S.D. Skye is a former FBI Russian Counterintelligence Program Intelligence Analyst and supported several key 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 Hanssen. She has spent 20 years supporting counterintelligence, intelligence, and military missions in the U.S. Intelligence Community.
An award-winning author of romantic comedies in her other life, Skye is a member of the Maryland Writer's Association, 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 the next installment of the series.
The Seven Year Itch
(A J.J. McCall Novel – the FBI Series) by S. D. Skye
Her Family Was Vexed With a Generational Curse. Now for Lie Detecting FBI Spy Catcher J.J. McCall, the Truth is in The Seven Year Itch.
FBI Special Agent J.J. McCall is a born lie detector who recruits foreign spies to catch American traitors. She and co-case agent Tony Donato have lost two of their most critical Russian sources in the past two years, and they may lose another in just a few short days if they don’t catch him, The ICE PHANTOM, a rumored insider spy more insidious and elusive than Ames and Hanssen combined. They suspect he might be burrowed deep inside FBI counterintelligence—and his body count is going up.
Drawn into an unsanctioned mole hunt, they have a week to catch him, save a key source’s life—and their own. While J.J.’s lie detecting ability helps them narrow down the list of suspects, the lie she tells to herself may help the ICE PHANTOM defect to Moscow and get away with the murder of the man she loves.
Skye's debut FBI Series, filled with mystery, espionage, romance, and suspense, will keep you burning through the pages until J.J. catches the very last spy.
Before treating us to an excerpt, S.D. Reveals:
From where do you get inspiration and what inspired you to write The Seven Year Itch?
I spent 20 years in the U.S. Intelligence Community and I’ve had a very interesting career to say the least. I’ve worked in places and done things many people will only read in books. So, I tapped into my vast experience for the foundations on which to build plots for this series. Each book will feature agencies and situations in which I’ve worked to some degree or another.
The largest chunk of my career was spent working in FBI counterintelligence, but I’ve had the opportunity to work with or for just about the entire alphabet soup of agencies (CIA, NSA, DIA, at the Pentagon on the Joint Staff, etc.). J.J. McCall is very loosely based on an African-American FBI Russian counterintelligence/counterespionage agent with whom I worked for several years. In a field that is largely dominated by white males, I was always impressed by how she persevered and propelled herself to the top of her field. I don’t know her struggles on a personal level but I worked at the FBI long enough to imagine certain issues she must’ve endured. So, after the writing bug bit me, I finally leveraged those experiences to create what I hope will be characters and stories readers will remember for some time to come.
In a couple of sentences, describe the hero’s character. What do you like best/least about him?
Antonio “Tony” Donato, the hero in the series, is an FBI agent and J.J. McCall’s co-case agent. What I like best about him is that he’s his own man. He broke away from the “family business” (his father is a jailed mob boss), to become an FBI agent even though he knew he’d be estranged from his father because of it. But he followed his dreams and I think the strength it takes to follow his dreams will be the same strength he needs to follow his heart, especially loving a woman of another race.
What I like least about him is that he is as stubborn as an old billy goat. Once he gets set in his ways, there is little that can budge him—but J.J. somehow manages to do it when the chips are down. They are perfectly suited in that way.
And the heroine? How do you relate to her?
J.J. McCall is fiercely loyal and I love that about her. When she makes a promise, she will risk her life to keep it. But it’s this same quality that has proven to be her downfall as she struggles with the stress that keeping promises brings. We are very similar in that way, but we do share other characteristics. For example, in the Seven Year Itch, the first book in the series, J.J. McCall, an FBI Agent, followed the legacy of her mother, who was an agent during Hoover’s tenure. Well, I followed in my mother’s footsteps. My mother worked at the FBI during the J. Edgar Hoover years, and joined the FBI about twenty-something years later. My father and brother were DC police officers. In the book, J.J.’s brother is a DC police officer. J.J. worked in counterintelligence/counterespionage. I worked in the same areas. Such similarities are sprinkled throughout the book. As for the plots and romantic entanglements, those are largely figments of my vivid, conspiratorial imagination.
What do you think are the main ingredients for a successful book?
