Today is a chat with mystery author Sandra Tooley (aka Lee Driver) as she talks a bit about herself and her newest Chase Dagger series release (written as Lee Driver), Fatal Storm.
Mystery author Sandra Tooley is the creator of the Sam Casey Series and the Chase Dagger Series (written as Lee Driver). She has held a number of interesting and diverse jobs such as secretary at a leading printing company, car salesman, sales assistant, assistant to the president of a franchise consulting firm, and seminar coordinator. Her most enjoyable job was the six years she spent as a casino dealer.
The author is particularly fond of the unusual and has carried her interests in the unknown to her writing. Her Sam Casey Series features a Native American detective with the unique ability to hear the dead speak, mixing mystery with paranormal. (Think Medium with a Native American twist.) Her Chase Dagger Series (written as Lee Driver) includes a young Native American woman who is a shapeshifter, combining mystery with fantasy, sometimes sci-fi or horror. Critics call it MacGuyver meets Dark Angel. Her cross-genre mysteries have won a number of awards over the years and been reproduced in large print, audiobook, mass market paperback, and eBook. Harlequin bought the paperback rights to Restless Spirit for their Worldwide Mystery book club. The Skull, a mystery for ages 11 to 111, won the Ida Chittum Award for Best Young Adult Mystery.
Her titles have received favorable reviews in Booklist, Library Journal, Publishers Weekly, and Midwest Book Review.
Welcome, Sandra. Please tell us a bit about Fatal Storm.
This is the 5th in my Chase Dagger series. The Indiana Paranormal Investigators are spending a night in a gothic mansion on the outskirts of Cedar Point, Indiana. Four people are participating…only three remain in the morning. There have been other disappearances and homicides in the past connected with the mansion. And the one common denominator has been the weather. Fatal Storm finds Dagger and his entourage spending a night in the mansion to seek answers. But they get more than they bargain for as another storm builds on the horizon.
What inspired you to write this book?
I am a fan of the TV series Ghost Hunters and thought it would make a great theme for the next book in the series. I have always been intrigued with haunted houses. Two of my favorite movies are The Uninvited starring Ray Milland and The Changling with George C. Scott. Plots that challenge believeability have always appealed to me. I guess this comes from my love of Twilight Zone, One Step Beyond, and X-Files.
What exciting story are you working on next?
I alternate my series. One year Sam Casey. The next year Chase Dagger. I am currently working on Destiny Kills, the 6th book in my Sam Casey series (written as S.D. Tooley).
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I have friends who started writing poetry at the age of eight. My storytelling was mainly in my head. I would think up plots for my favorite TV show. I was a late bloomer and didn’t start writing seriously until the 1980s. I would have to say I considered myself a writer when I had my first book signing and saw my signature.
Do you write full-time? If so, what’s your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I try to spend at least six hours a day writing, but sometimes life gets in the way. When I worked full time it was difficult to get even six hours a week dedicated to writing. I just spent one week at our time share in Southern Indiana. I wrote 100 pages. I have been home for two weeks and have written 5 pages. It varies. When I’m not writing I’m either reading or I’m on the golf course.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I type two question marks (??) when I need to research something. Rather than stop in the middle of writing to search the Internet or pick up the phone and call a friend (nurse, doctor, lawyer, etc), I wait until I’m done with the first draft and first re-write. Then I search for all double question marks, print out the pages and put them in piles depending on whose brain I have to pick.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Surprisingly an archeologist. I used to sit on the curb and sift through all the rocks at my feet, thinking every rock with a marking was a fossil of some type. Of course, after seeing Jurassic Park and how boring archeology is (long hot days brushing sand from bones, living in tents), I’m glad I didn’t pursue that occupation.
Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I have kept quiet all of my life about these “little people” I used to see from the age of four until my teens. They would crawl along the ceiling of my bedroom. My mom told me I was imagining it since she had read me Gulliver’s Travels. But three years ago, I was on a paranormal/fantasy/sci-fi panel. Someone in the audience asked the panel members to share any encounters they have had that might be considered paranormal, whether seeing a ghost, spacecraft, etc. I described my “little people” and two panel members immediately said “hobgoblins.” This, of course, prompts my husband to call me “strange.” I did see a ghost once while babysitting for a friend and I once subscribed to Dr. J. Allen Hynek’s UFO Reporter. I guess this all explains why my writings are anything but traditional mysteries.
Thanks for stopping by today, Sandra, and sharing a bit about yourself and your writing. I hope all the spirits stay on the pages!