By Karen Harper
The Big Thrill spoke with New York Times bestselling author Karen Harper from her home in Columbus, Ohio. The city is buried under an early snow, she said, but she still has power so she could stay warm and write. The third book in her Cold Creek Trilogy set in Appalachia is out this month, just two months after the second novel—a writing marathon but with the reward for readers of the three related books out close together. She was also happy to report that Shattered Secrets, the first book in this trilogy, was voted one of the Best of 2014 Books by readers of Suspense Magazine.
Can you tell us what BROKEN BONDS is about and how it fits into The Cold Creek Trilogy?
Each of these romantic suspense novels is related, yet they could stand alone. BROKEN BONDS focuses on the return of the third Lockwood sister, Charlene, called Char, to the small town of Cold Creek, and the deadly danger she is soon embroiled in there. Char is a social worker, dedicated to helping poor Appalachian children who live so high up in the mountains that they have trouble getting to school. But when she helps rescue Matt Rowan from being shoved off the cliff in his car, she’s the one who takes a fall. Not only does she fall for Matt, a man she’s not sure she can trust, but she’s soon threatened by the same killer who is after him.
Was it difficult to make the three sisters, each heroine of her own book, different—yet similar enough to be sisters?
That’s a great question, because I worked hard at that. Tess, the youngest was traumatized by being kidnapped as a child, so she’s wary and needs to come a long way to help the Cold Creek sheriff find her abductor in Book One, Shattered Secrets. Kate, the heroine of Book 2, Forbidden Ground, is just the opposite: well-educated, well-traveled, an archeologist whose self-confidence almost proves her undoing when she and Grant Mason, the owner of an ancient Adena Indian mound, are threatened. Char is the one her sister’s call “a bleeding heart,” out to save locals kids—the entire world if she could. So they are very different women, and the trick was to give them a support team through their family ties and beyond.
Elizabeth Goddard is the bestselling award-winning author of more than twenty romance and romantic suspense novels and novellas, including the romantic mystery, The Camera Never Lies—a 2011 Carol Award winner. Elizabeth is also a 7th generation Texan.
In BURIED, Goddard’s latest novel, legal investigator Leah Marks is forced to flee to Alaska after witnessing a murder. Afraid for her life, she hopes to find safe shelter in a remote cabin—but the killer has tracked her to Mountain Cove. As he chases her into the snow-packed Dead Falls Canyon, an avalanche buries them both. Saved by daring search and rescue specialist Cade Warren, Leah longs to tell him the truth. But how can she, without bringing even more danger into Cade’s life? Especially when they discover the killer is very much alive and waiting to take them both down.
Alaska is about as far away from Texas as you can get. What inspired you to set BURIED in that location?
I lived in Oregon for a while and absolutely love the Pacific Northwest. Give me cold, wet and rainy over the blazing Texas sun any day. Don’t get me wrong, I love my home state of Texas, but like most Texans, I also love snow-covered mountains. The panhandle of Alaska is a gorgeous part of the world where I wanted to spend time one summer when my air conditioning was struggling, so I wrote the proposal for my search and rescue series and set it there.
Your novels combine suspense and romance—what makes you write in this genre?
I grew up reading Phyllis Whitney and Victoria Holt, and so developed an appetite for mystery and suspense early on. Of course, romance is a key ingredient. I can’t imagine reading a suspense novel without at least some romance, nor can I imagine reading a romance without a thread of suspense or mystery.
By Amy Lignor
It will come as no surprise to fans who read Arlene Kay’s tales and enjoy the humor embedded within each mystery that she spent two decades serving the Federal Government. Thankfully for readers, Arlene decided to step away from that career so that fans across the country could see her fantastic mind and incredible imagination on paper. With her stand-alone and series fiction, Arlene creates the perfect mix of sultry and suspense; her novels not only keep readers on the edge-of-their-seats, but also provide the handsome men and stunning women that make for the ultimate dream. What began with Swann Dive and proceeded to Mantrap in the Swann series, now continues with the third unforgettable installment, GILT TRIP. And Arlene has taken time out of her busy writing schedule to talk all about her present and future work.
Where exactly did Eja Kane and Deming Swann—the extremely memorable characters from the Swann series—come from? Is there a personal/real-life “tilt” on the characters?
Eja and Deming actually evolved from the basic story line from Swann Dive, which concerned the murder of Cecilia Swann, Deming’s twin and Eja’s best friend. I shudder at using the term “organically” but their journey began with a shared quest for justice and evolved into a deep romantic attachment. Eja does own many of my own traits and insecurities. Deming—well that’s another matter entirely.
Humor has become almost an integral part of suspense novels in the twenty-first century. Even the darkest of thrill rides seem to add in a dry comment at just the right moment. Do you believe that humor and timing within a tale can make or break a novel? And as a reader, do you want that lightness to be inserted into the characters you love?
Humor leavens the most stressful situations and humanizes characters. I find that authors, fictional characters, or acquaintances who take themselves too seriously are basically boring. The Brits are masters at witty, understated humor; from the wry observations of Jane Austen to Christie, Sayers, and more contemporary crime novelists. I read the Scandinavian writers also (Larsson, Mankell, Nesbo) but they are very dour. Maybe it’s the weather, but they could use a bit of fun in their lives.
