Monthly Archives: November 2011

ALLISON BRENNAN- Personally Speaking

NY Times Bestselling Author

Allison Brennan

Thank you so much for helping us launch our Kiss and Thrill Blog, Allison, and congratulations on your new release: If I Should Die, your 17th novel that was published last week!

 You are a prolific, multiple NY Times and USA Today Bestseller. Which current Romantic Suspense authors are absolute favs or impulse buys for you? (Online, airports, bookstores…)

J.D. Robb is an auto-buy. I have all her books. Love Eve Dallas and Roarke! Laura Griffin & Roxanne St. Claire are auto-buy romantic suspense; Tess Gerritsen, Lisa Gardner and J.T. Ellison are auto-buy suspense “with romantic elements” for me, too. I also recently bought a Shannon Butcher book on impulse—can’t wait to finish my revisions so I can dive into my towering TBR piles!

You do a fabulous job scaring your readers- what situation in daily life/news event scares you the most?

Crimes against children. There’s a special place in Hell reserved for anyone who hurts the most innocent in our society.

 If you could interview a serial killer (alive or dead) who would it be, and what would you ask?

Oh, just one? Actually, I don’t know that I’d want to go face-to-face with a serial killer. Maybe Dorathea Puente, because she’s from Sacramento and killed her boarders for their social security checks. Right after I moved to Sacramento when I was 19, a friend drove me past her house and told me all about her crimes. She’d just been arrested, but the trial wasn’t until several years later. I think she got away with it for so long because she was a little old lady and no one thinks that “grandma” is capable of murder.

How do you separate the twisted violence of your plots from your hectic life with 5 kids? (Meaning go straight from describing a serial killer butchering a victim to fixing dinner.)

 I don’t think I’m that gruesome in my books! LOL. I write when the kids are at school, then take the afternoon and evening “off” to do kid stuff (sports, homework, dinner, etc.) Then I write at night. I think about other people who have far more difficult jobs—like the cops and coroners and crime scene investigators who have to work with real victims and killers. They, too, go home and have families, but they deal with far more violence than I do. Mine is fiction! But I probably compartmentalize in a similar way.

 I know you’re a pantster (write by the seat of your pants, instead of plotting a story out), and your research is impeccable. Do you research first for ideas (i.e., cyber stalking/burying an IP address in cyber space like a needle in a haystack) or get an idea first and then research specifically what you need?

I prefer “organic writer.”  <g> I do both forms of research. I read a lot of true crime and participate in a lot of research “field trips” that aren’t specific to any book I’m writing, so I have a lot of ideas and information I can pull up when I need it. But for the details, I research as I need information. For example, I wanted to confirm a crime scene detail that I thought I had right, but couldn’t find the specific in my forensic books, so I emailed a friend (the fabulous writer D.P. Lyle) who confirmed my set-up, and also gave me the whys (which helps!)

The Evil Series (Speak No Evil, See No Evil, Fear No Evil) were all published in 3 consecutive months in 2007. Please tell me you were not on a book-a-month deadline?! If these were not previous stories you’d written, how difficult was this to pull off?

 I had two back-to-back trilogies. The first (The Prey, The Hunt, The Kill) were all written before the first book came out, though The Kill was on a tight deadline. We contracted for the second trilogy in February of 2006, and I had tight deadlines, but not each month!

Practically, when writing these trilogies especially since Ballantine wanted them out sooner to capitalize on the success of the first trilogy, I had to juggle all three books at one time. I didn’t have any of these written, though because I focused on one setting (San Diego) and one family (the Kincaid’s) it made the story research easier.

That meant while waiting for revisions on SPEAK, I started writing SEE. When I got revisions back, I put SEE aside, revised SPEAK, then went back to writing SEE. I turned in SEE and worked on copyedits for SPEAK. Then turned those in and worked on revisions for SEE.

Available 11/22/11

The Evil Series and part of the FBI series features heroes and heroines from the Kincaid family, (brothers and sisters of your new series heroine, Lucy Kincaid.) What was it about Lucy that inspired you to give her her own series?

Lucy is a strong and compassionate heroine who suffered great crimes and in turn killed her attacker—in cold blood. He was unarmed when she shot him. She has some issues she hasn’t addressed yet; she’s complex and believable. Better, I can focus on one protagonist from the beginning of her career, building her over time.

