JoeyPinkney.com Exclusive Interview
5 Minutes, 5 Questions With…
Joe McKinney, author of The Red Empire and Other Stories
Joe McKinney’s debut collection, “The Red Empire & Other Stories”, brings together eight tales of haunted policemen and cosmic horrors. A chance encounter with a homeless man one hot summer night opens the doors of perception for a Houston beat cop. Genetically engineered fire ants threaten to devour a small Texas border town, and the only thing in their way is a grief-stricken county man.
An ex-detective can no longer run from the ghost of his greatest failure. A rare piece of non-fiction chronicles the author’s fifteen year investigation into a century old cold case. Police work can be hell. But there’s no hell like the catacombs of the mind.
Joey Pinkney: Where did you get the inspiration to write “The Red Empire and Other Stories”?
Joe McKinney: The stories in “The Red Empire and Other Stories” cover several years of my writing career, and each one has its own unique inspiration. The title story, for example, is about genetically engineered, super-intelligent fire ants. That story grew out of my love for the creature feature films of the ’50s and ’60s.
“Blemish” is a ghost story that digs deep into my college days. “The Old Man Under the Sea” came from my desire to write a last man on earth story, and the rather curious fact that both Ernest Hemingway and Louis L’Amour were professional boxers for a time. So each story is unique in that regard, but they are reflections of my interests and personality.
JP: What sets “The Red Empire and Other Stories” apart from other books in the same genre?
JCM: In my day job, I’m a patrol commander for the San Antonio Police Department, and this influences most of my fiction. I tend to use a lot of police characters, regardless of whether I’m writing a crime story, horror tale, or something completely different.
And because I live that life, I like to think that I write about it with a dose of realism you won’t find anywhere else.
JP: As an author, what are the keys to your success that led to “The Red Empire and Other Stories” getting out to the public?
JCM: Organization and committment, definitely. Between raising a family and working a full-time job, I don’t get a lot of time to write. So when I do get to write, I have to be organized. I have to know exactly what I’m going to be doing when I sit down to write. As a result, I tend to outline everything I do before I ever get started writing. Also, I set a goal for myself of 1000 words a day. Over time, organization and a daily committment can really add up.
JP: As an author, what is your writing process? How long did it take you to start and finish “The Red Empire and Other Stories”?
JCM: Well, as I mentioned, I outline everything I do before I write it, and I write everyday. My novels usually take about two to six months to write, whereas a short story can take anywhere from a single afternoon to a month or more to complete. The title story in “The Red Empire and Other Stories“, for example, is a thirty thousand word novella, and that took nine days to write.
JP: What’s next for Joe McKinney?
JCM: I’ve got a bunch of books coming out in the next few months. The fourth novel in my Dead World series, called “MUTATED“, comes out September 4, 2012. My collected zombie short fiction should be coming out in November, 2012, right about the same time my novel “INHERITANCE” comes out. After that, I have a haunted house novel that will drop in March, 2013, and another standalone zombie novel in the Summer of 2013. So there’s a lot on the horizon!
Thanks for having me on!