Thursday, October 22, 2020

K.J. Howe Interview - Skyjack

Photo Content from K.J. Howe

Born in Toronto, Canada, K.J. Howe enjoyed a nomadic lifestyle during her early years, living in Africa, the Middle East, Europe, and the Caribbean, which gave her an insider’s view into many different cultures. While abroad, she read every book she could find, which triggered in her a desire to create her own stories.

She attended Salzburg International Preparatory School, Neuch√Ętel Junior College, and Albert College before earning a Specialists Degree in Business from the University of Toronto. KJ found success in the corporate world, but her passion for travel, adventure, and stories drew her back to school where she earned a Masters in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University. She is a Thriller and Barry Award nominee, and she has won several writing awards, including three Daphne du Maurier Awards for Excellent in Mystery and Suspense.

While honing her fiction skills, KJ worked as a medical, health, and fitness writer. She then became involved with the International Thriller Writers as the Executive Director of ThrillerFest, the organization’s annual conference held every July in New York City.

In preparation for writing THE FREEDOM BROKER series, which focuses on elite kidnap negotiator Thea Paris, KJ spent extensive time researching the dark world of kidnapping. She has interviewed former hostages, negotiators, hostage reintegration experts, special forces operatives, and K&R insurance executives.

KJ is an avid tennis player, cyclist, and swimmer. Travel and adventure still rank high on her priority list. She has had the pleasure of riding racing camels in Jordan, surfing in Hawaii, ziplining in the Costa Rican jungle, diving alongside Great White Sharks in South Africa, studying modern combat in the Arizona desert, and working with elephants in Botswana. Home is in Toronto, Canada, but she is often missing in action.


Tell us your latest news.
I’ve just finished a novel, THE PERFECT HOSTAGE, and I’m looking forward to introducing an exciting new character to readers.

Who or what has influenced your writing, and in what way?
David Morrell was my greatest influence. When I read THE BROTHERHOOD OF THE ROSE, I knew I wanted to one day try my hand at writing thrillers. I ended up meeting David while I was doing my Masters in Writing Popular Fiction, and he has since become my mentor. His sage advice has helped me grow as a writer. I love how he challenges me to push myself. SKYJACK is dedicated to Rambo’s Daddy.

Where were you born and where do you call home?
I was born in Toronto, but I have lived in many places, including Saudi Arabia, Switzerland, Austria, Kenya, Puerto Rico to name a few. I currently live in Toronto, but I’m often missing in action on an adventure…or at least I was before the pandemic. I’m a lot easier to find these days.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
Teaching a group of young students in Dubai. They were inquisitive, intelligent, motivated. What a joy!

What do you hope for readers to be thinking when they read your novel?
I hope readers will be both entertained and educated. I love to learn while I read, to feel like I’ve gained knowledge after putting down a novel. I’ve spent seven years researching the world of kidnap and ransom, and I’d like to share this information, helping people to become safer travelers.

In your newest book; SKYJACK (Thea Paris #2), can you tell my Book Nerd community a little about it.
Sure, elite kidnap negotiator Thea Paris is taking two young African orphans to their new home in London when the plane they are on is hijacked. The adventure kick off from there. Highly recommended for in-flight reading!

What was the single worst distraction that kept you from writing this book?
Tennis! I’m addicted to this sport and tend to play six days a week. But, hey, it’s a healthy addiction, right?

Which of your characters do you feel has grown the most since book one and in what way have they changed?
Thea Paris is my protagonist, and I feel she has grown the most emotionally, realizing that her brother and father have agendas that don’t necessarily align with hers. A main theme in my novels is family and the inherent dysfunction in these complicated relationships. Thea realizes she has to protect herself and make decisions based on her own instincts, placing her trust in those who truly have pure intentions. It’s interesting that Rif turns out to be someone who is very trustworthy, even though he isn’t related to her and she had misgivings about him in the past.

What was the most surprising thing you learned in creating Thea?
I loved learning that female freedom brokers make excellent kidnap negotiators. Women tend to be talented at deescalating conflict, being empathetic with hostages and their families and they are able to connect well with kidnappers. They are also patient, a critical skill needed, as the negotiation process is often lengthy.

