though. I think I only own one pair and I keep them loose enough I don’t have to tie and untie them.
10. Another toughie. Are you a snoop? Ever looked anyone’s medicine cabinet? Found anything scary?
I’m not a snoop. I have enough weird shit just appear in my life. I have absolutely no need to go looking for any. LOL – my day-to-day life can occasionally turn fairly terrifying so I just let it go.
11. Who is the sexiest vampire of all time?
Ooooo – tough questions! There’s been so many. And I collected them all up until about 1985 or so. St. Germaine…Langella’s Dracula…Saberhagen’s Dracula… So many choices!
The sexiest vampire of all time – Jean Claude DuValliere… until I turn Jack.
12. Please tell me about your upcoming projects.
I think I’ve already worked them in! Look for the 2nd in my vampire and FBI profiler series, Walking After Midnight, this fall. Keep an eye out for Sea Glass & Solitude, my next gay romance written with the wonderful Terry Wylis. A reclusive former child actor sheltered in abject loneliness on an island off the coast of Maine falls for a vibrant, altruistic young man with a beautiful Appalachian accent and a fearless heart. At some point there will be a true crime exploration of Denis Rader, the BTK, told with full access to Rader and with the blessing and cooperation of the families of his victims.

On behalf of Dark Diva Reviews, I’d like to thank the awesome T.D. McKinney for stopping by today. To learn more about her work, please check out her links:
http://www.tdmckinney.com/ - website
http://twitter.com/Ebony_Silvers - twitter
http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=783300628&ref=name – Face Book: Theresa D. McKinney
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Terry-Wylis-TD-McKinney/44450105669?ref=s – Face Book: Terry Wylis & T D McKinney


Deb said...

OMG what a awesome interview, Aj bowing at your feet.
TD, You are truly amazing.

Hat offs to both of you.

Anonymous said...

Great interview! I really enjoyed it.