REBECCA YORK, FIRST LADY OF SUSPENSE

We’re so lucky today to have with us, Rebecca York, winner of the RWA Centennial Award, USA Today bestselling author, with more than 100 books in print.  Rebecca’s books deliver in three ways – suspense, paranormal, and romance.  Handling those three plot arcs can be like wrestling an octopus for an average writer.  Then, again, Rebecca is anything but average.  Her plots thrill, her characters defy normal parameters, while being incredibly realistic, and her romantic elements sizzle. 

 Rebecca graciously offered to blog for us today.  She will also be giving away one of her favorite Harlequin Intrigues to a lucky commenter today! 

 Tomorrow I’ll be interviewing Rebecca and announcing the winner.  So, make sure you come back and join in.

 Now, please help me welcome, Rebecca York! 

 

REBECCA YORK

 

I’ve always thought that one of the best ways to connect with my readers is through related stories.  I’ve done that with my long-running 43 Light Street series for Harlequin Intrigue and my Moon books for Berkley.  And I wanted to use a similar format with the Decorah Security series, which I launched in December with three titles.

The usual thriller or detective series has one main protagonist who comes back book after book.  Romantic thrillers are a little different because it’s not just about the peril.  The focus is on the developing relationship between the hero and heroine as well as on the action plot.  It’s also the story of a man and a woman falling in love against a background of suspense and danger, and it isn’t until after they’ve dispatched the bad guys that the reader is sure they’re going to work out their complex relationship.

That’s a challenge for the writer.  But also fun.  You’re always weaving the two plots together so that if you pulled out either one, the story would fall apart.  And with the Decorah Security series, there’s another element as well.  All of the agents have paranormal powers–or they’re dealing with a paranormal case.

Bringing the first three Decorah Security stories to publication was a year-long project for me.  And though DARK MOON is the third book in the series, it’s the one I wrote first because I thought of it as a transition between my Berkley Moon books and the new series.

DARK MOON Cover

DARK MOON features the main Decorah Security players, Frank Decorah and the in-house staff who have secondary roles in all the stories.  We also meet a guy who’s going to be the hero of a future Decorah novel, even though he’s playing the part of a bad guy in this story.

The spotlight is on agents Cole Marshall and Emma Richards, who are sent on a desperate mission to rescue Karen Hopewell, a young woman kidnapped by a business rival of her father.  But Bruno Del Conte is no ordinary businessman.  He lives on a cruise ship that’s been converted into a sexual playground for the rich and kinky.

Going under cover, Cole and Emma must play the role of lovers while they search for Karen.  On the ship, they’re threatened by a mutiny in progress and also by Del Conte’s security chief who digs into their backgrounds to find out who they really are and why they’re on board.  At the same time, they struggle with the intensity of the personal relationship neither of them thought they wanted.

And, oh yeah, just to complicate matters, Cole’s a werewolf who fears Emma will discover his secret in the worst possible manner.

I finished DARK MOON, let it sit, and went through my three or four edits.  But I was nervous about the story.  After more than 130 books with major publishers, this was my first indie project, and I didn’t want anyone to say, “It’s not up to her usual standards.”  It helped me to send it to a beta reader who came back and said she loved it.  But I wasn’t ready to loose the book on the world quite yet.  I hired a professional editor, who made some suggestions and line edited.  And of course, my faithful proofreader, my husband, made sure nobody would see my dyslexic spelling and typing errors.

Meanwhile, I was working on CHAINED.  Originally it was a stand-alone novella until I realized it fit perfectly into the Decorah Security universe.

It’s the story of Isabella Flores, a woman on the run from thugs who want to kill her.  When she hides out at a ranch her father owns, she hooks up with Matt Houseman, the ghost of the Decorah agent she loved and lost.  Both are surprised that their relationship turns sensual.  And when the bad guys find Isabella, Matt helps save her life.  But is he really a phantom?  And can Isabella turn the tables and bring him back to life?

