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Mystery & Thrillers

Guest Bloggers: Don Mann and Ralph Pezzullo

Hunt the FalconSEAL Team Six and Thomas Crocker are back hunting their most elusive adversary yet: The Falcon.

When the White House needs someone to track down a group of dangerous terrorists who have been assassinating U.S. diplomats in posts all over the world, who do they call? Tom Crocker and his SEAL Team Six special operators, aka Black Cell. They’re the black ops specialists who are often tapped when anything highly sensitive, time-critical and extremely dangerous has to be done.

This time they raid a bomb-making factory in Thailand where Crocker and his team discover a group of Iranian terrorists holding Venezuelan passports, which points the finger of blame directly at the Iranian Quds Force. And here’s the little known true fact(the one that DC officials never talk about): the United States has been fighting a secret war with the Iranian Quds Force for years. They’re the group behind many attacks against Americans in Iraq (including the rocket attack on the Green Zone) and Afghanistan. Currently, they’re fighting alongside pro-Assad forces in Syria, and they also have a branch of operatives in Venezuela known as Unit 5000 that is in the business of shipping cocaine to Europe and using the proceeds to attack the West, and particularly the United States.

No one talks about them because they’re so nasty and as part of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, take orders directly from the religious leaders of Iran – not the president, but the mullahs. They are, without a doubt, a state-sponsored Islamic terrorist group, much better trained, armed, funded and more insidious than al-Qaeda. And in Hunt the Falcon they’re lead by Crocker’s nemesis and the man behind his wife’s kidnapping in Tripoli (depicted in the previous book in the series Hunt the Scorpion) Farhed Alizadeh – the Falcon.

The question is: what are they up to now? And why are they operating right under our noses? To find the answers, Crocker and his men crisscross South America, trying to stay one step ahead of Unit 5000 operatives. When the latest technical gadgetry from DARPA fails during a raid on the terrorist hideout, Crocker has to rescue one of his wounded men the old-fashioned way: climbing a fence and improvising his way out with bullets flying.

Believe it or not, that’s just in the first hundred pages. And it’s only a fraction of Crocker’s problems. People back home in Virginia depend on him, including a wife at home who is trying to cope with PTSD and a father who seems to have fallen in love with a much younger woman.

The pace and severity of the physical and mental challenges Crocker and his men must face as they attempt to head off catastrophe push them to the brink of exhaustion. But even when they’re asked to undertake a final “suicide mission” deep behind enemy lines without backup, or a credible exfil plan, Crocker and his men answer the call.

--Don Mann and Ralph Pezzullo

True Confessions of a Santa Claus

Guest post by author Alan Russell.

St.NickMost writers go to great lengths to try and get the details of their books right. I've worked with homicide teams and private investigators so as to allow me to write authoritatively about characters and investigative work. I have traveled to unusual and remote locations to get the feel and essence of that place. As a writer, I am always seeking out that ever elusive verisimilitude--I want my books to have that "truth-like" feeling.

When envisioning my novel St. Nick, I knew my main character was going to be a reluctant mall Santa Claus, but everything else was still fuzzy. Because I didn't know much about the world of Santa Claus, I decided the only way to write about that character was to experience the life of a mall Santa.

Many of the things I experienced as Santa I was able to have my main character, suspended cop Nick Pappas, also experience. One of the "hazards" of being Santa Claus is that there is no place for your body to breathe. You are wearing a large layer of padding, and have a heavy uniform draping your body. On your face is a beard, on your head is a wig, and atop your head is a hat.  Your hands are covered in white gloves, and on your feet are black boots. It's crazy hot, and I perspired copiously, even though people couldn't even see me sweat because of the beard and wig. The "elves" that I worked with were constantly filling my water bottle. Every day I had to carefully dry my sodden mass of batting (padding).  On one occasion I didn't do a very good job of that, and suffered so much that I decided to have my character Nick experience the same thing. Another on the job hazard comes from the overactive bladders of young boys. I missed that bullet, but one of the other Santas I worked with took one for the team.

