Kev’s Author Interviews Presents:
Sue: Member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers, I’m the author of Wings of Mayhem, Marred, Crime Writer’s Research, and 60 Ways to Murder Your Characters. My forensics articles have appeared in InSinC Quarterly and my flash fiction is published in numerous anthologies, including OOTG Flash Fiction Offensive and the upcoming Allegiant Publishing’s 100 Voices. My books offer an honest peek behind the crime scene tape. Crime is ugly; I don’t sugar-coat that fact. Though I do try to include comedic moments to lighten what’s often a dark and scary read.
Kev: What’s your latest book called, Sue and how did you come up with the title?
Sue: I wanted the title to represent the murder method depicted in the novel. When my protagonist, Shawnee Daniels, was staring at one of the serial killer’s creations, she said, “Wings of Mayhem,” and it all sort of fell together.
Kev: Which Genre do you have it listed under and does it cross any other genres?
Sue: It’s listed as a psychological thriller, and it’s exactly that. However, there’s an underlying mystery throughout, as well as a touch of romance thrown in for good measure.
Kev: Tell us a little bit more about it.
Sue: Shawnee Daniels—forensic computer specialist/hacker for the Revere Police Department, by day; cat burglar, stealing from white-collar criminals in a Robin Hood-type way, by night—ignites the hellfire fury of a serial killer when she unknowingly steals his trophy box.
That pretty much sums it up, but here’s the full description:
A SERIAL KILLER STALKS THE STREETS…
Shawnee Daniels — computer forensics specialist/hacker for RPD by day, cat burglar by night — always believed her “fearlessness rules” mantra would keep her on top and out of jail. When she hacks a confiscated hard drive at the Revere P.D., she focuses on a white-collar criminal accused of embezzlement. To teach him a lesson and recoup the funds, she breaks into his massive contemporary in Bear Clave Estates. Jack has even more secrets, deadly secrets, secrets worth killing over.
A CAT BURGLAR PICKS THE WRONG HOUSE TO ROB…
Shawnee thinks she made it out clean until a deadly package arrives at her door soon after. He’s found her. As a glowing eagle taunts her Skype screen, Jack tells her she stole his precious trophy box — and he wants it back!
THEIR LIVES COLLIDE…
When her “helpful” best friend convinces her to date charismatic Detective Levaughn Samuels, her two worlds threaten to implode. Ordinarily Shawnee keeps a firm line between her professions, but dating Levaughn might help her get this psycho off her tail.
AND NOW, NO ONE IS SAFE…
In this lightning-fast-paced psychological thriller of secrets and lies, Shawnee juggles being stalked by a serial killer, dating the lead detective on the case, and tap dancing around her librarian best friend.
If she doesn’t find the trophy box, the killer’s coming for her. If she doesn’t expose her secret life, more will die. And if she does, she could lose her freedom and everyone she holds dear.
Kev: Introduce us to your main character (Looks, attitude, habits, strengths, weaknesses…)
Sue: How long do we have? LOL Kidding. Shawnee Daniels is a wise-cracking, snarky chic who grew up on the city streets after escaping the foster home system. She wears almost Goth-like makeup (but don’t ever call her Goth), has her nose pierced, electric-green eyes, black hair with thick, cherry-red streaks. She lies, she swears, and she’s unreliable, but even with her faults, you can’t help but love her.
Here’s a quote from Staci Troilo’s review, and she sums up Shawnee beautifully: “The heroine, Shawnee, is a breath of fresh air for the reader. Not your traditional damsel in distress or even your tough-as-nails female cop. No, Shawnee has a few special traits all her own, and when juxtaposed with her so-sweet-your-teeth-hurt best friend, it’s a pairing that’s endearing. When she starts dating the uber-hot detective? It’s a match you can’t tear your eyes away from.
“Throw these characters in with a sadistic serial killer whose motives are impossible for even a Fed to unravel and so much action and apprehension that your heartbeat sets a new speed record… well, what more can I say? As Shawnee’s best friend would tell you, it’s a frickety-fracken good book. Woot!”
LOL She really nailed it.
Kev: Provide a teaser/short passage from your book.
Quart of milk in hand, Nadine smiled in the doorway. Two strides inside, and it was as if someone poked her with a cattle prod. “You’re shaking. My goodness, what happened?” She held me in a bear hug, refusing to let go until I promised to explain.
I pried her arms off me. “Sit,” I insisted, excuses whirling in my mind.
“You sit.” She strode toward the galley kitchen. “I’ll make coffee. You look like you could use a cup about now.”
No use arguing with her. She never listened to a word I said anyway. I crawled into my rattan, swinging-basket chair and clutched a hunter-green toss pillow to my chest, the woven walls sheltering me from the world.
“Now I really know something’s wrong,” she said, gazing at me in my safety net. “You better spill. No more lies. I mean it.”
