Monday, 27 February 2017

Building bridges wherever she goes: author interview with Stephanie Parker McKean

This is now the third in our series of interviews from our authors. Stephanie Parker McKean comes from the beautiful state of Texas but now lives in the equally beautiful but very different Fort Rose in Scotland. Today, she's going to fill us in on how her environment inspires her in her writing. Stephanie is the author of numerous books, but is best known for her wonderful 'Bridge' murder mysteries featuring the wacky and delightful Miz Mike. The stories cross the Atlantic from Texas to Scotland and back again, and the first two fall under the Sunpenny Rose & Crown imprint.  Now, over to Steph!

SP: Stephanie, could you tell us something of your background and how you came to be living in Scotland?

SPM: Yes, of course. It’s amazing even to me. I love Texas and never expected to leave. Then I met my husband, Reverend Alan McKean, and the only way to live with the man I married was to move to Scotland!

SP: The things we do for love? Can I ask then, what do you find most inspiring as a writer about living in Scotland?

SPM: Scotland is a land of scenic beauty in any direction you look. There is simply nothing ugly or un-inspiring about it. I love rocks and am endlessly fascinated by the craftsmanship that went into these awesome, historical rock buildings. And not just the castles. I love all the rock buildings.

Stephanie at Fort Rose in Scotland

SP: You mention rocks in your books quite often, I notice. Was it your environment that prompted you to start writing? How long have you been writing?

SPM: I have wanted to do nothing else in life but write books since I was about 10-years-old. My father sold his first book and came home with a Shetland pony in the back of the station wagon. He bought Smokey with the advance from his book. When I asked him if his book was true, he said no. That decided me. I was always getting into trouble for telling tall tales. I figured that if a person could get paid for telling lies – that was the job for me!

SP: What a lovely story!  What do you prefer writing then? Fiction or fact and why?

SPM: Oh, fiction. Definitely fiction—although I do research any time it’s needed, and places, historical events, characters, and even some of the situations—are based on fact. But I love spinning threads of imagination into words to catch a plot and build a web of deceit that will help readers escape the mundane (and perhaps even sane?) when talking about Texas Miz Mike.

SP: Now I have to ask you this: do you write anything other than fiction/fact?

SPM: I spent a total of 14 years writing articles for various newspapers in Georgia, Nevada, and mostly Texas. I have also sold true stories to Regular Baptist Press for their take home Sunday School papers. But my first love is fiction.

The reason Stephanie gave up journalism and went to
Sctoland: with her husband , the kilted Alan McKean

 SP: Wow, what a writing background you have! If you had to give the readers here a tip about how to get started on a book, what would it be?

SPM: The same tip that I read once many years ago: stick to writing what you know best. And if you don’t know enough—research it. I think if a writer writes what he or she loves, that will come through in the book.

SP: Great advice. Now, here's a stock question for you. What is your greatest strength in life? And then (of course) what do you see as your weakest point?

SPM: Good question! My greatest strength in life is my Christian faith and my walk with God.Even my flexibility is built on that. I have lived under a bridge, taking baths in the river even during the winter and painting signs for survival. I have lived in the middle of the Nevada desert as a single parent raising a son. I have lived in an open-ended garden center in the Texas Hill Country with birds flying in and out above and toads and other critters coming in at ground level. Now, I have given up my summers of 100+F to live here in Scotland where it’s a miracle if it breaks 70F even in the “summer.” But through it all, two things have sustained me: God and writing.

As for my weakest point, perhaps trusting other people too easily and too much. That sort of answers the question of why I wound up living under a bridge and in the open-ended garden center!

SP: I hope you never have to do that again, Stephanie, but if you had to live in isolation for a year with only one book, what would it be? And do you have any favourite authors? If so, why do you admire their work?

SPM: More good questions. I could easily live for a year with just my Bible. I try to read nine chapters from it each day. Sadly, I seem to fail often given the time spent on book promoting. My favorite authors are the American mystery-romance-suspense writer Phyllis A. Whitney, and British mystery writer Agatha Christie.

Angel Joy, Stephanie's dog has more than a passing place
in her wonderful Miz Mike books

SP: Are you writing anything at the moment? Can you tell us what it is?

SPM: Thanks for asking this because it’s exciting! I am working on the eighth Miz Mike. I thought seven would be the end of the series, then Alan made a suggestion for another…and it took off so fast that I had to run to keep up with it! In fact, it’s mostly finished, but I decided it was too short and am adding a chapter to slow down the non-stop action just a bit to give readers a chance to catch their breath. “Bridge to Texas” is set back in Texas and is hilariously funny.

SP: All right, last question now! If you had a bucket list, what would be in the top three positions? 

SPM: Aah, you know I simply don’t have a bucket list. All I have ever wanted to do is write books. I’m writing books now—so I am 100 percent joyous and content!

Stephanie, thank you so much for joining us on the Sunpenny blog. It's been lovely to have you here and I hope all our readers will enjoy reading a little more about you and your fascinating background.

Links to Stephanie's books can be found here 
(The first two books in the Bridge series are Bridge to Nowhere and Bridge Beyond Betrayal)
Her personal and very lovely blog is here

The first of the seven-book Bridge series


Anonymous said...

Stephanie's love of words and life shines through xxx

Vallypee said...

It does, doesn't it? I really enjoyed reading this interview too!

Anonymous said...

Great to see the Sunpenny Blog up and running again. Such interesting, talented Sunpenny writers! Well done, y'all!

Carol Hedges said...

Lovely to read more about Stephanie!