Q&A with Morgan Hannah MacDonald

About the Author:

Morgan Hannah MacDonald writes Romantic Thrillers-Not for the faint of heart. She has always been interested in writing and serial killers, but it wasn’t until she found she had dated one herself that a true writer was born. She belongs to Romance Writers of America’s San Diego Chapter, as well as the Kiss of Death Chapter. She resides in San Diego, California where she is busy working on her next novel.

Links: Website | Facebook

What inspired the Sandman’s MO?
His mother abandoned him as a young child to be raised by a highly abusive father.
A recent traumatic experience brings all this to the surface and we see his childhood replayed in his nightmares. He has serious abandonment issues.

Tell us a bit about the creative process involved in putting together the killer.
I have studied serial killers through non-fiction books. Some by FBI experts like John Douglas. They usually start as abused children. Cruelty to animals, abnormal sexual appetites, etc.

Why would you say Meagan attracted such a row of ‘remarkable’ characters?
Meagan has a certain light about her that attracts people who want to feed on her light like a vampire! She’s upbeat, funny, attractive and out spoken. She only sees the good in people, so she takes them at face value until proven otherwise.

If there’d be a contest for having the wackiest ex’s, would she by any chance win it?
Oh yes!

Why write about a serial killer?
I’ve always been fascinated by serial killers since I read Thomas Harris’ SILENCE OF THE LAMBS back in the 1980’s. So I write about what interests me. There is danger around every curve because you know there will be more victims. SANDMAN was inspired by my own realization that I had dated a serial killer. When I found out I was shocked, of course, but at the time I didn’t know just how fortunate I was to have survived. I just thought; Wow, I’m lucky he wasn’t crazy when I dated him! In denial much? So while I was getting ready for this blog tour, I googled his name to check on the date he was apprehended. I was right, it was my birthday 1998. There was an extensive article about him and as I read it, I was blown away. He did have a troubled past. He was discharged from the Marines in the 1980’s for mental problems. Eight years prior to our brief relationship he had been arrested for the brutal rape and beating of a prostitute. The case was dropped due to lack of evidence. And his killing spree began three short years after we broke up.
(Livia’s note: Holly Crap!!! Thank God he didn’t have a meltdown when you were dating him!! *shiver*)

J.J. had a great relationship with kids in the novel, would you describe him as great dad-material?
Most definitely. He comes from a big family, and would like the same.

Are any of your characters inspired by someone you’ve known or a situation you’ve been yourself in?
Well, the medical examiner, Cheryl, in SANDMAN is based on a real person. I stayed at this woman’s house one weekend with friends. She was quite the character. She swore like a sailor, had a gruff demeanor, but was actually sweet and a gracious hostess. She was in her fifties and lived in a house on the beach in Mexico. Alone. Now that woman had grit.
Sean and Katy O’Brian who play close friends of Meagan’s from SANDMAN were based on a couple of close friends of mine. And believe me, they are a couple of characters. He’s an artist and a surfer. His wife listens to a police scanner. She’s a ghost hunter. And she’s guest stared on numerous reality shows. For years we talked daily on the phone. She even called me on my honeymoon night! She really cracks me up.
Meagan McInnis, the heroine of SANDMAN, is loosely based on me. I say loosely because I gave her the looks I wish I had and she’s much healthier. I don’t get up at six in the morning and jog along the beach! But her personality is pretty much mine. Also, her misadventures in dating are all inspired by true stories. So when you read SANDMAN, don’t go thinking that all those things couldn’t happen to one woman, because they did. Including that icky boss of Meagan’s. And many more. I could fill a book on the crazy guys I dated after my divorce. I wouldn’t even have to exaggerate to make it interesting! After all, how many women do you know have dated a serial killer? So when women say they have lousy luck with men, I’ve just got to laugh. Seriously? I’ve got you beat sister. It’s no wonder I’m single, huh?
Would you tell us a bit about your writing process? Do you do something special to set up the mood for writing a certain type of scene?I get up, grab a big cup of coffee, sit down in my high backed chair and put my feet up on an ottoman with my laptop on my. . . well, my lap! Then I read the last chapter I’ve written to get my head back into the story and go for it!
What inspired you to become an author?
Well I had fantasized about it for years. I am an avid reader, of course.
Then I found out I had dated a serial killer and just knew there was a book in there somewhere. But it wasn’t until two years later that I actually did something about it.
I was visiting my parents for the weekend and my father asked me what I would do if I ever won the lottery? I told him I would buy a cabin in the mountains and be a writer. He went and got his old laptop computer, handed it to me and told me not to wait. I started the minute I got home.

Was it something you’ve always wanted?
Nope. Actually I was a singer all my life, so I wanted to be a rock star when I grew up! *giggle* I was in a rock band and a punk band, but being a star never entered the equation.

What was the very first thing that you wrote that made you feel like this would be it, your dream, and your future?
Well, the book I went home and started writing was called BLOOD IN THE SAND. It just flew out of me and took only three months. After some writing courses and a lot of rejections, I rewrote it and called it AND THEN YOU DIE. As in Life’s a beach, and then you die. Many more rejections followed. Then I joined Romance Writers of America and took more classes and joined the online critique group Lethal Ladies. Then I rewrote the book for the last time and that book is now called SANDMAN. This book was eleven years in the making! But from its first inception I knew that this was my calling. Even after hundreds of rejections, I never gave up. So I urge anyone who is thinking of writing to join RWA. Whether you write romance or not. Their classes and resources are matched by none. And then, of course, persevere!

If you could pick any book ever written up to date, which one do you wish you would have wrote?
Lisa Gardner’s LOVE YOU MORE

Why that one?
The premise is unique. It raises the questions: What would you do if you were afraid of your own child? Nature vs. Nurture? It was so suspenseful. It’s the best book I’ve read in years!

And now, the infamous question: any exciting new plans for the future? Give us something to look forward to.
My next book is SPIRITS IN THE TREES. It is book one of THE SPIRITS TRILOGY. It has a serial killer as well, but I added ghosts to the mix. Look for it in May 2012.

Thank you Morgan, it has been an absolute pleasure to chat!


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