Welcome Dee Davis to The Book Nympho! She’s the author of several romantic suspense series, including the exciting A-Tac stories. Let’s get started.
Jonetta: You have a very interesting background, having been involved in politics, public relations and acting. When and why did you make the turn to writing?
Dee: I’ve always been entranced by a blank piece of paper. It’s like a whole world waiting for the words to make it happen. I guess I’ve always been a storyteller. My dad and I used to sit in the mall and make up stories about the people passing by. I didn’t seriously consider writing as a career though until I hit a midlife skid when my daughter was first going off to school and I realized it was time to get off the stick and do some of the things I’d always wanted to. And at the top of that list was write a book.
Jonetta: What aspects of your career and travel histories do you bring into your stories? How tough is it to not write about some of the people you encountered…or have you?
Dee: I think everything I’ve ever experienced plays a part in what I write. It’s the body of “truth” that I call on when creating characters and emotions. I don’t know that I’ve ever consciously modeled a character after a real person. (Although I did kill one for my nephews once –a character named for a real person not a real person!) But I’m sure pieces of people I know are bound to influence me as I create new characters.
As to travels, that most definitely plays a direct role in some of my books. I’ve always used books as a way to travel to interesting places, and the same holds true when I write. So the places I’ve lived or visited (Vienna in Just Breathe, Ireland in After Twilight) often play a role. Creede, Colorado, where I spent my summers as a kid has turned up in at least three of my books and was the setting (albeit fictionally as the town of Silverthread) for The Promise. And of course both Austin and Manhattan have been featured prominently in books I’ve written. But I also write about places I’ve never been – and in doing the research get to taste at least what that place and culture might be like. (Columbia in Dangerous Desires, The Golden Triangle in Dire Distraction.)
As to my career I think politics and political intrigue play a large role in a majority of my books. Partly because that’s what I studied and partly because I think it is an area that lends itself well to suspense.
Jonetta: You have an extensive bibliography to date and I’d like to focus on your romantic suspense work. Do you have a preference for stories in a series or those that standalone? Have you ever been tempted to continue a standalone novel into a series?
Dee: I don’t know that I have a preference. I love my stand alone books. But I’ve also loved writing my series as well. With each book you write you’re creating a world and when it’s a series, you get to stay there that much longer. That said, I am in fact taking three of my stand-alone books (Eye of the Storm, Chain Reaction, Still of the Night) and turning them into a loosely based series, Liar’s Game—with a fourth brand new book, Line of Fire, as a prequel to start them out . There will be some very small edits to Eye and Chain and a new epilogue for Still of the Night. And possibly a fifth book to follow in the future. I realized that some of the characters had a past together and in one case was even mentioned in the original versions. So I wanted to tell that part of their story as well. The whole series will be out sometime this winter both the new and re-released books.
Jonetta: You have three series in this genre and let’s start with Last Chance. What’s the premise and what connects the books?
Dee: Last Chance is about a billionaire, Cullen Pulaski, with the ear of the President who sets up a task force to deal with cases other agencies either can’t or won’t deal with. It pulls the best of the best from across the intelligence world. CIA. FBI. ATF. Even MI-5. The real connection between the books is the team itself. And their growing together as they work through various operations. And also the over-arcing story of three of the members (the books’ heroes) who suffered through a horrifying firefight in Iraq and are dealing with the fallout in their everyday lives. I will add that there is a fourth hero in Last Chance who originally was meant to have the third book. But it quickly became apparent to me that the book belonged to Nigel, and so Harrison was left on his own and to date has still received more mail than any of my other heroes. (Good news though, he found his way to A-Tac and his happy ending in Deadly Dance).
Jonetta: I decided to start with your A-Tac series. First, what does that name mean? How would you characterize the men and women in the stories?
Dee: The American Intelligence Tactical Command is an elite CIA unit masquerading as faculty at an Ivy League college. Brilliant, badass, and seemingly bulletproof, the members of A-Tac are assigned to the riskiest missions and the most elusive targets. The men and women of A-Tac are brave and dedicated to making their country a safer place for its citizens. They are risk-takers and fighters. And they truly are at the top of their game. But most importantly, they are a family. And as such would do anything for each other. Watching them work together as a cohesive unit was one of my favorite parts of writing about them. Especially as new members, including Last Chance’s Harrison Blake, were absorbed into the team.
