March: Joe McKinney – Unlocking Narrative Structure

Unlocking Narrative Structure

Presented by Joe McKinney

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Unlocking Narrative Structure: author Joe McKinney will focus on the shared narrative structures of the romance, detective, and horror genres. The presentation will include a free-range discussion that covers hot button issues from all of these genres, but in tying it all together, we will see how romance/relationships is the key to any story.

About Joe McKinney

joemckinneyJoe McKinney is the San Antonio-based author of several horror, crime and science fiction novels. His longer works include the four part Dead World series, made up of Dead City, Apocalypse of the Dead, Flesh Eaters and The Zombie King; the science fiction disaster tale, Quarantined, which was nominated for the Horror Writers Association’s Bram Stoker Award for superior achievement in a novel, 2009; and the crime novel, Dodging Bullets. His upcoming releases include the horror novels Lost Girl of the Lake, The Red Empire, The Charge and St. Rage. Joe has also worked as an editor, along with Michelle McCrary, on the zombie-themed anthology Dead Set, and with Mark Onspaugh on the abandoned building-themed anthology The Forsaken. His short stories and novellas have been published in more than thirty publications and anthologies.

In his day job, Joe McKinney is a sergeant with the San Antonio Police Department, where he helps to run the city’s 911 Dispatch Center. Before promoting to sergeant, Joe worked as a homicide detective and as a disaster mitigation specialist. Many of his stories, regardless of genre, feature a strong police procedural element based on his fifteen years of law enforcement experience.

A regular guest at regional writing conventions, Joe currently lives and works in a small town north of San Antonio with his wife and children.

SARA Café Welcomes Andrea Stehle, author of the Gods of Arcadia

A-stehleSC:  Hello, Andrea! When did you join SARA and for what reason?

AS:  I joined SARA three years ago. The guest author I met at the state Latin convention suggested the best way to improve my craft and get published was to find a local writers group.  SARA was the first one that came up on the internet. It turns out it is also one of the best in town. I don’t believe I would be where I am today without their help and support.

SC:  What sub-genre of romance stories do you write?

AS:  Technically, I write sci-fi mythology (fantasy) with LOTS of romantic story lines. My first book Daughter of Athena’s theme is love conquers all. I am currently working on the third book in the Gods of Arcadia series with a working title of Queen of the Amazons. Its theme is more like love destroys all, but romance is still a major part.

SC:   What are your ultimate goals as a writer?

AS:   My primary goal at the moment is to become a full-time author. Right now I teach by day and write by night and weekend. I would like to sell enough books to be able to quit my day job. Imagine how much more prolific I could be. Long term, I would like to create a series that takes on a life of its own – even without me around. The books are a part of me that I will leave behind someday. The teacher in me loves the idea my stories could be a lesson or someone’s book report.

SC:  If you could have any actor/actress cast as the hero/heroine of your latest work, who would you choose and why?

actorAS:  Actually I was sitting in my booth at the Victoria Comicon recently when Manu Bennett(See photo) walked up. He played Crixus in the HBO series Spartacus and is now Allannon in the MTV series Shannara Chronicles. He is very handsome, yet tough. He is now who I see in my head when I picture the Son of Ares. The Daughter of Athena is actually patterned on my daughter Amanda.  She is an aspiring actress who will hurt me if anyone but her ever plays the role in a movie.

SC:    Do you have a writing routine? What does it involve?

AS:   My writing routine involves taking my laptop with me wherever I go. I sit in the back of my daughter’s rehearsals and write. I sit in waiting rooms and write. Sometimes I strand myself at the library for hours so I can write. It is nice to take your world with you wherever you go, but it is interesting that the real atmosphere around me often creeps into my books.

SC:   Do you have any writing superstitions?

AS:  I have the first printed copy of each book I write (three so far) on display in my classroom and a poster of each book cover on the wall of my bedroom.

I also write a Latin phrase in every book I sign.   Ad Astra Per Aspera – to the stars through hard work.

SC:   What do you do when you’re not writing? Do you have any hidden talents?

AS:    I am a Latin teacher.  As a classicist I have always loved mythology and history. I guess my not so hidden talent is my love of singing.  It is not a coincidence that there is music is many of my books.  Someday I will have a book release party with singing.

SC:    What is your favorite part of the writing process?

AS:  I love that the characters do what you tell them, how you tell them to do it, and when you tell them to do it with no complaints.  (Ok, recently I had to cut a whole scene because the character would have come to life and kicked my butt for making him do something so wimpy, but most of the time I run the show!)

SC:  How do you know when your research is done?

AS:  I don’t research. I know more about classical mythology than most people on the planet. (Ok, I know that makes me a nerd.)

SC:    Not at all. You just know your subject. Could you name one thing you absolutely can’t write about?

AS:  The first time I answered this question I said I was not good at describing battles.  My daughter Amanda said that is why the Great Law of the Olympians forbids war on Arcadia.  At her prompting (book 2) Son of Ares was very different.

SC:   What’s one of the challenges you had writing or as an author and how did you meet that challenge?

AS:  Daughter of Athena was a first person biography. Son of Ares was third person split/perspective.  I still told half the story from Ardella’s POV, but I also told the story from Alexander’s POV.  To do this I had to try to think like a male and describe the battles and fights he got into. Even Ardella who lives a sheltered life in the Tower of Athena managed to get into a battle when a manticore attacked her flying car. I am starting to like the action scenes.   My mother was the first person to read Son of Ares. She said I did a better job getting into the head of Alexander than I had Ardella in the first book.(Thanks Mom – Alexander is made-up, Ardella is just an extension of me.)

SC:  I think, as writers, our characters are hidden facets of ourselves. Thanks so much, Andrea! And best of luck with the series!

Submitted by Mary Brand