This month Jude Atkins agreed to take time out of her busy writing and blogging schedule to tell us a little about herself and her upcoming offering from Cerridwen Press, Betraying Mikki.
Hi Jude, and welcome to a sit down with Coffee Time Romance. How do you take your coffee?
Two Splenda please; I'm diabetic so have to watch the sweets.
Just the way I like it! So, you write romantic suspense. Is this the genre you read primarily, or are you a secret Stephen King fan?
Actually I'm primarily a mystery reader, and have just kind of gravitated to romantic suspense as the genre has become more and more popular, and I found that I just loved the way romantic suspense allows you to violate some of the traditional rules of mystery and broaden the scope of your character's lives -- adding their friends and lovers and getting to know them on a more personal level.
You write about a police detective. Is this a subject you were familiar with or did you have to research it?
Well Kelly McWinter is actually a private detective, although he retired from the Fort Worth police force. I had a wonderful advantage in writing those mysteries in that two very dear friends of mine, Joe and Siri Jeffrey were both former Texas police officers and they made sure my facts were on target and fitting.
That sounds very helpful! What a terrific resource. Betraying Mikki is the 2nd in a series. For you, what about these characters lent themselves to more stories?
I love the characters at Indian Creek. Really, Don Johnson, author of Texas Elegy, described them perfectly in his review when he called them, "A small community of singular Texas characters. Indian Creek isn’t urban nor suburban, and it’s not exactly rural. It’s one of those in betwixt zones that slides in among them and takes its characteristics from all three."
Is Kelly McWinter a man you'd want to investigate personally? <smile>
Kelly's the Clint Eastwood, John Wayne type of man who makes everyone feel safe and I think my admiration for men of strong character, and the ability to do what needs to be done no matter what the odds, is what influenced me most in my protrayal of Kelly.
Your book has an interesting hangout with some colorful characters. Do you have a similar haunt you favor?
Actually, the Indian Creek Texas mysteries were started when I was taking journalism classes at Tarrant County College in the Eagle Mountain Lake area of Fort Worth. At that time there was a real Hideaway Bar and Barbecue operated by a couple named Jackie Todd and his wife Jodene, and the depiction of that locale takes much of its color from Jackie Todd's place.
Which of your books is your favorite and why?
Anna's Secret is my favorite. It introduces the characters of Indian Creek and you first get to know Kelly and find out why he's doing what he's doing and what happened to bring him to the point he's at in his life. All of the regulars at the Hideaway are brought into the picture, and of course that's where we first meet Stella. I still enjoy reading about them myself.
How much does reviewer and reader reaction mean to you as an author?
I love the characters and the stories; and the reviewers are so extremely helpful in letting me know where I'm meeting expectations and where I'm maybe letting them down a little. The readers are everything. When I get notes and comments from readers about the stories and the characters, it's so fantastic to know that they read and enjoy the same people I do; because after all, what really happens when you write series characters like these is that they take on a life of their own and, as a writer, you really don't think about them as not actually being "real".
In your writing process, how important is your editor?
The editor is the difference between a well-written story that your readers can enjoy and one with a bunch of big and little glitches that pull the reader out of the story and ruin the fun for both writer and reader. A good editor is golden to a writer.
Ok, now a little about you. If you had a million dollars and a summer off what would you do?
Well, right now I'm home in Calgary, having just had to cancel Christmas plans to fly to Vancouver because of storms so bad that everything and everyone was grounded. So, find me a tropical island with a warm sandy beach, and a lovely place to curl up and get to work, and I'd be finishing Murder in Paradise (the third book in the Kelly McWinter series).
I can understand that completely! One last question, I know Canada has some good vineyards. If you buy a bottle of wine, what is your favorite or are you 'a beer and a shot' kind of gal?
Since I'm diabetic I'm afraid that neither the wine nor the beer and a shot scenario works for me, but I do love to cook with wine, so perhaps a nice Bordeaux; then again, if I'm going to cheat and take a sip, I'd probably splurge on one of the Okanagan Ice wines.
Thanks so much, Jude, and we look forward to you next book, Murder in Paradise, coming soon in 2009!