Missy, thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer a few questions for me.
Of course. I’m always glad to help.
You’re the only girl in the fire station. I’m sure you’ve been through a lot and feel very strongly about being a fire fighter to have gotten where you are today. What made you want to be a fire fighter?
I was never a tomboy (people always think that) but I was always competitive. I missed being high school valedictorian by just a few points. So it’s probably not surprising that becoming a fire fighter started as a dare. A few guys were interviewing for a position and I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, so when they dared me—they basically told me I’d never get the job—I went. Here I am. Is it okay if I gloat for a moment that not one of them is a firefighter to this day?
What’s the best thing about being the only girl in the station?
The restrooms. There’s a women’s and a men’s. In most places, it’s the ladies room that has a line and is busier. Not in the fire station. It’s fun to walk right in while all the guys are waiting for showers or such.
And conversely, what’s the worst thing about being the only girl?
No one really understands what it’s like. Simmons in station three and Felding in station one know what it’s like and we’re all friends, but we rarely get to work together unless one of us subs in for someone. I know the city wants to spread us out because we are a novelty, but I think it would mean more if sometimes the only firefighters who showed up were female. I often feel like a token.
The book is mainly about Jason. He’s played up as the hero by just about everyone, and seems to have stolen the spotlight at several fires. What do you really think about him?
Jason’s a good guy. Sometimes he’s a moron, but his heart is in the right place. Honestly, that’s his problem, not mine. For the most part, he does a good job of keeping that at home. He knows his job and he’s great to work with. It’s when all the crap in his life starts coming to the station house that I have to deal with it.
Thanks for being here. Are there any last words you’d like to add?
More women should go into firefighting. I know it’s not for everyone, but that’s true for guys, too. I think women don’t go into it because there aren’t many women in it, but that’s a vicious cycle.
It’s AJ’s world. A strange place where patterns jump out and catch the eye, very little is missed, and most of it can be recalled with a deep breath. It’s different from the world the rest of us inhabit, but anyone can see it – when we read. In this world, the smell of Florida takes three weeks to fully leave the senses and the air in Dallas is so thick that the planes “sink” to the runways rather than actually landing.
For AJ, texture reigns supreme. Whether it’s air or blood or virus, it can be felt and smelled. School is a privilege and two science degrees (a BA and MS) mean less than the prize of knowledge. Teaching is something done for fun (and the illusion of a regular paycheck) and is rewarding at all levels, grade school through college. AJ is no stranger to awards and national recognition for outstanding work as a teacher, trainer and curriculum writer.
AJ has lived in Florida and Los Angeles among a handful of other places. Recent whims have brought the dark writer to Tennessee, where home is a deceptively normal looking neighborhood just outside Nashville.
Jason Mondy’s world is unraveling.
His seemingly secure job as a fire fighter is suddenly thrown into chaos. The bright spot in his week is that he rescued two children from a house fire, but he returns home that night to find all his furniture is missing. His girlfriend has left him without warning and his nightmares keep him from sleeping. Even just a simple trip home to find some rest leads his adoptive mother to sit him down and tell him that maybe his troubles aren’t quite as innocuous as they seem. Then his she divulges a secret she’s kept for over twenty-six years . . .
Jason has a brother he doesn’t remember existed.
He doesn’t remember his life before he was adopted at age seven. He only knows that he was rescued from the fire that took his birth mother’s life. But the story is deeper than that, and the foundation on which he built his world is now cracking. The brother he doesn’t remember it out there somewhere, left behind.
Armed with only this stunning new piece of information, Jason embarks on a quest to find the truths buried deep in his past. As he searches, one by one the pieces of his life fall like dominoes. And the more he uncovers, the more everything he thought he knew about himself and his past begins to turn to ash.
His truth isn’t true at all . . .