Sedona Research

Continuing with the series in reverse order, I edited CHAINED, then wrote AMBUSHED.  Since it’s a short story, I made it the introduction to the series.  Decorah operative Jordan Stone is guarding Elizabeth Bannerman, the only witness against an alleged terrorist.  When Jordan and Elizabeth are ambushed, they hide from armed men out to assassinate her.  And when it looks like they may not survive, they both acknowledge the sexual attraction that’s been simmering between them.  Jordan is determined to save Elizabeth’s life, but can he cope with his strong feelings for her?

I worked on the Decorah Security series while writing two Harlequin Intrigues, SUDDEN INSIGHT and SUDDEN ATTRACTION, which come out in January and February 2012, respectively.

But now it’s launch time for Decorah Security, and I’m excited to see how this new venture works out.

Thanks so much Rebecca!  Don’t forget to tune in tomorrow for an interview with Rebecca and to find out who won an copy of her Harlequin Intrigue!

About Diana Belchase

I am an author, who won the Golden Heart for my suspense novel Spy in the Mirror and was a Golden Heart finalist, once again, for my second novel, Spy in the Harem. I am also a triple Daphne Du Maurier Award for Mystery and Suspense Finalist for three other books. Please follow me at my website: DianaBelchase.com, or friend/follow me on facebook and twitter. I blog on KissandThrill.com. See you there!

Posted on January 10, 2012, in Author Interview, Author Spotlight, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 33 Comments.

  1. Rebecca, thanks for being a guest on our blog today. I wish you much luck with your Decorah Security series. Sounds compelling. How do you develop your story ideas? Do you sit and brainstorm and write down what-if scenarios? Are there any techniques or tricks you use to help plot ideas gel in your mind? Or do your ideas mainly perhaps come from real life news stories, things like that (minus the werewolf angle of course)?

    • Great questions, Lena! I too am interested in how Rebecca so effectively weaves the three plot elements together for a complex, fast-paced story.

      Rebecca, all the best with your new series!

  2. Thank you so much for blogging today, Rebecca. The Decorah Security series sounds fantastic! I will admit it’s comforting to know that even someone with your publishing credentials still feels nervous about a project. 😉

  3. I actually love how in the romantic suspense they continue the story series with the original ‘secondary’ characters. Because often the ‘secondary’ characters have an even richer back story than the ‘primary’ ones when given the chance. I will have to look for your Moon series when I am at the library or bookstore.

  4. Thanks for being here today, Rebecca. All I can say is “ditto” to the previous comments and questions. I look forward to learning more!

  5. Hi Lynn, thanks for your comment. I am sure you will enjoy the Moon series. I, myself, am a big fan!

  6. Thanks so much for blogging with us today, Rebecca. Having read most of your other books, I’m really looking forward to reading the Decorah Security stories.

  7. SORRY! I’ve had a bad cold and just woke up. More soon.
    Rebecca

  8. We’ve all been there, Rebecca! LOL. Glad you could join us. Lots of great questions here already.

  9. Every book I write starts with a “cool idea.” Like maybe–what if you had a doctor who was trying to make smarter babies and operating on embryos, and he used a fertility clinic as his cover. What if he really created telepaths who feel incomplete unless they link up w/ someone else in the program later in life? (That’s the idea behind SUDDEN INSIGHT) my Harlequin Intrigue out now.

    I get the initial idea, then have to flesh it out. I have two main methods. I sit at the computer keyboard and write some more. Something about the keyboard helps me think. And I discuss the idea w/ other people–which also helps me clarify my ideas.

    Rebecca

  10. I’m putting this in chunks to get it out to you.
    I find that “the more I know about the idea, the more I WILL know.” Something about getting it down helps the process. I know there are programs where people can input data and work with it. I just need a computer file. If I need to move stuff around, I block it and move it.

