By Matt Maxwell
Elizabeth Lowell has quietly been stirring up a revolt in both romance and thrillers since the late 1980s. She was one of the leading innovators in the field of romantic suspense, having mastered relationship-driven romance and suspense novels in her earlier career. With Tell Me No Lies, she combined the two genres, giving readers an unexpected ride that continues to today. Her newest romantic suspense novel is PERFECT TOUCH, which tells a tale of family and betrayal set against a backdrop of the rugged Wyoming landscape. High-stakes art deals, murder, and the unexpected dance of new love all come together, satisfying readers of thrillers and contemporary romance alike.
The Big Thrill sat down with Mrs. Lowell to talk about her writing career and what it’s like to break down genre barriers.
You didn’t start out writing suspense at all. How did you begin your career?
I was reading science fiction at the time; my first novel, Change, was science fiction. It is long out of print, but I’m looking at possibly bringing out a digital edition. I’ve got rights to all my science fiction backlist, thanks to contracts that weren’t able to predict ebooks and the world we live in now.
What were you able to take from that experience that makes your other work unique?
Science fiction is the ultimate “What if?” genre, with no limitations required by reality. Suspense is also a “What if?” genre, but the limitations are very much of this Earth!
What led you to add suspense elements to your romance novels? Did that dovetail with your work on Steal the Sun and the Fiddler novels?
My first romance novels were about 200 pages long. There wasn’t room in them for anything but the development of the romance. When I write 400 page novels, then there is room for both romance and suspense. Working on pure suspense (such as Steal the Sun) and mystery with a continuing relationship (Fiddler) made me want to write novels in which the romance and suspense were equal partners.
By Paige Tyler
If you remember from Book 1 in my Special Wolf Alpha Team Series (Hungry Like the Wolf), the Dallas SWAT Team is made up of sixteen alpha werewolves. When you think of the word “alpha” you probably naturally think big, strong guys. And up until WOLF TROUBLE (Book 2 in the SWAT Series) you’d be right. There were sixteen alpha guys on the team, and in the Pack. But now you get to see how the dynamics change when the next alpha to join the Pack is a woman. Not only is she strong and aggressive like the guys, but she’s sexy as hell, too.
In my SWAT Series, werewolves aren’t turned from a bite, but rather by having a gene that turns on during a traumatic event. And the heroine Khaki Blake experiences one heck of an event that not just turns her into a werewolf but also forces her to leave her old life behind for a new one.
When she joins the Pack, she doesn’t expect her new teammates to be so attractive. But while they’re all big, tall and droolworthy, only one of them makes her forget her own name—her squad leader Xander Riggs. You guessed it—things are about to get complicated.
Shelley Coriell’s THE BLIND is another dark and twisty romantic thriller in the Apostles Series. The Big Thrill caught up with Coriell to discuss her critically acclaimed series, as well as what’s lurking in her future.
Tell us about THE BLIND, the third book in your Apostles Series, which features an elite team of FBI agents who work outside the box and at times, above the law.
THE BLIND is the story of Special Agent Evie Jimenez, a fiery female FBI bombs and weapons specialist who teams up with Jack Elliott, a buttoned-up billionaire philanthropist and art collector, to track down a serial bomber who uses bombs and live models to create masterful art that lives and breathes—and with the flip of a switch, dies.
Set in the eclectic streets of the downtown Los Angeles Arts District, THE BLIND is a story of art and beauty and ultimately, power. As work-a-holic Evie hunts down an increasingly deadly serial bomber, she finds herself fighting intense feelings for Jack, a powerful businessman with control issues, and struggling with her femininity, and ideas about family. Explosions are going off everywhere in Evie’s world.
Evie Jimenez, the heroine in THE BLIND, is an FBI bombs and weapons specialist. What inspired you to write such a strong female character?
While drafting THE BLIND, I joked around that this book should come with a warning label, something like: Warning: Strong Woman Ahead! I blame my daughters.
After a painful divorce, Maisey Lazarow returns to Fairham, the small island off the South Carolina coast where she grew up. She goes there to heal—and to help her brother, Keith, a deeply troubled man who’s asked her to come home. But she refuses to stay in the family house. The last person she wants to see is the wealthy, controlling mother she escaped years ago.
Instead, she finds herself living next door to someone else she’d prefer to avoid—Rafe Romero, the wild, reckless boy to whom she lost her virginity at sixteen. He’s back on the island, and to her surprise, he’s raising a young daughter alone. Maisey’s still attracted to him, but her heart’s too broken to risk…
Then something even more disturbing happens. She discovers a box of photographs that evoke distant memories of a little girl, a child Keith remembers, too. Maisey believes the girl must’ve been their sister, but their mother claims there was no sister.
