Suz: Bandits and Bandit Buddies I’m so thrilled to have my very good friend Kay Thomas back in the Lair. Her current release BULLETPROOF HEARTS is fourth in her BULLETPROOF series from Harlequin Intrigue. Welcome Kay! Pull up a barstool and I’ll have Sven pour the Bellinis!
Kay: Oh, Bellinis. You know how I love champagne.
Suz: Pat Cooper of Romantic Times BOOK reviews said “Thomas’ characters have to be bulletproof as they keep on the run, one step ahead of gunmen and two steps behind the truth, in the swiftly escalating and breathtaking run for their lives.” And she gave it a 4 ½ star review. That’s some high praise! Can you tell us a little about this book?
Kay: Sure. I was thrilled with RT’s review. BULLETPROOF HEARTS is about a hit-and-run murder and a grieving sister’s hunt for answers that lead her straight into a killer’s deadly web. Abby Trevor’s only protection is dangerously sexy Shaun Logan. As shocking truths unravel and the unrelenting forces tracking her close in—one question remains. Can she trust a man who seems too good to be true?
Suz: Abigail Trevor is a bit of a “Steel Magnolia” who comes to Washington as a Southern belle with backbone when it comes to finding her brother’s killer. Do you find this kind of woman easy or hard to write?
Kay: I had a great time with Abby and unlike some of my other heroines I found her pretty easy to write. Feisty and independent, she says exactly what she is thinking despite having had a rather genteel upbringing. She’s “broken out” of that mold and is now bending the rules of propriety to find answers in her brother’s murder. She’s got trust issues because of how she was raised and as a result she always leaves herself an “escape hatch” in relationships. In dealing with Shaun, there is no escape hatch. Together, they’re an explosive combination.
Suz: Shaun Logan, mmmm, a fine Irish lad if there ever was one, brings a few issues of his own to the table. What’s driving him?
Kay: Shaun was raised on the mean streets of Dublin after losing his parents when he was a boy. He hides his real emotions under charm, a cool exterior and beautiful old world manners, never revealing what he truly feels. And Abby is making him feel and hope for things he never dreamed were possible…but to admit that is a huge risk for him. Especially as he is also hiding a secret from her that he never intended to get so far out of hand.
Suz:You let us see another of your characters in this book, Harlan Jeffries from your debut book, BETTER THAN BULLETPROOF. Was it fun revisiting him and Gina?
Kay: Yes! I loved writing Harlan Jeffries again. He’s still yummy and living his happily ever after with Gina and their adopted autistic son Adam. I also revisited a setting in that first book, Shaun’s house in Virginia. Plus I got to put in a cameo of my hometown Clarksdale, Mississippi.
Suz: Okay, so now that you’re hitting your stride with book # 4, tell us a little bit about your writing process. Are you a 9-5 sorta gal? Or a “burn-the-late-night-oil” writer?
Kay: I hesitate to call what I do a process. It doesn’t feel quite that structured…but during the school year I write after my son leaves for school until I go to pick him up in the afternoons. During that time I use a kitchen timer and set it for three hours, turning it off when I get up for coffee, answering phone calls, checking email, etc.
After I hit three hours of “real writing time,” I stop for the day and work on email, publicity, etc. Of course, some days it takes me six hours to get those three “real hours” done. This productivity tool has changed the way I structure my days since I heard Susan Elizabeth Phillips speak about it at an RWA panel a couple of years ago. It’s been very good for me.
On tight deadlines I turn off my Internet access and work until I get it done. (Caffeine is my friend.) But I still use the timer to give myself built-in breaks. My biggest writing distraction by far is the Internet/social networking. I adore Twitter and Facebook, but I have to limit my time on them. The kitchen timer is good for that, too! Setting it for a ten-minute Facebook or twitter break then going back to writing.
Suz: Now I have a question for the Bandits, Bandit Buddies and Sven if we can spare him from the Bellinis for a moment to answer. There’s a scene in BULLETPROOF HEARTS where Abby is searching her brother’s desk looking for clues to his murder. She finds interesting things there. What’s the most unusual item we’d find sitting on your desk right now?
Kay: I’m looking at mine and it’s a tossup between the “Swiffer” duster and a pair of pink camouflage sunglasses. The duster is unusual because I’m not much of a housekeeper and I’ve no clue how the duster got to my desk and the glasses are unique because well…pink camo sunglasses? I bought them as a gag gift as we were driving through Arkansas on Spring break. Apparently pink camo sunglasses are all the rage in that area. Plus they match the bottle of Pink Flamingo nail polish that’s sitting on my desk, too.
So what about your desk? I’m giving a copy of BULLETPROOF HEARTS to one “unique” commenter.
Kay Thomas writes “bulletproof” romantic thrillers for Harlequin Intrigue. Her debut novel BETTER THAN BULLETPROOF (January 2009) is a Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice Nominee for Best First Series Romance. Her second book BULLETPROOF TEXAS was published in April 2009. And her third release, BULLETPROOF BODYGUARD, will hit store shelves April 13th as part of Intrigue’s Bodyguard of the Month Series. Please help me welcome author Kay Thomas, one of my good friends back to the Bandit Lair.
Suz: BULLETPROOF BODYGUARD is the third book in your Bulletproof series and part of the “Bodyguard of the month” collection from Harlequin Intrigue. Can you give our readers a little bit about the book?
Kay: The story is about a young, widowed mother who is forced to help with a casino robbery on the Mississippi coast when her three-year-old son is kidnapped by `guests’ staying at her bed and breakfast. Her only hope is an undercover cop with a troubled past who must choose between saving his career and saving her child.
Suz, wiping the drool from my mouth: Man I love the cover of BULLETPROOF BODYGUARD! Your heroes have been strong men caught in a situation where they needed to take control of things. How does Marcus North deal with the situation he finds himself in?
Kay: Marcus is an undercover cop. In the past he has been badly burned trying to maintain his cover and protect the innocents he meets through work. He’s promised himself never to let that happen again.
Cally Burnett is completely different from his usual contacts and he hates the fact that she and her son Harris could become collateral damage in the robbery that is being planned. Soon Marcus is bending, then breaking his own rules to protect them. Keeping his cover becomes more and more difficult and before it’s over he’ll have to choose.
Suz: How does Marcus meet the heroine, Cally Burnett?
Kay: He is a guest at her bed & breakfast as part of his undercover casino bodyguard assignment.
“You have a beautiful home, Mrs. Burnett. How long have you lived here?”
“A little over eight years.” She looked up from the registration book. “This was my husband’s family home. His great-grandfather built it at the turn of the century.”
“Oh, so it doesn’t date back to the Civil War.”
“No,” she laughed softly. “Although I’m afraid the Chamber of Commerce wishes it did. They wanted to suggest that perhaps William Faulkner slept here. But the sad fact is nothing of historic significance has ever occurred at River Trace.”
“Except raising the Burnett family of course.”
Her dimples reappeared.
“So do you and your husband run the bed and breakfast?”
Again, her smile faltered. “No, my husband died almost four years ago. I run River Trace myself with the help of Bay and Luella Wiggins.”
Now it was Marcus’s turn to wince. “I’m sorry, I didn’t know.”
She shook her head and looked back down at the paperwork. “That’s all right. It…it happens all the time.” She stopped writing to look up at him directly. “I know you don’t know what to say.”
Marcus nodded gratefully, feeling that he was definitely losing his social skills. He wondered what had happened to the husband.
As if reading his thoughts, Harris piped up, “Daddy dwowned…but not in bathtub.”
Cally gaped at the child in shocked surprise. Marcus groaned. No wonder his earlier comment about drowning had caused such an unusual reaction.
“That’s right, honey.” She recovered herself and held him close as she patted his back and looked into his eyes.
“He lives in heaven with angels.”
“Um-hmm,” she murmured, still staring into the boy’s face.
“Lulu says so. Bay, too.”
“That’s right, baby. That’s right.” She gazed at Harris a moment longer continuing to cuddle him and a took a deep breath. He laid his head on her shoulder.
Marcus shifted on his feet, uncomfortable with his eavesdropping. It usually wouldn’t bother him, but in this case, it was extraordinarily awkward.
She seemed to sense his discomfort. “I’m sorry, I didn’t realize he knew what that meant. I mean we’ve talked about it, but…” She stopped, blushed a deep pink, clearly at a loss for words.
“That’s all right. I’m sorry about what I said earlier.” Her forehead creased, “About?”
“Oh,” she nodded. “You must be wondering after all this.”
Her hand fluttered about Harris’s back but her voice was cool and composed. “My husband was in a boating accident. He was duck-hunting and putting out decoys when the boat capsized. His waders filled with water and he drowned.” “I’m terribly sorry.”
“I am, too.” She sighed. “But life goes on.” She looked at the little boy in her arms and gave him a squeeze. “Here’s the proof.”
Harris giggled sleepily.
“Let me show you to your room. It’s right up these steps.”
Marcus followed her to the grand staircase. Their feet were silent on the carpeted steps.
