Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Guest Author - Mindy Mckay

Today we have with us Mindy Mckay, a romantic suspense author who likes to explore many different, complex relationships in her work.

Welcome! Please introduce yourself and tell us a bit about who you are.
Howdy there! I'm Mindy MacKay and I'm an alc--I mean, a romance writer. I love fancy coffee, long walks through deserted industrial areas, and, of course, a good strategy war.

Please tell us a bit about your book.
Fallen from Disgrace was my first venture into the realistic novel--before then, I'd been all fantasy. Essentially, it's Cain and Abel gender-flipped and updated, dropped into New York City, and spiced up with romance and a few rounds of head-to-head psychological speed-chess just for funzies.

What was the motivation/idea behind this book/these characters?
A few different things motivated me to start this book. First, I wanted to explore a tense, vitriolic relationship between two sisters. Siblings have always fascinated me, probably because I have none myself. Next, I wanted to broaden my character archetypes. I'm used to writing anti-heroes and that's certainly what Rosella is, but this was the first time I've written such scrupulous souls as Euphemia and her victimized inamorato. Finally, I was immersed in media that centered around strategy war--halfway through watching Death Note and reading East of Eden--and I guess I learned by osmosis how characters outsmart each other, and this book just came out.

Did you enjoy writing this book, or did you have some tough times with it?
I had a great time writing this. At times, some of Rosella's machinations got a little complicated and took pages and pages of outlining to keep straight, but on the whole, I had more fun writing this book than any I'd done before.

When / Where / How do you write?
Between school and more school, I honestly have lost track of where I find the time. I must conjure it up subconsciously and proceed to use it to write. As for location, I can write anywhere, provided I have a hard surface and paper or some piece of technology on me. I prefer having music, but can go without it, and I always have to outline first, unlike those lucky pantsers out there who can just hop on the plot and ride it like a Ferris wheel.
Do you have some other qualification/interest/something else you do besides being a writer?
I'm working on entering the medical field, and in the meantime, I participate in science clubs and play the piano.

What book/s are you reading at the moment?
Dennis Lehane's A Drink Before the War. I don't read much first person, but this guy has really nailed it.

Do you have any authors who were your inspiration/hero?
There are quite a few authors I find inspiring. Chuck Palahniuk and Dennis Lehane are two I particularly enjoy for their ability to pull a convincing yet totally mind-boggling ending. I also admire people that write from jail after being censured intellectually--from Martin Luther King to Fyodor Dostoyevsky to the Marquis de Sade, it takes conviction to produce brilliance in the grimmest of circumstances, no pun intended!

What are you working on right now?
I expect to soon be starting edits on The Placebo Effect, a short novella about love and lust, insanity, psychiatry, hilarious hypnosis-related fiascos, a basketball hoop, and April Fools Day. I'm also researching Sun Tzu's war strategies for possible use in a transgressive romance somewhere down the line.

Do you have any other books out you'd like to mention?
The second installment in my scifi series, Soulgame, just released through Rogue Phoenix Press. Those of you who live for the same sort of mind-game present in Fallen from Disgrace but prefer a little more of characters zapping each other with energy beams are bound to enjoy it!

Is there something I haven't asked that you'd like to tell us?
I'd just like to thank you for having me, Jess, and give a huge mega shout out to everyone who's been there with me throughout my literary ventures. My mom and dad for all their support, all the readers who have given me feedback, my splendid betas Nikki and Sarah, my good buddy Colin, whom I can always ask for an opinion on a plot device, and everyone at Noble Romance and Rogue Phoenix who believed in me and helped me present my best work. Writing is truly not a solitary venture and I'm uber-glad to be surrounded by such a community of win!

Rosella Cartwright wakes up in the hospital after a yearlong coma with no recollection of who she used to be. Her only clue is that everyone around her despises and avoids her. Then, she discovers the truth: before she was hospitalized, she was the most wanted maniac of New York's criminal underbelly.

