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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Tantalizing Tuesday

Festivities - Day 1

Let's get this party started! I promised you something very cool for today, and here it is! We are joined by a very special guest:
Lisa Jackson
Lisa Jackson!!!

In case you don't know, She is a New York Times best-selling author of romantic suspense and thrillers! Not only do we have a wonderful interview with, we also have an excerpt for her latest release, Without Mercy and if that's not enough, we've got a contest for you! Talk about a party! In honor of our anniversary, and the release of her latest book, Lisa's giving away copies of Without Mercy to 3 lucky winners! **see contest details after excerpt**

Shhhh! If you keep jumping and shouting, you won't be able enjoy the interview because you might hurt yourself and if that happens, you might forget to enter the contest! So please save all excitement until after you've read the excerpt and entered the contest....if she hasn't effectively scared the excitement out of you by then! hahahahaha!

Not ready for the scary stuff? Let's start with the interview then...in honor of April 15th being tax day, we’re asking our guest authors 15 questions this month.

ME: Speaking of taxes, are you’re taxes finished, or do you procrastinate with them? Do you do them yourself or do you have a taxman do them for you?

LISA: EEEKKK! Even when they’re already done it’s scary to think about them. So much work pulling together all the info! Fortunately, my sister—Nancy Bush, bestselling author of both sort of creepy thrillers (including WICKED GAME, which we wrote together!) and wonderful cozy mysteries—still manages to find the time to keep both of our tax materials in order. Obviously, I know what’s going on, but I’m grateful that she’s still willing to keep track for both of us.

ME: As it says, “April showers bring May flowers”. What flowers do you hope to see the first thing in spring?

LISA: I think the blossoming trees are my favorite—maybe because they’re first. Cherry blossoms, tulip magnolias—does it get much better. But now I’m being unfair to the crocus and daffodils, which really do come first.

ME: Do you plant your own garden? Why or why not and where is it (are they) located?

LISA: I’m great at looking at and appreciating a fabulous garden. But when they were handing out green thumbs, they skipped right by me. I love what happens around me, though, particularly as the seasons change at the beach—where I try to spend as much time as possible. It’s hard to imagine a planned garden competing with what nature takes care of along the shore.

ME: If you could have a garden, what kind of garden would it be, how big would it be and what would you plant in it?

LISA: Not sure what size it would be—I can think city garden or country garden. But I remember a “how-to” article I read that included instructions for beds filled with different bulbs—with new flowers appearing just as others passed their peak. It would go like that through spring, summer and early fall. I still think about how lovely that would be. But, being selfish, I’d also like a couple of early flowering trees and at least one “creeper” that would grow over a small arbor.

ME: Have you ever considered getting involved with a local community garden? Why or why not?

LISA: Again, I have to point to missing the green thumb gene. That, and how happy I am using my free time to be with family and friends, take some long, introspective walks at the beach, and just relish relaxing between deadlines.

ME: For your produce, is the local grocery store just fine, or do you like to hit your local farmer’s market? What is your favorite fruit or vegetable that you do like to get?

LISA: Either/or—both whenever possible. I always adore an apple or pear. I appreciate the citrus when it’s in season. And, frankly, there are very few vegetables I don’t like. But, if I could hire someone to prepare butternut and other squashes—especially in soups—I would probably jump at that.

ME: Now that we've learned a little bit more about you, let's focus on your writing. What is your main genre (erotica, erotic romance, romantic suspense, etc.)? What was the draw for you?

LISA: I write thrillers with strong relationships, and romantic suspense—pretty much all in the same book. All my novels are strong on suspense/thrills, often categorized as “serial killer thrillers,” but every one of them includes characters that grow and change and have important relationships. The draw? I can’t help myself. All of these are what I’ve always responded to as a reader.

ME: Besides your main genre we just discussed, what elements do you prefer to use in a story and why those elements over others?

