Wednesday, November 26, 2014

My Exclusive Interview with Sara McKinley

#12DaysofChristmasisMurder
I sat behind my desk, barely able to breathe. I had a pen and notepad and was ready to jot down everything—even if I was running a bit behind. What can I say? Tardiness is a knack I have down pat. For some reason I think I can perform super-human feats in a small span of time.

I was hungry for oxygen due to a combination of things—being late (and a little unprepared) and the identity of my guest.

Of all the days to be leaving everything to the last minute…

Sara McKinley settled onto the couch across from me. And, yes, I have one in my office. Well, not a real couch…never mind, that’s a story for another day.

Looking at her, her beauty surpassed the media images. I offered a nervous smile, and she returned it. I hoped the expression would divert her attention as I pushed piles of paper aside, suddenly self-conscious about the clutter I work in. But she noticed everything, her sweet expression still holding. Of course, I would expect nothing less of her. I hoped she could tell how excited I was to have her there. “Thank you for agreeing to let me interview you.”

“I always have time for you.” Her gaze fell to the top of my desk, the folders, the candle—

I swooped it off the desk and tucked it into a side cabinet.

“Your office is nice. Yellow is one of my favorite colors.” As she took in the room, she released the grip on her purse and set it beside her.

“Thank you. I love its energy.” It’s odd, knowing so much about her, in her presence, I still felt inclined to be a fan of hers—she and Sean do so much good for other people. They bring closure to mysterious deaths and have any fees associated with their investigations funneled to charity. With her attention coming back to me, I realized there was no need to be uneasy. Maybe an attempt at humor would calm my nerves. “I’m just happy that I could get you away from Sean for a few seconds.”

Sara brushed a strand of hair behind an ear and cocked her head slightly to the side. “You think you’re funny.” There was the hint of amusement lingering on her lips.

“It’s just that I’m so used to seeing you together.”

“We can be apart—we just don’t like to be.”

I wanted to say something more, but I let her have this. I smiled at her knowingly and got to business. “You know why I asked you here today?”

“You are writing an article on our latest investigation.”

“That’s right. What can you tell me about it?”

“It’s really sad, actually. We had just finally met our neighbors the night before…as you’ve likely heard, they died in a house fire.”

“I did hear something about that.”

“Well, they didn’t deserve it. They were a sweet couple.”

“Is that why you couldn’t accept the cause of the fire as being holiday-related hazards?”

“I suppose it was a large part of it.”

“And the other part?” I asked, still scribbling down what she had already told me. The ink was fading fast. I shook the pen and resumed. Nothing. I scanned my desk and spotted the container that held a bunch of writing implements. I’m sure some of them were older than my marriage…that’s going back eighteen years plus. Please don’t tell anyone.

Sara continued. “I get feelings about things, and their deaths just weren’t settling for me. I felt there was something. And for it to happen this time of year? It broke my heart.”

I plucked a red gel pen from the holder, certain I could rely on it. I swirled it on the page a few times and was rewarded for my efforts. “I take it your family is big into celebrating Christmas?”

“Oh yes. All the holidays, actually, but Christmas is at the top of the list.”

“Why do you think that is?” I held the pen braced over the notepad.

“My mother loves the lights and the decorations. She goes a little overboard at times, but that’s Mom.”

“She overdo it this year?”

“Oh yeah. She had large plastic candy canes lining the drive, with white lights strung between them. She grouped three giant baubles—about two feet across—at the base of her front stairs. They all glitter with light. One was red with white snowflakes, one was green with a gold filigree pattern, and one was blue with silver starbursts. They were beautiful, and they had me wanting my own.” Sara laughed. “Sean said he could probably find a spot in the attic.”

“I take it Christmas isn’t as big a deal to him?”

“I don’t think he’s had it easy. I was adopted, but with my family from the time I was a baby. I’ve never experienced the loss of parents. Sean lost his mom when he was nine, and his father when he was twenty-one.”

“I’m sure his father did his best to make Christmas memorable for him.” I settled back into my chair, finally relaxing.

“I’m sure he did, and I’m certain Sean has good memories. It’s just so special that we’re finally able to celebrate together and share the experience as a family.”

“I’m sure it is.” I smiled at her before going back into full reporter mode. “So getting back to this investigation, tell us a bit about it.”

“I don’t want to violate anyone’s privacy, but I will tell you it had Sean and me pushing beyond our regular boundaries.”

“It’s rumored that you did some break and enter.”

“No comment.”

“So that’s a yes,” I said as I wrote that down. “I’ve also heard a little about this Christmas shop called Rudolph’s. How did they fit into the grand scheme of things?”

“If I told you that, I’d ruin the official story on the investigation, which is out December 4th.”

“You won’t give us any more insight into this case?”

“I don’t want to spoil it for people.”

I pressed my lips, trying to think of something that would toe the line, but my mind wasn’t cooperating. Possibly, my nerves were still getting to me. “While I’d love to hear everything, I do understand. I guess I’ll wait until it releases.” I hoped that she would bite, maybe even feel a little compelled to say something more.

She remained silent.

I figured since she didn’t get up to leave, she was still open to talking. “I’d like to ask one last question.”

Sara ran her hands on her thighs, lengthening the fabric of her skirt. “I’ll answer it if I can.”

“My inquiry is based on another rumor.” I paused to assess her body language. Her arms weren’t folded, her hands weren’t clasped. “Is it true Jimmy may have found someone?”

“Oh no. I’m not saying anything about that. That is Jimmy’s story.” Sara straightened up and crossed her legs.

I was in the middle of writing down contact Jimmy Voigt for an interview when Sara continued.

“I will say that he was Santa Claus in the Christmas parade.” Her demeanor took on that of a pleased parent—an odd analogy as Jimmy was old enough to be her dad. As the pride washed away from her features, it was replaced by amusement that had her lips curving upward.

“Why do I sense there’s more you’re not saying?”

“Let’s just say that his performance won’t soon be forgotten.” She eyed me as she tucked her chin into her shoulder. “It’s quite possible you have some detective skills too, Carolyn.”

I held my pen in the air.

“You’re going to hide behind the label of reporter, are you?”

“For today anyway.”

“So, will that be all?”

“It can be.”

As I watched her rise to her feet and extend her hand for a good-bye shake, I couldn’t just let her leave. “Please tell me that I’ll be seeing more of you—and Sean.”

She smiled at me. “You know it.”

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This interview was a promotional piece written for the #12DaysofChristmasisMurder event. Be sure to enter for your chance to win below. For more information on the prizes visit https://carolynarnold.net/12DaysofChristmasisMurder


Christmas is Murder releases December 4th, but is available for pre-order from AmazonBarnes & NobleApple, and Kobo

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