Alexis: Hi Nancy, thank you for visiting Happily Ever After Thoughts. Why did you choose to write Romantic Suspense over other types of romance?
Nancy: Hello, Alexis. Thanks for inviting me. Romantic Suspense ratchets up conflict, tension, and apprehension, while providing a healthy dose of anticipation - the anticipation being tied to a hero and heroine's quest for love. Why I write the genre may have something to do with the real life former Marine/ Pennsylvania State Trooper I've been married to for forty-seven years! Obviously, I'm drawn to men in uniform. Tapping my in-house resource provides unlimited situations and great technical advice. He's always shared, the good and the bad, giving me wonderful perspective. Romance in the face of danger intrigues me, excites me. Writing about the conflicts that arise as love struggles amidst danger in order to reach a happy ending is challenging, and in the end, enormously fulfilling.
Alexis: That makes a whole lot of sense! Your latest release is DEADLY ENCOUNTER. What is this novel about?
Nancy: DEADLY ENCOUNTER is the final book in a three book series, The Deadly Triad. The characters in DEADLY ENCOUNTER were introduced in the first book as secondary characters. In book two, they're also present. Obvious tension and conflict between them prompted readers to ask me when I was going to tell Lanie and T.J.'s story.
DEADLY ENCOUNTER is Lanie and T.J.'s story. Thrown together by a raging blizzard and a multi-car pile up, feisty Lanie and Trooper T.J. McGraw go head to head when Lanie insists she wasn't part of the accident, but the victim of attempted murder. Much to her chagrin, the trooper doubts her claim...until a couple of dead bodies are found beneath the snow at the rest stop Lanie sought shelter at during the storm. The discovery presents a dilemma in more ways than one for Trooper McGraw. The striking, green-eyed Lanie's life is in danger, and the growing attraction between them complicates both their lives, and the ongoing murder investigation.
Alexis: Ah, I can see how this suspense can really heighten the tension in the love story. Where did you get the idea for this novel?
Nancy: When I first introduced T.J. McGraw and Lanie Delacor in book one, I suspected they'd end up together. I just didn't know how or when. I like to use environment to help create my stories and the harsh winters along the shores of Lake Erie where I live - and where the story is set - guided me in writing their story. With blinding blizzards, deadly cold, and treacherous ice as a backdrop, Lanie and T.J.'s story unfolds.
Alexis: What are your favorite character traits of Lanie and T.J.?
Nancy: Lanie is a hard working, intelligent, determined woman. She worked and studied to become a top notch personal trainer with a degree in exercise science. But when it comes to love, family tradition, and strong roots, Lanie's confidence falters. On the other hand, T.J. came from strong family roots. Family traditions and loyalty are ingrained in him. He's a credit to law enforcement, handsome, and has a devilish sense of humor. Makes you wonder how two such opposites will manage that happily ever after, doesn't it?
Alexis: Yes, it really does. What type of writer are you? Nighttime or morning? Pantser or Plotter? Silence or music?
Nancy: I'm a morning person, so writing early in the day is usually best. However, I've been known to have a spurt of creative energy after a short nap later in the day. Plotting or Panster, I guess I'm a combination. Maybe a Planster? I have a general idea where my story is heading, and strangely, usually know the ending before I start! My plotting is done by keeping track of what I've written and referring to the stack of notes I've scribbled down whenever an idea hits me. I do keep character descriptions and relationships on file. I prefer silence when writing. Though when driving alone, I often listen to XM Radio, and sometimes lyrics or a certain tune will spark my imagination with ideas for future endeavors or current works in progress.
Alexis: Speaking of works in progress, what can we expect next from you? Do you have any new releases coming?
Nancy: I'm excited about my next book. It's a work in progress, and I've had such fun researching. The story will be set in a small town on the shores of Lake Erie, typical for my brand - Great Lakes Romance. Here's a clue. I spent several hours researching at a small family owned chocolate shop. I tasted, experienced the work, and learned the skills it takes to create their unique product. The owner, who's in his late 80's, worked in the shop as a six year old boy. I loved the history...and the samples! For the same story, I've spent time and had numerous correspondences with a friend who is a psychiatrist, and another who is a psychologist. That's all I'm going to reveal for now...except the title I'm considering is Sweet Deception.
Alexis: I love the title idea! Just your research makes the story sound intriguing . . . and yummy :-) Thank you so much for sharing your stories with us. It's a pleasure having you visit.
Nancy: It's been my pleasure, Alexis. I've enjoyed meeting you and having a chance to talk about my stories.
Alexis: For a chance to win a copy of the first book in the series DEADLY REFLECTION, be sure to leave a comment for Nancy. If I have contact information, I will let you know when you win, otherwise, check the side column for your name on Wednesday under WINNERS.
For more information on Nancy and her books, go to http://nancykayauthor.com/books.html
Alexis: Check out this excerpt from DEADLY ENCOUNTER
Lanie recognized the man with sickening clarity. The bulky coat. His wide legged stance. The looming threat. John Atherton, from the fitness center. Only… not John Atherton. His name was Jack LeFavor, and the night she'd first seen him came back to her in a rush, slamming into her as hard as the driving wind.