LISA: There are several things that I can’t seem to let go of as a story evolves. I want a strong sense of time and place. I want my protagonists and other characters to grow and change based on what they are experiencing. I want factual and procedural information to be accurate and to be presented naturally within the story so that readers are grounded in the “reality” of the tale, so that they can suspend disbelief on the occasions when I diverge from what is familiar to them. Why these elements? Because for me, the story doesn’t work without them.

ME: Do you prefer red roses or black roses? If so, does that show in your writing? If so, how? If roses aren’t your style, what flowers are? Do they influence your writing? If so, how?

LISA: If I have to choose, it’s red roses. The darkness and drama of my stores are not a reflection of my life. And red does not necessarily stand for blood—but for Valentine’s and life. And other flowers—bring them on. They’re a gift! Do they influence my writing? No. I go way deep to find what I need to say. The world around me—including flowers—tends to recede a bit.

ME: The jury’s still out on this question, so we’re still asking it! - Who decides what you write about, you or your muse? What kind of influence do you have over your story, or is the muse always the one planting the seeds? How do you cultivate those seeds regardless of who plants them?

LISA: I decide the general plot and direction of my stories. However, my muse may often decide where my characters take me. The unexpected seeds that crop up? The “volunteers?” (As a gardening friend used to say) They tend to grow out of the characters as well.

ME: In your opinion, what author had the most influence on your writing? What about their writing did you find so influential and why?

LISA: There are too many to mention. And most in different ways. The world of books, the influences of other writers on perspective? It’s like a kaleidoscope—always amazing, but always about to change.

ME: While authors can definitely influence us, inspiration can be everywhere for a writer, but specific people, places and events can inspire certain characters, personality traits or things that happen in our stories. In WITHOUT MERCY did any one particular person, place or event inspire you? If so who/what was it (were they), how did it/they inspire you and how is this inspiration reflected in your story?

LISA: No. I’m sorry. There’s no one answer. It’s such a conglomeration of influence. However, it was kicked off with the sense of isolation, what could happen within that context and a commercial I heard on the radio for school like the Blue Rock Academy of my imagination. I listened and I said, “what if this isn’t true?” “What if they can’t do what they say?” And off I went imagining Blue Rock, the troubled teens that would be there, and the power in the hands of those in charge.

ME: Without giving away anything pertinent to the story, tell us about the hero and heroine (s) of your story. What do they look like? How do they meet (or “did” if this is a second book with these same characters)? What are their personalities – Are they comical cut-ups, are they serious or are they a mix of the two? Please give us a little bit of dialogue from the story that can illustrate this. (Not much, but just a few lines and from a different section than the main excerpt – Thanks!)

LISA: I think Jules Tarantino and Cooper Trent are the main characters, though they share the stage with a couple of others that help carry the story. Are they serious, how did they meet?? YIKES. They were lovers. It didn’t work out. Suddenly, they’re both together, both “undercover” and both trying to get to the truth about what is happening in WITHOUT MERCY. Some interesting dialogue?

“I hate to say it, but I think Lauren’s probably already dead. Either she got caught up in something she couldn’t have gotten out of, or she died while trying to make her escape, or something. I think if there had been an accident, say, she was lost on the wood or hurt on campus somewhere, her body would have been found.”

“I thinks so, too,” he admitted as the lights winked again. He placed one of the lanterns on the table and sat in his chair again. “But from y understanding, she wasn’t weak, wouldn’t have been an easy victim. She was touch, smart, athletic.” His eyes narrowed as if he were exploring the possibilities. “Do you think that she knew too much? Maybe she stumbled on what was happening here?” He picked up Missy Albright’s file. “Missy was one of the TAs who was supposed to take Lauren under her wing, show her the ropes. If you’re right about all this—“

“I am.” Jules felt it. She finally got what was happening here at Blue Rock as the lantern glowed brightly.

ME: The main characters are usually great, but sometimes, secondary and tertiary characters are known to steal the scenes. Who are the secondary/tertiary characters in your story and what do they look like? What’s unique about them? What is their relationship to the hero/heroine? Have any of these gone on to become scene-stealers? If so, who and how did they do it? (Again, please give us a small bit of dialogue to illustrate this – thanks!)

