Wednesday, May 15, 2024


PSI: Blue


Get a behind-the-scenes all-access pass to PSI: Blue, book one of the Blue series, by Robert W Walker!


The PSI Unit of the FBI is separate from CSI, as it is using psychic means of investigation, which along with the main character, Aurelia ‘Rae’ Murphy Hiyakawa stiches the series together, along with an ensemble of characters in Rae’s orbit, such as her daughter and her ghostly parents.

A short synopsis follows: 

When Aurelia ‘Rae’ Murphy Hiyakawa is given a case to solve, the PSI - Psychic Sensory Investigation Unit administrators assume that she will fail. After all, the case has been a brick wall for everyone in local and federal law enforcement, including the secretive PSI Division of the FBI.

Still, with a serial killer snuffing out the lives of young boys, every last attempt must be made. Psychic Rae with her blue left eye and he black right eye (Mom Irish, Dad Japanese) is challenged to catch a maniac. She can only work through the touch of a handful of objects; objects once owned by the victims. The question is can she guide the authorities to the killer, who senses she ‘sees’ him get to her or her daughter before she gets to him?

How is an FBI Psychic Sensory Investigator (PSI) who’s also a single mom raising a difficult teen daughter to juggle that with ending the heinous career of a particularly cruel serial killer?


What is the sub-genre and trope? Did your characters lead you to this genre or was that decided before the story began?

Paranormal Mystery Thriller Suspense with humorous and horrific moments. Every emotion is played on in PSI Blue and its sequels.

When I met a Japanese lady hosting in a Japanese restaurant and read her badge as Murphy, I developed the idea for “Rae” Murphy Hiyakawa and her unusual parentage (who would show up as haunting characters wanting to help raise their granddaughter). As I worked with the creation of her character and psychic skills along with her unusual eyes, only then did the plot begin to take place. 

This is definitely a character-driven series, as until I had fully realized Rae, after ‘living’ with her for a goodly couple of months, only then did I get into the writing of her story.

Are you more character or plot-driven?   

I might be both as I work hard to have the right character fit the right plot, hand in glove. See above on this.

With many main and secondary characters, how do you keep them separated in your mind? Do you have a story/vision board above your workspace?

No storyboard except keeping lists of names, so the only storyboard is in my  head. Not sure how I do it as I do it, but I find this a challenge to my determination and stubborn sense of creativity. 

Not sure how it works, but a book entitled Making Shapely Fiction by Jerome Stern told me how I do what I do. Great book, so I used it in my Creative Writing classes. Stern’s book also inspired me to write my class into book form – Dead on Writing, a how-to for the dysfunctional writer in us all.

I know from previous interviews that characters take on a life of their own. Were any of the characters in this series determined to take their own direction instead of where you initially wanted them to go?

Yes, due to how I work to allow for this, as I do not complete an outline, but rather write scene from scene, relying on my sense of end-scene, Cut…Cut to next scene, etc…and how I edit –three chapters ahead, go back, reread/edit in a ebb/flow manner, it is bound to happen that my ‘actors’ want to go off script in both dialogue and action. But I let them on their way, adlibbing and ad-living, as they are in my mind real folks, and that’s what real folks do.

Are any of the male POVs based on anyone you know?

I like to use actual actors like in this book, Lucy Lu makes a great Rae… 

As for people I know, sometimes I base a bad or bumbling character on someone I have run into like a college prof who pissed me off with a zero on a test or another who told me I’d never be a published author. 

The more positive characters are often looking like a positive person in my life, yes. A relative or even my children, but honestly, I have learned that no one, good or bad as a character in my stories actually recognize themselves at all, and I don’t expect to hear from Lucy Lu. 

Sometimes, too, I just use a name, a real name only because it just rings so nice in a given slot, like Steven Yoshikani in PSI Blue. He was a school friend of mine growing up in Chicago. The big city is a great mining ground for a writer. Ethnicity and differences enrich a book.

Was there any one character/scene that was harder to write about than the other?

Writing from inside the mind of the killer is always a ‘dark’ experience. It has you staring into the proverbial and seemingly bottomless pit of the darkness in humankind. The old question of where does human evil come from. 

I have to write lighter stuff after that—short stories, young adult historical and adult longer historical novels to get way away from the serial killer scenes. 

In PSI Blue, I was able to do a number of humorous and light moments with mother and daughter, employee and boss. With the dark stuff, I have often asked myself what’s wrong with me? That I can even imagine such a thing?

Sometimes the pit reflects back like that scene in Star Wars when Luke discovers the first glimpse of himself in that dark cave. He gets a hint there that he could turn to the Darkside. Hehehe, as they say.

What is your favorite book in the series? 

Impossible to say, but #1 is the book wherein you and your readers learn through the character’s speech and actions just who they are, and how they all intersect in a web of connectedness with Rae at the center of the web, so for that reason, and the fact that the antagonist is soooo vile, I have to go with book#1. Book#2 is Dej’a Blue, and #3 will be Tre’s Blue (1,2,3).

I know that we aren’t supposed to have “favorites” as far as our children, but seriously, who’s your favorite character and why?

Aurelia ‘Rae’ is definitely the most intriguing and compelling as the lead in PSI Blue. Frankly, once a character is chosen as the center personality and at the enter of that web, speak of, she or he is dealing with all the then peripheral smaller roles. 

In PSI Blue, it seems every other character is there to annoy poor Rae.

Series question - Who is your favorite couple and why did you decide on their dynamics?

Easily Rae’s parents, the ghost couple who come back from the grave to give her parenting lessons. The whole purpose to remain good parents to her and their grandchild. Fun fun pair indeed.

How do you get inside these characters’ heads to find their perfect HEA?

