Soul Deep out in audiobook! — Jack West, widower, rancher and former Army Ranger, gets his own love story in this special I-Team novella, which was picked by readers at Grave Tells as the Best Contemporary Romance of 2015. It will be out in audiobook any day now.
Seduction Game is out in paperback, (I-Team #7) — Holly and Nick’s story is out in all formats — ebook, audiobook, and paperback. Look for it in Wal-Mart, the Kroger chain of stores, Barnes & Noble, and your local bookseller.
Dead By Midnight: An I-Team Christmas is out! — The grand finale of the I-Team series finds all the couples you love brought together when terrorists attack holiday festivities at a historica hotel in downtown Denver. It’s bad news for the terrorists. They have no clue what they’ve done when they take Marc Hunter and his friends hostage. Featuring cameos by the men of New York Times bestselling author Kaylea Cross’s Hostage Rescue Team series. Available in ebook and paperback.
- Pamela Clare
- I grew up in Colorado at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, then lived in Denmark and traveled throughout Europe before coming back to Colorado. I have two adult sons, whom I cherish. I started my writing career as a columnist and investigative reporter and eventually became the first woman editor of two different papers. Along the way, my team and I won numerous state and several national awards, including the National Journalism Award for Public Service. In 2011, I was awarded the Keeper of the Flame Lifetime Achievement Award for Journalism. Now I write historical romance and contemporary romantic suspense.
My Blog List
Every so often, I come across a writer whose life and work intrigue me, and then I just have to have them come pay a visit here on my blog. In the past, you’ve heard from Christy Reece and Anna Campbell. And today, I’m thrilled to bring you a brief interview with Marie Force.
I met Marie via the Internet and quickly discovered she was a journalist. Also, she and I are very close in age. We’re both moms, and we both write romantic fiction. Those are some pretty significant things to have in common.
I’ve heard so many wonderful things about her books. Just this past week, woman on the RBL Romantica board were chatting up her stories and insisting that everyone needed to read them. I take a recommendation from RBL Romantica quite seriously and am looking forward to reading Marie’s books when I’m done with Connor’s story. (I never read outside the subgenre I’m writing at the moment because it’s too confusing. Right now I’m reading Surrender and Untamed to refresh my poor tired brain on all things MacKinnon.)
Despite Marie’s busy schedule, she agreed to answer a few questions, and the ensuing chats between the two of us were a lot of fun. I felt like I’ve made a new friend. As she said, we went to different high schools together.
Without further ado, I present author Marie Force:
Pamela Clare: First, I have to say that I always feel a sense of kinship with fellow journalists. I read about your background, and I had a visceral reaction to your description of working for a small newspaper. You wrote that it was “the writing equivalent of boot camp. We worked like dogs for almost no money, but we had a lot of fun and learned so much about writing editing and life.” And I thought, “OMG!” Nothing more. Just “OMG!” My I-Team series is therapy for my work as a journalist.
How do you feel being a journalist has influenced your life as a fiction writer?
Marie Force: Thanks so much for having me today, Pamela! I am a HUGE fan of your I-Team series, and I can’t wait for the next installment. Being a journalist really opens your eyes to the larger world around you. I don’t know about you, but I notice everything. I remember everything. Unlike my husband who tells a story in which every, single detail is wrong. I just sigh and say, no, it was a Tuesday in the winter and our son was not there. LOL! He can’t help it! Of course, it drives him crazy that I remember everything with such precision, but I was trained to do that.
Those skills have come in handy as a fiction writer. Being a skilled eavesdropper led me to the plot for my book Love at First Flight. A quick interaction between an arriving pilot and a woman in an airport led me to Everyone Loves a Hero. A handsome man in a Mercedes convertible led to The Fall. It only takes a second for an idea to present itself that can turn into a book! The secret is to allow those ideas in and think about them in a way most people never would. One of my favorite questions is “What if?”
PC: I found your “path to publishing” story quite touching, particularly in that your mother was able to read some of your work before she died of pancreatic cancer. You seem to be very close to your family. How has the faith that your parents and husband have in you as writer helped you deal with the challenges of writing fiction?
MF: I was very close to my mom, and we talked almost every day, even when I moved overseas for three years with my new husband (19 years later, he still doesn’t know about the all the hideous phone bills my parents paid when we lived in Spain—shhhh, don’t tell). Losing her was a terrible blow, but I do like to think she has been my fairy godmother in making good things happen for my writing career AND my brother, and I fully believe she is responsible for the Red Sox finally winning the World Series in 2004, two months after she died without ever seeing them win. We picture her up there giving Babe Ruth the what-for about the hex he supposedly placed on the Sox.
