Suspense Romance Writer CINDY GERARD

Our blog heartly welcomes Cindy Gerard!

Dear Cindy, when and why did you start writing romance? I started – wow – a long time ago now that I think about it. When did all those years go by? My first book was published in 1991 and now I’ve sold over 40 books.

Why did you choose to write romantic suspense? I didn’t choose to write RS :o). I had submitted a proposal about a group of bodyguards to my Silhouette Desire editor and long story short, they passed. I really wanted to write them so I spoke with fellow writers and my agent and all of them said, make the stories bigger, make them more suspensful – but don’t forget the romance! And that’s how I started writing single title RS. The first of the Bodyguard books – TO THE EDGE – was published in 2005.

I know a new book in your Black Ops, Inc. series will be released in September. It will be Mendoza’s story. Can you tell us something about it – September seems so far away! Will the Black Ops series go on for a while ? Yes, Mendoza’s story, FEEL THE HEAT, will be released the very end of Sept. It’s another action packed adventure romance that takes us from Washington DC to Medellin, Colombia, where Mendoza, with the help of a blond and brassy DIA agent and some of the BOIs try to track down a traitor in the US government and thwart a very nasty plan to launch an attack on the US electrical power infrastructure. Lots of cloak and dagger AND a secondary love story involving former CIA operative, ‘Mean’ Joe Green. Lots of surprises in this one :o) As far as the BOI’s going on for a while – absolutely, there are more books in the works :o)

As Black Ops is a sort of spin-off of the Bodyguards do you think it as an ideal sequel to the previous series? Are Ethan, Dallas,Eve, Nolan and the other Bodyguards going to do cameos in the new series? Well, I don’t know how ideal it is but when Gabe –the Archangel- Jones showed up in that alley in Buenos Aires and helped Dallas and Amy in INTO THE DARK, I fell in love. Jones was a gift and once I met him, I knew he had to have his own book – the same with Sam and Johnny. So, while I hadn’t intended to start a spin off from the Bodyguards, it just sort of happened. As to cameos from the EDEN crew – you just never know :o)

What comes first to your mind -- the story or the characters? Where do you get ideas for your books? We learned that the scene of the first meeting between Ethan e Darcy in To the Brink was inspired by something really happened to a friend of yours. Is it true? (and was he like Ethan, by the way ? ). Based on my answer to question 4, clearly the characters come first. :o) I really like to think of my books as character driven. You can write the best story in the world but if readers don’t relate to or fall in love with your characters, then it’s all for naught. And yes, a friend of mine met her hubby in Peru under very similiar circumstances to Ethan and Darcy’s meeting. And yes, Captain Jimmy is a dream :o)

What’s your writing routine? How long does it take you to write a book? Do you research a lot before a new book or you let your imagination loose also for the aspects of the plot which would require specific info such as locations, arms, politcal situations in the areas of the world you’re talking about, intelligence, military gear, and so on.There’s a picture on your site where you’re shooting – is it a hobby or do you need to experiment in the field what you decribe in your books :0) ? My routine is pretty much write every day. I’m usually at my PC by 7:30 or 8:00 and I’m there until after 5:00. If I’m on deadline, I write weekends but I really try to avoid writing at night. My mind is geared to work 8-5 since I worked a day job for many years. As far as how long it takes me to write a book: right up to my deadline :o) I HATE missing deadlines so I really try to stay on track. I like to have 6 months minimum by unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen. I have been know to write a complete novel in 3 months, but I don’t like doing it. I feel that I probably miss a lot of opportunities to enrich the characters and story line. And yes, I do a lot of research for each book. While I’d like to spend time researching before I start, most of it happens during the writing process simply because of time demands. The shooting photos were taken one day when I went out with my gun expert who graciously let me fire MANY makes and calibers of pistols and rifles. It’s not something I do as a hobby – like my friend Tara Janzen who has her own tricked out rifle – but I do enjoy going out on the firing range.