“Umm…” I had no clue how much to divulge. Nadine frowned upon my cat burglar lifestyle. From the day I headed down this road, I walked a fine line between what I told her and what subjects I avoided. “All right, fine. I did a job last night.”
“Shawn Daniels—” “I know, I know. Don’t lecture me.” Her hands flung to her slim hips. “So you did lie to me. I specifically asked you if you were catting and you said no.”
“You wanna hear this or not?”
Ankles and arms crossed in front of her, she leaned against the breakfast bar, inches from the box. “Go ahead. I won’t say another word.” She motioned to zip her lips. This wasn’t the first time she’d tried that move. Didn’t work before and it wouldn’t work now.
“I cased this guy’s house in Bear Clave Estates.”
“Ooh…” She moved to the sofa, steepled her hands over crossed knees. “There’s beautiful homes in that community.”
“Right. Sorry. Go on.”
“Anyway, I climbed a tree in the backyard and gained entry.” I fudged the facts for her benefit. No need to tell her about the Dobermans. “Everything was cool until—”
She leaned in, eyes crimping like she was gearing up to let me have it. “Don’t even tell me you got caught. You know you can’t get arrested. You’ll lose your job. Not to mention, Ed would—”
“Can I finish my story? Anyway, I was in this dude’s home office when I noticed a padlocked door.”
Her eyes flashed wide. “Ahhh… you love locked doors.”
With all the oohs and ahs one might think we were watching a fireworks display. I told her what I saw in the secret room.
Nadine pursed her lips, her nose wrinkled like Berkley, my eldest cat. “The way you described the smell is a bit off-putting.”
I slapped the toss pillow. “Nadine!”
“What? Geez. I’m only tryin’ to play devil’s advocate here.”
“Fine.” Arms folded on my chest, I leaned against the basket chair’s curved walls, so damn done with trying to explain. “Let’s hear about your night. You’re obviously not grasping what I’m sayin’, anyway.”
“Someone’s sensitive today.”
I leaned so far forward I almost fell off the swing. “Have you heard a word I’ve said? Splashes of crimson. Power tools. Plastic lining the walls. Any of this ring a bell?” A blank expression stared back at me.
“The Creator?” Nothing. Not even a blink. I took one last shot. “The serial killer?” Her face blossomed brighter than stadium lights.
“Oh, okay.” The dimples in her cheeks smoothed. “Ship. You were inside The Creator’s house?” She rose to her feet and paced in circles, fidgeting with her fingernails.
“That means you know where he lives. We need to call the police. Call them right now.” She charged for the cordless phone, on the wall above the breakfast bar. Then stopped, her hand resting on the handset. “Did you already report it? What am I sayin’? You wouldn’t call the police if you were bleeding to death.”
My well-intentioned best friend thumbed the first few digits before I could unlatch her fingers from around the handset. “There’s more. Look in the box.”
“Why? What’s in there?” She scooted toward it. “This box?”
Why did she have to invite herself over today?
Kev: When you wrote this work, did you write off-the-cuff or use some kind of formula like an outline?
Sue: My pantsing days are long behind me, thank God. Before I ever write a word I meticulously plan my novel, and Wings of Mayhem is no exception. I also have mountains of index cards and scribbles in my notebook so I don’t forget all the tiny details.
Kev: Did you research for the backdrop of your story or any other part of it?
Sue: Yup. I do for almost everything I write. It’s one of my favorite parts of the process. For Wings of Mayhem I studied profiling and anatomy.
Kev: What challenges did this particular work pose for you?
Sue: Because I loaded the book with symbolism, it was difficult to balance the minute details for the ultra-aware reader without giving too much away. Every decision had to align with the end result, even the details many readers will miss entirely. I wanted it to be a book that you could read twice and still not find all the details I peppered throughout. That’s not easy to do. At least, it wasn’t for me. But I like to challenge myself, sometimes to the point where I’m ready to rip out my hair…like where I am now with Blessed Mayhem, book 2.
Kev: What methods are using to promote this work?
Sue: I run continuous Facebook ads, anyway, only now I use the carousel ad, which features both Marred and Wings of Mayhem. It’s a cool feature, because you can add as many books as you like. I also market on Twitter and Google and my publisher is buying me a BookBub promo spot as soon as I hit the minimum review requirement.
In addition, I’ve submitted to literary journals, as well as having my flash fiction featured in numerous anthologies. It’s a cumulative effect, in my opinion, that also includes blogging, interviews, and guest posts. That said, nothing beats word of mouth.
Kev: Do you have any advice for new authors?
Sue: My standard answer is: follow your dreams, never let anyone or any thing stand in your way. Because I believe it with every fiber of my being. But today, I’ll add one more piece of advice. Study and learn story structure. Even if you pants your novel, story structure will give you the foundation for a strong, viable read. Whether you apply the structure on the first draft through planning or the second, even third, draft is up to you. But your story needs structure, and anyone who says it ruins their creativity is totally missing the point, sadly.