Monday, May 9, 2011

Interview with best-selling author Pamela Clare!

Today I'm excited to introduce you to best-selling author Pamela Clare. Her romantic historical and suspense novels make me want to strive to be a better writer. Pamela's latest, Breaking Point, was released to rave reviews last week. Perfect timing, too, cuz it stars a Navy SEALs hero. As we all know, Navy SEALs are the heroes who finally took out public enemy No. 1, Osama bin Laden. 

Without further ado, here's my interview with Pamela ... and please leave a comment for a chance to win Pamela's awesome Breaking Point!
 
Q: What kind of Navy SEALs research did you do for Breaking Point?
Pamela: I’m a very visual and auditory person, so I watched countless documentaries on SEAL training, and I watched them over and over again, trying to digest the way of thinking, the vocabulary and so on. It helps that I have a relative who is a SEAL and who served in Afghanistan, where Zach McBride, my hero, served. When I asked if he would mind helping me out, he said, “Ask me whatever you want. If I can’t answer it, there are 300 other guys here who might be able to do it.” The idea of 300 SEALs was really appealing. Obviously, my relative — I’m being deliberately vague here — couldn’t answer questions about specific missions or other classified things, but in terms of the experience and routine of being a SEAL, all of that was available to me.

When I watched the videos, it was important for me to watch not only what was going on in the foreground, but also what was happening in the background where people probably didn’t know they were on camera. Things SEALs said or SEAL instructors said helped grow Zach’s character and his responses in my mind.

Q: Which came first: journalism or romance writing? Do the two ever intersect? 
Pamela: Journalism came first. But I entered journalism (at the tender age of 20) because I knew I wanted to write novels one day, and I thought that being a journalist would give me lots of practice writing on deadline. And it most certainly did. What I didn’t know is that it would also offer me a wealth of story ideas. Not only do the two careers intersect in my life, they collide.
I went into investigative journalism, which is really its own thing, and that exposed me to a range of experiences most people, including journalists, just don’t have. I’ve had death threats, two stalkers and had a gun held on me twice. I’ve seen dead people, human brains splattered on a wall... Because of all that, it was my agent’s idea that I write romantic suspense. I started with historicals, but she encouraged me to put my day job to use fueling a romantic suspense series. That’s where the I-Team series came from.

Q: I hear from a lot of my journalist friends that they'd like to write fiction. Why do you think so many journalists want to be novelists? 
Pamela: A lot of journalists love the written word, and I think it’s natural for people who love language, who love words, to want to write something more than articles about the latest city council meeting. Plus, one poll I saw claimed that some 80 percent of Americans believe they have a novel inside them that they’d like to write. So perhaps there’s something about being a novelist that just appeals to everyone. When I’m up late trying hard to finish a book on deadline and I haven’t slept for two days, I wonder what that appeal is.  

Q: What's the funniest e-mail or note you've ever gotten from a reader? What about most touching?
Pamela: I recently read a review in which a reader said she wanted to divorce her husband and marry me. She wasn’t serious, of course; she was just expressing her love of the I-Team series, which she had pretty much devoured in a couple of weeks. That was pretty funny. Most of the emails I get are very touching, heartfelt messages, but one that has stayed with me for years came from a 9/11 survivor — she had been in the shadow of the North Tower when it collapsed — who said that my stories helped her cope with her post-traumatic stress syndrome. But periodically authors get messages from someone who just lost a family member or who’s dealing with a serious illness who picked up our books, read them and felt their burden lightened. Those messages never fail to choke me up.

Q: Are there any rejections or naysayers from the past that make you think "neener neener boo boo" now that you're a rousing success? What did they say and did that make you more determined to prove them wrong? (Feel free to change or omit names to protect the guilty.)
Pamela: The first book I wrote was the first book I published, so I have had a really blessed path in publishing. However, there were lots of people who told me that I needed to write more market-conscious books, rather than books that dealt with issues and time periods that aren’t popular. The I-Team series deals with a team of investigative journalists who get into all manner of trouble (most of it based on things I’ve reported on). My Kenleigh-Blakewell Family trilogy and my MacKinnon’s Rangers series are set in pre-Revolutionary Colonial America, not Regency England. And none of my books involves anything paranormal. But I wanted to write what I wanted to write, so despite being rejected by most publishing houses when my agent tried to sell that first historical, I’ve found or created a little niche for myself. Ten books of “unpopular” times/topics kind of calls into doubt the idea that they’re really all that unpopular.

