Friday, October 21, 2016

Amelia Autin--Bodyguards and Brides!

A pretend engagement suddenly becomes very real…and dangerous

When Tahra Edwards sees a suspicious knapsack near a school yard, she leaps into action…and saves children from a bomb. But upon awakening in a hospital, Tahra discovers she's lost her memory—including any recollection of the handsome military captain who says he's her fiancé. A charming alpha hero who seems to be hiding something…

As a high-level bodyguard, Marek Zale knows that a ruthless terrorist organization will stop at nothing to silence Tahra—his ex-girlfriend—permanently. To protect her, he must be by her side around the clock. And though he may not be telling her the truth about their engagement, their love for each other was always true…as is the danger threatening them both!

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 **BOOK GIVEAWAY BELOW**

Award-winning author Amelia Autin is an inveterate reader who can’t bear to put a good book down…or part with it. Her bookshelves are crammed with books her husband periodically threatens to donate to a good cause, but he always relents…eventually.

Amelia is a long-time member of Romance Writers of America (RWA), and served three years as its treasurer. She currently resides with her Ph.D. engineer husband in quiet Vail, Arizona, where they can see the stars at night and have a “million-dollar view” of the Rincon Mountains from their back yard.

Jan Schliesman: I know you have a day job, but how many hours a week do you spend writing?
Amelia: One to two hours per night on the days I work at my day job, and 10 to 12 hours per day on the days I’m not “working.” I work a 9/80 schedule at my day job (that is, I work 80 hours in nine work days), which means I get every other Friday off, which is terrific. I do most of my writing on the weekends. So I’d say I average about 30 to 40 hours per week writing when I’m on deadline. This would not be possible if I had small children at home. I don’t know how authors with children do it.

Jan: Your current release involves a heroine with amnesia? Is this the first time you’ve written such a heroine?
Amelia: Yes, but it’s a trope I’ve always loved to read, so I don’t know why this is the first time I’ve used it in a book. The great thing about amnesia is, it allows the hero and heroine to have been in love before, and yet fall in love all over again relatively quickly. Because everything usually happens in a short period of time in a romantic suspense, it’s problematic to have your hero and heroine fall in love…really in love…in three or four days. So I’m always scrambling to find ways to bring my hero and heroine together in a way that seems realistic and long lasting.

Tahra Edwards and Captain Marek Zale were already falling in love when I wrote Alec’s Royal Assignment. In fact, in that book Marek says of Tahra:

“...She is very sweet. A man would have to look far and wide to find someone like her.”

So he was already smitten. All I had to do was fast forward eighteen months, wipe out Tahra’s memory, and voila! I have two people in love with each other, the lasting kind of love, but one doesn’t remember the other. Which makes for all sorts of poignant moments, including this one:

“What have I said to make you cry?” She shook her head and swallowed visibly as first one tear, then another escaped its banks and trickled down her cheeks. Each tear was like a dagger in his heart. “Please do not,” he pleaded, brushing her tears away with his thumb. “I cannot bear it.”
Her face crumpled and she buried it against his shoulder, weeping quietly. As if her heart was breaking. He gathered her close and did the only thing he could think of—he stroked her dark hair and pressed his lips against it, his own heart breaking for her pain that was also his. He didn’t know why she was crying, just that she was. And somehow he’d been the unwitting cause.
Words of comfort flowed out of him in a disjointed stream, followed by entreaties that she tell him what was wrong. “Hush now, Tahra. Whatever it is, please tell me so I can make it right. I cannot bear to see you cry this way.”
He might as well have saved his breath, because it was as if she couldn’t even hear him. But she clung to him in her misery, and that helped him immeasurably, knowing that whatever was making her weep, even if he was the proximate cause, she still sought comfort in his arms.
When her tears finally ceased, she murmured something into his shoulder he had to ask her to repeat. “I’m so sorry,” she whispered again, still on the edge of tears.
“For what, my darling?” he whispered back, his arms tightening infinitesimally.
She gulped and drew a sobbing breath. “Because you love me so much, and I…I don’t remember.”

Jan: Any upcoming vacation plans?
Amelia: Nothing major. Not like last year, when my husband and I took a land tour/river cruise through northern China and knocked off several things from our respective bucket lists. That trip was also research, since it’s the setting for an upcoming book, Black Ops Warrior (more about this later).

Next year we plan to visit Hong Kong again…my mother-in-law will be celebrating her 90th birthday and we can’t miss that!

Jan: What’s your favorite season and why?
Amelia: That’s easy. Fall, because I love the colors and the smells. Alas, we don’t really have fall in Vail, AZ. Just summer and not-summer. Last year my husband and I visited Massachusetts in October, and I loved it! His hobby is photography, and he snapped these pictures.
 














