Lindsay McKenna joins us to share her book Down Range!
Who is Captain Morgan Boland and what makes her a great heroine?
DANGER CLOSE, HQN, September 2013, is the foundation book for the Shadow Warriors series. It is available in ebook format only.
In DOWN RANGE, US Marine Captain Morgan Boland, is the daughter of the hero and heroine of DANGER CLOSE, Corporal Cathy Fremont and US Marine Captain Jim Boland. Morgan comes from a military family, has the confidence, passion and focus to go after what she knows she’s good at. In this case, being one of the first women to go through Marine Corps sniper school and graduated from his vaunted military institution. She’s a role model for women who know they’re good in combat situations, has the balance of personality, leadership skills and courage it takes to do the job and do it right. Many males don’t realize some of the strengths of women in general. One of them being of a team work frame of mind. And in the black ops world, team work is the most important component of a successful team out in the field. I believe readers will find her sympathetic, but also extruding a woman’s internal strength that gives her more to pull from during a crisis than a man.
Who is her hero?
He is US Navy First Lieutenant, Jake Ramsey. Despite a damaging childhood, his father being a Navy SEAL, Jake being left to take care of his ailing mother as he grew up, he’s open to change even if he’s dragged kicking and screaming to the precipice of it. Jake grew up nearly fatherless because he was always away in combat situations. He became the man of the house as a young child, as a result. When his mother becomes chronically ill when he’s ten years old, Jake’s view on women changes. After being a care giver to his mother who contracted multiple sclerosis and steadily got weaker until she died when he was eighteen, his perspective on women is set. He goes to US Naval academy at eighteen knowing women are weak in comparison to a man. But when he meets red-headed, fiery Morgan Boland at the Academy, he’s drawn powerfully to her, but he can’t reconcile the fact she’s vibrant, strong and as good or better than the men in just about every way. They start a love-affair there, but things deteriorate over several misunderstandings and they part. Years later, they meet accidentally in Afghanistan and have a torrid three day affair, drawn inexorably to one another. Yet, out of bed, Jake just can’t get rid of his reality that women are weak. And Morgan will have none of that and they split up once again. The book opens two years after this point. They’re about to be thrown together on a top secret op that pairs them as snipers going after a high value target, an opium drug lord, in Afghanistan. And now, they HAVE to get along. And they have to ignore their combustible sexual chemistry between them in order to get the op completed.
What inspired you to write the Shadow Warriors Series?
The military know that women are better marksmen than a man is. Women also have more powerful legs than a man. Their weakness is upper body strength, but that can be corrected through exercise. It took three years of reading black ops books written by the operators themselves, taking notes, collating the psychological patterns that they learn and accrue through constant training, to grasp their mindset.
Later, after I’d written DOWN RANGE, I went in search of a SEAL who would help me with some technical details in the book I simply couldn’t find anywhere else. I read Chief Michael Jaco’s book, The Intuitive Warrior (www.michaeljaco.com) and decided to email him from his website. I sent it to him, telling him who I was (and yes, I was a romance writer), that I needed some unclassified answers to questions I had. A year passed and no reply, so I figured he didn’t want to deal with me because I’m more or less media. And black ops types avoid media, reporters and yes, writers, like the Plague.
One day, Tracy Jo Jaco, his wife, called me out of the blue. She said, “Let’s get together for lunch.” I agreed. What is funny about this is that they live in Sedona. And I live eight miles south of that town. They were there all that time, under my nose, and I didn’t know it. I prepared a list of 66 questions for Chief Jaco. When we met for lunch, we hit it off right away. We were both Navy. I’m sure the fact I was a military vet swayed his initial opinion of me. Military vets have an unbreakable bond with one another, regardless of gender. I showed him my questions. If he thought I was “fluff” he learned I was not. My questions were detailed and I knew my business and I also knew enough about weapons and medical, that it impressed him enough to grant me a four hour interview with him based upon my questions. He answered every single one of them.
I then asked him if he would read DOWN RANGE to vet it, to make sure it was accurate. He said yes. Chief Jaco came back about four days later and said he was very taken by my book. So much so, that he wrote a Dear Reader letter to it and also supplied a back cover quote for it. There has never been a SEAL give a book quote, much less an emotional, heart-felt letter, in any romance book that I know of. He found two technical errors in the book (I thought he was going to find a lot more) and I corrected those.
Developing Shadow Warriors books then, is going to be stories involving military men and women in combat situations. Or, it will deal with them outside the military world and instead, be in a security contract work environment. The stories will occur around the world, not just in a particular war zone. The freshness of this approach is that readers are going to get to see how a woman deals with the stresses and pressures of combat and/or life/death situations. Because our reactions ARE different than how a man copes and processes these events. Also, how male operator deals with a female operator in a combat environment, because that is very different, too. There’s a lot of rich, gritty psychological and emotional ground to plow here: how combat changes a person, their perspective and ultimately, how it changes their lives. These books are first, going to be fierce, powerful love stories, woven in with seat-of-the-pants suspense and action. It’s going to be about the wounds the characters bring from their childhood, the wounds created out of combat situations and how the characters not only cope, but deal with the issues as adults and with one another. These books are going to be an intense emotional ride for the reader.
How many books do you have planned?
I have eleven books planned so far and if the readers like the series, it will be ongoing. I created Morgan’s Mercenaries series in 1999 and it’s still going strong to this day with 45 books created thus far. The first Shadow Warrior books, DANGER CLOSE, HQN, September, 2013, is the foundation book. It is available from Harlequin as Ebook only. DOWN RANGE, HQN, December , 2013 (paperback and ebook) is book 2 and Morgan Boland’s story.
I then have BREAKING POINT, HQN, May 2014 (book 3) and NO SURRENDER, HQN, July 2014 (book 4) and these are sequels involving Navy SEAL Gabe Griffin and Navy combat medic, Bay Thorn. There will be two books via HQN every year on the Shadow Warriors series. I’m very excited about the series because as a Navy military veteran, I like to write what I know. I believe the books come more alive, are more authentic as a result.
What's next in your writing career?
I’ll be writing four books a year for Harlequin HQN. Two will be Shadow Warriors series and two will be from my popular Wyoming series. I think writing four 100,000 word books a year is enough to balance now and in the future.
On September 16, 2013, nine books that I had written under other pseudonyms (Beth Brookes and Eileen Nauman) were bought by Harlequin. They all become available as ebooks. Some have had title changes, so readers should drop by my website, www.lindsaymckenna.com because we’ve done a complete upgrade. Those books are now on my BOOKLIST and with their old title and new title name so readers aren’t confused. I’ve now got ALL my 100+ books put into the series they belong, as well as the order they should be read. Even more fun, I am putting back cover copy on each book along with “Author’s Comment,” about the book....little known things, behind-the-scenes, about it and how it came to be created. I know my readers appreciate all of this. I also intend, over time, to add OTHER, which will be photos of me out in the field researching books, other stories or juicy details that no one knows about--but it will be bared on my website.
In 2014, Harlequin is turning the earliest thirty books written by me at the start of my writing career back in 1981, into ebooks. I’m very excited to get them available once more to my readers who are clamoring for them.
As a reader: Do you gravitate toward buying eBook or Print?
I like both forms and formats. I enjoy holding a paperback. But I love carrying my Apple iPad with me on trips because it’s easy to pack and I can have lots of books on it to while away the time in airports and on flights. Being a Gemini, I like two of everything and I’m very flexible, so both forms suit me just fine.