By Wendy Tyson
Shelley Coriell’s first novel in The Apostles series, The Broken, was published to terrific reviews and won Daphne du Maurier and Golden Pen Awards, among other honors. THE BURIED, Coriell’s second installment in the series, doesn’t disappoint. With riveting opening scenes, sharp storytelling and a complex plot, THE BURIED follows state prosecutor Grace Courtemanche and FBI crisis negotiator Theodore “Hatch” Hatcher as they race to find a merciless killer bent on revenge.
Coriell graciously agreed to answer a few questions for THE BIG THRILL.
What can you tell us about THE BURIED that is not on the back cover?
THE BURIED is a dark, twisty tale centered on old family skeletons and a serial killer who buries victims alive. The first draft of the story was so dark and the villain’s back story was so disturbing that I set aside the manuscript for two years.
When my publisher asked for the second Apostle book, I re-read THE BURIED and realized the story isn’t about victims being buried alive but about connections and disconnections with others, primarily family. With that in mind, I teamed my independent heroine, Grace, with a lovable but needy old blue tick hound, while my hero, Hatch, discovers he has a thirteen-year-old son who’s in trouble with the law. Both of these minor characters underscore the importance of “family” and provide a bit of light and lightness to balance out all the dark.
By Don Helin
In COLD LIGHT OF DAY, physicist Scarlett Stone is the daughter of the man considered to be the most notorious Russian agent in FBI history, but with the help of FBI Special Agent, Matt Lazlo, she’s determined to prove he’s innocent. As Scarlett and Matt dig for the truth, they begin to fall for one another. But the real spy isn’t about to let anyone uncover their secrets, and resolves to remain firmly in the shadows—and for that to happen, Matt and Scarlett have to die.
Toni Anderson is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author. A former marine biologist, Anderson traveled the world for her work. After living in six different countries, she finally settled down in the Canadian prairies with her husband and two children. Combining her love of travel with her love of romantic suspense, Anderson writes stories based in some of the places she has been fortunate enough to visit.
She is the author of several novels including Dark Waters, The Killing Game, and A Cold Dark Place. Her novels have been nominated for the prestigious Romance Writers of America® RITA® Award, Daphne du Maurier Awards, and National Readers’ Choice Awards in Romantic Suspense.
I had the opportunity to catch up with Toni the other day and ask her a few questions.
Is there anything special you’d like to tell us about COLD LIGHT OF DAY?
COLD LIGHT OF DAY is the third book in my Cold Justice Series (Romantic Suspense books). The Cold Justice Series loosely follows agents in the FBI’s BAU-4 unit, but the books have plots ranging from serial killers, political conspiracies, terrorist attacks, and in this third book, a classic espionage tangle.
The Big Thrill caught up with Tiffany Snow, romantic suspense author of The Kathleen Turner Series, Blank Slate and most recently, The Tangled Ivy Trilogy. IN HIS SHADOW is Book One in the new series and features Ivy Mason, a beautiful yet tortured soul, afraid to let anyone get close to her. Enter Devon Clay, a charming and mysterious man determined to insinuate himself into Ivy’s life. Sparks fly as Ivy becomes increasingly unable to resist Devon’s charms and finally succumbs to his advances. She soon discovers that he harbors a dangerous secret and that she risks losing more than just her heart.
Have you always wanted to be a writer?
Not at all. I actually worked in the I.T. field as a network engineer, technical trainer, and consultant. I never considered writing as a career, and perhaps wouldn’t have had the patience for it at an earlier time in my life.
What drew you to romance writing?
I’ve always loved to read and became hooked on romance at a very young age reading Kathleen Woodiwiss, Gone With the Wind, and devouring my mother’s copies of Danielle Steele, Judith Krantz, and Jackie Collins novels. There is nothing greater than love. I would argue love is what motivates the greatest portion of our life and choices. Perhaps “romance” isn’t the right word, because really it’s love—falling in love, out of love, searching for love, what you’d do for love—that is what drew me to writing.
When did your writing career begin?
I began writing in 2010. A particular romance trope I’ve always been fond of is the love triangle (it’s that Gone With the Wind influence at such a tender age). I wanted to write my own love triangle, and since I’m also a Nancy Drew fan (I did read some other genres growing up), my first series, The Kathleen Turner Series, was an homage to her, combining current events into mysteries wrapped around a love story.
By Cathy Clamp
“We find the defendant not guilty,” is an instant attention grabber for the opening line of a new thriller series. But there’s more. While Miranda Vaughn might have walked out of the courtroom a free woman, suspicion still hangs over her head. Losing her job at the prestigious investment firm where she worked was only the beginning of her problems. The trial, for a fraud scheme involving her supervisors, also cast a cloud of suspicion over her reputation and sent the fiancé she thought would stand by her out the door.
Ellie Ashe’s debut amateur sleuth/romantic suspense novel CHASING THE DOLLAR has plenty of thrilling moments. Miranda and her cast of quirky family and friends will instantly endear themselves to readers. New York Times author Gemma Halliday gives high marks to the book as being “high stakes, high energy and a highly humorous good time.”
Ashe, a former journalist and lawyer from northern California spins an excellent tale of an intelligent and determined woman pushed too far. With her life in shambles, it’s no surprise that the jury verdict isn’t enough for Miranda. Who could move forward with their life with the knowledge that someone set them up to take the fall?
