TOUGH JUSTICE: COUNTDOWN – Meet the Authors!
TOUGH JUSTICE: COUNTDOWN features the return of FBI special agent Lara Grant, who thought she’d finally put her past behind her after her last case. But now a serial bomber is targeting some of the most influential people in New York—and he’s set his sights on Lara, as well! As the clock ticks down, Lara braces for another confrontation with evil. And this time, she’s determined to make sure her enemy’s first mistake is also his last…because for Lara Grant, justice is worth every sacrifice.
Read on for a Q&A with authors Carla Cassidy, Tyler Anne Snell, Emmy Curtis and Janie Crouch on what inspires them, their influences and more.
What inspired you to write in the suspense genre in the first place?
CC: I have always loved to watch movies and read books that put a lump of fear in the back of my throat. I particularly enjoy writing books that hopefully keep the reader frantically turning the pages to make sure the characters they love are okay.
TAS: You know that feeling when you’re in the middle of watching a show or movie and you can’t look away? Whether you’re on the edge of your seat or you’re down in the trenches with the characters trying to make sense of everything and survive, I love being really pulled into a story. What’s more, I love creating that feeling, too! And, to me, the suspense genre is a perfect place to do that!
EC: I’ve always read suspense—Nelson DeMille, Sue Grafton, Jennifer Crusie, John Grisham, etc.—and I think it’s generally true that you tend to start off writing what you enjoy reading. In truth, when I wrote my first published book, I didn’t even realize it was a romantic suspense. I just wrote a romance—at the time, it didn’t even occur to me that the guns and being stranded in a war zone was a whole different genre!
JC: I love action and adventure! I’ve lived and traveled all over the world, have participated in many different types of races (triathlons, obstacle races, marathons, two-hundred-mile relays) and with four kids am constantly on the go. So I think that when it came to writing, suspense was just a natural fit for me.
Plus, I love that the FBI must have me on a watch list based on the Google searches I have to do for my books. 🙂
All-time favorite thriller/cop series or movie and why?
CC: I’d probably have to say Seven. It was disturbing on so many levels. I also loved the old television series Saving Grace. The heroine was so tragically flawed. (Sound familiar?)
TAS: This is a really hard question—like asking me to pick my favorite book!—but I will say there is one show that stood up and yelled in mind…The Mentalist! I have never been more absorbed in the personal motivation that drove a main character as I was with Patrick Jane. His backstory was so beautifully written along with his character that I found myself questioning myself at times. Plus, the chemistry he had with his partner Teresa Lisbon? Get out of here! It’s one of the few shows I have on DVD!
EC: I love the Jack Reacher series. AND the movies. (I know—he’s so short, but he still works it!) I love how the writing is so sparse, and the plot is front and center. Clues lie undisturbed in the text until Reacher picks them out and makes magic (and a great finale) from them! On TV, I used to watch CSI and more recently, I was so hooked on Quantico’s first episodes I can’t wait to binge watch it when I have time…*hysterical laughter, turning into tears*. Yup, it might be a while…
JC: So hard to choose! Probably my all-time favorite thriller/cop series was the original season of 24 with Kiefer Sutherland. Talk about a binge-worthy show! I loved how it embraced the concept of “real time” and wasn’t afraid to build on the prior episodes. You never knew who was good and who was bad and who would end up dead. Excellent concept, writing and acting.
What books/authors have most influenced your writing?
CC: Oh, my goodness, there have been so many! Dean Koontz, Lisa Gardner, Carol O’Connell and throw in a little Stephen King to name just a few.
TAS: This is tough! Madeleine L’Engle and her Time Quartet series (okay, and everything else) influenced my personal life so I’m pretty sure she’s had a hand in who I am as a writer. Others I know have directly impacted the way I write include my favorites Charlaine Harris, J. K. Rowling, Janet Evanovich (the Stephanie Plum series) and Stephen King!
EC: Lee Child’s books taught me the importance of plot, and Samanthe Beck’s contemporary romances taught me the importance of the romance! As far as craft goes, I love Save the Cat by Blake Snyder and the DIY MFA by Gabriela Pereira.
JC: Without a doubt, Linda Howard has most influenced me as an author. Her books (especially her early ones) were the perfect blend of romance, suspense and thriller. I have read most of her books multiple times. Cynthia Eden and Elizabeth Heiter are two of my current favorites.
Where do you draw your inspiration?
CC: Everywhere! I watch the news, I watch some true crime television shows and I have to admit I often listen to other peoples’ conversations wherever I am.
TAS: TV! Music! Other books! A lot of the time I’ll be watching something or reading and realize I’m feeling really strongly about a character or a story. I take a beat and see why I’m feeling that way and then wonder how I can recreate that feeling in someone else with a completely different story! The rest of my inspiration? Completely random! I can be doing the laundry and bam—story idea while cleaning out the lint trap!
EC: My first books’ ideas all came from my husband! He’s active duty military, and a lot of his war stories have ended up in my books (I’m not telling which ones, though!). But in general, I’m a “what if” writer. I’ll be reading a totally benign article, and my mind will start whirring. For example, I read an article about the CIA selling old safe houses off (in the real estate pages of a UK newspaper), and I started thinking…what if a young woman bought an old run-down safe house to renovate? And then what if a spy came in from the cold, and broke into the house hoping to be able to recover from his injuries and figure out who was trying to kill him? And then it’s only a few seconds before I’m sipping wine and picturing the woman waking in the middle of the night and threatening her intruder with a nail gun! Yup, I’m going to start writing that one soon!
JC: I think inspiration is everywhere to be found. I read as much as possible (all genres) and I’m not mindless in any of my film/TV viewing. I’m constantly watching shows and thinking about why they do or don’t work and what I can take and apply in a new way to make it unique.
How’s writing this serial different from writing your other books?
CC: The first difference is I don’t get to see the characters through the story. The second difference is when I write my books I’m focused on the hero and heroine. Tough Justice is more of an ensemble story with each character having story lines that enrich and broaden the scope. Tough Justice rocks!
TAS: I’m not going to sit here and pretend I’m not somewhat of a control freak. Sure, sometimes I let my stories and characters carry me to unknown places while I write my books, but in the end the final decisions are mine to make. With the serial that wasn’t the case. We had freedom to really put our mark on these characters but we also had guidelines that kept us from going completely off the rails! It’s not a bad thing but it was different than what I’m used to doing. But a challenge I think will make this particular story even more fun for readers! Four authors, four different voices, one great story!
EC: Writing is such a solitary process; it was a joy to be able write with other people. Although the story was already outlined for us, it was nice to be able to collaborate, not only with the other authors, but with the team of editors at Harlequin. Also, the whole story is a total roller coaster, so it was a whole lot of fun seeing what plot twists the other authors wrote into their episodes!
JC: The serial was different for me because we (the four authors) were bound by the series “bible” we and the editors created. I couldn’t just change something and go in a new direction in episode 5, because it would directly affect all the authors/episodes that came after. But having the creative force of many minds more than made up for any limitations!