Kelly Parsons is a board-certified urologist with degrees from UPenn, Stanford University and Johns Hopkins, and he takes all that surgeon's knowledge and puts it to better use (in my opinion, but I'm biased) with his debut medical thriller, Doing Harm.
We meet chief resident Steve Mitchell, a rising star with a bright surgical future who our reviewer calls "engagingly flawed." But then a patient dies of mysterious circumstances, and the killer starts toying with Steve, threatening his career, his marriage and even his life. And with an actual surgeon behind it, Doing Harm is the perfect blend of authentic hospital atmosphere and tense life-and-death moments.
To find out more about the high-stakes hospital world, we chatted with Kelly Parsons in a Q&A about patients, medical school and the fascinating character of Steve Mitchell—who we're reluctant to trust, or even like. And Parsons agrees:
"Readers shouldn’t necessarily trust Steve. They certainly don’t have to like him. But what I hope they do, on some level, is relate to his dilemma. I want readers to understand why he makes the choices he makes, however flawed those choices may be. The story is essentially about Steve’s moral journey. With some help along the way, Steve finishes the book a much different individual than when he began it."
Doing Harm is out today! Will you check it out?
Carla Buckley, author of Invisible and The Things That Keep Us Here, has returned with a thought-provoking new novel (out today!), The Deepest Secret. Eve Lattimore's utmost devotion to her family—and especially to her fragile son Tyler—is tested when she finds herself in the middle of a car accident that results in horrific consequences. The ripples from Eve's actions spread quickly, and the suspense builds in tandem, resulting in an unexpected, well-crafted climax.
Buckley kindly agreed to answer some questions about the book. Here's a preview from the Q&A:
Your stories often center on family conflicts and dynamics. What is it about this subject that interests you?
I guess the easy answer is that I came from a dysfunctional family and that I’m still working through the lessons of my childhood, but I’ve come to believe that we all come from dysfunction in one way or another! I think the reason I’m drawn to talk about family dynamics is because it’s the universal language we all speak: We all have families and our roles within them shape us into the people we become. It seems a particularly fraught and vulnerable process. What if you make a mistake—can you ever undo the damage? What if you’re faced with a terrible dilemma—will you make the right choice? Can you forgive yourself if you don’t? I hope my readers recognize themselves in my characters and ask themselves what they would do if faced with the same issues. [continue reading this interview . . .]
For more on Buckley's inspiration for the book, over-protective mothers, happy endings and her next project, read the full interview here.
In a 7 questions interview with BookPage, Dolan chatted about the novel's setting, his favorite place to write, why everyone should read The Long Goodbye and more.
Read an excerpt from the first chapter of The Last Dead Girl below:
They left me there alone. Nothing in the room but a wooden table and two chairs with metal frames and padded seats. I sat in a chair, held my hands above the surface of the table. The right one trembled—faintly, but you could see it. I thought about what could be causing it: more than one thing, but I knew part of it was anger. I made a fist and the trembling stopped.
An hour passed. There was no clock, but they had let me keep my watch. They'd taken everything else—Swiss Army knife, keys, everything I had in my pockets.
I got up and circled the table under the hiss of fluorescent lights. Reached for the cut on my temple. Dried blood. I crossed to the door and tried the knob. Locked. I returned to my chair and picked it up. Thought about smashing something. Maybe the lights: they were glass, they would break. Then I could be angry in the dark. Childish.
I walked another circuit of the room, dragging the chair behind me this time. Slightly less childish. The metal legs made a satisfying screech against the floor. The door opened and a uniformed cop looked in at me and frowned. I put the chair back where it belonged and sat. The door closed. A few minutes later it opened again and a different cop came in, one I hadn't seen before. Dressed in a gray suit, with a detective's gold shield on a lanyard around his neck.
He sat down across from me.
"Why'd you kill the girl?" he said.
Read the full interview here. What do you think, readers? Are you a fan of the David Loogan series?
Jill Sorenson's Badlands is our January Top Pick in Romance! Single mother Penny Sandoval is doing all she can to stay cool and collected during her father’s hectic presidential campaign, but things take a dark turn when Penny, her 5-year-old son, Cruz, and their bodyguard, Owen Jackson are abducted at a political event. After being taken to the middle of the California desert, Penny discovers that their ruthless captor is actually Owen's estranged older brother. Owen becomes determined to save Penny and Cruz, even if his family reputation has dashed his hopes for winning Penny's love.
We caught up with Jill Sorenson in a 7 questions interview and asked her what she loves most about Owen and Penny's relationship in Badlands:
One of my readers said this: “She was the ‘gentle’ he needed in his life; he was the strength she needed in hers.” That quote sums it up pretty well! Another reader called Badlands a feminist book because of “its depiction of vulnerability and kindness as positive—yet threatened—aspects of masculinity.” I love that Owen will kill for Penny and her son, but his physical strength doesn’t make him cold or infallible.
In Sherryl Woods' romance, A Seaside Christmas, songwriter Jenny Collins returns to her family home to nurse a broken heart. But ex-beau Caleb Green—a country superstar that was unfaithful—has followed Jenny back to Chesapeake Shores, and he's aiming to right his wrongs and win her back. Romance columnist Christie Ridgway calls this "A warm tale about understanding, forgiveness and the persuasive power of love." We caught up with her in a 7 questions interview and asked about her love of country music:
"I'm a huge fan of country music. Give me a guy with a great voice, a good love song, a snug pair of jeans and a tight T-shirt and I'll follow him anywhere."
Read the full interview to learn about breaking genre rules, her favorite Christmas movies and more!
