I recently shared how much I enjoyed reading Deadly Pursuit. Join us today as we talk to Irene Hannon.
Tell us a little about yourself.
Hmm…where to begin? I could talk about some of the fun stuff I’ve done—like attending the monkey dance in the moonlit jungle on Bali, or gliding over the Alaskan glaciers in a float plane at sunset, or winging down to the Caribbean for lunch on a cruise ship with the CEO and chairman of the board of a Fortune 500 company—but I’ll stick to the basics! I have a B.A. in psychology and a master’s in journalism. I worked for the aforementioned Fortune 500 company for 20+ years in corporate communications, writing fiction on the side. After rising to the executive ranks…and finding myself on call 24/7…I left the corporate world a few years ago to write full time—and never looked back. I’m also married to my very own romantic hero!
When and why did you begin writing?
I can’t remember ever not being a writer. I really believe people are born writers. It’s a gift, just like any other talent. I did toy with the idea of becoming a psychologist, but in the end, writing won out. However, my psychology degree is a great background for writing about relationships—a key ingredient in romantic fiction! As for when I officially began writing—I was one of the honorees in a complete-the-story contest conducted by a national children’s magazine at the age of 10, and I’ve always considered that my “professional” debut!
Your current series, Guardians of Justice launched in January with Fatal Judgment and you’ve just released Book 2, Deadly Pursuit. Tell us about the series and this book in particular.
Guardians of Justice features three siblings bound by blood and a passion for justice. I’ve loved writing about the two macho, overprotective big brothers and their very independent sister. Zingers fly—yet you’ll never meet a more loyal bunch. Capturing the sassy-but-loving dynamic in the Taylor family has been a blast.
Here’s a quick recap of Deadly Pursuit: Social worker Alison Taylor has a passion for protecting children. But now it seems she needs protecting. When her tormentor’s attentions take a violent turn, she calls in reinforcements—her police-detective brother, Cole, and his new partner, ex-Navy SEAL Mitch Morgan. As her relentless stalker turns up the heat and the danger intensifies, Mitch takes a personal interest in the case. Because protecting Alison has become more than a job; his future depends on keeping her safe.
Reviews have been very flattering, including one from Booklist that said Deadly Pursuit has “compelling characters and an emotionally engaging plot powered by a surfeit of nail-biting suspense.” Can’t do much better than that!
Do readers have to read the first book in the series to follow the story in this one?
Absolutely not. I never carry plot threads from book to book. The stories do occur in chronological order, so it’s fun for readers to follow along, but each book can be read as a stand-alone, single-title novel.
How many books have you written?
Deadly Pursuit is my 5th suspense novel (with five more in the pipeline), but it’s actually my 37th published book. I also write contemporary romance.
Why did you expand into romantic suspense two years ago?
Blame it on Nancy Drew! I fell in love with those books as a young girl. In fact, my very first novel (really more of a novella) was in that genre—but it was terrible, so I consigned it to the deepest, darkest corner of my closet where it shall forever remain. I just didn’t have the law enforcement background to do justice to that kind of story, and twenty-plus years ago there was no internet. I didn’t have any connections to the military or law enforcement, either, which is absolutely essential if you want to write credible suspense involving either.
I take it your suspense books require a lot of research?
Tons. Only a fraction of that research actually makes it into the book, but it forms the foundation for the story and gives it the extra ring of authenticity that readers and reviewers have appreciated. For a suspense book, I generally end up with 75-100 single-spaced pages of research notes and website links. I also rely very, very heavily on authoritative sources—true experts in their fields—to ensure that every situation in my stories reflects real-life protocols. I’ve worked with FBI agents, U.S. marshals, police detectives, private investigators, academics, paramedics, doctors, nurses, police officers…the list goes on. I also enrolled in our local citizens police academy, which was fascinating.
Has branching out into suspense worked out well for you?
It’s been amazing. Every suspense book so far has hit the bestseller list, and the books in my debut Heroes of Quantico series have done very well in the awards department. Against All Odds won a Daphne du Maurier and an RT Book Reviews Reviewers’ Choice award. Book 2, An Eye for An Eye, was a RITA award finalist. And the last book in the series, In Harm’s Way, just won a RITA award last summer. All the suspense novels are also being made into audio books. It’s been a thrilling ride!
So what’s next?
The final book in the Guardians of Justice series, Lethal Legacy, is now in production. That will be released next summer. And I’m hard at work on a new series that features three ex-law enforcement operatives who join forces to form a private investigation firm. Without giving too much away, I can say they handle some very interesting cases that fall between the cracks of official law enforcement.
Any advice for aspiring writers?
I did an article on the road to publication not long ago. Here’s the link to a copy of it on my website: http://www.irenehannon.com/extras.html. But first and foremost--don’t give up your day job until you’re well established and selling consistently!
Your website mentions that you love to perform in community musical theater productions. Do you your experiences in theater have been beneficial to your writing?
I think they’re very complimentary. Stage work has given me a better understanding of the nuances of language, inflection and gestures, which helps me create realistic dialogue. And playing different roles requires me get into the mindset of a variety of characters, which is a plus as I develop my own characters. Theater experience comes into play with pacing, too, because there’s no inner narrative in stage work—everything is communicated by action and dialogue. Seeing how that’s done—and living it—helps me keep the action moving in my stories.
Any final thoughts?
For those who’d like to keep up with my latest news, I invite you to follow me on Twitter. You can sign up at my website, www.irenehannon.com, where I also post news updates as well as info on all my books.
Thanks for joining us today, Irene!
Irene Hannon is the author of more than 35 novels, including the bestselling Heroes of Quantico series. Her books have been honored with two coveted RITA awards (the “Oscar” of romantic fiction), a HOLT Medallion, a Daphne du Maurier award and two Reviewers’ Choice awards from RT Book Reviews magazine. Her website is www.irenehannon.com.