Q: If you could have any superpower, what would it be? 
Pamela: To transport myself anywhere in the world by simply thinking of that place. Then I could visit my sister in Sweden and my friends in Europe and my two sons any time I chose. Bam! I’d be there.

Q: If you were stranded on a deserted island and could have only one man, one book and one kind of food (other than chocolate), what would you choose? 
Pamela: Wow, that would be rough! And you’ve excluded chocolate! Hmmm... Well, the man would have to be Viggo Mortensen, I think. He’s smart, sexy, multilingual (I speak Danish; so does he). As for the book, I would probably take The Lord of the Rings. It was published in a single volume at one point, so that’s one book. Either that or something by Charles Dickens. And food... If there’s nothing else to eat on the island, that’s a survival question. But I’ll take it to mean there are bananas and coconuts and greens and monkeys to eat... And I would take ice cream. I love ice cream.

Q: What's your favorite way to procrastinate? 
Pamela: Internet. Someone take it away from me, please!

Q: Do you have a favorite among your own books? (Come on, you know you have one.)
Pamela: Ride the Fire is the most wrenching book I’ve written for me and a deeply personal book, too. When I finished it, I was utterly and completely destroyed. It carries great meaning for me. Unlawful Contact was very special to me because it focused on all my years of prison reporting (and included an element of the HEA that I later turned into reality in Colorado when I got a bill passed that bans the shackling of jail and prison inmates during labor and childbirth). Surrender, too, means a lot to me, because I love that setting so desperately. And then there’s Hard Evidence and Julian Darcangelo. I don’t really have to explain that one to anyone who’s read the book. 

Q: How do you prepare to write your awesome love scenes? A glass of wine? A particular movie or book? Sexy music? Gazing upon the cover of one of your books?
Pamela: I have a playlist of songs that I’m always updating that have a sexy or romantic. Actually, I have two lists — a down-and-dirty sex playlist and a sweet-romantic playlist. The former includes things like Nine Inch Nails’ Closer and Madonna’s Justify My Love, while the former might include Julio Iglesias and other softer, more romantic songs. I think writing love scenes is hard work — they’re the toughest part of the books to write. All the jokes people make about that — "How do you do your research?" — really don’t reflect the fact that writing sex is like writing any other part of a novel. I don’t want the language to be repetitive from book to book, yet how many ways are there to describe an orgasm? And though I want the scenes to be fresh, there’s nothing in the world of sex than humans haven’t explored. So the scenes have to focus on the emotion between the hero and heroine, because the rest of it is just motion and mechanics.

Q: Please tell us about your books, including your latest, Breaking Point (can't WAIT to read it!). 
Pamela: Breaking Point is the fifth book in the I-Team series. It is written to stand alone so those who are new to the series won’t feel lost when reading it. However, it does contain little gems and fun moments for people who’ve read all the I-Team books. Here’s the blurb from the back of the book:

While investigating border violence in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, Denver journalist Natalie Benoit is caught in a bloody ambush and taken captive. Alone in the hands of ruthless killers, she will need every ounce of courage she possesses to survive.
 

Betrayed by another operative, Chief Deputy U.S. Marshal Zach McBride, a former Navy SEAL, has endured a week of torture and interrogation at the hands of a bloodthirsty Mexican drug cartel. Ready to give his life if he must, he remains unbroken—until he hears the cries of an American woman.
 

Although Natalie is only a voice in the darkness of their shared prison, her plight brings renewed strength to Zach’s battered body. With her help, he overpowers their captors, and they flee through the desert toward the border, the attraction between them flaring hotter than the Sonoran sun.

But past loss and tragedy leave both of them reluctant to follow their hearts, even when the passion between them reaches its breaking point. Faced with feelings neither expected, they fight to stay ahead of the danger that hunts them as forces more powerful than they can imagine conspire to destroy them both…

Breaking Point
is my most action-packed story to date, but I try very hard not to lose the romance thread. The I-Team stories typically appeal to readers who want romantic suspense. 


I’m very proud of the story and the work that went in to re-creating the world of border violence, and I’ve loved sharing it with readers so far.

