Monday, August 04, 2014

A Conversation with Mystery Author Jean Hackensmith

Omnimystery News: Author Interview with Jean Hackensmith
with Jean Hackensmith

We are delighted to welcome mystery author Jean Hackensmith to Omnimystery News today.

Jean's second mystery in her Brian Koski "B.K. Investigations" series is Identity Crisis (Inkwater Press; April 2014 trade paperback and ebook formats) and we recently had the opportunity to chat with her about it.

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Omnimystery News: Introduce us to your series characters.

Jean Hackensmith
Photo provided courtesy of
Jean Hackensmith

Jean Hackensmith: The main character is Brian Koski. Brian is a former police captain with the Cheyenne, WY Police Department. After rumors regarding the suspicious death of Dan Hamilton (the villain in Checkmate, book one in the series) reach the new Chief of Police, Brian is forced to resign. Left with few options, he starts his own P.I. business. Brian is somewhat of a playboy. In fact, in one review I was criticized for his perception of women as playthings, but that's just who Brian is. As I explained in the blog on my website, this vice gives Brian room to grow as a man and as the main character in the series. He is also a bit of a "rogue" when it comes to police work. Brian definitely does not follow the rules. He does what he needs to do to help his clients, and if it means breaking a few laws along the way, oh well. That's what makes Brian so much fun!

The second main character is actually Brian's dog, Sinbad. A former NYC police dog, Brian acquired Sinbad from a trainer when the dog displayed a fear of loud noises. The dog freaks during thunder storms, or when a train goes by. Helicopters also make him turn tail and run. The only loud noise Sinbad is not afraid of is gunfire. The dog's fear actually makes for some very funny scenes and, I believe, will endear him to readers as much as it has endeared him to me.

The last main character is Katrina Cordova. When little Angela Patten is kidnapped in Identity Crisis, Katrina informs Brian that she knows where the girl is being held. She saw it in a vision. Katrina is psychic, but she has her visions only during thunder storms (unfortunate for Sinbad!) Her visions are right on the mark, detailed and accurate, unlike a lot of other psychics who speak in generalities. One recurring vision, however, has nothing to do with Angela. It is of a massive explosion, where hundreds, perhaps thousands of people will die. This particular vision will become more detailed in each successive book, giving Brian more and more information as to the time and location of the explosion, and will reach is culmination in the final book in the series.

OMN: You mention that Katrina's visions will become more detailed over time. How else do you expect your characters to evolve?

JH: Brian, for instance, is a career playboy in the first two books in the series. I also consider him an anti-hero in that he is somewhat of a hothead and doesn't always do things the right way or by the book. Both of these characteristics will change as the series progresses, allowing Brian to grow both in his personal and professional lives. As for Sinbad, I really don't think I want to change him too much. His unpredictability is what makes him such an endearing canine character. It also makes for some really funny scenes both in Identity Crisis and in future books in the series. Katrina Cordova will change in the fact that she will eventually become an integral and invaluable part of Brian's team — and someone that Brian will come to respect for more than her physical appearance.

OMN: How do you go about researching the plot points of your stories? Have you come across any particularly challenging or exciting topics?

JH: I absolutely LOVE the Internet. In my opinion, it is an author's best friend. I remember all too well the days when I would haunt the library and come home with stacks of books to pour through for factual information to incorporate into my stories. Thank God those days are gone. Now I am able to concentrate on my writing and, when I come across something that needs to be researched, I just pop onto the Internet, find what I need, and get back to writing. I've told the story many times of when I was researching the fourth book in my "Passage Time Travel Romance" saga, The Ultimate Passage, how in one day I researched floor plans for the White House, The United Nations Building, and homemade bombs. I was waiting for the FBI to come knocking on my door!

While I didn't have to research anything that intriguing for Identity Crisis, I did spend a lot of time on the Internet. My book is set in Cheyenne, WY, so I stared at a lot of maps of Wyoming looking for areas that would be good for a fugitive to hide out, as well as researching the laws in that state.

The most fun research, however, was regarding Sinbad and the training of police and protection dogs. Chris Byrne from Stonehill Kennel in Connecticut was my biggest asset on that score. He is an actual character in the book and, in real life, has become a good friend.

