Kate Brady is a RITA Award winning author, choral director, university professor, wife, mother, and caretaker of a variety of furry, feathered, and scaly pets. She lives with her family in Georgia, where she is currently at work on her next novel.
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Q&A with Kate Brady
Writing and Reading:
Do you draw from personal experiences and/or current events?
Both. Thankfully, my personal experiences aren’t nearly as tragic as the horrific events my characters endure. That is, I haven’t been fired or stalked, I haven’t lost a child or sibling, and I haven’t experienced parental rejection, familial hatred, divorce, murder, or the host of other traumas I force upon my characters. So the personal experience comes to play in more subtle ways… I do know what it’s like to suffer loss, to fight disease, to fear for a child, to fall in love, to have needs and fears and yet want to stay strong. Things like that. And many real-life events, sayings, and characters (or character traits) do make it into my manuscripts here and there. Current events also factor in, though more and more, I realize that I couldn’t possibly write many of the shocking things I see on the news: No one would buy it as a plausible premise.
Do you start with the conclusion and plot in reverse or start from the beginning and see where the story line brings you?
I’m not a plotter. But in romantic suspense, let’s face it—we all know the end before we crack open the first page: The villain will be vanquished and true love will prevail. As for the specifics of how we wind up there, I do better when I let it happen organically than when I try to control things. So I create some character backstory, figure out what the villain is up to, decide on wounds and goals for the hero and heroine, and then turn them all loose together and see what happens. It’s usually the end of the book before I really find out what it was all about. Then I go back and weave in the things that make it work and take out the things that may have once seemed relevant to the story, but wind up not really mattering. The most enjoyable part of the process for me is being surprised by what happens next. I know that sounds strange, but that’s the way it happens for me.
Your routine when writing? Any idiosyncrasies?
Routine? I have no routine, though I wish I could. My days are only minimally routine, so I’m one of those writers who carries my laptop at all times and squeezes out words whenever and wherever I can… While waiting to pick up my children at school, during intermission of a concert, between classes, in the waiting room of a dentist’s office. When I do have big chunks of time at home to write, the kitchen island or any comfy chair will do.
We have a zoo of animals, so there’s almost always a dog on the sofa beside me, cats trying to snooze on my laptop, and/or cockatiels climbing around on my shoulders. (Is that idiosyncratic, or just weird?) And maybe because my house is so full of distractions, one thing I love to do is take my laptop to a cozy restaurant, order something-wonderful-that-I-didn’t-have-to-make, and read or write there. I know some people don’t like to go to restaurants alone, but it’s one of my favorite ways to treat myself and still get some work done.
Is writing your full time job? If not, may I ask what you do by day?
I’m a professor of music and choral conductor: I teach two or three courses every semester at a large state university and I’m the choral director at a church. So writing is my third job, though both of the other jobs are now part-time positions.
In addition, I have two teenagers and a hubby. Enough said.
What are you reading now?
I’m currently on the judges’ panel for the International Thriller Writers (ITW) annual awards so I’m reading a ton of different authors just now, all of them vying for Best Thriller 2014! It’s a wonderful experience.
Are you working on your next novel? Can you tell us a little about it?
Right now I’m working on my fifth book, which is the third novel in this set. The first two featured brothers Nick and Luke Mann as heroes, and now I’m writing their sister, Alayna. Every time I write a psycho-killer, I think I’ve reached the limit for what kinds of twisted psyches can drive a story, then I launch into another and find there’s someone even creepier chasing my heroes and heroines. In the third book (following WHERE ANGELS REST and WHERE EVIL WAITS), a villain known as The Sandman has haunted the coasts for decades, burying his victims alive beneath the sand. WHERE DANGER HIDES will come out in 2015.
Manuscript/Notes: hand written or keyboard?
Keyboard. There’s something about the action of typing that gets my brain going and feeds the creative process. Hand-writing just leads to doodling.
Favorite leisure activity/hobby?
I love to cook. And I spend way too much time watching cooking shows, surfing recipes, and reading foodie magazines. I figure anything that gets my kids’ friends to say, “Hey, let’s go hang out at YOUR house” is good, so I like having good eats around for the area teenagers. It’s not conducive to quiet writing time, but I figure it’s better having them at our house than at…er…many of the other places they’re prone to hanging out.
