Decatur: Connie McKee and Tall Tales Books

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Connie McKee

“Then, with your fingers poised on the keyboard, you squint at an image that is forming in your mind — a scene, a locale, a character, whatever — and you try to quiet your mind so you can hear what that landscape or character has to say above the other voices in your mind.”
― Anne Lamott  in Bird by Bird

When Connie McKee turned to writing, she took Anne’s message to heart and approached character description “head on” while drawing on her own lifetime of studying people. As a former psychiatrist, what always mattered to Connie most were behaviors, moods, and perceptions, not how tall or short people were or whether they were brunette or blonde. She wanted to understand first what was inside someone’s head. Only after that would she give them skin and bones and clothe them in their world.

With forensic psychiatry – the intersection of psychiatry and law – as her specialty, the natural thing would have been for Connie to write a crime novel with a serial killer or crazed woman at its center. But she didn’t, at least not yet.  Instead, she wrote of near a death experience, parallel universes, and alternate realities–things that bend the mind. Who, other than someone schooled in divinity, is better able to speculate on these topics than a psychiatrist?

The Girl in the Mirror earned Connie the 2016 Georgia Author of the Year Award. And, yes, the story involves a dream. “Of course,” you might scoff, “what else would the stereotypical shrink do but force you to talk about your dreams and then ask you what you think they mean?” Jodi, the protagonist on Connie’s book is a psychiatrist too with dreams of her own and a particular dream that mirrors, no pun intended, Connie’s own life experience. And, in the story, Jodi is forced to confront her dream or what may not have been a dream at all. That’s where the real world, the science part, ends and–I think–the fiction begins. Or is it the other way around? Another mind bending question for the reader.

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After winning the award for her book in the science fiction category, Connie explained she considers the work not so much science fiction as a blend of science and fiction. And maybe that is the best explanation of what transpires.

On a personal note, Connie is a soft spoken and self effacing person. She listens more than she talks, that’s expected of a psychiatrist and makes for a good writer even if while speaking with her you might fear she’s making notes for her next character from what’s inside your head.

While not running road races, traveling, or writing, Connie appears around town as one of The Book Widows, a group of four local authors who speak about how men and women read differently and why. While the others talk about the what and how and how many, Connie’s contribution to the group is definitely the why. She gives a lot of thought to the topic and dives below the surface–and maybe into the mirror–for new insights each time.

Read more about Connie at: www.constancemckee.com


Tall Tales Books

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Tall Tales has been in Atlanta for almost forty years, and though construction surrounds the Toco Hill Shopping Center, if you get lost, just stop and ask. Everyone in the neighborhood knows just where the book store is.

It’s a busy place, bookended with a Pike Nursery on one side and a Kroger Supermarket on the other. But step inside and it’s as if you’ve stepped into your living room, albeit one with floor to ceiling bookshelves. It’s cozy and quiet with just the right amount of like-minded guests–book lovers all.  On the day I visited, the Saturday before Easter, moms and dads led small children by the hand to one aisle full of pink and blue and yellow children’s books and left with arms full of books.  Never mind that I was there with two other mystery and suspense writers for a signing, we had an audience too–one loyal Tall Tales customer balanced a stack of her favorite mystery writers in one hand and then piled on a copy of each of our books.

And if you ever need a suggestion for what to read next, Rebekah and her staff are knowledgeable and eager to help–they claim to have majored in book recommendations in college. Plus, you can stop in for one of the store’s many book signings events featuring a variety of genres. You won’t leave empty handed!

Tall Tales is located at 2105 Lavista Road, Atlanta, Georgia 30329. And, for more about Tall Tales, visit the store’s website at: www.talltalesatlanta.com

 

Decatur: Doug Dahlgren and Half Price Books

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Doug Dahlgren

Doug Dahlgren is perhaps most visible (or should I say “heard”) in the Atlanta area as the radio personality behind The Doug Dahlgren Show—formerly known as The Prologue. This weekly radio program is where Doug hosts discussions with authors whether local or from across the county. He’s a consummate professional, always prepared for the guest author and their latest book and making the author feel as if they’ve spent their life behind a microphone. Of course, Doug has help! His wife Donna is the secret sauce powering Doug’s show. She reads every book cover to cover, leaves reviews (bless her), and helps Doug prepare for each week’s broadcast.

But Doug is not just a radio show host, he is also an author in his own right. An author with a bucketful of five star reviews for his series of contemporary thrillers he dubs “plausible fiction.” From congressmen who are dying off mysteriously, to drug cartels that are gaining power, to a killer of former Navy Seals, to Russian gangs, federal agents, and the syndicate, Jonathan Crane, Dahlgren’s protagonist, battles for what’s right against formidable odds. And, of course, Crane survives to fight through the series of six novels. He’s an assassin known only as The Son. As such, Crane metes out justice according to his own rules of right and wrong, thankfully, rules aligned with the readers’ view of the world.

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The first in the series, The Son: Silas Rising, was penned in 2010 and followed with near super-human alacrity by the next five in the series, including The Daedalus Directive, the last, in three and a half years. Doug has a vocal and enthusiastic fan base, some comparing his work to Vince Flynn’s and finding a new hero to follow in Jonathan Crane now that Flynn has passed. Doug considered moving on to other settings and series after The Daedalus Directive, but because his fans clamored for more, he is writing a new stand-alone novel but returning to and reuniting some of the characters from the series. It no doubt will find a loyal readership.

Doug is a mild mannered, polite, individual, not someone you would at first think writes edge-of-the seat political suspense. So where does he get his ideas and how does he work what looks like magic? The answer is lots of research, naturally, including everything from espionage, to high-tech weapons, to belief systems in synch and at odds with America’s values. And, then, there are the characters that populate the novels. Doug says he studies people around him whether friends or relatives or complete strangers. Be careful what you say around Doug, or what you admit to knowing, you might find yourself cast in the role of one of his characters, if not in his well received series then in his unnamed new work perhaps!

Find out more about Doug Dahlgren on his website: dougdahlgren.com and about his radio show here: artistfirst.com/dahlgren  . If you are an author and are excited about the prospect of hearing your voice on the air, let Doug know.


Half Price Books – Decatur, GA

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What’s better than a book? A half-priced book.  That’s Half Price Books’ stock in trade. And yes, they sell new and used books and many at remarkable prices. Plus, they buy back books to sell again and spread the word. But that’s not the best thing about Half Price Books. To my way of thinking, it’s that despite its size (120 stores across the US), the company is still “family owned.”

Half Price Books’ family values show, too. Take for instance what they call “Local Author Saturdays” at the Decatur store and check out their schedule to know who’s coming next. And, perhaps my favorite event, even if it doesn’t involve books, Kitten Adoptions on March 25 as part of the store’s Lifeline Animal Project. Trust me, I know, pages fly by when you have a warm cuddly kitten in your lap.

Visit the Decatur Half Price Books at  2615 N Decatur Rd, Decatur, GA 30033 or on their website: hpb.com/125.