Please help me give a warm welcome to author Suzanne Brockmann! We are hosting Suzanne Brockmann for two days, below is part 1 of her interview. Tomorrow, March 9th, we will publish part 2 of her fabulous interview. Suzanne Brockmann’s Troubleshooters series is a top favorite of mine, I just love her navy SEALs. She has a new series coming out with the release of Born to Darkness on March 20th! We are currently hosting a giveaway for this book — Born to Darkness (Fighting Destiny #1). A pre-quel in this series, Shane’s Last Stand, was released a few weeks ago. Please signup for the giveaway — below or on the giveaway page.
UPDATE! Click here for Part 2 of the Suzanne Brockmann Interview.
Regina: Welcome Suzanne! We’re very excited to have you here with us at Badass Book Reviews to talk about your new series – Fighting Destiny. Your Troubleshooters series is one of my favorite auto-buy series. And I am really looking forward to diving in to your new world, which from the pre-quel Shane’s Last Stand, feels familiar and similar to Troubleshooters, in a way.
Suz: Thank you so much! And yes, the new series is not all that different from the TS series, with the main exception being that it’s set in a darkly futuristic world where some people have figured out a way to access super-human powers. But it’s still about people who are forced into relationships (including friendships and romances) as they work together as a team to fight evil and right wrong.
The paranormal superhero elements allow me to go new places in terms of plot and storytelling, but really the themes are very familiar. How do you get along with other people as you live your life? What do you do when something sparks and you make a connection that you’d rather not have to deal with…? Why do some of us feel more comfortable hiding who we are, or living very private lives filled with more pain than joy? And how do we break out of that with the help of the connections made through love and friendship?
Regina: The strength of Troubleshooters and I see this in the beginning of your Fighting Destiny series, is the relationship of the male characters with each other. There is this incredible brotherhood and friendship. In Troubleshooters readers get more than just one storyline, they are treated to the side stories which will eventually develop into books further on in the series. I love this writing style, it is complex and layered; and it allows readers to emotionally connect with characters before they are the main characters in their own books. Of course, it also allows readers to re-visit with characters from earlier books. Will Fighting Destiny have these interwoven stories, similar to Troubleshooters?
Suz: Absolutely. I don’t think I can write any other way at this point! When I outline my books, I think in terms of story arcs – of plotlines that continue on over the course of two, three, four or more novels.
So you’re going to meet six adult characters in BORN TO DARKNESS (plus a thirteen year old girl) whose stories will continue in the future books.
And I really do love writing about all kinds of relationships. My books are romances, so of course romantic relationships are important, but friendships and work-relationships are fascinating to me, too. I love watching people work in teams for a common goal, and BORN TO DARKNESS is about a group of people (including one very-out-of-his-element former Navy SEAL) who set about to do just that.
Regina: In writing books they way you do, do you have a larger story arc planned for several books ahead of the one you are writing?
Suz: Yes, I do. I’m an outliner – I write extensive notes and plan and plot and figure out what’s going to happen (in terms of the Big Events and major moments) way in advance of the actual writing process.
This allows me to leave little clues and foreshadowing of future events. It’s kinda fun, like leaving a trail of breadcrumbs for readers to follow! <g> I think it’s one of the things that makes a series re-readable. There are things that readers don’t necessarily notice in say, book #4, that suddenly make sense after reading book #7. And those readers’ll catch those things when they re-read.
And, you know, that’s really the ultimate compliment for a writer – for readers to email to say they’ve re-read your books! That’s very cool.
Regina: Readers of Troubleshooters have very strong feelings about with whom each hero should end up. I am positive you are aware of this. For example, the most controversial hook ups are Dave and Sophia and Decker and Tracey. (Suzanne, I plan to spoiler mark this previous sentence, with a statement that if they haven’t yet read Dark of Night, then they should not read this question). When you begin writing a series do you know who will end up with whom? Do the perceptions of your readers affect your opinion of who should be a couple?
Suz: It really depends upon the characters. Since most of the Troubleshooter series focused on SEAL Team Sixteen, we knew the heroes in advance, but the heroines usually didn’t show up until it was time for their book. (The guys got to work together on their SEAL ops, so we knew them quite well through those interactions.)
