What Scares A Killer? Character Interview – Sean Riley from Michael Sykora Novels

As many of you know, Child’s Play, the fourth Michael Sykora novel, is set for release on June 9th. I’m so excited to share it with you all! In the weeks leading up to the release, I thought I’d do some interviews with each of the four leading characters. Today’s guest is Michael’s partner Sean Riley, who is, by his own admission, a sociopath. Sean is my guilty pleasure. In No Justice, book 1, Sean stepped in as a minor character, one that I didn’t expect readers to like. I wasn’t even supposed to like him, and he lives in my head. But something about him captivated me, and soon I found readers felt the same way. Sean’s parts grew larger with each book. In Child’s Play, the whole team – Michael, Nicki, Sean, and Maria – get together to solve a case that has them all on edge.

Here he is, Sean Riley, in all his defiant glory.

Interview with Sean Riley from the Michael Sykora Novels

What scares you the most and why?

I stopped being afraid the day I watched my father kill my mother. We were living in Rhode Island then. The three of us, in one of those old Colonial homes. All dark wood and darker moods.

I won’t tell you what went on in that house before or after this event. For whatever reason, my mother decided that was the day she needed to get me out. To preserve whatever good was left in me, before he turned me into a version of himself. He came home early, caught her packing. He wrapped his hands around her neck, made me watch while he strangled her.

I was eight.

I’d always known monsters were real, and I called one of those monsters Dad. When you grow up with that kind of knowledge, there’s not much left to fear.

When I got old enough, big enough, I got my vengeance. My father was my first kill. So, in a sense, he taught me the business.

Do you believe in destiny?

Like I was meant to be raised by a psychopath, so someday I’d be on this mission to rid the world of all psychopaths? No, I don’t believe in destiny. I don’t believe things happen to us for some preordained reason. I think shit happens, and what we do with it is up to us.

If you could go back to any place and time in history, where would you go and why?

I’d go back to the day before my father killed my mother, and I’d tell my eight-year-old self to slit the bastard’s throat.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Never having to do another one of these interviews.

Would you rather listen to rock or country music?

Definitely rock. But not the watered-down rock/pop crap that’s been run through a computer and had all the life sucked out of it. I want grit, complete with all the imperfections.

What is your favorite rainy day activity?

Playing board games. Scrabble, Monopoly, Aggravation. And card games. I like Uno and gin rummy.

I sense you’re smirking. Were you expecting something more conducive to a killer’s personality, like maybe sharpening my knife collection?

Some people believe we can tell a lot about a person by the books on their shelves. Share 3 titles from your bookshelf and tell us what you think they say about you.

The Canterbury Tales by Chaucer
A Terrible Mistake: The Murder of Frank Olson and the CIA’s Secret Cold War Experiments by H.P. Albarelli
On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society by Dave Grossman

I’ll leave it to you to figure out what those books say about me.


If you’d like to spend more time with Sean, you can pre-order Child’s Play for just 99 cents for your Kindle. The price goes up to $3.99 upon release. This is the fourth book in the series, but can be read as a stand-alone. No Justice, book 1, is always free for Kindle and Nook.

I’ll be giving away a signed, print copy of Child’s Play to one of my newsletter subscribers. If you haven’t signed up, you can do so here: http://eepurl.com/cO9Vy1


Thanks for reading. 🙂



  • Kim Stapf

    I love these kind of interviews! Sean doesn’t though😂😂😂 I’m with Sean on destiny, but I do believe you can be influenced by people, you don’t need to be them though. I can’t wait to read this book! I’ve missed the characters!

    • Thank you, Kim!

      No, Sean is never a willing participant in these things. At least this time he was slightly more cooperative!

      You’re so right about being influenced by other people. For some, it’s much more prominent, like even in adulthood they don’t find their own identity. It can be difficult in this world to find your own solid ground to stand on.

  • Jody

    This is awesome, Sean’s mind intrigues me the most!

    • I have to admit I love the complexities of his mind. I have a strange soft spot for his character. 🙂

  • Kim Stapf

    I know family dynamics have a lot to do with the way your life turns out. I do believe if you make it to a certain age, say 16 or so then you have more of a chance to be the one who changes those dynamics. Kids who’s parents drink don’t have to, mine did so didn’t my brothers, not me!!! Unfortunately a lot don’t make it. Sean’s childhood was horrible, he’s really rough but has a soft spot for the ones he loves. Michael also had a terrible childhood, he’s a realible sweet man who helps others. I’d have either of them on my side any day.

    • I’m with you, Kim. Family dynamics are an integral part of who we become, whether influencing us to stay within that dynamic or to move away from it all. The nature/nurture argument has always fascinated me. Why does one abused kid grow up to become an abuser, while another becomes a protector? There isn’t a clear answer.

      I do think that at a certain point we have to stop blaming our upbringing and start taking responsibility for the choices we make. But then brain chemistry comes into play, which calls into question the whole free will issue. The more I read about the science behind it all, the more questions I have!

      • Kim Stapf

        It’s not cut and dry that’s for sure. I beat the odds, I’m me not my parents. My brothers didn’t do so well. I wish I knew the answer.

        • Sad for your brothers. We – society – need to do a better job of flagging at-risk kids so that we can intervene before their lives derail.

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