I still talk to my dad every day. In fact, he says I am more of a nag than his wife ever was. LOL! Thank you very much! Years before I ever wrote my first book, my parents were after me to get going on it. I dedicated my debut novel, Line of Scrimmage, to my parents who always said I could, and to my husband and kids who supported me while I did. Just last night, I went with my husband and kids to “visit” Everyone Loves a Hero on the bookshelves. It’s still a thrill for all of us, even the third time around.
PC: Was there ever a time when you wanted to give up, or was the agony of those untold stories too much of a motivation for you to consider throwing in the towel?
MF: Soooooo many times! But I never seriously came close to giving up. My mantra before I was published is still my mantra today because it’s just as important “after the call” as it was before: The only thing I know for sure is that if I give up, it will never happen. No one else will ever love your book or champion it the way you will, so the minute you give up, it’s over. I was always acutely aware of that and kept my nose down and my fingers on the keys.
I wrote seven books before I sold one. I’ve had major ups and downs, thanks in large part to the economy tanking just as I “arrived” and due to the fact that I don’t write about vampires or wolves or shape-shifters. I hear contemporary is “making a comeback,” and that pleases me greatly! At the end of the day, we can let “the business” defeat us or we can choose to persevere and keep writing and hoping that someday it will all click.
Ironically, the click for me seems to have happened just this month when one of my books hit No. 11 on the Amazon Kindle bestseller list and four of my books are in the Top 100 for contemporary romance (one of them at No. 2). It only took seven years! And boy am I glad now that I never gave up!
PC: Some writing experiences are universal for novelists. Your anecdote about discovering novel notes you’d made long ago and laughing until you cried because they were so awful probably resonates with anyone who’s attempted to write books. I filled a notebook up with love scenes when I was in junior high, and if you were to read them you’d think they were written by helper monkeys who’d never actually had sex. Yes, celibate helper monkeys.
So tell us about your first idea for a novel. And then tell us about the idea that became your first novel. What was the difference between them?
MF: That’s a great question, and LOL on the helper monkeys! My first idea for a novel actually became my first book, Treading Water. The very first character who presented himself to me as a living, breathing person was a handsome architect named Jack Harrington. His book, Treading Water, the book of my heart, was finished in 2005—after many stops and starts that were, truly, AWFUL.
This was the book my mom got to read the beginning of before she passed away. She said it made her cry, which gave me the fortitude to keep going. For a number of reasons, mostly involving timing, that book has never been shopped. My ONLY writing goal for 2011 is to sell Treading Water. It’s with my agent now, and she’s enjoying it. So fingers crossed for TW and the two sequels I wrote before I knew you weren’t supposed to write sequels before you sold the initial book.
Thank GOD I didn’t know that! LOL! Those three books are my absolute favorites of all my books, and I so hope to get them out to readers before too much longer. With contemporary making that big comeback, the time feels right now for Treading Water. I wrote about “The House That Jack Built,” the metaphor for my writing career, on my website at www.mariesullivanforce.com/writing.php. It’s really quite a story that I sometimes can’t believe actually happened to me!
PC: You’ve had a very modern path to publishing. Some of your titles you published yourself through Amazon. Your Fatal series is published by Harlequin’s Carina Press. How does your experience of working with Harlequin compare to self-publishing?
MF: I love everything about working with Carina and Harlequin. It’s been so great to be a part of Carina from the debut month and to learn from the forward-thinking women who are running the show there. I couldn’t be more excited to see a series that was once “on the shelf” heading into a fourth book with hopefully many more to come. The books I published myself to Amazon were sitting on my computer collecting dust. I like to say that no one was interested in them except my readers. And wow, were they ever interested! They are selling in staggering numbers, which is so very exciting since all I did to promote them was stick them on my Amazon author page. It’s a great time to be an author with some extra books sitting on the computer and readers asking for more (as well as asking for more of particular characters they’ve met in earlier books). I plan to post several more books to Amazon/B&N this year, but I do hope to continue to work with publishers, too.
PC: Tell us about your Fatal series. Rumor is there’s a wedding on tap that might blow Will and Kate’s nuptials out of the water.
MF: Will and Kate have nothing on my Sam and Nick! LOL! Theirs will be the Wedding of the Year in Washington, D.C. I’m actually just finishing up Fatal Destiny, the novella featuring the wedding of the main characters in the Fatal Series: Sam Holland, a D.C. homicide detective, and her U.S. Senator Nick Cappuano. Readers planned the wedding on my blog, right down to the rings, cake, dresses, honeymoon destination, etc. That was really fun for all of us! I am having the TIME OF MY LIFE writing their story.
