Happy Tuesday, Everyone!
I'm thrilled to have my friend and fellow Crimson Romance author, Susanne Matthews with us today. Susanne's romantic suspense novel, Fire Angel is featured in the new Dangerous Love bundle, available from Amazon. Susanne has agreed to a hang around for a wonderful interview about herself and her writing journey. She has also brought along an excerpt and blurb from this amazing new bundle that is selling right now for ONLY 80 CENTS!!! That is a fantastic steal.
Susanne, thanks so much for stopping by. Tell us a bit about FIRE ANGEL.
FIRE ANGEL is a Castle meets Criminal Minds kind of story. Jake McKenzie, recently returned from Afghanistan minus a leg, is a criminal profiler hired to get into the mind of a serial killer who uses fire as his weapon of choice. Jake realizes that he doesn’t understand fire well enough to do the job on his own, so he gets the police chief to send for Alexis Michaels, a fire and arson investigator with a reputation for solving complex arson cases. What he doesn’t realize is that Alexis is the girl he fell in love with at sixteen, the one who ran away, and he’s never forgotten her. Sparks fly between them, but both Alexis and Jake have trust issues to contend with, and they have to set them aside to work together to find the killer who has made it clear that Alexis is his next target.
That sounds like an very exciting read. Being a romance author wasn’t your first career choice, was it?
No, I worked over 34 years as a school teacher, most of it at the high school level. I originally wanted to write young adult books. As much as I loved to read romance, I wasn’t sure I could do it.
Who or what changed your mind?
My husband. He’s always encouraging and doesn’t complain when dinner is late or I’m so wrapped up in my writing that I forget the real world exists. I think he’s a little in awe of my imagination at times. Since many of my novels are romantic suspense, I can be quite devious.
Where do you get your ideas for your blogs and manuscripts?
Inspiration comes from almost anywhere. Sometimes it will be something that I’ve heard or seen either in real life or on television, something in the newspaper, or just a personal experience. I wrote a blog about a 3D movie that had me ducking in my seat. Last year, over 3300 people visited my blog, which I found amazing.
As far as ideas for manuscripts, I sometimes get those from the places we visit on holidays and the places I’d like to go. I’ve used a small part of my own ancestry in a historical novel, and my writing friends have given me lots of plot ideas. I’m a romantic at heart, so happily ever after is the goal in everything I write – how I get there is up to the characters.
How did you come up with the idea for this book?
The main inspiration for the crime in the book came from a series of unsolved arson cases in and around Cornwall. The villain is a composite of all the people I have met with the sense of entitlement that makes them believe that what they want is more important than what anyone else wants. My wounded warrior hero was my way of acknowledging that all those who serve in the armed forces lose a bit of themselves because of the sacrifice they make. My heroine was inspired by my daughter who has an uncanny knack of being able to bounce back from adversity and who never quits, no matter how stacked against her the deck may be.
Wow! Your daughter sounds like a remarkable young woman. How did you come up with the title?
Angels are seen as good and demons as bad. I had thought of Fire Demon at one point, but decided that I liked the contrast of good versus evil better and decided on Fire Angel. When I chose it, I had no idea how popular the title was. I’ll check that out next time.
How does it feel to have your book chosen to be part of the Dangerous Love bundle?
It’s an incredible honor to have been considered good enough to have my work showcased with the likes of Genie Davis, Janis Lee Therault, D’Ann Lindun, and Ellen Parker. Since I just started my writing career less than two years ago, I’m absolutely amazed my publisher has this kind of faith in my work.
What books/authors have influenced your writing?
There isn’t just one author who inspires me, just as I don’t want to write only one kind of book. I’ve read all kinds of books—science fiction, historical, suspense, paranormal, fantasy, but the thing I’ve always look for in a book was its romantic element. I’d have to say that all romance authors inspire me, and my personal favorite is Nora Roberts, who writes in so many different sub-genres, and succeeds beautifully at all of them.
