Monday, 13 July 2020

I Interviews

Interview: Irene Hannon

Tell us about Buried Secrets.

Here’s the blurb from the back cover: After seven years as a Chicago homicide detective, Lisa Grant has hit a wall. Ready for a kinder, gentler life, she takes a job as a small-town police chief. But the discovery of a human skeleton by a construction crew at the edge of town taxes the resources of her department. A call for assistance brings detective Mac McGregor, an ex-Navy SEAL, to her doorstep. As they work to solve the mystery behind the unmarked grave, danger begins to shadow them. Someone doesn’t want this dead person telling any tales—and will stop at nothing to make certain a life-shattering secret stays buried.

This is Book 1 in my Men of Valor series, which features three brothers with special forces backgrounds. I was thrilled to have Suspense Magazine call it “a terrific romantic  suspense read.”

You're known for fast-paced romantic suspense, but you also write contemporary romance/women’s fiction. Which is your favorite?

My favorite is usually the one I’m writing in at the moment. J  That’s probably because no matter the genre, what intrigues me most are the people on the pages. I love trying to understand the forces that shaped the characters and the choices they make, even when I don’t agree with those choices. And I want to take readers along on that journey. The genre I choose is simply a vehicle for delving into the minds—and hearts—of my characters as I put them in challenging situations that test their mettle. Both genres give me a chance to do that.

What's the nicest fan mail you've ever gotten?

Every reader letter touches me, and many have been memorable. A few stand out. With my contemporary romances, I recall one from a very atypical romance reader—a 23-year-old man who stumbled across my book, read it because he was bored, and told me it inspired him, taught him some valuable life lessons and gave him the guidance he’d had trouble finding himself. And I love the reader who wrote, “No one but Nicholas Sparks can grab me and get my attention after reading only a few pages—until YOU!”

With my suspense books, I’m loving the letters that contain lines like this one: “I bought your book this past Tuesday evening and spent the entire day today reading it! I did have to put it down a few times just to breathe.” And I was thrilled with this comment: “I have been a Nora Roberts fan for a few years now and have just worked my way through all of her romantic suspense books. Your book was just as captivating.”

Are your books available in other languages?
Foreign-language rights have been sold for quite a few of my books. My novels have been translated into a number of languages, including German, Dutch, French, Italian, Polish and Afrikaans. And of course English-language versions are available worldwide.

You're also quite the actress. What sort of theater do you do, and has it had any impact on your writing?

I’ve loved theater since I was a child and put on neighborhood backyard shows. These days I enjoy musical theater, and I’ve been fortunate to play the leading role in many classic musicals like The King and I, Oklahoma and Brigadoon, to name a few. While I’ve always done theater for fun, it’s ended up being a great help in my writing career. When you play a character on stage, you have to get inside her skin, try to understand why she’s doing what she’s doing so you can convincingly portray her. That requires you to focus on inflection, gestures, facial expression, pace of dialogue…all the things writers need to pay attention to when creating characters.

What one thing about writing do you wish other non-writers would understand?

That it’s a real job. I write full time—and I do mean full time. I’m at my desk first thing every morning, and I don’t shut down for the night until I have my page count for the day. Often that means I write into the evening. Many non-writers don’t realize that writing is really hard work; I’m not sitting here sipping a latte and doodling on the keyboard now and then when the mood strikes. I think bestselling author Jerry Jenkins said it best. “Writing is tough. When I’m done I’m as exhausted as if I’ve been digging a ditch all day.”

Where do you write?

I have a wonderful home office where I spend the bulk of my time. On days when I look out my window and see snow or ice on the ground, I’m so grateful that my commute only requires ten steps!

How many books have you released?

With the publication of Buried Secrets, I’ve released 47 books—ten romantic suspense and the rest contemporary romance/women’s fiction.

You gave up an executive-level day job with a Fortune 500 company to write full time a few years ago. What made you take the leap?

I’d been juggling my writing and corporate careers for many years, and as I rose in the ranks at my company I had less and less time or energy for fiction writing. I finally reached the point where I knew I had to give up one of my careers. It was a tough decision in many ways, because I truly had a dream day job—the kind one of my suspense-novel villains would kill for! Yet as I was struggling with that choice, several things happened that convinced me it was time to focus on fiction. It wasn’t exactly writing in the sky…but it was very close So in the end, the decision was easier than I’d expected—and I’ve never had a single regret.

What is something your readers might be surprised to learn about you? 
While researching my first suspense series, I enrolled in the local Citizen Police Academy. As part of that experience, I did a heart-pounding ride-along with a patrol officer that included a tense domestic violence call and a high-speed burglary response. The poor guy had to practically peel my fingers off the dashboard when we finally stopped. What I quickly learned is that I prefer to experience my suspense vicariously—safely tucked in the pages of a book!

Who has had the most influence on your life?
My parents. They have always been my ardent fans, encouraging me every step of the way in any venture I undertook. They believed in me, and because they believed, I believed, too. There’s an old saying about the two gifts parents can give their children—roots and wings. My parents gave me both. They created a home where I was accepted without question, loved without conditions and encouraged without restraint. With that kind of foundation, it’s easy to take on the world. I give thanks every day for the gift of their continued presence in my life.

What you are working on now?

I recently finished the final edits on my next contemporary romance/women’s fiction novel, Hope Harbor, which will be out in July. I fell in love with this fictional seaside town in Oregon and will be writing more stories set there. I’ve also just turned in Book 2 in my Men of Valor series, Thin Ice, which will be out in January. Now it’s on to Book 3. Plus, I’m in the early stages of planning my NEXT suspense series!

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