New York Times bestselling author Karen Harper alternates between writing contemporary suspense and historical novels. But in FORBIDDEN GROUND, book #2 in her new contemporary trilogy, she has managed to combine her love of the intriguing past with fast-paced, modern-day action. THE BIG THRILL caught up with her between publicity gigs—a speech at the Ohio Librarians Conference and the annual Buckeye Book Fair.
Can you tell us about your new book?
FORBIDDEN GROUND is the middle novel in THE COLD CREEK TRILOGY, set on the edge of Appalachia. Three sisters left their small town for “bigger lives,” but are drawn back—and each faces danger and death—and finds a local man to love. In FORBIDDEN GROUND, Kate Lockwood thinks she’s only in town for her sister’s wedding, but soon becomes embroiled in a mystery: What is in the ancient Adena tomb in the backyard of Grant Mason’s house? Kate, an archeologist is dying to excavate the tomb to see if it contains royal corpses and valuable relics, but Grant insists, “Let the dead stay dead.” Though she’s falling for him, she fears she can’t trust him—but he’s not the only one hiding deadly secrets.
So in the trilogy, Kate takes center stage in the middle book and her sisters in SHATTERED SECRETS and BROKEN BONDS?
That’s right. The three women are very different. Kate’s the bright, educated, well-traveled one. Charlene in BROKEN BONDS is the ‘bleeding heart’ who wants to help the poor children of Appalachia. The youngest, Tess, is the one with the traumatic past who bring the three sisters together in the little town they thought they had fled forever.
But ancient tombs in Appalachian Ohio? What a combination!
That’s what I thought too. After sixty novels published, why hadn’t I thought of using the prehistoric Adena Indian culture before? Their burial mounds are scattered from the U.S. east coat to the Mississippi, but many are in central and southern Ohio near where I went to college and live now.
By Amy Lignor
With every novel this author pens, fans receive a never-ending supply of “hunky heroes and kick-butt heroines.” The works gifted with a plethora of storylines that include thrills, suspense, action, romance, and the paranormal. The “teams” are unforgettable; from their ability to save the day and fight evil, to the hot and heavy relationships that make the heart race out of control, Paige Tyler has carved her own unique niche—a niche that covers a variety of genres, creating a master blend of everything a reader craves.
The X-OPS series has fans intrigued and excited. Is there a set plan as to how many there will be?
For all those readers out there, you’re going to squeal over this answer. Essentially, the way I set up the overarching storyline for the Department of Covert Operations with the intrigue and backstabbing—and the myriad of subplots and endless cast of secondary characters—I don’t intend for this series to end.
Currently, I have the first ten books outlined, with basic conceptual material for at least another dozen or so. While each story spotlights a primary team, I also work really hard to weave in extra characters and plots to utilize in future books. There’s also that larger drama developing, with the DCO operatives fearing that they’re working for an organization which might be even more evil than the bad guys they go after. I think readers are going to love having the X-OPS series around for a long time to come!
Were you a personal fan of romantic suspense before beginning your writing journey? If so were there any authors that stood out for you?
I always read romantic suspense, but it wasn’t something I went out of my way to look forat the bookstore. Suzanne Brockman and her Troubleshooter series are incredible; I read those books like I was an addict. Her formula of multiple characters and subplots became a how-to for me as I began X-OPS.
Sandy Samerad’s writing brings a wonderful mix of steamy romantic prose, excitement, and a strong journalistic craft. In her latest novel, A MESSAGE IN THE ROSES, she has Carrie Sue Justice fighting for justice and risking her (and her best friend’s) life in the process. Amid the tension, she is also embroiled in a love affair with a guilt-ridden man, her former boss, who’s none other than the owner of the town newspaper.
Semerad’s own journalistic background—as reporter, writer, and editor—shines through in her latest page-turner, and the author graciously agreed to answer a few questions for THE BIG THRILL.
Tell us about A MESSAGE IN THE ROSES.
The story begins in present day, with Carrie Sue Justice finding her diary. She was once a young and passionate newspaper reporter, investigating a shooting death in South Atlanta in 1986. Three black teenagers have been arrested for killing a white teen. Her life was in turmoil. She caught her husband with another woman inside the antebellum home she inherited from her parents. On the rebound, she fell in love with an unavailable man plagued with guilt. The man was none other than the irresistible owner of the Southern Journal where Carrie Sue worked.
As they began a steamy love affair, Carrie Sue discovered one of the black teens was wrongly accused. Determined to help prove his innocence, she endangered her life and the life of her best friend.
Do you sometimes add life experiences into your writing?
Yes, definitely. A MESSAGE IN THE ROSES is based on a murder trial I covered as a news reporter. The love story is fiction, but the characters share backstories and traits of people I’ve known.
L.R. Nicolello packs a 1-2-3 punch with DEAD DON’T LIE, her debut novel featuring Detective Evelyn Davis, a profiler for the Seattle P.D. In this exciting debut, Evelyn is helping track down a serial killer who turns out to have an interest in Evelyn herself.
As for Nicolello, she’s wonderful! She has this vibrant, excitability to her that can only bring a smile to your face. She’s spirited and dedicated and I think it’s those two qualities that (along with her talent) have helped her over the years. Also, her love of all things suspense definitely adds to her craft.
Nicolello answered some questions for THE BIG THRILL.
