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An Interview with Joel Boydston

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J.E. Boydston is a retired Professor Emeritus, has an extensive background in education, technology, and publishing. He authored a popular annual reference guide for school personnel in the U.S. while serving as the Technical Manager and Consultant in a central Florida school district. For fifteen years, he served as a professor of Networking Technologies at a Florida State College. A Vietnam Veteran, he earned a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star for valor during his tour. With three loving adult children and a new granddaughter, he’s a very happy writer! Boydston is currently working on book two of the Kyle McNally detective series, Cigar City Crimes.

The co-author, J.E.’s sister, M.B. McCullough, was born in Seattle, Washington, and grew up in Illinois. Her professional career spanned nearly four decades with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms (ATF), United States Secret Service, and the U.S. District Court. She used those experiences to create and lend realism to the first Kyle McNally novel, Canarytown, City of Grief.

What inspired you to start writing this book?

A long, smoldering fire within burst into flames upon my professional career retirement. My sister and I had planned this since the mid-1990s.

Tell us the story of your book’s current title. Was it easy to find, or did it take forever?

Former Chicago Police Detective Kyle McNally now owns and operates the Paladin Detective Agency based in Tampa, Florida. He has a problem with women: As a teenager, he witnessed his mother’s killing by Sein Finn bombers ;a serial killer brutally murdered a former female partner at the Chicago P.D.; and, on the eve of their wedding, a professional sniper assassinated his fiancée. Now, his newest client believes her astrological chart that suggests her life is in dire jeopardy. Kyle is not only pursuing his fiancée’s murderer, and seeking the truth of his Astrology-charting client’s case, but he’s also consulting with the Tampa P.D. in tracking a serial killer who calls himself Y2K. These three intertwining storylines are the heart of this fast-paced, thrilling crime story set against a dark urban backdrop on the streets of Ybor City, Florida.

Describe your dream book cover.

It will portray the dark noir look and feel of the story’s plot based in Tampa, Florida, as a backdrop. In the foreground, I see a 1940s-era street scene of Ybor City, 7th Avenue cigar district on a foggy morning, that enhances the flavor and tone of the Cuban enclave. It will also include a silhouette of my protagonist on the street wearing a black raincoat and fedora against the weather.

If your book had a soundtrack, what are some songs that would be on it?

My protagonist’s favorites are Baroque classical compositions from the likes of Vivaldi, the Four Seasons, J.S. Bach, his violin concertos, and maybe one or two from Led Zeppelin titles, like “Your Time Is Gonna Come” (from within the story.)

What books are you reading (for research or comfort) as you continue the writing process?

Larry Brooks: Story Engineering, and Great Stories Don’t Write Themselves

Ross McDonald: The Doomsters, and The Moving Target

Lee Child: One Shot

Reed Farrel Coleman: Sleepless City

Itzu Diaz: I Will Not Eat Crickets

What other professions have you worked in? What’s something about you that your readers wouldn’t know?

I’ve taught in the Elementary, Middle, High School and College Levels.

For fifteen years, I was the technical manager for a central Florida school district.

For fifteen years, I was a professor and department chair for a central Florida state college (awarded Professor Emeritus status on retirement).

Who/what made you want to write? Was there a particular person, or particular writers/works/art forms that influenced you?

The English language and the writers who used it to my delight. So many stories come to mind: Treasure Island, Tale of Two Cities, The Lord of the Rings, Dune, Dante’s Inferno, Purgatory, and Paradise, Shakespeare (though not so much), Sue Grafton’s ABC novels, Huckleberry Finn, and so many more!

Where is your favorite place to write?

In my office, at my computer desk.

Do you have any writing rituals?

I’m spirit-driven (and patient!) I don’t stick to a rigid schedule, but when I sit down, I always plan to complete at least one scene or chapter (500-1,000 words.)

What is one thing you hope readers take away from reading your book? How do you envision your perfect reader?

That they have just left a complete world; one filled with fascinating, occasionally larger-than-life characters, a relentless pace, and a plausible, satisfying story.

Are you a writer, too? Submit your manuscript to Atmosphere Press.

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Atmosphere Press is a selective hybrid publisher founded in 2015 on the principles of Honesty, Transparency, Professionalism, Kindness, and Making Your Book Awesome. Our books have won dozens of awards and sold tens of thousands of copies. If you’re interested in learning more, or seeking publication for your own work, please explore the links below.