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The Book That Hooked You: Q and A with Joe McKinney (horror, sci-fi, and crime author)

Author Joe McKinney
Author Joe McKinney

In our ongoing series THE BOOK THAT HOOKED YOU at the Lachesis Publishing Daily Blog we feature Q and As with established and successful authors who tell us about the books and authors they love as well as telling us about the books they are working on.

Today’s Q and A features Joe McKinney, the multi-talented and a Bram Stoker Award winning author (multiple times) of horror fiction, science fiction and crime thrillers. Joe McKinney is based in San Antonio where he is a sergeant for the San Antonio Police Department where he helps to run their 911 Dispatch Center. He has been a homicide detective and a disaster mitigation specialist. 

$_35200px-Sc48Take us back to when you first discovered horror and science fiction. When did you become a reader? How old were you? What were some of the books that made an impact on you?

JM: My gateway drug was Stewart Cowley’s SPACEWRECK. An absolutely beautiful book. Every page featured a full size colored painting of some eerie, abandoned spaceship. There was a two or three page short story to go with each painting, and I would spend hours going through them. I must have read that book a thousand times. I think I was seven when I first found that book, and after that I went into Robert Heinlein’s juveniles. My favorite of those was SPACE CADET.

51lQEI1IcrL._SX330_BO1,204,203,200_bl_26_ebookimg-swan-song_134432244231Tell us about a few of the authors who inspired you, when you first started in your own writing career?

JM: One big inspiration was Lee Thomas. We met at a convention in Dallas shortly after I published my first novel, and we’ve been friends ever since. Lee has been through just about joy and nightmare the publishing world can throw at an author, and he was a tremendous mentor. As to authors who inspired me, I’d have to point to Robert McCammon. His early works were amazing takes on classic horror tropes, like vampires and zombies and werewolves. But after that, he went into these fantastically lush novels like Boy’s Life and Swan Song that set the bar impossibly high. When I write, I push myself to try to be that good.


51XeozUmMVL._UY250_
51zJ3HUbaCL._SX309_BO1,204,203,200_You write horror, science fiction, and crime novels. Tell us what draws you to those three genres?

JM: You know, I think the genre finds you and not the other way around. It’s like water finding its own level. You end up in horror because you have to be there. I’m a pretty upbeat guy most of the time, and I try to have a great deal of fun in everything I do, but when I write, it just ends up going to dark places. I wish I could give you a better answer than that, but that’s about the size of it.

Image of Joe McKinney perpetualpublishing.com
Image of Joe McKinney perpetualpublishing.com

You’re a police supervisor in your “day job”. How does your very challenging police work impact your writing?

JM: Well, police work has colored my entire writing career. Not only because a lot of my characters tend to be cops, but also my approach to characters. In fact, I think it’s impossible to underestimate the influence it’s had on my writing. You can’t do this job without it changing you in a fundamental way. Maybe that’s where the dark stuff comes from.

51JOK-Blf7L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Tell us about a book that you’ve read recently (past year) that blew you away (can be from any genre).

JM: That’s easy. 14 by Peter Clines was an amazing science fiction adventure story with a crazy Lovecraftian turn at the end. A young man is looking for a cheap apartment in the heart of LA. He finds one, but after he moves in, finds one odd quark of the building after another. Any one of them wouldn’t amount to much, but when taken in their totality, they add up to a mystery with shades of a government conspiracy and cosmic horror. Trust me, one of the best times I’ve ever had between the covers of a book. I also loved The Martian by Andy Weir and Ready Player One by Earnest Cline.

A 1939 Underwood Typewriter found on etsy.com https://www.etsy.com/listing/82465142/vintage-typewriter-1939-underwood-master
A 1939 Underwood Typewriter found on etsy.com https://www.etsy.com/listing/82465142/vintage-typewriter-1939-underwood-master

What is the coolest thing a reader has ever said (or done) for you?

JM: I once wrote a magic typewriter story called “Writing for Exposure.” A fan of mine enjoyed it so much he found a 1939 Underwood typewriter, completely restored it, and sent it to me as a gift. It has a special place of honor on the shelf in my office.

510hvfHPSeL._SX296_BO1,204,203,200_You’ve won the Bram Stoker Award twice now – tell us about your books that won and how you feel about being on that illustrious list?