Disgusted by reports of her own heinous crimes, she attempts to reform herself, but her efforts are in vain as society continues to cast her out in hatred and fear. All the world seems against her until she is offered a job by Daniel Ryan, a rising executive and self-made success who hides a lifetime of inner turmoil behind a fa├žade of cool indifference. Drawn to his mystery as he is by her irrepressible darkness, Rosella starts falling for Daniel, but love can't save her from her past. A former victim of hers wants revenge, and will stop at nothing to get it. Her partners in crime want her back by their side, though she wants nothing more to do with them. And a sinister plot of her own design, buried beneath her amnesia, is, unbeknownst to her, still very much in progress. These are the monsters she will have to fight off alone, and if she doesn't watch her step, she might not make it out alive.

After Meji's phone call, Rosella was left with a clenching, crushing sensation in her chest that didn't dissipate by the end of the workday. She was at home watching a sitcom on the small TV she'd invested in when a knock sounded at the door. As she opened it, the unpleasant feeling she had almost banished seized her up again with a vengeful intensity.
Standing in her doorway was a punky-looking pair of people with matching smirks on their faces. One of them, an Asian woman with too much makeup on and the tips of her hair dyed blue, had a pattern of Celtic knots carved into one of her inner forearms. The other, a spiky-haired male in a wifebeater and tight jeans, seemed the less extreme of the two, though Rosella knew from her recently reacquired memories they were equally perverse.
Meji and Ezekiel hadn't changed a bit.
"Wow, Rosella, I didn't think you'd actually be staying at your old place," said Ezekiel.
"What do you two want?" asked Rosella.
"We want you back, Rose," Meji said. "Now that you're awake, we can go back to being the way we were. Well, minus Greg, but he'll be out of prison before we know it."
"Yeah, and besides, he was only ever the liver and lungs of the organization," added Ezekiel. "Nothing compared to you, its heart and soul. I like what you've done with your hair, by the way, though I always did fancy you as a blonde."
Rosella sighed. "Look, I don't remember much, and one of the things I don't remember is what appeal I ever saw in this whole Libertinage business. I'm sure if I did, I'd be more willing to jeopardize my new life to run around committing crimes with you, but as it stands, I don't, I'm not, and, well, here we are."
Meji opened her mouth to protest, but Ezekiel stopped her. "She's not interested, Meji. Forget it, she's a lost cause."
He turned away, and Rosella was hit with a momentary surge of rage, fleeting but powerful. How dare he talk like that about her!
When it passed, she noticed he limped slightly as he walked away. "Why are you walking funny?" she asked.
He turned around to face her again. "You really don't remember?"
"If I did, I wouldn't have asked you, numbskull."
He grinned. "That's more like our Rosella."
"Just tell me what happened!"
"You shot me in the thigh. Never really recovered from that," he said. "Would you like to know more about the four of us? About you?"
Rosella shook her head no. "Yes."
"Come on," said Meji, grabbing her by the wrist and pulling her out of her apartment, letting the door swing shut behind them. "We'll help you remember."
"We'll take you somewhere."
"Is it somewhere I want to go?"
"If that's the Rosella I know in there," said Ezekiel, "then yes."
They led her outside and ushered her into a taxi en route to The Bronx. After they got out and paid the driver, Rosella found herself standing in front of a towering but sad, abandoned apartment complex whose eroded roof seemed to sag on its walls.
"Welcome back to the second Sodom," said Ezekiel, his tone sounding too casual for such a momentous occasion. Rosella tiptoed on her way into the building as if she was afraid any noise she made would awaken ghosts. She winced as she gingerly turned the knob of the creaky door. Every sound around her and every breath she took was bringing her closer to her past.
She explored the compound and recollections bombarded her like grenades. Here was the window she'd broken using a victim's head, and there, the chandelier from which she'd hanged someone. On the floor under a coffee table was Gregoire's old, battered copy of The 120 Days of Sodom. Around every corner, in every nook and cranny, Rosella could see images of herself, residual hauntings acting out the horrors buried in her subconscious.

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