by Gwenan Haines
GENRE: Romantic suspense
For three years Laura Drake has watched Senator Pete Worthington promote a series of gorgeous women while she sits in a forgotten corner answering constituent letters on an outdated computer. When Worthington asks her to find an elusive file one Friday night he sets off a series of events that brands her as a killer and puts her life in jeopardy. The path she sets out on forces her to confront not only the nature of evil but the ghosts from her past that have never been set to rest.FBI Agent Dalton Ross transferred from Chicago to Washington to escape his own ghosts. When his investigation leads him to Laura he’s torn between his desire to keep her safe and the need to protect his own heart. As the mystery that surrounds them deepens, Laura and Dalton race to save themselves and the nation from someone willing to sacrifice anything to protect a secret.
Dalton checked his gun and opened the driver’s side door as quietly as possible. “Appearances can be deceiving.”
She opened her door too. “You leave me here, I’m gone when you get back.” She flashed an object in front of his face. “And I’ve got the key.”
“Do you have a death wish or something?” How had she managed to get hold of the key? He was sure he’d put it in his wallet, which was tucked away in the glove compartment. He would have remembered it if she’d opened it. “I thought you said you were dull.”
“I am.” She deposited the key down the front of her dress. “But I’m kinda getting the hang of this adventure thing.” A grin tugged at the corner of his mouth, but he suppressed it. She was charming, no doubt about that. And damn mysterious, too. As she stood there smiling with cat-like satisfaction, he had to resist the urge to take her in his arms and kiss her. Just the idea of pressing his lips to hers was making him hard. The trouble was Laura had no idea what she was up against. She thought of all this as an exciting change from her ordinary life. But this was real life, and real life was full of people whose sole purpose was to inflict as much pain as they possibly could. It was all too easy to go about one’s business without ever seeing the dark side of things—he’d done it for years, and in a way, he wished he could go back to being that twenty-year-old kid who signed up for an interview with the FBI mostly to impress his buddies. But after more than a decade spent hunting killers he knew that like all fairy-tales, the happily-ever-after of suburbia had its monsters.
In real life, people died.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
I live in an old Cape house with my daughter, too many books, and a red-and-white Siberian husky born on Halloween. After working in Washington, D.C. for several years and traveling to Russia, Europe and Pakistan, I moved back to New England. I’m the author of the romantic suspense novel Vertigo, which is available as an E-book from Amazon Encore and in paperback from Wild Rose Press. Collateral Risk, the follow-up novel to Collateral Damage (which features Dalton’s boss Nick Doyle and scientist Mia Lindgren), is forthcoming from Wild Rose Press. When I’m not working on fiction, I write poetry, teach literature and am still trying to learn how to cook.
Gwenan was kind enough to agree to answer a few questions today on her writing process:
What do you think is the best way to publish these days?
I’m not sure, to be honest, but I think the hybrid model has a lot going for it. I would not want to give up working with an editor but I also love the idea of having full control over my work. I know a lot of writers these days hire their own editors, but I’m not at the point where I can afford the prices some of them are asking. I’m working with my editor Ally Robertson at Wild Rose Press on book three and have learned a lot from her. I also love TWRP for the fast responses and professionalism. I couldn’t have asked for a better publisher to introduce my work in the romantic suspense genre.
But I also think self-publishing can be a great thing. If your novel doesn’t quite fit into the guidelines for “romance” or “suspense,” or any other genre for that matter, you can indie publish it. I was at the Wesleyan Writers Conference last year and one of the agents I met mentioned that Lisa Genova’s powerful novel Still Alice was rejected more than 100 times before it took off as an indie bestseller. Everyone who initially evaluated it thought no one would want to read about a woman with Alzheimer’s. That’s a great example of the way indie publishing has given both writers and readers more say in the publishing process. Self-publishing gave the book a life and an exposure that opened a path to traditional publishing (I haven’t seen the movie yet, but have heard it’s very good). That said, I’m not sure traditional publishing should always be the end goal. I’ve heard of many fine writers turning down traditional publishers and I admire them.
What are your favorite genres to read? Why?
I love all genres, but my favorite is suspense. Or a good English mystery. I’m also a sucker for a good ghost story or something based on the paranormal. I’ve even gone on a few ghost hunts myself.