  • 1. You will learn several flight safety tips that could help you one day.
  • 2. You can travel to Budapest, Salzburg, Istanbul, and many other exotic locales.
  • 3. You can immerse yourself in the world of kidnap and ransom, just in case the info might come in handy.
  • 4. You’ll meet a 17 year old Austrian boy who is falling in love for the first time.
  • 5. You can cheer on Thea Paris as she battles to save two adorable African orphans.
  • 6. You can vicariously buzz a boat in the Danube!
  • 7. You will be able to get inside the head of a Mafia Boss.
  • 8. You will have a front row seat to a dynamic shoot out in an medieval Italian water fortress.
  • 9. You will learn why bad guys should never drive snowmobiles. 
  • 10. You will never feel the same way about turbulence again.
What’s the most ridiculous fact you know?
Just 50 years ago, there was no airport security. In the 70s, there was a rash of hijackings, so the government asked the public for their input on how to prevent skyjackings. Here were a few of their suggestions (this is real!): 
  • Give all passengers boxing gloves to wear for entire flight so they can’t hold guns.
  • Give flight attendants tranquilizer guns in case a passenger gets out of hand.
  • Create a trap door so that any dangerous passengers can be dropped out while flying.
Good thing the government did their own research!

Where did you go on your first airplane ride?

I was only two when I was flying an airplane. My father was a private pilot and he took me up with him all the time. I remember sitting on a phone book and flying the plane with him. He did a lot of aerobatics, and that was certainly interesting!

Best date you've ever had?
Lunch at Tamarind Restaurant in Mombasa, Kenya, overlooking the harbor. Wine, lobster, and brilliant conversation.

Last Halloween costume you wore and when?
A few years back, I dressed as a sniper in full camouflage, including face paint. I was in my element.

What event in your life would make a good movie?

Scuba diving with Great White sharks … Jaws, Part 2!

Which incident in your life that totally changed the way you think today?
Traveling as a child. I lived all over the world and I was always the new kid. Very tough to fit in as you jump from school to school. I tended to depend on myself for entertainment and I read A LOT. I treasured real friendships when I found them, and I also treasured my book friends.

What is one unique thing are you afraid of?

Mangoes…I’m very allergic.

What was the best memory you ever had as a writer?
Winning the Thriller Award for Best First Novel for THE FREEDOM BROKER is a moment I’ll never forget. Deeply grateful that all those years working on my writing resulted in a book readers enjoyed.

Where can readers find you?
I’m on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter as KJ Howe Author. I love to hear from readers. Come say hi!

The electrifying sequel to THE FREEDOM BROKER, featuring Thea Paris, a kidnap and ransom specialist. For Thea, kidnap is always personal - her brother's life was nearly ruined when he was taken as a child. Lisa Gardner says THE FREEDOM BROKER is 'clever and gritty' and Peter James calls it 'spellbinding'. If you like David Baldacci's King and Maxwell series, you will love this.

When Thea Paris's flight is hijacked over the Libyan Desert, her first priority is the two former child soldiers she is escorting to a new life in London.

As an international kidnap specialist, Thea Paris negotiates for hostage release as part of her job. She knows one wrong move could lead to deadly consequences.

After she is forcibly separated from the boys and the other passengers, Thea and her tactical team quickly regroup. And in their desperate search for the hostages that follows, unearth a conspiracy involving the CIA, the Vatican and the Sicilian Mafia, and a plot far more sinister than Thea could ever have imagined.

You can purchase Skyjack at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you K.J. HOWE for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of Skyjack (Thea Paris #2) by K.J. Howe.


  1. My siblings and cousins captured every single award in every category one Halloween event. It was awesome as we were kids.

  2. Just spending every Halloween with my mom at the resort.

  3. Walking two miles in the rain to get candy is something I will never forget. I lived in the country and there were not that many houses but always ended up with lots of quality candy. One house always gave out family sized choc. bars plus a can of pop and bag of chips.

  4. "Most memorable Halloween event?" The Eating Of the Candy.