By Karen Harper
Autumn Jordan’s new release kicks off with a dynamite opening and then settles into a plot that is ripped from the headlines and features characters that are totally intriguing—and believable.
Since I also write suspense blended with romance, I was thrilled to interview Jordan about LOVED BY DARKNESS and the rest of the books in her impressive cache of work.
Please tell us what LOVED BY DARKNESS is about.
LOVED BY DARKNESS is a romantic mystery/suspense in which a two-year-old child is found adrift on the Atlantic. It’s the job of the Cape James Police Chief, Norris Stiles, to learn who left the girl to die. But new to the area, and to the job as chief, he might be out of his depth. Fortunately help has arrived.
Unfortunately, the feisty and beautiful U.S. Marshal sent to assist could distract him from his obligations.
Burnt out by grueling covert missions, U.S. Marshal Jolene Martinez heads home to the Virginia Coast for a much-needed vacation, only to become embroiled in a heartbreaking child abandonment case. When she saves the child, the case becomes personal for Jolene, and she’s determined to solve the mystery with or without the chief’s support.
As the clock ticks on, both the sweet girl and the charismatic chief pluck at heart strings Jolene believed severed years ago. Duty and desire mix while she and Norris race to eliminate suspects and expose the perpetrator of the sinister act before the tides wash away all evidence and the suspect attempts to harm the child again.
Your website brands your books with these interesting words: Where Ordinary Lives Change in a Heartbeat. The idea of your lead female being “ordinary” is intriguing. Can you explain how you use that in this novel? Also, the word heartbeat suggests danger and romance. How do you blend the two?
There are no super heroes. Every man and woman, no matter what their occupations, are just people whose lives can change in a split-second when they’re called upon to take extraordinary actions. When that moment occurs, how they react defines their moral character. In LOVED BY DARKNESS, my U.S. Marshal heroine once was a child. She has a past and now, as an adult, she’s made the decision to help stop evil from harming innocent people. At times, she acts quickly and without regard for her own safety.
Sadly, there is a crime being committed against someone somewhere in this world during every beat that my heart takes. Danger surrounds us in so many ways. Thankfully, there are many more acts of love. In my stories, I try to show that to my readers in not only the acts of heroism done by the main characters, but also in subtle ways. For example, you will see in LOVED BY DARKNESS that Police Chief Norris Stiles has respect and caring for a homeless veteran.
I also try to show the relationship between my heroine and hero becoming more intimate and stronger in the same manner. Men and woman can be immediately attracted to each other, but in my experience a stronger relationship develops when physical needs are not acted upon until a more intense emotional bond is formed.
Your website also emphasizes that you write both sweet and steamy. Are those elements in separate books or have you blended both in LOVED BY DARKNESS?
I write both romantic suspense/mystery/thrillers and also contemporary romance, specifically my Perfect Love series which is as sweet as any Hallmark movie. I love writing both for both genres. I do think my suspense novels have elements of sweetness in them. Readers have wanted to know more about some of my secondary characters because of their kind hearts.
What links your Darkness series?
Each Darkness book, of which there are presently three (Seized By Darkness, Obsessed By Darkness and LOVED BY DARKNESS) is written as a stand-alone title. Each book is about a team member of the elite U.S. Marshal squad called C.U.F.F. (Central Undercover Felony Force). All the team members were in Seized By Darkness, but that story was definitely all about the squad’s leader, Will Haus. And yes, I’m working on a fourth.
Your compelling book covers for the Darkness series have a moody blue tinge to them. Does that color convey theme or emotion?
For me, the color expresses emotions. There’s a notion of danger, yet an underlining feel of comfort.
LOVED BY DARKNESS has a “shocking conclusion.” Did you have that ending in mind from the beginning or did it emerge as you wrote? Do you write a book straight through? Rewrite often? What can you share about your writing patterns?
I once was a total panster, but now I see myself as a hybrid. The idea for a story always comes to me first as the opening scene. Usually the main character walks on stage in my head and I write the first chapter. It’s only after that incident takes place that I start getting to know my characters by asking them hundreds of questions. From their answers a plot will start to form, and off we go on the journey. I usually don’t know exactly how the book will end until the black moment.
I tend to go back and layer and rewrite as I go. Usually my edits are tweaks to make things clear for the reader, because you know, as a writer we have it all in our heads but sometimes it doesn’t get onto the page.
Do you use settings you know? (Lucky you to live near the Appalachian Trail!) How do your settings fit your plot in LOVED BY DARKNESS?
LOVED BY DARKNESS is set in a Virginia Cape town. I’ve visited the area and did a lot of research on the town I used for my fictional town. My 2009 Golden Heart finalist book, His Witness To Evil, was set in my area and based on true events. My Perfect Love series are all set in Vermont around the Killington area, where my husband and I were married. So, if I visit your area, there is a good chance I’m going to set a story there.
I think setting plays a big part in any book. It’s a great tool to evoke emotions.
In the opening chapter of LOVED BY DARKNESS, a child is found floating on a child’s sized raft in the boat lane off Cape James. Just imagine the free fall of emotions my heroine, hero, and secondary characters on the sailboat felt. They went from a natural high, enjoying a beautiful summer day, to the total distress of finding a child near death. And then a vile sick feeling took over as they wondered who would do such a thing.
LOVED BY DARKNESS has some fascinating “backstory,” which you researched. Can you share what you learned about Dissociative Identity Disorder and how you worked it into your characters and plot?
One thing I learned about Dissociative Identity Disorder is that there is a huge division among psychologists as to whether the disorder actually exists. Even the most famous case, Sybil Dorsett, is now being questioned.
I’m not a doctor of psychiatry. I am a writer of fiction and took what I learned from research as plausible, and used it to create my villain.
You obviously live a busy, demanding life. Any hints on how to balance “real life” with writing and promotion demands?
Balance is the key to being a happy writer. I still have a part-time day job and a family at home. I’m an early riser, so I’m up at the keyboard before the rest of the household stirs. I get down what I can before the real world needs my attention. I also sneak into my office throughout the day and evening whenever I can. I find focusing on the job at hand and going with the flow of life is the best way to keep my sanity. Also, having electronic devices that keep me connected with other writers and readers while I’m on the go helps with promotional demands. Sadly, sometimes I need my grandchildren to show me how to do the newest thing.
Autumn Jordon is an award-winning author of contemporary romance and romantic suspense/thrillers recognized by Romance Writers of America as a Golden Heart Finalist and Golden Leaf Winner. And as Kindle Book Reviewers ‘Best Indie Romance Author’ finalist. Writing sweet and humorous for her Perfect Love Series and writing steamy and chilling for her U.S. Marshal Undercover suspense novels comes naturally to Autumn. Her characters are unique and realistic. Her stories filled with trouble and love.
To learn more about Autumn, please visit her website.