Working as a Santa Claus proved to be invaluable to writing the book. I learned firsthand about sore backs (inevitable when you lift so many children into your lap), how to divine mumbled youthful toy requests, the brainwashing effect of Christmas Muzak, and the North Pole politics among elves. I can tell you the only thing shriller than an air raid siren is a terrified five-year-old who is letting the world know he wants nothing to do with a bearded stranger in red pajamas. And then after a day of such screaming, and just when you're thinking Jonathan Swift might have been on to something with his "A Modest Proposal," you get dewy eyed when another five-year-old wraps her arms around you and says, "I love you, Santa Claus."

Like my character Nick, I was terrified working my first day in the North Pole. Seeing a line of kids waiting to talk to a legend will do that to you.  I had stage fright and doubts. Was I the right person to make a child's visit with Santa special?

Seeing Santa brings back memories for many. Some remember their first visit to Santa Claus. Some remember taking their children to see him. As for me, I'll always look back fondly at my four weeks of being Santa Claus. My novel St. Nick shares those times, and is my grown-up letter to Santa.

Exclusive Q&A with Matt Kindt on Red Handed

Matt Kindt the writer of MIND MGMT and Justice League of America sat down with us to talk about Red Handed: The Fine Art of Strange Crimes, his take on the classic crime thriller and homage to Dick Tracy. 61jP1N8QN0L

Charlie Chang: I’m a huge fan of detective/mystery thrillers so I’m very excited about Red Hand. Tell us about the book.

Matt Kindt: Well, I can you that I’m a huge fan of crime. Not crime, but crime books (laughs), I’m against crime. I read all the Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler; I’m a huge fan of film noir, those movies from the 40s and 50s. I also love heist movies and all that stuff. So what I started to do a crime book, it was kind of like when I did Super Spy. I read every spy thing I could get my hands on so that wouldn’t repeat it. I did the same thing with Crime, I read everything and tried to figure out some little chink in the armor of Crime books that hasn’t been done yet and try to worm my way into that. So I set up the challenge for myself of doing a Crime book where nobody’s gets killed in it, there’s no heist or some big thing where someone is stealing something. I mostly made it, it’s 99% death free, [laughs] but I wanted it to be more about the nature of crime and ask questions like “What is Crime?”, “Is it even a Crime?” because I’m naturally a rule follower so I don’t break the rules but I’m constantly thinking about ways to skirt the rules.

CC: Like the grey areas

MK: Yeah, like, by the letter of the law I’m not disobeying the law but it’s skirting the issue. You know, this makes Red Handed sound like the most boring crime book ever but it’s actually very exciting, there are things getting stolen, somebody does die, but I just wanted to do something that was a Crime book and had everything that I loved about that genre but was different than anything else that had been done before.

CC: In great Crime movies and TV dramas music is a big driving factor in creating the overall mood and atmosphere of what’s playing out in front of the audience. What kind of music do you hear while reading Red Handed?

MK: I’d say it’s pretty 60s jazzy, probably Dave Brubeck, put that one and then read it.

CC: What did you read as part of your research? Any newspapers?

MK: [Laughs] Actually no, I tried to read everything in the genre so all my research was really based around making sure that I didn’t do something that already existed. The other was I grew up reading Dick Tracy and I love it so there’s definitely a heavy homage to Dick Tracy because what’s funny is, the stuff you read as a kid, you really don’t realize how much that informs so much of your work. I love cutaway views and gadgets and I look back and all the stuff I’ve done and it helps me remember why I love those things subconsciously. So there’s a Detective in there who’s got a 100% success rate and he solves every crime so he’s basically Dick Tracy. Then I wanted to pit him against weird and odd crimes so I put him in a real world situation where there’s something more important than just solving the crime. Figuring out what causes people to become criminals and make this detective answer those types of questions but in a very exciting way cause that’s starting to sound boring again [everybody laughs]. There’s action, there’s car crashes.

