Amelia's post was initially scheduled for earlier in the week, but due to a family emergency, I am posting it now. Thanks for understanding, and be sure to scroll all the way down for some fun giveaways!
Black Ops Warrior
Harlequin Romantic Suspense
THE STORY BLURB
AN ALPHA HERO FALLS FOR THE WOMAN HE’S SWORN TO TAKE DOWN IN AMELIA AUTIN’S LATEST MAN ON A MISSION ROMANCE!
Help her. That’s all Niall Jones can think to do when his target almost panics. Undercover operative Niall is tracking suspected traitor Dr. Savannah Whitman, but when she comes under threat, he can’t help but swoop in to save her. And the sparks that fly between the secret agent and Savannah are anything but covert.
After a personal tragedy, Savannah decided to depart her high-security defense job to live life to the fullest. But she never expected to meet a sexy, mysterious stranger—or for her very safety to be under siege…and enigmatic Niall is the only one who can protect her!
READ A LITTLE, BUY THE BOOK—link to read an excerpt and/or purchase
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.
Hey there! Since I’ve been a guest on the Get Lost in a Story blog several times now, instead of the usual question and answer blog post, I thought I’d tell you the genesis of Black Ops Warrior. (I can’t think of a better example of Getting Lost in a Story than talking about the story behind the story, can you?)
It all started in 2013, when I began writing fiction again after eons away from it (two romances published in the 90s and then nothing…for years). But as I stated in the Dear Reader letter prefacing Black Ops Warrior,
When I wrote Cody Walker’s Woman, I gave my heroine, Keira Jones, four brothers—all older, all former US Marines, and all playing a role (good and bad) in shaping the woman she was.
The only reason I gave Keira four older brothers was to explain what drove her. To explain why respect was her mantra. I had no intention of writing her brothers’ stories. Truly. I didn’t even name them in Cody Walker’s Woman.
Once that book was finished, however, Keira’s partner, Trace McKinnon, demanded I tell his story, which I did in McKinnon’s Royal Mission. Lo and behold, Keira’s two youngest brothers suddenly appeared as secondary characters in that book. One thing led to another. Then another. And…well…Alec’s Royal Assignment and Liam’s Witness Protection soon followed.
Now the stories of three of the five Jones siblings had been written, leaving only Shane and Niall. Piece of cake, right? Not so fast! A personal family crisis precipitated the start of Shane’s story (Keira’s oldest brother), which eventually became Killer Countdown. Eventually. Not right away, you understand. Pantser that I am (as opposed to being a plotter), I had no idea how Killer Countdown would evolve. I had no clue about Niall, either. I’ll let the Dear Reader letter explain my dilemma.
…Niall—the second child of five, like me—was elusive. All I really knew about him at that point was how Liam described his brother in Liam’s Witness Protection—a one-time US Marine and now a black ops warrior. But that description alone captivated readers, who begged me for his story.
Then Niall showed up out of the blue to help his older brother, Shane, as I was writing Killer Countdown. And suddenly I knew him. Knew what motivated him. Knew almost everything there was to know about him…except for one thing. Here was a man who loved women, and whom women adored. But Niall was still alone at age 40. Why was that? Shane had a tragedy in his past to account for the lack of a woman in his life in Killer Countdown, until Carly showed up and blew his solitary life to pieces. But not Niall Jones (aka Niall Johnson, the name he uses when he introduces himself to the heroine). His job as a black ops warrior had isolated him, but this is a romance. Which means—(waggles eyebrows)—something had to give. Pulling from the Dear Reader letter again,
…I needed a woman to match him. All the Jones brothers except Niall had found exceptional women to love—Angelina, Cate, and Carly. How could Niall settle for anything less?
I was racking my brain. Racking my brain. Then I looked up and saw a brilliant someone sitting a few feet away from me. Someone whose character and avocation I’d “borrowed” for another heroine, Dr. Mara Marianescu, in McKinnon’s Royal Mission. All at once I knew I’d found the exceptional woman for Niall—intellectually, emotionally, and in every way except gender.
How much did Bodyguard (as he’s known on Facebook) influence the character of Dr. Savannah Whitman in Black Ops Warrior? PhD in mechanical engineering? Check. Missile Guidance, Navigation, and Control (GNC) engineer for an international defense contractor (before he retired)? Check. Three patents? Check. Quietly patriotic? Check. A frighteningly powerful intellect? Check. Loving and fiercely determined? Check. Quick-witted, with a droll sense of humor? Check. (Don’t let Bodyguard know, okay? Let this be our little secret, or he might want royalties, lol).
