Thank you for this interview! I’d like to know more about you as a person first. What do you do when you’re not writing?
What is this “not writing” thing you speak of? Seriously, I’d like to sleep, but my brain is working at all hours of the night, so that usually doesn’t happen until around 3 or 4am. It would be nice to wake up around noon, but I have three kids, so I’m back up around 6 and at it again. On the rare occasion that I DO have free time, I’m reading my favorite authors and just relaxing with Netflix. I wish I had something really cool to say like rock climbing, or creating my own soaps and shampoos, but no, it’s me and Jax Teller and a bag of microwave popcorn.
When did you start writing?
I’ve been writing since I was eight years old. I can’t say what prompted it, I’ve always been a creative kid. My mother constantly reminds me of the two imaginary friends I had who did bad things around the house and who I forced her to set places for at the dinner table. My first “novel” was handwritten written on a little journal notebook. I think it was about two sisters and their evil parents. Unfortunately, it was stolen at my 9 year old birthday/slumber party never to be seen again. After that, I continued to write stories, mainly for my own enjoyment. It wasn’t until 2010 that I started getting serious about making it a career. I started writing my debut novel, Fame and Obsession, and the rest, as they say, is history.
In writing your book, did you travel anywhere for research?
In the books that I’ve written, I’ve traveled previously to the places I’ve written about. If I haven’t been there, actually making the trip depends on my bank account. If possible, I try to go, unless my bank account tells me that the only place I’m traveling to is Google Earth. I think if you can add that “first-hand knowledge” into your books with specific locations and sights, it just gives it something more. If travel isn’t possible, I put an SOS message out to my team or my Facebook friends and ask if anyone lives in the area I’m writing about, and then I pick their brains until they’re ready to block me. One of the best compliments I’ve ever received about one of my books was from a native of Houston, the setting of my dark romance, Blurred Red Lines. When she found out that I’d never been there in my life, she was floored. She told me that my descriptions, locations, and understanding of the local culture were so accurate that she could literally get in her car and follow it like a map. I may or may not have performed a few fist pumps after that.
As a published author, what would you say was the most pivotal point of your writing life?
There are so many “firsts” in this industry that it’s hard to say what’s most pivotal. However, if I had to pick one, I’d probably say that making the decision to leave my publisher and be solely self-published was ground-breaking for me. It was a scary decision because all the responsibility of marketing, editing, covers, etc. fell directly on me. However, I craved the control that self-publishing offered, and once I published on my own, I knew there was no going back. I love it and have found my biggest success with it. It was the best decision I’ve ever made.
What is your favorite part about writing romantic suspense and what is your least favorite?
Everything is my favorite! Beyond the obvious perk of getting out my frustrations by knocking off some people (I’m kidding…sort of) my favorite part is weaving in a plot twist that the reader never sees coming. I love watching them get to that “a-ha” moment and then getting a message or a review where the only words are, “I never saw that coming!” If I’ve surprised a reader and shocked them, I’ve done my job. My least favorite is absolutely the research that is involved. Most romantic suspense novels are very technical. There are usually laws to research, court legalities, techno lingo–and if there’s a killer involved–logical ways to kidnap, drug, kill, dispose of bodies, etc. If even one thing is off, inevitably it’s going to be picked apart and overshadow your story. I joke with my PA all the time that both of us are probably on some FBI watch list because all of the weird things we Google.
If you could go anywhere in the world to start writing your next book, where would that be and why?
Oh, that’s easy. I’ve always wanted to write a book based in Italy, but I’ve never been there and wouldn’t trust myself to get anything right. There’s so much history and culture there that the location alone could be a book in itself. Add in interesting characters and a riveting plot, and I’m a goner. That’s a good enough excuse to book a trip, right? I think so. I need to start working on my husband.
If you had 4 hours of extra time today, what would you do?
It’s hard to get a writer to stop writing, so I’d probably use that time to keep writing and get “just a few more chapters in…” I also write a romcom series with my best friend and those novellas come out every six weeks. So at any given time, I’m writing two to three books. There’s never enough hours in the day to get done all I need to get done. Oh, wait…I probably should have said, ‘spend time with my family and relax,’ right? Crap. Let’s pretend I said that. Rewind.
Where would you like to set a story that you haven’t done yet?
I kind of answered that a few questions above, ooops. However, another place I want to set a story is Napa Valley. I love California. I love wine. Does everyone see the correlation here, or is it just me? Maybe the characters own a vineyard, or maybe they are just enamoured with them like me. Who knows? It will probably be a lot more of that research stuff because of those aforementioned bank account issues.
I noticed that you co-author with another author, what’s that like?