He held out her glove.
Lanie ignored him and tucked her bare hand beneath her arm even though her fingers stung like fire where she'd scraped them on the ice. The muscles in her legs quivered.
Should I run?
"Don't want it?" He shrugged and tucked her glove into his pocket. Then he withdrew a small handgun and pointed it at her belly. "Guess you have bigger problems, anyway."
Lanie eased back a step and glanced up the beach. How far would she get before a bullet slammed into her back?
"Go ahead. Run. I didn't plan to shoot you, but I will." He curved his mouth in a vicious smile. His eyes remained flat. Cold. Calculating.
She shivered, her thoughts scrambling.
"Not feelin' so friendly now, are you? I saw past that 'business smile' earlier at the fitness center when you looked down your pretty little nose at me. Couldn't wait to get away."
Lanie's stomach knotted. She'd known, damn it. Why hadn't she paid attention to her instincts? His sleazy smile, the way he'd looked at her. She shook off that vision and focused on the here and now. Struggled to slow her rapid breathing, to think. He wanted her dead. He'd stalked her, and he'd waited. Then he'd taken a big chance by showing up at the club.
He was a desperate man.
"Trying to decide what to do, Elaine? Pitiful." He laughed, shook his head, and gestured with the gun. "To be honest, I don't want to use this. So here's the deal--"
"You've already killed two men with that gun," she blurted, unable to stand the suspense. Her voice sounded hollow and throaty. Weak. And she hated that. Hated feeling helpless and so damned vulnerable. This man stood for every miserable moment she'd endured since the night of the accident. She drew herself up, flexed her numb, bare fingers. "So… why stop now?"
"I don't want to shoot you." He narrowed his eyes. "But I will."
"If you shoot me, they'll know it was you," she shot back.
His jaw tightened, and anger glittered in his eyes. He wasn't laughing now.
"That's a thirty-eight snub nose," she continued, lifting her shoulder in a casual shrug, even as her pulse roared in her ears. "You used that gun to kill those two men at that rest stop. So if you shoot me with it, too, the police will know. Trust me. And they'll hunt you down like a dog."
His mood turned. Jack LeFavor, a cruel, dangerous man, had a gun pointed at her, and yet she felt oddly calm. He took a step toward her.
"You're a brave woman, Elaine. A smart one." He sneered. "What you said about the gun tells me you know more than I thought."
She eased back another step, and then another, until her foot bumped a sold wall of ice behind her.
"Go on. Run. And if you run that way," he said, jerking his head to the left, "Then I'll have no choice but to put a bullet in your back. Ever been shot, Elaine?"
His cold stare never left her face. "They tell me it hurts like hell."
She looked away and stared down the beach. The wind roared in her ears. Bone chilling cold numbed her limbs, and slick nausea rose up her throat. He wanted her dead.
She had nothing to lose.
Just as she started to dart away, he lunged toward her.
Lanie turned and scrambled onto the dunes. She stumbled once, almost going down. Clawing at ice that crumbled and broke, she pulled herself up and regained her footing, righted herself, and pushed aside the reality of what lay beneath her feet. Blood dripped from her bare hand onto the ice. A bright red splash against the cold white wave, spreading like spidery fingers. The ice cracked and moaned beneath her feet.
She ignored the warning, dug in, and moved higher.
"Good girl." LeFavor's voice stopped her in mid-flight.
She faced the lake. To the west, a fast moving band of snow moved onshore. Pouring from heavy clouds, the wide sheets undulated and fell in lazy waves.
Slowly, cautiously, she turned to face LeFavor.
He now held the gun at his side instead of pointing it at her. He eased forward, and suddenly she knew his game.
Like he'd said, he'd never intended to shoot her, and she'd fallen right into his trap. He'd planned to force her onto the dunes all along. He'd gambled, and he'd won. When the ice beneath her feet gave way and she plunged into the frigid lake, he'd just walk away.
Jack studied the approaching snow. The rising wind had flipped off his hood. He yanked it back into place and tightened it around his face. Then he just stood there, watching her and the falling snow, calmly waiting for her to fall into the water and die.
Anger surged through Lanie, and she lifted her chin. "What if I don't break through the ice?" she taunted. "Are you brave enough to come after me?"
He didn't even flinch.
Still gripping the gun, he crossed his arms and shook his head. "Has nothing to do with being brave. I'm not that stupid."
More thin sheets of falling snow moved across the beach.
"The ice will give way soon," he said. His cheeks were red, raw from the icy wind. He shivered and hunched deeper into his heavy down jacket. "Or maybe you'll just freeze where you stand. I'm a patient man. It's just you and me, Elaine. We're all alone out here."
Behind him, a flash of light and movement filtered through the curtain of white.
Hope flickered inside her, and she tilted her head toward the parking lot. "Not anymore, Jack. Not anymore."
He whipped around as a marked state police cruiser rolled to a stop.
Alexis: Remember, for a chance to win DEADLY REFLECTION, the first in this series, leave a comment for Nancy :-)