In reading Blue Falcon, I was immediately struck at how well you depict the various facets of police departments and their procedures, how did you research this information?
I have taken several online classes, many of which were taught by M.A. Taylor. I belong to the Kiss of Death, an online chapter of Romance Writers of America, and firstname.lastname@example.org. These groups help writers to create accurate characters and scenes. Some of the participants include paramedics, retired officers, medical professionals, and a whole host of other characters. I picked the brains of some of my IRWA chapter sisters who have experience in weapons and the military. The short answer is that I spent a great deal of time studying the personality types that would be associated with my characters.
This book would generally be described as suspense with romantic elements? What does that essentially mean to the reader?
The storyline focuses more on the suspense and intrigue than on the romance. The hero isn’t a traditional type of hero, and some of my readers indicated they loved to hate him, but they found him irresistible. The happily-ever-after is in jeopardy from the very beginning and the outcome is uncertain. No need for a spoiler alert. I won’t tell you how it ends.
What other writers publish under this genre?
The authors are both men and women. My favorite is Lisa Gardner. Others include Sandra Brown, Janet Evanovich, (I’m firmly in the Ranger camp) and Sue Grafton. Romance readers are a loyal group and this niche has a mix of romance and mystery readers, all of whom follow an author and eagerly anticipate new releases by that author.
I understand there are certain facets that should be included in every suspense story, which did you use in Blue Falcon?
Plot twists need to happen at certain points in the suspense storyline. Twists should move the story or the suspense in a new direction. With romance, there are turning points that are similar to plot twists only they are emotional in nature. Both the plot twists and the turning points move the story toward the black moment and ultimately to the resolution. Coordinating the plot twists and the turning points can be challenging.
To be fair to the readers, it is important to pepper clues into the storyline so the reader has the opportunity to solve the mystery or suspense. Leading a reader on a merry chase is part of the fun of writing this type of book, but the reader should have the opportunity to follow the chase.
You’ve been a member of Romance Writers of America for how many years now? Based on what you’ve seen and learned over that time frame, what is the best direction for a beginning writer?
Seven, I think.
There has been so much upheaval in the writing world, but a well-written book will transcend all of the turmoil. I think the most important investment a new writer can make is in education. Spend time and resources on learning the craft of writing. Finding a critique partner or partners is also important. My writing became exponentially better once I utilized critique partners. Having someone else look at your work with a critical eye will illustrate both the shortcomings and the strengths in your writing.
Do you have a work in progress?
Yes, thanks for asking. The title is Sweet and Savage. The heroine, Annie Sweet, grew up in foster care. Her acerbic personality makes developing and maintaining personal relationships difficult. The hero, Luke Savage, has devoted his life to helping others. and has friends from every walk of life.
When a serial arsonist comes after Annie, Luke swoops in to save her, but ends up becoming a target himself.
Please enjoy this excerpt from Blue Falcon:
This scene sets up the black moment, which is three quarters of the way through the manuscript.
Dust rose on the dry road and a battered pick-up truck screeched to a halt in front of Hope. The two men jumped in the back seat, shoving Hope in ahead of them. I vaulted into the side door behind them, but a booted foot struck me in the solar plexus, and I landed in the dirt. The driver revved the motor and one of the men turned to mock me. "Tough luck, Lady Warrior. This time you lose."
The truck shrieked like a banshee as it sped away. A chill racked my body and my hands went numb, as if fear had clamped my veins and cut off the blood flow. My heart jackhammered so hard it pounded the air from my lungs.
"No," I tried to say, but the word came out as a gasp. I inhaled and air bellowed into my lungs with a searing rush.
It’s my fault. I deliberated too long. Save Rafael or Hope? Jared will never forgive me. I will never be able to forgive myself.
I gasped for air, but inhaled the scent of fried food. The smell made me sick, and I collapsed. A man asked if I needed an ambulance. I couldn’t respond. The swirling chaos inside my head threatened to pull me under like quicksand.
A crowd formed around me. I needed to find Hope. An officer arrived and I tried to make him understand, but my words came out too fast. Other people spoke for me, and he used his shoulder mic to call for back-up. The arrival of more officers added to the confusion as the additional radios crackled and echoed. I didn’t want the officers to detain me. The confusion gave me an advantage. I got to my feet, unnoticed, and retraced my steps, desperate to find my way back to Jared.
Footsteps pounded behind me, but I had too much of a head start. I raced back to where Rafael had fallen. Where Hope had been taken.
Rafael was gone. Not gone the way Hope was gone, but carted off to the hospital—or the morgue. It hurt to consider the possibilities. In Iraq, the death of a friend occurred so often I’d become immune to the pain. Here on American soil, I’d never expected to lose a friend to a war I didn’t understand. The war on drugs has resulted in a staggering number of lost lives. Drug users who overdosed, innocent bystanders mowed down during territorial disputes, and officers killed while enforcing the law. This was my war now. It became mine in varying shades of red, the bloom of a bloody poinsettia on a Santa suit, ruby slippers stuffed in a trunk, a crimson spew from Rafael’s neck, and the pink of an innocent child’s shirt.