Maisey’s convinced that child existed. So where is she now?
Heath Brandon’s mother died when he was barely three years old. His father never spoke about her, or her family. So when her family reaches out to him after his father’s death, Heath decides to make the trip to Louisiana to get to know the only family he has left.
But he soon learns that there was a lot more to his mother’s death than he ever knew…and the beautiful old mansion on the Mississippi River has many secrets, secrets someone would kill to protect.
And the key to everything that happened when he was a child just might be hidden in his own memory…
Greg Herren is the award-winning author of over thirty novels. He lives in New Orleans with his partner of twenty years.
To learn more about Greg, please visit his website.
She’s searching for a sign . . .
Hannah Halloran has always believed in her gift. The things she sees through her psychic touch have never led her wrong before. Not when they led her to an unforgettable night with a sexy marine at a bar. Not when she felt a need to leave her home and find the sisters she barely knows. And not now, when she is an unwilling witness to a brutal murder . . .
He’s ready to show her . . .
All Niall Graham wants is some peace. He’s recovering from the horrors of war, struggling to save his family’s restaurant, and desperate to forget Hannah, the beautiful woman who left him with memories of a mind-blowing night together and a bogus phone number. But a quiet life is hard to manage—especially when Hannah strides back into his restaurant with the news that a serial killer is on the loose and lurking closer than anyone could have guessed . . .
Rancher Brody Fields stops cold when he receives a plea for help from Rebecca Hughes. The onetime love of his life, who was abducted along with her brother fifteen years ago, now believes the kidnapper has returned to tie up loose ends. Rebecca needs Brody’s help bringing the kidnapper—or killer—to justice.
For Brody, the job is risky, but the real danger is their unexpected Texas-sized attraction. As they uncover answers to difficult—and deadly—questions, Brody has a question of his own: Can he trust the woman who once shattered his heart?
Alannah Clark has found the man she wants to spend the rest of her life with. A magician – but magicians have secrets – secrets that might outweigh Alannah’s own dark corners. But nothing remains hidden forever.
Magic, thrills, romance, suspense, and sorrow are the emotions of John R. Little’s newest and darkest thoughts. Fans are sure to get a thrill ride as he unleashes his newest adventure.
“There are two words you don’t often, if ever, hear when describing a ‘horror’ writers’ work – Wordsmith & Elegant. But, that’s exactly what kept running through my mind as I read John R. Little’s Soul Mates. If you’ve never read any of Little’s work, you’re really missing out. Not only does he weave a wonderfully horrific tale, but commands his prose like so few in the writing community can do on a consistent basis. I’m dead serious about that and Soul Mates is no exception. I’ve read everything Little writes and you should too. You’re most certainly in for tasty treat with this one!”
~Ty Schwamberger, author of The Fields, Deep Dark Woods & Escaping Lucidity
Loreth Anne White’s atmospheric, psychological thriller, “pushes the traditional boundaries of the romantic suspense genre,” according to Amazon’s editors, who selected A DARK LURE as one of their four Kindle First picks for June, 2015. Within the first week of its kindle release, A DARK LURE hit # 1 in the Amazon kindle store. The book officially launches July 1.
Tell us a little about A DARK LURE
With A DARK LURE, I wanted to take a classic serial killer trope, where a heinous villain returns years later to hunt down his lone survivor—a woman who bears the deep physical and emotional scars of her narrow escape—but I also wanted to hopefully layer it, make it as much a story of survival, and self acceptance, and love in its many forms. And, I wanted it show the disparate ways in which we can become family. While the themes are dark, at the core it’s ultimately a story of hope. A DARK LURE is set against a rugged wilderness backdrop where hunting and fishing are key story elements, and a perfect foil for my fishing guide heroine who believes she’s found a safe and remote place to hide with her dog and her PTSD—but it’s precisely this isolation that presents the danger.
What inspired the story?
At least once each summer, my husband and I load up our truck, camper, and trailer, to head north into British Columbia’s Cariboo country with our Black Beast of a “labradog” where we spend days, sometimes weeks, fly fishing and camping at a place called Big Bar Lake. While tracking with my dog through the grasses along the water on one particularly moody day, I became hyper aware of the encroaching forest and shadows within, and a sense of being watched by something unseen. And so began the “what-ifs,” which were further developed around campfires late at night while we listened to the coyotes cry in the dark hills, and watched the stars move across a northern sky. This is the setting that inspired my fictional Broken Bar Ranch, and out of it, Olivia and Cole’s story was born. Of course Olivia had to have a dog, Ace, a rescue who plays a key role in the book.