As former special forces operators, your heroes are usually tough as nails – we couldn’t expect less – but you always match them with heroines who, despite belonging to the weaker sex, prove themselves as equals to the heroes in the end, at least in terms of resourcefulness and determination . They’re no superwomen but they aren’t damesels in distress either. What’s your ideal heroine like? And your hero? What features should – or shouldn’t -- they always have? Both the hero and heroine – IMHO – must be real. Real people with real feelings, real problems, real fears, real hearts. They can be smart-asses or quiet, they can be brooding or funny, just as long as they are true to themselves. I love a sexy guy who makes me laugh but also makes me want to mother him. And the heroines don’t have to be super heroines, they just have to be strong even when they’re scared because we all get scared – that’s just real.

No matter how complex the plot, the focus is always on the love story in your books – and we are grateful for that . There are other romantic suspense writers who seem so much concerned with the intrigue part in their stories that we wonder why they keep on labelling them as romance. What’s in your opinion the reason for this route change? Have you ever thought to pass to mainstream fiction? Are there any genre clichès in romance writing you would rather do without ? Oh, boy, that’s a good question. I’m currently writing my 11th Romantic Suspense. Each book gets more difficult to come up with an action adventure plot line that hasn’t been done, that’s plausible, that’s fresh and new. For that reason, I am constantly reminding myself that I can’t forget the romance while I’m working so hard to build this new and different story. I wonder if some authors simply find that to keep the plots fresh they need to tackle bigger issues and therefore there is less room for the romance. It’s hard to tell. As for romance cliches I might rather do without, I often wish my heroine could be more of a bad girl :o) Crystal in WHISPER NO LIES was about as sassy and edgy as my publisher wanted me to go. I’d really like to have a bad girl heroine, one who’s done some things she’s not proud of but had to do them to survive. Maybe she’s turned over a new leaf. Maybe she’s only being good because the Feds cut her a deal to work for them. And maybe some day, I’ll get to write about her :o)

Love scenes in your books are sometimes hot but always tasteful. They usually read as pivotal in the development of your plots, but it’s a fact that there’s more and more esplicit sex in romance books. What’s the reason for that? Have romance readers become less romantic than in the past? Do editors advise you writers about the number of hot scenes that should be included in your books to help them sell better? There’s a whole new (or seemingly new) readership out there that really appreciates erotic romance. It’s a question of preference. I’ve always liked a hot, sensual book but for me, it’s neither sensual or hot if there’s no promise of a long term committment. In short, for me it has to be about love, not just sex. But that’s just me and to each his or her own. And more power to any writer who can make a living in this business, regardless of the type of books they write. As for editors requesting more love scenes, they’ve always pretty much left it up to me. I can’t speak for other writers, however.

After reading your fans’ emails or talking with them at signing events have you developed an idea of what your readers like about your books? Do you keep their desires in mind when you start a new story? I mean, if they tell you which hero they would like to read about in your next book or what sort of heroine should that hero end with, do you mind their suggestions ? Or do you just trust your inspiration – or your agent/editor’s advice? I never mind readers’ suggestions. In fact, I love it that they are so involved with the books that they’re excited about sharing their opinions with me. There’s no greater compliment for a writer than to have a reader approach and tell you they loved so and so’s story and wow, do you have any more at home like him? As for agent and editor input, of course, I listen to their suggestions but in the end, they generally leave it up to me to decide who I’ll write about and I really do appreciate that freedom.

Referring to the question above, would have any scruples to go against your readers’ expectations about a hero’s happy ending if you ( or your editor) eventually changed your mind about ‘his destiny’. You know how sensitive we readers can be about recurring characters in our favourite series . Book after book we fall a little bit in love with them and begin to develop ideas about their future stories – ideas usually inspired by hints the author herself intentionally put in her previous books. Do you think we have the right to expect the writer to consider our ideas ( and hopes) when writing the story of a character – or a couple - we have shown to be particularly affectionate to? Oh boy. You’ve just hit on the million dollar question. And I will tell you right now, that in FEEL THE HEAT, Mendoza’s heroine is not who my readers are probably expecting her to be. This was a situation where my editor did have a request and after much discussion convinced me that she was right. So, I hope that everyone will grow to love his heroine as much as I did – and understand that sometimes we do have to shake things up a bit for the sake of the book. As to whether or not I think readers have a right to expect their ideas considered? Absolutely. After all, if not for readers, where would we be?

