We’re thrilled to have here today Tuck from Tj O’Connor’s Cozy Mystery Dying to Tell. Tuck is a 40ish, at least at the time of his death, a homicide detective living in Winchester, Virginia.It is a pleasure to have him with us today at Beyond the Books!
Thank you so much for this interview, Tuck. Now that the book has been written, do you feel you were fairly portrayed or would you like to set anything straight for your readers?
Set things straight, oh heck yeah! First, let’s be clear. Tj is an okay guy, but he’s just the ink and I’m the story. I do the heavy lifting—I solve the crimes—and he gets to sit around listening to 40’s swing music and banging away on the computer as I dictate my cases to him. What a life, right? He has the easy part … heck, I had to die to make this series work! Talk about a character flaw! And come on, he’s always making me sound like a smart-ass. Me? I’m really a cool, reserved, soft-spoken kinda guy who just happens to commune with the dead—at least those who have a beef with the living. So sure, I have a few quirks, maybe even a sarcastic quip now and then. But if Tj were dead and rattling around in the same clothes all the time, he’d be a little crazy too!
Do you feel the author did a good job colorizing your personality? If not, how would you like to have been portrayed differently?
Sure, he colorizes my personality pretty well. Like I said, I tell the story, he types it, and we get along just fine. Except when he changes what I tell him and tries to make things too clever. Then, holy crap on a peanut butter sandwich, we have issues. Rewrites, edits, the works. If he’d just listen to me, there would be fewer edits. No, my personality is as the books portray it. I love solving murders. I love Angel, my wife, and Hercule—he’s my black Lab—and above all, I love the thrill of the chase. Tj thinks he understands all that from his days as a government agent. Ha. He got to chase terrorists and bad guys. Big deal. Was he dead? No. Did he have to worry about revenge-seeking spirits? No. But all in all, I’ll keep him.
What do you believe is your strongest trait?
My gut instincts and my sense of humor. In this business—homicide and dead people (they’re not necessarily connected) you have to have a sense of humor. If you don’t, it’ll kill you. (See what I did there? I turned it around on you.) And without gut instincts, Tj would have to solve the cases himself and BOY would we be in trouble!
If you could choose someone in the television or movie industry to play your part if your book were a movie, who would that be (and you can’t say yourself!)?
Easy, Nathan Fillion from Castle and Firefly. He’s a great actor, funny, charming, handsome … just like me. Except for the fact that he’s alive and I’m well … living-challenged, we’re identical.
Do you have a love interest in the book?
Professor Angel Tucker, my wife, er, widow. She helps me solve my cases. Or at least, I let her tag along. I let her find some big clues and chase a few bad guys, too, just to make her feel part of the team.
At what point of the book did you start getting nervous about the way it was going to turn out?
Page 1. So, most murder mysteries begin with a body. Sort of goes with the territory. But Dying to Tell, the third book of my cases, begins with Angel getting attacked and nearly kidnapped by would-be bank robbers. THEN there’s the body. So yeah, page one had me guessing all the way to the end and then some. I had to explain the ending to Tj, too. Go figure.
If you could trade places with one of the other characters in the book, which character would you really not want to be and why?
The dead guy—William Mendelson. After all, other than me—and I’m back amongst the living but not really one of them—who would want to be dead? And besides, William has some really dark secrets and a history that, well, will kill you (there I go again). No, I’m more of the catch-the-bad-guy kinda-guy. Not the be-the-bad-guy kinda-guy.
How do you feel about the ending of the book without giving too much away?
Pretty damn good. Like Dying to Know and Dying for the Past, my cases always have three big parts to them. First, there’s the murder that’s traditional like an Agatha Christie story. Then, there’s a historical subplot that intertwines with my family’s history—and since I never knew my family at all, that’s kinda neat. In the end, the two plots smack into each other and reveal a deeper, more intricate case. In this one, we’re looking at a reclusive, bizarre banker with roots back to WW II Cairo and a Nazi spy operation called Operation Salaam. All the historical plots are based in facts with Tj’s weird twists and turns thrown in. This one’s a blast. And be careful when you read it, no one is whom you think and there are no innocents. None.
What words of wisdom would you give your author if s/he decided to write another book with you in it?
Listen to me more. Type my story as I tell it, don’t adlib. Oh, and remember, being dead may sound cool and intriguing, but it’s lonely and empty sometimes. Ask Angel, she’s struggling with it too. And hey, watch my old partners in the Sheriff’s department. I’m starting to wonder about them. No one in Winchester is who you think they are. Not all the time. Not in the least.
Thank you for this interview, Tuck. Will we be seeing more of you in the future?
Absolutely. I’ve already been talking to Tj about three more cases. It might take a little time because he’s working on a thriller right now, but he promised to have more of me to come. Be patient. And if you hear bumps in the night or see mysterious images in your house, it’s just me checking the fridge. No worries.
Title: DYING TO TELL
Author: Tj O’Connor
Publisher: Midnight Ink
Purchase on Amazon
About the Book:
In Dying to Tell, the latest mystery by award-winning novelist Tj O’Connor, Oliver “Tuck” Tucker—dead detective extraordinaire—is back for the case of a lifetime, or, rather, the afterlifetime.
A former police detective who now solves mysteries from beyond, Tuck doesn’t appreciate just how perilous the past can be till his wife, Angel, is nearly killed and reclusive banker William Mendelson is found dead in a hidden vault. Tuck knows there’s more to Mendelson’s murder than decades-old skullduggery. As murderers, thieves, and spies descend on small-town Winchester, Tuck joins up with Angel, old detective partners, and a long-dead grandfather still on an army mission from 1942. With the case unfolding around him, Tuck must confront haunting family secrets and the growing distance between his death and Angel’s life. The outcome could be a killer of its own, but Tuck is set on solving this case. Dead set. After all, some things never die…
About the Author:
Recipient of the Gold Medal in Independent Publisher’s IPPY Awards (Mystery Category, 2015, Dying to Know) Tj O’Connor is an international security consultant specializing in anti-terrorism. As a consultant and former government agent, O’Connor has lived and worked in such places as Greece,Turkey, Italy, Germany, the United Kingdom, Spain, and throughout the Americas. A native of New York, O’Connor lives in Virginia.
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