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Ella Grace: Christy Reece’s not-so-dark secret

EllaGraceChristyReeceWhen I met Christy Reece at my first-ever Romance Writers of America chapter meeting in 2009, she’d just sold a three book series called Last Chance Rescue. In short order, she made another three book deal and became a best-selling author. Nine books later, the New York Times bestseller is switching gears—and names—to pen the new romantic suspense Wildefire series as Ella Grace.

Her first Wildefire book, MIDNIGHT SECRETS, comes out April 30th. I’m so excited she agreed to join us on Kiss & Thrill today to answer some questions about her new identity and the new series.

GH: We’re all dying to know, why the name change?

EG: My publisher decided they didn’t want to continue the LCR series and asked me to develop a new one. My editor had some specific elements she wanted to see in the new series proposal. She wanted a more character driven storyline, more romance, not as dark as my LCR books, and a domestic setting. (Many of my LCR stories had international settings.) With those suggestions in mind, I created the Wildefire series. I’ve always wanted to write a series based in the South since that’s where I’m from, so I created the town of Midnight and put it in South Alabama, not far from Mobile.

Then my publisher suggested a name change. I resisted at first. I already had a solid reputation as a romantic suspense author and didn’t want to lessen that by taking a new name. But as I continued to write the first book in the series, I realized the name change might be for the best. Christy Reece’s stories are darker and plot driven, featuring tortured, kick butt characters and nasty, evil villains. Ella Grace’s books are character driven, romance centered, and contain as much mystery as suspense.

Believe me, it wasn’t an easy decision to make and I still don’t know if it was the right one. It’s my sincere hope that my LCR readers will enjoy this new venture. I also hope to gain new readers who prefer less dark stories.

Fingers crossed!

GH: I have no doubt you’ll succeed. Good writing always wins. Your Last Chance Rescue series is full of seriously tortured (and hot) heroes and heroines, steamy encounters, international adventure, twisted villains, and well-deserved happy endings. I never would have guessed such a quiet, sweet woman could be so mean to her characters! 😉 Tell us about the Wildefire series, and what makes it different from LCR. What’s behind the name? Are there any cross-over characters?

EG: Ah yes, I do love to torture my characters. And quiet, sweet woman? I do have you fooled! ☺

The Wildefire series revolves around the three Wilde sisters who lost their parents to a murder/suicide when the girls were just children. Since their last name is Wilde and they live on Wildefire Lane, we chose to call it the Wildefire series.

Cross-over characters from my LCR books? No, they’re completely separate. However, I could definitely see my heroes being LCR operatives!

GH: The Wildefire series is set in Midnight, Alabama. What made you decide to switch to a southern setting? In what ways does Midnight resemble the small Alabama town you grew up in?

EG: I grew up in Alabama and the southern culture is one I’m familiar with and love. Every region of the country has its eccentricities and flavor. Southerners pride themselves on their uniqueness. I’ve enjoyed creating the town of Midnight and filling it when some unique and colorful characters. Thankfully, Midnight in no way, shape, or form, resembles the tiny community where I was raised. We only had a stop sign. Midnight has traffic lights, plus businesses like Tillie’s Hair Today, Gertie’s Wash and Wait and Faye’s Diner. Gossiping is a national pastime in Midnight and these three businesses always have the juiciest and most up-to-date news. Oh wait, my little community did have Ethel-Mae’s hair salon. ☺

GH: Wow, one stop sign! In your LCR books, you really put your characters through the ringer. They’re tough and kick-butt, but usually emotionally—and sometimes physically—scarred. How do the characters in the new series compare? And can you tell us a bit about the hero and heroine in Midnight Secrets?

EG: The Wildefire series features strong, heroic men and tough, smart women. The men are still kick butt, the women a little less so. But thankfully they are resilient, because I do put them through the emotional wringer.

The hero and heroine of MIDNIGHT SECRETS are Zach Tanner and Savannah Wilde, who were childhood sweethearts until something ripped their world apart. Ten years later, Savannah is a prosecutor in Nashville, Tennessee and returns to Midnight to sell the family home. Zach, who used to be the town bad boy, is a war hero and now Midnight’s new police chief. The two never stopped loving each other but must face some painful issues before they can be together again. In the midst of all of this, Savannah discovers that her parents’ death wasn’t a murder/suicide at all. She takes it upon herself to discover who and why.

GH: Ooh, sounds fabulous! Do you plot out your books ahead of time, or start with a basic premise and go with the flow?

EG: I don’t plot, however, I do a huge amount of world and character building in my head. And I have a tendency to chat with my characters, similar to a character interview, before I start writing. Before I begin the book, I try to write out a short synopsis just to make sure I know where I’m going. The story always changes, but if I get stuck, I can go to the synopsis to get back on track.

GH: Your writing style sounds very similar to mine, despite my constant struggle to be more of a plotter. Okay, now the fun stuff. 🙂 What’s a treat you just can’t say no to?

EG: Homemade chocolate chips cookies (without nuts!) Yum!

GH: Mmm, warm right out of the oven… Ahem. I read on your site that you once jumped out of a plane to impress a man. (You’re clearly a braver woman than I am.) How’d that work out?

EG: Let’s just say I’ve forgotten the guy but I’ll never forget the thrilling, pulse pounding excitement of the jump. It was one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life. So glad I had the opportunity.

GH: What’s next for you after the three books in the new series? Will you be doing any more writing as Christy Reece?

EG: So far, there are only two books in the Wildefire series, though I do hope to sell more. I have another sister I want to write a story about, plus three very sexy and intriguing men.

And yes, I will definitely continue to write Christy Reece books. I’m currently finishing up another Last Chance Rescue novel that I’m self publishing. I hope to write at least three more LCR books before ending the series. Then, I have several different romantic suspense series ideas I want to explore.

GH: I’m glad to hear there’ll be more LCR books, but I can’t wait to read MIDNIGHT SECRETS! Thanks so much for joining us on Kiss and Thrill today!

Here’s a bit more about MIDNIGHT SECRETS, due out April 30th:

secrets_.bAT THE STROKE OF MIDNIGHT, THE HEAT BEGINS

On a hot southern night, with a storm on the horizon, a family is shattered. Three beautiful daughters—Savannah, Samantha, and Sabrina Wilde—go on with their lives, each significantly changed, as they bear the memory of the murder-suicide that killed their parents. For years, they have stayed away from Midnight, Alabama. Until Midnight calls them home.

Savannah is the first one back, when a grueling case in Nashville leads the young prosecutor to seek shelter in the quiet of the once grand Wilde mansion. But when she finds letters casting doubt on her family’s dark, shameful past, she realizes that peace in Midnight is a shallow façade and sinister secrets lurk beneath the surface. Zach Tanner, once the town’s bad boy, is now the new police chief and still has a wild hold over her. Zach can feel it, too, but he hurt Savannah once. As teenagers, they broke every rule together. Now it’s his job to keep her safe, even though he isn’t sure who her enemies are, or which ones might be his own. All he knows is that they have only each other to face dangers they can’t see coming.

Ella Grace aka Christy Reece lives in Alabama with her husband and a menagerie of pets.

Ella’s giving away a copy of one of Christy Reece’s LCR books (winner’s choice) to one lucky commenter, and she wants to know your favorite Southern food or Southern saying.

Hers? 

“My favorite Southern food is fried okra and my favorite saying is, you guessed it: Bless your heart. :)”

Don’t forget to check back Thursday to see if you won!

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