When did you start writing? Why?
After an English assignment in fourth grade where we wrote and bound our own books (which I still have) I came home and told my parents I wanted to be an author. I dabbled with writing for a long time but didn’t get serious until 2010. I wrote my first novel, queried it and received requests for multiple fulls, but ultimately it never got picked up. Looking back now I know I basically did everything you’re not supposed to do. As heartbreaking as it was for me to get so close it really helped to solidify that, yes, in fact, I did want this dream. After regrouping, and getting over that royal flop, I sat down and wrote my second novel, DEAD DON’T LIE.
Tell us more about DEAD DON’T LIE.
DEAD DON’T LIE is a romantic suspense featuring Detective Evelyn Davis, the best psychological profiler in the Seattle P.D., whose talent comes from heartbreaking experience. After two local families are wiped out, Evelyn believes a serial killer is at work. With each new discovery, the case becomes more personal and Evelyn starts to suspect the families aren’t the killer’s ultimate target—she is.
Shiloh Walker has been a storyteller for as long as she can remember. She put pen to paper as early as third grade and has never looked back. The author of more than one-hundred books and short stories, she sold her first book in 2002 to Ellora’s Cave when electronic publishing was in its infancy. Romance and urban fantasy are her chosen genres, and she has written many popular series in both.
SWEETER THAN SIN is the riveting second book in the Secrets and Shadow series and takes place in the small town of Madison, Indiana. There is an ugly history in this fictionalized version of Madison: a group of prominent men have established a secret society to carry out their abuse of their young sons. The society has been disbanded and the men brought to justice, but when a series of murders are committed, suspicions arise that the heinous society has resurfaced. Adam, the town lothario, is forced to face his own demons when a woman from his past returns to town and they work together to solve the murders and the secrecy behind them.
Shiloh Walker recently talked to THE BIG THRILL about her newest book and her writing life.
What inspired the Secrets and Shadows Series?
A small town. Nothing particular about that small town except for the fact that I’m drawn to small towns…I love them. But then I’m always looking for weird things. People are going to start putting up roadblocks when they see me coming because I do bad things when I visit small towns.
What research did you need to do for SWEETER THAN SIN?
Does it count if I say I visited the town a few times and drank wine from the local winery? I also read some articles but I can’t go into detail about that without spoiling things.
By Cathy Clamp
Nick Donovan gave up his Black Ops life for a more satisfying role with AEGIS: an elite team of ex-military men working under the radar of most governments, helping people with nowhere else to turn. Unfortunately, just saying you’ve left the life of an operative behind doesn’t mean your enemies won’t keep coming after you . . . or your family. When a drug cartel decides to use his sister-in-law as a hostage to bend Nick to their will, they wind up abducting the housesitter instead. One minute Jennifer Grayson is minding her best friend’s house, and the next she’s abducted to a foreign brothel. Jennifer is planning her escape when her first “customer” arrives. Nick, the man who broke her heart years ago, has come to her rescue. Can Nick keep the woman he loves safe against an enemy with a personal vendetta?
THE BIG THRILL contributing editor Cathy Clamp sat down with the author at the Romance Writers of America conference to ask her more about her intriguing ‘mistaken identity’ thriller.
AEGIS is an interesting band of ex-military working in the private sector. What gave you the idea for the group?
That’s actually an interesting story. My son has Asperger’s Syndrome and has had a series of tutors to help him with his schooling. One of his tutors was ex-DEA who worked for a private security company before starting to work with special needs kids. Talking about his past experiences when he visited our home was fascinating and I started doing research on the concept.
Research is always a strong element in thrillers. You use foreign locales in both this book and the first book in the series, HARD TARGET. Did you visit the areas to experience those little details that make the book read so authentic?
Not yet, but I hope to someday. I watched a ton of videos and read blogs from ex-pats who lived in the region to get some of the finer details down. Travel videos tend to show the highlights of a town, but not the mundane things. I wanted to put in that sort of detail because it’s what I like to see when I read books. I get lost in research. It’s one of my favorite parts of writing.
THE BIG THRILL caught up with New York Times bestselling author Karen Harper while she was reading the edited copy of the third book in her new suspense trilogy, The Cold Creek Novels. She was kind enough to answer some questions about the trilogy launch book, SHATTERED SECRETS, (Sept.) to be followed closely by FORBIDDEN GROUND (Nov.) and BROKEN BONDS (Jan.). She admits that she’s familiar with this interview format because she’s usually on the other end, asking ITW authors about their new books for THE BIG THRILL.
What is your novel about? It obviously sets up the next two books in the trilogy.
SHATTERED SECRETS focuses on the youngest of three sisters, but it is Tess’s life which shattered the entire family. She was abducted from the cornfield behind their house when she was young, and later, somehow, escaped her captor. Traumatized, drugged, she recalled nothing of her ordeal. Now as an adult, she’s back in Cold Creek to sell the old family home. But when another child is taken in much the same way, Tess is forced to face her buried memories to help the sheriff try to save a life—because two other abducted girls have never come back.
This is the third trilogy you have written. Does that three-book format suit your style?
