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Tell us about yourself:
I’m a lifelong lover of reading and writing and a single mom of a teen with autism. In one of my previous lives, I worked in the intelligence community for 20+ years. I started my career in the FBI as an intelligence operations specialist. Then I went into government contracting and served as a Senior Intelligence Officer on the joint staff. From there I worked for the U.S. Coast Guard Intelligence and the Office of the Director of National Security. It was this experience that led me to write the J.J. McCall series, which is based on an FBI agent that worked with.
I’m a professed nerd girl who loves all things Star Trek, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, and Big Bang Theory. Writing, for me, has been like having kids. I don’t really remember much of my life before I gave birth to my son. Similarly, I don’t remember what life was like when I had “free” time before I became a writer. It’s truly what I love to do. It’s a choice I make every day and it’s a choice I never regret.
What was your first book?
I wrote my first novel under the pseudonym K.L. Brady called The Bum Magnet. It was a hilarious romantic comedy that poured out of me on the heels of break-up with boyfriend number too many. I was in a totally different head space then in which I basically was trying to find cathartic ways to get through my pain without beating myself up over my relationship mistakes. So, instead, I used my journals and my romantic lessons learned (from myself and others) and decided to laugh at my pain. Of course, I also changed the names to protect the innocent and the guilty. It’s probably one of my favorite books to this day (for me) because it was so pure, real…and raw. And just plain hilarious.
Describe your first break.
After I had written The Bum Magnet, I entered it into the now defunct Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards, only making it through to the second round. Since this was my first attempt ever at writing a novel, I followed the lead of other writers and decided to try and get a literary agent and get published. Hundreds of rejections later I came to a crossroad—do I quit or do I find another way to get my work out there. When the dream of traditional publishing seemed out of my reach, I decided to self-publish. This was in 2009 when self-publishing was still frowned upon and the field of writers was much smaller so it was easy to stand out.
My book stood out—with the title, cover, and many thought it was very well written. Four months after self-publishing I received an email from a senior editor at a publishing house. Two months later I signed a 2-book deal with Simon & Schuster. That was a huge break for me, not in terms of runaway success but in terms of validating for me that I had talent. After being afraid to write a novel for almost 40 years, I needed the validation and I haven’t turned back yet.
What is your favorite genre to read? To write?
I love writing romance and romantic comedy. Even in my spy novels, there will always be strong elements of this because that’s where I got my start. But I do love the twists turns and surprises of the spy novel.
Are Happy Endings are must in your stories?
Yes. But happy is subjective for each character. Happy doesn’t always mean married with 2.5 kids and a dog. Sometimes it’s picking the right career. Sometimes it’s coming to terms with who you are or what you want to be. So, I do believe in writing happy endings but that will be different for each character.
What makes a protagonist interesting?
Flaws. Flaws. Flaws. A protagonist with no flaws is flat and uninteresting. Certainly nothing I’d like to read. When those flaws interfere with their ability to achieve the mission within a plot, it’s even better. Makes the stories more complex. I love complex stories and characters.
What is the best thing about being a writer?
Having a productive way to channel all the voices in my head. It’s a book or a mental health facility. I prefer books. But, seriously, I don’t know any greater pleasure than having a reader write me a letter about one of my books and tell me they couldn’t put it down…that they got mad, and yelled, and fussed, and screamed at the characters. Makes you think—how powerful is the pen?
What is the worst thing?
Not having the income to support doing it full time. When you become a writer, and you truly know there’s nothing else you’d rather do because it’s so fulfilling, then it really becomes all you want to do. Unfortunately, most writers will never be able to support themselves without holding full-time jobs as well. It means I have to fight to write every word. So, when you read one of my books, you know it was written for no other reason than the love of writing and a story I was burning to tell. There’s freedom in that, but it’s very hard to strike the balance that allows you to have two jobs—one you only have so you can do the other.
Pantser or plotter?
I used to be a diehard pantser. I fell for that fallacy that if you outline the work is not as authentic, that you should let your characters lead the way. When I started writing the spy novels which are so incredibly complex and weave together several subplots, outlining was the only way to avoid leaving strings of plot holes. What I realized is that outlining doesn’t have to stop me from being creative. If my character takes a turn that doesn’t follow the outline, then my job was to simply allow it and ignore the outline. But on days when my muse was on benders and I had no direction, outlines helped keep me productive. So, I’m a huge proponent of outlining now. For all of my books, including romance and young adult.
What do you see the direction of your future writing taking? What can we expect next? Give us a little taste.
