Thank you for being willing to be interviewed!
1. When writing mystery novels, what comes first? The bad guy or how the mystery is solved?
Definitely the bad guy—I usually don’t know the exact resolution until I write it! But I don’t really write mysteries; I write suspense. Big difference. In a mystery, the reader typically doesn’t know the identity of the villain until the end. That’s why they’re called whodunits! J In my books, I reveal the villain early on. That allows me to take readers into the bad guy’s head. So the tension in my books comes not from wondering who did it, but from wondering whether the villain will succeed with his or her nefarious plan. As a result, it’s always a race-against-the-clock finish in my stories, with readers on the edge of their seats wondering if the good guys will stop the villain in time.
2. What would you say inspired you to write mystery novels?
Nancy Drew. Seriously. I devoured those books as a child. And Nancy was a great role model—strong, independent, smart, loyal, clever, kind. Hmm…kind of like my own heroines, come to think of it!
3. Your novels have a lot of law enforcement people in them, how much research do you have to do for them?
Tons! I always have 75-100 single-spaced typed pages of research notes and citations when I finish a suspense novel. I also work closely with the various expert sources I’ve cultivated in the FBI, U.S. Marshals Service, police departments, medical field, forensic anthropology…the list is long and grows with every book. Accuracy is essential to credibility, and I try very, very hard to get the facts right. One of my most gratifying moments was when I got an email from a former commander of the FBI’s elite Hostage Rescue Team (featured in Against All Odds and An Eye for an Eye), who said I got it right, down to the actual radio call signals the HRT uses on missions.
4. You have written a number of books and several series, is there any one character(s) that has stayed with you longer than the rest?
In a way, that’s like asking a mother to pick her favorite child! The truth is, all of my characters are unique and special in their own way. I do have to say, though, that the villain in my newest novel, Trapped, may be my creepiest one yet! I won’t forget him for a while!
5. Can you tell us about your next project?
My next book will be a contemporary romance/women’s fiction novel called One Perfect Spring. It’s a heartwarming, uplifting book that readers of Karen Kingsbury and Debbie Macomber will enjoy. (In fact, Debbie has endorsed this book!) That comes out in May. I’ll finish the Private Justice series late next summer with Book 3, Deceived (Trapped was Book 2). And just to make it clear—the books in all my series are standalone stories. Each book is a complete novel, with all loose ends tied up at the end and no continuing plot threads from book to book. With the Private Justice series, each of the three P.I.s in the agency has his own book; the link is the agency. I hope readers will give both One Perfect Spring and Deceived a try next year!
If you haven’t, check out Trapped!