Today I’m talking with KaLyn Cooper about her new romantic suspense, Explosive Combination. This book started with a bang that had me furiously flipping the virtual pages on my e-reader.
Hi, KaLyn, welcome to Coffee Time Romance. Let’s start at the beginning before we get to the book. Tell me about your writing journey.
My PR degree included several of creative writing classes but my career took me the corporate route. A few years ago we moved to Eastern Tennessee and literally built our house from the studs in and finished the outside. Don’t worry, Macho Marine is an engineer for a company that builds over 35,000 homes each year and this was our nineteenth home. While hanging miles of insulation, painting everything three times, and laying over eighteen-hundred square-feet of tile and marble, I listened to almost two-hundred romance audio books. I decided that I was a professional writer, I’d written five non-fiction books, so I could write a romance novel. While MM was building schools in Haiti after their earthquake, I spent my evenings writing the first stories of my Black Swan series, (hopefully) coming out later this year. I found a local romance author and she guided me to a year-long education in the craft of romance writing. Coming from AP Style, I had a lot to learn! I’ve had the wonderful fortune of meeting some of the most caring and sharing women on the planet…romance authors! Through their advice, instruction and critiquing, Explosive Combination made it past the slush pile (with a little help from some of those awesome authors I mentioned) and was bought by Liquid Silver Books late last year.
What an interesting introduction to the romance career! Now on to the book, tell me about Explosive Combination.
ATF Special Agent Harper Tambini is sent to Colombia to investigate the possibility that someone there has the capability to make Chaz, the most lethal, non-nuclear bomb on the planet. She’s kidnapped by drug lord Carlos Narvaez and undercover CIA agent, Rafe Silva, takes care of her when she has a reaction to the knock-out drug. Before Harper can be rescued, she’d forced to kill Narvaez’s competition while demonstrating Chaz. Chased by the competing cartel, Rafe and Harper flee to meet his former SEAL buddies. The heat of the jungle is nothing compared to the flames that ignite within them both. Harper knows men never stay but she breaks her personal rules for Rafe, hoping he’s different. Rafe refuses to give his heart to a woman who works in the shadow world that killed his fiancée many years ago. Will they have time to crystallize a relationship or will their pasts repeat again?
Now this book had me hooked from the start, and you did a great job with taking me to the jungles of Columbia. Where did you get your inspiration for Explosive Combination?
I had originally written a kidnap story as the first in my Black Swan series but it just didn’t work. (More on that later.)
I write what is often called Factual Fiction. The story is based in fact but I write fiction so I leave it up to the reader to determine what part is my imagination. Facts can fool you!
I was researching explosives for a different book and came across Chaz. The explosive is cutting edge, so new it’s barely out of the lab. It’s made by combining two relatively common explosives through cocrystalization, a process used in pharmaceuticals. I put explosives (ATF) and drugs together with Colombia (a country I was supposed to visit but couldn’t.) Then I discovered that a popular scientific magazine had published the formula. I picked up my kidnap story and Explosive Combination was born.
Sounds like an explosive combination of imagination and research, lol! Yeah, lame joke, but I couldn’t help it. On your website you mentioned a traveling a lot as a military wife, Did you use any of those experiences to bring life to this story?
Yes, and no. Years ago I was set to oversee a video and photo shoot in Colombia for a client of my ad agency. I’d done extensive research because we needed footage of deep sea fishing, dove hunting in the Cauca River basin, and fly fishing in the mountains. Macho Marine was up for a higher security clearance so the FBI was vetting him once again. When the agent asked about international travel, I excitedly told him about the two weeks I intended to spend in Colombia. He folded his little black notebook and stood then announced that if I went to Colombia, MM would never get that clearance and never be promoted again. Colombia is still on my bucket list.
Also, my heroines are based on the characteristics of the strong women, both spouses and active duty, which I met during MM’s twenty-three years as a Marine officer.
I hate that you missed the trip, but completely understand. I hope you make it there one day. Is Special Agent Harper Tambini based off any particular strong military women/spouses you’ve met? What about Rafe Silva?