 

This interview was conducted and written by Kindle editor Charlie Chang. Interested in comics and graphic novels? Sign up for Comics Delivers, a weekly email featuring the best in comics each week - from weekly booklists to deals and exclusive content from creators.

Guest Blogger: Michael Connelly

The Gods of GuiltDefense attorney Mickey Haller returns with a haunting case in the gripping new thriller from best-selling author Michael Connelly.

In my new novel, The Gods of Guilt, the Lincoln lawyer Mickey Haller likens the practice of law to juggling chain saws: It can be dangerous, especially if you catch it by the wrong end. I think writing a novel is the same way. There are many pitfalls. You have to be careful and steady with your juggling. Still, every book is a challenge in its own way, and those challenges are set by the juggler himself. So there is no use complaining about it. If you want to take the easy route, then juggle marshmallows.
When I wrote The Gods of Guilt, I think I went with chainsaws. I gave myself a challenge that probably nobody would notice but myself. I just wanted to see if I could pull it off.

First of all, I wanted the book to function as an entertaining legal thriller with lots of intrigue, courtroom drama, and subterfuge. I wanted a few surprises too, including the death of a secondary character that the reader wouldn’t see coming. None of that was really secret in terms of the structure of the book. They were needed ingredients and difficult enough to juggle and keep in the air. The secret agenda I added was with regard to two of the main characters. While functioning as a fast-moving thriller, the book’s true center revolves around the relationship between Mickey Haller and his 16-year-old daughter, Hayley. I wanted that strained relationship to be the engine that drives Mickey’s choices and desires through the book. The book is, after all, called The Gods of Guilt. I wanted Mickey to be operating from a standpoint of seeking redemption in his daughter’s eyes, and if he succeeded, then he would save the relationship that means so much to him and ease the guilt that weighs him down as the story begins.

But here’s the catch—or, I should say, the challenge. I did not want Mickey and Hayley to have a single exchange of dialogue in the book, let alone meet face-to-face. I thought this was necessary, at least in the first half of the book, to underscore how deep the rift was between this father and daughter and how difficult it would be to bridge the gap. I wanted Mickey’s efforts to reach out and to explain his actions to be unrequited. I wanted his phone calls to go unanswered, his texts unreturned. When the centerpiece trial got underway, I wanted Mickey to turn from the defense table to look for his daughter in the public gallery, only to see she was not there.

I hope you pay attention to this as you read my novel. I know there is one scene where Mickey watches his daughter from afar, and another off the page where Hayley visits without Mickey really knowing it—you’ll understand what that means if you read the book. You’ll then be able to decide if the challenge was successfully met, and if it was the right choice. Can the father-daughter relationship be the true center of the book if the two principles never talk to one another on the page? You be the judge.

— Michael Connelly

Guest Blogger: Michael Robotham

BombproofMichael Robotham has been an investigative journalist in Britain, Australia and the US. One of world's most acclaimed authors of thriller fiction, he lives in Sydney with his wife and three daughters.

They say that a novel often begins with two ideas colliding, which makes it sound like nuclear fusion, all heat and light and energy. My creative process is much more like a car crash where I play the crash scene investigator, turning up in the aftermath and trying to piece together the evidence.
   
Bombproof began like that for me.
   
It tells the story of Sami Macbeth – the unluckiest man in the world, who is wrongly imprisoned for a jewel theft and is mistakenly perceived to be the greatest safebreaker in the world. While this guarantees Sami respect in prison, it also means that once outside, he’s a man in demand.
   
Sami wants nothing to do with gangsters and safe breaking. He wants to lead a quiet life, play his guitar and dream of being a rock god – but when his sister is kidnapped and held hostage, he has no choice but to play along.
   
Bombproof begins with an explosion on the London Underground, which Sami survives, but he soon becomes Britain’s most wanted man because he can’t reveal what he’s carrying.

