Joe McKinney: horror and cops, a great combination

Joe McKinney

Joe McKinney writes horror books and works nights as a cop, a fifteen-year veteran of the San Antonio, Texas, police department.

What a combination.

I had the pleasure of meeting Joe a few days ago at a writers conference where he was a speaker.  His topic was basic police procedure for writers.

More about that in a minute.

At the meet and greet, Caleb and Linda Pirtle and I sat around the table with Joe and picked his brain.

“What kind of writing schedule do you have, Joe?” I asked.

“I write fifteen hundred words every day, rain or shine,” he said.

“How long are your books?”

“A hundred and twenty thousand words or so.  I have one that was two hundred and twenty five thousand.”

I did the math.

“So you write what is an average length book for you in about three months?”

He thought about it for a second.

“Yeah, that sounds about right.”

Later I asked him one of those questions authors love and hate.

“Okay, Joe.  If I want to become familiar with the Joe McKinney body of work, which book should I read first?”

He paused.

Inheritance by Joe McKinney

“The books I brought to the conference with me are the ones in my zombie series.”  He paused again.  “But the one I just wrote called Inheritance might be where you would want to start.”

He took out his iPhone and searched for something.

Inheritance has my favorite one-star review, so far,” he said.

He found the review and read it to us in his best cop dead pan.

Too much horror
Not what I warned signed up in error need new book to read less bizarre desired next time will try again

He shrugged a what the hell shrug.

During his presentation on police procedure, Joe provided a handout that explained the job duties of various sorts of police officers as a basic guide about which agencies handle what sorts of investigations.

He used an example of someone who got it wrong.

“A very fine writer I know wrote a book about zombies that attacked a town in Alaska and killed most of the residents.  Later a sheriff came to town and lead the investigation. The problem with that is that sheriffs are the head of the county police and Alaska doesn’t have counties.  It would have been the state police that ran the investigation.”

The tone of Joe’s remarks were that writers do themselves a service when they get details like that right.

He also said that writers should shy away from too much high-tech stuff about crime scene investigation.  If they aren’t professional CSIs, they will get it wrong.

“In the real world of crime investigation it usually comes down to the old-fashioned way,” he said. “Cops solve crimes by talking to people.  That’s a good thing for writers.”

Do yourself a favor and look up Joe McKinney’s books.

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