The Departed by Shiloh Walker

By Karen Harper

FBI Special Agent Taylor Jones has made it his mission to save those in harm’s way by any means necessary—including employing psychic agents like Desiree “Dez” Lincoln, who can communicate with the disembodied spirits of the dead. Taylor is haunted by his own ghost, his kid sister, gone missing at age six. For a quarter of a century he has been tortured by her loss and the mystery of her disappearance.

When Dez is seriously wounded, Taylor can no longer hide his feelings for her. Getting involved could spell disaster for both of them—not to mention those who rely on them for help—but once Dez lays her hands on him, he can’t resist the fierce attraction. But after giving in to his desires, Taylor pulls back, and Dez strikes out on her own.

Responding to the call of another anguished spirit, Dez is led to Taylor’s old hometown. As the two are forced to come together to save a girl in peril, Dez may be able to help Taylor finally find the answers he’s been looking for…

I recently had the opportunity to interview Shiloh Walker for TheBigThrill:

Please tell us a bit about your new release, THE DEPARTED.

It’s the follow up to my release THE MISSING, featuring two of the secondary characters introduced in that story, Taylor Jones and Desiree Lincoln. It’s a paranormal, but it’s what I’d call a ‘reality based’ paranormal…the people are psychic and most of them work for a special task force of the FBI.

It’s set in French Lick, Indiana…where Dez and Taylor are about to confront some very old ghosts. That’s Dez’s thing…she communicates with the ghosts of people who’ve died, usually in violent ways. But Taylor would rather she not be anywhere around this town…it’s where he grew up and there are secrets here that he isn’t ready to face.

Your novels have very evocative covers. How much input do you have for these? I especially like the one for your new release THE DEPARTED.  Do you find it true to the mood and impact of the story? And do you prefer covers with one character or two?

That depends on the publisher, but with Berkley and my epublishers, I am usually asked if I have any ideas. For this one, I did have something of an idea. Particularly the angel. But if people want to understand her relevance to the story, they’ll have to read it.

Your bio on your website mentioned that, even as a child, you heard voices in your head. Being an author is one of the few careers where this is a good thing! Were these voices telling stories? Were they characters talking to you? Do you hear them still and can you control them or do they hit you when you’re least expecting them?

Yes…I’ve always had stories in my head. It wasn’t until I was a teenager or close to it that I realized that it wasn’t exactly ‘normal’ to have voices in your head. It’s not always characters…sometimes I’ll just see a book unfolding in my head, kind of like I’m watching a movie without the sound or something. And no, I don’t have any control over it, but I can compartmentalize, to some extent at least.

When you create a story, which comes first for you, plot, character, theme—even setting? Or are these all born together in your imagination?

It all just depends. In my last release, IF YOU HEAR HER, it was all the heroine. I had this idea for a woman who heard screams and knew somebody needed help, but nobody really believed.

With THE MISSING, the one before THE DEPARTED, I had a scene unfold in my head. THE DEPARTED…well, it all started with a question. One of my readers emailed me, are you going to tell Taylor’s story?

I said, No. He’s an ass.

She wrote back, I KNOW! I need to know why!!! Why is he like that…

That was right after THE MISSING released. Then another author, Rob Thurman, asked the same question a few years later. A few others, off and on, had voiced similar thoughts. Why is a dangerous question to ask a writer.

I never thought Taylor had a story, but sooner or later, I started thinking…well, why is he such an ass? And Desiree was there. She’d seemed to have a thing for him…the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to try and then one day, the story started to unfold.

I think we all know character names are important. Your own first name is very lovely and unusual. Can you give us a glimpse into why you were named Shiloh and if it has altered your life in any way?

LOL…I can claim complete and total credit for this… it’s a pen name.  I liked the sound of it.

Can you give us some advice on how you balance such a busy life: prolific author, promoter, wife, and mother of three? When do you find time to write or do you create when the moment presents itself?