The idea for the novel came to me not long after July 2005 London transport bombings, when fear and suspicion gripped the city. I often travel on the Underground with a small rucksack containing water and notebooks. I noticed how people would glance at the bag between my feet. It made me wonder what would happen if I had something else in the bag – not a bomb, but something else illegal. What if I refused to have it searched?

The other story that was still fresh in my mind was the death of Jean de Menezes at Stockwell Tube station in South London. He was shot dead by firearms officers who mistook him for a suicide bomber. After giving no warning, they fired seven shots into his body. De Menezes was an innocent man – a Brazilian electrician, who couldn’t understand what the police were shouting at him.

I didn’t want to make light of such a tragedy, but I did want to explore the sense of community hysteria that is triggered by a terrorist attack.
   
Bombproof is a little different from my past novels. Instead of being a tense and often suffocating psychological thriller, it’s full of sex, violence, one-liners and hopefully some laughs. It’s like something that Quentin Tarantino might film, or a Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels full of gangsters, corrupt police, stand-over men, pimps and colourful women.
   
I hope you have as much fun reading it as I had writing it.

--Michael Robotham

Guest Blogger: Sandra Brown

DeadlineSandra Brown began her writing career in 1981 and since then has published over seventy novels including her latest, Deadline.

Recently my husband and I were having dinner with another couple whom we don’t see often because of geography.  As the conversation turned to work-related news, they asked my opinion of eBooks.     

My answer was completely self-interested.  “Today I learned that one of my books, originally published in 1995, moved up three spots on the New York Times eBook bestsellers list.  It’s been on there for six weeks.  I’m feeling rather good about eBooks!”    

In the past six months, eight of my backlist suspense novels have been made available as eBooks for the first time.  In upcoming months, and well into 2014, eight more of that genre, as well as eighteen romances (published prior to 1990), will become available.     

This represents an enormous and ever-expanding new market.  Already new readers have discovered me.  Longstanding fans have, for years, wanted to download their favorite Sandra Brown book, and now they can or will be able to soon.  Readers who’ve become recent loyalists want to read the backlist because –  God bless them – they feel as though they’ve missed something.  In other countries readers are keystrokes away from acquiring books they couldn’t get before.    

I’m loving it!  But is there a downside?   

I confess to an artistic concern about how the earlier books would stand up when compared to the more recent.  So I read one of my backlist titles.  A few pages in – I swear this is true – I laughed out loud at something a character said.  I didn’t remember writing it.  Honestly, my memory of the characters and plot line was hazy because I’ve written a couple dozen books since this one.  But I was reassured.  The trademarks of a newer Sandra Brown were there in that backlist title.  It resonated with my “voice.”  Every author has one.  Apparently mine hasn’t changed all that much.    

Now, please understand that books of any genre written in the 80's, 90's or early 2000's aren’t going to reflect current modes of thinking. Times have changed, and I’m not talking only about technology, but about societal issues with considerable heft.   Dickensian characters speak, think, and act in a way that reflects the time period. So, if something said or done in an older Sandra Brown book jumps out at you as being horribly outdated, check the copyright date and cut me some slack, okay?    

Coincidentally, the prologue for my newest book Deadline takes place way back in 1976.  But the rest of the story is set in the present day, and my hero, Dawson Scott, suffers from a disorder we see far too often in today’s headlines: Post-Traumatic Stress.    

I went to Afghanistan in 2011 on a USO tour.  Naturally people expected me to use that experience as the backdrop for a story.  I didn’t plan to, but I suppose the seed for an idea was planted and eventually took root.     

Deadline isn’t specifically about the war. Dawson Scott isn’t a soldier, he’s a journalist.  He went to the Middle East carrying a laptop, not a rifle, but his bird’s-eye-view of the war, and its aftereffects, were similar to those of fighting men and women.    

With that premise in mind, I plotted Deadline.  I think it’s a heck of a thriller.  Even I was surprised by some of the twists!     

And how does Dawson’s conflict tie in with what happened in 1976?     

