Q&A With Charles Breakfield & Rox Burkey
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Q&A With Charles Breakfield & Rox Burkey
Today’s guests that Mickey Mikkelson connected me with are author duo Charles Breakfield & Rox Burkey. Both authors have written the Enigma Series and contributed to the Magnolia Bluff Crime Chronicles cozy mysteries. The sixteenth book in that series, The Killer Enigma, is available to purchase now.
Q: Charles & Rox would you two like to tell the readers of the blog and me about The Killer Enigma?
A: JJ and Jo recognize privacy doesn’t exist for them. They return to Magnolia Bluff to check on their friends from last year’s vacation and enjoy the small-town anonymity. Small-town Texas values their friendship and support.
Last year, they won the status as urban legends when they saved the podcasters and uncovered a reprehensible secret (The Flower Enigma). The welcoming acceptance and quiet, peaceful life are therapeutic. After all, a supermodel needs time and space to recharge between shoots and her geek husband wants time to adore his wife.
• Does Magnolia Bluff hold the answers to their prayers?
• Will their desires get marred by dark clouds?
Past, present, and future collide in a perfect storm no one anticipated. JJ and Jo must take action to uncover the truth. Chief Tommy Jager likes them but wishes they weren’t a lightning rod for trouble and disruption.
Who will live or die to prevent the truth from being exposed? Answers may lie in the graveyard with fresh flowers on the gravestone.
Q: Where did your idea for the Magnolia Bluff Crime Chronicles series come from?
A: A group we call The Underground Authors collaborated to write a short story collection based on a picture. The stories were of different genres and highlighted the authors. One author, CW Hawes, speculated we do a cozy mystery series. We created Magnolia Bluff, Texas, characters, and locations in town. Each author writes a standalone story, with the spice of their genre included, using the framework. We are especially sensitive to avoid killing other author’s characters. We release one book per month and are nearing the end of the second year.
Breakfield and Burkey released The Killer Enigma, in August 2023 as the sixteenth book in this ongoing drama. We will return with another contribution to the Magnolia Bluff Crime Chronicles in 2024.
In addition to Magnolia Bluff’s cozy mysteries, Breakfield and Burkey write technothrillers. They have twelve books in the Enigma Series and one book so far in the Enigma Heirs. In these thrillers, the cyber heroes battle the cyber thugs attacking people and businesses in today’s connected world.
The R-Group supports its clients, businesses, and governments from digitized tyranny by bad actors of the Darknet. They use their technological, financial, and dedicated resources to find the sources of evil exploits and expose them to the authorities. Our idea for this series grew from our professional careers in technology. We wrote tech manuals and trained customers but decided to jump to fictional storytelling based on technical facts. Cyber security, identity theft, ransomware attacks, and money laundering using cryptocurrency hold a great deal of fascination for us. Each book highlights a technology threat to explore. The characters are fictional, the technology real, and the threats ripped from the headlines in the news. Each book offers a great reading or listening experience.
Q: Are you currently writing books for the Magnolia Bluff Crime Chronicles series?
A: We try to write one technology thriller and one cozy mystery yearly. We are writing Enigma Forced, book 2 of Enigma Heirs. We have also sketched out the direction for book 27 of Magnolia Bluff Crime Chronicles, with a working title of The Ransom Enigma.
Each author delivers a whole lot of good storytelling. The kind that will keep you past your bedtime or make you miss your bus stop. Stay tuned. Lots is happening in Magnolia Bluff. And you don’t want to miss any of it. Readers love the stories.
Q: How did the two of you meet and decide to collaborate with each other on a writing series?
A: Burkey hired Breakfield. We worked together at several different companies doing technical consulting work and delivering solutions for a wide range of global customers. We created and delivered training courses aligned with our company’s technology offerings. During our collaboration, we found we had a passion for writing that could enlighten people about the unseen threats of technology. Customers liked our training style and enjoyed our fictional stories. We’ll keep the fun moving forward.
Q: What advice would you give to anyone wanting to co-write books with a friend or family member?
A: A tough question. Everyone writes differently, so find ways to harness the good stuff, have lively discussions, and learn the value of Rock, Paper, and Scissors to solve creative differences.
We write using rough structured outlines and character descriptions captured in a spreadsheet. We have lively, free-form conversations to advance the storyline or discuss a problem. Daily conversations and story plotting are key to keeping both of us in tune with the storyline. We appreciate the lively debate when one of us has left the reservation on a poor story thread. We hold our breath when one of us uses the four most terrifying words—I have an idea. This escalates into a spirited tête-à-tête of ideas exercised to see if they add or detract from the overall story goals. Frank communications are critical in our storytelling process, plus perhaps a glass of whatever to keep the points from becoming barbs. We laugh often, mostly at ourselves.
Q: When co-writing together, does one person write one chapter and the other person write the other chapter? I’m always curious when two or more authors work together on a book and see how their co-writing process goes.
A: We employ our patent pending writing technique called Literary Ping-Pong. We’ll rough out a plot and sketch possible chapters into our spreadsheet and then push the organized chaos button and start writing. Breakfield may write a couple of chapters, while Burkey works on others. Then the manuscript gets batted over to the other for story-smithing and character development. It is usually a fun exercise that permits the maximum amount of writing freedom but stays within the confines of the spreadsheet or outline. Until the characters start telling us to make changes to the story. It takes a while to smooth the stories and sound like one voice. Our first line editor is always guessing and who wrote what.