What do you like reading? What books would you take with you to the proverbial desert island? What do you think of ebooks? Will they be the only books in the future? I still love reading romance :o) But I also like to read thrillers and many of my research books are about military operations – like BLACKHAWK DOWN, ONE BULLET AWAY, GENERATION KILL, etc. I like Lee Child. Love Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series and J.D. Robb’s IN DEATH series. I have many fav authors – too many to mention.

Paranormal romance is very popular at the moment. Have you ever thought ( or been offered) to write one? Paranormal IS popular. All that fun world building and breaking rules – it’s very provocative. But I’ll leave paranormal up to those who really have a passion for it and do it so well and stick with my RS. That’s not to say that some day I don’t want to write something with a bit of a paranormal edge, but not wearwolves or vampires. Think more in terms of the tv show MEDIUM, or something on that order.

What do you like doing when you’re not writing – dangerous adventures in the Grand Canyon apart? Well, I love to travel when I’m not bucking a book deadline. I was fortunate enough to visit Spain in March where I met up with my wonderful Roman friend Roselle Re!!! While in Spain I saw many beautiful things – in addition to visiting Morocco and riding a camel, having a snake charmer’s snake coil all over me.

Some friends of yours are romance writers. Do you exchange writing ideas or suggestions when you get together? Or do you rather talk about other matters? Yes, many of my friends are writers and it seems we can’t HELP but talk about writing when we get together – whether it’s about industry issues in general, plots or works in progress. Not a lot of people speak ‘writer’ so it’s great to meet with like minded individuals who don’t think you’re nuts when you talk about point of view and word count and marketing and plot points :o)

Apart writing for your blog, do you regularly visit romance sites? Do you like reading reviews of your books? Do you think these sites are useful for your job? Unfortunately I don’t have a lot of time to visit other romance sites – as is evidenced by how long it took me to finally answer the questions on this interview and for that I apologize. Usually I like reading my reviews but sometimes they can be pretty brutal and I never understand that. If a person doesn’t like a book, fine, but occassionally a reviewer will get pretty ugly about it. Fortunately, I don’t get many of those but all writers are vulnerable to fits of nastiness from unhappy readers. And I’d like to think that review sites are helpful in selling my books but there’s really no measurable way to determine that.

None of your romantic suspense series have been translated into Italian yet. Can the readers of our blog hope to read one in the future? I know and it saddens me. The deal is, an Italian publisher has to be interested in buying the books and apparently, to date, that hasn’t happened. Sometimes it takes a nudge from readers. A little prod in the form of an e-mail campaign to an Italian publisher requesting they carry my books in Italian sure couldn’t hurt :o)

Who will be next in your series? Have you begun to think about your new story after Mendoza’s ? We know you visited Italy last year. We would be very happy if you chose our country for one of your future books . So, Cindy, if you’re considering locations for your next Black Ops, why not Italy? I have just recently begun my next BOI book. I can tell you now that it will not be set in Italy, BUT, I’ve already discussed with my editor that I want to set Luke – Doc Holliday – Colter’s book in Italy and she’s totally on board with the idea. So ... Italy is on the agenda. I’m so excited! I LOVE Italy. Such a beautiful country so rich with history and warm, wonderful people. It will be so much fun revisiting – if only in my mind – when I finally start Doc’s book.

Wow,it's really good news Cindy... a next book of the BOI series set in Italy ! We can't wait to read all your new stories. Thanks for answering all our questions and for letting our readers get to know you. Thank you so much for the opportunity to answer these questions.Ciao!!

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