“Your room was originally an attic when the house was built. At one time it was a nursery. Now it’s definitely the most secluded spot at River Trace.”
At the top of the second flight, Cally turned left and led him past several rooms toward the back of the house. Her hair had come out of its pins and was trailing halfway down her back in ringlets. Marcus watched as Harris opened and closed his fists around one of the curls.
The outline of her bra strap was clearly visible through the wet shirt. It was lacey, pink and distracting the hell out of him. She turned right and paused at another landing.
“I thought since you were going to be here a while, this would give you more privacy. You have your own bath and there’s another stairway here if you prefer. It was originally a servants’ stairway. And if you’ve had a really long day…” She didn’t finish the sentence as she pointed toward the antique one-man elevator.
“It still works?” he asked.
Cally nodded, opened a door and led him up a narrow stairwell. He could see how the location would have been perfect for a child’s nursery.
“We just finished getting it all together today.”
Marcus stepped up into the room behind her. She crossed another oriental rug and sat Harris down on a wide window seat. As she leaned over to close the window, he got an unexpected but rather spectacular view of her butt in the water-soaked jeans. Her wet shirt had ridden up and he could see a line of milky-white skin along her back.
He caught himself staring, imagining the view under different circumstances. If she turned around without picking up the boy first, he’d get a peek at the latest Victoria’s Secret had to offer. With a jolt he realized he wasn’t paying attention to a word she was saying.
“…we painted earlier this week, but I wanted to make sure the smell was completely gone.” Marcus took in a gulp of air, attempting to clear the erotic images forming in his head. “Hmm. All I smell is ah…flowers?”
“Yes.” Cally smiled, completely unaware of where his thoughts had been. “That would be the potpourri.” She nodded at a silver bowl on the captain’s desk to his right.
“The bathroom’s through here.” She pointed toward the small hallway to his left; straight ahead was a queen-sized bed flanked by small antique tables. “We just moved the armoire in today.”
He reassessed her as he took in the large cabinetry opposite the window. “You moved that yourself? Up those stairs?” He studied her slim build and tried to imagine her lifting the heavy antique. Even with a man helping her, it was a formidable job.
“Well, Bay and I did. I couldn’t have done it on my own. I can’t imagine doing any of this without the Wigginses. You’ll meet him and Luella tomorrow. River Trace simply couldn’t run without them. They’re amazing.”
“I’d say so.” He mentally struggled to get focused again.
“Let’s see. I need to get you more towels, and you need a brandy decanter.” She ticked the items off on her fingers.
“It’s a gift when you check in. Our special label. Homemade peach brandy. Not to be missed.”
She stared straight at him—open and friendly, but it wasn’t a come-on. He knew that. Facing him, she wasn’t holding the kid. Marcus locked his eyes on hers and willed himself not to look below her neck at that transparent shirt.
“Now…what else. Oh, yes. Since you’re up three stories here, the fire marshal insists I tell you how to get out in case the stairway is blocked during a fire.” She headed for the window seat. Marcus swallowed hard when she bent over to pick up Harris and lifted the lid on the built-in seat. Her shirt rode up again revealing more of that creamy skin that he was suddenly very curious to touch.
“There’s a ladder here,” she said over her shoulder.
She reached for the jumble of metal and rope, and he realized he was staring again. He was going to get busted if he didn’t stop. He reached around her, accidentally brushing against her shoulder.
“Sorry,” he muttered.
She startled. “Thank you,” she murmured, stepping aside. “You attach it by those handles to the window and then you can ease down to the roof.”
“Where do I go from there?” he asked, keeping his voice as neutral as possible. Touching her had been a bad idea, a really bad idea.
Cally turned to look at him with a sober face and sparkling eyes. “You jump.”
He barked a laugh.
“Actually, you shimmy down to that sunroof on the second floor, and you jump.”
“Does every room have one of these?”
“Oh, no. Yours is special. It’s the only one on the third floor. There are two staircases up to the second floor and a window in every bedroom. The fire marshal figures if worse comes to worst everyone else can get out.”
Obviously she was struggling to keep a straight face.
“River Trace is the only residence to be converted to an inn in the county. The fire marshal had never done this before. I’m afraid he went a bit overboard. We barely talked him out of a sprinkler system. But I feel confident you will be safe during your stay.”
The dimples were back.
“I think the worst thing that would happen if you had to jump is a broken leg.”
“Hmm. We’ll hope it doesn’t come to that.”
“Absolutely.” A man could get lost in a smile like hers. Harris yawned widely as Marcus shut the ladder back into the window seat. “Someone is getting sleepy.”
Harris was snuggling into her chest and clutching one of her ringlets. “Yes, I’d better put him to bed. I’ll be glad to get you something after I get him down.”
She was looking at Marcus again with those incredibly blue eyes, totally oblivious of the effect she was having.
“What would you like? A snack of some kind? Or I can fix you a sandwich? Whatever you want.”
She had no idea what she’d just said. Marcus swallowed. God, he didn’t usually get turned on by unintentional double entendres. “A sandwich would be great if it’s not too much trouble. But there’s no hurry. I realize you’ll have your hands full for the next few minutes.”
“It’s no problem at all. I’ll just put Harris to bed and bring up your sandwich. And those towels and that brandy.” She started toward the stairs before turning back. “How does roast beef on whole wheat sound?”
“It’ll be about fifteen minutes.”
Downstairs the deep gong of the doorbell echoed through the house.
“That’ll be my other guests. Let’s make that thirty minutes on the sandwich?”
Cally nodded and headed down the steps. When the door closed, Marcus’s smile faded. He looked around the room, taking in the rich red walls and antique four-poster.
This was not the set-up he’d been expecting. Oh, it was quite a place all right. But it was not the proper way for this to go down. What in hell was he going to do about the widow and the kid?
Suz: BULLETPROOF BODYGUARD takes place in Mississippi. Is there any particular reason you decided to use this setting for this book?
Kay, (smiling that shy southern belle smile of hers): I’m from Mississippi and my family still lives in and around the Delta. The original idea for BULLETPROOF BODYGUARD was based on the first riverboat casino ever built in the state in the early 90′s. My big brother Tim gave me the idea and it all started over dinner one night with the words, “Kay, I’ve got a story for you?”
He has just gotten back from a long road trip with a friend who had worked as a security guard in that first riverboat casino located in Tunica. Tim’s friend had some hair-raising tales about those early months the casino was open, before there was an infrastructure in the county to handle the huge influx of cash and people to the area. The casino was reported to be the most profitable per square foot in history, and the guards spent the first eighteen months worrying they’d be robbed blind because they didn’t have all the backups they needed.
There’s a bed & breakfast featured in the book based on my grandmother’s house that I grew up next door to in Clarksdale.
This was the first manuscript I ever finished, but it’s gone through multiple revisions and rewrites since I first wrote “the end” ten years ago. Three years after I finished the original draft, that house my great grandfather built in 1900 burned. Thankfully no one was hurt. Even though the property was no longer in the family, three generations had lived there. In BULLETPROOF BODYGUARD, the house that held so many wonderful memories for us lives again.
For story purposes I moved my grandmother’s house (the B & B), the casino, and the timeline to present day South Mississippi.
Suz: One of the things I like about your books is the sense of urgency and desperation you put your characters in. Is there a way to balance that with the sexual tension needed in a romance?
Kay: I love to write compressed timelines with a ticking clock. (As a writer this keeps me focused on making every scene count.)
For me that combination keeps the suspense tighter and the characters slightly off balance. Their emotions are “rawer,” much closer to the surface. My hero and heroine don’t have time to dissect their feelings (like we do in real life). They simply react and respond to circumstances around them. When I get bogged down in writing a scene or even in plotting, I usually find it’s because my characters are “sitting and thinking” versus acting.
That lack of time for the characters to analyze the relationship, combined with the ticking clock is what I believe keeps the sexual tension building. For the reader, my hope is this “urgency” keeps one turning the pages and wanting to find out what happens next.
Suz: What’s next for you and your Bulletproof series?
Kay: The next book is due to my editors at Intrigue in September with a release date for 2011. It’s tentatively titled BULLETPROOF HEARTS. The story is about a woman who discovers her brother’s hit and run accident was actually murder and she could be next if she doesn’t accept help from a mysterious stranger. I’m almost through the first draft but I’m a multi-drafter, so the plotting is still very much in process. If anyone is interested in my week-by-week progress, they can check out my facebook fan page at: http://www.facebook.com/KayThomasWrites. I chat about lots of different things – books, current movies, publishing- including what I’m working on right then. I also post deleted scenes from previous novels and give away books and gift cards from time to time.
Kay:This book features a fictional B & B. I adore bed & breakfasts and used to think I wanted to run one until I realized that: 1) I loathe doing laundry and housekeeping chores in general. And 2) it’s considered an exotic breakfast at our house if I cook scrambled eggs & toast. No, this is probably not a career I should consider.
