To get us started can you please start by telling us a little about what you are working on or have coming out?
Thanks for having me at Night Owl Romance, one of my favorite places to virtually hang out. These days I'm writing my Sweet Justice series for Avon HarperCollins. These thrillers will focus on the lives and loves of three women-a bounty hunter operating outside the law, an ambitious vice cop, and a former international operative with a mysterious past. These women give Lady Justice a whole new reason to wear blinders. And their brand of justice is anything but sweet.
Who or what influenced you when you wrote this book? Did you have a CD, Songs, environment, etc?
Since I write thrillers, my book inspirations come from real headlines. They say that the only difference between fiction and reality is that fiction has to make sense. And I've certainly found that to be true. So to answer your question, my EVIL book came from a real crime.
Imagine the horror of going to your teenager's bedroom one morning only to find her missing. Her bed hadn't been slept in and her clothes are gone. In 2000, that's what one mother in Florida faced. Her only child had conspired against her and ran away. And worse, she later discovered that her daughter had left the country-without having a passport. From the moment I read this news story, I was hooked and had to know more about how such an atrocity could happen. The teen's trail might have gone ice cold, but her mother pushed authorities in a direction. She knew where to start looking. And with my research, I uncovered an interesting case with a meaty background and a faceless new kind of criminal conspiracy that I set it in Alaska where I had lived for ten years.
Can you please give us a sneak peek into the book?
In EVIL WITHOUT A FACE, an illusive web of imposters on the Internet lures a deluded teen from her Alaskan home and launches a chain reaction collision course with an unlikely tangle of heroes who uncover a terrifying global conspiracy. They're battling a new kind of criminal. And soon their race for answers will become a dangerous struggle for survival.
That's a short synopsis of EVIL, but the book has come to mean more to me than the plot. My bounty hunter Jessie tapped into vulnerable soft spots in me and when I read early excerpts to my mother, I found myself crying. Something within the character of Jessie really triggers the emotion in me. That's why I love her so much. I hope you'll show her some love too. And her sidekick computer genius Seth Harper was a real surprise to me. What a joy to find such a mysterious and quirky guy lurking in my head! I posted digital images that I used for the characters in EVIL. Come check out the Story Behind the Story and see what I mean about the yummie Seth Harper.
Please tell us what you have planned next?
Currently, I'm writing the 3rd book in the Sweet Justice series. No title yet. And book #2-THE WRONG SIDE OF DEAD-is next and will be released in Fall 2009. The book gives answers to the mysteries presented in EVIL (especially where Seth Harper is concerned) and it gives readers more of a foundation into my characters' backgrounds and what the future might hold for them. I didn't want the series to have more questions than answers (like the TV show LOST). I hope you'll find real substance with each book. Here's a sneak peek at the synopsis brief for book #2.
In THE WRONG SIDE OF DEAD, the mysterious computer wizard Seth Harper is framed for a heinous murder and becomes a sacrificial lamb to a ruthless killer. And between his gaps in memory and reluctance to reveal his secrets, fugitive recovery agent Jessica Beckett, vice cop Sam Cooper and international operative Alexa Marlowe have an uphill battle to help the boy genius. But Harper's plight is not what it seems. And with one fatal mistake, more innocent lives could wind up on the wrong side of dead.
What kind of research did you do for EVIL WITHOUT A FACE? Did you enjoy the research process?
With any book, you can do some research ahead of time and other things come up through the writing process. A writer is very inquisitive. I may do lots of research for a single line of prose or not use the research at all. Mostly, I like my plots plausible and the actions of my characters well motivated.
In advance, I did research on the real crime that inspired my story. The details behind that Florida case in 2000 were fascinating. From Greece, this cagey online predator manipulated law-abiding adults in the U.S. In this case, the girl's abduction took place prior to 9/11 when travel regulations for under-aged kids might have been more lax. But after checking with current airport security (in practice, not on paper), it would not be inconceivable that such a crime could happen again. Domestically, teens travel without official ID and parents don't see a problem with this-until something happens.
I also used to live in Alaska so I had a pretty good idea where I wanted to base the story. But in 2007, I traveled back to Anchorage for a mystery conference and drove to Talkeetna. I took photos that you'll see on my Story Behind the Story page for EVIL. It was fun to see old friends too. And I also researched areas of Russia for this story. And no, I couldn't see Russia from my house when I lived there.
What was your typical writing day like?
I have no typical day. That would require organization.and perhaps plotting. (cringe) My husband has new work hours so you might find me up at 5:00 AM writing in the morning, then handling the business promo by afternoon. When he comes home in the afternoon, we usually do something together and catch up or go to a movie. He's kind of cool to hang around with.
If you could be one of the characters from this series - Who would you be? And why?
I'm particularly fond of the main character in EVIL WITHOUT A FACE, my Fugitive Recovery Agent Jessica Beckett. She's scarred both physically and mentally by her past, yet her inner strength is so resilient. Her scars are the imperfections in us all. But one of her most endearing traits is that she's a real smart-ass. Normally, I fall in love with my male characters, but this woman has stolen my heart on so many levels. This new series electrifies me.
Did you have writer's block? If so, how do you break free?
I don't believe in writer's block. Therefore it must not exist. (grin) But seriously, I consider any stall tactic an excuse for my mind to reconsider the scene or plot that I am creating. And I trust my instincts. So when I slow down or stop writing, it's generally because I don't like wasting my time writing something I will delete later. I let my mind work through the problem, then go back to my writing once I have a plan. The last time I did this, I took two days off and at one point, found myself watching an old Christian Slater movie on skateboarding called, Gleaning the Cube. Pretty awful movie, but my mind was still working the problem and I came up with a solution from that damned movie. I was subconsciously plotting in my head. That's where the trust comes in. But I am seriously thinking about putting on a writer's plotting workshop called - The Six Degrees of Christian Slater.
Did you outline this book or just start writing?
I don't plot. I just write. I see the story unfolding like I would a movie in my head. And I love complicated plots. I usually write more than one going on. In EVIL, there are 5 major story arcs going on with the different characters and there are also many, many secondary characters. But what a rush to pull all that together.
For those writers needing structure, I have a FOR WRITERS page on my website with an article posted on the 9-Act Structure for screenplays and other craft posts. I once studied this structure and firmly believe that your mind absorbs such material to be used later. This type of plot structure is also used in today's blockbuster movies. Check it out and you'll never see another blockbuster movie without visualizing the structure behind it. It's very similar to the Hero's Journey.
Is there anything else you would like to share with readers?
Growing up, I spent many hours in the library exercising my imagination, contrary to what my mother might tell you. I became an avid reader and developed a real addiction to the smell and feel of books. And now in tough economic times, the escapism of reading has become an inexpensive way to travel to exciting locales in the company of spies and femme fatales on high stakes missions to save the world. It sure beats hitting Disney for the tenth time with Uncle Mort dressed in plaid shorts and dark socks. Think about it and buy a good paperback book. You won't regret it.