Debra Webb spent three years with the military behind the Iron Curtain and five years with NASA before realizing her true calling—writing. Now the successful author of The Colby Agency series with Harlequin Intrigue, she recently sat down to answer a few questions about her latest novel, BROKEN.
Congratulations on the new book! BROKEN is the 45th book you’ve written in The Colby Agency series. Please give us a little insight into the series and BROKEN.
Victoria Cobly-Camp has been at the helm of the Colby Agency for 25 years! Many members of the agency have been with her practically from the beginning, her husband Lucas, her son Jim, Ian Michaels and Simon Ruhl just to name a few. Their cases have covered everything from missing persons to serial killers. Their clients come from all over the country. The agency staff is really a family who supports each other personally as well as professionally. The first Colby Agency story, Safe By His Side, was released in September 2000. I had no idea that the series would still be going strong 44 books later! BROKEN is about loss and recovery, something I know a little too well. The story is dedicated to the physical therapy folks who helped me recover from a tragic accident last summer.
I hope your recovery has been a swift one! It’s wonderful that you dedicated a book to the physical therapists who helped you. In BROKEN, Linc Reece is recovering from his own trauma and believes he’s found his dead wife. He’s even willing to kidnap Mia Grant to prove it. Were you concerned that having the hero kidnap the heroine might turn off some readers?
Not at all. Keeping her safe, whoever she proved to be, is Linc’s top priority. Sometimes drastic measures are necessary.
That’s an interesting way of looking at the situation. But when working with private investigators, I’m sure things get interesting quickly, especially in a town like Chicago. Do you have any experience as a private investigator?
I wish! I’ve always been a problem solver—the person friends and family came to whenever they needed to solve an issue or figure out a situation. I have had the pleasure of interviewing many PIs and riding along during a case here and there!
Riding along with law enforcement and PIs can be fun—and scary—but great research. How much research do you conduct for the books?
Sometimes a little, sometimes a lot. Depends upon the subject matter, the plot details, and the setting. I work hard to get those details right.
Details are definitely important, as well as new cases for the characters to solve. After ten years, how do you keep the stories fresh for readers?
In my opinion, it’s all about the characters. I look at my characters as real people. No matter how many CPAs, nurses, cops, teachers, lawyers you meet they are all unique in so far as how they go about their business. No matter that an individual may have similar traits to another, each one is distinctly different. I’ve written many damaged heroes but each one of those guys is unique in his own way. The same with my female characters. No two missing persons stories or serial killer stories should ever be the same because the people—including the bad guy—are unique. The steps each takes and the reactions to the escalating plot of each character is always different and individual.
Another question along the same vein: What do you believe is the most important element to writing successful romantic suspense?
Again, it’s about the characters. The developing relationship must be tightly woven within the plot. If the plot stands alone or the developing relationship stands alone then you haven’t done your job. One should not work without the other. The two elements must be that closely connected—each building on the other.
I couldn’t agree more! We have time for one more question so what can readers expect next for The Colby Agency and Debra Webb?
This September there will be a free online read on eharlequin.com featuring Victoria and Lucas (Operation: Second Honeymoon). Then in October is the next Harlequin Intrigue release for the Colbys, CLASSIFIED. And in November comes DECODED. Right now I’m preparing for next spring’s trilogy that will include the 50th Colby book. With this trilogy the Colby Agency will be setting up a second office in Texas and there is a big surprise coming for fans of Victoria and Lucas.
Meanwhile, my new mainstream novel, DIRTY, is available as an e-book! DIRTY is the first in my new Jackie Mercer mystery series (another PI series!). Of course there is always a dash of sizzling romance in my stories.
Wow! You’re certainly keeping busy and it all sounds wonderful! Congrats, again, on BROKEN and best of luck with all your new projects.
To learn more about Debra, please visit her website.