Jonetta: I love the name of your Liar’s Game series as it seems to have a clever spin and the stories pretty mysterious. What’s the connection?
Dee: All of the main characters work in careers that force them to become liars of one sort or another. Undercover drug operations, CIA black ops, secret DOD projects, even a Secret Service agent forced to go against everything he’s sworn to protect. And all of that with a group of men and women who have been friends since college and still depend on each other as a safety net when the going gets tough. I guess, like my other series, the most important factor is friendship and the degree of trust that is created when it runs deep.
Jonetta: I don’t want to ignore your standalone titles! As some of our followers are interested in single stories only, is there one you’d recommend as a starting point?
Dee: I don’t know that you have to start them in any particular order. But After Twilight introduces you to the hero of Just Breathe. And the hero of Dancing in the Dark is featured prominently in Midnight Rain. So those two sets might be best read in order, although it certainly isn’t necessary. Dark of the Night stands on its own. Although there is a character, David, who is still, after all these years, demanding his own book. Never say never! After Twilight, set in Ireland, is almost gothic in feel. Just Breathe is actually quite humorous although it deals with political intrigue carried over from the cold war. Dark of the Night is about a woman who finds that the life she thought she’d been living was based on a lie. Midnight Rain is about a man who suffers tramatic brain injury and his efforts to not only get his life back, but to stop a killer he can’t even emember. And Dancing in the Dark is about the Sinatra killer, a serial killer who leaves a Sinatra song playing at each of his kills.
Jonetta: What would you say has stronger resonance in these series, romance or suspense? Or, do you think they’re about equal?
Dee: I believe that good romantic suspense means a balance of the two. And most importantly that neither can exist without the other as a part of the story. So I definitely strive to meet that goal with every book. If I had to say I skew—it would be toward suspense. But I do love the romance as well!
Jonetta: Many of your stories involve complicated ops and a variety of characters. How extensively do you have to research to support the stories and what process do you use to manage the details, especially for your continuing characters?
Dee: I do quite a bit of research for every book I write. I want to be sure that I get the details as accurate as possible within the realm of a work of fiction. That means understanding the background of my characters – from an ATF officer to an FBI profiler, to an undercover narcotics cop. It’s then my job to make them work within the framework of the story I’m writing and still seem as real as possible. Also I have to understand the kinds of weapons they work with. And additionally the things they’re threatened with including biochemical weapons, many kinds of bombs, nuclear threats and the like. I also have to delve into the minds of serial killers, terrorists and other antagonists. So I do a lot of reading in non-fiction to help supplement my knowledge. I’ve researched mountain climbing, jungle trekking, ancient Colombian ruins, train times and crossings, and all kinds of other fun things just for a couple of lines in a book. It has to be as accurate as possible. Also I research locations. Even if I’ve traveled or lived there. I need to be sure the surroundings are accurate – the plants, the animals, the food, the architecture, the weather, all of it. Research honestly one of my favorite parts. I even had to research toad venom once. I won’t tell you why. You’ll have to read Chain Reaction to find out.
Jonetta: I’ll let you have the last word. What else would you like to share with our followers?
Dee: I am so lucky to get to make a living telling stories that other people read. It’s my job to take you on a roller coaster ride—to pull you out of your world and into mine for a couple of hours. I love what I do. And I hope that you’ll love what I’ve written. Thanks so much for having me here with you today!!!
One print copy of Double Danger
ABOUT DEE DAVIS
Award winning author Dee Davis worked in association management before turning her had to writing. Her highly acclaimed first novel, Everything In Its Time, was published in July 2000. Since then, among others, she’s won the Booksellers Best, Golden Leaf, Texas Gold and Prism awards, and been nominated for the National Readers Choice Award, the Holt and two RT Reviewers Choice Awards. To date, she is the author of twenty-two books and five novellas, including her current A-Tac series and Chain Reaction. When not sitting at the computer, Dee spends time exploring Connecticut with her husband, daughter, and Cardigan Welsh Corgi.
I also love to talk about books. There’s nothing more exciting than to finish a great story and cover it A to Z with other people, exploring different perspectives and points of view. So, if you see something on my shelf you’d like to talk about, send me a message and we’ll talk!
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