I have written a nine-book series The Queen Elizabeth I Mysteries, but I prefer the three-book format, which I think of as a mini-series. It lets the reader spend time with the characters and the setting and gives me time to develop plot and people. However, my trilogies always have a new hero/heroine in each book, because I think that keeps things fresh. In The Cold Creek Novels, the main characters are three very different sisters. Each is impacted by and helps to solve a terrible crime with the help of a man she hopes she can trust. The same small town/ Appalachian setting helps to tie the stories together.
Arlene Kay, author of such hits as DIE LAUGHING and INTRUSION, follows up with the newest novel in her Boston Uncommons series, MANTRAP. The novelfollows the ever-popular, romantically linked characters Eja and Demming, who must prove the fatal crash of a munitions heir was not a tragic accident but murder most foul.
For those of you unfamiliar with Kay, she has two graduate degrees, one in constitutional law and one in political science. She then ended up becoming a senior executive with the federal government, where she was known as an unconventional public servant. Kay enjoyed her twenty years there and rejoiced in the unintentional humor that surrounded her. She left government work to move to Cape Cod and craft clever, entertaining mysteries filled with mayhem and a pinch of romance. Like MANTRAP, available online and in stores.
Tell us about MANTRAP.
MANTRAP, the second in the Boston Uncommons series, blends mystery with a dollop of romantic suspense, and a whopping dose of luxury. The setting is lush, a beautiful Cape Cod village shaken by the tragic death of Dario Peters, heir to a vast fortune. His grieving grandmother insists Dario was murdered and persuades my amateur sleuths Eja Kane and Deming Swann to prove it. They soon discover that Dario was a thoroughly unpleasant chap (the Brits would call him a bounder), loathed by the locals, and feared by his adversaries. In fact his character, or lack thereof, is key to understanding his death. Along the way the issue of law versus justice constantly looms. One final point—the banter between Deming and Eja has been likened to the vibe between Nick and Nora Charles, or Lord Peter and Harriet Vane.
Do you have a favourite supporting character in MANTRAP?
Anika Swann, Eja’s prospective mother-in-law and Deming’s mom, confounds all those stereotypes about women of a certain age. She’s bright, beautiful, brave, and totally supportive of Eja. No evil troll hoping to supplant her son’s fiancée. No sir! Anika is a strong presence, and co-conspirator in all four books in the series.
By Cathy Clamp
Brilliant kids around the country begin disappearing, and Search and Rescue pilot Deb Lansing’s sister Ashley is one of them. She trusts only one other person to help her rescue the brilliant teenager—Gabe Montgomery, a former SWAT officer on covert assignment. As bodies start to turn up, Deb and Gabe discover that the one common element is the video game Point of Entry, a game Ashley frequently played. The clock is ticking as a brilliant serial killer known only as The Warden turns his attention on Deb and Gabe. Can they save Deb’s sister, or will they even be able to save themselves?
THE BIG THRILL’s contributing editor Cathy Clamp sat down with the author to learn more about this new thriller:
This is the third book in the Montgomery Justice series. What inspired you to create the reality?
Montgomery Justice actually started with a single character who wasn’t even a Montgomery. My first novel, IN HER SIGHTS, features a female SWAT Team Sniper, Jazz Parker. While attending a SWAT Team presentation at a writer’s conference one of the attendees asked if women could be considered for positions. The SWAT Team Commander indicated that there were no rules against it, but the applicant would have to pass all the physical tests. From there, Jazz was born: a female sniper. Her motivations were key to the story, and she ended up being someone who was utterly alone in the world.
I needed conflict with the hero, so Luke Montgomery came into being. An ex-Army Ranger from a big, boisterous family he could always count on. As I explored their world, I realized that though they stood side-by-side through everything, all was not perfect. From there, the Montgomery Clan was born. They won’t stop until justice is done!
Teri Anne Stanley’s debut novel, DEADLY CHEMISTRY, just released and USA Today bestselling author Ruthie Knox notes that “[w]ith fast-paced, clever writing, strong heroines, and to-die-for heroes, Teri Anne Stanley is definitely one to watch!”
In DEADLY CHEMISTRY, former undercover cop Mike Gibson has been laying low, working as a maintenance man to put his troubled younger brother through college. But when a beautiful scientist enlists Mike’s help to repair the damage done to her lab by a group of vandals, Mike finds that his, and his brother’s pasts, are about to be brought to light. Laura Kane was happy having a secret crush on the hot maintenance man at Tucker University, but when the drug she was studying is stolen, Laura has a chance to get to know Mike in person. The problem is, he seems to know more about what’s going on than any maintenance man should. But then the drug turns up in the wrong hands, and Mike and Laura have to decide if their own chemistry will help, or hinder, the race to save innocent lives.
Teri Anne Stanley has been writing since she could hold a crayon—though learning to read was a huge turning point in her growth as a writer. Teri’s first stories involved her favorite Saturday morning cartoon characters, followed by her favorite teen idols. She has also authored a recipe column (The Three Ingredient Gourmet), and scientific articles (Guess which was more interesting!). Now she writes fun, sexy romance filled with chaos and havoc, populated by strong, smart women and hunky heroes.
What inspired you to jump from your earlier days of writing about cartoon characters, science, and cooking to writing suspenseful, sexy romance novels?
Well, I kind of outgrew the cartoon characters, the science stuff is a little dry (and there aren’t any nekkid parts), and I kind of gave up cooking. Even with just three ingredients—cooking is such a time suck!