You’ll find the answer to that in the final pages of Deadline

--Sandra Brown

Guest Blogger: S.J. Rozan, one of the authors of "Blood of the Lamb"

Blood of the LambThe Historian meets The Da Vinci Code and Inferno in the exhilarating supernatural thriller,
Blood of the Lamb.

Religion, faith, vampires, and all that jazz.

I want to talk about Blood of the Lamb, about an issue that's come up.  So as not to be disingenuous, I'll admit Carlos Dews and I—we who are Sam Cabot—anticipated this pushback.  (We knew the job was dangerous when we took it, Fred.)

Blasphemy.  Sacrilege.  Disrespect, at the very least.  Some readers don't see those in Blood of the Lamb.

I believe Sam Cabot has an incredible sense of drama by creating a partnership between a priest and a vampire. I think it brings so much angst and doubt to the story. Each one not sure if they can trust the other. The dynamic between the two increases the suspense of the book.

But some do.

I gave this book 3.5 out of 5 stars, in part because you need a VERY open mind to read it, and I'm just not sure mine is open enough to accept what is presented in this book.
Or

I remember when The Da Vinci Code first came out. Some of my more religious friends would not read it because they were told it was sacrilegious and too controversial.  Well - for those of you out there that thought The Da Vinci Code crossed some sort of line - wait until you read Blood of the Lamb!

We get it, why people say that.  But in our eyes, it's not that at all.  Blood of the Lamb is not a knock on religion.  In fact, it's about faith.  It always was.  Another reader:

Thomas and Livia, also, had to face their own individual doubts in belief with every clue that was discovered. At the end, both faced such extreme challenges to their “faith,” you are not sure if they can recover. It is a true test of faith for both.  Their internal struggles are very painful and you can empathize with both.

But we're still hearing this strain of criticism.   Because, maybe, of scenes like this:

Thomas was prepared.  The silver crucifix that usually hung around his neck was gripped in his hand.  He thrust it out as Livia Pietro stepped into the room.  She stopped, stared, and shook her head.  "Put that away."  Crossing the carpet, she sat again.  "The Church has always been our enemy, Father Kelly, but we haven't been yours.  To think that the sight of a cross will have any effect on me -- I'm sorry, but it's narcissistic."

Or this:

Thomas stepped inside as though he were any priest, in the company of any historians, visiting any church in Rome.  He felt acutely the presence of Livia Pietro beside him and Spencer George a few paces behind.  Could they really enter a church?  Step onto consecrated ground as easily as he could?  A part of him expected -- no, admit it, hoped -- that they'd be struck down at the threshold, reduced to dust and ashes for defiling the sanctified air.  Stop it, he ordered himself, you sound like a Dominican.

Now, people can say whatever they want.  Once they've read it.  We had no intention of blaspheming.  We created an alternative universe, with priests, cardinals, vampires... and some other stuff... in the service of questions about faith and its relationship to religion and to everyday reality.

Wait, you say.  Who do you people think you are?  Faith, religion, everyday reality -- Blood of the Lamb is a paranormal thriller, right?  Everyone runs around looking for a document?  Chases, danger, narrow escapes, that sort of thrillerish thing?  Yes indeed.  And we hope, pretty exciting.  With cool info about the streets, churches, and art of Rome, and every word of it true.  Except maybe the vampire parts.

Maybe.

So here's the plan: if you've read Blood of the Lamb, do us a favor?  Review it on Amazon, on Goodreads.  On your own blog.  Mention it to your favorite book blogger.  Tweet about it.  If you think it treats religion and faith sensitively, say so.  And vampires, if sensitive treatment of vampires is an issue for you.  If you think we ought to be arrested, say that.  Just give us a heads-up so we can skip town.

Now, what if you haven't read it?  Well, what are you waiting for?  Some free (or super cheap) Blood of the Lamb-related material?  Say, a manuscript recently unearthed from the Noantri archives, the story of the wreck of the ship carrying America's first woman war correspondent, Margaret Fuller?  You drive a hard bargain.  Okay, here's the Kindle link to that very manuscript.