Every direction my imagination takes me. This year I will release the 4th J.J. McCall novel and a romance novel under my pseudonym. After that, I have young adult, romance, and spy novels in the works for 2016.
Just for fun
Cat or dog person?
I love both…but I don’t own either. Although my ex-husband bought an English Mastiff, which is a 220-pound puppy that I just adore.
Italian. Anything pasta or pizza related.
Too many to name. Right now, I’m reading Being Steve Jobs, which is pretty good.
Holidays are hard for me since my mother passed away. Once upon a time, it would’ve been Christmas.
Would you rather be the princess or the villain? Why?
A princess…only because I could never be the villain. Too sensitive and emotional for that.
Who has more fun, orcs or hobbits?
IN THE GAME OF ESPIONAGE, SPY TAKES TRAITOR.
J.J. MCCALL TAKES OVER.
The FBI and Italian Mafia make strange bedfellows when a vicious Russian Organized crime figure, operating at the behest of Russian Intelligence, lands in The Big Apple. The Russian intelligence hench-man, infamously known as Mashkov, avenges the death of slain a Russian sleeper agent and accidentally hits the son of an Italian crime boss, sending J.J. and Task Force Phantom Hunter to the streets of New York. They are stepping into a possible war between Russian and Italian organized crime factions, while trying to dismantle the financial hub of the most insidious Russian illegals network in U.S. History.
Meanwhile, CIA Case Officer Grayson “Six” Chance is in Moscow trying to capture a fugitive American who has stolen White House intelligence and is planning to pass it to the Russians—putting Six in a moral dilemma he may not be prepared to handle.
And when J.J. finally learns the truth surrounding her mother's death in the line of duty, her life may never be the same.
If you enjoy this book, you will love Book 1--The Seven Year Itch (A J.J. McCall Novel) and Book 2 -- Son of a Itch (A J.J. McCall Novel).
The Sheriffs walked J.J. and Tony through a series of security doors until they reached the interrogation room. They left their overcoats with their escorts and tugged their suit jackets straight before entering. The sight of Kendell Phillips’ murderer shrouded in orange and shackled at the hands and feet gave J.J. a burst of pleasure she hadn’t felt since her early morning romp with Tony. A reddish blue bruise circled his eye and spread to the cap of his jaw. His gaze disintegrated under the weight of her glare and fell to his twiddling thumbs. She prepared to speak when an overwhelming scent jarred her senses—the smell of contemptible swine.
“My, my, my,” J.J. said to Maddix. “What an ugly fall from grace. Too bad they don’t make an Armani perp suit. You used to wear him so well.”
Positioned across from Maddix, Tony scanned the rat’s face and looked at him with a pained expression. “Rough night, eh? Did they forget to put you in solitary? Looks like you’ve been mingling with the locals.”
“Nothing I can’t handle,” he said with a shrug. Then he leaned back, spread his knees wide, and placed his hands in his lap. “So, this is the reason you came all the way to Shangri-La? To gloat?”
J.J. savored his misery and then vexed him with a tight smile. “We’re here to discuss your comrade in arms, Hawk—Gary Mosin.”
“Newsflash, doll.” Maddix forced out a grating laugh, overplaying his weak position just a smidge. “You get nothing from me, not without a deal. I want immunity.”
“Immunity?” J.J. blinked in rapid motion.
“Listen, you ain’t gotta make this difficult. We didn’t come here to pick a fight. Give us the information we need, and you can go back to counting the tiles on the ceiling . . . or whatever it is you do on the inside.” Tony contrived a calm demeanor as he reached into his pant pocket and pulled out a pack of Marlboro 100s and a book of matches. He slid them to the middle of the table until they stopped beside a plastic ashtray. “Our treat. Enjoy. But if you choose to stay on the difficult route, we can reverse course any time.”
Maddix cupped his hands and with no show of gratitude, pulled the offerings to the table’s edge, his shackles jangling with his every move. He folded back the foil on the corner of the pack and knocked the open end against his wrist until a cigarette emerged. Then his brow drew together, furrowed in confusion. “You don’t have a clue, do you?” His gaze ping-ponged between J.J. and Tony before he shook his head. “That’s why you’re here. You don’t know!”
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
S.D. Skye is a former FBI Counterintelligence Analyst in the Russia program and supported cases 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 two of the Bureau's own—FBI Agents Earl Pitts and Robert Hansen. She has spent 20 years in the U.S. Intelligence Community.
Skye is a member of the Maryland Writer’s Association, Romance Writers of America, 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 the series.