Worried You’ll Have a Disappointing Book Launch? Meet LynDee Walker, Antidote (Includes Book Giveaway)

LynDee WalkerYou know that advice about how to boil a frog? When I agreed to host today’s guest for a mini-interview, I had no idea I  was marinating in already-steaming water, nor that she’d be the one to turn off the stove. Specifically, having watched a number of friends launch first books, these were my beliefs about the experience:

  1. Book debuts are a lot of work and leave authors feeling ignored or overwhelmed. Nobody describes them as “fun” or the fulfillment of a dream.
  2. Nice people don’t get ahead.
  3. It’s almost impossible to stand out in a crowded marketplace.

Kind of pessimistic, right? Well Meet LynDee Walker, total sweetie, and Jan’s literary myth-buster for taking every one of the above points and demonstrating their untruth.

For instance, LynDee was grateful and happy before Front Page Fatality took off–a trajectory begun in its first week. (On Amazon, #7 in Books> Literature and Fiction> Humor as of the time of me writing this post.) In this Q & A, I think you’ll get a sense of personality and perhaps why she’s done so well.

Here’s her book’s official blurb:

Crime reporter Nichelle Clarke’s days can flip from macabre to comical with a beep of her police scanner. Then an ordinary accident story turns extraordinary when evidence goes missing, a prosecutor vanishes, and a sexy Mafia boss shows up with the headline tip of a lifetime. As Nichelle gets closer to the truth, her story gets more dangerous. Armed with a notebook, a hunch, and her favorite stilettos, Nichelle races to splash these shady dealings across the front page before this deadline becomes her last.

And LynDee’s official bio:

LynDee Walker grew up in the land of stifling heat and amazing food most people call Texas, and wanted to be Lois Lane pretty much from the time she could say the words “press conference.” An award-winning journalist, she traded cops and deadlines for burp cloths and onesies when her oldest child was born. Writing the Headlines in Heels mysteries gives her the best of both worlds. When not writing or reading, LynDee is usually wrangling children, eating barbecue or enchiladas, or trying to walk off said barbecue and enchiladas. She and her family live in Richmond, Virginia.  You can visit her online at www.lyndeewalker.com.

Jan: Welcome, LynDee

LynDee: Thanks so much for having me, Jan! I have loved your interviews for years and am honored and excited to be here!

Jan: You share a journalism background with your book’s main character, and it made me wonder about your inspiration for certain plot elements. Did you cope with backstabbing colleagues, sexy mob informants, or situations where your own life was in jeopardy?

FPF front coverLynDee: Not the way Nichelle does! I think in every work situation (at least almost every one I’ve ever been in) there’s that one person who seems to get under your skin, so Shelby was a natural outgrowth of that. Sexy mob informants would have been fun, but alas, I’ve never run across one. I’ve never had anyone threaten my life, either, but I was threatened with arrest once, and another time heard through the department grapevine that I was quite the topic of conversation in a staff meeting at a large law enforcement agency. Not in a good way. The phrase I heard was “this reporter is an evil faction rising from the East to wreak havoc, like in the Bible.” That’s the sort of quote that sticks with you. I’ve never been sure which “East” I was supposed to hail from.

In contrast with the infotainment which passes for journalism these days, it strikes me that Nichelle’s ethical code and empathy seem rather old-fashioned. (Meant in a complimentary sense.) She’s after a story, but on occasion will function at the level of first responder. I have two questions related to this.

First, beyond gathering and crafting a story, do journalists get any training in how to manage their interview subjects’ grief reactions or emotional trauma?

LynDee: Not really. At least, not in my experience, and I graduated from the best program in the Southwest. But I was trained by some highly ethical, very old-fashioned professors who taught us that your reputation is your single greatest asset. I watched other reporters treat stunned and grieving family members badly a few times, and it always infuriated me. I tried to treat people the way I would want to be treated in their shoes. And more than once, I ended up with an exclusive because I was nice.

Even in times of peace, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is an occupational hazard for EMTs, nurses, physicians, etc. (One that’s often ignored or treated as a dirty secret.) You’ve got me wondering about PTSD for reporters, and whether it’s acknowledged during your training.

LynDee: Again, no. At least it wasn’t 15 years ago. There were definitely days when I felt it, though: September 11, for one. I got an exclusive with the Secretary of the U.S. Navy that day, and managed to hold it together and put the paper to bed when all I wanted to do was go home and curl up in a ball and cry my eyes out.

