JA Konrath Bio
Joseph Andrew Konrath was born in Skokie, IL in 1970. He graduated from Columbia College in Chicago in 1992. His first novel, Whiskey Sour (2004), introduced Lt. Jacqueline "Jack" Daniels. Others in the series include Bloody Mary (2005), Rusty Nail (2006), Dirty Martini (2007), Fuzzy Navel (2008), Cherry Bomb (2009), Shaken (2010), and Stirred (2011). The books combine hair-raising scares and suspense with laugh out loud comedy.
Joe is also the editor of the hitman anthology These Guns For Hire (2006). His short stories have appeared in more than sixty magazines and collections, and his work has been translated into ten languages.
Under the name Jack Kilborn, Joe wrote the horror novels Afraid (2009), Trapped (2010), Endurance (2010), and Draculas (2010).
He has sold over 500,000 ebooks.
Joe's been nominated for several awards, including the Anthony, Macavity, Gumshoe, Dagger, and Barry, and has won the Derringer, Bob Kellog, EQMM Reader's Choice, and two Lovie awards.
His blog, A Newbie's Guide to Publishing (jakonrath.blogspot.com), gets several million hits a year.
Joe is married, has three children and three dogs (Jack, Herb, and Harry) and currently lives in a suburb of Chicago.
Jack Kilborn Bio
Jack Kilborn is Joe Konrath. See above. He's also Joe Kimball.
Characters in the Jack Daniels Series
Series characters include:
Lieutenant Jacqueline "Jack" Daniels
Jack is every bit as tough as her name; she didn't get to be one of highest ranking officers in Violent Crimes Division by writing parking tickets. She solves the high profile cases, her dogged determination and keen eye for detail every bit as potent as the .38 under her blazer.
Jack is older than her peers in the genre, being a mature woman of forty-six. She has an estranged ex-husband and an outspoken, elderly mom. Her love life is a disaster, mostly due to the demands of the job. To complicate matters, Jack has plenty of time to dwell on her problems because she suffers from insomnia.
But despite the odds, Jack's attitude is positive and even light-hearted. Though the killers she chases are monstrous, Jack balances the horror with a healthy, self-deprecating sense of humor. Because of this, her cases sometimes recall Barney Miller as much as Silence of the Lambs.
Each title in the series features Jack Daniels in a life or death homicide investigation, all named after an alcoholic drink.
In WHISKEY SOUR, Jack is chasing a maniac known as The Gingerbread Man.
In BLOODY MARY, Jack is chasing a killer who is leaving body parts around Chicago---each paired with one of Jack's personal belongings.
In RUSTY NAIL, someone is sending Jack snuff videos. That would normally be bad enough, but the videos echo the earlier Gingerbread Man case. A copycat? Or something even worse?
In DIRTY MARTINI, Jack is chasing a terrorist called The Chemist, who is demanding Chicago pay him off or he'll use biological weapons to kill thousands of people through product tampering.
In FUZZY NAVEL, Jack is after a trio of urban snipers. That would be enough to keep her hands full, but someone from Jack's past comes calling. Someone seeking revenge.
In CHERRY BOMB, Jack picks up right where she left off in FUZZY NAVEL, with a frantic hunt for a seemingly unstoppable killer.
In SHAKEN, she faces off against Mr. K, a serial killer who she's been chasing for her entire career.
In STIRRED, she goes up against Luther Kite, from Blake Crouch's universe.
Jack has also appeared in several short stories, including ON THE ROCKS and WITH A TWIST, both locked-room mysteries that appeared in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine (the latter won 2nd place in the EQMM Reader's Choice Awards.)
She also took on one of the killers from AFRAID by Jack Kilborn, and one of the killers from SERIAL by Jack Kilborn and Blake Crouch, in the novella TRUCK STOP. Her adventures are available in the ebook and print book JACK DANIELS STORIES.
Jack's partner. Mid-fifties, married, constantly eating snack foods--the easy-going yin to Jack's hard-boiled yang. Herb is Jack's surrogate big brother, looking out for her even though she outranks him. He appears as Jack's stalwart companion throughout the series.
Herb also appears as the main character in the short story POTSHOT.