S.J. Rozan

 

Guest Review: Marcus Sakey on John Rector's new Thriller, "Out of the Black"

Marcus Sakey's thrillers have been nominated for more than fifteen awards, named New York Times' Editor's Picks, and selected among Esquire magazine's Top 5 Books of The Year. His most recent novel is Brilliance.

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Here’s something I’ve learned: it’s not the thrills that make a thriller great.

Don’t get me wrong, they’re important.  As readers, we want to be held in a state of sustained adrenaline, to have the tension ratcheted tighter and tighter and then, impossibly, tighter still.  We want to face impossible odds while playing for the highest imaginable stakes.

All of which John Rector does, masterfully.  But that’s not what makes Out of the Black a great thriller.

It’s a hundred other things.

It’s the beautifully drawn protagonist.  Matt Caine is a father and an ex-Marine and a widower and a friend and a kidnapper, but more than all of that, he’s a guy you can believe in, a character so substantial he could hold a door for you. 

It’s his stomach-knuckling loss over the death of his wife, killed in a car accident before the book opens.  A loss that Matt has barely begun to deal with; a loss so devastating and raw you can’t help but experience it yourself.

It’s the tenderness and complexity and depth of his relationship with his daughter Anna, and the distances he will go for her.

It’s the nuanced interactions between every character.  These aren’t chess pieces shoved around a board; they’re people caught in an untenable situation, all of them doing the best they can, and all with something to lose.

It’s the courage of Rector’s storytelling convictions, which eschew easy answers and Hollywood solutions. 

It’s the elegance of the prose, every word selected with precision and soul.

It’s the way the book is rich enough to savor but tense enough that you simply can’t, instead whipping through it as fast as your eyes can take in the pages.

And most especially, it’s that once you do finish, you’ll find the story stays with you; that you’re haunted by the histories and choices, the costs and consequences—and especially by the shattering conclusion.

There are a lot of thrillers, but few really great ones.

Out of the Black is one.

Guest Blogger: Mukoma Wa Ngugi, author of "Black Star Nairobi"

Black Star NairobiMukoma Wa Ngugi is a novelist and poet. He was short listed for the Caine Prize for African writing in 2009 and for the 2010 Penguin Prize for African Writing. In his latest book, two cops—one American, one Kenyan—team up to track down a deadly terrorist.

In 2004, I was in Kenya, attending the trial of those accused of brutally attacking both my father, Ngugi Wa Thiong’o, and my stepmother, Njeri Wa Ngugi, on their return to the country after twenty years of forced political exile.  One of the detectives assigned to protect them was driving us to court. As he wove in and out of Limuru Road traffic at high speed, he was telling us war stories about car-jackings in Nairobi: “I was driving my friend’s Mercedes, some thugs tried to take it.”  He glanced to where his shoulder holster lay, underneath his jacket.  “I spoke up for myself,” he added and moved on to something else. 

The Kiswahili phrase he used—“alafu nika jitetea”—is an understatement that is virtually impossible to translate, and in the context of that conversation, it was somewhere between cool and sinister.

Without spending enormous amounts of time with detectives like this one, detectives who casually carried their AK-47’s in and out of the car in a sack, I couldn’t have come up with Odhiambo, Black Star Nairobi’s Kenyan counterpart to the black American detective Ishmael.  And without hearing an understatement like “alafu nika jitetea,” both Nairobi Heat, the first book in the series, and Black Star Nairobi wouldn’t have been possible.

I’ve always been fascinated by the relationship between Africans and African-Americans, especially the stories of Black Panthers who settled in Tanzania and elsewhere. So when I came to write Black Star Nairobi, I had my American character, Ishmael, move to Kenya, following a Rwandan woman he’d fallen in love with in the first book, and experience some of the pleasures and problems of being an African-American in Africa.  I also picked an interesting time period: Ishmael and Odhiambo’s investigation involves a murder and a hotel bombing against the backdrop of 2007 post-election Kenya, the racial tensions around Obama’s first presidential campaign, and the war on terror.  I mean, who could resist writing about that?

