Charles Breakfield & Rox Burkey - Romance, Technology Hacking, and Death Threats

Charles Breakfield & Rox Burkey - Romance, Technology Hacking, and Death Threats

Charles Breakfield is a technology expert in security, networking, voice, and anything digital. He enjoys writing, studying World War II history, travel, and cultural exchanges. Charles is a fan of wine tastings, winemaking, Harley riding, cooking extravaganzas, and woodworking. 

Rox Burkey is a technology professional who excels at optimizing technology and business investments. She works with customers all over the world focusing on optimized customer experiences. Rox writes white papers and documentation but found she has a marked preference for writing fiction.

Together these Texas authors create award-winning stories that resonate with males and females, as well as young and experienced adults. They bring a fresh new view to technology possibilities today in exciting stories. As our Authors of the Day, they tell us all about their book, The Flower Enigma.

Please give us a short introduction to what The Flower Enigma is about.

Imagine a romantic getaway in the Texas Hill Country - JJ, a cyber guru, whisks his girlfriend, Jo, away for a vacation. No paparazzi. Magnolia Bluff is the perfect destination. Flower B&B is prettier than the pictures on the website.

As they arrive, a crowd is gathered outside the B&B, listening to a local podcast. Evangelizing podcast creators are demanding answers about the town’s newest resident, Mateo Hernandez. The enormous wall he erected has convinced these ladies he’s hiding nefarious activities. Local authorities don’t believe laws are broken and discount the women as meddling gossipers.

As the couple checks in to Flower, the show in progress is interrupted by a cyberattack. The technologist in JJ can’t resist helping. At each subsequent live podcast at different stops in town, he uncovers cyber hacks and more severe issues.

JJ and Jo can’t avoid this roving series maelstrom. It gets personal when they’re attacked and warned to leave town. No one can conceive the depth of the crimes behind Mateo’s walls.

What inspired you to write this story? Was there anything in particular that made you want to tackle this?

We are part of a writing group called The Underground Authors. We challenged ourselves to each write a crime/mystery novella, in our preferred genre, set in a small Texas Hill Country town called Magnolia Bluff. Each story is standalone, but we are allowed to share shared characters. Ours, The Flower Enigma, is book 5. There were two challenges for us. One was to write a cozy mystery outside our technology thriller norm. The second required we meet the August 2022 release and use characters not killed in a previous story by one of our fellow authors.

Tell us more about JJ and Jo. Why are they so special?

JJ is a technologist and leads a group focused on helping the underdogs avoid cyber threats. His team fights tough battles against members of the Darknet for individuals, businesses, and governments. He's in his twenties and loves Jo. Jo is an international YA model for a Brazilian clothing designer. It is rare for her to escape cameras, autographs, and requests for interviews. She loves JJ but fears she is not good enough because of her past. They hope to learn if their relationship has a chance to move forward with the original magic and more.

What did you have the most fun with when writing this book?

Our two main characters came from our thriller novels, and we wanted to put them in Magnolia Bluff to see if their relationship could flourish. Writing a cozy mystery provided a challenge and stretch for our writing especially using characters created by others and delivering them from our perspective for the readers of the Magnolia Bluff Crime Chronicles.

Why did you pick a B&B in Texas Hill Country as the backdrop for your story?

When you travel the back roads and small towns on a Harley, you get to see many turn-of-the-century homes repurposed as Bed & Breakfast getaway spots. You also get the fun of the rolling hills, beautiful vistas, and delicious wines sprinkled throughout the region. We wanted JJ and Jo to get an immersive experience of small-town Texas friendliness and unique country living you cannot get with a chain hotel. A B&B introduces you to the community, where the excitement begins.

Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?

Breakfield and Burkey are creative in several different ways. We’ve picked up cast-off furniture, then repaired and refinished the myriad of finished pieces for others to use. We have taught ourselves re-gluing, stain and varnish matching, and upholstery. Our families have all the tables and chairs they need for their homes. We also like experimenting with cooking, especially around odd holidays like Ground Hog Day, to share with our respective families.

What is your favorite line from the book and why?

“Sounds to me like we should address you as Master Chef Lily.” Jo bowed as if addressing royalty.

Lily laughed. “I’ve wanted to be addressed as The Chosen One According to the Prophecy since I was little. Would that work instead?”

This is fun because it illustrates the fast friends the small-town entrepreneur and international model become as they appreciate the talents of the individual.

When starting on a new book, what is the first thing you do?

We visually sketch out a plot line while traveling to a book signing or festival event. We capture that into a Word document as a high-level plan. Then we map out 10 to 15 chapters using a spreadsheet and divide the chapters for each of us—via rock, paper, scissors selection processes.

Which character was the most challenging to create?

It wasn’t so much to create but to leverage in our story. Police Chief Tommy Jager originally appeared in book 3 of the series. We had a slight misstep when Rox tried to kill him. We worked with the author that breathed life into this man and corrected the blunder. We learned from this issue that for this series tracking the life, characteristics, and work ethics of any of the players is key to being a part of such a diversified group of authors.

Why did you title this book "The Flower Enigma?"

We liked the idea of a bed and breakfast called Flower because of the wildflowers in the Texas Hill Country. The hillsides are amassed with brilliant colors for months starting in the Spring. The enigma or puzzle begins the mystery. Our reluctant sleuths get pulled into the vortex of the crime mystery at Flower. Additionally, we wanted to have an element of our existing branding from the Enigma Series, our original thriller novels.

You co-wrote this story. How do you decide who writes what?

In addition to the fierce competition using rock, paper, and scissors, we each take a chapter from the listing in the spreadsheet and create a rough draft of the chapter. Then, we toss it back and forth using our patent pending technique of literary badminton. We may bat it back and forth several times to get the polishing of the characters and story to sound like one voice to the reader. It is an iterative process.

Do you have any interesting writing habits? What is an average writing day like for you?

Burkey likes to get up early and write for two hours before going to her day job. She says the ideas are freshest in the morning. Evening editing is ideal for her. Breakfield tries to write early, but sometimes an idea will strike him in the middle of the day. When that occurs, his attention remains focused until completion. Everything about the stories finds a place in a master spreadsheet, from chapters to chapter summaries.

What are you working on right now?

Two short stories are to release in the holiday season, one of which centers on Jo and JJ. We are finishing up the second edition of The Enigma Gamers, book 7 in the Enigma Series slotted to release in 2022. We are introducing a new series, Enigma Heirs, and finishing Enigma Tracer, book 1, for that series opener to release in early 2023.

Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?

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