Posted by Anna Campbell Feb 2 2012, 12:15 am in Anna Campbell, Bandita Booty, Black Ops Series, Cindy Gerard, Guests, interviews, Last Man Standing, Nancy Northcott, Romantic suspense
Please join Nancy and me in welcoming New York Times bestseller Cindy Gerard on her first visit to the Lair. We both love Cindy’s current series, Black Ops, Inc., as well as the prior Bodyguards series. These books match tough, patriotic men with brave, determined women in stories full of action-adventure and hot romance. The last book in the series, Last Man Standing, was released January 31.
(Nancy) I loved Last Man Standing, a wonderful concluding volume for a dynamic series. How would you describe the Black Ops Inc. series to readers who might not be familiar with it?
I think the best way to answer that is to share the short pitch I made to my publisher when I first created the series – so here goes )
BLACK OPS, INC.
Where patriotism meets the seamy underbelly of a world held hostage by greed, corruption and terror.
Black Ops, Inc. (B.O.I.) picks up where the Bodyguards left off. Where E.D.E.N. Securities showcased the all-American Garretts and their extended family, B.O.I., a private contracting firm specializing in jobs even the military and the CIA won’t touch, features an equally heroic but different breed of men and women fighting a covert war pitting good against evil.
The B.O.I. operatives are shadow warriors – former SEAL, DELTA, Special Forces, and CIA types who valiantly served their country and now fearlessly serve their employer. They are individuals so committed to their cause they’ve lost touch with the concept of baseball, mom and apple pie. Their world, instead, is comprised of bullets and bad guys and a daily fight to save not only the free world but their very lives.
(Anna) Can you tell us about your latest Black Ops extravaganza, LAST MAN STANDING?
Last Man Standing is the 7th and final book in the BOI series and brings the team full circle, tying up an event that brought them together years ago in Sierra Leone when they were all active military. I think this blurb from the back of the book summarizes things nicely:
Special operative Joe Green has gone vigilante. His mission, avenge his Black Ops.,Inc. brother’s death during a bloody ambush years ago in Sierra Leone. He refuses to drag the BOI team or his lover, Stephanie Tompkins, into the hunt for the man responsible, so when he finds himself beaten, starving, and alone after being falsely imprisoned for the murder of a Freetown priest, he knows he’s as good as dead.
Joe meant to protect Stephanie when he walked out on their relationship, but he can’t stop her now from executing his escape. Breaking him out of prison is the easy part. After Joe’s explosive theory pans out and his cunning enemy emerges as the front runner for a high level presidential appointment, he and Stephanie must race to derail the traitor’s conspiracy if they are to save their loved ones, the nation and each other.
Would you like to share an excerpt?
Absolutely! Thanks so much for asking. Here’s the opening scene:
Freetown, Sierra Leone
Joe Green was as good as dead. He’d known it the moment he’d started digging for answers to questions no one wanted asked.
What he hadn’t known was the havoc his hunt would create.
What he hadn’t wanted was for the priest to die.
“No, man. Oh no, man. You—”
“Quiet,” Joe snapped when Suah’s whisper echoed through the cavernous nave of the Sacred Heart Cathedral.
The teen-aged boy at his side was frozen in shock. On the cold stone floor, blood pooled beneath the holy man’s head, crept around the base of the chancel rail, then spilled down the step to the altar.
Joe dropped to a knee and pressed his fingers to the cleric’s neck. No pulse. And no life in the eyes that stared blankly at the stained glass windows.
Joe swallowed heavily. “Yeah. He’s dead.”
Regret, self-disgust and defeat pounded through his veins, a reminder that what he had started would come to no good end.
No good end? Jesus. The priest was dead. Ends didn’t come much worse than this.
He glanced up, beyond gold candlesticks on the high altar, above yards of maroon velvet cascading from an alcove that hosted a life-sized statue of a benevolent Christ. Pale candlelight flickered eerily through the church, casting his and Suah’s shadows in tall, wavy relief along the far wall, like ghosts already here to claim the priest’s soul.
He lowered his head into his hand. God help him … what had he done?
The thick wooden doors at the front of the cathedral swung open with a heavy, echoing thud. He whipped his head around to see several uniformed officers storm into the nave. The police – Freetown’s bastion of corrupt law enforcement – had arrived in force and put an end to any hope of a quick search of the cleric’s prostrate body.
“Hide before they spot you,” he whispered urgently when Suah stood there, petrified in fear. “Hurry! Duck under the high altar.”
He shot to his feet and gave the boy a shove as the contingent of gunmen raced down the center aisle between the rows of worn wooden pews. Satisfied that the kid was well hidden beneath the draping cloth, he made certain the men got a glimpse of him then sprinted for the sacristy, leading them away from Suah.
He got as far as the Epistle door and swung it open. The rattle of rifles being shouldered and the ‘snick-click’ of a dozen safeties switching to off position greeted him. The beams of as many flashlights blinded him.
He was surrounded.
“Hands in the air,” a voice shouted from behind him.
Slowly, he did as he was told. Slower still, he turned around … and stared into the dark, angry faces of the men who had passed the priest’s body to get to him.