The series mixes romance with politics and murder and includes a rich cast of secondary characters who are prominently featured. I was once told you absolutely cannot write a romance series featuring the same couple in every book. Well, um, yes I can! And yes, I did! The readers seem to be really embracing Sam and Nick, which is absolutely thrilling. (Read more about the series, including my “Oh Yes I Can” post/rant at www.mariesullivanforce.com/TheFatalSeries.php.)
PC: How is it different writing about the same couple from book to book as compared to having a different couple for each book? Do you ever worry that you’ll grow bored with the characters or that the story will grow stale?
MF: Another great question! Are you a reporter or something? ;-) I’ve written three books in this series and the wedding novella, and have yet to be even sort of bored by these characters. Knowing I was hoping for a long-running series with them, I made sure to set them up with interesting jobs in a fascinating city with tons of conflict built into their relationship from the get-go. They both have complex back stories with lots of issues and challenges that will be ever-present in their life together.
In addition, I’m featuring at least one secondary character prominently in every book. Sam’s Bible-thumping, virginal partner Freddie Cruz has on ongoing story that I have big plans for in Book 4. Sam’s colleague Detective Tommy “Gonzo” Gonzales is dating Nick’s chief of staff Christina Billings, which is an interesting thing to write from Sam’s point of view. She hates having her personal and professional lives bumping up against each other, so at first she is furious about Gonzo dating Nick’s top staffer.
There’s also an overarching storyline that features Sam’s quest to find the person who shot her father and left him a quadriplegic. And even though Skip Holland is confined to a wheelchair, he still finds romance, too. I have a blockbuster story in mind for him in an upcoming book that I can’t wait to write. So no, boredom is not an issue—at least not yet.
I give Nora Roberts credit for sharing the secret to writing a long-running series that features the same couple. When I was first contemplating this series, I worked up the nerve to ask her how she keeps Eve and Roarke’s romance hot after so many books when I attended her chat at RWA National. Her answer was simple and has stayed with me ever since: “They’re young, they’re hot, they’re hot for each other.” In other words, keep it hot and you’ll keep it going. Words to live by!
PC: As I mentioned above, your books have been catching some buzz on RBL Romantica, where readers love hot stories. How would you rate the sensuality of your own books?
MF: My books are pretty hot. They’re not as hot as some, but there’s plenty of sexy scenes in every book. In fact, when I was reading the galleys for Everyone Loves a Hero, I wondered what I’d been smoking when I wrote that book because it is, well, smoking! LOL! I write under my REAL name, so sometimes I worry about that, but whatever. People have sex. Big whoop, right? I’m just glad readers are enjoying them. I do have an erotica that’s out on submission right now that I’d probably write under a pen name if it sells. We’ll see!
PC: What do you have planned after the conclusion of the Fatal series?
MF: I’m not much of a planner, so I have no idea. I do hope to write the Fatal books for some time to come—at least for as long as they’re still fun for me to write and readers still enjoy them. My other plans include some sequels to my earlier contemporaries, Line of Scrimmage and Love at First Flight, which readers have repeatedly requested. I’m all about giving the people what they want!
Thanks so much for the great questions, Pamela! I really enjoyed answering them.
PC: And I enjoyed getting to know you. I love it when readers bring writers together, which is more or less what happened here. I know you’re on deadline now, so happy writing, and thanks so much for taking the time out of your day to chat with us!
And now let’s open it up to a discussion—and prizes! Marie will be giving away one copy of Everyone Loves a Hero and one copy of Fatal Affair to two people who post comments.
I apologize to Marie for any typos. My celibate helper monkeys have the day off...
Coming up soon:
I-Team Reading Challenge: Unlawful Contact discussion
I-Team trivia (and it’s going to be brutal this time)
And there are four I-Team heroes who might be persuaded to make a visit...
As I said on Facebook, Zach is tied up right now, so he won’t be able to join us, but Reece, Julian, Marc and Gabe might.
EXTRA: For Julian fans and those who love Hard Evidence, here’s a link to an old interview that I did when the book was released. I dredged it up because a reader on Facebook asked about the Darcangelo mentioned in the acknowledgments. Well, the namesake for Julian is the man who did the interview. There’s a bit of deep trivia for you... Click here to read that interview. The interview is rated R for strong language, feminist deconstruction of sexuality and cynicism.
Oh my! What a wonderful interview. Still learned some new stuff about you.
You said: I like to say that no one was interested in them except my readers.
I am so glad you went the self-publishing route. The thought of those books we've been waiting for langushing on a shelf just breaks my heart. I hate being at the mercy of someone deciding what genre is in (did contemps ever go?) and what author is hot.