I figured out that what I really enjoyed was staying in a B & B vs the whole concept of running one. So my question to you is: What’s your favorite thing about staying in a bed & breakfast? If you could, would you like to run one? Why or why not?
Suz: Kay will be giving away a copy of BULLETPROOF BODYGUARD to one lucky commenter. Kay, anything else you’d like to share with our readers and friends?
Kay: To celebrate the release I have a Bulletproof Sighting Contest called “Feeling Lucky?” that’s currently underway. Spot my April Intrigue, BULLETPROOF BODYGUARD, on store shelves or in your mailbox and be eligible to win a gift card to Barnes & Noble for $15, $10 or $5. Details are at my website. www.kaythomas.net
Whew! Another long day in the writing cave, thought Jeanne, Duchess de Snorkville as she closed out the latest Deadly file. Rolling her shoulders, she grabbed her bottle of Diet Coke and headed for the door.
Click, click, click…*&^$$$%^
What was that noise? It was pretty late. Even the Aussies should be in bed..or in their pool or off on an exotic Japanese vacation.
“Stop it! I don’t want you two making out right now! We have conflict to resolve!” a frustrated voice growled.
Curious, the Duchesse followed the sounds of plotting out the corridor, turned right and headed down the auxiliary tunnel. Funny, she thought, this was the secret passage to the cabana boys locker room but the noises coming from behind the golden door at the end were not the usual…um, noise one heard.
Ever the RS author, she grasped her Coke bottle by the neck. Hey, it wasn’t C4 but it could do some damage…and with less calories. Slowly she opened the door and stared.
Eight Banditas sat hunched over keyboards. The clacking was deafening, the only light in the room shone from their computer screens. “Hey guys,” she said, strolling in “What’s up?”
Eight Bandita heads shot up. “You scared us, Duchesse,” said Caren, “And that’s not easy to do with with KJ and Cassondra and their arsenal.”
“Sorry,” she answered, abashed. “But it’s late. What are you doing up?
“We’re creating brilliant novels,” replied Suz, stroking the bunny in her lap.
“Yeah,” piped up Joanie T, signaling to Demetrius to bring her another glass of sangria, “We’re AYU-As Yet Unpublished-but we’re working our butts off to get there.”
Jeanne, frowned, pulls up a chair and sat down. “Yeah, I don’t get that. Ya’ll are great writers. We should be seeing your book covers on the sidebar.”
“Perseverance,” said Anna S. tossing Nancy a hockey puck. “Keep at it till the right editor and agent recognize what they…and the publishing world… have been missing. We are the next best thing!”
“It’s hard to hang in there,” admitted Jo aka JoMama, grabbing a dark chocolate kiss from a jar marked ‘Perseverance’ “but there’s an old saying “Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up.”
Nancy tossed the puck to the dragon who chased it like a dog. “Adding boom helps a lot,”
“It does,” agreed Cassondra, molding a lump of C4 into a tiny cabana boy, “And staying in the chair on track does too.”
“Research,” added KJ, “Lots of trips and top notch conferences fuel our determination.”
Jeanne nodded. “We’ve all been there, done that. What’s the first story you ever wrote?”
Caren: My first story was about a Highlander-obsessed sword-wielding Wal-Mart worker who lived on her parents’ screened-in porch. It had less than no chance in New York, but it was hilarious.
Suz: Mine was REFUGE. My writing wasn’t bad, but over the years I’ve improved my craft, so a few years back I went back to this story, because I loved it so much, rewrote it and am now featuring it on my blog as a serial book…one chapter a week! (Talk about torturing your readers!!)
Anna: My first romance was ‘Paws for Love’, about an ex-business woman who runs a cattery and who has to go back to work in business to save it. The hero is a customer and the owner of the business she joins. Very Special Edition , complete with nasty ex-girlfriend, an even nastier ex-husband, a pair of cute old ladies and some fun cats.
Nancy: If we’re moving beyond the crayon stage, the first story I remember writing was science fiction about a girl who saved a Mars colony from alien attack by building a giant space mirror. Highly improbable, dreadfully flawed science, and a definite wish fulfillment heroine, but I enjoyed writing it. My first complete book-length fantasy was about mages saving a kingdom threatened by dark magic.
Jo: When I was fourteen I wrote a story about a high school reunion. Of course, the heroine had turned from ugly duckling to beautiful swan and the hero was immediately attracted to her, wondering how he’d missed her clever wit and graceful beauty ten years ago!
KJ I’ve always loved books that can make me laugh, so I tried my hand at a romantic comedy about a flagging furniture company headed by an feisty wheelchair-bound octogenarian. A romance bloomed between his designer granddaughter and a Greek marketing guru they hired to rescue the bottom line. Needless to say, that novel will never see daylight—too many references to Cleopatra couches and tiger-striped lamps. Also, Grandpa completely stole the show! But the experience of writing was so much fun that I was hooked.
Joan: Does a parody of “The Little Matchstick Girl” called “The Little Flashlight Girl count”? No? Ok, well my first focused manuscript was my 2006 GH entry Roman historical, “The Patrician’s Desire.” It was my learning manuscript and it took a while to get it molded into shape. I had to…the hero Jared wouldn’t LET me put him under the bed
Cassondra: The first story? Oh, man…I dunno if I can remember back that far. I remember one in the sixth grade. It was based on one of the color plates in my Literature textbook. A couple of guys from pre-Revolutionary War days. They were in a canoe and it looked like they were running trap lines (for fur trade) and I wrote a story about them. After that, there were too many to count. Focused, book-length fiction? It was the story which, after a whole bunch of incarnations, became the manuscript that finaled in the Golden Heart.
Jeanne picked up the mimosa that had suddenly appeared in front of her. Man, those cabana boys could be sneaky. “Wow, those all sound great! Hmm…since it’s late and I have a mimosa and you’re all taking a break, let me give you another question. Let’s talk about the really yummy stuff. Who is your favorite hero, in film and why?
Caren: My favorite film hero is Brendan Fraser’s Rick O’Connell in the Mummy movies. He’s smart, funny, handsome and swashbuckling PLUS he loves a strong woman. How could I resist?
Suz: My favorite hero in films would be Clive Owen as King Arthur. Oh mama. Makes you want to go all medieval, doesn’t he? Strong, handsome, honorable…and boy can he wield a mean sword!
Anna: Oooh tricky question – my instinctive answer is Cary Grant in pretty much any movie. But, I think it should be Kurt Russell as Wyatt Earp in ‘Tombstone’. A great flawed hero, who tries to do the right thing, even when the odds are against him. I love all the different facets we see of him – brother, family man, husband, gun-slinger, marshall, boy in love. .
Nancy That’s a toughie. Clive Owen as King Arthur, Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn, Christopher Reeve as Superman, Errol Flynn as Robin Hood. I can’t really pick. For me, a hero has to buckle a mean swash, as it were, and all of them do. The one exception to the swashbuckling mode would be Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch. Fits all other criteria and was a fabulous dad. And a crack shot when the need arose.
Jo: Way too many to list, but among the top ones are George Clooney (a classy and classic media presence), Gerard Butler (when he’s fit and trim not carrying fifteen extra pounds), and Shia Labeouf (okay I just want to pinch his cheeks and feed him cookies).
KJ: Harrison Ford as Richard Kimball in THE FUGITIVE. The hero had to conquer unbelievable odds (who’d believe that a one-armed man killed his wife???) and he used his ingenuity and intelligence to solve the mystery of the killer. Brilliant writing and plotting coupled with stellar acting from Harrison.
Joan: There are a LOT of heroes from big screen (and little screen) who are favs but when you think about the genre I write in it would have to be Daniel Day Lewis in LOTM. He had everything and the buckskins too, to make a woman fall at his feet….or jump over his shoulder to be carried away from danger…or to his lair
Cassondra: It depends on the day. Today it’s probably Viggo as Aragorn. I like Bill Pullman in “While You Were Sleeping” too. He’s kind of earthy in that movie. Most heroes I fall for are that way. Tomorrow I’ll like somebody else though. I’m like Joanie in that Daniel Day Lewis in LOTM always comes out in the top two. Always. On any day. I don’t much like him in any other films, but he rocked that role.
“Wow, those are all great picks,” Jeanne sighed as Sven came out of the shadows and started massaging her shoulders. “Thank you Sven, that right shoulder…ahhhh, yes. Oh, sorry. Okay, new question, same vein. If you had to cast a current or past star as the hero of your WIP, who would you pick and why?”
Caren: The hero of my WIP (which is more a Mess In Progress now) would be perfectly portrayed by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Oh, yes, I DID go there! Suz: The hero for my current MIP is Shemar Moore. In fact the moment I thought of this hero, I knew Shemar was my inspiration. Love him on Criminal Minds and he can so bring Gabe Danville to life.
Anna: I’m battling with that at the moment. Normally, I have the hunk all picked out. This time, it’s more difficult. My heroine has been likened to Detective Beckett in ‘Castle’. I think I see my hero as kind of Eastern European in looks – like Viggo or Travis Fimmel from The Beast or one of my fave footie players – Nemanja Vidic.