It’s both awesome and trying. I know, she’ll read this, and I know she’ll agree with me. I write a romcom novella series with my best friend, so that makes the actual writing of the book easy. We know each other more like sisters than friends, and readers have commented that they can’t decipher one voice from the other in our books, which is a huge compliment. We play well off of each other, but aren’t afraid to call each other out when one of us writes something that just doesn’t work. Most of our scenes come from personal experiences, but a lot come from our escapades together. The downside is that writing in itself is stressful, and when you add another person into the mix, it just amps up the freak out factor. As much as we’re alike, in some aspects, we’re yin and yang. In writing, she’s a pantser, I’m a huge plotter. She’s easy-going, I’m a little anal-retentive. She believes a rough draft is a rough draft, and I go full-on grammar freak on her. We alway say at the end of every book that we’re shocked we’re still friends when we hit publish, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. She’s my other half.
Why was writing Blurred Red Lines so important to you?
Because it was the first novel that just poured out of me without any of my own control. With every other novel, I planned each chapter (see previous question, for self-proclaimed plotter status) and scene down to the minute detail. They took me a few months to write and get each character and plot point “just right.” The plot for Blurred Red Lines (Carrera Cartel) came to me one day just out of the blue. While synopsis usually are the bane of my existence, causing me to consume mass quantities of wine to deal with, I tapped out a two page summary in twenty minutes and sent it to my best friend. She immediately responded with, “Drop everything right now and write this book, or I’ll kill you.” So, I did. I wrote Blurred Red Lines in twenty-eight days. I’d never been more proud of anything in my life. The characters were raw, the storyline was gritty, and it got a reaction like I’d never seen. To date, it remains my most consistently top selling book.
Where do you get your best ideas and why do you think that is?
Honestly? Random places. I’d like to say from a dream, or they just come to me like a home movie, but, sadly, no. Usually it’s when I don’t have paper or a pen in a place like the McDonald’s drive thru window. Kind of like, “Yes, I’d like an Egg McMuffin and a hashbrown…and….” **Ohhh, that lady has pink hair, I wonder what her story is? What if she used to be a rock star but fell from grace and had to return to her hometown, broke and dejected?** Someone can say something and it will trigger an idea, or I’ll see someone on the side of the road while driving and an idea will form. It’s very random when it happens. I’ve learned to always keep the notepad pulled up on my phone because if I don’t write it down right then, my ADD kicks in and I forget it.
What are you currently working on? Do you have any new projects released in the coming months? If so, tell us about them.
I’m currently working the second book in the Carrera Cartel series called Faded Gray Lines and a twisted little contemporary romance called Shallow. Shallow will release first around the first to middle of October.
Here is the blurb:
Only the good die young. But I’ve never been good.
I’ve lived a life most people only dream about. Famous men, expensive booze, and the finest drugs money could buy. But every vice has its price, and living a life of excess has finally dragged me down, forcing me back to the one place I swore I’d never return.
We met in high school, but we were far from sweethearts. I ruined his life and then walked away. Losing everything is bad enough, but crawling back to people who wish you were dead is a nightmare. Seven years is a long time. Three years will be longer.
Maybe things will be different this time. The past is in the past, right?
Except when it’s not.
Seven years ago, Shiloh West was my world. I gave up my future for her. Then, I spent every waking moment hating her for it. I’ve followed her train wreck of a career in the tabloids since she walked out of town with her nose in the air. The woman is toxic.
The fact a judge has court ordered her back to town means nothing to me—except maybe the payback I’ve waited a lifetime to collect. This is it. Her moment of reckoning. I’m going to build her up and tear her down.
A better man would walk away. I’m not a better man. She thinks I’m under her spell again.
Think again, Starshine.
Beauty is only skin deep, but revenge goes straight to the bone.
Shallow is an enemies to lovers/second chance romance standalone that will rip you apart and make you believe that even a fall from grace can be worth the crawl home.
Part II This or That?
Q: Your life is a movie would you rather be cast for an Action movie or a Comedy?
OMG total comedy. Half the stuff that happens to me you can’t make up. I keep waiting for TLC to call me and offer me a reality show. *that’s a total hint btw, just in case producers are reading*
Q: Receive Chocolate or Flowers for a gift?
Do they make chocolate flowers? Because I’d be ALL about that. Someone make that happen. #pleaseandthankyou
Q: Salad or Soup?
Salad. I am FAR from a health nut, but I have an obsession with salads. With globs of ranch dressing, of course.
Q: Brad Pitt or Tom Cruise?
Charlie Hunnam. Wait, what do you mean that wasn’t an option?
Q: Cruise or Resort?
Cruise! I’m such a cruise whore. Wait, did I say that out loud? Steel drums, take me away….