By Dawn Ius
Most times, inspiration for a new Lisa Harris novel begins with the characters. But in the case of her upcoming release, THE TRAITOR’S PAWN, Harris says the story evolved from a scene she’d witnessed and couldn’t shake—a hunting accident that was actually a cover-up for a murder. Of course, some of the details have changed, but the original story spark provided the perfect set-up.
In Corpus Christie, Texas, FBI agent Jack Shannon is on the hunt for a man suspected of selling encrypted secrets to the Chinese through online bird hunting chatrooms. But his focus soon shifts when a senator is shot, and the woman with him is abducted—a woman that Jack used to be in love with.
What follows is a heart-pounding romantic suspense filled with secrets, betrayals, and of course, second chances.
In this The Big Thrill interview, Harris shares a little about her writing process, how her career has evolved over the course of more than 30 published novels, and how she continues to navigate the tricky line between romance and suspense.
Congratulations on your upcoming release, THE TRAITOR’S PAWN. Obviously, as the world copes with a global pandemic, you won’t be able to have the same kind of launch you likely envisioned for this book. How are you adapting your promotional strategy?
It’s a crazy time we’re living in, isn’t it? While I’m still promoting as much as I can on social media, I decided I need to spend more time reaching out and encouraging my readers. Everyone is feeling a lot of fear and anxiety with all the uncertainties in our world right now. I think this is a great chance for us to encourage our audiences, because no matter who we are or where we live, we’re all in this together.
A TRAITOR’S PAWN is your 31st full-length novel—an impressive milestone. What are some important lessons you have learned throughout your career?
Honestly, I hope I never stop learning on this writing journey. It’s taught me discipline and hard work. On never giving up on my dreams. On pushing harder and reaching higher. It’s taught me to not stop with a rejection or bad review. I’ve made friends who have pushed me, and encouraged me, and who have made me grateful I’m on this journey. Writing is hard, very hard, but it’s taught me that it’s worth it and so much fun.
You’re a master at blending just the right amount of romance and suspense. How do you navigate that balance? In A TRAITOR’S PAWN, was the romance of Jack and Aubrey more fun to write, or did you more enjoy the suspense?
I love writing the suspense thread of a book, but I think the more I write, the more I enjoy the personal journeys my characters take. I tend to make life pretty rough for my hero and heroine (of course) and I love seeing how they react not just to the danger around them, but also to each other and the emotional journey they are on. I want to push them into a corner and watch them fight back and discover what they are really made of. And then of course, falling in love is the added bonus.
I read that you live in Mozambique, where you and your husband work as church-planting missionaries. I love this—but it’s such a stark difference from the action-packed world you write about. How do your two “worlds” complement and influence each other?
I think the bottom line is that I’ve always wanted to see justice served around me. I want the underdog to win, and the bad guy to pay. Living overseas for most of my life, I’ve seen and experienced a lot of things, some good, and other things not so good. Life isn’t always fair and sometimes bad things happen. Just like David and Goliath, I love seeing someone in all their inadequacies and insecurities rise up to the occasion and discover a strength they didn’t know they had. And while my stories might not end with everything tied up neatly in a bow, I love the chance to make sure that justice is served and the good guy wins!
There seems to be a lot of pressure for authors to write during this time—I’ve heard so many people say “Shakespeare wrote King Lear during the Plague” and so forth. But I think that’s easier said than done. What advice would you offer to aspiring writers right now?
I have heard that same quote and it makes me want to roll my eyes. Ha! Because it has been hard for me. I’m typically a very focused, disciplined person. Until the world goes into quarantine, apparently. I just flew back from Africa before the border of South Africa closed to Americans. I’ve been struggling with jet lag and trying to figure out what I need for this quarantine in order to keep my kids fed and safe, and yet I also have lots of time to write. You’d think I could double or triple my normal word count. Instead, I find myself distracted, cleaning the house, scrolling through social media, figuring out how to boost my immune system, and of course video chatting with family. I’ve been told to give myself grace, and maybe that’s true. We’re mourning for what isn’t anymore, and trying to prepare ourselves for tomorrow. Plans are up in the air and life is uncertain. I think giving ourselves grace is probably what we all need to do.
That said, I also know I need to temper the distractions and find a way to motivate myself to focus. Think about what your motivation might be. Maybe it’s the promise of a walk if you meet your goal, or a call to a friend. Maybe it’s a bowl of ice cream or a cup of tea. Whatever it is, take care of yourself and press on. It will be worth it.
On that note, please share a little about what you are working on.
I am currently working on a new US Marshal series I’m excited about. It debuts this fall with book one, The Escape. It’s a high-octane game of cat-and-mouse and an attempt to catch a fugitive with nothing to lose. I can’t wait to share this series with my readers!
Lisa Harris is a bestselling author, a Christy Award winner, and the winner of the Best Inspirational Suspense Novel from Romantic Times for her novels Blood Covenant and Vendetta. The author of more than 40 books, including The Nikki Boyd Files and the Southern Crimes series, as well as Vanishing Point, A Secret to Die For, and Deadly Intentions. Harris and her family have spent over 16 years living as missionaries in southern Africa.
To learn more about the author and her work, please visit her website.