Do you ever experience writer's block?
Sometimes. I think at one point or another, every author hits the wall. When I do, I go for a walk, do housework, or read for a while. Then, I’ll go back to my own work and re-read the last couple of chapters. If that doesn’t work, I’ll set that book aside and work on something else until the muse puts me back on track.
Do you write an outline before every book you write?
No, and I feel absolutely guilty about that. It’s one of my 2015 resolutions to at least get a basic plot outline done before I start. I’m working on a series novel this year, where I have to incorporate information from other books in the series. I’ll need an outline to stay on task. All the years that I taught, I religiously preached the need for an outline only to realize that I’m basically a pantser. I have an outline of sorts, but the characters usually take me away from it quite quickly.
I do the same thing, Susanne. Outlines are great, but my characters have their voice too. Do you have a favorite character?
One? No. All my characters are as real to me as any of the people outside of my writing world. I create them on the page the first time they’re mentioned in the story and then they take on a life of their own. If there are children in the story, they will behave initially like my grandchildren do. If it's a teenager that character might take on a composite persona of any of the thousands of teens I’ve taught over the years. I tend to imbue my female characters those characteristics of my daughter that I admire most. The males tend to be caring but not overbearing, since I’m not big on controlling men. If there is one in my stories, he won’t be the hero. My characters control the flow of the plot, taking it where it needs to go, suffering and falling in love along the way. In a way, each one is special, whether they’re the heroes or the villains.
Book Blurb: Dangerous Love
Love saves the day in this quintet of thrilling romantic suspense novels. Indulge in the sheltering embraces of a few good men (and women!) with these taut and compelling tales of intrigue.
- Fire Angel: Criminal profiler Jake McKenzie has returned from Afghanistan minus a leg and his sense of confidence-until Alexis Michaels is next on an arsonist's murder list.
- Executive Impulse: Detective Kate Flynn finds her life in danger, her car sabotaged, her jogging route booby trapped, her condo on fire. And worse still-she's fallen in love with the man who may be part of the plot.
- The Way You Love Me: Self-confident surgeon Melanie Sweet was never afraid of men until she suffered a brutal trauma-can an ex-Navy SEAL security expert working undercover help her heal?
- Mississippi Blues: When Trey Bouche found his best friend Jace with blood on his hands five years ago, it shattered their friendship and his relationship with Jace's sister, Summer. As startling truths are exposed, Trey and Summer try to rediscover the love they lost.
- Starr Tree Farm: Laura returns home a year after her husband's death and becomes a target for her husband's murderer. Will her childhood-playmate-turned-devilish-man unravel the secret before it's too late?
Alexis bit her lip; anxiety and regret drove her thoughts. How many people would recognize her and see her as the ungrateful niece who had run away from her benevolent uncle?
What would she do if she were recognized? She would be forced to let Captain Peters know; he might be annoyed with her for not saying anything earlier, but he had pleaded with her to take this case. Probably because no one else wanted to go to this remote place so close to Christmas, she guessed. He would have to accept it; after all, he had been adamant that she was the only one who could do this particular job.
The Paradise Motor Inn hugged the shores of the Amable du Fond River, upstream from the timber slide that bypassed the nearby rapids. The slide had been built around 1850 to accommodate the logging industry in the area. The river cut through the igneous rock of the Canadian Shield, dropping over 800 feet along its 52 mile route to empty into the Mattawa River near Calvin. The area sported three provincial parks and was popular with canoeists and campers.
Alexis stared at the escarpment that edged the gorge. The first fire had been located in the forest just upriver. It was lucky that the fire had not spread to the trees—forest fires were as dangerous in Canada as they were in California. The locals said it was arson, but until she saw the scene herself, she would not know for sure. Accidental fires had been mistaken for arson in the past by inexperienced fire inspectors, and innocent men and women had been jailed because of misinterpreted evidence. Dismissing the idea from her mind, she walked towards the reception office of the motor inn.