Now, that changed a bit when I brought the focus away from SEAL Team Sixteen and over to Tom Paoletti’s personal security firm, Troubleshooters Incorporated. Unlike the SEAL teams, TS Inc wasn’t male-only.
FYI to readers who are unfamiliar with the series: Tom stepped down as the CO of Team Sixteen in GONE TOO FAR (TS # 6) and the next book, FLASHPOINT, I focused on a completely new group of operatives, including characters named Decker and Dave and Sophia.
Decker and Sophia collided in FLASHPOINT, and it was kinda ugly. There’s a scene between them where Sophia tries to use sex to distract Decker so that she can kill him, and Decker lets things go too far in his attempt to find out who she is and what she knows. They both make huge mistakes, and it was so obvious to me when I wrote that scene that these two people absolutely could not end up together.
So I knew that right away. At the same time, as I was writing FLASHPOINT, I’d kind of fallen in love with this vaguely nerdy character named Dave, and so I began the long, slow journey toward having him win beautiful Sophia’s heart. I even put in a little foreshadowing in that very book where Sophia jokingly refers to Dave as her third husband. And yes, that is exactly what Dave becomes, many many books down the line.
You know, it’s interesting that so many readers reacted so negatively toward Dave ending up with Sophia, and with Decker finding his soulmate in flakey, seemingly-flighty Tracy. (And most of that negative reaction happened before many of them even read the book. Sheesh!) I do know that I changed a lot of minds for those readers who actually bothered to read DARK OF NIGHT. I got a lot of “Well, I didn’t think you’d convince me, but I now believe that Tracy is perfect for Deck” emails! But there were still some readers who couldn’t get past their belief that, because Sophia and Deck had had a sexual encounter, they NEEDED TO end up together – and that because they hadn’t, I’d broken some kind of Important Romance Rule.
Those readers are what I think of as “intensely traditional” romance readers. And there’s nothing wrong with that! There are plenty of romance novels out there for every reader to enjoy. But my books are not a good match for them – chances are I’m gonna do something to annoy them! LOL! I would urge those readers to stick with the reissues of my older, more traditional books.
But here’s one thing I’m never going to do: Write to try to please everyone. I would far rather piss people off and get even a negative emotional reaction from readers than write a book where everyone goes, “Ho hum, it was okay.”
As for the readers who don’t like my books – how hard it is to say, “Wow, that doesn’t work for me?” and to step a few feet down the aisle in the romance section of the bookstore to pick up a title that is more to their liking? It’s weird, IMO, when I’m attacked so virulently for being different.
How boring would it be if we all wrote the exact same book again and again and again?
Regina: I have read romances where the men are perfect in every way possible, this is not my preferred genre at all. In those series, the male heroes are beautiful, rich, strong and always understanding and well, that is not usually the male characters in your books – at least not in Troubleshooters and not as they are introduced Shane’s Last Stand. The men you write are very appealing, but flawed. Which make them so much more relatable (despite the fact that they are Navy SEALs!) Is this intentional?
Suz: Very much so! Perfection is so boring, don’t you think? <g>
Even my most intentionally “perfect” character, FBI agent Jules Cassidy is flawed. He struggles with his feelings of jealousy. But he found a partner who actually likes that Jules gets a little jealous.
I think two things are important in romance novels. 1) that the heroes in particular are not perfect by any means, but instead are still capable of learning and growing and eventually doing the right thing and 2) that the heroes and heroines must earn their happily ever after. They have to work for it and even bleed a little to get to the point where they deserve it.
If the story starts with a character who already deserves to be rewarded with true love and a lifetime of happiness, there’s nowhere to go, is there? That seems like a kinda boring ride. Quietly pleasant, maybe, but certainly not as engaging as the romances I love to read.
Regina: I noticed the setting for Fighting Destiny is in the future and there are some political and governmental changes from how our world is now. Would you describe this series as dystopia or speculative fiction?
Suz: I actually see the future that I’ve created in this new series as a path that I really, truly hope we don’t take. It’s a future where corporations and religious organizations rule the people in lieu of a truly democratic we-the-people government. (Sadly, we appear to be heading in that direction, and we really all need to stand up and work to make sure that doesn’t happen.)