Then there was the Christmas that I covered that house fire: I still tear up thinking about that. Three days before Christmas, three children, all under 7, all died. It was a horrible, heartbreaking story. The fire chief even lost his composure while I was interviewing him about that, and he was a tough guy. Again, I swallowed my tears and did my job, but I completely lost it when I got home that night. It wasn’t “just a story,” it was three babies, and the holiday season seemed to make it that much more tragic.

The last straw for me was a capital murder trial I followed for a year. The little girl was sixteen months old, and died of a traumatic brain injury. Mom’s boyfriend was babysitting, and was convicted in a second trial after the one I covered ended in a hung jury. Eight months pregnant with my first child, I sat in the courtroom for three days, looking at autopsy photos and listening to a grief-stricken father talk about his baby. When they went through the four different stories the defendant had given various law enforcement folks about the day the child died, I was ready to jump over the rail and punch the guy out. The severity of the emotional response scared me, and I realized that as a mom, I couldn’t cover crimes against children. My objectivity gets swallowed by grief for the child and sympathy for the people who loved that child. It was my last trial.

Despite her interest in fashionable footwear, readers shouldn’t dismiss Nichelle as a lightweight. There’s a seriously ambitious heart beating in her chest. We see this through her actions, but also through her admiration for Bob—her boss, surrogate father, and former Pulitzer Prize winner. Talk to me about Bob’s activism and journalism’s capacity to heal communities.

LynDee: I adore Bob. He’s one of my favorite characters in Nichelle’s world, and seems to me, most of the time, to live and breathe. Here’s his story:

Bob shares a passion for reporting and service with my favorite editors and two of my most beloved Journalism professors. He covered the Civil Rights movement as a cub reporter in the late 1960s, and then in the mid-80s, he wrote a series for the Telegraph about the continuing racial divide in the Confederate capital, investigating and exposing the modern KKK and helping to bring attention and aid to predominantly African-American parts of the city. His interviews with civil rights leaders drew attention to inequalities that still existed and promises that had gone unfulfilled in the 20 years since the Civil Rights Act passed. People said his stories did a lot to help set that right and heal wounds that had festered here for over a century, and the Pulitzer committee agreed.

What lies ahead for Nichelle? Will we see this kind of activism in future adventures?

LynDee: Absolutely. Nichelle has such a big heart and is so compelled to help people, I think her investigative and activist journalism days are only beginning. My second novel is due out in October, 2013, and this time she gets to dip a toe into the murky, shark-infested waters of national politics.

Jan: Zesties, if you’d like to be entered in the draw to win an ebook copy of Front Page Fatality, comment in the space by MN EST Feb. 17th. LynDee’s publisher, Henery Press, uses ecards, meaning you are restricted neither by device nor country. Share this interview on Twitter/ Facebook/ blog, etc., and let me know below in a separate comment to qualify up to 4 times. 

Want to connect with LynDee? You can find her on Twitter (@LynDeeWalker), Facebook, Goodreads, Pinterest and www.LynDeeWalker.com.

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43 thoughts on “Worried You’ll Have a Disappointing Book Launch? Meet LynDee Walker, Antidote (Includes Book Giveaway)

  1. Jan and LynDee, what an insightful and awesome interview! The information about LynDee’s background and her reporter days is great and I see even more of Nichelle in LynDee. The backstory on Bob is fascinating. Excellently done, both of you!

  2. Interesting interview! I hadn’t thought of journalists’ capabilities to handle emotional trauma or their being affected by PTSD. Great angle on the interview (always a masterful job, Jan), and engaging answers! Best of luck, LynDee!

  3. Kudos to you, LynDee, for creating a fantastic, likable heroine. I loved Front Page Fatality and the true-to-life details you’ve added from your days as a reporter brought a realism to Nichelle that I enjoyed. Congrats on your success and wishing you many sales!

  4. Wow, loved this interview; one of the most engrossing ones I’ve read, well done Jan and LynDee! The book sounds awesome and one I’d love to read. Best of luck, and have an awesome day! ~ Julie 🙂

  5. Great interview. I really enjoyed hearing about your journalism background. It’s a fascinating world and you did such a good job of giving us a taste of it in FRONT PAGE FATALITY. Congrats LynDee!

  6. Jan, thank you again for having me. I couldn’t agree more with the comments about your wonderful questions! You have no idea how much it makes me smile that this dream I’m walking around in has made you feel better, either. Thanks for sharing that!

  7. This is a wonderful interview, one of the most in-depth I have read. I loved hearing more about your background in journalism, LynDee. You covered some interesting, heartbreaking stories while keeping your emotions in check which I know can be hard at times. I think that directly correlates with why Nichelle is the person she is: strong-willed, determined to get the story and has a huge heart for others. Congratulations on the great success of FRONT PAGE FATALITY!