Winter Austin’s latest release delves into a subject matter that has become a matter of importance in our nation: helping our service men and women who are suffering from PTSD, and the high rate of suicide among those who have served. She delicately attacks this while handling the mystery and suspense of a rash of suicides plaguing a small Southeast Iowa town.
McIntire County deputy Nicolette (Nic) Rivers moved to the small town of Eider, Iowa to forget what she experienced as a Marine Scout Sniper, and to heal without family interference. What she’s not expecting is to, once again, use her sniper skills to end a domestic situation. Her single shot turns the sleepy town of Eider on its head, secrets begin pouring out, and citizens of McIntire County turn up dead—presumably by their own hand. With the assistance of Eider police detective, Con O’Hanlon, Nic sets out to learn why the suicides are happening, and face her own demons, hoping she doesn’t succumb to the same fate.
ATONEMENT is your newest release, what inspired the title, and for you to write this book?
My husband is retired from the military, and nine years ago we were preparing for his one and only deployment. During that time a nugget of the story idea came to me. We knew many people who had deployed and came back suffering from mild to severe PTSD. Almost all of my books have a character who is or was military, and with that I knew I had to one day write a book on this subject of PTSD.
Fast forward to 2012, early spring the character Nicolette Rivers was born, and with her came a serious load of baggage that wouldn’t leave me alone. Her story nagged at me until last year when I was able to finally work on her book. Nic is also my first dip into fast-tracking certain aspects that aren’t currently happening in the military. She is the first female Marine Scout Sniper, and it’s because of that job she’s suffering. My hope is that readers will get a better understanding of what actually goes on inside the head of someone suffering from PTSD. Nic’s story is probably the darkest one I’ve written yet.
As for the title, atonement plays a huge role in the suicides that are happening in Eider. Atonement has some deep religious connotations, and for Nic, who is seeking her own atonement for the things that occurred in her past.
Sydney Castleton has worked hard to put her less than savory past behind her…until her sister asks for her help. Devin Starke has fought too many battles, seen too many deaths, to look forward to a peaceful future…until his best friend and partner asks him to help return the horse his wife, Sidney’s sister, took when she left.
Stormhaven, a ranch in northern New Mexico, has become a place for fighting men to readjust to the world, a sort of decompression chamber for those who have seen too much. Devin Starke is such a man. And Sydney isn’t far behind him.
“This book, like the others Karel has written, shows a depth of understanding of people and their relationships. You can’t help but root for her characters as they struggle to find their way through unique trials and tribulations. The story has a good strong plot that will keep you turning pages, but it’s the charming, heart-warming love story that will have you reading this one again and again.” ~Taylor Jones
Dean Bannon comes to New Orleans for one reason only: to track down a missing sixteen-year-old girl. That’s before he meets the drop-dead gorgeous con artist who makes him want to lose his legendary control.
With her past, Emma Castille doesn’t claim to be psychic. She just notices things other people don’t. Like the fear in a runaway’s eyes—or the pain in an ex-FBI agent’s heart. Her chemistry with Dean is blistering, but Emma follows her passion… not someone else’s orders.
Then a madman breaks into Emma’s home and leaves a twisted message: You’re next. Now Dean refuses to let her out of his sight until he pries every last secret from her full, sexy lips. And suddenly Emma’s aching to give him everything he wants.
When Fbi Agent Kaitlyn Knight discovers her brother-in-law is Vyper-the notorious cyber-criminal and murderer wanted by the Fbi-Kait doesn’t question her duty to arrest him. But when he murders her sister in front of her, leaving her infant niece motherless, Kait vows to hunt him down and bring him to justice while raising the baby.
Three years later, and not even a whisper of a lead in her search, Kait is about to give up hope of ever finding Vyper. All of that changes when he goes on a murderous spree taunting Kait with clues that she and homicide detective Sam Murdock must solve before her devious brother-in-law takes another life.
As the body count rises, Sam discovers the killing spree is really about striking back at Kait. He must put everything on the line-including the relationship he’s developed with Kait-to ensure her safety. The killer is waiting, watching her every move, and he won’t stop until he’s exacted his revenge and reclaims his rights to raise his daughter
Elizabeth Goddard is the bestselling, award-winning author of twenty-three romance novels and counting. A seventh-generation Texan, Elizabeth currently makes her home in Minnesota.