OMN: Complete this sentence for us: "I am a crime novelist and thus I am also …".

JH: I am a crime novelist and thus I am also fascinated by serial killers. I think I've seen every documentary on John Wayne Gacy, Jeffrey Dahmer and Ed Gein ever made. Ed Gein is especially fascinating to me, because he lived in the same area I do. In fact, his house of horrors was only about 5 miles from where I live today. A serial killer hasn't made his or her way into one of my books yet, but I have no doubt that before the B.K. Investigations series is completed, Brian will be hunting for the ultimate in serial killers. Of course, I started out as a romance writer, so that serial killer might have a soft spot for the opposite sex. Or … maybe Brian might fall in love with a female serial killer? Hmmm … interesting idea.

OMN: How did Identity Crisis come to be titled? And were you involved with the cover design?

JH: I have to credit my publisher for both the cover and the title for Identity Crisis. They have a wonderful graphic artist who designed the cover, and my editor actually came up with the title. My working title until that point was Child's Play, which I really didn't like because it was also the title of a horrible movie.

OMN: What kind of feedback have you received from your readers?

JH: I guess this question is the main reason that I love to write a series of books. Checkmate, the first book in the B.K. Investigations series, was originally a stand-alone book — until I started getting emails from readers who said the book literally cried for a sequel. Thus, the B.K. Investigations series was born. The same thing happened with my "Passage" saga. Again, the first book was to be the only book, but my readers felt differently. They absolutely loved the characters and wanted to see more of them. What better compliment can an author receive?

OMN: Suppose the B.K. Investigations series were to be adapted for television or film. Who do you see playing the key roles?

JH: There is no doubt in my mind that Tom Cruise needs to play Brian. They both have dark hair, both are in their mid-forties, and I would have no problem picturing Tom Cruise as a playboy/anti-hero. As for Katrina, definitely Angelina Jolie. They are both dark and sultry. As for Sinbad, the dog in the movie K-9 would be great. Anybody know his name?

OMN: What's next for you?

JH: Strangely, the book I'm currently working on is not book three in the B.K. Investigations series (though rest assured it is pretty well plotted out and next on the agenda.) In fact, my current manuscript is as far removed from the crime/mystery novel as you can get. My son has been bugging me for years to co-author a science fiction novel with him, and that is what I am currently working on — and it is a blast. There is no other genre in which you can just let your imagination soar. So, ever wonder what would happen if a neutron star were on a collision course with earth? Well, give me another six months and I'll tell you. (The book will be titled Exodus, in case you're curious, and should be available sometime in 2015.)

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Jean Hackensmith lives in Wisconsin and enjoys the solitude of country living, the picturesque beauty of the sun rising over the water, the strangely calming effect of watching a deer graze outside her kitchen window. What better place for an author to be inspired than in God's own back yard.

For more information about the author, please visit her website at JeanHackensmith or find her on Facebook and Twitter.

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Identity Crisis by Jean Hackensmith

Identity Crisis
Jean Hackensmith
A Brian Koski Mystery

Little Angela Patten is kidnapped by a madman — a man who's convinced she's his dead daughter …

When rumors of how Dan Hamilton actually died reach the Cheyenne Chief of Police, Brian Koski is forced to resign his position as captain of the Sixth Precinct and go into business for himself as a private detective. His partner? A mahogany-colored Belgian Malinois named Sinbad. A former NYPD police dog, Sinbad is vicious when need be and reliable to a fault-unless a train goes by or there's a thunderstorm, then chances are he will turn tail and run.

Brian's first clients are Jeff and Melody Patten. He's an explosives expert for a local demolitions company; she's a stay-at-home mom. Both are devoted parents to their young daughter, Angela. The problem comes in the form of one Collin Lanaski, an unstable ex-Air Force lieutenant and Angela's second grade teacher, who suddenly starts insisting that Angela is his daughter — the same daughter who died in a tragic car accident four years earlier. What does Collin base this incredible revelation on? Dog tags and car seats.

Brian is convinced the man has suffered a psychotic break. He's delusional and dangerous, and it becomes the P.I.'s job to protect Angela from a madman.

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