first encountered S. D. (Sandra) Tooley about twelve years
ago at a writer’s conference in Chicago. Over the years
our paths have crossed many times at conferences around the
Midwest. Her work has always intrigued me because it’s
not the stuff that traditional crime novels are made of. She
writes two different series under two different names. Under
the name S.D. Tooley she writes the Sam Casey
series about an ex homicide cop with the ability to speak
to the dead. Her other series, written under the pseudonym
Lee Driver features a detective named Chase Dagger
and his highly talented assistant Sara who has the power to
transform herself into a hawk or a wolf. It makes for some
very interesting reading
You write under two different names. Can you explain that
When I was writing the first book in the Chase Dagger series,
fans thought it was the second book in my Sam Casey series.
So to distinguish the two, I decided to use a pseudonym.
When did you first realize you were destined to be a mystery/suspense
Wish I could say early on. I always had a plot in my head
but never thought of putting anything down on paper. I actually
started out writing scripts. I wrote two screenplays for Moonlighting
which never saw the light of day. Writing was always considered
my "hobby" since I was still working full time and
fit in writing at my leisure. I also wrote for myself, what
I liked to read, and it took some time until I had the nerve
to send it out to agents.
Dennis: Of the characters you’ve created, does
one hold a special place in your heart? Why?
Yes, Sara, my shapeshifter in the Chase Dagger series. She
is an enigma. She is prone to panic attacks, afraid of crowds,
not familiar with the "outside" world yet she has
these amazing abilities. Sara possesses an unbelievable strength
and is fiercely loyal to the one person she trusts: Chase
What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned about
That all my weirdness had a purpose. As a kid I loved scary
movies rather than cartoons. As a young adult I was fascinated
with ghosts, phenomenon, UFOs and aliens, still am. I kept
hidden my experience from age 4 of seeing strange "little
people" on my walls. When attending a recent horror panel
I discovered these were known as hobgoblins. It seems my tastes
and my experiences formed the type of characters and plots
I like to write.
Tell us the defining moment when you felt as if you’d
finally made it as an author.
S.D. The first time I read a review of my book in
Booklist and Library Journal. With
all the books published every year, to see one of mine mentioned
in these publications made the five years it took to write
the first one all worthwhile.
What do you enjoy most about writing a series? What part do
When writing a series the characters seem to take over. They
evolve, change, sometimes for the better or worse. I get to
know them so well that I can tell when dialogue just doesn't
fit them. On the other hand, I get so involved with finishing
the book that I forget to add details to the bio I keep for
each character. I end up having to read through a previous
book to remember what new detail I added or town history which
might be included in future books. I need to be better organized
when filing these facts for future use.
Any words of advice for struggling, unpublished writers?
S.D. I have a Robert Thoreau quote posted on my wall:
"Don't get it right, get it written."
to agonize over a chapter or a part of the plot that just
wasn't going right. I was trying to make it "perfect"
before I moved on. That only served to slow the whole writing
process down. I start with a very rough outline but now I
write whatever comes to mind because inevitably things change,
new ideas formulate as I'm going through the first draft,
characters take charge and steer me in different directions.
What are you currently working on?
I'm finishing up the sixth in the Chase Dagger series.
THE VAPORIZER will be out in early 2013 in ebook
first, then print. I again include some sci-fi and hi-tech
in this installment. Bodies are cropping up in the morgue
with one vital organ missing: their brains. But Dagger has
another problem on his hands. BettaTec, the shadow corporation
he used to work for, has finally caught up with him. They
need him for a job and they won't take no for an answer.