Also, in the spring, I love to spend time in my gardens. Though I will admit that by August, the Atlanta heat has usually sapped me of that desire and I spend the second half of the growing season cursing myself for having planted so much back in April!
Except for the fact that I won’t eat anything that swims, I’m not picky. My favorite is probably something with a Caribbean or tropical flare: Jerk-anything, something along the lines of pineapple-mango-pepper salsa, fire-roasted fresh veggies or grilled plantains. Yum!
ABOUT THE BOOK
SHE’LL RISK EVERYTHING
Special prosecutor Kara Chandler is very good at her job, so good that a homicidal mastermind vows to kill her and everyone she cares about. Desperate to save herself and her son, Kara seeks out cartel hit man Luke Varón. The last time she dealt with Luke, she saw him beat the system and escape prison. But now, the most dangerous man she’s ever met is the only one who can keep her alive.
HE’LL STOP AT NOTHING
Luke Varón isn’t who he appears to be. After spending years in the criminal underworld, he seeks redemption . . . and revenge. Yet when he sees the fear in Kara’s eyes, he can’t walk away. People around her are being murdered, and only he can help uncover the killer’s motive. Now as danger closes in, Kara and Luke must trust each other with their darkest secrets – before the evil in their lives destroys them both.
Read an excerpt
It was an odd place to find Kara Chandler, at an odd time: a squalid alley in the armpit of Atlanta, nearly midnight. The air sweltered like August—code orange, said the news, with dramatic warnings for asthma sufferers and the elderly to stay inside—and here, in an alley off Vine Street, the odors of urine and smog and rotten trash clung to every surface like a film.
Luke Varón inched to his left, peering past a Dumpster to the sidewalk. An odd place indeed for Kara Chandler, yet there she was, looking nothing like he’d expected. The heels were gone, her normally businesslike bun now falling in gold waves over her shoulders. In place of the usual classic suit, she wore jeans and a short-sleeved blouse, and instead of a fashionable purse, a shapeless macramé sack hung over one shoulder with her right hand buried deep inside.
Her voice stroked the night and every fiber of Luke’s body tightened. Damn, he shouldn’t be here. In two days, eight-and-a-half tons of cocaine would arrive, and with it, frank Collado. Luke had spent the last week securing the route from Colombia. He’d returned to the States a few hours ago, longing only for a clean bed and about sixteen hours to languish in it.
What he’d found was a message from Kara Chandler: Assistant District Attorney for Fulton County and Andrew Chandler’s wife. As either identity, she could threaten the security of the shipment. As both, she was downright dangerous.
“Mr. Varón?” she said again.
Luke strung the silence out another inch then said, “Here.”
She whirled, a bulge forming in the canvas of her bag. “Where? Come out, damn it.”
He did, leading with a G18. Her gaze dropped and he watched the details of the weapon register in her eyes: a lightweight, 9mm shooter with a threaded barrel to accommodate a silencer, and just now sporting an extra magazine that held thirty-three rounds. Tonight, he’d added the extra clip just for show, but in fully-automatic mode, the G18 could fire all thirty-three bullets in less than two seconds. It was legal only among law enforcement and the military.
Luke Varón was neither.
He didn’t know what she was carrying, but it didn’t take her long to determine she was out-classed. The bulge in the bag slackened.
Luke tipped his Glock skyward. “Your turn,” he said, but Kara Chandler didn’t move. “Lady, pull your fucking hand out. I’d hate to fill you with bullets and then learn you were going for lipstick.”
An inch at a time, she withdrew her hand—empty. Luke lifted the edge of his Armani suit coat and tucked his gun in the holster. He took two steps to his left so when she angled to keep her eyes on him, the frail light caught her face. Not that he needed any reminders what she looked like: hair the color of sunlight, bottle-green eyes dulled by tragedy, pale skin with two, teasing little tucks in her cheeks that flashed like lightning when she was angry and perhaps—Luke could only speculate here—when she smiled. Without her heels, she stood only a few inches above five feet, but she carried herself as if meeting him eye to eye.