Jan: The Bodyguard’s Bride-To-Be involves domestic terrorism. Do you have an opinion on how to make situations like these less commonplace?
Amelia: I wish! Every time I hear of another incident, I ask myself, why can’t we all just get along?
I dedicated The Bodyguard’s Bride-To-Be in part to Shannon Johnson, a true hero of the San Bernardino massacre. For those who might not remember, he shielded a co-worker with his body, saying, “I got you.” Taking the bullets meant for her. It still brings tears to my eyes that there are everyday heroes like Mr. Johnson, people who do what they have to do at the moment they have to do it…even at the cost of their own lives.

Jan: What surprised you most about writing this story?
Amelia: I’m always surprised by how my stories turn out. I’m a pantser, not a plotter (i.e., I write by the seat of my pants as opposed to plotting things out). This means my synopsis rarely bears a strong resemblance to the final product, but if I want to sell on proposal (synopsis and the first three chapters), a synopsis is a must. (Sigh). In the case of The Bodyguard’s Bride-To-Be, I changed the villain’s goal mid-stream, which (eek!) wasn’t the easiest thing to sell to my editor. But it was absolutely necessary and made for a much stronger plot. My editor’s biggest concern was that I not let the plot overwhelm the romance, which I didn’t (at least I don’t think I did—I’ll have to ask my readers to render a verdict on that!) I think the plot change allowed for a much more romantic storyline.

It also surprised me how very different two sisters can be. Shy Tahra is eight years younger than her outgoing sister, Carly (heroine of Killer Countdown) and as different from her as chalk is from cheese. I actually used those differences in The Bodyguard’s Bride-To-Be as something that allows Tahra to grow within the story.

That brings me to something I see as problematic, especially when you’re writing sibling books—the covers. The heroine on the cover of Killer Countdown looks more the way I envisioned Tahra (sweet, shy, innocent, and in her twenties). And the heroine on the cover of The Bodyguard’s Bride-To-Be looks more the way I envisioned Carly (sophisticated, self-assured, and in her thirties). Don’t get me wrong, I love the Killer Countdown cover. But…

I had a similar issue with the covers for Liam’s Witness Protection and Alec’s Royal Assignment. Alec and Liam had been described in McKinnon’s Royal Mission this way:

Trace rendezvoused with the Jones brothers Alec and Liam in the privacy of the sun room. A year apart in ages, they looked like two peas in a pod—tall, rangy; honed to muscle, sinew, and bone, just as he was. Both had that competent air instilled in them by their years in the US Marine Corps and the Diplomatic Security Service. And both had auburn hair, which they kept close cropped. Not for them their sister’s red-gold tangle of curls, although neither had the milky complexion and freckles that usually accompanied hair that color.
Alec at thirty-four was a year older and a shade taller than his brother, whereas Liam was a tad broader in the shoulders. But both inspired confidence on sight, something Trace had been relieved to see. They were Keira’s brothers and former marines, so they had to be damned good, but still...

Based on this description I envisioned them as nearly identical twins, don’t you agree? But that’s not how the covers turned out. And neither man appears to have close-cropped auburn hair. Again, don’t misunderstand. I love the cover for Liam’s Witness Protection (mostly because they nailed the expression on the heroine’s face), but still…
  
Jan: I’m not much of a cook. How about you? Any favorite dishes that will tempt you away from the keyboard and into the kitchen?
Amelia: Hah! I have two “party dishes” that I can make for dinner…my mother’s pot roast and my sister’s chicken and rice casserole. Other than that my guests are out of luck. On the other hand, breakfast is my forte—my grits are to die for. <g>

Jan: When readers contact you, what sort of questions do they ask?
Amelia: Readers contact you with questions? (Just kidding!) One reader asked how I pronounced Mei-li (heroine from A Father’s Desperate Rescue), because she wanted to be able to think of the name correctly. That actually posed a dilemma for me. Since the story takes place in Hong Kong, where Cantonese is spoken, Mei-li would be pronounced May-Lie. But I’ve always thought of her name as May-Lee, which is the Mandarin pronunciation. I think it’s much prettier, and I explained that to the reader.

That’s really the only question I can think of. I’ve had several readers write and ask me if I intended to write a book for this person or that person, someone who’d been a secondary character in a previous book. Often the answer is an emphatic yes! But a couple of times the answer was no. For instance, one reader wanted me to write the love story of Juliana’s parents (she was the heroine of King’s Ransom). Problem was, her mother died when she was four. That kinda sorta breaks the paradigm of a romance, if you know in advance someone is going to die before too long. We all want to think of heroes and heroines in books living happily ever after.

