Thursday, March 13, 2014

Talking with author S.D. Skye and WIN a Kindle Fire

To get us started can you tell us a little about what you are working on or have coming out?

My newest book Son of a Itch (A J.J. McCall Novel) is the 2nd book in the series. J.J. McCall and her cohorts from Task Force Phantom Hunter are on the hunt for another U.S. Government mole while her arch enemy has escaped from jail and is looking to attack the heart of the McCall family. The seed of the mystery in this story is based on a true crime. In 1999, the FBI’s Special Surveillance Group (also called the “Gs”) happened upon a situation that helped the FBI find one of the most surprising breaches in U.S. intelligence history. The Russian Intelligence Service had installed a listening device in the U.S. State Department in a conference room down the hall from the Secretary’s office. I used that case to develop a “What if…” scenario and it leads J.J. and the Task Force on to a pretty massive case. So, this is one instance in which real events are very much mashed up with fictional events to blur the lines between what really happened and what we’ll never know. For that reason, this was a very fun piece. 

How would you describe yourself using only five words?

Funny, determined, spiritual, loyal, and busy.

If we asked your muse to describe you using five words, what do you think they would say?

This is hilarious. I’m almost afraid to think about what an outsider, including my muse, would think about me. But if I’m honest, I would have to say…

Sleepless, flighty, busybody, persistent, teachable.

Name one thing readers would be surprised to know about you.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?

How do you get yourself in the mood to write?

I have to say, one thing I’m absolutely never at a loss for is idea. There is ALWAYS something pending in my head. Something I need to finish or begin. So, getting in the mood to write is rarely ever a problem because I need to empty my brain of all this stuff. The hardest part for me is carving out the right time of the day when I can give my best to the work, when my mind is cleared of all the menial jibber jabber and I can actually focus. With a teen son at home, a fulltime 9-to-5 job, and a home to take care of, it’s easy to allow time to get away from you just doing the basics—getting dressed, eating, and commuting. Anything extra requires a conscious effort and a desire…then the drive to make it happen. So “mood” is kind of a misnomer, at least I think it is for most writers. It’s having the space to let your muse run free, that’s what it’s hard to find.

Coffee, tea or other drink to get you moving in the morning?

I’m afraid I’m a full-fledged coffee addict. My favorite appliance in the ENTIRE WORLD is my Keurig, and I always have an assortment of hot beverages to choose from. I drink everything from Tazo Zen tea and Lipton’s “Soothe” when I want to calm my nerves—to Kahlua, Mocha Swirl, and Caribou coffees. My most recent find is a coffee called the “Foglifter.” The name piqued my curiosity. I have to say lifts the fog all right—it also lifts your eyebrows and your eyelids and will have you bouncing around like a ping pong ball for the better part of the day. You’ll get a lot of writing done…but you may never sleep again. Coffee drinker’s beware.

What is coming up from you in 2014? Anything you want to tease us with?

Book 3 in the J.J. McCall series—A No Good Itch—will definitely be released in 2014. I can’t wait for this book because I get to write about one of my favorite topics—organized crime. I got to do a little work in that arena in the early days of my FBI career and I love movies like The Godfather and shows like The Sopranos. Understand my fascination does not come from admiration rather I’m intrigued with, aside from money, what makes people choose this life…especially knowing there’s usually only a few ways out and none of them lead to old age and an active living community.

So, with Book 3, the story is set in New York City and I get to pit Russian Organized Crime against the Italian Mafia and the FBI and see who comes out on top. In real life, it doesn’t always work in favor of law enforcement. Sometimes the Bureau wins, sometimes they lose. I can’t wait for readers to see how it plays out. There are a lot of twists and turns and the ending will surely win me my share of hate mail—in a “When’s the next book coming out!?!” kind of way.

When you begin your stories, do you go with the flow, or go with an outline?

I’ve written romantic comedy and spy novels. In my romantic comedies I was decidedly a pantser. Absolutely did not stray from that all. My process was very organic in that I just wrote it how it came to me. If I was on Chapter 3 and an idea for the last chapter came to me, I’d write the last chapter and just see how it all worked out. I learned early to let my characters have their way because they tell way better stories than I do. And most of the twists in my stories come from them, not me. I mean, I’ve never written a book in which I wasn’t surprised or even shocked by what the characters did. That’s such an energizing process. It really does make you anxious to get to the page every day to see what’s going to happen next.

But when I started writing this spy thriller series I literally HAD to start outlining. The main reason was that my plots were way more intricate. I was telling the stories from multiple points of view (as opposed to first person) and there were multiple subplots to keep track of. The first time I tried “pantsing” a spy novel, I ended up with more holes in my story than the dark side of the moon. I mean, it was Swiss cheese holy. I had to go back and fill in a lot of gaps and tie up loose ends that I’d lost track of. So now I do what I call “an organic outline.” Basically, I don’t force the outline. I let the story come to me as I normally would. The only difference is I’m just jotting down notes. Sometimes it may day me a couple of weeks to come up with the outline because I don’t want to force myself on the story. I let it come to me and then I write it. And even with this loose outline, if my characters stray, I still let them go their own way. I allow them to surprise me. The “outline” is just a way to help me ensure that I’m addressing all of my subplots. It really helped me write the second book more quickly than the first. We’ll see how it works with Book 3.

If you were to replenish your cabinets with one junk food, what would it be?

Gummi bears. No question. All that chewing keeps me on my toes and the sugar rush well, there’s just nothing like it.

What do you feel is the most important thing that a first-time author should know?