I had wanted to write a series, and after writing FEAR NO EVIL I knew that I wanted to write about Lucy. When I met Sean Rogan briefly in Fatal Secrets and Cutting Edge, I just knew he was perfect for Lucy. I was thrilled when I put them on the page together that there was chemistry! Sean has a very interesting backstory as well, most of which hasn’t been revealed. I can’t wait to see what pops up for him over the next few books!

As a follow up, this is the first time in your publishing career that you’ve centered a series around one reoccurring heroine. Are you finding that difficult? (For example, your books have a romantic Happily Ever After, and now you have Lucy Kincaid and Sean Rogan together in more books. Is it difficult to keep the conflicts and growth going?)

Yes and no. I like being able to build Lucy & Sean’s relationship over time—one of my problems in romantic suspense is the HEA after two days. With Lucy & Sean, I can add layers to their relationship, to give them a solid foundation that will withstand the pressure of their careers and conflicts.

 I thought I would have a much harder time with conflict between them. Once they’re together, how can I keep them together while also growing their relationship and have conflict that’s organic to the story? I start with the foundation: they are together and are willing to fight to keep their relationship. Then I look at who they are: Lucy is driven to fighting bad guys, sometimes at the expense of all else. She internalizes the pain of the victims, she understands the motivations of the criminals even though that makes her uncomfortable and depressed. She is battling her own feelings of right and wrong. Sean is fun-loving, arrogant and super smart—but he has some very justified animosity toward law enforcement. Yet he’s in love with Lucy, who wants to be an FBI agent above all else. As Sean’s reasons for distrusting cops come out, it’s going to increase the tension between them. Plus, Sean is no saint—even I don’t know what he’s capable of. But I do know that anything he does that might be illegal he does for the right reasons.

Anyway, I’m having fun exploring the grey areas in crime and punishment and justice, and I can think of no two better people to tell these stories than Sean and Lucy!

How many books do you plan for the Lucy Kincaid series? What’s after that?

I don’t have a set number. When I feel there is no more room for growth or conflict that’s organic to the story and characters, I’ll probably end the series. I’d like to write at least ten books in the series because I don’t think Sean’s past is going to really come out until after book six.

Coming April 2012!

The third Lucy Kincaid series, ‘If I Should Die’ came out last week, 11/22/11. And the next is ‘Silenced’ coming in April 2012. Can you give us a sneak peek of ‘Silenced’?

SILENCED: Washington sex scandal and a cold-blooded killer. Lucy risks her career and her life when, three weeks before she’s supposed to report to Quantico, she and her training partner Noah Armstrong are assigned to investigate the murder of a known mistress to a powerful congressman.

For Kicks: Which Hollywood stars would be great to play Lucy Kincaid and Sean Rogan, if the series became a TV or movie deal?

Oh, how fun! Hmm … It’s hard to pick, because I have a picture of her in my mind, and no one quite matches it.

 For Lucy, I think someone like Salma Hayek or Jessica Alba or Natalie Martinez or Serinda Swan.

 For Sean, Henry Cavill is probably leading right now … though I also like Milo Ventimiglia or Matt Bomer might work. Matt has his eyes …

 Now, for Noah Armstrong, an important secondary character, I’d love to see Mark Wahlberg play him!! Actually, I’d love to see Mark Wahlberg play anything …

Would you ever consider self-publishing the remaining paranormal series Original Sins?

Yes, I’m considering it. I’d prefer to find a publisher for the series, but if that doesn’t happen, I’ll look at doing it myself and publishing it the way I want—as urban fantasy/supernatural thriller, not paranormal romance.

 Thank you so much for hosting me this week! I’m excited about this new blog, and hope to visit often!

Thank YOU, Allison!  For more info on Allison Brennan, her books and future speaking engagements please visit her website at

Do any of you have questions, comments or want to share your favorite Allison Brennan novel with the rest of us? 

***All participants are eligible for the Thurday, 12/1 drawing!  Allison is giving away a copy of: Love Me To DeathCheck back to see if you’re the winner!

Welcome to Kiss and Thrill!

Kiss and Thrill is a joint effort by nine writers, published and unpublished, and we’re here to celebrate the books we love the most. If you love mysteries, suspense, and thrillers with strong romantic plots, then visit often and enjoy as we write about our favorite genre and bring you interviews from top writers in the field.

