Sunday, June 3, 2012

Interview with Kathleen Toomey Jabs, Author of Black Wings

Kathleen Toomey Jabs is a 1988 graduate of the United States Naval Academy. She served on active duty for six years and is currently a Captain in the Navy Reserve.  She holds an MA from the University of New Hampshire and an MFA in Creative Writing from George Mason University. Her stories have been published in a number of literary journals and received several prizes, including selection in the National Public Radio Selected Shorts program.  She lives with her husband and two children in Virginia.

Where did you grow up? 

I grew up in Milton, Massachusetts, just outside of Boston. 

When did you begin writing? 

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t write. I kept a diary starting in grade school, wrote bad poetry as a teenager and continued with a journal through high school, college and even now. Writing helps me think through issues, remember good times and capture special moments. 

What is this book about? 

Black Wings is a mystery centered on Navy Lieutenant Bridget Donovan and her quest to discover what really happened when her former Naval Academy roommate, Audrey Richards, dies in a botched take-off from an aircraft carrier. The setting shuttles between the Pentagon and the United States Naval Academy as Bridget confronts secret societies, gender politics, and the possibility of murder. Bridget’s unofficial investigation into what really happened, both during their past Academy days and in Audrey’s final hours, forces her to examine the concepts of honor, justice and the role of loyalty in the pursuit of those ideals.    

What inspired you to write it?

I had a vision of a female Navy pilot crashing into the sea. I hate flying but I’ve always been fascinated by aviators. I wanted to understand what happened to Audrey and why she crashed and it kept going back to her time at the Naval Academy. The only person who would be able to put the pieces together was her roommate, Bridget.  I worked on this novel for almost ten years, with some breaks, and during that time, I interwove Audrey’s past with some of the events in her current position as one of the first female aviators. I also developed Bridget as the protagonist.  

Who is your favorite character from the book?

I’m torn between Bridget and Audrey, the two Academy roommates. They’re so different. Audrey is strong, fierce, resolute and insanely confident. I admire her a lot even as she makes mistakes. Bridget is smart and mouthy, more introspective, but just as dogged in her own way. Especially once she suspects that Audrey’s death wasn’t an accident. I’m probably closer to Bridget, but I love both of them.

Was the road to publication smooth sailing or a bumpy ride? 

Bumpy! The entire process of writing, rewriting, sending out, revising, and finally, publication took 10 years.  After too many rounds of interest then rejection as well as outright silence from agents, the novel (literally) sat in a drawer for 2 years. I felt like Edgar Allen Poe’s character in “The Telltale Heart” – instead of a beating heart, I had a failed dream, knocking at my conscience. When I connected with Fuze Publishing, the process was a lot smoother but it still took time. I was working full-time so I had to do most of my editing and revising on weekends. The Fuze team was incredibly helpful so I enjoyed that long but smooth ride. 

Where can readers purchase a copy of your book? 

My book is available at and also at Amazon in trade paperback and e-book formats.

Do you have a video trailer to promote your book?  If yes, where can readers find it? 

What is one piece of advice you would like to share with aspiring authors everywhere? 

Keep moving forward! If you really want to write, keep writing. The publication of Black Wings is a testimony to perseverance. If anyone had told me the whole odyssey would take 10 years, I wouldn’t have believed them. I’m so happy to have this novel out in the world. 

What is up next for you? 

I’m working to promote the book and taking notes for a follow-on novel involving Bridget Donovan. 

Is there anything you would like to add? 

I really appreciate the opportunity to blog with readers! Thank you to the hosts of this site and also to the followers. It’s wonderful to be part of a community dedicated to reading and writing.

Price: $19.95 paperback, $9.99 ebook
ISBN: 9780984141272
Pages: 314
Release: December 2011

Amazon paperback buy link:

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Kathleen Toomey Jabs' Facebook:!/KathleenToomeyJabs

Black Wings GoodReads page:

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Fuze Publishing's Twitter:!/fuzepublishing

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Black Wings Blog Tour Site:

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Tribute Books said...

Cheryl, thanks for hosting Kathleen today. I really enjoyed reading her interview with you.

Likes to Read said...

I'm wondering if you ever flew combat planes yourself? Did you have to research about that, talk to people who flew (if you never did yourself)? Thanks for your interview...looks like a cool book!

Kathleen Jabs said...

Hi, thanks fo reading and for your support! I never did fly a combat plane myself, but I've had the opportunity to fly in a lot of military aircraft. I talked to a lot of my friends who have flown combat pilots and did a lot of research through books and online.