Tell us about your recent Riptide release. What was the inspiration behind it?
Kill Game is the first novel in the five-book Seven of Spades series. The series follows homicide detective Levi Abrams and bounty hunter Dominic Russo as they hunt for the eponymous vigilante serial killer, who in turn develops a mysterious fixation with them.
This entire series was spawned from my idea for a single line – the final line of Kill Game. When it popped into my head, I thought it would be a great way to end the first book in a series, and from there my mind started racing with possibilities. Once I figured out what events had led to that final line, the rest of the book and then the series as a whole clicked into place.
Like many people, I’m fascinated by vigilantism, as well as the complex moral and ethical questions it brings up. With the Seven of Spades series, it’s my goal to tackle those questions head-on while also providing a fun, exciting read and a meaningful love story.
What can readers expect when they read a story from you? What would you like potential readers to know about you and your books?
My books tend to be fast-paced, with a lot of action and dialogue. I like to take readers on a rollercoaster ride with deep, dark lows and thrilling highs. I don’t flinch away from putting my characters through hell, but I always ensure the reward is worth the suffering.
In the Seven of Spades series, it’s been a special pleasure of mine to incorporate my real-life Krav Maga training through Levi’s character. I’m also a master’s-level social worker, so my books always contain some focus on mental health issues, especially the psychological effects of stress and trauma. I’m particularly fascinated with the complexity of human motivation as well as psychopathology.
As far as romance, I believe the two most important elements in any love story are trust and respect. I’m dedicated to showing my characters developing the deep-seated esteem for each other that’s vital to anchoring a healthy relationship. And, of course, I like to round things out with a few steamy scenes to leave readers hot and bothered!
What was the most surprising thing you learned about yourself while writing your latest release?
I’ve been surprised to find that it’s easier for me to write from the point of a view of a character who’s less like me. Between Dominic and Levi, I have more in common with Dominic – he’s an easygoing, good-natured guy with a generally lighthearted perspective. Levi, on the other hand, is more tense and sarcastic with a much less optimistic view of the world.
You’d think it’d be easier for me to write Dominic’s POV, but writing Levi has been like slipping into perfectly fitted clothes since the very first line of Kill Game. I think it may actually be easier for me to inhabit Levi’s mind because he’s so unlike me – it’s easier for me to separate my own thought process from Levi’s than it is for me to do the same with Dominic.
How long does it take you to write a book?
Conceptualization to outlining to completing and revising the first draft usually takes me about four months. I shamelessly flout the common writing adage “Don’t edit while you write” – I continually edit the entire time I’m writing. I know some die-hard traditionalists would be horrified by this, but it’s always been what works best for me. I’ve tried free-writing without editing and it makes me unbearably anxious!
Editing as I go does mean I may get fewer words written per day than another author, but the upside is that once the first draft is complete, it usually needs very little revision before I’m comfortable turning it in.
Describe your workspace.
I feel like I’m the only dinosaur still using a desktop computer. I do have a small netbook for travel and convenience, but I can’t write on it. I need that feeling of sitting upright at a desk using a full-size computer to stay productive!
My desk is nestled in a corner of my living room, and it’s an unholy mess – papers and notebooks and magazines and reference texts everywhere. It’s very obvious that I live at that desk 8-10 hours a day. Every now and then I make an attempt to clean and organize it, but it’s never more than a day or so before it’s back to its usual chaos.
Do you ever get writer’s block? What do you do to cure it?
Absolutely, I do! When I’m blocked, I find the most helpful solution is to get up and move around. I’ll clean my kitchen, go down to the corner store for a snack, take a shower – anything to get myself away from my desk and reboot my brain.
I’ve found a shower can be particularly helpful when I’m blocked on a dialogue-heavy scene. I rehearse all my dialogue out loud before I write it – to make sure it sounds natural and to explore which intonations, expressions, gestures, etc. occur organically – and it can be easier to do this in the shower, where you’re not as self-conscious about talking to yourself!
What can readers expect from you in the future?
After the release of Kill Game, the books in the Seven of Spades series will be released about three months apart. While each novel does have its own self-contained plot, the series as a whole also forms one large narrative arc. With each book, the action is heightened, the intensity ramps up, and the stakes get higher, reaching a crescendo in the climax of the series’ final installment.
Once the Seven of Spades is complete – well, that remains to be seen! I definitely have a few ideas kicking around, but none I’ve committed to yet.
Do you have a favorite quote?
“[Writing is] like driving a car at night. You never see further than your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” – E.L. Doctorow
No quote on writing has ever resonated with me more than this one. Writing a novel, let alone writing a series, can feel very overwhelming when you think about how much is left to be done and you can’t imagine how you’ll ever get there. I love this quote for reminding me to take every project one step at a time – one sentence at a time – and trust the journey. All I have to do is keep driving!