Neither is based on a single person, rather the characteristics that make a woman strong and display her fortitude and determination. Same with what shows us a man is an Alpha. The Marines are filled with both! I dedicate my books to military wives and active duty women because they are the strongest women in the world, in my opinion.
So true! Explosive Combination was originally part of a series, then you separated it. What made you decide it needed to stand alone?
Actually, it was a joint decision with my agent. Initially, she classified Explosive Combination as suspense with romantic elements. So I beefed up the romance, then I beefed it up some more. After looking at the Black Swan series, which trends more toward Contemporary Romance with lots of suspense, we decide to separate this one rather than try rewrite again to shove it into a category where it didn’t want to fit. The hard part was removing all references to the series characters and creating Harper’s backstory. The Rafe side of the story changed very little.
Well even all of your revisions worked, because the story stands alone very well. What made you decide to write romantic suspense?
I’ve always preferred a good mystery with lots of action, both in the bedroom and out. The category seemed to fit.
Do you have any new projects on the horizon?
The first book in the Black Swan series is with beta readers now and should be ready to go back to my agent in a few weeks. I have mapped out that five-book series and even written a novella for Christmas 2015. (Yes, 2015, because it’ll take at least that long to get all five novels out.) Black Swan is about five, highly-trained women assassins who work for Section 7 in Homeland Security. It’s based on the fact that a man under cover can take years to get a target alone to kill him, but a woman can get a man alone within hours and kill him in seconds.
I’m also 10K into Golden Opportunity which I hope to have out before the end of the year. It’s based on the fact that the conquistadores first found gold in the New World on the Isle of Women off Cancun which led to the colonization of the Americas. It becomes a modern day treasure hunt when Jillian writes her doctoral thesis on the island’s folk lore. Her love interest is a catamaran-owning former Navy SEAL who works Border Patrol at night.
All of those sound like they’ll be high intensity stories. Good luck with both projects! Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Don’t be shy. Writers by nature are introverts but you need to get out there and meet people. Romance writers are willing to help you but you still have to do the work.
Develop a thick skin because there’s a reason you’re not published and only you can change the way you write.
Take advantage of the workshops online and at conferences, and then do what they suggest.
Enter contests. You get three or more critiques for one low price.
Find published authors in your genre and ask if they’d critique your manuscript. Be prepared for a LOT of rejections because published authors are writing like crazy these days and their time is limited.
Develop patience but don’t procrastinate. The process takes time but keep writing. You can fix things you learn in edits.
All very good points. Is there anything else you’d like readers to know?
As a new author, reviews are crucial. If you liked the book—any book, not just mine— please take a few minutes to write a review or rate it. It is GREATLY appreciated! Also, we like to hear from our readers, so follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Pintrest. You’ll get to know us and maybe meet us at a book signing or conference.
Alright, Last fun question, if money were no object what hobby would you pick up?
That’s a tough one. I grew up competing on the back of a quarter horse, learned to water ski and snow ski as a child, I like to hunt and fish, we canoe and kayak all summer. I liked to sail as a teenager but that’s a lot of work. Let’s see…maybe race cars. I love to drive fast, but I think I’d prefer grand prix over NASCAR (turning only one direction would get boring.) Is travel a hobby? If so, I vote for travel. My bucket list is long and world-wide.
That’s a fun list! Thanks so much for the interview, KaLyn. If you’d like to learn more about KaLyn and her books you can connect with her online.
Pintrest (Be sure to check out my Hunks and Junk board) | Twitter | Goodreads |
Amazon Author Page |
Fresh Fiction Author
KaLyn Cooper writes sizzling hot romantic suspense based in fact. Twenty-seven years as a military wife has shown her the world and the men and women who protect it every day. Thirty years in public relations taught her fact can be stranger than fiction, but leaves it up to the reader to separate truth from imagination. She melts fact and fiction together with blazing heat and heart-pounding suspense at www.KaLynCooper.com.
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