By Azam Gill
Paige Tyler’s HER PERFECT MATE (X-OPS Book 1) is set to start a cult following. When Special Forces Captain Landon Donovan is chosen for an assignment with the Department of Covert Operations, he’s stunned to find himself partnered with a beautiful woman who looks way to gentle to take down a terrorist. But Ivy Halliwell isn’t your average covert operator. Her feline DNA means she can literally bring out the claws when things get dicey. She isn’t thrilled to be paired with yet another military grunt, but Landon is different. He doesn’t think she’s a freak—and he’s got her tingling. Soon they’re facing a threat beyond imagination … and an animal magnetism between them impossible to ignore.
An impressively prolific writer, Tyler already has more publications than Agatha Christie managed in her entire career. Her mastery of the craft shows in HER PERFECT MATE, the start of the X-Ops Books. Effortless narration derives its authority from insider knowledge cleverly woven into the prose. And cluster bursts of short, sharp sentences and an astutely crafted plot propel the story at breakneck speed. In addition, original, finely-drawn and unforgettable characters keep the ball rolling at the gripping pace required of a top-of-the-line thriller. Hardly surprising, then, reviews of HER PERFECT MATE have been enthusiastic and unrestrained.
Tyler graciously agreed to answer a few questions for THE BIG THRILL.
Let’s start with a brief personal introduction.
I’m a USA Today bestselling author of sexy, romantic fiction. I’ve written over fifty books in practically every genre of romance, but my favorite is definitely the paranormal/romantic-suspense combo. My very own military hero (also known as my hubby) and I live on the beautiful Florida coast with our adorable fur baby (also known as our dog). I actually graduated with a degree in education, but decided to pursue my passion and write books about hunky alpha males and the kickbutt heroines who fall in love with them.
By Amy Lignor
When it comes to historical suspense, there are authors who can effortlessly unearth the appeal of an era through beautiful locations and perfectly written characters. Everything from cultural points and societal issues to accents and wardrobes come together to make the reader feel as if he or she is standing beside the characters, perhaps looking into an empty grave while the night wind blows through the cracks of an old abbey, alerting everyone to the ghosts that roam the landscape. Anna Lee Huber does just that with flawless precision in each of her Lady Darby mysteries. So flawlessly, in fact, that while providing a great read, Huber also gives the reader a portal where he or she can effortlessly travel back in time.
A GRAVE MATTER is the third tale of Lady Darby, first introduced in the amazing novel, THE ANATOMIST’S WIFE. This is a woman who not only had to face personal risk, but also rose to the occasion and ended up being both heroine and sleuth. In A GRAVE MATTER, released this month, Lady Darby deals with her ever-blossoming relationship with a man named Gage, and solves a case of body snatching where the motive turns out to be far more complex than anyone will believe.
From the very first tale, Lady Darby was embraced by readers because of her strength and the passion she held for all areas of life; so it will come as no surprise that her creator shares that passion for everything from travel to music to Star Wars to an imaginative writing career that will expand in many directions, as she takes on new genres and characters in the coming years.
You write history so well—covering every aspect of a chosen time period. Are there other genres you wish to explore?
I adore Gothic suspense novels, especially anything by Mary Stewart, and I’m actually in the midst of writing one myself. It’s set during the Regency period, so still historical, but a definite departure from the Lady Darby series. I also have an idea for a contemporary mystery series with a bit of a paranormal twist. I haven’t written anything contemporary in years, but I’m hoping I can find time soon to try my hand at it.
By Cathy Clamp
Most people who have stood in a security line at an airport have wondered what they would do if a bomb actually went off. DiAnn Mills’ latest novel, FIREWALL, brings that frightening image to raw, terrifying life. Taryn Young, a newlywed boarding a plane to her dream honeymoon after a whirlwind romance is caught in a bomb blast that rocks the Houston airport. When she wakes, not only is her husband missing, but the authorities consider them both suspects in the attack. She’s informed that the man of her dreams isn’t who he appears to be. In fact, he doesn’t exist at all. With her high security clearance in computers and genius IQ, Taryn isn’t normally taken by surprise, and is nobody’s fool. Something doesn’t smell right.
FBI Agent Grayson Hall, as the lead investigator, considers catching the one responsible for the attack to be his first priority, yet he can’t help feeling that despite all the evidence to the contrary, Taryn is an innocent. Is her naiveté just for show? Or is she a conspirator, the mastermind of a terrorist cell?
Half-truths, double crosses, and a ticking clock to prove her own innocence before she gets locked away forever drives the heroine to risk everything. But who can she trust? She thought she could trust her husband but he’s gone missing. Is the FBI right in believing he’s a terrorist? Or is the government trying to steal vital computer secrets from her by using her husband as bait? As Taryn and Grayson each try to solve the case, each suspecting the worst of the other, it might be that all they can do is put their trust in a higher power to guide them to the answer.
Maybe you know her as Bobbye Terry, or Daryn Cross, or Terry Campbell. Either way, you know her writing is sizzling, with a dollop of humor and a side of macabre details. You could call Bobbye Terry a talented multi-tasking master, and you would be right. She worked as a hospital and hospice administrator and as a writer for national and international magazines. She wrote various articles for over ten years before she made the jump and started writing fiction.