You can expect to find new content and often a book-related giveaway on Tuesdays, with a follow-up blog announcing winners on Thursdays.  We have a great line up of guest authors planned, starting with tomorrow’s first guest, Allison Brennan!

For our inaugural blog, we decided to answer the question: If you were stranded on a desert island, what three romantic suspense books would you want with you?

Get ready to add to your to-be-read pile, because there are some fabulous book recommendations below.

Sharon Wray

SUZANNE BROCKMANN – Letters to Kelly (2003) Silhouette Intimate Moments No. 1213

After years of turning my back on fictional Happily Ever Afters, this book found me during the darkest period of my life. Within the first five pages, the fabulous Suz reminded me, in a powerful way, of how much I love reading romance.

LINDSAY MCKENNA – Morgan’s Marriage (1995) Morgan’s Mercenaries: Love and Danger – Silhouette Special Edition No. 1005

This bittersweet love story about an estranged husband and wife is one of the most emotional suspense stories I’ve ever read. It’ll be on my keeper shelf forever.

SUZANNE BROCKMANN – Out of Control (2002) Troubleshooters, Book 4

I can’t go anywhere without Out of Control. It was while devouring this book that I decided what I wanted to do with the rest of my life—write romantic suspense. And I will always be grateful.

Gwen Hernandez

I love sensual, emotionally charged books with lots of action and suspense, especially those with a military/mercenary/ bodyguard/spy slant. Not sure I could live with just three books, but if I had to, these would be at the top of my list.

SUZANNE BROCKMANN – Over the Edge (2001) Troubleshooters, Book 3

Brockmann is hands down my favorite romantic suspense author—one of the first I ever read—and the one who inspired me to write it. She excels at creating characters who are both kick-butt and vulnerable. Every one of them feels real to me. Heavy on the emotion with deftly-written plots, choosing just one of her books was hard, but I keep coming back to Stan and Teri’s story over and over.

JOANNA BOURNE – The Spymaster’s Lady (2010)

Bourne combines suspense with my other favorite: historical romance. The characters and plot twists in this book left me breathless.

SUZANNE BROCKMANN – Frisco’s Kid (1997) Tall, Dark & Dangerous, Book 3

No, Sharon and I didn’t plan this. 😉

This book from Brockmann’s early days with Harlequin handled the physically and emotionally wounded warrior so well that two years after reading it, I still think about Frisco.

Krista Hall

I would need stories that offer the comfort of characters who feel like old friends, the opportunity for discovery of nuances of plot or character previously unnoticed, and the simple pleasure of a well-crafted mystery—all while magically transporting me to distant places.

WILKIE COLLINS – The Woman in White (1859)

This 1859 precursor of the modern mystery thriller promises many hours of companionship with the Hartwrights and Fairlies, the comical Professor Pesca, the evil Count Fosco, and, of course, the mysterious woman glimpsed on a moonlit lane.

TANA FRENCH – Faithful Place (2010)

A nuanced portrait of murder, betrayal, and love set in contemporary Dublin. While solving the mysterious disappearance of his first love, undercover detective Frank Mackey wrestles with the ties of love and obligation that bind him to his dysfunctional childhood.

ELIZABETH LOWELL – Death Is Forever (1992, 2004)

Political intrigue and non-stop action in Australia where an American heiress and a geologist uncover dangerous secrets associated with an inherited diamond mine and battle to survive ruthless players in the international diamond trade.

Rachel Grant

TAMI HOAG – Night Sins (1995)

The first romance I read after a long break from the genre, this book made me realize how much I’d missed the added layer of intensity that romance brings to a suspense story.  After reading Night Sins, I knew that when I eventually sat down to write a book, this was the genre for me.

ELIZABETH LOWELL – Jade Island (1998)

It was hard to choose only one Lowell book.  The suspense element of her books is always a fun ride, so I picked Jade Island because the chemistry between Kyle and Lianne is amazing.  From the first moment they meet, they sizzle, and the heat only increases from there.

LINNEA SINCLAIR – Finders Keepers (2005)

Science Fiction romance at its finest, Sinclair is a master at world building.  I can read Trilby and Rhis’s adventure through space over and over, and each time I’m left with that happily-ever-after sigh of satisfaction.

Lena Diaz

There are so many other authors and novels I would have liked to list, but here are some of my all-time faves.

