ABOUT AUTHOR: Irene Hannon is the author of more than 40 novels, including the bestselling Heroes of Quantico and Guardians of Justice series. Her books have been honored with two coveted RITA awards (the “Oscar” of romantic fiction), a National Readers’ Choice Award, a HOLT Medallion, a Retailers Choice Award, a Daphne du Maurier Award and two Reviewers’ Choice Awards from RT Book Reviews magazine. Booklist also named one of her novels a “Top 10 Inspirational Fiction” title for 2011.
What inspired you to write That Certain Summer?
I’m best known in the single-title world for my romantic suspense novels, but I was writing short contemporary romances long before I branched into suspense. I knew a longer contemporary romance/women’s fiction novel would give me an opportunity to add more dimensions to that kind of story, and that led to That Certain Summer.
Out of all the interviews you've every done is there a question you wished someone had asked you but didn't? If so, what is the question and what is your answer?
You know…I've been at this writing game a long time, and I think I've been asked every question in the book! But I’m rarely asked this simple question: Why do you write? And the truth is, I write because I have to write. I believe writers are born, not made, and if you’re born a writer, you’re also born with a profound love for words and language. For me, life without words would be like life without chocolate—missing something very delicious and satisfying!
Can you share your testimony with us?
I was raised in a faith-filled house, and God has been part of my life from my earliest memories. I didn't have a dramatic “come to Jesus” moment because he’s always been with me. My faith has always been a central, guiding force in my life.
What has surprised you most about being an author?
You know, when you’re struggling to get that first book sold, you see that as the pinnacle. But once you’re a published author, you discover that’s just the first step. Publishers don’t just buy a book—they buy a career. So the pressure is on to produce more and better books…and to keep producing. The bar keeps rising. Plus, I had no idea so much marketing and social media would be required—which eats into writing time. The non-writing demands of the job can be overwhelming at times.
Can you give us a sneak peek into what you are working on now? When will it be out?
My next book, Trapped, will be out in September. It’s Book 2 in my Private Justice series, which features three ex-law enforcement operatives who form a private investigation firm. Trapped focuses on a teen runaway and her half sister. The sister enlists the help of one of my handsome PIs to find her, and the book features one of my scariest villains yet!
When you sit down to relax and read, what genre do you turn to? Do you prefer hardback, paperback or digital when you read? Why?
For pure relaxation, I like romance or women’s fiction. For higher-energy entertainment, I like romantic suspense. My favorite format is trade paper. I have yet to embrace digital books. I like the tactile sensation of paper in my fingers and turning the pages.
In the back of the book, there’s a teaser that says, “Who could guess that a little girl’s simple, heartfelt letter would touch so many lives – or reap so many blessings? – watch for this New Contemporary Romance Summer 2014” Can you give us more of a peek about this novel? It sounds really good!
Thanks for asking about this, even though it’s a year away! Here’s the blurb: Eleven-year-old Haley Summers is determined to give her ailing neighbor the 60th birthday present she most wants—a reunion with the child she gave up for adoption twenty-three years ago. And she figures a local business executive with philanthropic leanings is just the man to help her make that happen. But Haley's mother, Claire, isn't any too eager to cooperate with her daughter's scheme—nor with Keith Watson, the executive assistant who's been handed the project. Keith isn't thrilled with the assignment, either. But as he digs into it, and as his life intertwines with Claire’s, it soon becomes apparent that a little girl's kindhearted quest may reap blessings and benefits far beyond her wildest expectations.
You talk about “rebuilding your life” in this book through your character Scott. What “hope” do you want to convey to readers about re-building?
That no matter the challenges we face, with faith---and love—anything can be overcome. There’s always a chance to start over, and sometimes a change of direction that seems disastrous can lead to unexpected blessings.
What do you want readers to glean in your book about relationships and family?
|Irene and her husband Tom|
What do you hope readers learn from this novel about controlling people? What “hope” do you want to give them?
Controlling people exist—and the closer the relationship, the more power these people have over our life. It helps to understand why they are the way they were, but if they can’t…or won’t…change their behavior, there comes a point when we have to learn to take charge of our own lives and perhaps risk their displeasure. Because the truth is, trying too hard to please can sometimes make the problems worse.
You've mentioned some yummy meals in your book like ratatouille, lasagna made with turkey etc. What are some of your family favorites?
I grew up in an Irish family, where mealtime was a very important part of the day. We always gathered at night for a home-cooked dinner, sharing both food and conversation. I think we've lost a key family building block today in our eat-on-the-run society. As far as family favorites, there’s a rosemary-encrusted pork tenderloin we all love, a great creamy potato dish, and a to-die-for almond fudge torte that make regular appearances at family gatherings.
How was the process of writing this book different than writing the suspense thrillers you've written? How do you plan out your suspense novels? How do you plan out your contemporary novels like this one?
The process wasn't that much different. No matter the genre, I always start with a basic concept of the story, do an in-depth character analysis, and develop the back-story for key players. Once I have a few major plot points in mind and an idea for the opening, I just start and let the story unfold as I write.
Out of all the books you've written what reaction to one or several surprised you, encouraged you in your writing journey?
I think I was most surprised by the reaction to my first suspense novel, Against All Odds. It was a new genre for me, and while I loved how the book turned out, I had no idea how readers would respond. I was blown away when it made both the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists. That was a first for me, and it was so encouraging …and gratifying…because writing that first series had been a huge leap of faith.
What do you hope readers take away from That Certain Summer?
As I say in my author’s note at the end, while I strive to write entertaining books that keep people up late at night eager to see what happens next, my main goal is to pull readers into the lives of my characters. To make them turn the last page thinking, Those people were real. I felt for them. And I’m sorry to say goodbye. So I hope the characters in this book are memorable enough to linger in readers minds. I also hope the message of hope comes through loud and clear. Because truly, no matter how bad things might get or how many challenges come out way, there really is always the hope of a happy ending.
FUN QUESTIONS I JUST HAD TO ASK
You are shipwrecked on an uninhabited tropical island with a group of Christians – all friends and relatives of yours. You all have to work as a team to survive. Many roles have to be filled. Which role do you think you’d play?
Any role that needed filling, from collecting coconuts to leading the group if no one else stepped forward! But I’m sure I would be among the first to encourage everyone to sit down and discuss the issue so we could develop a game plan. Things go so much more smoothly when you’re organized!
What was your favorite suspense show on TV and/or movie you've seen?
I used to enjoy
Mission: Impossible. And in terms of suspenseful movies, North by Northwest is hard to beat.
What two jobs have you had that would surprise people?
I've only had two jobs in my whole life besides writing. I worked part-time at a library during my high school and college years (which might not surprise people at all since I love to read and ended up being a novelist!) and I was the senior director of corporate communications for a Fortune 500 company for many years before I left that world to write full time.
IRENE, ANY FINAL COMMENTS FOR READERS?
I’d just like to thank all the readers who have given my books a try, and to encourage anyone who likes contemporary romance/women’s fiction to take a chance on That Certain Summer. If you’d like to sample it first, stop by my website (www.irenehannon.com ), where you’ll find an excerpt. And please visit me on Facebook!
Thanks for stopping by Irene and helping us get to know you and your books. I’m thrilled about the 5 Giveaway Opportunity at TBCN NOW!! www.bookfun.org ALL ENTRIES MUST BE AT TBCN www.bookfun.org
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