Friday, April 8, 2016

INTERVIEW: Romantic Suspense Author Mary Alford

 SS (Interviewer E.E. Kennedy) : When did you realize you wanted to be an author?

MA: I’d say I realized I wanted to be a writer when I was a pre-teen. For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved to read just about anything I could get my hands on. As a child, I discovered Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys and was hooked on suspense. As a preteen, I found Phyllis Whitney and Victoria Holt and knew in my heart of hearts that romantic suspense was what I wanted to write.

I wrote my first book as a pre-teen, but didn’t really pursue writing seriously until about fourteen years ago. During that time period though, I fine-tuned my writing and found myself drawn to inspirational romantic suspense. Then, in 2012, I entered the Speed Dating contest hosted by Love Inspired Suspense and later received “the call” that I’d sold Forgotten Past, my first LIS book. I truly felt like a writer for the first time and it was a dream come true. It’s still hard to believe at times.    

SS: Your books seem to have a good sense of place. Are you familiar with the Rockies or with Maine? What made you choose these locations?

MA: I am very familiar with the Rockies. My husband and I took a trip there about fifteen years ago and fell in love with the mountains. We bought a small cabin at the foothills of the Southern Rockies. I love that the mountains have a way of creating their own weather. The day can go from sunny a warm to dark and foreboding in a matter of no time. A great backdrop for a suspense book. In Forgotten Past well, I’ve never been to Maine before but have read about it and it is on my must see list. The rugged coastline of Maine made the perfect setting for a killer stalking his prey.   

SS: Fear and danger are integral parts of your books. Imagination or experience?

MA: Imagination and probably too much time reading suspense books and watching ID TV. The fear and danger my characters face is the same challenges we as human’s deal with on a much lesser scale. We may not be facing a killer bent on ending our lives, but we each have things we’re afraid of and keep us awake at night. Our own set of monsters so to speak.   

SS: Another either/or question: Outliner or pantser?

MA: Pantser. I’ve tried being the outliner type, but I just don’t operate that way.

SS: Do you have any favorite author(s) who have inspired you?
MA: Along with Phyllis Whitney and Victoria Holt, I love inspirational romantic suspense authors such as Susan Sleeman and Shirlee McCoy. These women are great at weaving suspense, inspiration and an amazing love story into each of their books.

SS: Everyone always asks, so we will, too: Are your characters based on people you know? Which ones?
MA: Certain characteristics of people I know find their way into my books. For instance, most of my characters drink coffee. That’s all me. I love coffee, what can I say? But for the most part, my characters are totally made up.   

SS: Here’s another question that everyone asks: Where do you get your ideas?

MA: Most of my ideas start from something I’ve seen or read about. From there, the story begins to take fruition in my head. I let it simmer for a while until I’ve got a good outline worked out in my mind and then I grab my laptop and start writing. The idea for Rocky Mountain Pursuit came from my love of spy stories. I can’t get enough of espionage stories. I think it’s the danger, the drama, the intrigue attached to espionage that makes it so appealing to me. These people risk their lives daily to keep our country safe.  

SS: You write in Christian genres. What is the spiritual takeaway for your books? Is there a recurring theme?
MA: I think in all my books the spiritual takeaway is that no matter what we’re facing in life, no matter how dark the world around us may seem, we are never alone. God is right there with us through it all.  

SS: How do you mold your villains? They are very frightening!

MA: I think we all have “worst fear” villains hidden deep down in our inner psyche. Some of us fear the unknown. Someone stalking us. A killer on the loose. I like to take those fears and create villains who hide in plain sight. Like the people we know and trust. In Forgotten Past, the villain was the cousin she loved and trusted to protect her. Faith never saw the monster lurking inside her cousin until it was too late. In Rocky Mountain Pursuit, the villain is a former teammate as well as the woman our hero Jase Bradford had once been in love with.            

SS: Would you characterize your books as romantic suspense? Are there any other genres that you’d like to tackle?

MA: Yes, I guess I would consider my books to be romantic suspense because they contain equal parts of each. In addition, I also write inspirational contemporary romance, another one of my favorite genres to read.

SS: What are you working on now?

