Frequently Asked Questions
I’ve always loved to read and I’ve always loved to write. That geek in the back of Latin class who was working on a short story instead of listening to her teacher’s lecture-that was me! One summer, I decided to see if I could write a whole novel. I spent my days drafting a book and my nights working as a waitress. The results were one complete, albeit truly dreadful novel, plus shorter hair that I’d caught on fire twice serving an appetizer called flaming saganaki. Realizing my future in food service was limited, I focused on polishing my novel. The rest, as they say, is history.
I had the good fortune to sell my first book (the one mentioned above) when I was 20. Granted, I worked on the book for three years and rewrote it four times, so it’s not quite an overnight success story. In publishing, however, it’s darn close.
NEVER TELL is my 20th thriller.
Each of my novels has a stand-alone plot, though I do have three series that each feature different recurring characters. To fully appreciate character development, I recommend reading the series books in the following order:
FBI Profiler Series (featuring Rainie Conner, Pierce Quincy, and his daughter Kimberly)
- THE PERFECT HUSBAND
- THE THIRD VICTIM
- THE NEXT ACCIDENT
- THE KILLING HOUR
- SAY GOODBYE
- THE 4TH MAN (Short Story)
- RIGHT BEHIND YOU
Det. D.D. Warren Series
- THE NEIGHBOR
- LIVE TO TELL
- LOVE YOU MORE
- THE 7TH MONTH (NOVELLA)
- CATCH ME
- TOUCH & GO
- FEAR NOTHING
- 3 TRUTHS AND A LIE (Short Story)
- FIND HER
- THE 4TH MAN (Short Story)
- LOOK FOR ME
- THE GUY WHO DIED TWICE (Short Story)
- NEVER TELL
Tessa Leoni Series
- LOVE YOU MORE
- TOUCH & GO
- CRASH & BURN
Yes! RIGHT BEHIND YOU brings Quincy and Rainie back to the pages of my novel. Also, FBI Agent Kimberly Quincy assists Detective D.D. Warren in FIND HER and NEVER TELL.
I suspect I was dropped on my head a lot as a child. I’m honestly not sure where the ideas come from. They simply come to me, particularly creepy, scary ones. I guess it’s a good thing I can turn ideas into novels, because being an ax murderer doesn’t pay nearly as well.
The suspense genre chose me. Growing up, I read Stephen King, John Saul, and V.C. Andrews. Basically, I’ve always loved anything that begins with a dark and stormy night and ends with a dead body.
I like to write first thing in the morning, armed with a giant mug of coffee and a dog to warm my feet. I’m always trying to get a certain number of scenes done each week. Sometimes that means writing a few hours a day. Sometimes that means writing ten hours a day. It depends on how fast the hamster is turning the wheel in my brain. I start with a general outline of each novel. The major plot points, key scenes, research that needs to be incorporated into the story, etc. I change a lot as I write, however, so the end novel may bear little resemblance to my starting idea. Sometimes characters take over. Sometimes I come up with a better idea for a plot point or a plot twist, so I reorient the story to make the new and improved concept work. It usually takes me six months to draft a novel, then three months to polish it to a point where I decide it’s not horrible.
No, then I would have to kill them.
Everything. If writing were easy, everyone would be doing it.
Whenever possible, I try to interview professionals in the field. Personally, I don’t have a law enforcement background, so I generally start with a call to some poor detective who has the misfortune to pick up his phone. I’m honestly touched and amazed by the thorough assistance I’ve received. I’ve interviewed FBI agents, ATF agents, state police, local police, corrections officers, etc., and every single one of them has taken significant time out of his or her day to answer my questions. They are very nice people doing very tough jobs.
No, real people can sue. I wouldn’t like that much.
I am routinely inspired by true crime. The basis for THE OTHER DAUGHTER is the real life story of Ted Bundy, who fathered a child while on death row. That made me wonder what it would be like growing up as the child of a notorious serial killer. THE THIRD VICTIM, of course, is based on the string of school shootings we’ve had in the United States. That research was very sad for me, but I also needed to do it. Like most Americans, I wanted to understand what would drive kids to perform such heinous acts. Many of the answers surprised me.
I remember being twelve-years old and reading M.M. Kaye’s THE FAR PAVILIONS. I was completely enthralled by that novel. The way she made the setting, history, and characters come so richly alive. From the beautiful romance to the gritty battle scenes, I thought reading that book was one of the most intense experiences I’d ever had. Of course, I was twelve. I still love that novel, however. I reread it every few years, and every few years I’m enthralled all over again. I also enjoy Stephen King, John Sandford, Tami Hoag, Jeffrey Deaver, Michael Connelly, Harlan Coben, Amanda Quick, Susan Wiggs, and Iris Johansen.
I’m really good at FreeCell. You know, the card game that comes with most computers. I also enjoy hiking, cribbage and quality time with my dogs.
My first thriller, THE PERFECT HUSBAND, was turned into a TV-movie, INSTINCT TO KILL, starring Mark Dacascos, who is amazing. Then, in 2004, THE SURVIVORS CLUB was made into a CBS movie starring Roma Downey. Finally, in 2011 my novel HIDE aired on TNT, featuring Carla Gugino, Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Kevin Alejandro, and Bridget Regan. I was fortunate enough to visit and loved watching my fictional crime scene become a real-life set piece. Creepy and fun!
Believe it or not, I worked as a business consultant. I was a budding expert on process reengineering. Basically, I’d go into a company, tell them a better way of doing things I’d never done, then bill them for oodles of money. I also spent a lot of time reading Dilbert cartoons.
I like it when fans tell me I’ve kept them awake all night, or made them forget to feed their kids dinner, or kept them from going into to work because they simply had to finish my book. It gives me a warm feeling inside. In all honesty, I’m really honored by how much people enjoy my novels and I love to hear from readers.
I recommend that any serious writer join a writers group. Three great organizations are Romance Writers of America, its suspense subchapter, Kiss of Death, Mystery Writers of America and International Thriller Writers. These groups offer local chapters where you can meet other aspiring writers as well as published authors. They also sponsor local conferences where you learn about the craft of writing, the business of publishing, and pitch your book ideas directly to agents and editors. All in all, a lot of support and services in return for fairly modest yearly dues.
It’s possible. My schedule is quite busy but I would like to make a point of visiting with book groups in person, by phone, or via Skype when I can. If you’d like to make a request, contact [email protected] and we’ll see what we can do. Thanks!
I’d like to encourage all those aspiring writers out there to plant their butts in front of their computers and start writing. It’s not easy, it’s not glamorous, but if writing’s in your blood, it’s something you have to do. So go do it! Have fun!