Thursday, June 19, 2014

Author Thursday: Interview with Rena Koontz

Recently my RWA chapter member Rena Koontz tagged me in the My Writing Process blog tour, and I asked that she do a guest interview for me. Thankfully she said yes, and I'm thrilled to have her here today. :) She's awesome, and look at the gorgeous book cover for The Devil She Knew! I love that cover. It's so striking.

1. What flavor is your writing? (Contemporary? Spicy? Action? Space odyssey? Ninjas? All of the above?)

First of all, Robyn, thank you for inviting me to share your blog space today. Your first question made me smile. I write romantic suspense and, since I’m one-hundred percent Italian, I like things hot and spicy. My writing is like the traditional pot of Sunday sauce –put it on the stove to simmer slowly, adding ingredients gradually, until it’s done just right. Sometimes, the recipe calls for adding meat or sausage, sometimes not; different tomatoes might require more or less seasoning. My writing is like that – sometimes just a hint of romance and other times, full blown passion. Maybe just a clue about the bad guy or a full-blown parking lot shootout. I’m always striving for the perfect recipe.

2. Where do you get your inspiration?

You know the saying, “It’s the little things...” That’s where my inspiration for characters comes from. For example, as I worked on the draft for “The Devil She Knew,” a door-to-door salesman knocked on my front door selling a cleaning product. His name was Marcus, his smile was contagious, he had a great personality and we chatted for almost an hour. And yes, I spent $35 on a quart of cleaning solution. I also made Marcus a character in my book because he stuck with me.

Or a particular incident that happens to me or someone I know lodges in my brain. As a news reporter, I covered a string of arson cases and one night rode shotgun with the fire captain as he patrolled the city’s back alleys hoping to catch the arsonist. I was scared to death and that night set the wheels in motion for “Love’s Secret Fire.”

I’m also motivated by things I can’t do anything about and need to get out of my system, like an awful sister-in-law who will be dead at the bottom of the steps in my next novel. Sometimes, it’s a phrase that catches my ear or maybe part of a song lyric. All these tidbits are stored in my head because the minute I hear them, or meet them, I know they deserve a space on my pages.

3. What drew you to write romantic suspense? (Aside from having a retired FBI agent as a husband, though I bet he is an awesome source of information.) ;-)

Now, I’m laughing. Yes, having Jed the Fed at my beck and call is an invaluable resource. The mobster Tony DelMorrie in “The Devil She Knew” comes from a real case he worked. I’d first say I am a romantic at heart so my books, at their core, deal with true love, the undying kind that every woman hopes to find and hold on to. But, as a reporter, I covered Cops and Courts and reported so many tragic stories that shocked me. And so they find their way onto my pages. There truly was a man who killed his girlfriend because she hit him in the face with a shoe and chipped his tooth (“The Devil She Knew"). There really was a woman whose husband surprised her when he shot her and she died with her eyes wide open, still surprised. The coroner’s words, “death surprised her” never left my memory and work to describe a victim in my next novel.

4. What are you reading now or what books do you have in your TBR pile?

Right now, I’m reading a romantic suspense by Jessica Starre titled “Date with the Devil.” Jessica is a fellow Crimson Romance author and I love her easy writing style. On my to-be-read pile are three books I picked up recently at the Chicago Spring Fling – a romance by Kristan Higgins, “The Best Man”; a paranormal romance by Lauren Dane, “Goddess with a Blade”; and an historical romance by Mary Balogh, “The Arrangement”.

5. What are you working on now?

I have a new romantic suspense releasing at the end of June titled “Thief of the Heart,” and as I write this, I’m waiting for the edits. I have a completed contemporary – dare I call it the book of my heart? – that I’m querying now, hoping to catch someone’s eye. And my WIP is another romantic suspense – the one where I get to knock off the sister-in-law! – tentatively titled “Deadly Love.” It’s another book inspired by real-life – my friend is in an abusive relationship and refuses help. At least on my pages, I can take matters into my own hands.

You can find out more about Rena at these links:

The Devil She Knew

"You have to trust somebody, Cassidy. It might as well be me," he said. But she didn't know him. And something her mother taught her once always stayed with her: 'Better the devil you know than the devil you don't.'

When reputed mobster Tony DelMorrie feuds with his girlfriend and wins the fight by killing her, Cassidy Hoake is the only witness. She quickly becomes a target when DelMorrie skips bail - running is Cassidy’s only option. Now, she’s hiding from the devil, living in a small Ohio town, aware that only her anonymity protects her. She can’t afford complications like Clay Cestra. His police uniform fits like a second skin and he looks even better with his clothes off. But he is the law and she is a fugitive. A life with him means risking everything, confronting her demons and defeating the devil.


Lynn said...

Geez, Rena, I love your post-writing style. You're so articulate. And I love your books.

Anonymous said...

Aw Lynn, you make me blush. Thanks

RT Wolfe said...

Great post, Rena. Here's wishing you many sales!
-R.T. Wolfe

HiDee said...

You have a great background to draw from, Rena. The sister-in-law at the foot of the stairs intrigues me! Looking forward to reading the next book!