Friday, January 15, 2016

Interview with Irene Hannon


Suspense Sisters welcomes Irene Hannon to the blog today!

Irene Hannon is the bestselling, award-winning author of more than 50 romantic suspense and contemporary romance novels. She is a seven-time finalist for and three-time winner of the RITA award—the “Oscar” of romance fiction—from Romance Writers of America, and is a member of that organization’s elite Hall of Fame. Her books have been honored with a National Readers’ Choice award, three HOLT medallions, a Daphne du Maurier award, a Retailers Choice award, two Booksellers’ Best awards, two Carol awards, and two Reviewers’ Choice awards from RT Book Reviews magazine. In addition, she is a two-time Christy award finalist.

Irene, who holds a BA in psychology and an MA in journalism, juggled two careers for many years until she gave up her executive corporate communications position with a Fortune 500 company to write full-time




And now, let's hear from Irene.




SS: When did you realize you wanted to be an author?



I never made that conscious choice. I was born an author. I’ve always believe writing, like any other talent, is a gift. I’ve written for as long as I can remember.



SS: What are some of the challenges you face as a writer? Are there aspects of your life that are hard for family and friends to understand? What are they?

Meeting deadlines while balancing all of the other demands in my life is often a challenge. And yes, I think writers can be a mystery to even family and friends. My husband understands that writing is hard, demanding work because he sees the hours I labor over my books. He also appreciates that this is a full-time job. But I’m not sure other friends or family members get any of that. Sometimes I think they assume the words just flow magically from my fingers to the computer screen with no effort. And I often get this question: “Are you still writing?”—as if this is just some hobby I dabble in rather than the way I pay my bills.



SS: What genre do you write and why? Are there other genres you’ve written or would like to try?

I write romantic suspense and contemporary romance/women’s fiction. All my books have romantic elements because I’m a romantic at heart and love to highlight the power of love to transform lives. Moving between the two genres helps keep me fresh. After writing an intense suspense novel, I’m more than ready to focus on matters of the heart. At this point, I have no plans to write in another genre.



SS: How do you create characters? Are they based on people you know?

I often incorporate characteristics of people I know or have met, but none of my characters are based on real people. As for how I create them...before I start a new book, I spend a fair amount of time getting to know my characters. Some, like real-life people, tell me their stories freely. Others are more reticent and I have to listen harder to hear their voice. I never begin a book, though, until I know the main characters pretty well—though I often learn new…and surprising…things during the course of a book. Once, while writing a suspense novel, I was jolted when a character revealed a new bit of backstory several chapters into the book. I remember thinking, “You did what?!” I had to go back and rework a few things, but the new information made the story richer.



SS: Tell us about your current release.


Here’s the blurb for Thin Ice, which released January 5:

After losing both parents and her sister, Christy Reed has been mired in grief. Now, life is finally starting to feel normal again--until an envelope addressed in her sister’s handwriting arrives in the mail. And the note inside claims she is still alive. FBI Special Agent Lance McGregor, a former Delta Force operator, is assigned to reopen the case…but he’s coming up with more questions than answers. Is Christy a pawn in a twisted cat-and-mouse game—or the target of a sinister plot? As Lance digs deeper, one thing becomes clear: someone in the shadows has a deadly agenda.



SS: Where did you get the idea for this book?

I have no idea. Seriously. I can rarely pinpoint the source of an idea. Most spring from a tiny seed planted during an overheard conversation, a situation I observe, or while reading an article. I did use my background as a figure skating fan and recreational figure skater in this book, however.



SS: Tell us about your main character.

My heroine is an excellent figure skater. She’s strong, dedicated, smart and a survivor. My heroine is a former Delta Force operator who’s now a rookie FBI agent. He has great integrity, discipline, street smarts—and did I mention he’s drop-deal gorgeous? J



SS: Is there a spiritual message in your book? If so, what is it?

The spiritual elements of my books are always low-key. My characters live, rather than talk about, their faith. But it’s clear that the heroine’s faith gave her the strength to survive some of the traumatic curves she’s been thrown.



SS: What are you working on now?

Line edits for my next contemporary romance/women’s fiction novel, Sea Rose Lane, which will be out in May and is set in my lovely Oregon seaside town of Hope Harbor. I’ve also turned in my next suspense novel, Tangled Webs, which will release in the fall. In 2017, I’ll be starting a new suspense series, and I’ll also be taking readers back to Hope Harbor.



SS: Tell us three things about yourself that would surprise your readers.