Nancy Also a tough question for me, as I don’t ordinarily do this. The hero of my WIP exists in my head, and I don’t generally put anyone else’s face onto him or onto the heroine. That actually interferes with my vision of the character since the face tends to bring with it the tendencies of the last character I saw that actor portray. However, for purposes of this one blog, I’d pick Christopher Reeve, who’s closest in appearance, though not a twin by any means, to the hero I’m working on now.
Jo: Actually, I had my middle son in mind when I wrote Tucker Gage, the haunted Marshal in my historical suspense-thriller WEAK FLESH. Take a look at Tyler with his son Barett and you’ll see why! KJ Clive Owen. He’s action-oriented, rugged, yet sensitive—and that accent! Do men like him really exist??? Joan: Well, my current WIP is a paranormal and Matt Bomer fits the bill nicely for my image of Ruarc. Mischievous, sensual and ……sigh…magical.
Cassondra: Hmmm. I’m writing in a new-to-me genre right now, and I guess Viggo would fit best, but he really doesn’t look completely like the hero. Nobody does. I don’t know who would look like the hero…he’s sort of a combination of Viggo’s scruffiness mixed with a young Harrison Ford mixed with Brendan Fraser mixed with a 30-year-old Jon Bon Jovi. But way more heroic than any of them. (grin) But I DID find a guy who looks like the hero of the second book in my romantic suspense series. Saulo Melo with about three days worth of beard and longer hair. Slurp.
Jeanne, blinked her eyes, back from the happy place she’d gone to thinking about heroes “Yes, I can see alllll of that. Hmmm. Okay, next question. I think I know the answer, but ya’ll always surprise me. What genre do you say you write, and if there’s more than one, what are the others? What genre would you never want to write?”
Caren: Um…I write humorous contemporary romance and some women’s fiction. I would love to write mysteries, but I don’t think I’m clever enough. I could never, ever write my all-time favorites – Regency- and Victorian-set historical romance. Too much historical detail required!
Suz: I write several genres, American Historical, Western Historical Eroticas (The Surrender of Lacy Morgan has won two erotica contests), Contemporary, Romantic Suspense (both KIDNAPPED and HUNTED finaled in the Golden Heart). Lately I’ve been playing with a series about nurses and another book for a Contemporary Christmas Fantasy. I don’t write Paranormals or YA books. Only because I don’t think I could world build for fantasy that well.
Anna: I write contemporary category romance – Special Edition/Supers – like my two GH finalists ‘Love by Bequest’ and ‘Mortgaged Hearts’. I have written a contemporary single title – ‘Gay by Day’ – which did really well in contest, but sadly was a casualty of a changing marketplace and the demise of Queer Eye. I’d planned the second book, ‘Going Straight’ too, which would have been a lot of fun and involved one of my fave progs, Trick my Truck. I also write category romantic suspense/Intrigue and am keeping my fingers crossed for In Safe Hands, which is under editor review. My latest, Past, Imperfect, is more likely to be single title romantic suspense with a time travel element. I would never want to write Inspirationals or erotica, and I’d be uncomfortable with a dark paranormal. I’m unlikely to write anything Scottish or Irish I wish I could write romantic comedies – but I’m not funny! Nancy: I write romantic suspense, historical and paranormal romance, and genre fantasy. They’re all heavy on boom of some kind or other, and I like action. If we’re talking romance alone, I don’t have the right mindset for inspirational. I wouldn’t want to write literary fiction because it seems to me more focused on beautiful words and sentences and artistic structure than on plot and story and because the endings are so very often dismal. And I’d never want to write horror. Again, not the right mindset! The current WIP skates the paranormal romance/urban fantasy line.
Jo: I write historical, romantic and mainstream suspense, I’m thinking of dabbling in young adult, and I’d never, EVER want to write sci-fi.
KJ: I write international thrillers. My father worked in telecommunications and I moved a lot while growing up and every country was a different adventure. The travel bug bit and I still love exploring new parts of the world. The combination of intrigue and exotic locales fires me up!
Joan: Historicals are my first love and yes, I bucked convention and dared to set them in Rome. I think there is a great amount of interest among readers for a variety of historical settings. My newest venture, and one that I’m very excited about is a paranormal series with yes, you guessed it, an Irish flavor. I don’t see me writing RS…boom scares me as do maniacal villains…and inspirational.
Cassondra: Until recently I’ve always written romantic suspense, which for me, actually tends more toward the thriller in some manuscripts. But last fall I plotted one historical that I’ve had percolating on the back burner for a long time. I’m now writing a futuristic series. I could absolutely not write romantic comedy because I’m just not funny in that way. Nor could I write inspirational because I can’t keep my characters from doing the nightly naked two-step before the end of the manuscript. I’ve tried. They just won’t cooperate.
An evil grin creased Jeanne’s face.” Of all the research you’ve done for your writing, which research is most likely to get you in trouble with the FBI? (Or your mother?)”
Caren: I go down a lot of rabbit trails when researching. I was doing a lot of research on the war in Afghanistan and skirmishes the US Marines have had with terrorist combatants. I’m sure I’m on a bunch of watch lists now!
Suz: In my second Romantic Suspense book, HUNTED, I had a scene where the heroine has to know how to field strip a Glock, recognize a shotgun behind a door ambush for the hero and be capable of assembling bombs. Between the online research and my conversation with a local police officer, I’m pretty sure the local and federal law enforcement groups are watching me closely!
Anna: LOL – they’re probably watching me right now! I’m researching murder, poisons, forensics and security devices. I’ve previously researched hockey (up close and personal – oh yeah!), domestic violence and abuse, identity theft and fake identities. I had a lot of fun researching the New York Marble Cemeteries, which will feature in Past, Imperfect, using Google Earth.
Nancy The research most likely to get me into trouble with the government would probably be the blogs I read on terrorism and the Google searches on various types of weaponry and explosives, but I try not to visit websites where the actual bad guys gather. My mom’s dead, so I don’t need to worry about her opinion, but I don’t think she’d like the weaponry and terrorism research either. When I earned my yellow belt in karate, her response was, “Well, you be careful.” So she might worry about these interests.
Jo: Oh, nothing I wrote would get me in trouble with my mother. She was as game for something quirky as anyone. The FBI, hmmm, I really want to stay clear of three-letter acronymic government organizations – IRS, FBI, CIA, DHS – those fellows can really make your life miserable, so I fly very low under the radar in my research.
KJ I wouldn’t be surprised if I have been red flagged for my intensive research on sniper rifles, the French Foreign Legion, and anything that goes boom—in another life, I would have loved to have been a spy! Joan: Well, I have no idea what the FBI would think about it but my mother would be horrified to know I’ve, er….(sorry Mom) researched …um, stuff in the Kama Sutra. Hey! Just trying to get a er, grasp on things
Cassondra: Hmmm. This is a tough one. All the government agencies have already looked up my fanny with a microscope a few times and I think they’ve determined that I’m not a threat. Except the IRS. I do not want their attention, so I behave myself and do regular sacrificial ceremonies in worship of my accountant.
I will say that I’ve recently begun trying to find out how to poison somebody and how much of a given drug it would take to commit suicide or kill someone, and I’m having trouble because I can’t get any pharmacists to cooperate with that, and I really do need to know this stuff. Honestly now. Look at me. Do I look the least bit untrustworthy? I’ve interviewed everybody from the head of the regional drug task force to the doc in charge of a drug rehab to the FBI’s expert on gangs and occult practices. I sleep with my own resource for weapons, explosives, and black ops, so anybody who makes a list already knows me well. If I ever disappear, y’all send help. And three or four good lawyers.
“Banditas,” Jeanne said, draining her third mimosa, “It’s got to happen soon! You’ve got great stories, industry smarts and the drive to get it done. Not to mention the considerable support of the rest of the Bandits and the BB’s!”
“Thanks, Duchesse!” Joanie said, Googling Irish male models. “Now, we gotta get back to work.”
“Right,” replied Jeanne, weaving out of the room.
A loud boom sounded as she closed the door. “Shite, will ye get that blathering mess out of here!” Shouted an Irish accented voice. Another yelled “Rabbit! Somebody catch that rabbit!”
Jeanne smiled. Man, she couldn’t wait for these books to come out!
What about you? What questions would you like to ask the AYU Banditas? About their work, their stories?
Bandits, Bandit Buddies and all our readers, y’all are in for a treat. Today you will get a look at a brand-spanking-new paranormal series and the author, who is not only a dear friend of mine, but a very creative writer! Welcome, Addison Fox. Pull up a lounge chair and we’ll have the cabana boys bring some wine.
Suz: Congratulations on your first book, WARRIOR ASCENDED, hitting the bookstore shelves! We love a call story at the Bandit Lair, so please tell us how this first sale happened?
Addison: I love telling this story – thank you for letting me share it!!!