This month, Irish novelist Ken Bruen is back with Purgatory, a new novel in his uniquely written Jack Taylor series. Taylor, a former Galway cop with an impressive laundry list of vices, catches the attention of a serial killer known simply as "C 33." This new adversary poses a hefty challenge to Taylor's detective skills as well as his new found, fragile sobriety.
In a 7 questions interview with Bruen, we talked about classic noir films, classic albums and more.
Read an excerpt from Bruen's Purgatory below:
My name on a deep blue envelope, almost the color of a Guard’s tunic. Inside
A photo of a young man, on a skateboard, high in the air, looking like an eagle against the sky. Then a piece from The Galway Advertiser which read
…verdict due on January 10th in vicious rape case. Tim Rourke, accused in the brutal rape and battery of two young girls, is due in court for the verdict. Controversy has surrounded the case since it was revealed the Guards had not followed procedure in obtaining the evidence.
There was more, about this being the latest high-profile case likely to be thrown out over some technicality. And still
Continued to fuck us over every way they could.
A single piece of notepaper had this printed on it
"You want to take this one? Your turn, Jack.
Pamela Clare's Striking Distance is our Top Pick in Romance for November! The story involves a broadcast journalist, Laura, recovering in Denver after enduring 18 months as a terrorist hostage while on assignment in the Middle East, and Javier, one of the Navy Seals from the very team that rescued her. Our Romance columnist calls it "a steamy story filled with action, intriguing twists and an unexpected emotional wallop."
We caught up with Pamela Clare in a 7 questions interview and asked her what she loves about writing romance:
I really love the happy endings I get to create for my characters—something I wasn’t able to do as an investigative journalist. I can start with problems that exist in the real world, truly terrible situations, and I can make them better by the end, ensuring that the hero and heroine get their reward and giving the villain what he or she deserves.
This fall's publishing season has a lot of abduction thrillers, an especially creepy trend considering the real-life stories of the three women in Ohio who were found this year after being held in captivity for a decade. One of the best of these abduction thrillers is Carla Norton's debut, The Edge of Normal, the story of a former kidnapping victim who uses her experience to help a fellow victim.
Norton is also the author of the true crime bestseller Perfect Victim: The True Story of the Girl in the Box, which details the true story of Colleen Stan, a 20-year-old girl who was kidnapped and tortured in captivity for seven years. Norton's true crime expertise and research into a real kidnapping situation set her apart from most other authors of abduction thrillers, so I hoped a Q&A with Norton would help illuminate the "why" of this trend.
Check out my Q&A with Norton, where we discussed the nature of evil, the process of writing true crime vs. fiction, the exploitation of victims and much more. Norton didn't hold back:
Do you look at the world any differently after writing these books?
I suppose writing about crime heightens your paranoia. And while some of my characters may not like certain legal institutions or members of law enforcement, I have tremendous respect [for] those who give up their time to do their civic duty and those who risk their lives in law enforcement. When a killer comes through your window, who do you call? Who is going to come to help? Seriously, those people face dangers we don’t even want to see on the page.
Also, true confession: I keep a copy of Perfect Victim in my car. When I spot the occasional female hitchhiker, I offer a ride on the condition that she’ll read the book, and then I lecture sternly about the perils of hitchhiking.
It’s often said that a writer must have compassion toward all of their characters, but Duke is a villain of the vilest sort. How were you able to write about a person who will elicit absolutely no empathy from the reader?
This might be the biggest difference between writing fiction and nonfiction. I found Duke very entertaining, so maybe it’s not a question so much of having “compassion” for your characters as it is enjoying some aspect of them. Hannibal Lector would have been repulsive in real life, but he’s fascinating on the page.
While you wouldn’t personally want to spend time with these people, you want to create fearsome villains to drive the story. Character is revealed through conflict, so you want to set your protagonist in opposition to a frightening antagonist—a David-and-Goliath-type dynamic—and that’s what I was aiming for with Reeve and Duke.
With nearly 50 books to her credit, best-selling author Jill Shalvis is back with Always on My Mind, the eighth in her popular Lucky Harbor series set on the picture-perfect coast of the Pacific Northwest. After dropping out of pastry school and getting the boot from a reality tv cooking competition, Leah returns home to Lucky Harbor with her tail between her legs to help out in her grandmother's bakery. While in town, Leah reconnects with her BFF—hunky firefighter Jack—and soon the kitchen isn't the only thing heating up. Firefighters? Baked goods? Sounds scrumptious!
In this charming, BookPage-exclusive video, Shalvis shares her inspiration for the book, why she loves setting her romances in small towns and her favorite writing spot.
What do you think, readers? Are you looking forward to getting wrapped up in Leah and Jack's story when Always on My Mind comes out later this month? In the meantime, find out more about Shalvis, the book and her other series on her website.
Last month, BookPage Managing Editor Trisha and I ventured down to nearby Atlanta to stop by the annual Romance Writers of America conference. It was my first RWA conference, and boy was it fun. Everyone was so warm, welcoming, positive and supportive.
But it wasn't just all fun and games. Before the glitzy glam of the parties, there was work to be done—though that "work" consisted of getting to chat with some of the hottest romance writers around, including Mary Jo Putney, Robyn Carr, Sarah MacLean, Elizabeth Hoyt and our very own romance columnist, Christie Ridgway. When they weren't giving or attending seminars or autographing books or catching up with each other, these gracious authors spent a few minutes chatting with us. We asked them all the same questions and then edited their responses into these five super snappy, entertaining videos. Enjoy!
What was the first romance you ever read?
What's special about romance readers?
What advice would you give an aspiring romance writer?
What is your favorite romance of all time?
And, finally, the most important, juiciest question of all:
Duke, vampire, Navy SEAL or cowboy?
We'd love to hear what your favorite romance novel is—and, of course, what type of romantic hero you fancy. Chime in below!