Easy answer…my kids go to the sitter during the day when they aren’t  at school. I was working full time before I wrote, so after I quit the day job to write, I just kept to that schedule. I don’t write as much in the mornings—that’s errands, email, promo, etc. In the afternoon, my brain wakes up and I tend to do most of my writing from noon to five. After that, it’s time for the writer to go back into the closet. My kids come home and while I may play on twitter and stuff, I don’t do much work in the evening or on weekends. That’s time for family.

You have a very informative section on your website about piracy. Has this been a problem for you and can you share any advice for readers and other authors about this growing situation? 

Piracy has been a thorn in my side almost since I started writing. I ended a series because it was pirated more than it sold. It was a hard series to write and if I spent months on a book that didn’t sell particularly great, but was pirated like crazy…well, I can’t justify the time I put into it. Writers have to keep their business hats sometimes and I made a business decision—I focused my time where it was more productive, even though I did enjoy that series.

I recently decided to table another series because of low sales…and it’s another one that does get pirated. If some of those who pirate had bought instead of pirating, maybe the decision wouldn’t be necessary.

Piracy is a huge problem for authors, and although some readers don’t understand, it’s a problem for them as well. Publishing is a business and if an author’s sales aren’t where they need to be, publishers may choose not to continue. So if a reader enjoys that series piracy affects them, too.

I find your “If” romantic suspense very intriguing. In IF YOU HEAR HER, the first in the new trilogy, I was really drawn to this line in your “teaser”: The hero Ezra’s “desire to protect [the heroine] is as fierce as his desire to possess her.”  That encapsulates the two elements of romance and suspense beautifully. Can you tell us a bit more about how you balance these different aspects in this book or any romantic/suspense novel you write?

Eh, Ezra has his hands full with wanting to protect Lena… she’s got a vulnerability that you’ll discover pretty quick if you read the book, but she hasn’t let it turn her into a victim.  Ezra respects her for that…it’s one of the things he loves her for.

And I think respect is all where it goes down to…respect and common sense.

I’m married to a wonderful guy, and I know that he’d do anything to protect me. But I also know he realizes there are things that I don’t need protection from. I try to keep that respect thing in the forefront when I’m writing romantic suspense. I think sometimes it’s easy to let the big, strong man take the lead and take care of the ‘little woman’. And sometimes the reverse happens… the woman does some dingbat thing the name of being ‘an independent woman’ even though doing it is the worst possible thing she could have done.

We write fiction, but we want to be believable, and nothing aggravates a romance reader like the TSTL—too-stupid-to-live heroine. And my hang-up is the overblown, over-Alpha guy who doesn’t seem to realize that some of us females are pretty darn capable and fairly smart. So I try to keep mutual respect and common sense in mind when I’m writing. Even though I’d never likely find myself in the situations I put my characters in, I try to ask myself…what’s the likely way to react…what’s the stupid way to react…how would I feel if he said that, did that…etc…how would he feel if I said it…

What are you working on now? Or are you a writer who doesn’t like to talk about your work in progress?

I tend to write on several things…I’m working on the next GRIMM book in my fairy tales series, Grimm’s Circle. The current title is BLIND DESTINY, but that may change. And I’m working on the next book in the FBI psychic series…it’s due out after THE DEPARTED. So far, it’s called THE REUNITED, but that might change.

*****

Shiloh Walker has been writing since she was a kid. She fell in love with vampires with the book Bunnicula and has worked her way up to the more…ah…serious works of fiction. She loves reading and writing anything paranormal, anything fantasy, and nearly every kind of romance. Once upon a time she worked as a nurse, but now she writes full time and lives with her family in the Midwest. She writes paranormal and contemporary romance, as well as romantic suspense.

To learn more about Shiloh, please visit her website.

Karen Harper

Published since 1982, Karen Harper is the New York Times bestselling author of contemporary suspense and historical novels about real British women. She is the winner of the Mary Higgins Clark Award for her novel, Dark Angel.Her her most recent historical releases are American Duchess, and in February, The Queen's Secret.

Visit Karen at: www.karenharperauthor.com and follow her on Facebook.

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