The call came on November 20, 2008. I was at work and I got an email from my agent, asking, “Are you going to be around tonight?” NAL had the overall series proposal and a proposal on the first book. I’d already made one round of revisions on the proposal and they’d agreed to look at it again and now we were just waiting to hear.
I immediately called my sister (hey – if my productivity was shot for the day, hers could be, too!) and we spent quite a bit of time on the phone and in email trying to figure out the outcome. Fortunately it didn’t take all day and my agent called me around 2 to let me know NAL wanted to buy it. I had to slip out of a meeting to take the call and hide behind a wall of cubicles. So here I am, trying to take notes and not scream and jump up and down.
I then started calling and emailing everyone I knew!
Suz: I love the premise for the Sons Of The Zodiac series. Can you fill our readers in on it and how you came up with the idea?
Addison: I wish I could explain the moment of connection, but I was sitting there on the couch watching TV, not even thinking about plotting and this idea of the zodiac and warriors popped into my head.
Truly – it was this rare, “gift moment” that I have no idea where it came from. That said, never one to look a “gift moment” in the mouth – I immediately jumped online and started googling the zodiac. I quickly found the connection between modern-day Western astrology and Greek mythology and I was off to the races.
What’s been the most fun part of the series is the richness available from a world-building perspective. The zodiac is unique and balanced so there are a multitude of traits to pull on from a character perspective. And then the Greek mythology component adds this really neat layer of world building that’s incredibly fun to draw from.
Suz: These guys are all alpha males to the nth degree, just my favorite kind. Brody is the Leo Warrior. With 13 warriors to write about what made you decide to start with him?
Addison: Brody was the other gift in the series. He was the image in my mind as I put the zodiac/warrior connection together. Although he isn’t a shape shifter, the idea of the Lion was immediately sexy and appealing and brings to mind a very powerful, very alpha male. Suz: Your heroine, Ava Harrison, starts out as a shy work-oriented woman, trying to hide any femininity behind drab clothes. How does she first meet Brody? And how does she react to his invasion of her life?
Addison: Ava’s got a lot of baggage. Her father – a world famous archaeologist who discovered the famed Summoning Stones of Egypt – was murdered in front of her when she was young. The murder was always believed random, but it shook the very foundation of her life.
She had a dream to follow in his footsteps, but from a more academic perspective as her fear of leaving the safe world she’s built around her has always kept her from field work. So instead, she’s put her love of archaeology into a career as a curator at the American Museum of Natural History.
Brody is an overwhelming force in her life, but one she’s deeply attracted to. He also arrives at an incredibly important moment – she’s bringing her father’s work to a major exhibit at the museum. Although Brody’s presence in the museum is explained under the guise of museum security, she senses immediately he’s more than he seems.
His presence also coincides with something else. Ava’s never told anyone, but she has horrible visions when she gets anywhere near the Stones. Although she’s suspicious of Brody’s sudden arrival, she quickly realizes she needs an ally as the power of the stones – and the visions they cause only her – grows stronger.
Suz: Can you explain what the summoning stones are?
Addison: The Summoning Stones are a very powerful piece of magic from the reign of Thutmose the III in ancient Egypt. Five, equally shaped stones, about the size of a woman’s hand, that were placed in museums around the world after their discovery. Ava’s exhibit is the first time they will be all brought back together.
Each stone possesses a different quality – life, death, love, sexuality, infinity. When put together, they have the power to grant the one who can harness them – a “Chosen One” in every age – power over everything.
While I don’t want to give anything away, betcha can’t guess who is the “Chosen One” of this age?.
Suz: What’s next for the Sons Of The Zodiac?
Addison: Ooooh – my Scorpio’s up next – Kane Montague. I love all my warriors, but Kane’s got a special place in my heart. When we meet him in WARRIOR ASCENDED, he’s just been duped (in a very sexy way) by a secret agent, going by the name of Ilsa.
WARRIOR AVENGED begins six months later, when Kane finally runs down the sexy operative he’s not been able to get out of his head. Of course, both of them have some fairly large secrets and it’s going to take a whole lot of together time to make them realize they work far better together than alone.
Suz: Ooooooooo Scropio…uh, just happens to be my favorite birth sign!! And Kane is yummo, ladies!! I love your heroes and love the feature interview you do with Brody on your website at http://www.addisonfox.com/index.php/leo/ *whispering to the Bandits and friends…I’m waiting to see what she posts about Kane*
Addison:So I’ve got a question for everyone. I absolutely love reading about astrology and I’m a total horoscope junkie. Do you all believe the stars influence our personalities or that there are traits that we hold that come from the sign we’re born under?
Suz: Addison is giving away a signed copy of WARRIOR ASCENDED to one lucky commenter.
P.S. And as always, if you click on the book, you can go to Amazon.com to order your own copy. And don’t forget, clicking on the Bandit books will do the same…and check out Bandit websites and my online story blog by clicking our pics!
We’re welcoming my very good friend, Jo Davis, back to the Lair today, not to talk about firefighters, but SPIES! I’ve been looking forward to the debut of this book and bringing Jo here to give us the details. Be prepared dear readers, you’ll need a fan and the air conditioning to help you get through reading this erotic suspense series!
Suz:With your latest foray into the world of Erotic Suspense you’ve delivered a new series for our readers to devour. Care to give us a look into the world of sexy spies?
Jo:The idea for the SHADO Agency series resulted from my love of spy thrillers. I’m a fan of James Bond and the BOURNE thrillers, and just about any spy story out there. When faced with creating a new series, I thought what fun it would be to write a spy series, and seriously turn up the sexual heat to scorching levels?and the SHADO Agency was born. My visit this previous summer to the Spy Museum in Washington, D.C. fueled my imagination even more. What an intriguing world of disguise, subterfuge, and danger! There was no way I could resist.
The mission: Seduce…and Eliminate.
Jude St. Laurent is a former assassin for SHADO, a covert homeland security agency. After a mysterious accident causes gaping holes in his memory, he embraces his career as an artist, pouring vibrant, colorful life into his erotic paintings, and he often seeks solace in the arms of his subjects. But when he’s haunted by visions of the past, he turns to his new personal assistant for help—and she knows just how to make him forget.
Lily Vale is not what she seems. An agent as deadly as St. Laurent , she uses sex to manipulate her targets—and always gets her man. When she’s sent on a mission to kill Jude, she’s startled—and aroused—to find that he’s not the monster she expects. As Lily succumbs to Jude’s decadent sexual lifestyle, one wicked sin at a time, she realizes that there’s more to this case than meets the eye—and if she’s going to save them both, she’ll have to found out who’s pulling the strings.
Suz:The book starts off with a bang:
Elbows on the ratty desk, John Sandborn dropped his face into his hands. In the wake of this terrible exercise of connect the dots, he’d be goddamned lucky if he didn’t wind up at the bottom of the Atlantic. In five different oil drums.
Because a traitorous, murdering bastard was coming for him. No doubt about it.
If he had a whisper of a prayer of avoiding a grisly fate, he had to work fast.
Clicking the X in the top right corner of the laptop’s screen, he closed the classified file and opened another. Fingers flying, he activated a program he’d hoped never to use, but was damned glad he’d put into place. Next, he composed a simple coded message a ten-year-old couldn’t decipher, yet not so difficult a trusted operative couldn’t, either.
“Okay . . . got it.” He blew out a deep breath. It wasn’t perfect, but would have to do.
Last, he opened his e-mail and hit Send. He waited, every muscle tense, while the new files, along with the classified one, shot to six different destinations and burrowed into six different hard drives. A high-tech worm that would make any hacker cream in his shorts—and just might save his ass.
Sandborn attacked the keyboard again, clicking rapidly. His instincts screamed Get out, but he didn’t dare leave the last two tasks undone.
Precious seconds were whittled away, scraping his nerves raw, as he accessed the script file he’d written to initiate the virus that would destroy his hard drive. The final box popped onto the screen, and he executed his CTRL+F+U command.
Sandborn gave a grim chuckle at the double entendre in his chosen three-finger salute and wiped the sweat from his brow. Time to make like a ghost.
The door to his motel room burst open, hitting the inside wall like a gunshot. Sandborn spun, the SIG from the desktop already in hand, arm leveling at the leader of the traitor’s cleanup crew.
Too late. A pop split the air, and pain blossomed in his chest. He stumbled backward, managing to get off a shot, the explosion deafening in the tiny space. The leader went down with a grunt as Sandborn trained his gun on the second man, tried to squeeze the trigger. And couldn’t. His arm fell limp and useless to his side.
The second man crossed the room, a smirk on his ugly, pockmarked face. Cold overtook the pain, spreading from Sandborn’s chest to his limbs. Numbing every muscle. Looking down, he stared in fascinated horror at the dart embedded in his left pectoral.
He swayed, speaking quickly. His life depended on it. “Tell your boss I know everything. I put safeguards in place, and he’ll never find them without me,” he rasped, the drug freezing his vocal cords, fast. “If I die . . . the whole world will know . . . what he’s done.”