LISA: Jules Tarantino’s sister Shaylee steals a lot of scenes. She’s integral to the plot.

“Jules,” Shay’s voice, a whisper, quivered on the recording. Jules froze, staring at the answering machine.

“Are you there?” Shay asked.”Jules? Oh, God, please pick up. It’s Shay…”
Jules’s heart was beating in her eardrums as she tried to hear Shay’s soft, frightened voice.
“You have to get me out o f here, Jules,” Shay whispered frantically. “This place is horrible. But you can’t all. I’m not supposed to be on the phone. Just please, please find a way to get me out of here! Uh-oh—“
The line when dead.

ME: Oooh! Some great sneak peeks into Without Mercy! Now let's check out the blurb and excerpt! Don't forget, contest information to follow, so stay tuned!!!

Without MercyBLURB: In her new hardcover novel, WITHOUT MERCY Jackson again unleashes killers close to home, this time in southern Oregon, specifically in the state’s beautiful—and now extremely deadly—Siskiyou Mountains.

The rugged setting is well-suited for Jackson’s fictional Blue Rock Academy, an elite boarding school with a reputation for turning wayward kids around. Far off the beaten path, the secluded, breathtaking campus is a veritable Eden, albeit one with a literally captive audience. That’s precisely what Edie, Jules Farentino’s mother, was looking for when she enrolled Jules’ seventeen year-old half-sister, Shaylee Stillman. Drug use, theft and vandalism were already on the seventeen-year-old’s rap sheet when she decided to rob a convenience store with her boyfriend. Now, Blue Rock is all that stands between her and juvenile detention.

Jules wants to believe the school can help her sister, but she’s not convinced. It seems one of the Academy’s students went missing months ago and has never been found. Some say she died during one of the school’s questionable treatments. The deeper she digs, the more concerned Jules becomes. When Shay manages to sneak a call to Jules, she begs her for help. She’s frightened and convinced her every move is being watched. She believes there’s a conspiracy afoot and that the missing girl was killed by someone at the school.

Jules, already dogged by nightmares since discovering her father stabbed to death in a home invasion, can’t bear thinking that Shay may be in danger. Stymied in her efforts to find out more, she manages to obtain a teaching job at the school. Then, just before Jules arrives, a student is found hanged. Shay, hysterical, is certain it’s murder. Staff members do nothing to alleviate Jules’ concerns. They are wary and unwelcoming, except for Cooper Trent, another recent hire and Jules’ former love. He has his own theories and his own secrets.

Suspicions pile upon suspicions, none of them seeming to lead anywhere. Then, as a blizzard completely cuts Blue Rock off from civilization, another teenager is found dead. There is no doubt something deeply sinister is at hand, but what? And are Jules and Trent too late to stop it, or just in time to become the next targets of a bloodthirsty killer?

In WITHOUT MERCY, Lisa Jackson has created yet another emotion-filled, frightening exploration of good vs. evil set in a world where evil often prevails, with protagonists who must come to terms with their own misconceptions and fears if they hope to triumph.

EXCERPT: “Help me . . . Oh, God, please someone help me. . . .” The voice was a desperate plea, barely audible over the sounds of a familiar song and the steady drip of liquid splashing, like a single drop of rainwater hitting the ground. Over and over again.

Her heartbeat pounding in her eardrums, Jules Farentino, barefoot and wearing only a nightgown, made her way toward the den where a fluttering blue light was barely visible through the sheers on the French doors.

“Hurry . . . there isn’t much time. . . .”

She wanted to call out but held her tongue. The feeling that something was wrong here—something dark and evil—caused her to creep silently along the icy floors.
Slowly, she pushed open the door to the den and peered inside. The L-shaped couch and a recliner were illuminated by the weird, flickering light of the muted television.

Michael Jackson’s voice sang about Billie Jean through the speakers.

Above the melody:

Drip. Drip. Drip.

