By Karen Harper
Recently, I sat down with Roxane St. Claire to talk about her newest, Edge of Sight. Can you give us the basic story of EDGE OF SIGHT without giving the twists and turns away?
EDGE OF SIGHT is the launch of a new series called The Guardian Angelinos. Scarred inside and out, former Army Ranger Zach Angelino reluctantly accepts the first assignment for his sister’s fledgling security firm, protecting Harvard-bound law student Samantha Fairchild after she’s witnessed an assassination and is next on the hit man’s list. The problem? Sam and Zach are former lovers and he left her for a tour of duty in Iraq three years earlier, then never contacted her again.
She’s not sure she can trust him. He’s not sure he can resist her. Now they are trying to crack a conspiracy that leads to Boston’s darkest corners of corruption and they must face their fears, desires and doubts before a professional killer takes his next shot.
Your title is unusual. Can you give us some insight (no pun intended) for its choice?
The title has multiple tie-ins to the book. Samantha is a witness to a murder, but this is not the first time she’s been in this situation; she witnessed a shooting at a convenience store as a teenager, and her testimony put a man in jail for ten years. Unfortunately, it was the wrong man and ever since she learned that, she’s worked to have him exonerated and helped him pick up the pieces of his life. She’s also developed a horrific case of self-doubt and witnessing a second murder rekindles her issues about how real her “sight” is. Moreover, Zach’s war wounds include the loss of an eye, and his impaired vision is the reason he couldn’t get a job with the Bullet Catchers (my first series!), and the cause of his own self-doubts. Although I’ve titled almost all of my books, this particular title was suggested by the publisher and I have to say, it really resonated with me.
You have diverse and interesting pre-author careers. Has your background of acting, TV broadcasting and PR work affected your subjects or methods?
I guess all of our life experiences are reflected in our writing, right? Of course, I’ve called on all those careers for characters. But even more than using the subject matter, I learned a lot of skills that helped me as a novelist. I call upon some of those acting tricks every single day when I get into a character’s deep point of view. My work in television, though brief, gave me some news gathering skills that really help to take arcane research and turn it into something relevant to the story. And all the years in PR taught me how to write on a deadline, how to accept editorial input from a client, and, of course, how to promote one’s self and one’s books. But even with a decade and a half as a publicist and marketing exec, promoting my books is my least favorite part of the job!
Likewise you’ve shown amazing variety in the genres you’ve written in. Do you have a favorite? Why thrillers now rather than other genres?
My “thrillers” are firmly entrenched in the romance genre, as is almost everything I write. At the core of the story is the relationship and emotional rollercoaster ride that my hero and heroine are taking. I have written in multiple genres – including one chick lit that remains my favorite of all twenty-seven books! – and hope to write in many more. My first book was romantic suspense, and suspect I’ll always keep a toe in that water. I love the heart-pounding tension of a thriller, but I really love when it’s complicated by a heart-wrenching romance.
Your website (www.roxannestclaire.com) has a great section which answers FAQs. Let’s take two of these answers a bit further:
First, can you give busy writers who are also parents your tips for balancing kids, husband and a successful career?
Three words: husband who cooks. No, seriously, what is balance? I’m the last person to give advice on that! I just try to prioritize, and, without a doubt that can sometimes mean the work and deadlines trump the PTA and baseball games. On the other hand, the family keeps me grounded and sane, and is a constant reminder of why I’m doing this. From the day my son was born, I moved my career into the house. I quit my job as a marketing executive and opened a PR consulting business I ran from home, baby in one arm, client on the phone. (I once heard my toddler son tell a friend: “We only have one rule. No screaming while Mommy’s on a client.” That friend, needless to say, never returned for another play date.) And I’m not kidding about the cooking husband! Mine is retired, and he is the glue that holds us all together.
Secondly, in your case, was an author born or made? It almost sounds as if your parents were intentionally rearing a writer, and three of your brothers are published authors.
My parents, rest both of their souls, would be thrilled to read that. Without a doubt, we worshipped the written word in my childhood home, as is probably the case for many writers. I credit my mother with introducing me to the joys of genre commercial fiction. I had Victoria Holt, Mary Stewart, Sydney Sheldon, and Judith Krantz in my hands at a very young age. As kids, we were not allowed to use the word “interesting” in a book report, but had to say *why* the story was interesting — my first lesson in “show, don’t tell.” I’m the youngest of five, and all of us are published. My oldest brother has published numerous books on raising children; my next-oldest brother wrote a legal thriller called DEADSPIN (under the name Gregory Michael MacGregor); my sister was a newspaper columnist for years; and my third brother has written several business books on professional ethics. I really do think it must be in the genes…or the water in Pittsburgh, PA.
RT Book Reviews says, “When it comes to dishing up great romantic suspense, St. Claire is the author you want.” Do you intertwine these two genres fairly equally, or is one dominant over the other in your work?
I really work to balance the arcs of romance and suspense as evenly as possible in my books. That said, my stories are not gritty or gory, but definitely sexy, so it’s probably fair to say I lean more to the romance than the suspense. But I believe strongly that the two “stories” are one: without the romance, the suspense has no meaning and vice versa. I try to put the characters’ physical and emotional well-being in jeopardy and work to craft a suspense storyline that has a constant impact on the romance. I think of the plot as a braid more than an arc, intertwining the love and danger threads with a subplot or two that has an effect on everyone and everything. If you pull one strand out, the whole braid will unravel. I have tried to teach this to writers, but, honestly, I think the process is organic and comes from years of reading the kind of books I love to write.
What are you working on now or next? How do you juggle your two series, The Guardian Angelinos and The Bullet Catchers?
For the moment, the Bullet Catchers are…dormant. Who knows if they may rise up from the ashes and catch some bullets again? I’ve written books two and three of the Guardian Angelinos series, and they will be out this spring. (SHIVER OF FEAR in April, 2011 and FACE OF DANGER in May, 2011) Next, I’m writing my debut Young Adult novel for Random House’s Delacorte Press, a project I’m completely excited to attack. Tentatively titled DON’T YOU WISH, this is the story of a sub-average teen who wakes up in a parallel universe where she has absolutely everything she’s ever wished for…and finds out she might not want it after all. After that, I hope to continue the Guardian Angelino series, but also have some ideas for a women’s fiction series that are calling out to me. So, I’m not exactly sure, only that I’ll keep writing.