Monday, April 6, 2015

Interview with spy-thriller romantic suspense author S.D. Skye

Welcome, Readers.

I’m happy to introduce you to romantic suspense author S.D. Skye today. She’s talking about the newest book in her spy thriller series, A No Good Itch.

While she does a virtual book tour (and review tour) with Goddess Fish Promotions, S.D. will be awarding an Amazon Kindle Fire HD7 + a $25 Kindle gift card (US only) to a randomly drawn winner. To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below. To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit her other tour stops and any of the review tour stops, and enter there, too!

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.

Welcome, S.D. Please tell us about your current release.
Part of a planned series, A No Good Itch—Book 3 in the J.J. McCall series picks up where the last book leaves off. J.J. and Tony have just identified a mole targeting the White House and is now en route to New York where their operation to take down the financial hub for the mole network will lead them in the middle of a crime war bubbling up between Russian and Italian Organized Crime—and Tony’s family.

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. He’s working with a CIA black ops contractor who is working under a different set of rules and a different code than he is, which ends up putting him in a moral dilemma he’s not certain how to deal with.

And finally, J.J. learns the truth surrounding her mother's death in the line of duty (her mother was an FBI Special Agent under Hoover), her life may never be the same.

All in all, I will say this book should be hard to put down. There’s non-stop action and twists until the big cliffhanger ending (please forgive me, readers, but I did it for your entertainment).

What inspired you to write this book?
The story is loosely based on my career at the FBI.I spent 12 years working in counterintelligence which really opened me up to a new world. I’d lived in D.C. for many years, but never realized there was this entire clandestine, spy culture going on every single day right under our noses. Even more than that, judging from the movies you see and characters like Jason Bourne, Jack Ryan, and Salt, you would never know that the personnel leading some of the biggest operations in the country are black, Latino, Asian, etc.

When I looked back on my career, one FBI Special Agent really stood out. She was an African American woman working in the field of counterintelligence and Russian organized crime—a walking enigma. Most people in the field, who are really good what they do, were white males. So, to see her excel, I always admired her work ethic and strength and professionalism.

When I finally broke down and decided to write a series loosely based on my career (I was decidedly against it for years) then modeling a character after her in a world we rarely see in spy movies and books (daily counterintelligence operations inside the beltway) seemed like a great way to go. It’s different, but readers seem to like that.

Excerpt from A No Good Itch:
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!”

What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m working on Book 4 of this series—The Crazy Itch—which should be pretty exciting. The story moves from New York back to D.C. where the group is on the hunt for a new mole, this time inside the Pentagon. I’d initially planned to use this book to start to wind down the series, but my characters have other ideas. As I begin to outline based on the direction they’re taking me in, this book promises to be just as twisty turn and exciting all of the others. I’m very excited to finish it.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’ve always been big on writing journals for most of my childhood, teen years, and onward. I always wanted to be a writer, but never thought I could. I didn’t write my first full novel, a romance until I was almost 40 years old. In the midst of a breakup and overdose of Oprah “Live Your Life” series, I found my voice and wrote a romantic comedy. It was one of the most freeing and cathartic processes of my life. Of course, I thought it was the best romantic comedy ever written…until I entered it into a contest and got my first criticism. Oh, it was crushing…for a short time. Maybe a few days. But then I decided instead of allowing the criticism to stop me, I’d use it to help me make my work better.

After the contest, I queried it to a bunch of literary agents and got rejected over and over and over again. At least 50, probably closer to 100 (at least it felt that way). The moment I first considered myself a writer is when, despite the rejection, I decided I was going to keep writing anyway. I decided if I wrote a book, self-published it, and only one person loved it, then that one person was enough for me. And I haven’t stopped writing yet. It’s six years later…

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
Oh, how I WISH I could write full-time. But, alas, the literary gods have not been that kind to me…yet. I do see that in my future.

As a single mom with what I consider three full-time jobs, writing, the 9-to-5, and being a mom, my days are super busy. I’m usually up and writing by 4 am. I get my son up at 5:30 am and we’re out of the house by 7am. I spend 8+ hours a day at a government contractor writing and editing proposals, helping them to win business. And then I’m back home in the evenings, getting junior’s homework done and eventually squeezing out another two to three hours of writing/marketing time.

How do I find time to write?
I don’t sleep and I do a lot of work on the weekends, holidays, etc. There’s no easy way when you work full time. You have to make writing a priority. You have to sacrifice. You have to give up the idea of balance always and be okay with balance sometimes. There’s no other way, not if you want to be productive.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I’m not one of those writers who can only write when the moon is in the 7th house and Jupiter aligns with Mars. Pretty much, I can write anywhere anytime. However, when I write in longhand, I’ve become addicted to Moleskine notebooks and Pilot G-2 gel pens. If I don’t have those, I can’t write. It’s like the words get stuck. My only quirk.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I always wanted to be a writer, but I never thought I could be a writer. I always loved books and reading. To me, authors were like the gods on Mt. Olympus and they didn’t mingle with mortals. I ended up being a writer of a different kind—an intelligence analyst—and it’s that work and a bunch of bad relationships that fuel the stories for my books today. So, the lesson learned for me is, never talk yourself out of answering your calling. The question is not “if” it’s “how.”

Thanks, S.D.!


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Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thank you for hosting

Author S. D. Skye said...

Thanks so much for hosting and the interview! Guests feel free to ask away with any questions. I'll be around throughout the day. And don't forget to enter to win the Kindle Fire and GC! :)

Mai T. said...

Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why?

Karen H said...

I enjoyed reading your interview today.

Unknown said...

Great excerpt and interview

Author S. D. Skye said...

Thanks for stopping by Mai T, Karen, and Shannon!!! Mai--my first pick would be Oprah. I really would love to sit down with her and pick her brain. The other might be Steve Jobs. Both geniuses and visionaries in their own right.

Unknown said...

I really enjoyed the interview, excerpt and the bio. Do you have another series planned? Thank you for the great contest!

Mai T. said...

Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the buying process?

Unknown said...

I enjoyed the interview. How did you become interested in joining the FBI? Was it something you planned since you were a child?

Thank you!