JULIE GARWOOD – Killjoy (2002)

Oh. My. Gosh. What is amazing about this book is the way Garwood busts all the stereo-types and digs so deeply into her characters. I love how the ‘victims’ in her novel fight back and defeat the villain. And talk about well-motivated, fleshed out villains – Monk is probably the most three-dimensional bad-guy I’ve ever read.

LINDA HOWARD – Mr. Perfect (2000)

Sexy, sexy, funny, sexy. Did I mention sexy? And funny? Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a romantic comedy. But the sexually charged dialogue zingers between the hero and the heroine are probably the best I’ve ever seen.

LISA GARDNER – The Perfect Husband (1998)

This novel is a favorite because of its emotional punch. Both the hero and heroine have so much baggage that you can’t help but empathize with them. And the suspense is the traditional, old-school, edge of your seat, nail-biting type of suspense. Classic. Timeless. Perfect.

Manda Collins

KAREN ROSE – You Can’t Hide (2006)

You can’t get much better than Karen Rose for romance mixed with diabolical villains. The implication that our modern technologies can easily be turned against us in YCH, is chilling. Add in hunky Chicago cop with a chip on his shoulder Aidan Reagan, and psychologist with a stalker Tess Ciccotelli, and you’ve got a keeper.

JULIE ANNE LONG – The Perils of Pleasure (2008)

As a historical romance author who loves suspense, I adored the opening scene of this one. Colin Eversea is saved from the gallows by Madeline Greenway and they spend the novel on the run, searching for the man who framed Colin. And, of course, falling in love.

NORA ROBERTS – Angels Fall (2006)

Pairing Reece, a chef on the run, with Brody, a hunky crime novelist, this one is a great example of small town romantic suspense. With gorgeous Montana scenery and a cast of small town characters who are familiar but unique, Angels Fall is a must read for those looking to see how good romantic suspense can be.

Diana Belchase

How on earth can anyone manage on a mere three books? But since the gals have a gun to my head –apropos for a suspense group – I’ll try.

DOROTHY GILMAN – The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax (1966)

I must mention the book that got me hooked on suspense in the first place – The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax.  Mrs. P is feisty, resourceful, and downright wonderful as a senior citizen who decides she wants to be a CIA agent.  Not only did Gilman put me on track as a suspense author, she made me feel I could do anything, too.


Of course, I love Janet Evanovitch’s Stephanie Plum and think Hot Six is incredibly funny.  I wish Stephanie would choose between Ranger and Morelli – she’s driving me nutty with the details about both these sexy guys.

NINA BRUHNS writes wonderful books – I simply couldn’t choose – so I’d have to put them in a sack and pull out one at random.

Then there’s darling NORA/JD ROBB, and the amazing REBECCA YORK, and DAVID BALDACCI, and BRAD MELTZER … and… oh no, they’ve loaded the gun … they’re pulling the trigger…

Ye gads!  They’re cutting my word count!

Carey Baldwin

I’d choose three suspense books with special meaning for me:

CHARLOTTE BRONTË – Jane Eyre (1847)

The first romantic suspense (hey, JE has got romance and suspense in spades!) I ever read. I couldn’t put it down, and that was a real pain because it is 538 pages!

HARLAN COBEN – Promise Me (2007)

I learned from this book that thrillers can not only scare you, they can make you laugh.

TESS GERRITSEN – The Surgeon (2002)

When I read this book I realized for the first time that it was possible to write a book that wasn’t just a romance, or a traditional romantic suspense, or a by-the-book medical thriller. It’s just a great book, and that’s exactly the kind of book I want to read.

Sarah Andre

LISA GARDNER – Alone (2005)

Her ability to weave all that compelling sniper research/lingo into such a tense, twisted story still leaves me breathless.


The only book where right from page one you can’t fathom how the hero and heroine will ever, under any circumstances get together and fall in love! She’s a master at the slight-of-hand hints that point to the villain and I still can’t pick them up! Grr!

ALLISON BRENNAN – Fear No Evil (2007)

The first book in her current Lucy Kincaid Series. It’s the kind of story that makes your skin crawl even as you can’t turn the page fast enough. One of the most unique ticking time bomb plots ever, and I’m delighted to announce that ALLISON BRENNAN will officially launch our KissAndThrill blog site tomorrow! We’ve asked her some personal questions about what scares her, what authors she reads, etc. and we welcome your questions too!

Okay, so now it’s your turn.  We want to know, what are your desert island books?

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