March 2001's Author of the Month

S.D. Tooley
(aka Lee Driver)

(Chosen by Pam Stone)
About S.D. Tooley

An Interview 



About S.D. Tooley

I chose S.D. Tooley because she writes bewitching stories that keep you hanging on to every word.

 I first became aquainted with S.D. Tooley  when Lee Holder from Full Moon Publishing sent me three books to be reviewed. Boy, am I glad that she did!  The books were WHEN THE DEAD SPEAK, NOTHING ELSE MATTERS, which are Sam Casey mysteries.  Sam is a police woman,  and she has an extraordinary advantage over other cops, she can here the dead speak. The Sam Casey mysteries combine mystery with paranormal.

Than there was  THE GOOD DIE TWICE, written under the pen name of Lee Driver, THE GOOD DIE TWICE is A Chase Dagger Mystery, Chase has a dark past and he doesn't trust many people. Chase has two  exceptional assistants, Einstein is a bright scarlet macaw that has a photographic memory, and than there is Sara a native American woman who has the capability to Shape-shift into a hawk or wolf.  The Chase Dagger mysteries are mystery fantasy and horror all together in a majestic read.  I can't wait to read the second Chase Dagger mystery called  FULL MOON BLOODY MOON.

 Ms. Tooley is a native of  Chicago Ill.and a member of  Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime.


Interview with S. D. Tooley

PS: Please tell us about you and your life before you started writing.

SDT: I held a number of interesting jobs.  After I graduated from high school, I worked for R.R. Donnelley & Sons in Chicago as a secretary.  Our department printed and bound the Sears Roebuck catalog.  At the encouragement of  some relatives, I took a job as administrative assistant to a local mayor.  (I claim The Fifth on my character's distrust of politicians.)  I had a brief stint at the worse job in the world -- selling cars, and I helped to write technical pamphlets on industrial and environmental instrumentation.  I did mental writing during this time, contemplating plots, letting my imagination run wild, but I never put anything to paper until about fifteen years ago.

PS:What made you start writing, and how did you decide on which genre?

SDT: My imagination started to rule my life.  It was like living in a perpetual dream world, coming up with plots, having character dialogue running through my head with no outlet.  I have always loved mysteries starting, like most young girls, with Nancy Drew.  But I soon found that even mysteries didn't solve my thirst for reading.  Stephen King and Dean Koontz were able to ease my Shock Theatre withdrawal.  I love ghost stories, used to subscribe to UFO Reporter, and have always been a big fan of the unknown.  However, my roots are in mysteries so being able to combine these genres satisfies all areas of my personal taste.

PS: Are you a disciplined writer, and how long does it take you to write a book?

SDT: The first book took me five years to write.  It was difficult to hold down a full-time job, get home at 6:00 p.m., prepare dinner, wash dishes, and attempt to be able to clear my head to focus on writing, especially when I would have only one or two hours until bedtime.  I  have since learned that even one written page a day will give you 365 pages in a year.  My second book took only three months to write.  The story spilled out of my head faster than my fingers could type.  On average, it probably now takes me about  five months to research and write the book, one month to let the book ferment, and two months to read and edit it with a fresh eye.  I then have my editor read it which leaves me a couple months to make suggested changes and polish it to the finished product.

PS: All three of your books have marvelous story lines and immense characters,  I have to ask where do you get your ideas from?

SDT: Surprisingly, mainly from daily life as noted in newspapers.  A truck actually did hit the center support pillar on the Bishop Ford Freeway.  It was my over-active imagination that conjured up how much more exciting it would be if it had exposed remains, like maybe Jimmy Hoffa.  This was my story idea for When the Dead Speak.  Nothing Else Matters was easy (it's about a murder on a riverboat casino.)  I was a casino dealer for six years and when you stand at a dead blackjack table for ten hours, all you can do is let your imagination run free. The third Sam Casey, Restless Spirit, is based loosely on an actual unsolved murder which took place when I worked for the local mayor.

For the Chase Dagger series, I had read a review of one of the Animorphis series books and thought that ability would come in handy for a detective.  I was at a time in my life when I was giving up trying to find an agent and took the advice of other writers to start with a short story.  So I wrote one called Sara Morningsky.  It was going to be a stand alone but the characters wouldn't shut up.  Other characters fell into place, including Einstein, Dagger's macaw.  Every time I attended the MWA annual workshop, I would stop by the hotel pool.  They had a green and gold macaw sitting on a perch screeching.  It was gorgeous.  So I picked up a Parrot magazine and fell in love with scarlet macaws. This is how I decided on a macaw for Dagger's pet vs the traditional cat or dog.