Sandborn’s legs buckled and he slumped to the floor, completely nerveless. Aware, but paralyzed, along for the ride and at their mercy. A nightmare.
A pair of heavy-soled leather boots appeared in his line of vision as the second man paused, obviously peering at the laptop. “You smart-ass sonofabitch,” Crater Face hissed.
John Sandborn’s last image was a snapshot of the man’s right shitkicker rocketing toward his face.
Suz: WOW! Jude St. Laurent, the hero of I SPY A WICKED SIN, is a very damaged hero. What is it that makes wounded men so sexy and how did you come about giving him the flaws in this story?
Jo:I think there’s something about a tortured or damaged hero that brings out the caring and nurturing side of a woman. At least that’s true for me. I want to fix it, make it all better-but not before he’s put through the wringer. With Jude, I knew from the beginning he was blind and had holes in his memory due to the villain having his mind swept. (Think Bourne Identity) I said to myself, “A blind former assassin/spy? Are you nuts? He’ll be such a difficult hero to write!” But it didn’t matter. Jude was what he was, period. As with all my heroes, once he introduced himself to me, that was it. And on top of memory loss, can you imagine having one of your most relied-upon senses denied you, while becoming increasingly aware that you’re not what you believed and that your life is in terrible danger? The challenge was too much fun to resist.
Suz: In I SPY A WICKED SIN Lily Vale is a very beautiful operative of SHADO. What is her area of expertise?
Jo: Like Jude, Lily is an assassin, and she’s posing as Jude’s new personal assistant. Her job in this case is to locate computer files that Jude hid regarding the theft of a weapon of mass destruction, a theft he was supposedly instrumental in pulling off. Then she’ll eliminate him. Lily uses her sex appeal to bring down her targets in a much more?hands on manner than most agents. In particular, she’s very proficient in using poisons that don’t leave a trace?
Suz: A Jo Davis erotica wouldn’t be complete without a ménage. Liam O’Neil is the third member of this trio. Is he also a spy for SHADO?
Jo: No, our sweet Liam is Jude’s in-house chef, companion, and sometime lover. He’s a young man with a big, open heart and almost stole the story from my clutches before I quite knew what happened. I adore Liam, and completely balked at a suggestion while writing the book that I kill him off! SO not happening! I hope readers love him as much as I do.
Suz: Since I SPY A WICKED SIN is the first of this series, will we be seeing these characters in the other books?
Jo: The two characters that will carry over from the beginning of the three-book series are handsome SHADO leader Michael Ross and the villain, ex-SHADO right-hand man and traitor Robert Dietz. The first two books in the series will have a conclusion, but Michael and Dietz will have their final showdown in the last book. Also, book two will introduce someone very important to Michael’s story.
Suz: And I can’t have Jo Davis in the lair without asking? WHEN will we be seeing the next firefighter book?
Jo: I’m so glad you asked! Tommy Skyler’s story, LINE OF FIRE, will be released on May 4, 2010! The team’s youngest hottie will get his story, and it sets up an explosive plot for the final book, RIDE THE FIRE, Captain Sean Tanner’s story coming in December! In Tommy’s story, lives will be irrevocably changed. Think of these last two books in the series as dominos falling, setting off a chain reaction?
Suz:Jo, thanks for being here today. We love having you with us. Do you have a closing question for our readers?
Jo: Sure do, Which type of action hero is your favorite in books, TV, or movies (cop, firefighter, Navy SEAL/other military, spy, etc.) and who is your favorite action hero of all time?
Jo will be giving away a signed copy of I SPY A WICKED SIN to one of our commeters today!
Suz:MAC DUFF’S SECRET is the third time travel romance you’ve written. What is it about time travel romances that you like?
Sandy: The possibility-the fantasy–of time travel fascinates me and I often find myself wondering how I’d react if thrown back or forward in time.
Would I-or a particular character–be intimidated by the lack of modern conveniences or become inventive in an effort to reestablish creature comforts? (I.e. try to make toilet paper.) Would I be brave enough to confront injustice or those displaying prejudices we now find appalling? If my hero knew from a modern perspective that something terrible was about to happen would he dare try to change history, knowing there’d be a domino effect, that everything-good and bad–from that point forward would also change? If throw forward in time how would I cope with learning everyone I held dear had died in some horrible fashion? These are the things I find myself thinking about when staring at the ceiling at 3:00AM.
Suz: Are there any unique challenges to time travel romances?
Sandy: Yes. The first challenge is crafting a fresh situation in which the possibility of time-travel is in some way believable. (Standing stones and fairy rings have been done repeatedly.)
The second challenge depends on where the protagonist (s) is heading-whether back in time, forward to the present, or into the future. The author may have to “world build” or do in-depth research into a particular time period (s) and in some cases, do both.
The last hurdle is making a protagonist’s reactions to a “new reality” ring true for the reader, which often requires some soul searching on the author’s part.
Suz:MAC DUFF’S SECRET is also your second novella. I think you do these very well. What do you like about writing for anthologies? And what do you see as the unique challenges to writing them?
Sandy: Thank you for the compliment. To be truthful I must admit to having an ambivalent relationship with anthologies. I love getting “the call.” There’s no rejection. The editor has come to me. Yahoo! Better yet, I don’t have to come up with a High Concept. The editor has given it to me. Yahoo x 2! Riding high on these thoughts, I always say, “Yes! I’d love to do a novella for this anthology.”
The minute I hang up the phone that’s when the hate part-the panic–kicks in. My mind starts screeching, “They only want how many pages?!? How can anyone write a story worth reading using so few words? You can’t even say hello in under 50, you idiot! And you promised to deliver in 90 days?! What were you thinking? What?!”
A few glasses of wine later I’ve usually settled down, have a Universal theme and “What if?” scenario in mind, am ready to bounce these off my trusty Cp (Bless you!) and get down to the hard work of making these characters empathetic/believable. And somehow it all comes together on time.
Suz: So, give us a quick peek at MAC DUFF’S SECRET without giving away too much, since it is a novella.
Sandy: Would love to.
“How bad could it be?” That’s all Sarah Colbert thought when she agreed to chaperone her private school’s sixth grade field trip through Edinburgh. She’s about to find out when she and her students find themselves trapped in a Highland glen that time forgot with a battle-scarred warrior they’ll never forget.
Suz: Are you working on anything new that we can look forward to reading?
Sandy: I currently working on three novels; two light-hearted Scotland-set historical Romances and my first historical (biographical) fiction, which is generating loads of personal angst and anticipation. After that, who knows? I may start working on the Gothic Romance I’ve had simmering on the back burner for two years. (He’s delicious…in a dark and brooding sort of way. )
Okay…so weigh in readers…Do you like time travels? What is your favorite part of them? And do you like big anthology books like the Mamoth books?
Sandy will be giving away a copy of her anthology MAC DUFF’S SECERET in THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF TIME TRAVEL ROMANCES to one lucky commentor.
Suz: Jo, welcome back to the Bandit Lair. It’s been a few months since we last looked into the lives of the Station Five fire fighters.
Jo: Hi, Suz and the rest of the Bandits! It’s great to be back!
Suz:HIDDEN FIRE is the third in the series and features one of my favorite crewmembers, Julian Salvatore. Who is the lucky woman to win the heart of this Latin lover?
Jo: When Julian met cool attorney Grace McKenna, Kat’s sister, sparks flew! I couldn’t wait to get these two together.
Suz: We met Grace in TRIAL BY FIRE. Why has it taken so long for Grace and Julian to hook up? What is her reaction to seeing him after all this time?
Jo: Grace wants sexy Julian badly—but she doesn’t want a man she has to “fix.” He’s got a reputation as a ladies’ man who won’t settle down and she doesn’t need that in her life. Still, there’s a vulnerability in him that calls to her and she knows there’s more to him than meets the eye. He’s like a drug she can’t resist…
Grace McKenna, after months of turning down Julian Salvatore for a date, has just decided to accept when she learns he was injured on the job and hurries over to see him…
Grace turned into Julian’s complex and located the correct building with little difficulty. The buildings were set back in the trees, older and not as fancy as her own, but very well-sculpted, trimmed and neat. Parking a couple of spots down from his lower-level unit, she hoped she wasn’t taking up anyone’s assigned space. Maybe she should move.
“Quit stalling,” she muttered to herself, grabbing her purse. What’s the worst he could do, shut the door in her face? Wasn’t as though it hadn’t happened before, though with clients and witnesses, never with friends or lovers.
What am I doing here? They had nothing at all in common.
Save for one lovely kiss on a beautiful fall night, months ago.
Even so, she found herself knocking on his door, fidgeting with her purse strap, breathless with anticipation like a silly fifteen-year-old girl. The seconds crawled, became a minute and more as she bounced between concern and the urge to flee. Glancing at the cars parked in the closest spots, she realized she didn’t know what he drove. Had he made it home yet? What if he was inside, sick or unconscious because he’d left the hospital too soon—
Then the lock scraped and the door opened to reveal Julian standing on the threshold, gaping at her, scratched, bruised, rumpled.