I had my hero and heroine now, but I needed a setting. A conflict. A story arc. And since this was a romantic suspense, I needed some suspenseful elements as well. Yikes!
Then in October 2015 Bodyguard and I embarked on a land tour / river cruise through northern China to fulfill bucket list items for both of us, including visits to the Great Wall of China and the Forbidden City in Beijing, and the Terracotta Warrior Army in Xi’an.
Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding!
I mined that trip for all it was worth, and I think I was successful. As Susan Kyser Frank, an ARC reviewer, wrote on Susan’s 2017 Reading Blog,
“I loved how the setting was as much a part of the story as any of the characters. The descriptions of the various sights were vivid and made me feel as though I was right there with Niall and Savannah. I especially liked the description of Savannah's combination of awe and disappointment at the Great Wall, as she had to deal with the effects of the crowds on her joy of being there. Having had similar feelings at other places, it made Savannah that much more of a real person to me.”
Another ARC reviewer, Amelia Richards, made me smile when she wrote on her AlwaysReviewing blog,
“Much of the story takes place in China, and Amelia Autin certainly took me on a colorful trip around this country. As Savannah and Niall take in the sights, I also got to “see” the many unique wonders that can only be found there.”
Bodyguard played a crucial role in the story once again, not only because photography is his hobby and he took thousands of photos on that trip (another trait I gave my heroine), but also because of his insistence on cameras that embed GPS coordinates in the digital jpg files. These things became key elements of the plot (I won’t tell you how—you’ll have to read the book!)
Suffice it to say those photos were extremely helpful after the fact as I was writing Black Ops Warrior, reminding me of places we’d been and things we’d seen. So I was able to craft realistic and unusual settings for everything that occurs in the story. Of course, no one was trying to kidnap me or kill Bodyguard on that trip, unlike Savannah and Shane, thank goodness!
Writing is hard work, but once I had all the critical elements the story flowed in a steady stream. Only the necessity of going to the day job kept me from writing non-stop (umm…did I happen to mention I work at the same international defense contractor Savannah and Bodyguard once worked for?) I turned the completed manuscript in on time at the end of 2016, and here we are a year later.
One last thing before I go. Readers have written to me about the unusual middle names two of the Jones siblings have (Liam and Shane). That really wasn’t planned. In fact, it didn’t even show up until almost the end of book three (Liam’s Witness Protection) of the five-book family saga. If you’re interested in learning how this all played out, click on the following link:
Thanks for reading about the genesis of Black Ops Warrior. Be sure to keep scrolling down for a couple of giveaways (books and SWAG!)
FIND AMELIA AUTIN:
Previous GLIAS interviews:
Nothing scheduled for publication at this point. I’m working on several ideas, and not only romantic suspense. They include:
1) A romantic suspense story for Trevor Garrett, who was a secondary character in Rescued by the Billionaire CEO. No title in mind yet (I’m lousy at catchy titles), but I’m more than half done and really excited about it.
2) A romantic suspense story for Cam Mackenzie, another secondary character from Rescued by the Billionaire CEO. Again, no title, merely the beginnings of a story ARC and a killer opening “hook.”
3) A story for his Royal Highness, Colonel Xavier Gabriel Dominic Marianescu (Zax to his intimates), who was a secondary character in King’s Ransom and Alec’s Royal Assignment. It’s not a romantic suspense though; somehow when the idea occurred to me it was a regular romance—no suspense in sight!
Man on a Mission miniseries
Rescued by the Billionaire CEO (HRS August 2017)
Check it out on YouTube! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GRtJQaxYbew
The Bodyguard’s Bride-To-Be (HRS November 2016)
Killer Countdown (HRS August 2016), a 2017 RITA finalist (the Academy Awards of romance!)
Check it out on YouTube!
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)
SWAG! I have SWAG from the RWA 2017 conference! (In the interest of full disclosure I’ll volunteer that these darling cosmetics bags were leftovers and were going to be discarded on the last day of the conference; we were told to take whatever we wanted. So of course I immediately thought of my readers, most of whom love SWAG!)