The prelude to the second Chase Dagger, Full Moon-Bloody Moon, also started as a short story.  I had read Marilyn vos Savant's column in 1997.  One reader had asked her how frequently a full moon occurs on a Friday the 13th. She said it was rare and the next one was March 13, 1998.  My mind started clicking with thoughts of  werewolves. Since the next occurrence was October 13, 2000, the timing was perfect for the second Chase Dagger mystery.  In the short story the killer escaped.  So I had him pop up in the full length novel and continued the reign of terror.

PS: Do you plan on writing any other books besides the two series that you are  working on now?

SDT: Currently juggling two series is about all I can handle right now.  But never say never.

PS: Who are your favorite authors (past or present)?

SDT: Naturally, King and Koontz are at the top of the list.  Patricia Cornwell, Janet Evanovich, David Baldacci.  By attending more mystery conferences (where you rarely find the above authors), I have had the opportunity to learn of the existence of great mid-list authors:  Jay Bonansinga, Lee Child, L.L. Thrasher, Paula Boyd, Ellen Larsen, Larry Kahn, M.R. Sellars, Mary Welk, Jim Butcher.  I'm constantly reading new releases (not to mention the 80 on my to-be-read stack) so I'm always adding to my list of favorite authors.
Some authors you might recognize as not writing traditional mysteries. Because I write cross-genre mysteries, I have discovered other cross-genre writers.


PS: Would you mind telling us you most memorable book signing or convention story?

SDT: I was at a Books-a-Million in Terre Haute, Indiana.  I didn't have much of a choice in dates because I was planning on driving through Terre Haute on my way home from a vacation trip.  This particular day happened to be Mother's Day.  Everyone obviously was taking Mom to lunch because the store was empty.  But it was also a slow day in news so who shows up but Channel 2 News.  I had my 2 minutes of fame!

PS: Do you have any advice for the legion of aspiring writers out there?

SDT: Write for yourself first.  What I mean by this is to write what you love to read.  If you don't, it will be forced and the reader will know it immediately.

PS: Do you have a website?

SDT: Yes.  It's finally up and running:

PS: Is there anything else that you would like to share with your fans --  book signings or speaking engagements for instance?

SDT: I just finished a number of signings from Detroit, Michigan down to Peoria, Illinois and up to Joliet, Illinois.  I try not to schedule anything during the icy weather. I will be attending the Love is Murder conference February 2-3, 2001.  I will be at Dark and Stormy, the MWA annual workshop June 9, 2001.  As soon as other signings are scheduled, I would be happy to pass on the information. Readers can check my website.  I will update it frequently.

My thanks to Ms. Tooley for her time.

Pam Stone


 Written as S.D. Tooley

 The Sam Casey Series



 Written as Lee Driver

 The Chase Dagger Series


A Chase Dagger Mystery
Full Moon Publishing - Oct. 2000
ISBN: 0966602145 Hardcopy

Reviewed by Pam Stone

FULL MOON BLOODY MOON is the second Chase Dagger mystery; the first was THE GOOD DIE TWICE.

Chase Dagger is back, but this time he will need more than luck to catch a killer that has been around for more than 200 years. Murder victim Lisa Cambridge, a member of the Cedar Pt. police department is found with her throat slashed, her body suspended 20ft in a tree, wish-boned so tight between the branches that the police had to cut t he limb to get the body down. There have been murders occurring around Friday the 13th since 1998, Knowing that Oct. 13th a Friday was not even here yet, the worse was yet to happen.

FULL MOON BLOODY MOON has the same unconventional and fetching characters as THE GOOD DIE TWICE. Einstein the bright red macaw that has a big mouth, Chase’s right hand woman, Sara, Simon the mailman who knows everybody’s business. Padre and Skizzy are also back as well as some new characters. FULL MOON BLOODY MOON is a ferocious horror-filled ride that will stick with you well after you have finished reading the book. Mixed with sex, violence and plenty of fast paced action. I hung onto every word.

Lee Driver you have done it again, keep up the good work.
2001's Honorary List

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