So glad you think in "series". I love everything you've written and the characters just beg for follow-up.
LOL on you getting the details right while hubby doesn't.
So great to see you here with another author whose work I respect so much. I didn't think of the reporter slant commonality. I thought I just had good taste. LOL.
Continued success & I told you so ;)
Great interview! I read "Line of Scrimmage" and loved it! It's great to hear that there may be a sequel. I've re-read it many times!! Marie's other book sound awesome and I would love to read them!
Can I just say...after what I've seen regarding jounalists (i.e., Lara Logan) in the past few weeks, I have a brand new respect for all of you. Although reading Pamela's I-Team books also made me realize what a dangerous job it can be.
But anyhow...I remember when I read "Line of Scrimmage" (and I will admit I think I bought it for the cover, and I do like sports romances), it was amazing, and I was HOOKED. I'm SO glad you never gave up Marie, and kudo's to you for self-publishing. I truly believe that the ebook revolution has opened the door for so many great authors, whom the publishing industry didn't think fit the "mold".
I'm also glad that Carina Press took you on, and is seriously committed to supporting their authors. They know a good thing when they see it!
I think Nora's at what, book 32 of Eve and Roarke...I would be quite happy if Sam and Nick go to 32 or more. So keep'um coming Marie!
An insightful interview!
I think that being journalists adds a special quality to books you write (especially the suspense element). Journalists are able to uncover a story layer by layer, and that adds a depth of story for the fiction books. I believe journalists tend to write better books!
Great interview! Two of my auto buy, favorite authors in one place- happy day!
Marie, any hints as to who we'll see featured in the sequels you mentioned to Line of Scrimmage and Love at First Flight? I am so excited to read you are writing these sequels.
Pamela, the I-Team is one of my favorite series. I have been trying to keep up with your re-read challenge and am enjoying every minute of it!
I haven't read the interview yet due to time restraints at the moment but wanted to state that I heard about Marie about a month ago from Christy Reece's website. I decided to read one of her books and was so glad I did. Within the next two weeks I had read everything she had available. I absolutely love her books and look forward to many more in the future.
Wow, my cup runneth over here today! You ladies are up early and saying such lovely things about my books!
Mary G, thanks for coming by and I'm glad I still have a few secrets that are news to you after all these years of being friends! :-) So what was new to you? Do tell!
Ashley, I am so glad you enjoyed Line of Scrimmage so much! That book has such a lovely following, even almost three years after it came out.
Wildcat, I am honored to be on your auto-buy list. That is such a thrill!
Heather, I so agree about the ebook revolution. I had an editor last summer tell me no one wants to read about a supermodel. Well, I have 6,000 sales that say otherwise (in three months' time). I knew MY readers would love Liana because underneath her shiny veneer, she's a mess just like the rest of us! Thanks so much for your support of my books and I will write Sam and Nick for as long as you guys love them! :-)
Amy, thanks for the kind words. Whether a news story or a novel, it's all about the storytelling, which has to stay front and center. Appreciate your thoughts!
Maldivian, thanks for picking up ELaH! I so hope you enjoy it!
June, I'm glad you've heard good things! Cole and Olivia seem to be having a good run of it! :-)
Waving back to Ronlyn!!!!
UniquelyMoi, love that handle by the way, and thank you for picking up LOS and ELaH! Hope you enjoy them!
Kris, thanks for coming by and for the kind words! I am so glad you "jones" for my books! :-)
Tara, I have plans for Toad and Nancy from Line of Scrimmage and separate books for Jeremy and Paige from L@FF. Readers ask me EVERY DAY for more of all those characters and I'm all about giving the people what they want! I will probably write Paige's book first, since that one is really calling to me right now.
Heidi, thank you so much for reading ALL my books! Wow! That's so awesome! Thank you so much!
I've never read one of your books but now after Pamela's recommendation, I need to change that really quickly! :) They sound great and very interesting and I like the fact that you're a journalist, as well. Gives me the feeling your research is done thoroughly.
Good luck with your next books!
Thanks for checking out my books, Chele! Hope you enjoy them!
Thanks so much, ClaudiGC. I haven't worked as a reporter in decades, but that training is never far from the surface. Observe, report, tell the story... Best skills I ever could've hoped to get from college and my first job out of school. As I say in my bio on my website, which Pam quoted in her interview, working for a small community newspaper was the writerly equivalent of boot camp. I loved it.
I'm so glad to see that everyone's having a good time talking with Marie.
Thursdays are almost always filled with meetings for me — one of the joys of being editor-in-chief. And by "joys" what I mean is pains in the a$$.