    I think in terms of what will work for this story–or any story. Like, i need something frightening or tense at the beginning or near the beginning. I need the danger to continue as the h/h get to know each other. I need to have the danger increase as the story continues.

  11. Berkley had told me no more Moon books. But I still wanted to write one. So DARK MOON, is one of the launch books for Decorah Security. If you’ve read the Moon books, you know I got more complicate in my plotting w/ my alternate universe. Because I wanted to go back to the roots of the Moon books, I used a much more accessible idea. What if two Decorah agents are sent to rescue a kidnap victim in grave danger. And one of the agents is a werewolf. Frank Decorah likes the idea of using agents w/ special talents. In the book readers eventually find out that he saved a wounded wolf he found in the forest. He had the sick wolf in a cage, but when the wolf spiked a fever, it turned into a man. A very interesting problem for Cole Marshall, the hero of Dark Moon. But both he and Frank handled it.

    So–do you like the way I copied the cover concept for the Berkley Moon books w/ DARK MOON?

  12. Yes, the cover is great! And there is no ambiguity like with the red rocks in the previous cover. Really made me want to pick up the book.

  13. BTW, did you have more control over this art work than with the previous series?

  14. Often one idea sparks another. If you read DARK MOON, you will see there are characters who seem to be bad guys who turn out not to be. I’m going to use a major secondary character in DARK MOON again–and turn him into a Decorah agent.

    If you read the Berkley book, GHOST MOON, or even if you didn’t, the hero is a werewolf ghost. I loved the idea of a woman having a sensual relationship w/ a ghost. In GHOST MOON, I figured out a way to bring him back to life–w/ bad complications.

    So–the idea was too tempting for me to let it go w/ one book.
    In CHAINED, I used it again. W/ major twists. A woman meets up with a man she loved in the past, but any intimate relationship was forbidden to them. Now they’re together again–but he’s dead. Or is he? Once I had that basic idea, I thought about how I could use it but write something completely different from the solution I came up w/ for GHOST MOON. In CHAINED, the Sedona vortexes, magic places of power in the desert, are a major element in the story.

    And how do you like the cool new cover Patricia came up w/ for Chained. We had something else that didn’t quite work. I think this one is stunning.

  15. Rebecca. How do you plot and plan your fictional universe and keep everything straight? It must be really hard.

  16. Okay. I see you don’t have the CHAINED cover here. If you put Decorah Security into Amazon, you’ll see all three book covers.

    Nice of them to do it that way!
    Rebecca

  17. I have always loved ghost romance stories every since I saw the Ghost and Mrs. Muir as a kid. Did your germ of an idea come from that or from some other source? Do you ever rely on classic stories to spin off ideas for your plots?

  18. Of course I’m inspired by classic stories. I also saw The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, so it would have been floating around in the back of my mind. Also, Topper, a 50’s TV show where one of the main characters is a ghost. Maybe two ghosts. I can’t remember.

    A lot of my inspiration comes from the 50’s fantasy and science fiction I read as a kid. And I also read a lot of “horror.”

    One thing I realized when I was asked to do a talk on Horror at a writers conference was that the monsters of the old horror stories have been turned into the heroes of today’s paranormal romance.

  19. Rebecca,
    Thanks so much for joining us! Congratulations on your new series and your venture into indie publishing. I look forward to reading your Decorah series. You’ve thrown out so many fascinating ideas with these stories, but what really piqued my curiosity was the mention of a bad guy who will become a hero in a future book. I love it when that happens!

