Drive-By Q&A with Romantic Suspense Author Leslie Tentler
Posted by mandacollinsauthor
I first met Leslie last fall at the Georgia Romance Writers Moonlight & Magnolias conference, where I picked up the second book in her Midnight trilogy, Midnight Fear. I had heard of her, since I tend to pay attention to new voices in romantic suspense, but I hadn’t had a chance to try her books. What I found when I dove into Midnight Fear was a complex, character driven novel that broke new ground in the genre.
The writer becomes the story when crime reporter Mia Hale is discovered on a Jacksonville beach – bloodied and disoriented, but alive. She remembers nothing, but her wounds bear the signature of a sadistic serial killer. After years lying dormant, The Collector has resumed his grim hobby: abducting women and taking gruesome souvenirs before dumping their bodies. But none of his victims has ever escaped – and he wants Mia back, more than he ever wanted any of the others.
FBI agent Eric Macfarlane has pursued The Collector for a long time. The case runs deep in his veins, bordering on obsession…and Mia holds the key. She’ll risk everything to recover her memory and bring the madman to justice, and Eric swears to protect this fierce, fragile survivor. But The Collector will not be denied. In his mind, he knows just how their story ends.
Now, without further ado, here’s Leslie Tenter!
LT: Thanks for having me!
MC: Let’s get this party started! First off, when and why did you begin writing?
LT: Writing is something I’ve always done, just like I’ve always been a reader. I remember being in maybe fifth grade and sitting at my dad’s typewriter, pecking out little stories and then trying to get people to read them.
I didn’t fully realize that I wanted to “be” a fiction writer until after college, however. Making a living got in the way, though, and it wasn’t until many years later that I got serious about writing and completing a novel.
MC: Yeah, I think we’ve all been forced to choose between eating and writing at one time or another. So you said you were a reader. What book do you remember loving as a child? What was it that you loved?
LT: I checked “Island of the Blue Dolphins” by Scott O’Dell out of my elementary school library so many times! I was fascinated with the idea of a young girl living alone and surviving on an island for so many years. There’s a really sad scene in the book that would just kill me every time I read it, but then I’d go back and torture myself by reading it again.
I was also really into Nancy Drew mysteries. I always enjoyed the danger and near misses Nancy and her friends got themselves into. It’s what probably started my interest in suspense stories.
MC: Yay! Another Nancy Drew Fan! I think there are lots of us out here in Romancelandia. Or Romantic Suspense-landia, rather. We should have a convention or something. Do you remember the one where Nancy and Ned got trapped in the…*offstage throat clearing* Okay, okay.
Moving on, you say that you were always a writer, but when did you first consider yourself (or feel like) a writer?
LT: Probably when I took a job as a staff writer at an Atlanta PR firm. It wasn’t really the type of writing I wanted to do, but at least it put me in the “writer” category. One reason I took the job was because it was right around the corner from the Margaret Mitchell house, which to me was really exciting.
Before my first book, “Midnight Caller”, was published, I spent nearly 20 years supporting myself working as a writer and editor in public relations.
MC: Oh, wow! How cool to work so near where Margaret Mitchell wrote Gone with the Wind. That must have been so creatively stimulating.
So, moving into your writing career itself, what is it about romantic suspense (aside from the Nancy Drew factor) that draws you to it as opposed to other sub-genres of romance?
LT: I love the elements of danger in romantic suspense stories, and the heightened passions that come along with that. While no one really wants that kind of danger in his or her real life, I’d think, it’s exciting to see it play out from the safety of a book. I’m especially drawn to male characters that act heroically and can be brave even to the point of foolishness when the stakes are high.
MC: I love your male characters. They’re tough, but also very human, which I think adds real depth to your stories, and takes some real craftsmanship.
Speaking of, what is the hardest part of writing for you?
The hardest is the business part of it, for sure. I have a lot of anxiety surrounding contracts and deadlines. That’s something I didn’t realize about myself until my first book sold as part of a three-book deal and I suddenly found myself facing a large contract and two additional looming deadlines. That was way scarier to me than a serial killer. 🙂
MC: No kidding! I feel the same way. But let’s not dwell on the tough stuff. What do you find is the easiest part of writing?
LT: The easiest part for me probably stems from my being a non-fiction writer and editor for so many years prior to writing fiction. I feel very confident with my self-editing skills and have been told by my editor and agent that I’m a very “clean” writer.
MC: I am so jealous! You’ll have to teach me your clean writing ways one of these days. For now, I’ll settle for hearing what you’ve been reading lately. Do tell!
LT: I’m reading “Evil at Heart”, the third book in Chelsea Cain’s series about tortured (literally) Portland detective Archie Sheridan and serial killer Gretchen Lowell. I also just started Nora Roberts’ “The Next Always.”
MC (updates her TBR list): So, can you tell us what you’re working on now? Inquiring minds want to know!
LT: I’m working on another romantic thriller that revolves around a homicide detective and is set in Atlanta, where I live. The other main character in the story is the detective’s ex-wife, who is an ER trauma doctor. And while the book deals with a high profile, multiple homicide investigation, it’s also just as much about what happened to this couple – their shared tragedy – that tore them apart.
MC: Ooh! I love the sound of that! Especially the Atlanta setting. Can’t wait to read it!
Leslie, I can’t tell you how much fun it was to have you as our guest today! Thanks for a great interview and for adding some great books to my all time favorites list!
Now, gentle readers, I have a question for you! Did you have one book in particular that, like Leslie, you checked out again and again from the school library? Or one that you owned but read again and again? One commenter will win a copy of Leslie’s latest book, Edge of Midnight.