Her latest novel, BACKFIRE, is released this month. Tracy Murray had thought she’d be safe disappearing in the wilds of Alaska after her testimony put away a gang leader. But the gang symbol tattooed on an attacker’s arm means the clock has run out. She’s been found—and she knows the killers won’t let her escape alive again. She can’t fight an entire gang alone—she needs help. But when she finds herself relying on widowed firefighter David Warren, a new struggle emerges. Fleeing Alaska and cutting all ties could be the only way to survive…but it would mean leaving her heart behind.
Elizabeth kindly took time out of her busy schedule to answer some questions:
Your Christianity is a major part of your life. How does it assist you with your writing?
My stories are written from a Christian worldview and so my characters respond accordingly. Add to that I write because I believe God has called me to write. He created the desire and the gift within me and, ultimately, at the end of the day, He is the whole reason I write. I can’t separate myself from my Christianity. It’s part of my being.
By E. M. Powell
Milestones are important for any writer but New York Times bestselling author Kate White is coming up to a special one. The publication of her latest novel, THE WRONG MAN, will be her tenth. I had the privilege of reading an advance copy, and thoroughly enjoyed this gripping contemporary suspense.
It has such a smart premise. Owner of a Manhattan interior design firm, hard-working heroine Kit Finn decides to act on impulse while on vacation in the Florida Keys. That impulse involves a very attractive man with whom she believes she forms a mutual connection, and who wants to meet up again back in New York. When the man’s apartment door is opened by a complete stranger sharing the man’s name, Kit is shocked. Unsure if it’s a cruel joke or identity theft, she quickly realizes that it’s part of something deeper and deadlier than she could have ever imagined. And where she thought acting on an attraction was a risk, now everything’s on the line—her business, the people she loves, and even her own life. Mr. X is key to it all, but she has to find him first.
THE WRONG MAN has plot swerve upon plot swerve, and builds tension with a palpable sense of danger. It really keeps the reader guessing, right up to the climactic finish. White says that she finds it easier to create red herrings if she knows the end. “I know there are many terrific mystery and thriller writers who don’t plot out their books but I HAVE to plot in advance—though it’s always a fairly rough outline. I always know who the killer is (and why), and I also come up with certain twists in advance.”
She doesn’t overly restrict her plotting, using outline notes for about five chapters at a time. She also writes down questions regarding the plot. “It’s a technique I heard someone talk about once and it works brilliantly,” she says. “These surprising answers come out of the blue, which makes the process really fun.”
With page-turning suspense and pulse-pounding romance, EASY TARGET, the third book in the thrilling Elite Ops series from award-winning author Kay Thomas, crosses emotional boundaries and multiple continents.
The author answers a few questions for The Big Thrill about what it’s like writing this high octane, sexy suspense series.
Tell us more about EASY TARGET.
AEGIS: an elite team of ex-military men who will do anything for their country… and their women.
Fighting to clear her brother of murder, freelance reporter Sassy Smith is suddenly kidnapped and thrown into a truck with other women who are about to be sold…or worse. When she sees an opportunity for escape Sassy takes it, but she may have just jumped from the frying pan into the fire.
Former Marine Bryan Fisher (a.k.a. Hollywood) is no stranger to dangerous situations, or to his best friend’s little sister. When he rescues Sassy, Bryan is determined to keep her safe…if he can keep his hands off of her. Because Sassy is all grown up and not at all like the girl he used to know. But he’s got bigger problems. And with enemies coming at them from every corner, Bryan and Sassy will need to work together if they’re going to survive.
That’s the back cover copy. At its core this story is about who and what we’ll risk to save the people we love.
What would you risk to save your brother’s life? Would you travel across a continent? Put your own life at risk? Put others at risk?
From the successful French series La Femme Sans Peur, author J. P. Touzeau has translated the initial volume of WOMAN WITHOUT FEAR—and finally introduced his popular protagonist, Trinity Silverman to the English-reading world.
Outwardly successful and beautiful, Trinity has been crippled throughout her life by continual worry. When she accepts an offer to tackle her enduring anxiety with a “magic pill,” the resulting boost in self-confidence does exactly what she was promised, eradicating all her fears and doubts, at least until the pill’s effects wear off. Feeling like she can take on the world, Trinity gets more than she bargained for when the threatening real-world side effects are more than she anticipated.
“It was very well received,” Touzeau says in reference to the original two French volumes of the series, noting that “Volumes one and two hit number one and number two during the summer 2013 in the general Amazon Top One Hundred.” To date, La Femme Sans Peur “has sold fifty thousand copies and touched the hearts of many readers.”