Ten years Jack's junior, one of her only friends, he works as a freelance bodyguard. Jack plays pool with Phin once a week, and often seeks his help on difficult cases.
Phin has a life away from Jack, and has appeared twice in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine; once in the story Street Music and once in SUFFER. He's also in the story EPITAPH, featured in the Thriller - Stories to Keep You Up All Night anthology edited by James Patterson and the story BEREAVED featured in the anthology THESE GUNS FOR HIRE edited by JA Konrath.
Though dying of pancreatic cancer, Phin promises he'll be around for awhile.
Cross Mike Hammer with Danny DeVito, and you have Harry. The private eye continually pops up as a witness or suspect in Jack's cases, to her continuous annoyance. He and Jack also have a dark and secret past history, that you have to read Whiskey Sour to find out about.
Harry appeared in the story WHELP WANTED. He also appears in TAKEN TO THE CLEANERS, a story featured in the The Strand Magazine #26, in the novella SUCKERS, co-written with Jeff Strand, THE NECRO FILE, SCHOOL DAZE, and BABE ON BOARD, co-written with Ann Voss Peterson.
Harry's crowning acheivement is the choose-your-own-adventure styled novel BANANA HAMMOCK, available in ebook and in print.
Jack's mom, a former Chicago cop herself, had to play both parents because Jack's father died young. Mary is outspoken, promiscuous, and increasingly fragile in her autumn years.
A homeless cat Jack adopts in BLOODY MARY. Unlike the lovable, crime-solving critters that frequent so many modern mysteries, Mr. Friskers is mean- tempered and downright dangerous. Jack constantly questions why she keeps him around.
Jack's ex-husband. The one true love of Jack's life, who left because he couldn't handle the pressures of being married to a cop. But even though they are divorced, their relationship is anything but over.
Jack's boyfriend, sort of. Their on-again/off-again relationship is constantly threatened because Latham is constantly threatened... by the maniacs that Jack hunts.
Harry McGlade's fiancée. Yeah, apparently even guys like Harry can find someone to love. Holly's first appearance is in RUSTY NAIL.
Slappy appears in CHERRY BOMB. He's Joe's favorite character.
Q & A with Joe Konrath
Q: Why did you write Whiskey Sour, the first Jack Daniels novel?
A: I love thrillers, but they tend to be so serious. I wanted to write a thriller that had a sense of humor--something that would make the reader laugh while also maintaining suspense.
Q: Does the series have to be read in order?
A: No. I make sure each book stands on its own, so you can pick up the series anywhere. But for those who want to, it goes:
Stirred will be the final Jack Daniels novel.
Q: Your hero, Jacqueline Daniels, is a cop and a forty-six year old woman, and you aren’t either of those things.
A: Thank you for noticing.
Q: Is it difficult to write for a woman character?
A: Not really. There’s a lot of me in Jack, in her personality. But there’s also a lot of my wife and my mom. If I ever write something that doesn’t ring true, they jump all over me.
Q: Jack has insomnia. Do you?
A: Never. Jack's battle with insomnia is a result of her lifestyle. She’s successful in a male-dominated profession, but Jack also questions what she had to give up to attain her position; namely, a family and a social life. Her large plate of could-haves keeps her up at night.
Me? I sleep like the dead, only louder.
Q: Jack comes across as very human because of her flaws.
A: Everyone is flawed. Jack does some heroic things in these books, but she isn’t Superwoman. Though the series is very plot-driven, I think realistic characterization is essential for reader involvement.
I identify with underdogs, people who don't have storybook-perfect lives. I believe someone who struggles is more interesting to the reader.
Q: Speaking of struggle, how much rewriting do you do?
A: When I'm doing a novel, I usually need go through about ten drafts. When the drafts ran out, I switch to bottles.
Can I get a rimshot for that?
A: Actually, Whiskey Sour was pretty easy to write. The hard part was the research. I talked with several cops, found out a lot about police procedure, criminal profiling, pharmaceutical regulations, handwriting analysis, and forensics. Plus, to fully understand Jack’s overweight partner, Herb, I did a lot of overeating.