It’s important not to edit yourself while writing your first book…or fiftieth book. Allow yourself the freedom to get the ideas out of your head and to finish the first draft. FINISH. Anything, and I mean absolutely ANYTHING, can be fixed and edited later. Doesn’t have to be perfect the first time. And no matter how perfect you think it is…I guarantee you, it is not.

If a movie or TV production company chose to produce your books into a series of shows or movies, who would your ideal cast be?

Ooh. Love this question! My ideal cast would be—

Aisha Tyler from The Talk as J.J. McCall
Henry Cavill (Superman) as Tony Donato.
Morris Chestnut as Six.
Courtney Vance as Director Freeman
Tony Goldwyn (Scandal’s Fitz) as Aleksey Dmitriyev
Rachel Bilson – Gia Campioni
Michael Cera (Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist) – Walter Lowenstein

Do you have a list of movies like me that you are itching to see or have seen? What about ones coming up? Any that draw your eye to it?

There is only one movie I’m dying dying dying to see right now. That is the new Disney movie Frozen. I have loved Disney movies since I can remember and haven’t missed one. And I mean as an adult, I have no shame about catching a matinee. My brother and I went to see the Little Mermaid when it came out and we were in our 20s. Once my son was born, I had a legitimate cover. He went whether he wanted to go or not. But he’s now 13 and he’s past the Disney cartoon stage (although he loves the teen shows). And my writing schedule has been so crazy that I haven’t had time to catch it but it’s on my list. When it hits the shelves, I will be the first one in the store to buy it. 

 Son of a Itch by S.D. Skye
A J.J. McCall Novell Book Two

Available at:
S.D. Skye Novels on Amazon – Kindle and Paperback

S.D. Skye Novels on Kindle – Worldwide Links

On the lam from the FBI, the ICE PHANTOM continues with plans to defect to Moscow but not before seeking revenge on J.J. McCall. Meanwhile, the FBI commences Task Force PHANTOM HUNTER, a team ordered by Director Russell Freeman to track down suspected Russian illegals within the U.S. Intelligence Community—and not a moment too soon. An agent of the Russian Intelligence Services is targeting the nerve center of U.S. national security, taking the lie-detecting FBI Agent and her cohorts’ next mole hunt to the highest echelons of the U.S. government.

J.J. and her co-case agent lead the motley crew of spy catchers while she struggles to deal with sobriety, conflicting feelings for Tony and Six, and an egotistical Secret Service agent whose jurisdictional stonewalling complicates her every effort to identify the culprit before he gets away—with murder.
Teaser Excerpt:

Exactly three moments defined the entire course of J.J.’s being —the day she got “the itch,” the generational curse that sparked random irritating tingles through her body anytime she heard a lie; the day her mother died; and this one, the day in which she grasped the fragility of life and how it could slip away in an instant.         

The ambulance siren blared down Pennsylvania Avenue through the remnants of rush hour traffic as she stared down at his tearful eyes, his face shredded with pain, his body curled with anguish. Slowly, his lids opened to expose a bloodshot blank stare. She saw her mother’s eyes in his, and his last breath whispered in the distance, drawing ever near.

“I’m here. You’re going to be okay. We’re almost there,” she said as her voice shook.

George Washington University Hospital was just a few minutes away and had one of the best trauma centers in the D.C. area.

He placed his trembling hand on hers and struggled to speak. “There…something…you should…kn—”

“Shhhh. Save your strength,” J.J. shook her head to dissuade him from speaking. She stroked his fingers and tried to maintain a steady front. “You’re gonna be okay. You can tell me everything when you’re better.”

Her mind whirred as the ambulance zipped into the circular driveway beneath the overhang and masked emergency personnel in blue and green scrubs swarmed the doors. They pulled the gurney out and wheeling him inside, beyond her view. She’d never felt so alone in her life. She had calls to make, people to notify, but her mind was still foggy from the shock.

She searched her purse for the flask, the reminder of just how far she’d come and how much further she had to go.

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

S.D. Skye is a former FBI Russian Counterintelligence Program Intelligence Analyst and supported two major programs during her 12-year tenure at the Bureau. She has personally witnessed the blowback the Intelligence Community suffered due to the most significant compromises in U.S. history, including the arrests of former CIA Case Officer Aldrich Ames and Robert  Hanssen. She spent 20+ years supporting military and intelligence missions in the U.S. Intelligence Community.

Skye, an award winning author, is a member of the Maryland Writer’s Association, Romance Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. She’s addicted to writing and chocolate—not necessarily in that order—and currently lives in the Washington D.C. area with her son. Skye is hard at work on several projects, including the next installment of this exciting series.




Giveaway Information: 
The author will be awarding a Kindle Fire HD and a $25 Kindle Gift Card to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour. (US ONLY)

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Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thanks for hosting!

Author S. D. Skye said...

Thank you so much for hosting this leg of the tour! If anyone has questions please don't hesitate to ask. I'll be in and out throughout the day!

Rita said...

Great interview and excerpt, thank you.

MomJane said...

This sounds like an exciting story. I really enjoyed the excerpt.

Elise-Maria Barton said...

Outstanding interview! Your answers are well thought out and concise giving your readers a good look at your great mind. I am so stoked to read this series of books, and, I must say I'm hooked on organized crime novels. Love your character choices for a dramatization of the book; sexy, sexy cast! Thanks fo sharing,


Author S. D. Skye said...

Thanks for stopping by Ladies! Elise, I'm super excited about my organized crime story in the next installment. It's a little more bloody than the first two--but the story is very twisty turny. You don't know who will end up on top until it ends.

Cover Reveal and Giveaway~ The Guardian by Sarah Fine