MA: I currently have a stand-alone inspirational suspense with my agent. It’s about two FBI agents searching for a serial killer. It is 85,000 words and delves into some interesting aspects of human nature. I am currently working on a second book featuring an FBI agent.  

SS: Do you enjoy research? Is there any research subject that you’ve found especially fascinating?

MA: I typically don’t go overboard on research, but it is something that is necessary to make the book believable. In Rocky Mountain Pursuit, well, loved researching the CIA and the spy angle of the book. It was fascinating for me.

SS: Okay, just for fun. Tell us three things about yourself that would surprise your readers.

MA: Hum, well, I’d say that my hubby and I used to raise Emus and Ostriches. I still can’t believe we did that. That I’m trying to teach myself the guitar, (It’s going very slowly…), and I’d love to do some gold panning on my next trip to Colorado. Oh, and I’d also love to write a children’s book one day. 

SS: What are your other interests besides writing?

MA: Music. I love playing the piano and as I’ve said, I’m learning the guitar very slowly. I also love gardening. I want to learn to make quilts as well. I also love doing crafts with my three granddaughters. They are very inspiring.  

SS: Tell us about your current release. When is it available, and where?

MA: Rocky Mountain Pursuit is available now at:

And at most online booksellers. 

Rocky Mountain Pursuit is about former CIA Agent Jase Bradford who is forced to fake his own death and live under an alias because of something Jase and the rest of his Scorpion team witnessed while on a mission in Afghanistan. As one of the last members of the Scorpion team still alive, Jase lives a life of seclusion at his isolated mountaintop retreat. Then, Reyna Peterson shows up at his doorstep looking for him and his cover is blown. Things quickly escalate from there. Jase and Reyna are being tracked down because of some computer files Reyna’s deceased husband smuggled out of a war zone. With the enemy mere steps behind them, Jase and Reyna must stay alive long enough to figure out what is so important in the files that someone is willing to risk coming after them with great force to keep the contents secret.     

SS: What inspired the idea for this book?

MA: My love for spies. I think if I could have chosen a different career path it would have been a spy. I admire them greatly and appreciate their work.  

Leave a comment for Mary along with your email address and you will be entered in a drawing for ane-book version of her latest release, Rocky Mountain Pursuit!


  1. Hi everyone. Thanks for letting me stop by today.

  2. Great interview, Mary. Thanks for sharing.


  3. This is a story my wife would enjoy reading. Sounds very intriguing and suspenseful.

  4. Thanks, Greg. Fingers crossed for your wife.

  5. Your book sounds very good. I truly enjoy intrigue combined with FBI stories. I also agree that Susan Sleeman "weaves" wonderfully and looking forward to that in your books as well. dawn dot nicol at gmail dot com

    1. Thanks, Dawn. Susan definitely creates a great atmosphere for her stories. The characters are compelling.

  6. Thank you for letting us get to know you. Put my name in for the drawing. Your book sounds intriguing. lill dot kohler at gmail dot com

    1. Thank you, Lill. I'll be announcing the willing today.

  7. I fell in love with mysteries when Carolyn Keene introduced me to Nancy Drew. I now enjoy romantic suspense and inspirational fiction and Mary's book sounds very good.
    Thank you for sharing!

    1. Connie, Yep, Nancy Drew got me hooked on suspense.

  8. Love a good suspense book. cheetahthecat1986(AT)gmail(DOT)com.

    1. Kim, I'm thrilled there are so many fans of suspense around.

  9. It sounds like we share a early love of reading, along with many other people, I suspect. I wondered if you happened to read any of the Trixie Belden series, too?

    1. Anonymous, I hadn't heard of Trixie Belden. I looked her up on the internet. The series looks interesting.

  10. A wonderful interview thank you.

    I tried gold panning years ago. It is fun. Alas, no gold.


    1. Mary, it's all about the experience. You tried and you had fun doing it.

  11. I've already read and reviewed this book and it's so good! The ending, wow!! But don't peek....will ruin the suspense.
    Good luck to all of you. Whoever wins will have a book to look forward to.

    1. Thanks so much, Gail. I'm glad you enjoyed the book.

  12. And the winner is...Mary Preston. Mary I've just sent you an email.

    Thanks everyone for stopping by and making me feel welcome.