Bobbye has a knack for character development; her characters capture true-to-life emotions and reactions. Her new novel, THE WIDOW JAMES, is no different. It features a strong female lead named Lindsay “Lindy” Deane James. She’s searching for answers in Lynchburg, Virginia, determined to prove an elderly friend sane and innocent of murder, but as she searches she uncovers dark secrets dark enough to kill for. The book is out this month.
Tell me about THE WIDOW JAMES.
It’s romantic suspense about a woman who is from Lynchburg and returns after decades in order to clear an older woman of murder charges and the potential for being found incompetent. Lindy, the widow, is a forensic psychologist and no newcomer to murder and psychological crimes. However, she left Lynchburg and has not returned except as required by her now-deceased husband because the former love of her life lives there, as well as her nemesis, a man-hungry woman named Carrie. Lindy also detests her mother-in-law, whom she nicknamed “the vulture.”
Additionally, this book is very personal to me, in that Lynchburg is my hometown and I am in the process of moving back there. Here is what I said in the dedication:
By Azam Gill
WHITE COLLARED, Shelly Bell’s pulsating four-part series of erotic suspense, is a boost to maintain this sub-genre that shot to popularity in the nineteen eighties with the success of, among others, BLUE VELVET and FATAL ATTRACTION. The eloquence of the synopses speaks for itself.
In WHITE COLLARED, PART ONE: MERCY, third-year law student Kate Martin outruns her tragic past. She becomes an intern for her idol and secret crush, the powerful attorney Nicholas Trenton. She is thrilled when Nick assigns her to represent his best friend and client, millionaire Jaxon Deveroux, the prime suspect in his submissive wife Alyssa’s murder.
Kate knows they have only a few days to find the real killer. Since signs point to a member of the BDSM community, she volunteers to go undercover as Jaxon’s submissive at Benediction—the private sex club where he is a member—to covertly investigate Alyssa’s last few months. For years, Kate has kept her dark fantasies a secret, but a chance to explore them with sexy, dominant Jaxon is just too tempting to pass up.
Nurse turned author, Shiloh Walker (who also writes under the name J.C. Daniels) is back with another exciting novel. Her latest, DEEPER THAN NEED, is the first in a new trilogy that gives the reader a strong dose of steamy romantic suspense in a small town. Walker caught the writing bug at a young age and she has a real talent for capturing the reader. Luckily, her fans won’t have to wait long for the next installment, the second in the series, SWEETER THAN SIN, will be out this fall.
Tell us about DEEPER THAN NEED
DEEPER THAN NEED is the first of my Secrets & Shadows trilogy…set in a small Indiana town, a town that’s fairly quiet on the surface. The heroine has moved there to start her life over and that’s all she wants to do. That plan sort of goes straight to hell when the renovations on her house uncover a body buried in a cellar. We’ve got lots of secrets, lots of suspense…and a sexy, not-exactly-brooding, but very much a tortured hero. I loved writing it.
What inspired you to write?
Being born? I’ve been a storyteller pretty much from the get-go. The first story I can recall actually writing was in third or fourth grade.
By Tracy March
One of my favorite parts about writing romantic thrillers is researching my stories. Whether it’s a specific character quirk, an intriguing setting, or a science-related plot element, I’m all in. Especially when it comes to researching an incredible setting. My latest romantic thriller, A SHOT OF RED, is partially set in Lucerne, Switzerland, and my husband and I had the awesome opportunity to visit there before I wrote the story.
We had a fascinating time in the land of watches, army knives and chocolate. But there’s way more to Switzerland than that. Here are ten things my husband and I enjoyed most, and some of them can even be found in A SHOT OF RED.
1. Strolling through the charming narrow streets of old town Lucerne, admiring the still-intact medieval city walls with their fairy-tale towers. Countless clocks chime on the hour, but the oldest clock in the city does the honors. It’s allowed to chime a minute before all the others!
2. Visiting the Engelberg Benedictine Monastery and meeting real-life monks. Engelberg means angel mountain, and the monastery got its name when two monks saw a host of angels while they were walking in the nearby meadows. The monastery gave its name to the village that grew up around it, and an angel is the symbol of the idyllic town.
The Secrets & Shadows series is a romantic suspense series centered around a small town in Indiana, and the tortured heroes who try to find love as they struggle to overcome their dark pasts. Readers love Shiloh Walker’s hot writing and surprising plot twists.
In LONG FOR ME, Christina Bell remembers what it was like to be part of a loving family. The youngest of the Bell children, she simply cannot believe that her dad, or anyone else she loves, had a hand in her mother’s disappearance. She’s looking forward to moving on and spending more time with her sexy best friend, Guy Miller. But when her mother’s body is found—and the mystery of her death slowly reveals itself—Christina is left not knowing who to trust. What if Guy, her one true desire, proves to be her biggest danger?
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 vampire stories. 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. Interested in how she transitioned to writing the Secrets & Shadows novellas, THE BIG THRILL recently caught up with her to ask:
You are an incredibly prolific writer, and LONG FOR ME is the third book in the Secrets & Shadow romantic suspense series with St. Martin’s Press. When did you first envision this series and how is it different from your other work?
I started coming up with the idea in probably 2010, maybe 2009. The Secrets & Shadows series is my second venture, I guess we can say, into small-town romantic suspense. I started out writing mainly erotic romance and then paranormal romance, but over the past few years, I’ve been concentrated more on romantic suspense and the small-town setting seems to fit.