  20. More control over the cover? With an indie book, you have COMPLETE CONTROL over the cover. No more praying that the publisher will give you something you like. I’m lucky that I have a friend, Patricia Rosemoor, (www.patriciarosemoor.com) who is a designer as well as a writer. We designed these covers together and she made them. Well, w/ Dark Moon I was sitting beside her in her office in Chicago. I thought I knew what would work for CHAINED. Since he’s a “ghost” I wanted him in the sky over the Arizona landscape w/ clouds showing through him. That cover looked okay, but it just never felt entirely right to me. And that was my fault, because she gave me exactly what I asked for. When I visited her this Xmas, I asked her if she had a better idea for CHAINED. She told me to look for an adobe house, which I found on one of the stock photo sites. Then we used the same photo of Jimmy Thomas and the same Arizona landscape that Norman had taken on our research trip to Sedona. She came up with a picture of Jimmy standing in that scene. She tried making it look paranormal by putting a “glow” around him the way she did w/ a cover for PRINCE OF AIR AND DARKNESS (see her portfolio), but it didn’t quite work. Then she came up w/ the genius idea of using the ghost images in back of him. And I said, “That’s it!” So there was some frustration w/ that cover but also a feeling of triumph in getting it right.

    If you go to Patricia’s site and look at her portfolio, you can see some of her other paranormal effects. http://www.patriciarosemoor.com

    I went to a session at the NINC conference in St. Pete Beach in October in which Julie Ortolon said that an author can tell the designer exactly what she wants for the cover, and it isn’t quite right. This was certainly the case w/ CHAINED. Julie also said that changing the cover to something that works better can boost sales.
    Rebecca

  21. I can’t tell you a lot about the bad guy who turns into a hero later, because I’d give away a nice surprise in DARK MOON. But now you can look for it.

    Yes, I loved rehabbing him.

  22. Something I forgot to say about the covers. Did you notice how they all have a unified loo?. W/ the same type face, the big Rebecca York at the top and the title at the bottom. And the Decorah Security flash. I decided on the name Decorah Security after joining the gawkers at a web cam trained on an eagle’s nest in Decorah Iowa last spring and summer. (They will have it again this year.) I found a gold eagle coin to use as the emblem and Patricia designed the logo. Frank Decorah, who runs Decorah Security, has the gold coin in his pocket and flips it when he’s nervous.

  23. Well, that should be unified look!

  24. Really enjoyed your post, Rebecca. I’ve been a fan for many years. Your covers are beautiful and so are your stories.

  25. The covers really do have a unified look now, but my favorite is the new one, Dark Moon.

  26. Rebecca, JJ asked about plotting your fictional universe and keeping it straight. I’d really like to know about that, too. How do you keep records about your characters and the timeline? Do you ever slip up? You must be a genius to keep it all straight.

  27. Diana, I didn’t answer you because I’m not that great at being organized, so my answer’s not going to be that helpful. Do I keep records? No. Do I ever get things wrong? Yes. if I can’t remember what I said in a previous book, I have to paw back through the pages looking for it.

    Luckily, I basically have a good mind for fictional details.

    This is reminding me of college where I faked my note cards, so I’d have some to show the professor. Really, when I was writing a paper, I’d have books lying all over the floor w/ book marks in them.

  28. Rebecca,
    I’m a huge fan who’s in total awe of your writing, but you blew me away when you mentioned that you wrote the Decorah Series while writing Sudden Insight and Sudden Attraction!
    How do you juggle writing multiple books with multi-layered plots and still keep all the details from straying from their respective series?

  29. Ha ha Rebecca. Nice to know you’re as normal as the rest of us.

  30. I used to write slowly, then edit a lot. I figured out I could write fast, then edit the same amount. My method is to write something or as much as I can of something given the time I have, then put it down and work on something else. When I come back to the first thing, it’s like somebody else wrote it, and I can see what’s wrong w/ it. That’s how I work on more than one project in a time period. And the only way I’d be able to do this is by having a good synopsis of the story

    But it was a frantic year of working. I got a lot of help from my critique group on AMBUSHED. I read it to them. They made suggestions. I reworked and read it again. They made more suggestions. I made changes, then sent it to several of the people for more comments. That helped me finish the story more quickly than I would have otherwise been able to do it.
    Rebecca

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