Posted by Lena Diaz
Thank you again, Rita Herron, for visiting with us this week. And thank you so much to all the Kiss and Thrill readers who stopped by to say hello.
And now (drumroll please)…the winner of either a print or Kindle copy of Rita’s book DYING TO TELL is…
Charlotte Abel (@Charlotte_Abel) January 15th 5:00 pm)
Congratulations! To claim your prize, please email us your U.S. mailing address or email address for your Kindle gift certificate within 10 days.
Stop by next Tuesday for a very special treat. Kiss and Thrill’s very own, Sharon Wray, has a fascinating post that takes you back in romance novel time to celebrate the gothic novel!
Posted by Lena Diaz
It might surprise you that award-winning, romantic suspense author Rita Herron began her adult life as a kindergarten teacher. (I’m sure she was careful not to scare her young students with her spine-tingling suspenseful tales!) But for the past decade she has turned her story-telling abilities to writing over SIXTY books, including sexy romantic comedies as well as dark, gritty, spicy suspense stories. Currently she writes both for Harlequin Intrigue and Amazon Montlake.
She has won numerous awards, including three Maggie Awards of Excellence, a Reader’s Choice Award for Best Romantic Suspense, two Cataromance Reviewer’s Choice awards and was awarded a Career Achievement Award for category romantic suspense from RT.
Lena: Rita, welcome to Kiss and Thrill. Can you please tell us about your latest release, DYING TO TELL?
Rita: DYING TO TELL is the first in a series and is set in the small town of Slaughter Creek in the mountains of Tennessee. In this book, Sadie Nettleton, a forensic interviewer and children’s advocate, must return home to the town – and the man – she left behind to find out if her sister, who suffers from Dissociative Identity Disorder, killed her grandfather.
Sheriff Jake Blackwood is determined to uncover the truth, but he must protect his heart from Sadie, the only woman he ever loved, the woman who left him when he needed her most.
There’s mystery, suspense, long lost love, secrets and betrayal, all surrounding the local mental hospital.
Book two, HER DYING BREATH (June 2013) follows when Jake’s brother Nick, now an FBI agent, joins forces with Jake to solve a serial killer case. Nick is a hardened man with no time for romance or relationships. His only goal is to find a murderer.
But Brenda Banks, the local reporter, and the woman he lusted after years ago, is dogging him for information. For some reason, the killer has connected with her, and he’s forced to let her assist him.
Still, he refuses to let her into his heart. Only Brenda has a way of getting what she wants. And she wants this case – and Nick. Then the killer targets Brenda, and Nick has no choice – he must protect her…
Lena: Sounds like an awesome series! And it’s with Montlake Romance, a publishing arm of Amazon. Why did you decide to publish with Amazon instead of a traditional publisher?
Rita: I had been working on this story, making notes, writing, letting it percolate for a while. My agent and I discussed the project, and at the time the NY publishers weren’t interested in romantic suspense. But Amazon seemed to be doing well with them and was interested so we submitted it. I also think they do a great job of marketing!
Lena: Good to know, and also a good reminder to all of us authors to keep our options open, especially when there’s a tight market like now for romantic suspense. Rita, you’ve written over sixty books!!! How do you keep your writing fresh with each new story?
Rita: Good question. There are a few ways. First, I think of a storyline, crime, setting, situation or a character that interests me. If I’m excited about that storyline or character or setting, then it’s fun to write.
Second, I try to put a different spin or twist in a story, use different details in the crime, or tag the character with a trait that stands out. For instance, in DYING TO TELL, Sadie’s sister has multiple personalities, a topic that has always intrigued me. Since I was intrigued by it, I hope readers will be.
Third, my critique partner and I have a saying – give the reader what they want. I try to remember that and make my characters lovable or put them in a situation that the reader can relate to. Romance readers want to watch the characters fall in love so that has to be part of the story.