As with all characters, you really have to ‘fully realize’ each as who s/he is and once you understand their bedrock traits, goals, purpose in life or the novel, then you can have an idea how they walk and talk. As what to challenges them with, what kind to rocks to throw at them.

What scene in this book/series sticks out the most for you? Why?

The ending to PSI Blue, book one, as it is beautiful. Almost…well it did have me in man tears.

Series - Were any of the books harder to write than others?

The last book in a series for me is highly emotional; in fact, it is like the bittersweet ‘wrap’ party I imagine actors and company feel at having to say goodbye with champagne in hand. 

However, in my case, there can always be yet another in the series, so long as I hear the voice(s) of the character’s making a loud enough hue and cry to be resurrected.

This question is if you write in MULTIPLE POVs not just the hero and heroine - I love the multiple POVs in a book. It’s not just the hero and heroine, but we get inside the heads of multiple characters throughout this series. I feel that it gives the story further depth. Do you think you will write another book or series following this multiple POV outline?

Frankly, 3rd Person multiple POV is my favorite method, as I love going in and out of the minds of all the characters, especially the female lead as that challenges me most, but also the vile, evil monster serial killer as that is a challenge. 

But so is the guy on the back of the trash truck who wants to one day run the trash company and who discovers a body in the dumpster, which puts him off his breakfast and good vibe.

How long did it take you to write this book/series?

I wrote this series relatively fast as I so loved Rae. I usually write two crime novels a year, but this series of three (trilogy) gushed forth in a single year. 

Other types of work that require long years of research like my historical novels having 3 volumes, some have taken, no exaggeration, 10 years, while Young Adult historical books and even horror novels take only months.

How did you come up with the title for your book and series?

I was heavily involved in research at one time having to do with psychic issues and studies and the terms kept coming up, especially PSI, and while I used that research for a title called Brain Stem, I became fascinated with the studies. 

Later years, I began doing medical examiner vs serial killer series such as my Killer Instinct and Cutting Edge. Then it occurred to me to replace the autopsy evidence with psychism evidence, still using a female lead as I like doing. The change was greatly rewarding.

If you met these characters in real life would you get along?

All but the administrator types, the academia guys, Yoshikani, and the serial killer.

Series question – Did you know in advance that you were going to write this as a series or did one of the characters in book one demand their own story?

By the end of book one, I was told by Rae that she wasn’t done with me, so I had no choice. 

She wanted a bigger and better challenge. That’s just who she is. So, I gave into her demands.

If your book/series were made into a movie, which actors do you see as playing your characters?  

I’m not a casting director but at least Lucy Lu or a similar Asian actor for Rae, her daughter a younger version of same, and Yoshikani should be played by an Asian actor. The killer could be Jack Nicholson!  All the rest are pretty stock players.

Can you give us a hint as to what we can expect next? Whether a new book and series or a sequel to an existing series? Can you share a small tease?

In the next installment, Rae has even more problems than ever with her daughter as well as her ghostly parents, and divorced husband. She also faces a new and more horrid serial killer than before, if that can be imagined. By now, her handlers do not question what a valuable asset she is to the PSI Division of the FBI.

Check out all my interviews/reviews for Robert W Walker!

Robert who?

Robert W. Walker is a graduate of Chicago’s Wells High Academy, Northwestern University, and the NU’s Graduate Masters Program in English Education and the author of over 100 fictional works, and an untold number of how to write articles such as his Dead on Writing ‘class’ in a book.  Rob has taught writing in all its permutations (“All writing is creative writing but not all writing sings,” he says.) from composition and developmental to a study of the literary masters to creative and advanced creative writing.  His first novel was one only an arrogant youth could have conceived — a sequel to Huckleberry Finn (now published as Daniel & The Wrongway Railroad via Amazon Kindle Publishing/Instinct Ink Books. Rob’s first suspense-techno-thriller-sf-mystery came in 1979, after college, a novel that won no awards but filled Chicago book shelves for a month. His first ‘commercial’ title SUB-ZERO. 

Just a southern boy.

While born in Corinth, Mississippi, I grew up in Chicago, Illinois, so I was witness to crime at an early age. I began a love affair with libraries and books as early as 4th grade, researching information on a footnote in our social studies book on the Salem Witch episode. At age 12-13, I began writing as most do, to gain some control on the chaos of life.  I was drawn to stories and films having to do with the unusual, the arcane, the bizarre and curious; from Ripley’s Believe it or Not to Twilight Zone to Science Fiction Theatre (that dates me) and the highly entertaining ONE STEP BEYOND. A wide-eyed kid reacting to all strange and wonderful stories be via TV or books.  I found myself struggling with an attempt to write a historical fiction of the coming-of-age variety, which I so loved — Tom Sawyer, Huck Finn, the Prince and the Pauper, et al. 

My greatest influences have been too many to list, but I’ll give you the top of the list:

Shakespeare, Mark Twain, Alexander Dumas, Martin Cruz Smith, Thomas Thompson, Robert Bloch, Richard Matheson, and more recently Patricia Cornwell, the person who finally unmasked Jack the Ripper (kudos to her!).  I have recently exchanged long novel form for the novella form, but like my novels that tend to become series titles like my long-running Instinct series (17 titles) and PSI Blue (3 titles), my novellas, to my surprise, have become novella series such as Chicaghosts and Blue Vegas. I attribute my prolific number of books (over 105) to perseverance, yes, but also to the nature of the series framework—working with a certain, familiar hemione or hero and their ensemble of sidekicks, since getting to know them so well as to foresee their steps, language, thoughts—what they say and do, thusly who they are and how they will react to all the hell I put them through. Since my first novel was a ‘sequel’ to the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, I’ve been doing sequential novels ever since, although I do have my standalones here and there. 

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