Irene Hannon, author of many Love Inspired Romances and most recently the Heroes of Quantico series for Revell Publishing contacted me after I mentioned reading her book Against All Odds in one of my weekly memes. Through that contact she agreed to an interview with me. And what a great interview it is. Her love for what she does and her feelings really come through. I hope you enjoy her interview and stay tuned tomorrow for the review of Against All Odds and a special giveaway.
What was your first book published and what did you do when you found out you would be published?
My first published novel was In Name Only from Thomas Nelson, part of their Promise Romance Series back in the eighties. I was working in the corporate world at the time, living at home, and was on a business trip when the call came in. My mother tracked me down at my hotel (this was the era before cell phones!) and told me the editor had called. I called her back immediately and she offered me a contract. I was ecstatic—but I was a long way from home, no friends around, so I had no one to celebrate with! However, my parents made up for that by throwing me a fabulous first-book party when the book came out.
Do you get time to read? What are your favorite types of books to read?
I LOVE to read—but have very little time to do so anymore, except when I judge writing contests. Too many deadlines get in the way! When I do read for pleasure, though, I usually stick to romance and romantic suspense, because those are the books I like best. (Which is why I write them!)
What is your favorite room in your house?
Five years ago, we added a fabulous sun room that opens off our kitchen, and I relish that bright new space. But I also love sitting by the fire in our living room on a cold winter night.
What is your favorite spot to read in?
Our screened porch, stretched out on a wicker settee, rose garden in view, on a warm summer day.
What is your favorite snack food?
I don’t snack. Honest. I just never developed that the habit. The closest I come is having some popcorn if my husband and are watching a movie at home.
(Crystal's note - You are amazing Irene! I don't snack much - but I love my chocolate every evening.)
Do you have a schedule for writing each day or do you just do it when you can?
Since giving up my corporate career six years ago, I write full time. And I do mean full time. I’m at my computer by 8:30, and I’m often still there at 9 at night, with breaks for meals and a walk. If I get my page count done early and can kick back at 5, I do. But it hasn’t happened very often lately. Since the Heroes of Quantico books began coming out, I’ve had lots of publicity duties to take care of, and those cut into my writing time—and extend my day. But I’m not complaining! I’m thrilled by the reception to the series.
Where did the idea for the Heroes of Quantico series come from?
I’ve always love romantic suspense, but had no background in law enforcement. So I felt intimidated by the amount of research involved. After reading Dee Henderson’s O’Malley series, though—especially The Guardian—I was inspired. I wanted to focus on a law enforcement group that hadn’t received a lot of publicity, and my research led me to the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team. What an amazing group of guys! True hero material. And so the series was born.
Where did your character of Monica come from? I loved her because she was a strong woman, in confidence and in her faith, but she wasn't overbearing and knew she had to depend on others when the time came. She was an amazing balance for a female heroine.
I actually came up with Coop (the hero) first. Since he’s the strong, silent type, I needed a determined heroine who would not only challenge his reserve, but force him to reexamine some long-held beliefs and recognize the loneliness of his life. Who better than a beautiful communication expert who has just written a book about the importance of talking and sharing and opening our hearts to others? Also, I wanted a woman of strong faith who could challenge Coop to take a closer look at Christianity—and set his own faith journey in motion.
How about Evan? (and if my husband ever leaves me can I have him?)
Evan Cooper—who goes by Coop—is the quintessential tall, dark and handsome hero, which is exactly what I wanted for this book. He is the consummate professional, with a hint of danger and leashed power about him. For this story, I wanted a very private, intense, emotionally enclosed person who tended to be a loner when not working. He does, however, like to hang out with his HRT buddy, Mark Sanders, who’s his partner in Against All Odds and the hero of Book 2, An Eye For An Eye. As for whether you can have him if your husband ever leaves…the line forms to the right!
I know you've written several Love Inspired books, what made you delve into romantic suspense?
To be honest, romantic suspense was my first love, going all the way back to my Nancy Drew days. And in the interest of full disclosure, the very first book I ever wrote was a romantic suspense, though it was more novella length. However, it was SO bad I put it in the deepest, darkest corner of my closet, where it shall remain forever. I just didn’t have a solid enough background in law enforcement to make that book work. And I didn’t know how to go about getting it, either. Twenty years and 26 books later, however, I finally felt ready to tackle the challenge again.
You do a wonderful job of making a suspenseful and romantic storyline while keeping it Christian and clean and having an underlying message. Is that balance hard to find?
Sometimes. But Against All Odds was magic. Everything fell together perfectly. I look back at it now and think, “Did I really write that?”
I know an Eye for an Eye - the second book in the Heroes of Quantico is out and it's Mark's story. What is the next book and when will it be coming out?
An Eye For An Eye is in stores now, and I’m happy to announce that it debuted at #11 on one of the two premier Christian fiction bestseller lists, following in the footsteps of Against All Odds, which was also a bestseller. An Eye For An Eye is a psychological thriller in which an unexpected reunion of high school sweethearts is shattered by a sniper who’s still on the hunt. Book 3, In Harm’s Way (April 2010) revolves around an infant kidnapping, a Raggedy Ann doll, and a heroine who has to convince the FBI her very strange story is true.
What book are you working on at the moment?
I’ve signed a contract with Revell for another three-book series, and I’m working on that now. It will revolve around three siblings who are involved in justice-related professions. The first book focuses on a federal judge and the U.S. Marshal assigned to protect her after her sister is killed.
Any book signings/conferences/public/blog appearances in the near future?
The bulk of the publicity surrounding the release of An Eye For An Eye is over, but if anyone would like to listen to a drive-time radio interview I did on October 7 on a station in Ottawa, Canada, go to www.CHRI.ca and click on the Wednesday Bookmark program.
Any last words on Against All Odds, your Heroes of Quantico series or anything else that you would like to share?
I’d like to thank all the readers who’ve made the first two books bestsellers. And I’d like to thank Dee Henderson, who I’ve never met, for her willingness to read Against All Odds and for her fabulous endorsement: “I found an author who writes romantic suspense than I do.” Wow. That still blows me away.
One other comment. I often wish I could get secular readers to stroll down the inspirational fiction aisle. I think they’d be pleasantly surprised to discover that most Christian novels aren’t stereotypically preachy. Instead, they’re compelling stories told without four-letter words, gratuitous violence or graphic sex. In a world where we’re bombarded with violence and vulgarity on practically every front, inspirational fiction is a wonderful alternative for ALL readers.
Finally, if anyone would like to know more about my books, or read a synopsis of my suspense novels, I invite them to visit my website at www.irenehannon.com.
I fully agree with Irene on trying out Christian novels. From what I have been reading lately - they honestly rival what is currently on the Bestseller list with plot and characterization - they just leave out the vulgarity. And not all secular books have the vulgarity - but the Christian novels are one way to be sure to leave it out. I read all kinds of books - but I must admit I am really enjoying the latest Christian fiction novels. And trust me - Irene Hannon is a good first author to try. There are definitely Christian elements in the book, but they are not preachy and fall into the plot really well - so give it a try you may fall in love with a new author.
Check out Irene's website and make sure to come back tomorrow for the review of the first book in her Heroes of Quantico series - Against All Odds, plus a special giveaway.