So loud.

Like rolling thunder in her aching head.

Liquid warmth splashed on the tops of her bare feet, and she looked down quickly. Her eyes rounded as she saw the blood dripping from the long blade of the knife in her hand, the red stain spreading into a pool.

What!

No!

She tried to scream but couldn’t, and as she looked toward the open French doors, she saw her father lying on the floor near the coffee table.

“Help me, Jules,” he said, lips barely moving. He stared up at her, eyes unblinking, a jagged gash on his forehead, a stain spreading on the front of his rumpled white shirt.

Blood gurgled from the corner of Rip Delaney’s mouth as he stared up at her, whispering in a wet rasp, “Why?”

Transfixed, her hand now sticky with blood, she started to scream—

“Seven forty-five in the morning. It’s a chilly thirty-seven now.
That’s only five degrees above freezing, you know, but temperatures will climb until midafternoon, topping out near fifty. It’s going to be a cold, wet one today, a major storm expected to roll in later this morning. Now for the traffic report . . .”

Jules awoke with a jerk.

Her heart was pounding, her head splitting, the radio announcer’s voice an irritant. She slapped off the alarm and shivered. Her bedroom was freezing, her window open a crack, wind rushing inside, rain beating a steady tattoo against the roof.

“Damn,” she whispered, wiping her face, the vestiges of her everrecurring dream slipping back to the dark corners of her mind. She glanced at the clock and groaned, realizing with a sinking feeling that she’d forgotten to reset her alarm.

ME: Are interested in winning a copy of Without Mercy by Lisa Jackson? The rules are simple:
1. Ask Lisa a question in the comment section of this blog (no account needed, anonymous is fine)
2. Please include your current email address in the form of: janedoe @ yahoo . com
so that we have a way to let you know you've won and bot-spammers can't snag your email addy! Thanks!

Good Luck and Enjoy!

11 Moonbeams (comments):

joder said...

Even though you don't have a green thumb--and don't feel bad I don't have one either--you said you enjoy fresh produce. Do you do canning or freezing of the vegetables to use at a later date?

joderjo402 @ gmail . com

Dana Fredsti said...

Wow, I love the interviews here. They're always different and very in-depth!

Hi, Lisa! It sounds like you do a fair amount of research on various aspects of your books. Do you ever find yourself getting sucked into the research to the point you have to drag yourself back out to accomplish the actual writing?

zhadi@aol.com

blackroze37yahoo.com said...

well, lol considering my name, i like black roses. but really ALL roses are nice

just how big a garden you have, if you dont wanna anwswer, thats fine, but it sounds quite large

Stacy Stew said...

Do you see the characters in your head or more of a presence. I have a hard time defining the look of a character, but I do have a feeling about them...Stacy
samnstacyATmeDOTcom

Diana Smith said...

Great Blog guys!
You said you like to go to farmers markets for produce. What veggies do you like to get there? I love new potatoes and peas, also broccoli.

diana4366@att.net

Kathleen O said...

Lisa I really love your books, and I was introduced to your writing actually through your McCafferty series.. Do you think you would write a similar series again. Also read High Stakes and love it too..
Looking forward to reading Without Mercy..

superauntkx9_ at live. ca

Sheila Deeth said...

What a fun interview, and great excerpts / dialog. I lack that green thumb gene too. Very sad.

I like the premise of your book, plus it's set in Oregon :) Wondered how you choose your locations.

Carrie said...

Thanks to all of you for stopping by and making a fun day even more fun!!!

MargaretD said...

Great interview and Happy 1st Anniversary you Mayhem Bloggers :)

Rebecca J Vickery said...

Hi Lisa,
I'm a huge fan and have several of your books on the shelf. Enjoyed the interview and the excerpt.
What was your favorite story to work on and why?
rebeccajvickery@gmail . com

mariska said...

oohhhhh, i want this ! I want this !

Lisa, what's your favorite scene(s) on Without Mercy ? did you find it difficult to write it ?

uniquas at ymail dot com