Do your characters talk to you?
Yes. I always thought it was weird until I started meeting more writers. I remember saying something to my brother about sometimes having trouble sorting out the imaginary conversations from the real ones. He stared at me like I was nuts and he’d never fully realized it until that moment.
How do you approach starting a new book?
Usually it starts with an idea, something that gets the plot going. Collateral Risk, the last book I wrote, started with character. That book is a follow-up to Collateral Damage and a few of the characters are the same, though none of them except Dalton’s boss Nick Doyle has a big role. I liked starting with Nick and developing his character then adding in plot.
I also felt a strong connection to Blake Cartwright, the main character in my first novel Vertigo (which, by the way, is available this month for 99 cents through Amazon Encore. Here’s a link: http://www.amazon.com/Vertigo-Gwenan-Haines-ebook/dp/B013CSM55O/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8). Blake is coming up on thirty and is grappling with a lot of issues I think we all face when we leave our twenties. She’s put having a family on the back burner to succeed in her career and she’s grappling with that choice. Her friends are getting married and she’s not sure if she should settle or hold out for real love. She also has to decide between conventional success and pursuing a vocation she’s passionate about, even if it’s risky. At the time I wrote the book I related to her very closely for all of these reasons.
Once I get the idea for a plot, or come up with a character, I begin research and start outlining. This takes a while but makes things go faster once I start writing. For the first three books, once I got going I didn’t let up until I finished a rough draft. That meant writing anywhere between 1000 and 5000 words a day. Once I wrote 7000 words. My fingers were numb and my back was killing me but it was a great rollercoaster ride of a day.
What is your writing process?
When I’m not researching or plotting, I try to set a word-count goal for each day. When I hit it, I can either keep writing or stop (and do those trivial, unimportant things like laundry, cooking meals, etc.). I work during the days, so it’s harder for me to get as much done during the week. But I still think it’s important to write something every day, if you can manage it. If I stop writing in the middle of a novel, it’s very, very difficult to pick it back up again. I’ve made that mistake more than once and have lots of unfinished manuscripts to prove it.
What are the best writing books or blogs you’ve ever read?
I like Stephen King’s On Writing. He gives great practical advice but tells his own story as well.
What are your non-writing hobbies, or what do you do to relax?
I run – well, jog would be more accurate. And I read a lot. Lately I’ve been getting into photography. I also write poetry and binge-watch Netflix. To be honest, I don’t have all that much free time because I’m a mom and I work full-time on top of writing. When I have a free night to sit down a watch a movie with a glass of wine, I really appreciate it!
What was your best date ever?
An old boyfriend took me up in a small plane for my birthday. I even got to fly the plane, which was a phenomenal experience. That’s definitely in my top 10. Some of the others, I can’t go into. 😉
Navy SEAL or cowboy?
My first instinct was to say cowboy—I’m a rebel at heart—but I always seem to write about Navy SEALS. So…Navy SEAL. But it’s close!
Chocolate or chips?
Chips. My daughter goes for the sweet stuff and I gravitate toward anything salty. Fortunately, that gives our household a bit of balance. Of course, it would be better if we battled about buying peaches or carrot sticks.
If you could have a superpower what would it be? Why?
Telepathy. Though sometimes I’m convinced I am a little psychic, so maybe I should pick something else. The ability to travel through time is very appealing, which is why I always find myself reading time travel books.
Fancy restaurant or picnic?
Picnic. Nowadays I’m a country girl to the core.
Beer or wine?
Wine. Red wine. There’s nothing like a glass of cabernet sauvignon to end a tough day.
Too many to name. I read everything – poetry, nonfiction, suspense, romance, cozy mysteries, you name it. Lately I’ve been reading Jennifer McMahon, Kate Morton, Chevy Chase, Lisa Jackson and Sarah Addison Allen. I also read true crime books to get a better sense of how to write an antagonist (and because I like gory stuff about serial killers). I’ve read quite a bit of John Douglas, the guy who started the Behavioral Analysis Unit at Quantico for the FBI.
Smooth or hairy?
Thank you for sharing these great insights into your writing life!
Gwenan Haines will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour, and a $25 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn host.