Joe McKinney Interviews Michael McCarty



(The new cover for LOST GIRL OF THE LAKE by Joe McKinney & Michael McCarty, Grinning Skull Press)

LOST GIRL OF THE LAKE by Joe McKinney & Michael McCarty

Lake Livingston: August, 1961. Mark Gaitlin is 15, the son of one of the wealthiest men in Texas, and on the most boring summer vacation of his life. His days are filled with the pomp and circumstance of country club life, while his nights are a parade of one embarrassment after another at the hands of giggling teenage girls. But the piney woods above Lake Livingston are dark at night, and hold many secrets for an impressionable youngster on the cusp of becoming a man. And one night, after skinny dipping in the lake with a mysterious local girl, Mark Gaitlin’s life takes a crazy turn into the fire and brimstone religion of backwoods snake handlers and abandoned villages haunted by old family secrets. If he can survive the snakes and the ghosts and his own family’s dark history, he just might make it out of the woods alive. And something else…he just might become a man.

Joe McKinney and Michael McCarty are also the author of Lost Girl Of The Lake which was published in the summer of 2012 from Bad Moon Books as a trade paperback, ebook and hardcover. Eventually, the book went out of print.

In 2017, Grinning Skull Press, republished the book.

By Joe McKinney

JOE McKINNEY: Lost Girl of The Lake is, among other things, a coming of age story. What drew you to this kind of tale, and what unique challenges did it present to you as a writer.

MICHAEL McCARTY:  What drew me to the tale was easy. I always loved Stephen King’s novella The Body (from Different Seasons) that was turned into the movie Stand By Me and Robert McCammon’s Boy’s Life. Lost Girl of The Lake is the closest I was ever going to get at those giants of the genre’s masterpieces.   

       I always wanted to write a coming of age story, so when I was offered a chance to collaborate with Joe, on this story, I was quick to say yes.   I am also a big fan of the 1960s; the whole Mad Man era, that was such a turbulent and pivotal time in the 20th Century. I see it as more of a coming of age story of a boy from a man. I almost see it as a time in America that we were still trying to hold onto our innocence; before the technologicalage would sweep us up as a country; before we landed on the moon and the digital age. So much has happened in the last half century, it is really mind blowing.


(Joe McKinney)

  JOE McKINNEY: Jokes run throughout Lost Girl. As a stand up comedian, what do you think about humor and horror?  Is it a form of whistling through the graveyard?

MICHAEL McCARTY:  I know there are some horror purists who think humor and horror don’t belong together. However, I think they work together perfectly. It is about timing and atmosphere and there is a lot of tension in comedy and terror.

Laughter and screams both are involuntary responses – you can’t make people do either, they just do it and you feel better after doing both. There is a lot of tension in comedy and terror of course. I’ve been writing books with both for almost ten years now.


MM & Bookrack 001

(Michael McCarty)

JOE McKINNEY: In addition to jokes, there are lots of snakes. Tell us how you feel about snakes.

MICHAEL McCARTY:  And I thought you were going to ask me about skinny-dipping (laughs). When I was about ten years old, my brother and sister and I all collected a ton of garden snakes, we filled up a fish aquarium with them. Our mom, of course, made us get rid of them.

That same summer, I guess, it was my snake summer. My family was vacationing down in Missouri at my grandma’s pig farm and I was walking down this gravel road and this rattlesnake slithered in front of me and started shaking its rattle and I trekked as fast as I could in the opposite direction.

Those are my snake stories, I hope you liked them.

 JOE McKINNEY:  Mark Gatlin, the main character of Lost Girl, comes to at least two surprising realizations about what it means to come of age over the course of many decades. Why do you think it takes him so long to finally put it all together?

MICHAEL McCARTY: Sometimes the truth stays hidden in the heart for many decades. Sometimes the soul will hide us from the darkness only shedding light when the time is right.


JOE McKINNEY: Race relations, rock and roll, and backwoods religion all come into play in Lost Girl of the Lake. How different is Mark Gatlin’s world from ours, and why, if it is that different, is Mark’s story relevant for today’s readers?

MICHAEL McCARTY:  Great question. Over a half-century later, all of these things are becoming more and more relevant every day. Lost Girl of The Lake takes place in 1961; two years before Martin Luther King Jr. would give his “I Have A Dream;” so in reality a storm of change in race relations was brewing and we’ve come so far since that time. This is also about three years before The Beatles came to America, so a musical revolution was slowly cooking too and some backwoods religions are still in this country today.

I think the readers in 2013 will enjoy Lost Girl of The Lake even if they were born much later than the 1960s, because it is a time that has affected generations of the future and will continue to do so for many years to come.

(Original promo for the book)

(Promo for Grinning Skull Press’ Lost Girl of The Lake


How to get Lost Girl of the Lake by Joe McKinney & Michael McCarty:

Kindle or Trade Paperback:

Nook or Trade Paperback:

Joe McKinney has been a patrol officer for the San Antonio Police Department, a homicide detective, a disaster mitigation specialist, a patrol commander, and a successful novelist. His books include the four part Dead World series (Dead City, Apocalypse Of The Dead, Flesh Eaters and Mutated), Quarantined, Inheritance, The Crossing: A Zombie Story and Dodging Bullets. His short fiction has been collected in The Red Empire and Other Stories and Dating in Dead World and Other Stories. For more information go to

Lost Girl of the Lake

(The original cover of the book)

Michael McCarty is a former stand-up comedian and musician, and has been a professional writer since 1983. The author of 35 books including Night Of The Scream Queen (with Linnea Quigley), I Kissed A Ghoul and Liquid Diet. He has also penned hundred of articles, short stories, poems, etc. He is a David R. Collins’ Literary Achievement Award winner from the Midwest Writing Center and a 3 times Bram Stoker Finalist. He lives in Rock Island, Illinois with his wife Cindy and pet rabbit Latte. For more information go to


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