To win one (smaller than a football, by the way, no matter how big it looks in the pictures) all you have to do is be one of the first five US residents to email me the correct answers to the Scavenger Hunt questions at AmeliaAutin@aol.com. Please don’t comment the answers—that would spoil the game!
If you’re not a US resident but you still want to play, the prize for being one of the first five with the correct answers will be an emailed ebook of Black Ops Warrior for Kindle, Nook, or iPad.
Scavenger Hunt Questions
Eight is a lucky number in Chinese numerology, so there are eight scavenger hunt questions.
All revolve around the Jones family. Some are easy, some are a little harder, but the answers to most of them can be found in this blog post, on my website (www.AmeliaAutin.com), or by consulting Google Maps. A couple will require a little deductive reasoning on your part.
1) There are five books starring the Jones siblings (one heroine and four heroes). In publication order, they are:
Cody Walker’s Woman, 10/2014 (Keira Sedona Jones, youngest child)
Alec’s Royal Assignment, 08/2015 (Alec Loveland Jones, middle child)
Liam’s Witness Protection, 10/2015 (Liam Thermopolis Jones, fourth child)
Killer Countdown, 08/2016 (Shane Breckenridge Jones, oldest child)
Black Ops Warrior, 12/2017 (Niall Aspen Jones, second child—like me!)
Name the three states where the five cities in their names are located.
2) What’s the “hook” opening sentence from Liam’s Witness Protection?
3) Where did I get the idea for Alec’s Royal Assignment?
4) What is Keira’s one-word mantra in Cody Walker’s Woman?
5) The opening scene of Killer Countdown takes place in what city and state?
6) My hyper-secret federal “agency” (a cross between the FBI and the CIA, but authorized by Congress to act both within and outside US borders) appears in six books. Name them.
7) All the Joneses have unusual occupations: Keira works for the “agency,” Alec and Liam work for the Diplomatic Security Service (the DSS), Shane is a US senator, and Niall is a black ops warrior for an unnamed federal agency. But that’s now. Every one of them—not to mention a few other heroes, including Reilly O’Neill (aka Ryan Callahan), Cody Walker, and Trace McKinnon—also served in one particular branch of the Armed Forces (Shane had even intended to make it his career, as his father did). Which branch is it?
8) This secondary character first appeared in a cameo role in Reilly’s Return back in November 1997, and has featured to a lesser or greater extent in more of my books (including all five in the Jones family saga) than any other character. Who is he?
(Author’s side note: Readers have asked for his story and I pitched it at one point, but it was shot down. So it’s not happening any time soon even though I adore his character and would love to write about him and his beloved wife, Lorena.)
Thanks for playing the Scavenger Hunt game. Giveaway ends at midnight, Vail, AZ time (aka MST), on Friday, 12/15/2017. If no one answers all eight questions correctly, the winning entries will be chosen in descending order (seven correct, six correct, etc.). Winners will be notified by email no later than Saturday, 12/16/2017.
I’d also love to give away two autographed copies of Black Ops Warrior (sorry, US only for the autographed paperbacks). For international entries (including Canada and Mexico), I can email an ebook for Kindle, Nook, or iPad.
To enter the drawing all you have to do is comment below, either in response to my question or anything you’d like to say. Giveaway ends at midnight, Vail, AZ time (aka MST), on Friday, 12/15/2017. Winners will be posted on Saturday, 12/16/2017, so be sure to check back!
GOT A QUESTION YOU’D LIKE TO ASK YOUR FANS?
Absolutely! Niall and Savannah fall in love while on a fifteen-day land tour / river cruise through northern China. Except for the beginning and a brief period in the middle, they’re with each other 24/7. Night and day. And as Niall tells Savannah at one point, “We’re way past dating.” But they sleep together early on. In fact, in the very first chapter Savannah’s thinking:
This whole tour and cruise was a dream come true. Why couldn’t Niall Johnson be part of it?
She wasn’t crazy enough to believe in love at first sight. And she wasn’t having rosy visions of happily-ever-after. But no man had ever, ever made her body meltingly aware of every breath he drew the way Niall Johnson did. And she decided then and there that if he planned to seduce her into his bed, she was totally on board with that idea.
What do you think about this? Is it a problem for you? Keep in mind they’re not hurting anyone by being together—neither is involved with anyone else. Yes? No? Does it bother you they slept together before admitting to themselves and each other they’d fallen in love?