By George Ebey
Author Shelley Coriell’s latest novel, THE BROKEN, kicks off the first in a new exciting series featuring an elite team of FBI agents known as The Apostles.
Three years ago, reporter Kate Johnson was the first victim—and only survivor—of the Broadcast Butcher. Scarred both physically and psychologically by the brutal serial killer, Kate lives life on the run, knowing that one day, he will find her and finish what he started.
Agent Hayden Reed spends his life chasing monsters. The only way to stay sane is to detach, but the second the Broadcast Butcher case crosses his desk, Hayden knows this is the case that might just cost him his soul. To catch this vicious murderer before he strikes again, Hayden must find Kate and earn her trust. For it’s her darkest secrets that hold the key to stopping this madman once and for all . . .
I recently checked in with Shelley to learn more about The Apostles and the world they inhabit.
By Derek Gunn
Colleen Thompson is a busy woman. As Gwyneth Atlee and Colleen Easton, she has written historical novels. These are commonly referred to as steamy romances and you may wonder why we are discussing them in THE BIG THRILL.
It’s because Colleen also writes in the “Romantic Suspense” arena. And her latest novel, THE BEST VICTIM, is a damn good story and has every right to be called a thriller. Yes, relationships play a large part in the story, but don’t they in real life as well? Her characters are believable, likable, or unlikable when they are the bad guys, and easy to cozy up with.
This story was originally released as a serial and the chapters tend to end in a place that will have you anxiously waiting on the next installment. No such worries in this edition as the whole novel is now available. The book skips along at a good rate. The main characters’ interactions are interesting as feelings grow and deepen in line with the mystery.
So what’s it about, you ask? Brent Durant is an FBI agent desperate to stop a killer. But it’s unclear if a killing has taken place. Disgraced from his position Brent is driven to kidnap Lauren Miller, sister of the recently dead Rachel. But Rachel committed suicide—didn’t she? At least that’s what the police think.
Brent’s plan to use Lauren to tease out the killer doesn’t quite go as planned. Lauren may be a recluse but she is far from a victim and she and Brent must work together if they are to have any hope of surviving, let alone revealing the elusive killer.
By Karen Harper
Karen Harper was glad she caught up with Laura Griffin, who is one of the busiest writers around. It was a fun interview because both the interviewer and author write romantic suspense thrillers. The questions cover all three of Laura’s series—each different, yet each with the Griffin stamp of realistic plots and characters, inspired by her years as a hard-hitting journalist and hands-on researcher.
What is your novel about? Is it book one in a series or a stand-alone?
Thanks for inviting me to THE BIG THRILL!
FAR GONE is the story of police detective Andrea Finch, who is a rising star in her department until a split-second decision derails her career. She’s on leave from her job when she gets an urgent call from her younger brother. She’d prefer to ignore his latest plea for cash, but this time instinct tells her something is very wrong. Andrea’s search for answers takes her to a dusty Texas border town where she crosses paths with FBI agent Jon North, who is working undercover in west Texas investigating an unsolved murder that may be linked to a broader plot.
FAR GONE is a stand-alone novel with new lead characters, but readers of my Tracers series will recognize a few familiar faces.
Your heroine in FAR GONE is “disgraced and disillusioned.” Why did you decide to have her operating from a down-and-out experience early in the story? Yet she obviously has a lot going for her. What talents or weaknesses do you like to give Andrea and your other heroines?
Andrea is up against tough odds and has been most of her life. I like stories about people in difficult situations who have to use their instincts and intellect to find a way out. The crux of the problem in FAR GONE is that Andrea is torn between the people she loves and the job she loves. From her first scene in the book, she’s in a no-win situation, and as the story unfolds it keeps getting worse.
By J. H. Bográn
Here’s the description of THE PROBLEM WITH GOODBYE, the exciting new thriller from debut author Jana Hollifield:
Hiding from a mysterious stalker whose rage culminated in the brutal slaying of her sister, Cora Dalton believes there is no one she can trust. No one, until she meets Ryan McCabe, a handsome stranger who offers her help when she needs it most. But Cora knows the killer will never quit until he finds her and she must decide if she can allow Ryan to put himself in danger for her sake.
Ryan knows all about being alone in the world. Beautiful Cora is on her own and in trouble, and he can’t just walk away. But Ryan immediately senses there is something Cora is desperately trying to hide. As an intense attraction builds between them, Ryan seeks to gain Cora’s trust and unveil the truth before the killer strikes again.
Hollifield’s interest in writing was shelved over many years while she pursued her passion for painting. But despite a struggle with dyslexia that challenged her confidence, her desire to write ultimately became irresistible. THE PROBLEM WITH GOODBYE takes the classic murder mystery and injects it with healthy doses of romance, humor, and extrasensory perception for a unique romantic suspense experience.
Hollifield graciously agreed to answer a few questions:
Please tell us a little more about THE PROBLEM WITH GOODBYE.
THE PROBLEM WITH GOODBYE is a romantic suspense novel with a substantial mystery element, set in the beautiful city of Portland, Oregon. The story is written in first person narrative alternating between the female and male protagonists, Cora Dalton and Ryan McCabe. I like that this approach creates intimacy between the characters and the reader, and it also adds to the suspense by drawing the reader into unraveling the clues right alongside both of the lead characters.