Q: You going to eat that?
A: Oh, wait. Questions people ask me, not– But, hey, if you’re not going to finish, can I just… Thanks.
A: I say read PowerHouse first. Each book stands alone, so you can’t go wrong either way. UKOSA precedes PowerHouse by 24 years, but reading PowerHouse first actually creates some interesting reveals in UKOSA. That’s the order I wrote them in, so technically, that’s the order I read them in. Worked for me. More people die in PowerHouse, but the stakes are pretty high in both.
Q: Thriller? Mainstream? What?
Sigh. What boxes to jam these in? PowerHouse is definitely a thriller, more specifically an action thriller. Uncle Kenny’s Other Secret Agenda is more of a psychological thriller, but “Mainstream” is probably the best catch-all for UKOSA. (That’s the category it won in the Pacific Northwest Writer’s Association’s literary contest.) I’m not wild about the term “domestic thriller,” but it is story about a powerful family. As I mentioned, more people die in PowerHouse. More explosions too.
Whatever you call them, at the core of any good story are good characters: three dimensional, flawed, human. They drive the action. They cause the trouble and solve the problems. Ultimately, both books are about the Stockton siblings Paul, Monique, and Sam. Bottom line: if you’re tired of books with stupid people doing terrible things to one another, these are books with smart people doing terrible things to one another.
Q: Duology or Trilogy?
A: (Short) Just the two books for now.
A: (Long) There will eventually be a book between UKOSA and PowerHouse, but I’m working on something else at the moment. (SciFi. Shh. Don’t tell anybody. It’s neato.) If you’ve read either half of the duology, you noticed that Paul’s rather fond of numbers. He thinks of PowerHouse as PowerHouse 3.7: The Second Worst Ever Father’s Day and UKOSA as PowerHouse 1.3: Uncle Kenny’s Other Secret Agenda, with the numbers being his age in decades. But for titles, that’s a giant mess, which is just one reason why Paul doesn’t always get his way. The missing/pending/probable book notches in at PowerHouse 2.8 and starts with Paul facing repercussions from PowerHouse 2.4, which… Wait a minute. Did I just commit myself to a fourth book? Tetralogy? Quadrilogy?
Q: Where’d you get the idea for PowerHouse?
A: I was at Kinko’s at 2:30 in the morning, trying to get fliers printed for a show I was in at the Second City conservatory. But that Kinko’s was closed so I dialed the 800 number on the door. This was pre-iPhone, so I’m trying to figure out what zip code I’m in so I can punch that in to get the nearest place that’s open in the middle of the night. Meanwhile, the Kinko’s robot lady comes on, and without asking for any information, just tells me the nearest 24-hour location. Kinko’s knew where I was. Not the NSA, not the FBI or CIA. Just some random copy place. That’s scary. That stuck with me. And as the tech has developed, I’ve kept a pretty close eye on how it gets used.