The Big Thrill Discusses INTO THE FIRE With Irene Hannon
As a former smokejumper, arson investigator Bri Tucker knows her way around fires. But after a mysterious blaze takes the life of a former colleague, Bri inherits a curious puzzle from him that raises questions about several fiery deaths. Someone, however, doesn’t want her picking up where he left off in search of answers.
When she teams up with ATF Special Agent Marc Davis to solve the puzzle, the danger escalates. But will they manage to track down the person behind the mysterious deaths before their budding romance—and maybe even their lives—go up in flames?
Bestselling author Irene Hannon recently joined The Big Thrill team to discuss her latest romantic suspense, INTO THE FIRE.
A novel is such a major undertaking; there’s the writing of it, of course, then you’re spending months and months revising, polishing, and then promoting it. How did you know this was the book you wanted to spend the next couple of years on?
In reality, I don’t have the luxury of years to research, write, revise, and polish a book. I do two big books a year that have contractual deadlines, so I sit at my desk every day and I write. To pick stories that interest me, I spend a lot of time upfront digging deep into plot ideas and creating my characters because I can’t afford false starts. At this point in my career, this is a very disciplined process and I can pretty quickly examine and discard ideas that don’t have enough appeal to keep me interested in the story. Same goes for finding compelling characters to cast in my books. I need people who are multi-faceted and dimensional, who will continue to develop and surprise me as I write the story. I love delving deep into several POVs in every book—including the villain’s—which also keeps me engaged in the story.
Can you pinpoint a moment or incident that sparked the idea for this book?
No. Honestly, I can only recall two instances after 65 books where I can point to the moment or incident that sparked the idea. That didn’t happen with this book. I usually go trolling for ideas when I’m ready to start a new book. With INTO THE FIRE (Book 1 in my Undaunted Courage series), I was looking not only for a story idea, but a series hook. As I’ve discovered after 65 novels, readers like relationship links between books—even though all my novels can be read as standalones. I’d already done brothers, sisters, a combination of the two, best friends, former college roommates…so I decided to go with three foster siblings, all of whom had been adopted by the same parents. Once I had the series link established, I looked for interesting professions and backstories. I’d always wanted to write a book that included a smokejumper, so that’s where I started with my heroine. That led me to arson, revenge, vendettas, and murder—and I was off and running.
Were there any particular books, movies, or songs that were knocking around in your head while you were writing this one?
No. I don’t develop a play list or create a storyboard or watch movies or even read (for pleasure) while I’m working on a book. None of those typically inspire me. I work in silence and am so engrossed in my own story as I write that anything extraneous gets shoved to the back of my mind until I’m done for the day.
When you first created your protagonist for this book, did you see an empty space in crime lit that you wanted to fill? What can you share about the inspiration for that character?
I write romantic suspense, so I have two protagonists. I can’t say that I saw an empty space I wanted to fill. I just wanted to write a riveting story about two characters facing not only an external threat but who are also fighting private demons. So I gave both characters a rich and complex backstory that allowed them to fight the good fight personally and professionally—while also falling in love!
In addition to a great read, what do you hope readers will take away from this story?
Some insights into dealing with guilt, juggling personal responsibilities, overcoming insecurity, and finding balance—plus a better understanding of the tremendous power of love (not just the romantic variety) to transform lives.
What can you share about what you’re working on next?
Book 2 in the Undaunted Courage series will be out in October 2024 and features a police detective who must determine whether a traumatized woman’s claim that she’s being targeted is true—and if it is, figure out who is behind the relentless campaign that seems designed to destroy her credibility…and perhaps her life.
Irene Hannon is the bestselling and award-winning author of more than 60 contemporary romance and romantic suspense novels. In addition to her many other honors, she is a three-time winner of the prestigious RITA Award from Romance Writers of America. She is also a member of RWA’s elite Hall of Fame and has received a Career Achievement Award from RT Book Reviews for her entire body of work. Learn more at www.irenehannon.com.
INTO THE FIRE with Irene Hannon