“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.
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
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