By Cathy Clamp
Where do you go when you’ve run as far as you can but you’re still being chased? Author Anne Marie Becker knows. Only too well. With degrees in Biology and Psychology and a Masters degree in Counselor Education, she knows all the tricks of putting believable characters into intense, nail-biting situations in this debut romantic thriller.
After a violent incident with a patient leaves scars on both her mind and body, psychiatrist Dr. Maggie Levine craves isolation. A radio talk show host seems to be the perfect profession, a job where she can help people from a distance while staying safe. When a strange caller begins stalking her on the air and murdering people to get her attention, Maggie realizes she can no longer close herself off from the outside world.
A personal security expert, former Secret Service Agent Ethan Townsend is no stranger to tracking down the most violent monsters of society and bringing them to justice. Still, it will take all of Ethan’s skills to protect his new assignment, the irresistible Maggie, from a man intent on teaching her the ultimate lesson in fear….
I had a chance to chat with the author about ONLY FEAR, a terrific September release from Carina Press, a digital-first imprint of Harlequin:
It sounds like you really understand Maggie, since you have a similar background. Did something happen in your professional life that was the inspiration for the plot in the book?
My real-life experiences and education as a counselor and biologist didn’t impact the plot so much as the theme and characters. The villain is a serial killer (nicknamed Fearmonger) who believes fear is the emotion that makes the world go ’round. In the story, I explore fear versus love as motivating emotions. And Maggie, as a psychiatrist, faces some issues every mental health professional has to deal with, especially when it comes to establishing firm boundaries with clients. She also faces anxiety that threatens to overwhelm her.
What sort of research did you have to do to understand Ethan’s character? Do you know someone like him in real life or did you interview people?
Ethan stems completely from my imagination. I did research the FBI’s BAU through books and online for the story, but I wanted Ethan to be more of a protector than a profiler. And so I made him ex-Secret Service, because I was intrigued with the quiet bodyguard type who would throw themselves in front of a bullet to protect their client.
Is there anything interesting or unusual you learned while researching novel, whether or not it made it into the book?
I was surprised at how many universities have tunnels beneath them, connecting their buildings. And that there’s actually a website out there that lists them all. Some people have strange hobbies. I was also fascinated by John Douglas’ books, which detail the investigations into the crimes of many serial killers. And his depiction of profilers (or mindhunters), and how dedicated they become to their jobs is interesting. These are people who have to delve into the minds of the nastiest killers on the planet on a regular basis. And then they have to switch gears to have a normal non-work life. It sounds like quite the challenge!
Congratulations on winning the 2009 Golden Heart contest for this novel! A lot of people probably don’t understand what a prestigious contest this is for a romantic suspense novel. It’s the Oscar/Emmy/Grammy of the romance world. The first round judges are published authors and the final round judges are some of the best known agents and editors in the business. They’re looking for the best of the best from thousands of unpublished manuscripts. That can be a scary prospect for an aspiring author. What made you decide to enter the book?
The Romance Writers of America Golden Heart (for unpublished manuscripts) and the RITA (for published novels) are probably the most prestigious contests in the romance world. I felt like there was something special about ONLY FEAR. While I’d entered in previous years with other manuscripts, I had a feeling about this one. I knew it was different. Winning the Golden Heart (actually, simply becoming a finalist) opened some new doors for me, and helped me connect with some fabulous people. The finalists from 2009 formed the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood, and we’ve been blogging together for two years now, chatting about all things writerly in our commitment to help other writers on their journey to publication.
Is this book the planned first in a series about the same reality, or is it a standalone?
I’d always intended this book to be the first in a series that revolves around the employees at SSAM. (The Society for the Study of the Aberrant Mind, known as SSAM, is the fictional group that hunts serial killers.) While the book itself is a standalone, I was excited to hear that Carina Press would like to work with me on the series I have planned. We’ve even come up with a name: the Mindhunters. I’m hoping I’ll have the second book in the Mindhunters series out by next summer.
What can readers expect next from you? Do you have any future books planned?
I’m working on finishing Book 2 for the Mindhunters series, and hope to have that submitted by end of September. I’m also halfway through a different romantic suspense manuscript – the beginning of a trilogy – that I’m very excited about but haven’t seemed to find the time to finish up yet. I’m determined to complete a rough draft by the end of the year. And, of course, there are always ideas swirling in my head. Never enough time in the day!
What ereaders will the book be produced for? Is a print version planned at any future point?
The book is already available for preorder at Amazon.com (Kindle) and BarnesandNoble.com (Nook), and will be sold through the Carina Press site (pdf) as well after the September 5th release date. I’m also thrilled to announce ONLY FEAR will be available as an audiobook at Audible.com. Carina is a digital-first imprint, but they have been known to release a few authors’ work in print at a later date. I hope to see ONLY FEAR out in print one day, but there are no current plans to do so. However, I am an eternal optimist and am certain it will happen eventually.
Where can readers meet you to get an autograph? Will you be attending any conventions or signings for the release?
If you’re in the Arizona area, I’m president of Northern Arizona Romance Writers of America, so you can meet me at any of our meetings. I’ll also be presenting a workshop on “The First 50 Pages” at the Emerald City Writers Conference in the Seattle area the last weekend of October. In 2012, I’m planning to attend the Desert Dreams conference in Phoenix in April and the National Romance Writers of America conference in Anaheim in the end of July.
Where can readers find you online (website, twitter, Facebook, Myspace, etc.)?
Readers can connect with me at:
Blogs: Not Your Usual Suspects (Carina Press suspense authors)
or the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood.
Is there anything else you’d like readers to know?
I think you’ve covered most things in your fabulous list of questions but I want to invite readers to fall in love with my characters as much as I have. I hope to be able to meet you all one day.
Thanks so much for dropping by and chatting with our readers, Anne Marie. Good luck with the release. It sounds like a great read!
With degrees in Biology and Psychology and a Masters degree in Counselor Education, Anne Marie Becker has held many jobs in her life, but all had one thing in common: a passion for understanding people (and characters) inside and out. As president of Northern Arizona RWA, she has presented many workshops and is dedicated to helping other writers achieve their dreams through development of their craft. Her debut novel and 2009 Golden Heart® winner, ONLY FEAR, will be released in September.