What’s your writing process?
First I come up with a really compelling question, like “what would happen if our intelligence services tried to penetrate a terror cell by going undercover and providing funding to the group in order to get deeper inside?” That questioned formed the novel, The Fourteenth Protocol. After that I create a rough outline so I know where I want the story to go. But then it gets fun. As I write toward the outline, I allow myself complete freedom to let my imagination run rampant. Sometimes that causes my original plan for the story to change dramatically. So, I’m a “plotter,” in the sense that I like to have a plan, but I’m a “pantser” as well because I allow myself to write by the seat of my pants. Where character is concerned, however, I go deep. The character has to enter each scene with an expectation of what she thinks will happen, only to find out something else happened. And you get to watch her as she tries to navigate those events through the lens of her own past experiences. I make sure my lead female characters are human, they have real fears and troubles of their own, just like any of us do. I don’t want the reader to follow along with the main character, I want them to feel what she’s feeling.
How has your writing changed over the length of the series?
The deeper I got into the Special Agent Jana Baker Spy-Thriller Series, the deeper I got into Jana’s character. Over the course of the series, you learn details of her past. She discovers many things about her own parents that she never knew, and those realizations shock her to the core. You see deeper into her humanity. She’s not a character on a page, but a real person with fears and dreams and troubles and doubts.
What are you reading right now?
The Cuban Affair, a novel by Nelson DeMille. The reason I’m enjoying it is because DeMille writes it in first person. Most novels are written in third person, yet you find yourself inside the head of the main character as he tells the story from his point of view, and throws humor into every harrowing situation.
If you had to write in a genre besides thrillers, what would it be?
For the last two years, there’s been a story brewing from somewhere deep inside me. Like most of my stories, I don’t know where it came from, but it’s there nonetheless. If it were a movie, it would be more of a chick-flick, makes you laugh, makes you cry sort of thing. It’s the story of a man who lost his wife and kids in a terrible accident. He’s very bitter, and is on a bit of an odyssey, wandering the country, all the time not realizing he’s actually looking for something, something he can’t put his finger on. His camper gets stuck in a blizzard on Christmas Eve in Wyoming’s high country. A few other stranded drivers hike their way to the camper, and upon finding it, their lives are spared from the cold. What they discover about each other, about life and love, will change them forever.
Who would you cast as Peyton in a Hollywood blockbuster?
I have three female heroines across my novels. I write strong females so my own young daughters have role models to look up to.
First, Special Agent Jana Baker. She’s tough but has real fears and demons. If asked to cast the role, without a second’s hesitation, I’d cast Emma Watson.
My latest novel, Phoenix Fatale, is the story of Peyton Phoenix, who risks it all to face down her attackers. If asked to cast the role, without a second’s hesitation, I’d cast Emma Watson.
In an upcoming novel, Talia Stiel works as a researcher for the Mossad. When she trips across something she wasn’t supposed to find, her life is on the line and she must make a run for it. If asked to cast the role, without a second’s hesitation, I’d cast Emma Watson. : )