She opened the door and entered. She wanted a drink, a meal and hot shower—in that order. The desk clerk, a handsome man in his early thirties, looked over his shoulder at the sound of the bell. There was something familiar about him that tickled her memory; she wondered fleetingly if they had met years ago. Even though she had sworn off men after her last disastrous relationship, she felt a flicker of interest for this one, a familiar coil of heat teasing her, as if her body remembered something her mind had forgotten. She chose to spend most of her time alone, but she could be flexible for this guy. He stood, limped over to the counter, and smiled at her.
He was gorgeous, tall, topping her five foot nine inches by at least six inches. He was muscled, but not in that overblown bodybuilder way. His short chestnut hair spiked gently on top. He was clean-shaven with a Kirk Douglas dimple in his chin under sensuous full lips. What struck her most about him were his eyes, familiar eyes that she couldn’t place, deep blue like Moraine Lake, the popular glacier-fed lake in the Rockies, the kind of eyes in which a person could drown.
“Hi,” she said surprised by the catch in her voice. “Alexis Michaels; I have a reservation. I’m a little late.” She winced—three hours was more than a little late.
He stared at her a few moments as if he’d lost the ability to speak. She tilted her head, giving him a quizzical look.
“Sorry,” he stammered. “We’ve been expecting you; not to worry, your reservation was guaranteed.” His voice, once he’d found it, was as smooth as fine whiskey.
“Welcome to Paradise. Everything is ready; if I could just have your credit card?” He had an incredible smile. His eyes crinkled at the corners involving his whole face in the gesture of warmth and welcome. Why was it that a man’s wrinkles were sexy, character building, while a woman’s just made her look old and frumpy? Crow’s feet—isn’t that what they’re called? Another example of the inequality of the sexes, she thought. They never advertise wrinkle cream for men!
Alexis handed over her agency credit card, signed the paper authorizing the expense, and pocketed the large brass key he had given her.
“Generally, we can’t use the electronic locks on the cabin doors at this time of year; there’s too much moisture from the ice and snow.”
“That’s okay.” She smiled. “I don’t know how long I’ll be here, and if the weather changes. . .”
He offered to help with her luggage, but she thanked him, and said she could manage. She usually traveled light; besides, she didn’t plan on taking everything out of the car tonight. Her duffel bag, camera, and computer would do; the rest she’d unload in the morning. She inquired about the hours for the restaurant attached to the motor inn.
“We stop serving dinner at nine, but snacks are available until eleven,” he said. “We open for breakfast at six.”
She nodded, thanked him again, and went out to the car. Having that piece of eye candy around to admire and drool over might help her deal with the stress that she was sure would surface while she was here; in fact, just seeing him made her feel better. The headache she had anticipated thanks to the horrendous drive seemed to have disappeared, and she felt more relaxed than she had all day. Who says candy isn’t good for you? Maybe once she had dinner, she might look up her so-called partner.
She pulled the key out of her pocket and checked the number.
“Great,” she sighed. As luck would have it, her assigned cabin was the one furthest from the motor inn itself. It looked ominous outlined as it was against the trees, with the low fog hovering above the stone walkway—a setting straight out of a gothic novel.
~ ~ ~
Susanne, thank you again for sitting in for an interview. It has been fun getting to know you a little better. I have my copy of DANGEROUS LOVE and can't wait to get lost into the amazing stories.
To find out more about Susanne Matthews and her books, here is her bio:
About Susanne Matthews:
Susanne Matthews was born and raised in Eastern Ontario, Canada. She’s an avid reader of all types of books, especially those with a happily ever after. In her imagination, she’s traveled to foreign lands, past and present, and soared into the future. A retired educator, Susanne spends her time writing and creating adventures for her readers. She loves the ins and outs of romance, and the complex journey it takes to get from the first word to the last period of a novel. As she writes, her characters take on a life of their own, and she shares their fears and agonies on the road to self-discovery and love.