The man was just over six glorious feet of taut, tanned skin stretched over cords of lean muscle. Her gaze slid down his strong throat to the beautiful gold cross resting on his smooth chest, to the dark, pebbled male nipples, to the impressive ridges of his abdomen, south to the drawstring cotton sleep pants hanging way low–holy shit, no underwear–on slim hips that she’d bet her life savings could make a woman scream when in full Elvis rotation.
“You want to talk to me, my face is up here, querida,” he said in amusement, his accented voice husky, smooth as hot butter. “Unless it’s not conversation you have in mind?”
Suz: WOW! Like I said, Jules is one of my favorite heroes in this series. So how does he react to getting a second chance with Grace?
Jo: Once she shows the slightest inclination toward giving in to his seduction, the gloves are off. Julian will stop at nothing to win her permanently. The trick is to convince her that he’s serious and doesn’t see her as another notch on his bedpost and show her he can be a real partner. One who will help her achieve her dreams and not hold her back.
Julian turns up the heat, then proves he’s a complete gentleman…
“Wasn’t that good for you?”
She blinked into his earnest eyes, covering her confused thoughts. “Are you kidding? I think I disintegrated.”
“Ah,” he said, a satisfied grin curing his lips. “Success, then.”
“Oh, yes.” She smiled, smoothing his hair out of his face. “In spades. But what about you? I’d like to return the favor.”
An odd expression flickered across his face, and was gone. “I’m good, bella. That was for you,” he said softly. “Because I wanted to, not because I expected anything in return.”
“Shh, no worries.” Reaching down, he fished around for something, then handed over her shirt.
She took it from him and pulled it on, more confused than ever. Since when did a lover not expect his attentions to be reciprocated? The idea caused a warm flutter in her middle.
Why did Julian have to be so damned gallant?
Nothing about the man was what she’d expected so far. Quite the contrary. She’d never felt so off-balance around a man, and wasn’t sure she liked it.
She pulled on her jeans as well, at a loss as to what to do or say next. My God, what a fabulous orgasm! More coffee?
“Thank you.” Feeling ridiculous, she crossed her arms, watching as he stood, smiling. “For you, anything.”
“You really mean that, don’t you?”
His smile softened, his dark eyes warm as he laid his palms on her shoulders. “I never say anything I don’t mean.”
“No man has ever put my wishes first,” she said, and felt a blush stain her face. What on earth made her admit that to him?
“I’ll always put you first, Grace. No matter where our relationship goes.”
Suz: Fanning myself here. Uhm…where were we…oh yeah, In the Station Five Firefighter series, you always give us a suspenseful, as well as sexy, plot line. Can you tell us a bit about the suspense plot and how you came up with the idea?
Jo: From the beginning of the series, I knew Julian harbored a terrible and shameful (to him) secret. While researching serial killers, I read in one of my research books that it’s not uncommon for serial killers to work as a team. I thought of the countless victims in history of our most infamous killers and thought to myself, “What if very early on, one victim got away? What if he never realized how close he came to death?” I knew then I had my suspense story.
Suz: Can you give us any hints about what else happens in HIDDEN FIRE?
Jo: Hmm, shall I tease you a bit? In this book, Julian reveals that his narcotics officer brother, Tonio, would like to move to Sugarland and join the police department. Readers might recall a mention of Tonio from TRIAL BY FIRE. Also, look for a town favorite to play a bigger role in HIDDEN FIRE and even bigger role yet in LINE OF FIRE coming out on May 4, 2010. Could this favorite hottie spin us into a new series? We’ll see…
Suz: What’s next for the Station Five A team?
Jo:HIDDEN FIRE marks a turning point in Captain Sean Tanner’s battle against alcohol and consuming grief that will carry over into LINE OF FIRE and result in disastrous consequences for one of the A-shift team. Each of their lives will be altered irrevocably. That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it!
***Suddenly the door to the bar opens. And what do my wondering and rather lusty-filled eyes see? Oh yeah, the sexy latin lover in jeans and tight black t-shirt, strutting right over to the booth Jo and I are sharing. With a quick kiss to each of our cheeks, he slides in beside Jo (I am SOOO jealouse!) and asks if we’re talking with the Banditas again. When we answer yes, that devilish look fills his eyes and he leans closer to talk into the mike…***
Julian Salvatore: Lovely ladies, are you having a good time? I’d like to ask…what is your idea of the perfect way to win a woman’s heart? I need some help in this area and I’d love to know!
Jo is also starting a 3-book erotica suspense story in the spring for those of you interested in pre-orders. This is a trilogy involving a super secret spy organization that officially doesn’t exist, but fights homeland terrorists. The first book is titled, I SPY A WICKED SIN. No firefighters, dear readers, but oh is it hot!!
And Jo is giving away a signed copy of HIDDEN FIRE to one lucky commentor.
The Bandits are welcoming Romantic Suspense author, Jo Davis back into the Lair, but this time to talk about her debut release, an Erotic Suspense from NAL Heat. So grab a pillow, make yourself comfortable and find out what’s got Jo, and probably us when we read her newest book, all hot and bothered!
Suz: Hey Jo, welcome back to the Lair. WHEN ALEX WAS BAD is your first erotica for NAL Heat. Can you fill us in on all the juicy details?uh, the non-X rated ones?about the plot?
Jo: Thanks, Suz and the Bandits for having me back. ALEX explores a couple’s desperation to revive their dying marriage. How many of us have been married 15-20 years and suddenly find we no longer know the person we love? That we feel unwanted and undesirable? In that situation, how far would you go to save your marriage? ALEX takes that premise and pushes the boundaries to a solution most of us would never entertain-to agree to an open marriage in order to revive our passion.
Suz: We’ve been friends for years and I’m always amazed how your mind works. How did you come up with the premise for WHEN ALEX WAS BAD
Jo: Believe it or not, ALEX began as a personal writing exercise as a way for me to work on something besides my contracted books, to loosen up and keep the creative juices flowing, so to speak. Nobody was ever supposed to see it-but then my editor asked for erotica from me, I sent in the first chapters, and the rest is history. I took the premise mentioned above and played the “what if” game. What if a woman pushed the envelope to regain her lonely husband’s passion? What if the plan worked a little too well? What if things weren’t exactly as they seemed, putting everyone in danger? I took this and ran with it, and the story exploded to life.
Suz: Not all women would use such a unique way to save their marriage, why do you think Olivia came up with her plan?
Jo: Olivia saw firsthand, painful evidence that she was about to lose her husband to a younger woman. A woman who would make Alex feel wanted and sexy again, one who wouldn’t leave him alone and longing for companionship each night while Liv runs her upscale restaurant. Rather than throw in the towel, she gets creative. Why not indulge in the fantasies she and Alex used to entertain together? Liv has a lot to lose, but even more to gain.
Suz: What erotic elements did you choose to use in WHEN ALEX WAS BAD
Jo: It might be easier to list which elements I didn’t use! In a word, you won’t find the flavor vanilla anywhere in this story. There are multiple partners, BDSM, and male/male elements, though none of these encounters are gratuitous. Each one serves a specific purpose in pushing psychological as well as physical boundaries, propelling Alex and Olivia’s metamorphosis as a couple, and cementing their relationship with their lover, Jason.
Suz: This isn’t just an ordinary erotica with lots of unique sexual experiences. You’ve woven in an intriguing suspense plot, too. Why did you do that, and did you find it difficult balancing that plot and the sex angle?
Jo: Weaving suspense into my plots, no matter the level of sexual content, is natural for me. As an author, it’s hard for me to think in terms of a storyline with no twist, no bad guys to defeat. So no, that part wasn’t difficult. However, with this story I did pull the suspense forward more when the book was optioned with Mandalay Pictures. I found myself in the unique position of selling ALEX to NAL on proposal-and going book to film with Mandalay as well, only one week after the book sold to my publisher. Yes, you read that right. ALEX was optioned on proposal as a major motion picture. I had the mind-blowing opportunity to write an erotic suspense from scratch along the lines of BASIC INSTINCT for the big screen as well as for my readers. No pressure, right?
Suz: What do you see as the difference between super sexy romances and erotic romances?
Jo: To me, the difference between super sexy and erotic romance is in the author’s handling of 1) the psychological mindset of the sexual situation(s) and/or 2) inclusion of alternative lifestyles. (GLBT, multiple partners, etc.) The author knows what she/he is delivering and the readers know what they’re getting when they choose the book, so I have never understood why some find “erotic” so difficult to define. It’s not rocket science, ya know?
Suz: As you mentioned before, WHEN ALEX WAS BAD has been optioned for a movie. What was it like going through that process? Can you tell us any details?