Today, for added fun, we have a special edition to put to bed, which means a lot of editing. And what's my title again? Oh, yeah, it's editor-in-chief.
Marie, I just have to say that reading through your website was truly enjoyable. I saw immediately why readers would flock to your books — you write well and tell stories well. Readers feel drawn to the heart that they feel in the words.
I loved what you said about no one being interested but readers. Sometimes the readers haven't gotten the memo about how they're not interested in certain topics. I know many readers who haven't yet discovered that they're not interested in stories set during the French and Indian War.
Someone needs to send them a memo. ;-)
Back to work...
So glad you enjoyed ELaH! I had so much fun writing it!
My reporting days are one of my worst-kept secrets. But it was a great way to learn the craft of writing and editing in a dynamic environment.
Thank you for your kind words about my website. I've always tried to be honest with readers about where I came from and what motivates me to write. Readers are interested in AUTHORS, and AUTHORS know what their READERS want. I think that sometimes gets overlooked, too. I could go on all day about what readers want and what stands in the way of them getting it. LOL
Waving to Marie and Pamela!! All I can say is I'm smiling ear-to-ear!! Great interview with lots of good info. Love all the "Force" books and can't wait for any and all upcoming ones! And I'm still smiling ear-to-ear knowing I'm going to get another peek at Ryan and Susannah someday!! I'll be jumping over the moon on the day "Treading Water" is published!! Need I say, I fell in love with Jack at first peek!!!!! I did!!
Hi Pamela! Can't wait for "Breaking Point."
Marie...I LOVED "True North"...so GLAD you didn't listen to that editor!
Great interview, Pamela!
Marie, I really enjoyed Line of Scrimmage (even though I had no idea what a scrimmage was . Hey, I'm an Aussie and that's a good enough excuse!lol) and you'll be pleased to know that you have quite a following here! Glad to hear there'll be a sequel to LOS in the future :)
Your journalism comments made me laugh. Hard. In my first job as a broadcast reporter, I was also the photog. Yes, I had to lug the camera out of the truck, set it up, turn it on, run around to the front, tape my story, run back to the camera and check the take. Ridiculous. Do I also need to say that I worked for peanuts at that station? Oh, the dues you have to pay. ;-)
I'm so excited to read your books, Marie! They sound FABULOUS! I don't know which one to start with, so I may have to get them all. ;-)
I am love your post! I so adore all my friends in Australia. I was just emailing with Sarah Mayberry, an author friend. The internet and email make our big world so small and it's wonderful to have friends all over. I was chatting with a woman from South Africa on Facebook this week. I love it! Thanks for reading Line of Scrimmage. I hope you were able to make sense of it!
Thanks so much for checking out my books. I appreciate that!
Your story cracked me up! I can so picture that scenario. We were always very low budget but we did have staff photographers. The experience of low-budget reporting certainly does build some character, doesn't it? I've been eternally grateful for some of what I learned during those years. It has served me well. And for the record, I wouldn't object to you reading all my books--haha!
Diane, that sounds tough! I can only imagine trying to get breaking news that way.
You know, I had NO IDEA until I started the I-Team series how very much people HATE journalists. It came as a shock to me. I thought of most reporters as hard-working, severely underpaid professionals who go out there and act as watchdogs, braving the dark corners of the world so that the citizenry could stay informed.
I had no idea we were all just a bunch of jerks. LOL!
We don't have a staff photographer at the paper where I currently work. Drives me nuts. When I have to take a camera to the scene, beware.
People think that because a few bad apples have made the entire profession look bad. The 24-hour news cycle has cheapened the profession, too. The almighty RUSH to get it out right now, whether it's right, wrong or properly attributed, has also eroded the public's trust and respect for the profession. I think it's so sad, because reporters do provide such a valuable service to the public and government would be a whole lot less accountable without the third estate keeping an eye on things. LOL
I would lay the blame in exactly the same place. Now the line is very blurred between reporting (which should involve fact) and entertainment (which often involves sensationalism, opinion and shouting).
Go Fourth Estate!!!
Where's my Fourth Estate T-shirt?
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Favorite Writing Quotes
"I am tomorrow, or some future day, what I establish today. I am today what I established yesterday or some previous day."
"Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery."
"Writers are those for whom writing is more difficult that it is for others."
"When I write, I feel like an armless, legless man with a crayon in his mouth."
"The ability of writers to imagine what is not the self, to familiarize the strange and mystify the familiar is the test of their power."
"No tears in the author, no tears in the reader."
"I'm a writer. I give the truth scope."
—the character of Chaucer in A Knight's Tale