In response to a Q & A with The Spontaneous Reader Book Blog, these are some of the questions I’ve been asked since the publication of A Shared Fear in 2011. A Shared Fear was my second novel and brought together two of my favorite characters in one of my favorite places. Evie Davis is a former combat arms instructor (I’ve always liked those darn red hats) and Joe Graves, an ATF agent. The coast of Oregon provided a perfect backdrop for most of the book.
Q – I loved the opening for A Shared Fear. Was this taken from a real experience?
A – Yes to the airplane. No to the ATF Agent. I was on a flight from Salt Lake City to Bellingham, Washington, when part of this happened. We ran into turbulence as we crossed the Cascades and when we came into Bellingham, we encountered some wind shear and dropped like a rock. I was sitting alone and wasn’t really scared until that drop. The pilot took the plane out over the Pacific and announced we were going to make a second attempt at landing. He did and the results were just as bad. You know it’s ugly when the flight attendant screams. We diverted to Seattle. The conversation between Joe and the pilot was almost word-for-word what the pilot of my flight and I said to each other in Seattle. Unlike my character Joe, I still fly, but I’m not as big of a fan of air travel as I used to be.
Q – Is it true that you were told that having your main characters meet on an airplane was one of the worst openings an author could choose?
A – Yes. Several years ago, I was sitting in on a free online chat with a senior editor from a major romance publisher when she was asked what openings she hated to see. She responded that she rarely read past the first chapter if the main characters met on an airplane or met by spilling a drink on each other. In her words, authors who used those openings “generally lacked imagination.” I’d already written the opening to A Shared Fear and decided that my opening lacked nothing. Her comments were added confirmation that I didn’t fit in anyone’s mold and traditional publishing might not be for me.
Q – Where did the primary story line come from?
A – Ideas come at the strangest time and places. I was preparing to give a genealogy lecture, so early that morning I was testing my small laser pointer. When I turned it on, I immediately thought it looked like a laser targeting dot from a high-powered weapon. In a flight of fantasy, I thought about someone in a hidden position using the laser pointer to distract a bad guy who was holding a gun on a federal agent. It would be enough to make them think that another agent with a rifle had them in their sights and would force them to lower their weapon. I didn’t use it in the book, but that’s where the story was born. A genealogist with a weapons background and an ATF agent – how fun and different would that be?
Q – Tell me about June the waitress?
A – It’s always the old guys teasing the young waitresses. I thought it would be fun to turn the tables. June began as a means to lighten the moment and play with Senior Agent Terry Beamish as well as share a little information about Evie, but ended up taking over the chapter. This is one of the sections in the book that people most comment on.
Q – You seem to have a love affair going with Colt model 1911 handguns. Is this your weapon of choice?
A – I love the old 1911s. I’d been shooting revolvers since I was a kid, but when I shot my first Colt 1911, my whole world changed. It was truly love at first shot. The feel, the weight, the muzzle control, the smell, the sound… Everything about that weapon made me very, very happy. The next thing I knew, I owned a Colt Gold Cup, one of the finest semi-automatics in the world. I spent a lot of time shooting, and I spent a lot of money on that weapon and having it customized for a better fit. Beaver tail, ambidextrous safeties, Parkerized grips, better sights, throating and porting… I put a lot of rounds through that weapon over the years. There’s just something about those guns that I love. My friend Dave Dingley is the gun guru in my life now, and he provided most of the history for the weapon found in the book.
Q – You have an obvious love for the Oregon coast. Is this where you’d most like to live?
A –One of my retirement goals is being able to spend at least a week in both the spring and fall at the coast. If we’re talking “lottery dreams” than I’ve got a few spots that I could go for. I love both the Oregon coast and the Columbia River Gorge pretty much anytime of the year, western Pennsylvania in the fall, and Charleston, South Carolina, in April. After months of perpetual sunshine in Tucson, I’m always excited to go out and stand in the rain when I get to the Pacific Northwest, to inhale that crisp morning air back east that signifies it’s football season, and to see the blooming of the dogwoods and azaleas down south.
Q – Do you consider this Contemporary Fiction or Romantic Suspense?
A – I hate trying to figure out genre. I’m a little afraid of the Romantic Suspense title because I definitely don’t write romance, and most of the men I know are turned off by anything with that term in it. I market under Contemporary Fiction and Suspense and Thriller. There’s a good love story involved in all my books, so I suppose it fits Romantic Suspense as well.