WOMAN WITHOUT FEAR was written after Touzeau watched a close female friend struggle with anxiety and endless fears. Trinity’s story was a means to help change his friend’s perspective, to show that these overwhelming emotions could be tackled. “It ended up touching many more people than I thought,” Touzeau says.
By Stacy Mantle
Sexy shifters, savage villains, and exotic locales merge flawlessly in the action-packed suspense writing of New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, Paige Tyler. Her most recent release, HER WILD HERO, is the third book in the X-OPS Series, and it’s hit the stands with critical praise.
Her unique hybrid of genres combines the thrill of the chase with military-style action while incorporating enough sex to satisfy all readers. This week, we had the opportunity to talk with Tyler about her recent release and how she’s leveraged her storytelling ability to achieve international success across many audiences.
Tell us a bit about HER WILD HERO.
In HER WILD HERO, DCO training officer/behavioral scientist Kendra Carlsen has been begging her boss to let her go into the field for years. When he finally agrees to send her along as an observer with a team on a training exercise in Costa Rica, she’s thrilled. But the team’s resident bear shifter Declan MacBride is anything but pleased. He’s been crushing on Kendra since he started working there seven years ago, only she doesn’t see him as anything other than a friend. He’s finally moved on—or thinks he has—and spending two weeks in the same jungle with her is going to put a serious strain on his resolve. But when they get to Costa Rica, things go bad quickly. Their team is ambushed by a large group of hybrids—twisted, man-made shifters the DCO has been dealing with on and off since Book 1 of the X-OPS Series (Her Perfect Mate). Kendra and Declan get separated from the rest of their team and must depend on each other to survive. But Declan soon discovers that fighting packs of bloodthirsty hybrids isn’t nearly as hard as fighting his attraction to the beautiful woman he’ll do anything to protect.
Kat Martin, New York Times bestselling author and winner of the prestigious RT Book Review Magazine Career Achievement Award, is back with another novel in her popular Brodie series. Kat is a wonderful, cheerful individual. She loves to travel and research the locations she writes about. She has a talent for providing great imagery in her work, and her latest novel, AGAINST THE TIDE, is no exception.
Kat graciously agreed to answer a few questions.
AGAINST THE TIDE comes out May 26, 2015. Are you excited?
I’m particularly excited about this book because it’s one of my personal favorites. I let the plot run and realized I had something special going on, plus I love Rafe and Olivia, who are really smart and interesting people.
Please tell us a little about the book.
In AGAINST THE TIDE, Rafe Brodie is the captain of a charter fishing boat fleet in tiny Valdez, Alaska. It’s a beautiful but harsh and remote place to live. That the new owner of the Pelican Café seems out of place in such a world begins to intrigue Rafe. What is her story? Why would a beautiful woman like Olivia Chandler want to build a life in a place as far off the grid as Valdez? Unfortunately, when Rafe’s first mate, young Scotty Ferris, is murdered, Rafe has another, far more important mystery to solve. But as the clues unfold, Rafe begins to believe that Olivia’s mysterious past may lead him to the killer, which makes Liv equally determined to find the man who murdered their mutual friend.
How did you come up with the idea/plan for this novel?
I generally start with a concept that somehow pops into my head. In this case, I was visiting Valdez during my second, month-long trip to Alaska. As we drove out toward the pipeline, an element of the story began to take shape. Combining that element with solving a murder made it a compelling story to write.
By Cynthia Eden
I’ve got an addiction to danger. I love the kick of adrenaline, the wild ride that comes from solving a murder, the thrill of hunting a killer. I love to figure out how a murderer’s mind works. Is he crazy—or just brutally cold-blooded? How does the killer think? How does the killer feel? How does he choose his victims?
I’ve also got an addiction to romance. I enjoy it when two characters fall in love, when they are willing to face any obstacle to be together. The emotions pull me in, and I’m totally hooked. I truly can’t stop reading.
Danger. Romance. Is it any wonder that I love to combine these elements to write romantic suspense? This genre gives me the perfect balance of danger and devotion. I can do a fifty-fifty split in the story as I write about deadly action and the struggle to fall in love.
In romantic suspense novels, villains are dark and demented. The high stakes are clear. And the pressure to survive? It’s extreme. But in every romance novel, one thing is guaranteed—the ending will be happy. It’s a safe threat. Readers can fear the villains in those pages. They can enjoy the tense suspense, but they can also be secure in knowing that before that book closes, good will triumph. The hero and heroine will survive. Love will totally win.
