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.
Could you please tell us a little about your book?
Identity Crisis is the second book in the B.K. Investigations series, the sequel to Checkmate. It revolves around Brian Koski, a former Cheyenne, WY police captain who was forced to resign his position after being labeled a “rogue cop” by the new chief of police. Blackballed from a career in law enforcement, Brian is forced to open a P.I. business in order to make a living. His first clients are Jeff and Melody Patten, parents of seven-year-old Angela. The distraught parents tell Brian that their little girl is being stalked by her former teacher, Collin Lanaski, who claims that Angela is, indeed, his daughter—a daughter who died in a car accident along with her mother five years earlier.
Did something specific happen to prompt you to write this book?
As I mentioned above, Identity Crisis is the second book in a series. The ending of Checkmate cried for a sequel, and the B.K. Investigations series was born.
Who or what is the inspiration behind this book?
I love to write a compilation of books with the same characters. These characters become such a part of my life, and my readers lives, that one book never seems to be enough. It was the same with my Passage Time Travel Romance series. The first book just wasn’t enough, for me or my readers. The B.K. Investigations series, though, will probably be my longest series yet with a dozen or more books before I’m done. I have so many ideas of cases that Brian can tackle, including one case—based on a psychic’s visions—that will be on-going throughout the entire series and finally reach its culmination in the last book.
Who is your biggest supporter?
My biggest supporter was my husband, Ron, who died in 2011. Now my kids have kind of taken over that role. My brother and sister, too, are very supportive and always more than willing to help me flesh out an idea.
Your biggest critic?
My son, Jason. He works as an editor for a magazine in New York City. With a degree in writing, he’s very quick to pick out any errors or discrepancies in my manuscripts and, more often than not, he’s right!
What cause are you most passionate about and why?
I don’t know if you would call it a “cause” or not, but I am most passionate about supporting my family and doing everything I can to help my children succeed in life. They’re all grown now, some with children of their own, but it warms my heart that they still need Mom and value my opinion. I also love the fact that they don’t allow mistakes I’ve made in the past, both in my personal life and as a mother, to temper their love or devotion. I love you, guys!
Do you have any rituals you follow when finishing a piece of work?
Just a smile and a pat on the back—then I go back to the beginning and start picking it apart!
What are you currently working on?
Strangely, the book I’m currently working on is NOT book three in the B.K. Investigations series. (Although I do have that book pretty much plotted out.) In fact, my newest project is as far removed from the detective genre as a book can be. My son, Joe, an avid science fiction fan, has bugged me for years to co-author a book with him. So, that’s what I’m doing right now. Ever wondered what would happen if a neutron star were on a collision course with the Earth? Probably not, but I’ll tell you anyway. It would totally annihilate our planet—pull it apart, piece by piece. We’d have no choice but to leave the planet and start over as a human race—and that’s what the people in this book do. They have fifty years to build space craft, design an anti-matter engine, and head out into space in search of a new home. The main problem? There are something like seven billion people on the planet and the ten ships being built worldwide can hold only a million. So, who gets to go?
Do you have any advice for writers or readers?
Never give up! That’s for writers. If you believe in your work, if it sometimes consumes you, if you know it’s good, then never give up. You’ll find a home for it out there somewhere. For readers? If you like a book, let the author know. Most of them have websites these days. (Mine is JeanHackensmith.com) There is no better inspiration for an author than to know that their work is appreciated.
What do you feel has been your greatest achievement as an author?
This series. I’ve been told that Checkmate was my best work ever. Identity Crisis, I hope, is even better. That is my current challenge. To make every book in the B.K. Investigations series better than the last.
What do you feel sets this book apart from others in the same genre?
The main team of investigators in the entire B.K. Investigations series will consist of Brian, the P.I.; Katrina, the psychic; and Sinbad, the former and sometimes reluctant police dog. I don’t think there are any other books on the market with such a diverse group working to apprehend criminals and solve mysteries. Also, each book will focus on one major case, but there will also be one or two other cases that Brian is working on, keeping the reader turning pages until all of the cases have reached their final conclusion.
If you could go back and change one day, what would it be?
November 12, 2011, the day my husband died in an accident at work. I spoke to him the night before and have often wished that I could go back in time to just before that phone call, so I could warn him about what was going to happen.
Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
Just to offer my sincere thanks for allowing me to do this interview. It has been great and really helped me to rediscover myself.
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.