I’ve always been a fan of science fiction and futuristic books. And writing a series set in a world that is not quite our world allows me to make the social commentary that I must make in order to look myself in the eye in the bathroom mirror each morning.
Regina: What genre would you put Born to Darkness and Fighting Destiny in? Who would you recommend these books to?
Suz: My target audience is the people, particularly young women, who connected with the Harry Potter, Hunger Games, and Twilight Saga books. I’m looking to reach an intelligent, thoughtful, younger, and less conservative audience with this new series. (I got the forty-plus-years-old progressives locked up already! LOL! I love them, but my publisher and I would very much like for my readership to grow.)
Regina: Your politics shine through your facebook posts, your tweets and through many of your characters and plot elements. I personally enjoy this as I am very sympathetic to your political viewpoint. Do you purposely intend to put politics in your writing and do you feel a responsibility to do so?
Suz: Short answer: Yes.
Longer answer: You know, I sometimes get email from people who have very different political views from me. And the most common one, in a nutshell starts with the phrase, “I’m not homophobic, I have gay friends, but…” and then goes on to be ridiculously homophobic, and ends with, “Enough already. Enough with the gay characters. You’ve made your point, now, shut the hell up and leave your opinions out of your books.”
(And okay. That’s just crazy. My books should include my opinions. That’s my name on the cover, right? At least it was last time I checked.)
But you know what? This year, 2012, marks the tenth anniversary of the first time some right-wing asshole told my gay son, to his sweet, innocent, sixteen-year-old face that not only was he going to hell, but he was better off dead.
Better. Off. Dead.
Who says that to a teenager? Particularly one in an at-risk group?
Jason was at a rally in support of equal marriage in Boston, and there were counter-protestors there holding some really ugly signs. And, being Jason, he went over to talk to them. And he got that vitriol in return.
So, enough already? When the final four GOP candidates for president have made a point to brag about how very anti-gay they are…? Enough already?
I don’t think so.
It fact it’s time for ALL of us to stand up and speak out against oppression and hatred and people who lie when they say they want small government, but want the right to monitor our uteruses along with what happens in the privacy of my son’s bedroom, between two people who are in love. Because this year it’s more than just gay people and non-fundamentalist Christians who are under assault. It’s women and people of color, too.
I don’t understand how anyone in this country could support any of the GOP candidates if they really understood the truth behind their outrageous lies.
I don’t know what they’re afraid of. But I do know that gay-hating has become an artform for the right-wing – not just the extreme far right, but the moderate right as well — and it’s not letting up any time soon.
So I’m not shutting up.
Every single poisonous word of hatred that Rick Santorum utters is something that my son and all of my other GLBTQ family members and friends can hear. And that’s not okay with me – Rick’s lie that there is something wrong with my kid. This man who is running to be president of our country continuously delivers a message that my kid is “broken,” when in truth there’s FAR more wrong with people who hate in the name of Jesus. Jesus Christ! Nearly everything Santorum utters is an attack against my family, and I take his promises of hatred and oppression very, very personally.
So vote this November as if your life depends on it – and certainly as if my son’s life depends on it!
Regina: Okay, that is it for today! Please join us tomorrow for Part 2 of the Suzanne Brockmann interview!
UPDATE! Click here for Part 2 of the Suzanne Brockmann Interview.
Some information about Suzanne:
- Sign up for her newsletter at http://www.suzannebrockmann.
- Find her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/
- Follow her on Twitter at http://www.Twitter.com/
- Find out about her virtual signing for Born to Darkness at http://www.SuzanneBrockmann.
Interested in entering our Giveaway? We are giving away a print copy of an early review/ARC that we received from the publisher of Brockmann’s newest soon to be released book Born to Darkness! Born to Darkness is the first book in Brockmann’s new series Fighting Destiny. The giveaway will end 3/12/12 around midnight eastern time. Born to Darkness will be sent out on the release date March 20th, and unfortunately it will be limited to entrants in the United States (due to the cost of postage). Click on the raffecopter to enter!
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