An interview with Ken Hoss, author of the Kelli Storm series

I’ve known Ken Hoss through Absolute Write for over two years.  We’ve critiqued each other, supported each other, and pressured each other to write 500 words per day.  I’ve read parts of his new Kelli Storm novel through AW and have to say it’s fast and exciting.  I look forward to reading the entire book.

Ken has an interesting past and an interesting angle on his female protagonist, so I wanted to ask him some questions:

1) Now you know I’m a crime writer too, so of course I want to hear about your cryptographic experience in the Navy. Can you tell us the types of projects you worked on and how you find yourself using that experience in your books?

Well, first of all it was during my tour in the Army, when I was stationed in Frankfurt, Germany. I had a Top Secret clearance, so I could tell you what I did, but then I’d have to kill you. Kidding.

 2) What about you’re other military experience? Does that play into your stories?

A lot of the Kelli Storm series, even though it is based in NYC, comes from my experiences from working both Shore Patrol and as a Master-at-Arms in the Navy. That combined with my short stint as a Police Officer in California plays a large part in my writing.

3) Kelli Storm, a tough female cop, is the protagonist of this series. What was your inspiration for creating a female lead? Is she based on some people you have known, some parts of yourself, etc.?

I think all writers use experiences from both their past and present. Kelli is a composite of a lot of women I’ve known over the years. There was on in particular, a long time ago, and she broke my heart. Having been married three times, I like to believe I gained a little insight into the female psyche. (Though I could just be kidding myself.)

 4) As a male author, you must face a challenge in writing a female lead. Can you tell us how you’ve prepared yourself to enter the female mindset, any particular exercises you’ve undergone to develop her character, and about the women you consulted along the way?

I can’t really explain it. I don’t do anything special to prepare, it just happens. It’s like I’ve told other interviewers, Kelli is just there. I’ve never consulted any other women when it comes to Kelli’s characteristics, or her actions. Somehow, and don’t ask me how, Kelli starts talking to me and tells me what is going to happen next.

 5) Your books are full of police procedure, of detailed descriptions of a morgue and New York backstreets. They feel very real to the reader. How do you create that illusion of being right there, with the police detective?

I did a lot of research, and it didn’t hurt that one of my technical advisors is an ex-NYPD Detective. He kept me straight on the details. Of course I used a lot of poetic license with the rest. As for descriptions, if it’s a place I’ve never been, or can’t get a picture of, I just imagine it and write it.

 6) Kelli carries some demons along in her police work. Can you explain those and how they colour her approach to solving crimes?

Yes, Kelli has a few demons nipping at her. She started drinking to excess after a shooting incident, before she made Detective 2nd, and crawled into a bottle. It cost her marriage and almost cost her the job. I won’t go into a lot of detail on the incident, as it is covered in book two. Since joining and attending AA, she has had her weak moments, but has not yielded, using her friends, family and sponsor to lean on.

Then there is her father’s murder, which she witnessed at the tender age of ten. As for how it colors her approach to solving crime, she is driven to live up to her father’s legacy, as well as trying to solve his murder. That combined with her tenacity to prove herself helps her focus, and it keeps her mind off drinking.

7) In an earlier book, Kelli’s partner was killed right in front of her–a major traumatic event. Does Storm Warning present another equally traumatic, personal challenge to Kelli?

Without giving anything away, I will say that Kelli is put to the test in the second book.

8) And finally, what is it that you think Kelli Storm has to offer the average American woman? Many of us will never shoot a gun or face gunfire ourselves. How does Kelli’s story relate to our daily lives?

That is a good question. Tough, but good. I guess what the story is really about, other than the crime, is that no matter how bad life gets, you can’t let it get you down. You have to persevere. Kelli struggles not only with being a woman in a man’s world, but also with her everyday life. A mother suffering from Alzheimer’s, the death her father, and a lost love. Anyone of these things is hard enough to deal with, and Kelli faces them all with defiance. Granted, she does break down at times, but can you really blame her?

I want to advise y’all to check out both books in the Kelli Storm series.  Just click on the book image above. To learn more about Ken, click on his photo.  And I thank him for agreeing to the interview!

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