By Rick Reed
Romantic suspense author Virginia Kelly will grab your attention with her most recent novel, IN THE ARMS OF A STRANGER, the story of a dangerous man on the run, a vulnerable woman looking for answers, and the danger they face. IN THE ARMS OF A STRANGER is the sequel to DANCING IN THE DARK (a novella) and was released by Entangled Publishing’s Ignite imprint. She has two previous stand-alone novels, AGAINST THE WIND, available at Amazon, and TO THE LIMIT, available at multiple retailers.
An RWA Golden Heart® finalist, Virginia Kelly’s first book, TO THE LIMIT, was a finalist in several contests such as the Holt Medallion, The Golden Quill, and The Aspen Gold.
Virginia has always loved adventure novels, but romance is at the core of her stories—romance with the adrenalin rush of danger. Her novels are about dangerous men and the adventurous women willing to take a chance on them.
A graduate of the University of Alabama with a master’s degree in Library Science, Virginia is an academic librarian. She tries to include a librarian in all of her books as either the heroine or as a minor character. Having taught high school and college, she has a great appreciation for teachers and often uses that as the profession for her heroines.
“A perfect blend of action, romance, and heart-pounding suspense.”—NEW YORK TIMES best-selling author Cynthia Eden
Are IN THE ARMS OF A STRANGER and DANCING IN THE DARK stand-alone books or do they need to be read in order? Will we see more of these characters in future books?
These do not have to be read in order, though I hope many do. The hero of IN THE ARMS OF A STRANGER is the brother of the heroine of DANCING IN THE DARK. I’m not yet sure if I’ll write about these characters again.
Why do you write romantic suspense? Are you considering writing in other genres?
Romantic suspense seems to be the way I think. I like happily ever afters, however, I also like adventure and danger and use these elements to ratchet up the tension and the romance. But the opposite applies, too: the romance can ratchet up the danger.
I have written a complete mystery and have finished half of the second book in what I hope will be a three book series, but both do have romantic elements.
What did you do before you became a writer?
I’m still doing it! 🙂 I’m an academic librarian. Before this, I was a medical librarian. Before I graduated from college, long before my master’s degree, I worked at a sheriff’s department where I saw murder weapons, bloody clothing, and other evidence of crimes.
Did your career help you develop ideas and characters?
Oh, yes. Unfortunately, some of those ideas would make better murder mystery novels than romantic suspense novels. But, as I said, I have characters who are librarians and teachers. I really think that most experiences in life offer the opportunity to interact with people which helps in the creation of characters.
Are any of your characters based on real people?
The hero of my first published novel was very, very loosely based on the Italian diplomat Giandomenico Picco, whom the then Secretary General of the UN (Javier Pérez de Cuéllar) said was “more of a soldier than a diplomat.” Picco has since published a book, MAN WITHOUT A GUN.
What advice would you care to share with beginning writers, or writers who haven’t tried to publish?
Stick to it. Keep writing. Don’t expect the first complete novel you write to be a blockbuster (although it could be!). Just write, write, and keep on writing. Study craft, but write.
What message do you want your novels to send to your readers?
That we can all face our fears, that there can be obstacles in our way, but in the end, through perseverance and determination, we can survive and thrive. And, because I write romantic suspense, the villain is vanquished and there is a happily ever after for the protagonists.
Is Virginia Kelly as adventurous as her characters?
Only in the sense that I like to try things that frighten me a bit. Like heights. I’m not fond of heights, but managed to climb to the top of Huayna Picchu (the mountain behind Machu Picchu in all the pictures we see). It wasn’t really frightening until I reached the top, which was not flat, as I’d envisioned, but was strewn with huge, angled boulders that seemed strategically placed at angles to make me feel like I might slide off into the abyss. Getting down from the very top—not fun.
I like to hike for the freedom to enjoy nature without distractions. I also like to drive off the beaten path, something that has taken me on some interesting adventures.
What’s next for Virginia Kelly?
I hope to complete another novella by early next year, and will tweak the ending of a novel, this one another romantic suspense with a big dollop of adventure, before submitting it to a publisher.
An RWA Golden Heart® finalist, Virginia Kelly’s first book was published as TO THE LIMIT and finaled in several contests such as the Holt Medallion, The Golden Quill and The Aspen Gold. Virginia writes romance laced with the adrenalin rush of danger. AGAINST THE WIND, a full-length novel, and DANCING IN THE DARK, the prequel novella to IN THE ARMS OF A STRANGER, are about dangerous men and the adventurous women willing to take a chance on them. Settings have included Florida and the American South where she lives, and a fictitious county based on Peru, where she was born.
You can keep with Virginia on her website.