Dana Killion is a successful author known for her mystery series featuring protagonist Andrea Kellner, an investigative reporter based in Chicago. The five books in the series have been well received by readers and critics alike, with Killion’s latest book, The Liars Code, garnering high praise. However, Killion has also recently ventured into new territory with her upcoming memoir, Where the Shadows Dance, set to be published in May.
Killion’s original decision to create her female protagonist was rooted in her love for reading series mysteries and thrillers with a first-person point of view and a female lead. She also wanted to give her protagonist a career that would allow her to investigate all kinds of things. Since Killion didn’t have a legal or law enforcement background, she chose to make Andrea a journalist. Chicago’s rich history of lawlessness (aldermen included) and Killion’s own experience living in that city made it a natural setting for her protagonist’s adventures. Her interest in uncovering truth lead to each of the books in the series focused on lies.
Killion’s writing process involves taking a nugget from a news headline and building a story around it. However, what truly fascinates her is getting into the head of her characters, especially Andrea, and exploring their reactions and motivations. For Killion, the psychology behind the crime is more interesting than the technical details of guns and explosions.
Throughout the series, Andrea deals with personal issues that affect her professional life. In the first book of her series, Lies in High Places, her trust issues are revealed due to her husband’s lies, and this theme continues throughout the series. Killion believes that giving complications and a backstory to her characters is important in creating a well-rounded and relatable protagonist.
Killion’s memoir, Where the Shadows Dance, represents a new direction for her writing. The book’s descriptive material includes the line, “He got sober. I got broken,” suggesting a deeply personal and emotional exploration of Killion’s life. Killion’s willingness to explore new territory shows her bravery and adaptability as a writer.
I hope you enjoy our conversation.
A bit About Dana:
Growing up in small-town Wisconsin, Dana developed an early curiosity for the world beyond the confines of small-town life and found inspiration in the intrepid explorer, Nancy Drew. That fascination for things under the surface evolved into the novels of Cornwell, Fairstein, and Evanovich and Dana’s thirst for more exhilarating pastures set her on a path to study fashion design at the University of Wisconsin and the Fashion Institute of Technology.
Here is a link to visit Dana’s website: https://www.danakillion.com/
I grew up in California’s Central Valley, the daughter of Dust Bowl immigrants who made good on their ambition to get out of the field. I recently retired from teaching writing at Sacramento State University and still consult with writers in the energy industry. I co-direct Stories on Stage Sacramento, where actors perform the stories of established and emerging authors, and serve on the advisory board of 916 Ink, an arts-based creative writing nonprofit for children. I’ve also served on the Writers’ Advisory Board for the Belize Writers’ Conference. Copy Boy is my first Jane Benjamin Novel. Tomboy (She Writes Press 2022) will be my second. The third, Working Girl, will come out in November 2023. My writing has been a finalist in the Sarton Book Awards, IBPA Benjamin Franklin Awards, Killer Nashville’s Silver Falchion Award, the American Fiction Awards, and the National Indie Excellence Awards. I and my husband live in Sacramento with an aging beagle, Ernie, and many photos of our out-of-town sons and their wonderful partners.
To find out more about Shelley Blanton-Stroud and her books, and to sign up for her newsletter, go here. https://shelleyblantonstroud.com