Christian Retailing

PRODUCT NEWS Books & Bibles Fiction File December 2012
Fiction File December 2012 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Production   
Monday, 05 November 2012 01:08 PM EST

IreneHannon_CREDIT-DeWeesePhotographyASK THE AUTHOR
Irene Hannon
LATEST PROJECT: Vanished (978-0-800-72123-7, $14.99, January).
PUBLISHER: Bethany House/Baker Publishing Group.

Vanished is a “Private Justice” novel. Where does the series’ name come from? This series focuses on a private investigation firm comprised of three ex-law-enforcement operatives (also college buddies) who’ve left the official world behind, but are committed to pursuing justice as civilians. Hence, private justice.

Where did you find your inspiration for this particular story? I’m glad you asked! Usually, I have a hard time pinpointing the specific source of inspiration for an idea. Most stories start as a tiny seed planted because of an article I read or a situation I observe or a conversation I overhear. In hindsight, I often can’t remember the triggering incident because typically it’s something insignificant that somehow got the creative juices flowing. In this case, however, I can tell you the exact moment when inspiration struck. I was driving home from church one night, when all at once a bicyclist appeared in my headlights. I swerved to avoid him—then started what-iffing. What if a woman were driving on a country road at night in a rainstorm and her headlights picked up a figure with terrified eyes standing in the middle of the road? What if she tried to avoid the figure, spun out of control—but heard a solid thump that told her she’d hit this person? What if, while dazed, a hooded figure appeared at her window, told her he’d seen the accident and to stay in her car while he checked on the person she’d hit and called 911? What if she zoned out, then came to an hour later to find no Good Samaritan, no 911, no sign of the person she’d hit? What if the police dismissed her claims for lack of evidence and she was forced to turn to a PI for help? That incident with the bicyclist, which lasted mere seconds, inspired not only Vanished, but the whole “Private Justice” series.

What kind of characters are Moira Harrison and Cal Burke? Moira, an investigative reporter, is a tenacious crusader for justice. She’s smart, brave and goes the extra mile for her stories. Cal, a former police detective, is also committed to justice. He’s detail-oriented, strong and honorable—but he’s still recovering from a traumatic loss.

Did it feel like a necessity to add a touch of romance to this detective story? Since I write romantic suspense, absolutely! I think adding a romance element to a suspense novel ups the ante and heightens the tension. Solving a case can be exciting in and of itself, but when the person you love is also in danger, the stakes go up exponentially.

VanishedYou used to work for a Fortune 500 company. Does your experience in the corporate world influence your writing? Yes, in a couple of ways. First, I had a demanding corporate career that left me limited time to write, so I had to be very disciplined about my fiction work. Once I left my corporate job and began to write full time, that discipline was a great asset as my input increased and my deadlines became more aggressive. Second, my corporate career gave me the opportunity to travel quite a bit and to work with many different people. Since I handled many high-level communications duties (including speechwriting for the CEO and chairman of the board), I was often there when decisions were made by some of the most powerful Fortune 500 businesspeople in America. All of those experiences broadened my perspective and gave me a lot of insights that are helpful in plot and character development.

Christian retail stores sell a lot of fiction. How does this one stand out from the crowd? First of all, from a purely visual standpoint, this book has a unique cover for an inspirational romantic suspense novel—no people, just dynamic, gripping graphics. Plus, the plan is to print it on a silver-coated paper, which should add a striking shimmer to the rainstorm scene. Those elements alone should help it stand out on the shelf. From a content perspective, this book continues my tradition of taking readers into the head of a fully developed, complex villain. The reader is with him every step of the way and is often privy to information the hero and heroine don’t know. The depth of my approach to villains is unique in this genre, too. Finally, the plot of Vanished is very intriguing, and my hero has an interesting backstory that adds dimension to the book.

You’ve won several awards, including one of our own Retailers Choice Awards for Deadly Pursuit. Is that the icing on the cake for you? Winning awards truly is the icing on the cake—especially an award like Retailers Choice, which is voted on by some of my favorite people: booksellers! They read countless books every year, and for them to pick my book as the best contemporary romance for 2012 was an incredible honor. The award sits on the credenza behind my desk, along with my two RITA awards from Romance Writers of America and several others. On days when I wonder if a story will ever come together, they help me remember that it always works out in the end!

Read more of this Ask the Author Q&A at