Intimate Conversation with S.D. Skye

Intimate Conversation with S.D. Skye

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 more than 20 years in the U.S. Intelligence Community.

Skye is a member of the Maryland Writer’s Association, Sisters in Crime, 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.

BPM: Share with us your personal journey into publishing. Was this a fun time in your life?

My personal journey into publishing came on the heels of a major break up and right before turning the big 4-0. After a “What am I going to do with the rest of my life?” moment, I dug deep down and decided to finally explore this gift of writing that I’d had since I was 7 or 8. I never thought I could be a published author. To me, authors were like gods on Mt. Olympus that worked a special brand of magic not available to mere mortals to write my favorite books. They didn’t sit down and grind every day and type. Oh, what a rude, but happy, awakening I had when I realized how wrong I was. This is definitely something that everyone can do…but you have to work really hard to do it well, and consistently well, through every book.

That was 5 years ago, this year (2014)…and I’m 7 books in now. Pretty incredible journey. Has it been fun? I can say without hesitation that finding my voice as a writer has not only been fun, but it’s been satisfying, enjoyable, and often cathartic. I found myself…and my true purpose through writing. How often do people get to do that? More than that, it is often the only thing that stands between me and insanity.

BPM: How did you get to be where you are in your life today? Who or what motivated you?

My life is a universal lesson in perseverance and finding success through failure. That’s it. I had a successful 22 year in the U.S. Intelligence Community as a Senior Intelligence Analyst at the FBI, on the Joint Staff, at the Director of National Intelligence, and Coast Guard Intelligence, because I learned from every mistake and used them to help me grow and get better. Learning to take criticism (e.g., getting your head ripped off) by full-bird Colonels, and 2,3,4-star Generals at the Pentagon really strengthened my backbone and resolve—it takes a lot to rattle me now. More than that, the experience made me learn how to get things right quickly. I earned respect through achieving excellence and got the opportunity to support a lot of amazing operations—military, intelligence, and law enforcement.

What motivated me most was refusing to fail—twice. In other words, I’d spot myself the first failure, we all make mistakes. But what I couldn’t accept is knowing that I’d failed once and then do things the exact same way again. I forced myself to find ways to succeed and that worked really well throughout all of my careers, including being an author. Lord knows, I’ve made my mistakes there, but I’ve overcome them, too.

BPM: Who does your body of literary work speak to? Do you consider authors as role models?

Collectively, I think my body of speaks to strong, funny, flawed girls and women who make a lot of mistakes, but fight past their setbacks and personal problems to become better people—and make others around them better, too. I’ve never thought about it before, but, actually, this is the theme that ties all of my books together, even though they are in very diverse genres.

BPM: Give us some insight into your main characters or speakers. What makes each one so special? BPM: What inspired you to sit down and actually start writing this book? Why now?

My three main characters are FBI Special Agents J.J. McCall and Tony Donato—and CIA Case Officer Grayson Six Chance.   J.J. McCall is an African American, female FBI Special Agent. She’s great at her job but is fighting some demons with an alcohol addiction and a mystery surrounding her mother’s death which has been dogging her since Book 1. What’s great about J.J. is that she’s a human lie detector – when people lie to her she feels a sensation akin to an itch, hence the word “Itch” in all of the series’ titles.

Tony Donato is also based on an agent that I worked with briefly in New York. He was Italian and the nicest guy, but a good agent. The complexity in his character comes from his background. His father is a mob boss who was convicted and serving time. He broke away from the family and decided to become an FBI agent despite their protests…and of course that has caused major tension in the family, but it also shows how strong minded Tony is. He is J.J. McCall’s primary love interest.

Grayson “Six” Chance is the bad boy of the story. He’s J.J.’s ex and a bit of a cowboy, which no doubt comes from the fact that he’s a CIA Case Officer who specializes in Counterintelligence. He has decided he can’t live without J.J. since their break (his fault) so he’s come back with a vengeance to reclaim her heart—of course, causing friction between J.J. and Tony whenever possible.  I LOVE these characters. Six is quickly becoming a strong favorite.

BPM: Could you tell us something about your most recent work? Is this book available in digital forms?
A No Good Itch (A J.J. McCall Novel) is Book 3 in my FBI Espionage Series—it will be released December 16th, just in time for Christmas. And the storyline centers around two subjects very near and dear to my heart – Mafia and Spies—Oh my! It’s kind like Covert Affairs and Scandal meet The Sopranos.

It picks up where Book 2 left off — FBI J.J. McCall and her co-case agent, Tony Donato, are headed to the Big Apple to take down the financial network that is supporting moles inside the U.S. government. But they have an even bigger problem on their hands. A Russian Mafiya henchman, infamously known as Mashkov, avenges the death of slain a Russian sleeper agent and accidentally hits the son of an Italian crime boss—Tony’s brother. So they are not only have to take down the financial network, they are stepping into a possible war between Russian and Italian organized crime. Meanwhile, CIA Case Officer Grayson “Six” Chance is in Moscow trying to capture a runaway American who has stolen intelligence from the White House and is planning to pass it to the Russians—putting Six in a moral dilemma he may not be prepared to handle.

Also—readers will FINALLY find out how J.J.’s mother, a former FBI Agent, died in the line of duty.  And I’ll just say that, the ending might get me killed, but it’s all for a good cause.  A No Good Itch is available right now for pre-order on Kindle. It will be available in all ebook forms in March.

BPM: What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

The mafia angle, no question. It was a HUGE challenge for me because I’ve never been in the mafia. I wrote this from the outside looking in. It was a true test of my talent, one I won’t be quick to attempt again. But the fact that I pulled it off is pretty exciting. How well I pulled it off? I’ll let the readers decide.

BPM: Where do your book ideas come from?

I have a lot of material to draw from in my life and career. I haven’t quite gotten outside of that box yet because it’s such a big box. 

BPM: Are your books plot-driven or character-driven? Why?

The J.J. McCall Novels are definitely both…I started with strong characters and put them in the middle of a well woven plot. It starts with strong characters but the plot is how you see the characters evolve and grow.

BPM: Are there under-represented groups or ideasfeatured in your book? If so, discuss them.

Oh, yes! How often do you see a black, female, FBI Agent working in counterintelligence and targeting spies—Russian spies…and organized crime figures? This series might be a first for most people and I had the pleasure of working with a woman in the FBI who worked in this very field. She has certainly inspired J.J.’s character. If it weren’t for her, I wouldn’t know J.J. McCall.

BPM: What were your goals and intentions in this book, and how well do you feel you achieved them? 

To excite and entertain! To take readers on a journey with a kind of character they don’t often get to see in action—in real life or in books or movies. I did my best. I sure entertained myself while writing it. I mean, I went “balls out” in this book—I just wrote where the story took me and it took me on a lot of unexpected twists and turns that made me say, “Oooooooh. Really???” But I’ll let the readers decide how they feel about it.

BPM: What projects are you working on at the present?

Well, I’m getting ready for Book 4 in the J.J. McCall series. I’m also going to get into a few other projects outside of the spy thriller world that have been begging for my attention ever since I started writing the J.J. books. So, there’s a lot more to come. Unfortunately, I need a clone or two to get them all finished in the timeframe I’d like to keep fans of my books happy.

BPM: How can readers discover more about you and your work?

Explore my website: Visit me on any or all of my social networking sites. 
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