Attempting to answer this question could be enough to make a writer slit his/her wrists. I think if anyone knew the question to this question and shared it, we’d all be successful NY Times Bestsellers. At the end of the day, I think success truly begins with the author and his or her expectations. If you write an honest book, from your heart, and tell the best story you can, the best way you can tell it, then I think you’ve reached one level of success. Writing characters and stories that readers can connect with, who stick with them long after the book is closed is another level of success. When this happens to so many people across the world that your book becomes a best seller, then I think that’s the ultimate success for many writers. But there are degrees of success we can all reach and feel good about our work and about what we’re bringing to the world. I feel successful in that regard.
What do you like best and least about writing?
What I love most about writing creating relatable characters that make people laugh and think. When readers reach out to me and tell me they laughed out loud at a character, that’s the ultimate compliment for me. If I write a page-turner people can’t put down, I’m over totally the moon.
What I like least about writing is that there are just not enough hours in the day for me to write all the books I want to write as quickly as I’d like to write them. I have four series going on right now. Three are in romantic comedy and one is of course the “Itch” series. I would love to have at least three books in each series done next year, but to do that, I would need to clone myself twice and be glued to my computer screen 24 hours a day for the next 10 months. Writing is my favorite thing in the world to do, but it sucks that you can only write books one word at a time.
What is the best writing advice you have ever received?
I’m actually doing a series of short articles about this very topic on my blog, so this is a perfect question. I think, for me, one of the major hurdles I had to overcome is allowing imperfection. When I read the Bird by Bird by Ann Lamott, she wrote a chapter called “Sh!tty First Drafts.” It was the most liberating thing I’d read to that point. She said don’t worry about making your work perfect on the first draft, just finish. That’s one piece of advice that has really stuck with me throughout my career. All my first drafts now suck. Sometimes the second and third do to. As long as I get the story right before it goes to print, then I’ll be fine.
What can we look forward to from you in the near future?
The second book in the series, Son of a Itch, follows J.J. McCall and company as they try to discover who placed a bug in the White House Situation Room walls. In addition, J.J.’s nemesis is plotting to kill her so she’ll face some real danger in this next novel. I think her biggest challenge will be juggling this love triangle between her, Six, and Tony. It heats up quite a bit from this point forward.
What would you most like to accomplish this year?
I would like to get three books written and published this year—Son of a Itch (Book #2), A No Good Itch (Book #3), and 12 Honeymoons (a romantic comedy). Getting those three written and published would be a major feat and a huge accomplishment.
What is your culinary speciality?
I love Italian cuisine. I swear I must’ve been an Italian grandmother in my former life. I love pastas, breads, and sauces. I make a mean lasagne and I do so from scratch, so it’s usually a two-hour dish. I also make a very good spinach and ricotta stuffed shell dish. And my son loves my spaghetti.
Mikhail Polyakov was murdered in a Solntsevskaya-owned cottage located in Lobnya, a small village just outside Moscow. It was a Russian organized crime death chamber. A hulking Mafioso known only as Maskov hovered over his mangled corpse. The ax in his massive hand dripped with the blood of a traitor. He would not live to betray his country another day. In the safe house basement, he lay on the concrete floor. A pool of crimson surrounded him, and his flesh had been gashed and hacked beyond visual recognition; death’s stench thickened the air. In order to serve its only noble purpose, his right hand, which bore a crescent-shaped birthmark, was left untouched.
A sliver of light shone through an undersized window revealing the wicked grin that parted the executioner’s cigarette blackened lips. Colonel Anatoliy Golikov. A Russian intelligence officer, he was a member of a cadre of Russian Foreign Intelligence Service—SVR officers—from the First Department. His professional mission had been recruiting people who sold U.S. secrets, but his personal mission was to kill anyone who betrayed the Motherland.
His skinny eyes, slight frame, and borderline gaunt face colored him weak, but his iron-fisted will and suffocating persona made him a man few crossed. Even fewer had lived to brag about it if they had. The son of a former hardline KGB General who executed Russians spying for the West, he’d filled his father’s sadistic shoes well. Left nothing in his wake except a trail of dead American sins against Russia.
Many thanks for regaling us today. Pleasure to meet you!
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