    Julie Gallo
    Editorial Intern
    Henery Press

  8. Great interview from one of my favorite author friends and one of my favorite interviewers! No need to enter me in the contest; I have my copy of FPF right here on my desk. Great job, ladies!:)

  9. Such a great interview, Jan and LynDee! It was a wonderfully informative look into LynDee’s background and the corresponding connections to her book. It made me want to read FRONT PAGE FATALITY even more. Congratulations to you both!

  10. Wow. Great interview. I love hearing about the personal experiences of authors and how it informs their writing. And with Jan’s insightful interviewing style, reading her blog (this interview) feels like a chat at a coffee shop with a bunch of friends. I have not read Front Page Fatality yet so am totally looking forward to picking it up because it sounds awesome.

    1. Thank you! I appreciate you stopping in to chat with us. I couldn’t agree more about Jan’s interviews. I’ve been excitedly anticipating this one for months! I hope you enjoy Nichelle’s adventure. 🙂

  11. Man, I loved this post! What a fantastic glimpse of Miss LynDee . . . got a little teary, even, thinking of what that must have been like on Sept. 11. Thank you, Jan, for sharing LynDee. Thank you, LynDee, for sharing yourself!

    1. Thank you, Sarah! September 11 was just a bad day all around. Not unlike what some of my professors went through the day JFK was killed, if I had to guess. A burst of quick thinking landed me that interview (I called Sec. England at home and I think he was too startled by my gumption to say “no comment”) but watching the rest of the news from NY and D.C. trickle in and not being able to just sit and cry was hard.

      Thanks so much for stopping in! I hope you like Nichelle. 🙂

  12. What a great interview! Lyndee, you opened my eyes to a side of journalism that is never revealed to public view. I am a fan. There’s no doubt Nichelle will carry on all of the elements that make you a journalist to admire, a kind heart, a desire to speak truth, strong ethics, and sense of adventure. Jan–you asked the best questions. Do your talents have no limit?

    1. Gosh, D, you’ve got me totally blushing here. Thank you for the kind words! If I’m any good at this, I owe it all to my former teachers and patients who taught me the value of trained nosiness. 😉

    2. Thanks, D! I loved my job, but there are days when I look at the industry and how it has changed in *gulp* nine years, and I think maybe I got out at the right time. Not to say at all that there aren’t still honorable, wonderful journalists out there, but I imagine all the changes make it much more stressful even than it was for me.

      I hope you enjoy Nichelle and her friends, and I agree 100% about our dear Jan: she’s awesome with a side of fabulous. 😉

  13. Hi Jan & LynDee!

    I’m on the page where Nicey meets Mr. Breaking & Entering. I adore shadowy figures. 🙂 LynDee, your journalism background really shines through and gives your story a true sense of realism. Can’t wait for your next book.

  14. Got your book in the mail and looking forward to reading it. May have to wait until I return from my upcoming service project in Big Bend, though. I’m so happy and thrilled for you that it’s going so well. It couldn’t happen to a nicer person. I also enjoyed Jan’s interview with you. How did it feel to be on the other side of an interview? Good luck on the book’s sequel. I hope it’s another smash.

    1. Thanks, boss! I hope you enjoy it. I think you might identify with Bob’s affinity for his alma mater. 😉 Enjoy your hiking trip, but no getting lost in unmapped areas of the wilderness this time, huh?

      Oh, and answering the questions instead of asking them is definitely different. It’s been 2 weeks and I think I’m getting the hang of it, but it feels weird. I have a local TV appearance next week that’s actually the one I’m most nervous about. No time to go back and edit my answers.

      1. Testing links from my website to make sure they’re working and saw this. 🙂

        Jan, you know how I said Bob had a lot in common with my favorite editors? Well, meet James, who was the publisher of the last newspaper I worked for. He is a seriously devout UT alum, an honorable journalist, and a really good guy to have in your corner.

        Boss, Jan is fantastic, and I think you’ll really enjoy her blog. 🙂

  15. I have to echo what everyone else here said — what a great interview! Jan, you have a serious gift for this. And LynDee, I was already looking forward to reading FRONT PAGE FATALITY — now I really can’t wait! Congratulations on your awesome launch — I hope it’s just the beginning of your good news!

  16. LynDee already knows this and has dispensed the prize, but in case the rest of you wondered, the lovely Jennifer Tanner of Romance University won this giveaway.

    Thanks to everyone for playing, and to LynDee for being here!

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