The first time I won was for my novel Flesh Eaters. That’s the origin story for my zombie series, The Dead World. You can probably tell from what I’ve written above that I’m a huge Robert McCammon fan. Well, he was one of the presenters for the award, and when I went up to the stage to receive it, McCammon leaned in and whispered, “Great job, Joe. I love your book.” I nearly fainted right there. To this day, that remains one of my finest writing moments ever.

51QLxzTbdLL._SX302_BO1,204,203,200_Tell us about your latest release THE DEAD WON’T DIE (part of an ongoing series) Tell us about the book and the series.

JM: The Dead Won’t Die is Book 2 in my new zombie series, The Deadlands. It’s been thirty years since the zombie apocalypse, and only little pockets of humanity have survived. One of those communities is a place called Arbella. Arbella has not only survived, but thrived, and now they are getting so big they need to expand. The trouble is, nobody knows what’s out there. So, one of the up and coming members of the community, First Deputy of the Constabulary Jacob Carlton, organizes an expedition to go explore the Deadlands. In the first book Jacob and his friend Kelly Banis barely survive their encounter with the nomadic communities that wander the Deadlands. They are rescued by a super advanced society called Temple. The Dead Won’t Die takes us into a vast conspiracy that is threatening to destroy Temple from the inside out. Fun stuff, with tons of zombie action thrown in to boot.

THE-RETREAT-both-coversWhat are you currently working on and when can we expect it to be released?

JM: I’m currently finishing up Book 3 in a series that I’m writing with Craig DiLouie and Stephen Knight. My installment is called Die Laughing. The series takes place in the present day, along the Eastern seaboard. A new disease called The Bug appears on the scene, and it turns its victims into unspeakably cruel and viscous killers. The disease victims are called Klowns because they cannot control their laughter. It’s how they process pain, both their own and their victims. A battalion of light infantry is in Boston when the series starts, tasked with protecting the populace. But they never had a chance, and now they are in full retreat. The first book was about getting out of Boston. The second book was about the rolling gunfight that got them to Philadelphia. That’s where I pick it up.

You’re a writer of horror and crime and sci-fi. What truly scares you?

JM: Well, snakes and heights. But those are just things that give me the creeps. When I think about things that truly terrify me, I think about Alzheimer’s disease. I watched my grandfather die of that, seeing his mind taken from him just scared me to death. Now that I’m older, the fear is even stronger.

Bonus: What is your “go-to” snack when you’re writing?

JM: Popcorn. Definitely popcorn.

limbus-inc-coverJoe McKinney is the San Antonio-based author of several horror, crime and science fiction novels. His longer works include the four part Dead World series, made up of Dead City, Apocalypse of the Dead, Flesh Eaters and The Zombie King; the science fiction disaster tale, Quarantined, which was nominated for the Horror Writers Association’s Bram Stoker Award for superior achievement in a novel, 2009; and the crime novel, Dodging Bullets. His upcoming releases include the horror novels Lost Girl of the Lake, The Red Empire, The Charge and St. Rage. Joe has also worked as an editor, along with Michelle McCrary, on the zombie-themed anthology Dead Set, and with Mark Onspaugh on the abandoned building-themed anthology The Forsaken. His short stories and novellas have been published in more than thirty publications and anthologies.

Connect with Joe McKinney via is his website, on facebook, twitter, @JoeMcKinney and you can email him at joemckinney2033@gmail.com

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The Book That Hooked You: Q and A with Vicky Dreiling (historical romance author)

cover_wickedWe continue our fun and fascinating on-going series here at the Lachesis Publishing Daily Blog called The Book That Hooked You. Today’s Q and A features the triple RITA-finalist Vicky Dreiling. Vicky writes “wickedly witty historical romance”. Welcome Vicky!

Take us back to when you first discovered romance novels. When did you become a reader? How old were you? And what was the first book that hooked you? Why? How many times have you read that book?

images-1VICKY D: I read my first romance by accident more than a decade ago. I was in the supermarket with my three year old daughter. I saw a book with a pink dress and NYT was emblazoned on it. Then my daughter climbed out of the supermarket cart and took off running. I ran after her and strapped her into the cart. I forgot about the book until I got to the counter and saw a paperback go down the conveyor belt. When I got home and put my daughter down for her nap, I opened the book. To my surprise it was a romance. I’d never read one. Two hours later, my daughter woke up and I realized I’d been so hooked I couldn’t put it down. That gateway book was Judith McNaught’s  ALMOST HEAVEN. I read all of McNaught’s books multiple times. I LOVED her books.