By Cathy Clamp
Eleven years ago, young Braydon Thatcher was unable to stop a tragic murder, one that hit painfully close to home. Now a detective, Braydon can’t help but notice the eerie similarities between that murder and three women who have suddenly gone missing in the small town of Culpepper. But he has to focus on the present and keep distractions of the past to a minimum. Distractions like Sophia Hardwick, who crashes into town like a Florida thunderstorm, demanding to know where her missing sister is. The attraction between them is nearly his undoing. But he has to protect her, because it’s clear someone is resurrecting ghosts in order to punish Braydon. And if he lets his emotions for Sophia get the best of him, she could become yet another victim…
ITW contributing editor Cathy Clamp sat down with the author of this intriguing new romantic thriller to find out more about the story.
Is MANHUNT intended to be part of a series, or is it a standalone novel?
MANHUNT is a standalone novel…though in my head I definitely continued it to follow the characters after its “The End!”
Are Braydon and Sophia people your readers will have met before, or are they brand new characters?
This is the first time Braydon Thatcher and Sophia Hardwick have been introduced! And boy what a way to start!
Please tell us a little more about the town of Culpepper.
Culpepper is your stereotypical small, quiet town but in the best way possible. Sure there’s no big mall or a plethora of restaurants or attractions. But, the community really makes it great. They are a close bunch, ready to have each other’s backs when everything starts to go sideways…Which it does in MANHUNT. Because like almost every small town or, even large city, there’s a past that can’t stay hidden.
By Amy Lignor
Romantic Suspense is the genre that this amazing author is a part of. With inspirational plots and extremely fast-moving action—with a touch of love thrown in—Lynette Eason writes the characters that readers love and want to see time and time again. But not only is this a great writer, she’s also a true inspiration in more ways than one. Now, let’s meet the lady who claims the title of “plantser.”
At the core of your writing, fans and readers can see that “inspirational” path you take. Is it important to you to make sure that your characters follow that path when telling their tales?
That’s an interesting question. I actually write for the inspirational market for a lot of different reasons. I try to write true-to-life characters; ones who are true to themselves and their personalities. Since I write “faith based” stories for a mostly faith-based audience, my characters reflect that. No matter what religion a person follows, I think he or she would agree that their faith is a big part of their lives. I simply try to show that in my characters by having them think about and react in ways that reflect their faith.
What is your favorite genre?
My favorite genre is the one I write in: Romantic Suspense. And, truthfully, I’m not really all that romantic. I have to work to get that part in. I’m more interested in the suspense/action part. It’s funny, because I have a lot of male readers. One of my FBI buddies who critiques my stuff even said: “You don’t write like a girl.” I still laugh at that.
Is there any genre you have not yet touched that you would like to try in the future?
I really don’t think so. I adore suspense/thrillers and will probably stay right where I am.
By Amy Lignor
From the Old West to contemporary romantic suspense, this incredible author throws herself into all projects she creates. The powerful emotions, excitement, passion, and friendship that exist in her novels invigorate readers—causing them to crave nothing more than a quiet corner where they can sit and get lost in her words and characters without being disturbed. Here, DiAnn Mills has been gracious enough to speak with The Big Thrill about her “full plate,” which even involves being a well-respected mentor to others focusing on the craft of writing.
Your writing is so varied—from the historical to the suspense, and beyond. Where do the “new” characters spring up from (so to speak)? Do you create using people around you, or do they spring from imagination?
Characters spring from every place imaginable with me: the people I meet; the people I hear or read about; strangers, and my imagination. My jumping off point continues to be “What if?”
Your long career includes so many accolades. But (and I know this is difficult), if you could pick only one of your works, what would be your favorite?
That’s like asking which one of my sons is my favorite! But I will pick the romantic suspense titles listed in the FBI: Houston series: Firewall, DOUBLE CROSS, and the third book to be released in October, Deadlock. These are the freshest in my mind, and I’ve worked the hardest to create the best stories possible. Houston’s FBI is amazing and are always available to answer questions. And then there’s the setting—Houston! My city!
By Terry DiDomenico
Readers of romantic suspense, UNTRACEABLE may be for you:
On a daring mission, search and rescue specialist Heidi Warren and her team step onto an icy Alaskan mountaintop—and right into a trap. A stranded gang of thieves holds them at gunpoint, forcing them to serve as guides along the treacherous path. Menaced on all sides by dangerous weather, deadly terrain, and murderous criminals, Heidi desperately needs someone to trust. But her rescue partner Isaiah Callahan is keeping secrets from her. Secrets that ended their chance at a relationship before it could even begin. Yet her survival depends on finding a way to trust Isaiah when a blizzard starts closing in and her options start running out.
UNTRACEABLE is the second book in the Mountain Cove series penned by award-winning author Elizabeth Goddard.