I love to sing and have performed in many community musical theater productions. I enjoy hiking and rarely come home from a vacation without logging some serious miles in the back country. And I once flew from the Midwest to the Caribbean and back in one day for lunch on a cruise ship. If readers want to know more about that story, they can find it here: http://blog.lifeway.com/shelflife/2016/01/08/lifeways-novelist-of-the-month-irene-hannon/!



SS: Favorite TV shows?

I don’t watch TV. No time. I’d rather read if I have a few spare minutes. But way back, I was a huge fan of the Star Trek TV series.



SS: Anything special you eat or drink while you’re writing?

I always take a cup of hot chocolate with me in the morning when I go up to my office.



SS: How do you celebrate after completing a book?

Start the next one! I have an aggressive writing schedule, so I can’t afford much down time. I might grab my husband and make a quick trip to Starbucks, though!



SS: Where can readers find you on the Internet?

I’m very active on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/Irene-Hannon-426433004084567/), and I tweet occasionally. For general information and backlist, readers can visit my website at www.irenehannon.com.





SS: Anything else you’d like to share with us?

Killer Nashville just called Thin Ice a “stunning masterpiece,” so I’m still basking in that glow! Beyond that, I’m marking two career milestones within 12 months. Last July, I won my third RITA award (the Oscar of romance fiction) from Romance Writers of America. That put me into the RWA Hall of Fame as only the 16th member in the 35-year-history of the organization. Also, Sea Rose Lane (May) will be my 50th published novel. Neither of those milestones would have been possible without the readers whose support allows me to make a living telling the stories of my heart. I give thanks for all of them every single day.



20 comments:

  1. Thanks for your interview, Irene. I appreciate the fact that family don't always understand that writing is your career. Thanks for sticking with it and giving us such wonderful stories. Cheers

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    1. I think it's hard sometimes for non-writers to understand the nature of the work. Often it might look like we're sitting there vegging, when in fact our mind is plotting like crazy! And writing isn't a job you can clock out of at the end of the day.

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    2. I think it's hard sometimes for non-writers to understand the nature of the work. Often it might look like we're sitting there vegging, when in fact our mind is plotting like crazy! And writing isn't a job you can clock out of at the end of the day.

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  2. Always nice meeting a Star Trek fan. Your books sound interesting. Thanks for doing the interview.

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  3. I really enjoy your stories and I'm always interested in how an author comes up with their ideas and their characters (personalities). Thanks!

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  4. would love to win. angelachesnut246@gmail.com

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  5. I would love to start reading your books the more suspense the better
    Shirley jcisforme@aol.com

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  6. Irene, I loved Hope Harbor and I'm glad there will be more novels set there again! I'm new to your suspense novels and can't wait to get started soon! Thanks for stopping by here!

    Annie JC
    Justcommonly(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. My pleasure, Annie! And the next trip to Hope Harbor will be in June, with SEA ROSE LANE! :)

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  7. I also wanted to say, sometimes people just doesn't understand what you do. I freelance and even family members will ask, what do you do or expect that you have all the time in the world. I'm praying for patience and gratitude. We appreciate the hard work you (and other writers) do in writing amazing novels that inspire, encourage and touch us. Thank you.

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  8. Love to read her books.
    Thereadmaster@me.com

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  10. I love your books! Thank you for writing them!

    butterflii410 at yahoo dot com

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  11. would love to win. angelachesnut246@gmail.com

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  12. I enjoyed the interview very much. I lived your answer saying you have always been a writer. God gives us gifts and talents and I'm thankful thst you use yours to reach people through your writing. Your writing is inspiring , intriguing and always glorifies God. I also love hot chocolate. I gave it everyday year round but I add peppermint creamer to it. Thank you for including faith in a subtle way in your books that are able to reach many without feeling preached to.
    Deana
    Jhdwayne@peoplepc.com

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  13. Irene, Thank you for writing stories that highlight the power of love to transform lives. Romantic suspense is one of my favorite genres. Blessings

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    1. I forgot to include my email....
      psalm103and138 at gmail dot com

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  14. I loved all the previous Suspense series, but was a bit disappointed with Buried Secrets because of all the dippy "he's so wonderful and good-looking; she's so beautiful,etc." junior-high-level romance. I like romantic Suspense but with more emphasis on plot and characters than lame romantic filler. I'm sorry this seems negative. You are a good writer and your other books featured better romantic scenes and dialogue. I really do enjoy your books.

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