Who is/are the book(s) that inspired when you took those first baby steps in your writing career? The books that made you think “Wow, I want to write books like that!”

VICKY D: To be honest, I was an insatiable reader and couldn’t afford my book habit. I’m sure this is familiar to a lot of readers. Anyway, I had nothing to read and I’d spent all my book money, so I turned on the computer and started writing for fun. Then something unbelievable happened. A friend called and said she’d signed up for a class at the local branch of the university. I confessed my secret writing hobby. My friend said something that changed my life. My friend said she’d seen a sign up for how to write a romance. She gave me the phone number and I signed up! Pretty wild, right?

cover_dukeTell us about the kind of romance you write and why you love to write it.

VICKY D: My first romance love has always been historical romance. I like some contemporaries such as Jill Shalvis, but historical romance remains my favorite.

What is one of your favourite Vicky Dreiling books and why?

418q0sbcQaL._SX314_BO1,204,203,200_VICKY D: I love all of my books and the characters as well. I have a special place in my heart for my first book HOW TO MARRY A DUKE. It was so much fun and it was also a Triple RITA finalist.

Tell us about a book that you’ve read recently (past year) that you love love love.

VICKY D: This is actually a Young Adult called IF I STAY by Gayle Forman. It grabs you immediately, and the writing is excellent. I highly recommend it.

Name three of your all-time favourite romance authors and why.

images2010-mr-impossibleVICKY D: FLOWERS FROM THE STORM by Laura Kinsale – the best historical romance ever.
LORD PERFECT and MR. IMPOSSIBLE by Loretta Chase. I love Loretta’s voice.

List three qualities that make a “keeper” romance novel and why.

VICKY D: A hero to die for, seemingly impossible odds, and a strong heroine.

What is the sweetest/coolest thing a reader has said to you/done for you?

VICKY D: I love talking to readers. Every time one of them tells me they loved one of my books, I’m so grateful that the reader enjoyed it.

Tell us about your latest release

cover_devilishVICKY D: WHAT A DEVILISH DUKE DESIRES is the story of a couple from two different worlds. She is a maid and he is a duke. It seems impossible, but Harry, the hero refuses to let the ton keep them apart. 

What’s coming down the road?

VICKY D: Well, I just turned in a new proposal, so I can’t tell you yet!

BONUS QUESTION: Sweet tooth or salty snack lover? What do you love to nosh on when writing?

VICKY D: Are you kidding me? I want both! LOL.

Author Vicky Dreiling
Author Vicky Dreiling

Vicky Dreiling is a confirmed historical romance junkie and Anglophile. Frequent business trips to the UK allowed her to indulge her passion for all things Regency England. Bath, Stonehenge, and Spencer House are among her favorite places. She is, however, truly sorry for accidentally setting off a security alarm in Windsor Castle. That unfortunate incident led her British colleagues to nickname her “Trouble.” When she’s not writing, Vicky enjoys reading, films, concerts, and most of all, long lunches with friends. A native Texan, she holds degrees in English literature and marketing.

Connect with Vicky online via her website, facebook, blog, twitter (@vickydreiling) and via email: vicky@vickydreiling.com

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The Book That Hooked You: Q and A with Sara Humphreys (paranormal romance author)

Author Sara Humphreys
Author Sara Humphreys

We continue our entertaining and enlightening on-going series here at the Lachesis Publishing Daily Blog called The Book That Hooked You. Today’s Q and A features award-winning romance author Sara Humphreys. Sara writes dark and sensual paranormal romance and emotional and sizzling contemporary romance. Welcome Sara!

DarkPrinceAndTwilightTake us back to when you first discovered romance novels. When did you become a reader? How old were you? And what was the first book that hooked you? Why? How many times have you read that book?

SH: The first books that I remember falling in love with were the Laura Ingalls Wilder books. But as far as romance goes, it was Christine Feehan’s Dark Prince that hooked me. I remember thinking . . . Where have you been all my life? I went on to devour everything she’s written and then hunted down other authors in the paranormal romance genre.