Thanks so much, Joyce, for having me as a guest on your blog.

Thank YOU, Pamela for being here (and being such an inspiring writer!). You can find out more about Pamela at her website, pamelaclare.com, and read her blog here.

Don't forget: One lucky commenter will win a copy of Breaking Point. (Be sure to leave your e-mail address.)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Another favorite author's release!

Yes, I'm blessed with many writer friends who ROCK! Yesterday, Virna De Paul's Chosen By Blood hit store shelves. Seems I've been waiting for this release forever! I met Virna at a writers retreat in Maine, and I knew immediately that she was going places -- and she hadn't yet sold a book to a publisher. But you know how sometimes you just know? Or maybe I'm psychic. Happens. At any rate, she was soon publishing like crazy.


Here's the skinny on Chosen By Blood:

Five years after the Second Civil War ends, humans and otherborn— humanlike creatures with superhuman DNA—still struggle for peace. To ensure the continued rights of both, the FBI forms a Para-Ops team with a unique set of skills.

Leader of an Otherborn clan, half-breed vampire Knox Devereaux would do anything to find a cure for the anti-vamp vaccine slowly starving his people into extinction. When the FBI contacts him about leading a team of hand-selected Others on a mission to reclaim the stolen antidote, Knox accepts. His new assignment places him in direct contact with Special Agent Felicia Locke, the beautiful human he’s craved since their very first meeting.

Virna has gotten some spectacular writerly endorsements (not surprised!):

"Incredibly well-written, different, and hot." -NYT Bestselling Author Larissa Ione

“Virna DePaul is amazing! Chosen by Blood is a unique, hot, spellbinding treat for all paranormal romance fans. I can’t wait for the next book in the series!” --NYT Bestselling Author Lori Foster

"A gripping tale! In CHOSEN BY BLOOD, Virna DePaul creates the perfect blend of danger, intrigue and romance. You won’t be able to put this book down." --NYT Bestselling Author Brenda Novak

“You won’t want to miss this one!” —Karin Tabke

“Sexy, suspenseful.” —Eileen Rendahl

The best blurby word, in my humble opinion, is "different." Oh, and "hot," of course, but you already knew that. I'm kinda predictable that way. :) But I digress. "Different" is a fantastic word to describe this book, cuz Virna dares to break some of the romance "rules." That's the mark of a great writer!

Check out Virna's awesome website here. You can follow her on Twitter here. And Like her on Facebook here. I swear you won't be disappointed.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

New book by a favorite author!

Pamela Clare's Breaking Point is out today! I'm soooooo psyched! And not just because the cover has been distracting me all day. Can you say HOT? (Fanning self.)

Breaking Point is the fifth in a series about some very hot(!) heroes but can be read all by itself -- and it received a starred review from Publishers Weekly. Jealous! Oh, and it's HOT. In case I didn't mention that earlier.

Like me, Pamela has a dual life as a romantic suspense author and as a journalist -- except she's won awards in her newspaper career.

Here's a quick teaser about her book: While investigating border violence in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, Denver journalist Natalie Benoit is caught in a bloody ambush and taken captive. Alone in the hands of ruthless killers, she will need every ounce of courage she possesses to survive.

Betrayed by another operative, Chief Deputy U.S. Marshal Zach McBride, a former Navy SEAL, has endured a week of torture and interrogation at the hands of a bloodthirsty Mexican drug cartel. Ready to give his life if he must, he remains unbroken—until he hears the cries of an American woman.

Although Natalie is only a voice in the darkness of their shared prison, her plight brings renewed strength to Zach’s battered body. With her help, he overpowers their captors, and they flee through the desert toward the border, the attraction between them flaring hotter than the Sonoran sun.

But past loss and tragedy leave both of them reluctant to follow their hearts, even when the passion between them reaches its breaking point. Faced with feelings neither expected, they fight to stay ahead of the danger that hunts them as forces more powerful than they can imagine conspire to destroy them both …

Click here to check out an excerpt of Breaking Point. And be prepared to go from that to your nearest bookstore. Might as well find your keys and get your shoes on right now. :) Did I mention that it's HOT? (Just checking.)

You can find out about Pamela's other awesome books at her website, here. You can follow her on Twitter, too: And Like her on Facebook.