Interview with Jean Hackensmith, author of Identity Crisis


ABOUT IDENTITY CRISIS

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.



 Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life, Jean.  Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?

A:  I’ve been writing since the age of 20 (that’s 37 years, and yes I’m revealing my age.)  My first book, titled Persuasion, was a 1300 page monstrosity which was never published (for obvious reasons), but I was hooked.  Since that time, I’ve published 12 novels ranging from historical romance, to time travel romance, to romantic suspense and, finally, to this detective series.  It’s been quite a journey, and one I wouldn’t change for the world.

Q: Can you please tell us about your book and why you wrote it?

A: Identity Crisis is the second book in my B.K. Investigations series.  Though it does contain a modicum of romance, it mainly fits into the detective category mentioned above.  Checkmate, the first book in the series, was more of a romantic suspense than a detective novel.  Since my main character in Identity Crisis is a private detective, however, this book, as well as all the others in the B.K. Investigations series, fits better into the detective genre. All of the books in the series will contain some romance, however; what I can say?  I’m still a romance writer at heart.

Identity Crisis is the story of Brian Koski’s first case as a private detective.  He was forced to resign his position as captain of the sixth precinct in Cheyenne, WY due to the questionable circumstances surrounding the death of Dan Hamilton (the villain in Checkmate).  Left with no way to support himself, Brian opens his own P.I. business.  His first clients are Jeff and Melody Patten, parents of seven-year-old Angela.  The Patten’s come to Brian for help with a strange situation.  Angela’s 2nd grade teacher, Collin Lanaski, has become convinced that Angela is his daughter—the same child that died in a car accident five years earlier, along with her mother.  When Collin eventually kidnaps the girl, it is up to Brian to save her from a madman.

Q: What were some of the biggest challenges you faced writing it?

A:  Each of the books in the B.K. Investigations series will feature one major case, but Brian will also be working on several other cases as well.  In Identity Crisis, one of his other cases involves finding a young wife and mother named Nellie Overton, who disappeared more than thirty years ago.  Since I had never really tackled a mystery such as this before, I found it very challenging to come up with viable evidence and drop realistic clues that Brian could discover thirty years after the fact—evidence, of course, that would help him find out what happened to the missing woman.

Q: Do you have a press kit and what do you include in it?  Does this press kit appear online and, if so, can you provide a link to where we can see it?

A:  My press kit includes a synopsis of the book, a cover photo, an author bio, an excerpt from the book, and a press release.  Unfortunately, no.  It is not available online.

Q: Have you either spoken to groups of people about your book or appeared on radio or TV?  What are your upcoming plans for doing so?

A:  My publisher is in the process of setting up readings, book signings, and podcasts.  At this point, nothing has been firmed up.

Q: Do you have an agent and, if so, would you mind sharing who he/she is?  If not, have you ever had an agent or do you even feel it’s necessary to have one?

A:  I don’t have an agent at the present time, and have found that finding one can be just as hard as finding a publisher.  I did have an agent years ago, however, after writing that first monstrosity I mentioned earlier.  She helped me tremendously to hone my writing skill, even going to the point of spending a week at my home and offering personal assistance and advice.  She kind of dropped off the face of the earth one day, though, and I never heard from her again.

Q: Did you, your agent or publisher prepare a media blitz before the book came out and would you like to tell us about it?

A:  My publisher is of the mindset that their time and money (and mine) are better spent after the book is released, when a reader can actually go and purchase the book after seeing or hearing promotional details that interest them.  For the most part, I agree.  I did do a lot of advance promotion via social media, with very little result.  I’m not saying our views on this issue are right, but it has worked better for me. 

Q: Do you plan subsequent books?

A:  Definitely.  Based on the list of plot ideas that I have currently, I’m guessing that the B.K. Investigations series will run somewhere between fifteen and twenty books. There is also one major case revealed in Identity Crisis that will be ongoing throughout the series.  This attack on a major American target will reach its culmination in the final book in the series. 

As strange as it sounds, I’m also currently co-authoring a science fiction novel with my son about a neutron star that is on a collision course with earth.  I’ve always said that I don’t want to become known for specializing in any particular genre, and I guess this proves it!
  
Q: Thank you for your interview, Jean.  Would you like to tell my readers where they can find you on the web and how everyone can buy your book?

A:  Identity Crisis is available through all the major online retailers or can be ordered through your local bookstore.  Autographed copies are available through my website at www.jeanhackensmith.com.  In order to introduce readers to the series, I’m currently offering what I think is an incredible deal via my website.  Through the end of June, readers will be able to purchase a paperback copy of Checkmate, book one in the B.K. Investigations series, for only 99 cents.  The Identity Crisis paperback runs $10.99 on the website, which is much cheaper than through either Amazon or Barnes and Noble.  Both books in the series are also available for the Kindle and Nook through Amazon and Barnes and Noble respectively.

ABOUT JEAN HACKENSMITH

 I have been writing since the age of twenty.  (That’s 37 years and, yes, I’m disclosing my age.)  I am the proud mother of three, stepmother of two, and grandmother to twelve wonderful children.  I lost the love of my life, my husband Ron, in November of 2011 when he died in an accident at work.  He took my heart with him and, for a time, my desire to write.  Time, as they say, heals all wounds, and I have again discovered my passion for the written word.  In fact, I find it strangely comforting to delve into the intricate webs that are my character’s lives and immerse myself in their existence instead of dwelling on my own. Next to writing, my second passion is live theater.  I founded a local community theater group back in 1992 and directed upwards of 40 shows, including three that I authored.  I also appeared on stage a few times, portraying Anna in The King and I and Miss Hannigan in Annie.  I am sad to say that the theater group closed its final curtain in 2008, but those 16 years will always hold some of my fondest memories. My husband and I moved from Superior five years ago, seeking the serenity of country living.  We also wanted to get away from the natural air conditioning provided by Lake Superior.  We moved only 50 miles south, but the temperature can vary by 20-30 degrees.  I guess I’m a country girl at heart.  I simply love this area, even though I must now enjoy its beauty alone.  I love the solitude, the picturesque beauty of the sun rising over the water, the strangely calming effect of watching a deer graze outside your kitchen window.  Never again, will I live in the city.  I am an author, after all, and what better place to be inspired than in God’s own back yard.

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