At the same time, I enjoy listening to stories, and certainly my friends can testify that I enjoy telling stories.  So Black Star Nairobi is just as much about characters in extreme circumstances who enjoy each other’s company, drinking beer and eating roast goat after the not-so-occasional joint.  In the course of their adventures, they also meet some surprising individuals: a wise barfly nicknamed M.C. Hammer who dresses in the rapper’s signature gold pants, an Afro-Mexican drug dealer in Tijuana who sneaks the detectives into the US, and a CIA agent who really just wants to party. I wanted to create a story that would at times be knee-slappingly funny, in spite of the discomforting violence.

Finally, there is a question I have yet to be asked, but that is behind most of my introductions at readings and talks.  Why do you, a literary scholar and a professor of English, write popular fiction?  Why, I will answer, because it’s popular!  Because ultimately literature is an exploration of human nature, an imagining of how we interact with others and our environment, and the things we do to each other in the name of protecting our own.  And what better way to get to this than by holding a gun to a fictional character’s head? 

--Mukoma Wa Ngugi

Q&A with Kristen Painter, author of the House of Comarré Series

Last BloodKristen Painter's writing resume boasts multiple Golden Heart nominations and advance praise from a handful of best-selling authors, including Gena Showalter and Roxanne St. Claire. Here lastest book is Last Blood.

Amazon.com: Did you have a plan for the House of Comarré books? Did you know how the series was going to turn out? 

Kristen Painter: Truthfully, not that much. The only character I’ve promised not to kill off is Dominic (for those of you playing along with the home game), so my hero and heroine had a rather tumultuous ride throughout this series. I knew their trip was going to be rough, but the exact situations they’d face were largely unplanned until I was in the depths of the writing. See, I’ve never been one to write by a strict outline—to me that feels like I’m giving away the most interesting parts and then I don’t want to write them anymore. Instead I try to choose the worst possible outcome of a situation, then write my way out of it. I call this process The Path of Least Saneness.

Amazon.com: Do the characters ever surprise you?

Kristen Painter: Actually, yes. You’d think voluntarily writing myself into a corner would end badly, but what usually happens is my characters figure their own way out. That’s not to say I’m not in control of my characters, but sometimes when I’m in the writing zone and the words are coming so fast my brain is lagging behind, one of them will say or do something I didn’t see coming. And then it turns out to be the exact solution to the current problem. Many times, I go with it. But sometimes I rein them in because I’m not ready for the trouble to be over. While writing Last Blood, I constantly reminded myself that this was the end of the series and further complications weren’t necessary. Stopping my characters from getting in deeper was an odd feeling.

Amazon.com: Why do you do this to me?

Kristen Painter: After Out For Blood, the fourth book in my House of Comarré series, was released I received lots of mail asking me how I could torture my readers so much. All I really set out to do was torture my characters, but I appreciate how invested my readers are. See, readers loved the book, but wanted to throttle me over the massive cliffhanger ending. Which is pretty much how every other book in the series ended. Hey, it’s what I do. This reaction wasn’t unexpected because the ending to that book was a doozy, leaving both the hero and heroine in questionable situations, but I also knew that the fifth and final book in the series, Last Blood, would resolve all of those issues. Essentially, I was setting myself up to go out with a bang. I promised when I started writing the series that the last book would not end with a cliffhanger and it doesn’t. As a result, Last Blood wraps everything up in what feels to me like a very satisfying conclusion.

Amazon.com: Will we ever see any of these characters again?

Kristen Painter: Happily, the next series, Crescent City, will be set in the same world as the House of Comarré series and will feature a few cameos by familiar characters. This time, I’m delving into the world of the fae and the adventures take place in New Orleans. House of the Rising Sun is slated for May 2014 and I can’t wait to get it into readers’ hands!