The character whose story I had the most requests for was Dirk DeWinter, from King’s Ransom. I’d been planning to write his story, but first I had to write two contracted books, Alec’s Royal Assignment and Liam’s Witness Protection. Then I was free to write Dirk’s story in A Father’s Desperate Rescue. And unusual for me, I already knew what his deep, dark secret was way back when I wrote this paragraph in King’s Ransom:

“This is my punishment,” he’d told Juliana, his eyes wild with grief when she’d gone to see him the day before. “God is punishing me, but she paid the price.” And nothing Juliana said to him made the slightest difference. Nothing she said seemed to break through that impenetrable barrier. And now Dirk had shuttered himself against everyone and everything. Against friendship. Against every human emotion. Even against fatherhood—he’d only visited his tiny daughters twice in the neonatal ICU, both times for less than ten minutes.
 
I actually had a reader tell me she wanted to hurt Dirk for his initial attitude towards his daughters (as depicted in the above paragraph), but she said she understood when I explained the only way Dirk could deal with his grief was to shut off all emotions…temporarily.

This brings me to something I’ve noticed about myself…my characters are real people to me. And based on the feedback I’ve gotten from some readers, my characters are real people to them, too. That’s a wonderful feeling.

Jan’s GOTTA ASK: What’s your biggest pet peeve?  
Amelia’s GOTTA ANSWER: Texting. I hate it and avoid it like the plague. We just added texting to our cell phone plan this spring when my husband’s youngest daughter said her college wanted to be able to text her, so pretty please could we add it? Which we did.

I know texting is here to stay, so of course my characters text. Just not me if I can help it. My antipathy doesn’t have anything to do with avoiding technology—I’m a techno-geek at my day job. I think it has more to do with the fact that I have a cell phone for my convenience, not to make it convenient for others to contact me. Besides, I love the human interaction of a phone call. Texting is too impersonal for me.

FIND AMELIA AUTIN:

THANKS SO MUCH, AMELIA, FOR SHARING MORE OF YOUR WRITING WORLD WITH US!


UP NEXT:  
Covert Ops Rescue and Black Ops Warrior (working titles, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed!)

Covert Ops Rescue is Jason Moore’s story (Mei-li Moore’s brother from A Father’s Desperate Rescue), and is set in Hong Kong. I turned that completed manuscript in three weeks early (it was due October 31st). My editor asked me to make one substantive change that filtered throughout the manuscript, but I’ve already done it. Now it’s just a matter of reading through the manuscript one last time to make sure I caught and changed everything that needed to be changed before I submit it again. But I should still be a week early (pats self on the back, lol).

Black Ops Warrior is Niall Jones’s story (the second oldest of the Jones clan, and the last sibling to have his story told). That book is set mostly in northern China on a land tour/river cruise similar to the one I took myself last year. But I couldn’t write about Niall as a hero until he suddenly appeared as a secondary character in Killer Countdown. Neither book is scheduled yet, so I have no idea when they’ll be released. In the meantime, I’m working on other ideas, and not just romantic suspense.


PREVIOUS RELEASES:  

Man on a Mission miniseries

Killer Countdown (HRS August 2016) Check it out on YouTube! https://youtu.be/NcJRtTphUpg
A Father’s Desperate Rescue (HRS April 2016)

Liam’s Witness Protection (HRS October 2015)

Alec’s Royal Assignment (HRS August 2015)

King’s Ransom (HRS June 2015)

McKinnon’s Royal Mission (HRS April 2015)

Cody Walker’s Woman (HRS October 2014)

Coltons of Texas miniseries

Her Colton P.I. (HRS May 2015)


PLEASE NOTE: Seven of my backlist titles (ebook versions) are on sale for $1.99 until October 25, 2016. This is a great time to try one of my books if you haven’t already. I have Kindle and Nook links to Amazon and Barnes & Noble on my website, as well as links to the ebooks on Harlequin’s website, at:




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9 comments:

  1. Welcome back to the blog, Amelia! Hope you enjoy these interviews as much as I do:)

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  2. Historical romance is a great, great favorite of mine.

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  3. Love Amelia's books and can't wait for more of her books to come out as I have read all of these.

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  4. I read just about everything within romance... just have not really gotten into Steampunk.

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  5. I read a ton of Harlequin lines ... Blaze, Desire, Presents, Romance, Intrigue, Romantic Suspense, Medical, Heartwarming, Super, Special Edition, etc.

    And in general romance, mostly Contemporary and Suspense, with a small sports romance addiction thrown in too :)

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  6. Personally, I love reading books with humor and heart. Which means I'm a big fan of Jill Shalvis.

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