Without warning, the butt end of an assault rifle swung around hard and slammed into his temple.
He fell to all fours, fighting both a screaming pain and the hard pull of unconsciousness. Yeah, he thought again, just before the darkness sucked him under. He was as good as dead.
(Nancy) Do you naturally create heroes before heroines, or vice-versa? Once you have a hero or heroine, how do you create his/her perfect match?
I don’t have an absolute pattern when it comes to character creations. Generally, however, the hero presents himself to me before I meet his heroine. I have to get to know him before I know what kind of woman will be a good match and an equal. In some cases, my heroes/heroines start out as secondary characters – I love it when that happens. When a character becomes so intriguing that I just know they have to have their own book. Gabe – the Archangel – Jones, the hero of Show No Mercy began as a secondary character and the moment he walked on the page, I knew he had to have his own story. The same thing with Joe Green and Stephanie Tompkins (Last Man Standing) They were never supposed to have their own stories but they just kept showing up and demanding that I let them speak. )
(Anna) I love the Bodyguard series although if I had to pick a favorite it would probably be FEEL THE HEAT. I think B.J. and Raphael were just so perfectly matched, their romance sizzled. Do you have a favorite and why?
Thanks for that. I loved the Bodyguard series as well and hated to let those people go even though I was already in love with the first hero from the Black Ops, Inc series. B.J. and Rafe were a really fun couple to work with. She was so prickly and he was so not wanting to break through that wall she’s built … but fate had other plans for those two. As for my favorite – that is so hard. I love all my characters but if you MAKE me chose, I’ve always had a soft spot for Johnny Reed. He was such an arrogant, womanizing bad boy and yet so irreverent and funny and heroic. I loved watching his veneer get peeled away by Crystal until she uncovered the REAL Johhny Reed. The man who carried a lot of emotional scars and hid those scars behind a bad boy facade. He was a really interesting character to unearth.
But then Joe Green – Last Man Standing – was a huge surprise too. The opposite of Johnny, Joe is a quiet man. And beneath all that somber exterior run a gamut of emotions and longing and secrets. Very intriguing character.
(Nancy) Many of your stories are set outside the United States. How do you research these locations?
The first thing I do is get a map of the country, a Lonely Planet guide and then I haunt travel blogs, any videos that are posted showing the country or city and I read first hand blog journals to get a real feel for the setting. I also belong to several writer’s loops and often I’ll put a shout out to anyone who might have lived there or currently lives there or knows someone who lives there and dig up even more information. People are very generous and I’m grateful for that. But I do a lot of research as I always consider setting as another character in the book and that setting must have as much dimension as the people I write about.
(Anna) What’s coming up next for you?
Oh, I’m really glad you asked me that! As you know, Last Man Standing is the 7th and final book of the Black Ops series … however, you will be seeing the BOI’s again, only as secondary characters instead of in starring rolls. I’ve just begun writing a new series entitled: One-Eyed Jacks which is a spin off of the BOI series. The first book (no firm title yet) stars Mike – Primetime – Brown, a character you first met in With No Remorse (Luke and Val’s book) and who shows up again in an even bigger role in Last Man Standing. Mike – again – was one of those secondary characters who walked on the page and demanded his own book. Here’s a little over view of the new series:
ONE EYED JACKS
The One Eyed Jacks (a multi-branch military task force formed in 2002 and disbanded in 2005) got their nick name because of the uniqueness of their experimental unit, their tight camaraderie, their slightly reckless reputation, their favorite downtime/pastime of high stakes poker and because each of them made a pact to always carry a One Eyed Jack playing card (either a Jack of hearts or a Jack of spades) as their lucky charm and a sign of unity.
Today, only three men of the original detail are still alive – Mike Brown, Bobby Taggart, Jamie Cooper. On their last mission in Afghanistan, all three were dealt a losing hand and now share one common bond: The military that they proudly served had cut them loose eight years ago with a ‘less than honorable’ discharge when their team led a covert operation that went south and the powers that be laid the blame squarely on their shoulders. To the dismay of the prosecutors of the Navy, Army, and Marines military tribunals, the most serious of charges could not be proven, which negated the possibility of court martial and prison but still ended in their separation from the service.
Now Brown, Taggart and Cooper lead separate lives in separate countries, have all dropped out of ‘normal society’ and not only live with the lie that led to their military separation but with the weight of the deaths of both their task force team members and several innocent civilians haunting them. For these three men, life is now all about getting by, about forgetting the past, dealing with the anger and coping with the hand they’ve been dealt. None of them intend to break the status quo – until a mysterious woman confronts and forces Brown to ask questions about what really happened in Afghanistan and how those events played into a current national security threat. She dangles bait Brown can’t resist – the means to clear his name, deliver justice and expose the master mind behind the death of his teammates and his own downfall.
Oooh, way cool! We can’t wait!
Thank you so much for having me here today. And I’d be happy to answer any questions. You can always catch up on my news at:
or on FB at:
Cindy is giving away a signed copy of one of her books (winner’s choice) to one commenter today. Do you have a question for her, ask away. Or tell us, what’s your favorite of Cindy’s books or your favorite other book featuring covert operatives?