Jo: As I said, ALEX was optioned by Mandalay Pictures last year right after I sold the book. What some may not know is that the acquiring producer is Mandalay President Cathy Schulman, who won the Best Picture Oscar for Crash in 2006. The film is in development now, and the screenwriter is at work on the screenplay. Being optioned, especially by a producer of her stature, is right up there as one of the most thrilling experiences of my life. I got to speak with Cathy and Executive Vice-President David Zelon (CABLE GUY, THE NET, SLEEPY HOLLOW, I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER, just to scratch the surface) on the phone in a long-distance conference, along with my agent and my book-to-film agent. The conversation was so surreal, words can’t describe my emotions.
The writing process to complete this book was, as you might imagine, the most stressful project I’ve ever undertaken. Isn’t it every writer’s fantasy to capture your publisher and Hollywood in the same week, based on nothing more than premise? Oh, yes, without a doubt. Then you have to pull off a fantastic story, with important people on both the east and west coasts waiting to see what you produce. Not a picnic, folks. But very, very rewarding in the end.
Suz, with a mischevious grin: Big what if. IF you could cast the movie yourself, who would you put in the three major roles?
Jo: Ooh, this is fun! To play Alex, I’d have to go with Mark Wahlberg, hands down. I just love that talented man, and he’s perfect for my handsome, just-turned-40 attorney hero. Angelina Jolie would be my choice for Olivia, all sultry beauty and grace. To play Jason Strickland, our hot young hero who joins Alex and Liv? Hmm. I have to admit I’m not sure who I’d go with for that part. After my readers have devoured ALEX, I’d love to hear some opinions on who could play Jason!
Suz: So what other Heat books do you have planned?
Jo: In February 2010, I’m launching the SHADO Agency series, starting with I SPY A WICKED SIN. Think of this series as BOURNE IDENTITY meets JAMES BOND and goes erotic! My spies are sexy, uninhibited, and will do anything to get their man-or woman. The first book in the series features a blind hero, Jude St. Laurent, who does not remember his life as an assassin for SHADO?and has no clue that the tempting Lily Vale has been sent to make sure he never does.
Suz: Any news about the Station Five Firefighters you’d like to tease our readers with?
Jo: I thought you’d never ask! Julian’s gripping story, HIDDEN FIRE, will be released on December 1, 2009. In this installment, Sean Tanner’s arc will be furthered, and readers will get a hint that someone new might come to town in the future. In 2010, Tommy Skyler’s story, LINE OF FIRE, will be released in June, and finally, RIDE THE FIRE, Sean’s story, will be released in December! In 2010, one of our beloved Station Five heroes will see the tragic end of his firefighting career and nope, I’m not telling who! Also, look for one of your favorite Sugarland men to take on a larger role in the action. Will he eventually get his own story? That remains to be seen?
Suz: So Jo is going to give away a signed copy of WHEN ALEX WAS BAD to one lucky commentor. Given what you know of the story, who would you cast in the movie version? And have you ever taken drastic measures to solve a problem? Did it turn out as you expected?
by Suzanne A very good friend of the Bandits, NYT Bestselling author, Lorraine Heath, is joining us in the Lair once again. Excuse me while I pull the cork on this bottle of Chardonay. (pop) So y’all pull up a chair and join us for some conversation about Dukes, Scoundrels and Werewolves!
Suz, handing Lorraine a glass of wine, then stretching out on the chaise: Welcome, Lorraine! The Bandits and our buddies are so glad to have you with us again. It’s always a grand day in the Lair when you’re visiting. SURRENDER TO THE DEVIL is the third book in the Scoundrel’s of St. James series. Can you tell us about the book?
Lorraine: SURRENDER TO THE DEVIL is the story of Frannie Darling, a child of the streets. She is now a bookkeeper at Dodger’s Drawing Room, one of the more exclusive gentlemen’s clubs in London in 1851. When her best friend Luke marries Lady Catherine, Frannie meets the Duke of Greystone. Greystone immediately wants Frannie in his bed, but she has little tolerance for the idle and self-centered. She is far too busy gathering orphans from the streets. But when danger lurks, Greystone will be the man she turns to.
Suz: Was Frannie Darling based on a specific character in Oliver Twist, like Luke and Jack Dodger were?
Lorraine: Not really. At one point, I thought maybe she was based on Nancy, but I think she was simply herself.
Suz: How does her childhood as one of Feagan’s kids affect her life as a grown woman?
Lorraine: She’s always mothered Feagan’s lads. They’ve always watched out for her. But as a woman she wants to stand on her own, make her own way, do things her own way. When she begins to search for orphans, she runs amuck of Bob Sykes (yes, he’s based on Bill Sikes). She tries to handle him on her own, without involving Feagan’s lads—and that, of course, simply leads to more trouble. Suz: Sterling Mabry, Lord Greystone is the hero of SURRENDER TO THE DEVIL. Have we met him before?
Lorraine: You caught a glimpse of him in IN BED WITH THE DEVIL. He’s Catherine’s brother who arrived from his world travels shortly after her father died.
Suz: Frannie wants nothing to do with the Lords and Ladies of London Society, while Sterling sees no need to help the poorer members of society? What do you see as the turning point in their relationship?
Lorraine: I think the turning point in their relationship came about when Jimmy came into their lives. Because he was such a slender-framed boy, he assisted Sykes in burglarizing homes and as fate would have it, one of those homes was Greystone’s—and the lad’s luck ran out. He was caught. But rather than send ’round for a constable, Greystone sent for Frannie in an effort to bring her back into his life. Jimmy allowed Greystone to understand more clearly what life was like for the children on the street who Frannie wanted to save and Jimmy allowed Frannie to see a very tender side of Greystone as he befriended the lad.
Suz: How do Feagan’s lads come to play in this story?
Lorraine: They do what they’ve always done: work to protect Frannie from hurt and in so doing, they smother her. Luke explains to Greystone how protective they are of Frannie: “So yes, the four of us circle around her the way one might an injured butterfly, never touching it for fear of damaging it more, forever hoping that a day will come when it will again fly.”
To which Greystone replies: “In my world travels, I saw a good many varieties of butterflies. They’re incredibly delicate creatures, but they shouldn’t be underestimated. Observing them as I did, I learned a valuable lesson. Sometimes if you surround a butterfly too closely, it couldn’t fly if it wanted to.”
He believes she’s stronger than they give her credit for being. As he’s drawn into her dangerous world, he begins to admire her courage and determination even more.
Suz: We’re going to switch gears now. I don’t know if many of our readers know this, but you are not only a NYT bestselling romance author, but you also write YA stories under the name Rachel Hawthorne. You’ve recently started a new YA series about teenage werewolves, which you are very excited about. Care to tell us about this project?
Lorraine, with a twinkle of mischief in her eyes: Would love to! The Dark Guardian series is about a group of werewolves (or Shifters as they refer to themselves) who live in a national forest. The teens of the group serve as guides—or sherpas—to ensure that no campers stumble across their village. I got the idea after watching a special on TV about the sherpa program in Glacier National Park. Each summer, college students work there hauling equipment for campers. And I thought, “What if they were werewolves?”
Suz: MOONLIGHT is already out, FULL MOON is coming out later this month, and DARK of the MOON debuts in August. Was it hard building a new parallel world for these books? Do you see the series continuing or is it only to span the 3-books?
Lorraine: The idea for the werewolf sherpas was just a shadowy concept when I sent my editor the storyline for a book. She wanted that story and 2 more with an overriding arc that connected all 3. Coming up with the mythos was a challenge. I’m not even sure I was totally comfortable with the world I’d created until the 3rd book. But then it was also the book that ended the threat they faced and so all the loose ends were tied up, whereas with 1 and 2 I was trying to determine which questions to leave unanswered.
I would love for the series to continue, but presently I don’t have a contract to write more.
Suz: So, tell us what’s next for your historical series?
Lorraine: Midnight Pleasures with a Scoundrel will be out Nov. 1. This is James Swindler’s story. Scotland Yard has charged him with determining why a certain young lady—Eleanor Watkins—is following the Marquess of Rockberry. It has quite a few fun twists and turns.
And now to segue into something that has nothing to do with MY books – I recently worked to arrange my bookshelves in some sort of order, putting all my keepers on one 1 shelf and all my to be read on another (and okay, the TBR take up way more than a shelf so I now have a “top shelf” TBR stack which are books that I dearly want to read before the year is out). Obviously I buy way more books than I’ll ever read. How do you keep chaos off your bookshelves? Or do you? Should you? How do you decide which book to read next when there are so many wonderful books out there?
And to add to the chaos of your bookshelves, we’ll draw three lucky winners from among the posters today and they can select one of the Scoundrels of St. James books or one of the Dark Guardian books as their prize. If the book hasn’t yet been released, it’ll be sent as soon as it’s available.
Disclaimer: Our guests run the gamut from personal friends, to interesting authors who've asked to appear, to authors whose books we love. We have not always read our guests' books before hosting them here. Some of them provide us with free books though most do not. We do receive a commission from Amazon for every book purchased through links on our site. For purposes of making purchasing decisions, visitors should assume the bandit sponsoring the guest has a personal connection of some kind to her guest and may have received a free copy of the guest's book.