Goddard used a newspaper article that recounted the experience of a man who spent fifteen days in a blizzard, thirteen of which were “a consecutive and virtually relentless hurricane” on the Juneau Ice field as the basis for her research for UNTRACEABLE.
What was most problematic with UNTRACEABLE?
UNTRACEABLE was a different kind of story because I let the reader know in the first chapter who the bad guy is. The characters know too, so there is no whodunit. There is no mystery to solve. The struggle and the suspense come from trying to survive the villains and the brutality of nature in the mountains of the Coast Range in Alaska—said to be the most inclement weather on the planet. So the writing process was difficult in that I had to think of new and fresh ways in each chapter for them to deal with the same problems. Frankly I was worried that readers wouldn’t like this story, but the opposite has been true. Many have said they loved it more than Buried, the first novel in the series, my personal favorite.
By Wendy Tyson
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Rebecca Zanetti knows a thing or two about men, especially alpha males and the women who fall for them. Her latest romantic suspense novel, TOTAL SURRENDER, is the fourth and much anticipated final book in the Sin Brothers Series, which follows four brothers with unnatural powers genetically engineered into them by a black ops military unit that trained them to be killers. In this final installment, the youngest of the Sin Brothers, Jory, has awakened from a two-year coma. Imprisoned, anticipating his chance to escape and reunite with his brothers, he’s sentenced to death by the lethal chip in his spine—unless the brilliant and sexy Piper Oliver can find a way to deactivate the chip in time.
A prolific author, Zanetti has published three series in multiple genres, including contemporary romance, dark paranormal, and romantic suspense. We’re thrilled Zanetti took the time to answer a few questions for The Big Thrill on the heels of her newest release.
Congratulations on the publication of TOTAL SURRENDER, the fourth book in the Sin Brothers series! What can you tell us about TOTAL SURRENDER that’s not on the back cover?
Thanks so much! TOTAL SURRENDER is the fourth and final book in the series, and it answers all of the questions, especially the main one of who shot Jory. I can tell you that you probably won’t guess who the shooter actually was, or if you do guess, you probably won’t know why. Feedback so far from early reviewers has been reassuring that many of the twists and turns took them by surprise.
By Amy Lignor
Louise Voss is a name that continues to grow on the literary scene. As both a solo artist, and co-author with Mark Edwards, Voss has contributed to some of the most exciting, intriguing novels in the suspense category. She’s also an author who has proven that starting out in self-publishing doesn’t necessarily hinder a career. In some cases, such as hers, it can pole-vault an unknown writer to the top of the charts.
Voss was gracious enough to talk to The Big Thrill this month about her endeavors, and the excitement she has for her readers, social media, and being in the “thriller” realm.
Social media is being given a great deal of praise when it comes to helping a writer go from “anonymous” to “well-known name.” Can you tell us a little about the your fantastic Facebook page?
Fortunately, Mark and I both really enjoy social media. I think you have to, in order to do it successfully. We love engaging our readers through our joint Facebook page, and it’s been extremely helpful to us in various ways creatively, too: we’ve run competitions to name characters and, in our last novel, even a dog. Engaging with our readers has also yielded various experts when we’ve needed them—particularly with regards to legal and police procedural matters. It’s also so enormously heartening to receive supportive emails.
We don’t own a “massive” following on Facebook and Twitter, but it’s a very loyal and engaged one, which is lovely, and it slowly builds up all the time. I can’t imagine being able to reply to everyone personally if the number of followers rises into the tens of thousands over time. Still, it would be a quality problem to have.
Every so often you come across an author and you think, how the heck does s/he do it? The answer is invariably talent and hard work. Very hard work. Wendi Corsi Staub adds to that a game plan devised many years ago. We’ll call it vision married to determination.
A New York Times and USA Today bestselling suspense writer, Wendy is the award-winning author of more than seventy novels. Yes, seventy! I didn’t ask her how old she is but the answer is not old enough for that tally unless she really burns her days. Which she does, as she describes in the discussion below.
She has published in various genres including suspense, horror, historical and contemporary romance, television and movie tie-in, and biography. She also co-authored a mystery series with the late New York City mayor Ed Koch and has ghost-written for a number of bestselling authors and celebrities.
She has written numerous women’s fiction novels under the name Wendy Markham. THE BLACK WIDOW is her third stand-alone that explores the fascinating, topical and creepy world of predators lurking on the Internet and our vulnerability to them.
Playing on the Internet from the safety of our homes gives us a false sense of security that can make us take risks we never would outside, in the real world.