Q: Herb's constant eating is pretty funny. Much of the humor in Whiskey Sour comes from the secondary characters--Herb, and Harry McGlade, and the FBI agents...
A: Herb and Harry are in all of the books. I believe continuing characters are part of the fun for any series. They're like a group of friends that you get to revisit.
The Feebies, and Phineas Troutt, return in Rusty Nail, the third in the series, and Phin appears in Fuzzy Navel and Cherry Bomb.
Q: You managed to land a lucrative deal with a large publisher, but Whiskey Sour is your first book. How did you manage that?
A: Persistence. I had tons of rejections when I started out. The reason was simple--my writing wasn't good enough. When I finally had a viable idea and the skills to back it up, I landed an agent. There's no conspiracy keeping new writers from getting published. You just need a lot of determination and a desire to improve.
Q: Besides the humor, your books also have some really terrifying scenes. You've got one chapter in Whiskey Sour that's only a few sentences long, and it's scary as hell.
A: The bad guy in Whiskey Sour is a serial killer who does something very nasty to his victims. VERY nasty. It's something I've never seen done in a book, and it creeps out everyone who reads it.
I to make people laugh, and then scare the pants off of them. But the book isn't graphically violent. There's nothing I could write that is more effective than your imagination. For the scary scenes, I wrote just enough to explain what was happening, and then the reader filled in the rest. There's no gratuitous violence in my book.
Gratuitous humor, however, is another story.
Q: Do Jack, Harry, Herb, and Phin have lives outside of your books?
A: Very much so. All of them appear in short stories. Jack has been in Ellery Queen with One the Rocks and With a Twist, both locked room mysteries. She appears in Body Shots on Amazon Shorts, and Overproof in the anthology Chicago Blues, edited by Libby Fischer Hellmann.
Phin has been in Ellery Queen with Street Music and Suffer. He's also in a story called Epitaph that was in Thriller edited by James Patterson, and Bereaved in the anthology I edited, These Guns For Hire.
Harry has been in Futures Magazine with Whelp Wanted (which I also read aloud for the Brilliance Audio version of Bloody Mary), and in The Strand Magazine with Taken to the Cleaners. He's also in the upcoming Suckers, a novella I co-wrote with fellow crazy person Jeff Strand.
Herb is in Potshot. Check out the Books & Ebooks page for details.
Q: What other work have you published?
A: There's a mostly complete bibliography on Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J._A._Konrath
Q: Your name is Joe. Why are you called J.A. on your books?
A: My full name is Joseph Andrew Konrath. Friends and family call me Joe. My publisher and I decided the initials were more appealing than Joe or Joseph. Plus, because J.A. is ambiguous, I have a better chance of being picked up off the shelf and looked at. Many readers buy strictly male or female authors--it's an unconscious sexism. Men see books by women and think chick lit and women see books by men and think testosterone overload. I'd like to be judged on the merits of the story, rather than on my Y chromosome.
Q: You edited an anthology called These Guns For Hire. Will you ever edit another one?
A: No. I'm proud of that collection, but it was a labor of love to put together.
Q: Who's Jack Kilborn?
A: I am. When I wrote Afraid, I tried to create a real scare-fest, but without the humor that the Jack Daniels books have. Because this is such a different type of book, I went with a different name.
Q: Will we be seeing more from Mr. Kilborn?
A: I'm currently working on more Kilborn projects.
Q: In Whiskey Sour, Jack drives a 1986 Nova. In Bloody Mary, she drives a 1988 Nova. What's going on?
A: Both are wrong. It's really a 1987 Nova.
Q: Where do you get your ideas?
A: I pick through James Patterson's garbage and use all of the stuff he's thrown away. Patterson is great to steal from--if he throws out ten pages, that's more than thirty chapters.
Ha ha! I'm just kidding, of course.
It's Patricia Cornwell's garbage.
Q: Do you have any advice for new writers?
A: Make sure your work is perfect, then self-publish it. Read my blog, starting in April of 2009, up to present. It will tell you all you need ot know.
Q: Is there any message you'd like to give your fans?
A: If I ever run into anyone who professes their love of my work, I promise to buy them a beer. Except for my brother, Mike. That only works the first nine times.