51yUGe4gFHL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_Who is/are the book(s) that inspired you when you took those first baby steps in your writing career? The books that made you think “Wow, I want to write books like that!”

SH: Pretty much anything by Christine Feehan and Lori Handeland. Lori’s Nightcreature Series is one of my all time favorites! I adore her heroes and her heroines are sassy. Hot sex too!

Tell us about the kind of romance you write and why you love to write it.

SH: I’m best known for my paranormal romance but I’ve recently branched out into contemporary. I promise that readers who love my paranormals will find similarities in my contemporaries! You’ll get a hot protective hero who always puts his woman’s well-being and happiness first. There will be suspense and my signature twists at the end, along with a Happily Ever After. Oh, and hot sex. Did I mention that?

519fzSGfRAL._SX303_BO1,204,203,200_What is one of your favourite Sara Humphreys books and why?

SH: That’s like picking my fave kid. Lol. But usually it’s the book that is completely finished and waiting to be released. Right now it’s The Good, the Bad, and the Vampire. This the fourth installment of the Dead in the City series and the hero is one of my all time favorites. Dakota Shelton is a vampire cowboy with a penchant for cinnamon lollipops and courting a woman the old-fashioned way. Dakota and Trixie’s love story comes out January 5, 2016.

19291332Tell us about a book that you’ve read recently (past year) that you love love love.

Jill Shalvis’ One in a Million. Oh. My. God. It was sexy and laugh out loud funny. Just plain awesome!

Name three of your all-time favourite romance authors and why.

SH: Christine Feehan—Her world building is off the hook and she made me fall in love with the paranormal romance genre.

Lori Handeland—Her heroes are super sexy and totally alpha and she writes some wicked love scenes.13629778-202x300

Nora Roberts—Do I really need to say more?

List three qualities that make a “keeper” romance novel and why.

Sizzle between the hero and heroine that burns up the pages.

A bit of suspense to keep me on my toes.

A satisfying happily ever after because the world needs more happy feel good moments and romance novels are full of those!

sarahs-angels31What is the sweetest/coolest thing a reader has said to you/done for you?

SH: I’m really lucky because my readers are freaking awesome! A few Christmas’ ago, my street team gals (Sara’s Angels) put together a box of ornaments for me. They each gave me an ornament that represented them or their hometown. It brought me to tears! I absolutely loved it and I think of them every time I see the ornaments dangling from the branches of my Christmas tree.

51NkiYqTiGL._SX303_BO1,204,203,200_Tell us about your latest release.

SH: BRAVE THE HEAT is the first book in my contemporary romance series, The McGuire Brothers. These five hot guys are all men in uniform and they’ll each get their own HEA. BRAVE THE HEAT is Gavin’s story. He’s the oldest of the five brothers and the fire chief in their hometown. The love of his life left town fifteen years ago without a word. She comes back to Old Brookfield, divorced and with two little girls in tow, to start over. Gavin hopes they can do that together but a series of suspicious fires break out around the time of Jordan’s return. Let’s just say that sparks fly—literally and figuratively.

What’s coming down the road?

SH: The fourth novel in my vampire series will be out in January of 2016 and then in July 2016 the second McGuire Brothers book will be released. Beyond that I have two more Amoveo Legend novels coming, another Dead in the City book. I also have a new paranormal series coming out late 2016—Dragon Heat. This is a spin off of my shifter series, the Amoveo Legend, and I can’t wait for readers to meet my dragons.

BONUS: Sweet tooth or salty snack lover? What do you love to nosh on when writing?

Sara Humphreys at a book signing looking Fit and Fabulous!
Sara Humphreys at a book signing looking Fit and Fabulous!

SH: Both. It depends on my mood. If I’m really being good about my nutrition, I’ll snack on almonds, cashews, or olives. If I’m on deadline, then all bets are off and no donut is safe. Thank you for having me here today!

The fab Sara Humphreys has also started a Romance Fit Club for romance readers/authors to share info about health, well-being and fitness.

Connect with Sara Humphreys on her website, facebook, twitter, on YouTube, and on pinterest.