“In the moonlight, shovelfuls of earth fall on a wooden crate at the bottom of a deep pit. Soon the hole will be filled and covered over with leaves, leaving no trace of the victim below, waking to the horror of being buried alive…”
Dani Pettrey is a die-hard thrill seeker: heli-skiing, cave diving, storm kayaking—if it’s extreme, she’s there. Or so her website would have you believe.
In reality, these are just some of the wild adventures embarked on by the characters in Pettrey’s bestselling Alaskan Courage novels—a series about five siblings who own and run an Alaskan adventure outfitting company.
“The McKennas were all raised to live life to the fullest and at the same time to always help those in need,” she says. “They are a loving family full of distinct personalities, but since their folks died years ago, they are all each other has.”
For the past six years, the McKennas have become an integral part of Pettrey’s family as well, which is one of the reasons she has mixed emotions after completing the fifth—and final—installment in the series, SABOTAGED, due out this month.
The Alaskan Courage saga ends with the story of family troublemaker and professional snowboarder, Reef McKenna, who is paired up with childhood friend Kirra Jacobs to track a musher who has gone missing during the famous Iditarod race. Together they—along with the entire McKenna family—must stop a shadowy villain set to unleash one of the largest disasters Alaska has ever seen.
“I hope readers experience a great adventure full of romance, suspense and danger,” Pettrey says. “I also hope they find SABOTAGED a satisfying ending to the Alaskan Courage series.”
While Pettrey has moved on to writing the first novel in a new four-book romantic suspense series and is enjoying getting to know these fresh characters, she admits she teared up a little when she finished writing SABOTAGED.
By Amy Lignor
Just when you think the landscape of ultimate heroes and kick-butt heroines has been covered, this is the author who proves that’s not even close to being the truth. Paige Tyler launches into the New Year with a brand new series. Romance, suspense, thrills, chills, and a whole lot of heat—all this and more. For the first time in 2015 (and definitely not the last), we caught up with Paige to talk about everything from resolutions to what surprises await us all in The Big D series.
I hope you had a terrific ushering in of 2015, Paige! Did you make any resolutions in the literary realm?
No real resolutions, per se. My biggest goal for 2015 is just to hit my publisher’s (Sourcebooks) turn-in deadlines, while still finding time to meet my promo obligations, and then maybe have a few minutes left over to dabble in some of the other writing projects I have rolling around in my head. Right now I’m under contract to deliver four books in 2015, plus do the standard editing and revision work for those, and the ones already in the pipeline. Toss in the four conferences/book signings I’m planning to attend, and I’m going to be hopping.
(I’ll send over some energy drinks!)We are talking today, of course, about your brand new paranormal series: S.W.A.T.: Special Wolf Alpha Team. Did this new “crew” spring from another series you’d already created?
The S.W.A.T. series grew out of work my hubby (who helps as my writing partner) and I had been doing for quite a while. At the time, the series was intended to be somewhat more on the erotic side, based on good, old-fashioned, alpha-male cops. The basic tagline of the series was supposed to be: Believable cop drama…with a lot of hot sex. But as we began developing the various plot outlines, we kept running into the same problems over and over—either the story ended up too procedural (i.e., boring), or too erotic (i.e., sex scenes that were completely unbelievable in any realistic police setting). After months of re-writes and brainstorming, we were getting seriously close to dropping the whole idea. But, then, hubby made a joking comment about adding a zombie (in his mind, every book can be improved with the addition of a few undead.) I vetoed that idea immediately. I retain final executive authority on all story content, thank goodness. If not, there’d be zombies, ninjas, or claymore mines all over the place. I said that if we were going to put anything paranormal in the story, it should be a werewolf. Hubby came back with, “You know, that might just work.”
By Cathy Clamp
An inheritance of an old house in Cincinnati is a dream come true for psychologist Faith Corcoran—a refreshing change from the nightmare of the last year. After being stalked by a former client, Faith hopes the sanctuary of this new place can help her face the dark fears that haunt her. But she has no idea how close to home her fears still are.
Meanwhile, two college girls from the area have gone missing, and FBI Special Agent Deacon Novak is called to work the case. When his inquiry unexpectedly leads him to Faith, he finds a beautiful and brave woman he can’t help but fall for.
Soon they’ll discover that this seemingly simple investigation is anything but. And reaching back decades into Faith’s past will shatter everything she believes to be true, and gives terrifying new meaning to flesh and blood.
This month, I sat down with #1 international bestselling author Karen Rose, who has rightfully earned her title as “Queen of Romantic Suspense” (Crime and Publishing), to talk about her new release, CLOSER THAN YOU THINK.