Lena: Even with your answers above, I’m astonished at your productivity. You regularly release three or more Harlequin Intrigues each year. You released 5 books in 2011 by Beachside Reads. In 2010 you published books with HQN and Harlequin American and Grand Central, and even published some paranormals. You also have some non-fiction books on your resume, and even a cookbook! You’re obviously an amazingly versatile, talented author who is incredibly prolific. How do you do produce so many different kinds of books and keep them all straight?
Rita: I’ve always had an overactive imagination and loved to read as a child. At age twelve, I wrote my first mystery! Being able to do what I love, get paid for it and make readers happy makes every day fun and special.
My biggest problem is deciding which story to write next! There’s just not enough time and my idea folders are overflowing.
Lena: So, with everything that you do, what is your favorite genre to write?
Rita: Hmm, I always wanted to write big, dark romantic suspense novels like Tami Hoag (Cry Wolf is still my favorite!) The dark creepy story lines just pop in my head and haunt me until I put them on paper. So being able to publish DYING TO TELL and write more books like this is a dream come true.
Lena: If you could sit down with ‘new author you’ in the beginning of your career and give yourself advice, what would you say?
Rita: Write in one genre! LOL! At one point, my agent and I had a discussion about career building, and I knew that writing in one genre was the best way to build a following. After that, I focused more on the Harlequin Intrigues and darker suspense.
I’d also say – never give up. Unfortunately rejection is a part of the process and rejection hurts. You have to believe in yourself or no one else will.
Lena: Sounds like great advice. What is your favorite part about being an author?
Rita: Other than making up stuff all day and working in my pjs? LOL. Seriously, I like not fighting traffic and working by the fire on a cold day. I also enjoy being able to set my own schedule. And I’ve met some fantastic authors who continue to be friends and inspire me.
Lena: Readers love a peek into the exciting, glamorous lives of their favorite authors. So, what do you do in your down time for fun?
Rita: Down time? What’s that?
I love taking long walks, especially on the beach! I enjoy shopping, reading and also crafts. At one time, I was avid into designing quilts (my mother is a quilter).
And now that I have three grandkids and another on the way, I enjoy playing with them!
Lena: Ah, congrats on the grandkids. Switching gears a bit, what kinds of research have you done for your romantic suspense novels?
Rita: Probably the most interesting thing I did was to tour a morgue. I went with a group of authors at Christmas time and we called it the Holly Jolly Morgue tour!
I also took a local police course and did a ride along with a police officer which was eye opening.
I’ve also interviewed, emailed and spoken with professionals, attended workshops featuring FBI agents, forensic specialists, and others, and I do a lot of research on line.
Lena: Sounds awesome! Is there something about you that your readers might be surprised to know?
Rita: LOL. I was born in a mental hospital! It’s true and one thing that sparked my interest in writing this story. I’m also an identical twin. For years my sister and I made up stories about how we came to be born in the Milledgeville State Hospital (once known as the State Asylum). My mother explained that my father worked there, but our stories were much more fun and interesting!
Lena: Yikes. Moving on…What can your readers expect from you in the future?
Rita: At this point, I have at least one more story planned in the Slaughter Creek series, tentatively called WORTH DYING FOR. I also have a romantic suspense series set in New Orleans that I want to write but haven’t sold yet. Fingers crossed.
As far as Harlequin Intrigue, this year I’m writing two stories about Cold Cases, pub dates to be announced.
With my lighter self published Beachside Reads, I hope to work in a new series but we’ll see. I need to clone myself.
But overall, I plan to focus on my big romantic suspense stories.
Lena: Thanks so much for joining us today, Rita. It’s been great learning more about you and your books.
Rita: Thanks for letting me share my work with you! Happy Reading!
For more information on Rita and her titles, visit her at www.ritaherron.com. You can also follow her on facebook/ritaherron.com and twitter @ritaherron.
Rita is rewarding one commenter with either a print or Kindle copy of her book, DYING TO TELL. (Snail mail address must be in the US or Canada to qualify for the prize.) Check back on Thursday to see if you are the winner!