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The Book That Hooked You: Q and A with Shana Galen (historical romance author)

Shana Galen
Shana Galen

We’re beginning a great new on-going series here at the Lachesis Publishing Daily Blog. The Book That Hooked You features Q and As with authors, reflecting on the books that first made them fall in love with the genre they write, along with exploring other books and authors they love, as well as telling us about their own work. Today we feature the talented Shana Galen. Shana writes historical romance set in the Regency era. Her books are fan favourites for many readers. Welcome Shana . . . 

Velvet-PromiseTake us back to when you first discovered romance novels. How old were you? And what was the first book that hooked you? Why? How many times have you read that book?

SG: I came to romance novels a little later. I read my first romance as a sophomore in college, and it was The Velvet Promise by Jude Devereaux. I loved the interaction between the hero and heroine—the sexual tension, the repartee, the romance of falling in love. I only read that book once because I was so busy buying more and devouring them. I remember that as soon as I read The Velvet Promise I had the feeling that I’d found what I was looking for. I knew I could write a romance—not in an anyone-can-do-that way, but in a this-is-my-calling way.

List three qualities that make a “keeper” romance novel.

Wouldn't you love to hang out with Mr. Darcy and Miss Bennett for a while?
Wouldn’t you love to hang out with Mr. Darcy and Miss Bennett for a while?

SG: The hero is swoony-worthy, I want to move to the setting, the characters become like friends.

Tell us about the kind of romance you write and why you love to write it.

SG: I write historical romance with a lot of action and adventure. I love it because it’s an escape from the everyday. I get to leave this world and go to a place with no cell phones, no TV, and beautiful dresses. Of course, there’s no running water, either, but I try not to think about that! I’ve always loved the past. There’s romance in gloves and hats, manners and introductions. I enjoy writing stories that use those strictures as a foundation and as a springboard.

rogue-you-know-200Tangled_posterWhat is one of your favourite Shana Galen books and why?

SG: The one I just released is definitely one of my favorites. The Rogue You Know is based on the Disney movie Tangled. I love that movie and the hero Flynn Rider. I knew as soon as I saw it that I had to write a book with a Flynn hero and a story was as fun as that movie.

What is your process before you sit down and write?

SG: Um, I get a cup of coffee? I don’t plot or brainstorm, so I just sit down and see what happens when I start typing.

e38c59_c721043f6d7847ebbeca49f032011384.jpg_srz_p_228_328_75_22_0.50_1.20_0Tell us about a book you’ve read recently (past year) that you absolutely love – and why.

SG: I adored, and I mean adored, the entire Until the End of the World series by Sarah Lyons Fleming. If I had more time, I would stalk her. It was such a tense, gripping story but funny too. The characters have really stayed with me. I think about them often and wonder what they’re up to. Every single book in the series was good too. Sometimes in a series the first book is great but the second book or last book is a letdown. All of these books were top-notch.

FastTrack-cvr-thumb0062106090-199x322roguespycoveramazonName three of your all-time favourite romance authors and why.

SG: Julie Garwood—her heroines are so funny and sweet and she knows how to hook a reader

Susan Elizabeth Phillips—her books are so funny

Joanna Bourne—I love her storytelling

What is the sweetest/coolest thing a reader has said to you?

SG: Recently a reader told me she was having a rough time and one of my books made her laugh and forget her troubles for a little while. That’s the reason I write.

xmas-duke-street-200Tell us about your latest release and what you have coming down the road.

SG: My latest release is The Rogue You Know, and it’s about a thief from the slums of London who wants to get out and start a new life for himself. In the process, he accidentally involves the daughter of an earl, and the two go on a crazy adventure and, of course, fall in love.

Coming soon (Oct. 15)  is the anthology  – Christmas in Duke Street. It features heartwarming holiday stories by Shana Galen, Grace Burrows, Miranda Neville, Carolyn Jewel.

Could cookies 'n cream popcorn be the ultimate snack for Shana Galen?
Could cookies ‘n cream popcorn be the ultimate snack for Shana Galen?

Sweet tooth or salty snack lover? What do you love to nosh on when writing?

SG: Sweet tooth! I love cookies. I like to eat popcorn when I’m writing because it’s bite-sized.

Connect with Shana Galen on her website, facebook, twitter, and via the group blog Jaunty Quills.

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