Tuesday, August 31, 2010

An Interview with Jill McKenzie

Jill McKenzie, the distaff side of McKenzie Investigations, has never granted an interview. She isn't the outspoken type like her husband, Greg. However, with the fifth book featuring the sleuthing pair, A Sporting Murder, popping up all over the place (I hope), she agreed to sit down and share a bit about herself. Here's the interview:

MM: Why is it your best friend, Wilma Gannon, says she was born with chopsticks while you were born with a silver spoon in your mouth?

JMcK: She breaks me up sometimes. We both grew up in Nashville, but she was born in China while her parents were missionaries. I was born out Hillsboro Road, which she calls the ritzy part of town.

MM: Actually, your parents were pretty well off, weren't they?

JMcK: I don't want to sound like a braggart, but my father, Daniel Parsons, was a quite successful life insurance salesman. His clients were mostly businessmen. He handled buy-sell agreements and that sort of thing.

MM: What about your mother?

JMcK: She studied at Juilliard and played violin with the Nashville Symphony.

MM: You didn't follow in her footsteps.

JMcK: Nor my dad's. He wanted me to go to Vanderbilt, where he graduated, but I had idolized Amelia Earhart and Nashville's own Cornelia Fort. Did you know she was in the air over Honolulu flying with a student pilot when the Pearl Harbor attack took place?

MM: I wasn't aware of that. I knew the Cornelia Fort Airpark along the river was named for her.

JMcK: When I found that Middle Tennessee State in Murfreesboro had an aviation program, I knew I had to go there. I could be as stubborn as my dad, so that's where I went. I've been flying ever since.

MM: Wasn't Middle Tennessee State where you met Greg?

JMcK: It sure was. He was in his first OSI assignment at Sewart Air Force Base located in Smyrna, not far from Murfreesboro. He came over to talk to my Civil Air Patrol unit about security. I gave him a hard time, asking all kinds of questions. I think he made up some of his answers. When he'd finished, I asked if he could get me a tour of the air base. He did, and served as my escort. We were soon dating.

MM: You ran your own air charter service for awhile, didn't you?

JMcK: You've heard of Hemingway's moveable feast. That was my moveable firm. I had to relocate several times to stay near bases where Greg was stationed. I enjoyed it, though. I still have a Cessna at the Nashville airport. We've used it a few times during our investigations.

MM: How did McKenzie Investigations come about? You'd never been involved in Greg's Air Force job, had you?

JMcK: Half the time I didn't know what he was doing. When we went down to Perdido Key to find out how Wilma and Sam Gannon's son died, I helped out with questioning some people who might have been involved. I knew Greg wanted to get back into investigative work, so I suggested we go into business together. It's been a riot.

MM:Didn't you have to do some adjusting in your views on some things?

JMcK: Boy, did I. Firearms was one subject. I never liked the fact that Greg had to carry a weapon all the time during his Air Force career. I knew that's what law enforcement agents did, but I had this naive view about the propriety of such things. It just didn't seem socially acceptable. But I quickly learned in some cases you have only one chance to save your life, or someone else's. Greg taught me how to shoot, and it's proved invaluable. I've learned to be a pretty good shot.

MM: You've been in some hairy situations. Has it changed you in any way?

JMcK: It's made me stay a lot more aware of what's going on around me. I'm not as trusting of people I don't know. My experience as a pilot taught me to keep one jump ahead of what's going on. I've learned to apply that to my job as an investigator.

MM: I'm sure you'll have many more successful ventures ahead. It's been a pleasure talking with you, Jill. Good luck!

JMcK: (Wink) Good luck to you. Thank goodness I don't have to sell books.

Okay, she's right. I have a book to sell, and you can read all about it at this page on my website.


Sheila Deeth said...

Fun character. Fun interview!

Chester Campbell said...

Thanks, Sheila. She's a fun character to write.

Jaden Terrell said...

Chester, please thank Jill for joining us. She did a great job--very poised.

Jean Henry Mead said...

Good interview, Chester. I don't think I've ever seen a picture of a novel character before. :)

Chester Campbell said...

Actually, I forgot to mention it in the blog, but the photo is of Cornelia Fort, the pioneer Nashville aviatrix. This is from Wikipedia:

Stationed at the 6th Ferrying Group base at Long Beach, California, Cornelia Fort became the first WAFS (Women's Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron)fatality on March 21, 1943 when another plane being ferried by a male pilot struck the left wing of the BT-13 she was ferrying in a mid-air collision ten miles south of Merkel, Texas. At the time of the accident, Cornelia Fort was one of the most accomplished pilots of the WAFS. The footstone of her grave is inscribed, "Killed in the Service of Her Country."