On her turf, in a courtroom trying to convict him of murder, for example, Kara Chandler was the definition of cold control. Out here, she was wired so tight Luke thought she might snap if she so much as took a deep breath.
“You called?” Luke asked.
“Yes,” she said, but beneath the steel nerves, Luke caught a quaver in her voice. “I have a proposition for you.”
Luke feigned delight. “Now, what could a faithful public servant like you want with a common criminal like me?”
“I want to hire you,” she said, and he almost blinked. He caught himself and arched a dark brow instead.
“I’m not a stockbroker or private chef, Ms. Chandler.”
“I know what you are. You’re a drug cartel hit man, an arsonist and cold-blooded killer. So this job should be right up your alley. I want you to blow up a boat and make sure its owners die in the fire.”
Luke was flabbergasted. Christ. “Why me?”
“Because you can get away with it. You proved that when you walked out of court a month ago. You can get away with anything.”
“Flattery,” he said. “But you must know dozens of good criminals.”
Her gaze might have melted steel. “Besides you, the criminals I know are behind bars.”
“Ah, yes,” Luke said, letting the hint of a smile show. “You aren’t accustomed to a checkmark in the LOSS column. I’m sorry I tarnished your record.”
She took a step toward him. “It wasn’t a loss, it was a mistrial. You should be in prison for the rest of your life.”
“Lucky for you I’m not. Who would you call to commit your felonies?” He cocked his head. “Is the District Attorney really so desperate that he’s sending you into dark alleys?”
“I told you, this is personal.”
He skimmed down her blouse buttons. “Show me you aren’t wearing a wire.”
Her eyes blazed, but Luke could see that she was thinking about it. Considering stripping her clothes in a lonely, dark alley with a hit man for the Rojàs cartel, just to prove she wasn’t wired. Proof enough, Luke thought, and couldn’t quite believe his eyes when her fingers rose to her blouse and the first disk slipped through the hole. Jesus, she was going to do it. He felt like a twelve-year-old who’d just stumbled on a Playboy on a magazine under a mattress, watching her cleavage and the upper swells of her breasts come into view, her flat, pale belly revealed an inch at a time. His blood drained from his brain as she slid the blouse from her arms and let it drop to the pavement with her bag.
You don’t have to do this. The words rose to mind but didn’t make it past his lips. She unzipped her jeans and shimmied the denim over her hips—an unconsciously seductive move from any woman in any circumstance, and almost unbearably so in the heat of night with a woman of Kara Chandler’s lithe curves and unexpected mystique. Luke’s mouth went dry and she stepped from the jeans, then straightened and squared her shoulders.
The notion of sixteen hours in bed took an unexpected turn. Luke swallowed and took his time looking. Long, slender limbs and gently flaring hips, lace-edged underwear cut high enough and low enough to accentuate soft curves usually encased in power-suits. Her breasts strained against pale satin cups, and Luke’s fingers curled into fists with the desire to trade the bra for his hands.
“Satisfied?” she asked.
“Hardly,” Luke said, with more honesty than he intended. He stepped toward her, noting a trickle of perspiration trail between her breasts even as a shiver drew her nipples tight. “You and I both know transmission devices can be almost imperceptible, except upon close inspection.” He circled around her, stopping at her back to brush a hand beneath her hair and lift it from her shoulders, fanning his fingers through the waves. A sweet scent rose to his nostrils from the pulse point on her throat, an incongruous touch of elegance in the fetid alley.
But there were no electronics. If she was wearing a wire, it was installed someplace that would require exploration to find. That thought sent a surge of blood against his zipper, but a wave of anger flowed right behind it. Kara Chandler was no blushing virgin. She was a widow and a mother, an Assistant District Attorney in a major metropolis, a woman who’d taken Luke to court once for murder.
And she was playing a game. Luke didn’t like games when he didn’t know the rules.
He coiled the mass of gold around his hand and tightened the slack, tipping her head back to expose a pale stretch of throat. “You think it’s a good idea, presenting yourself to me like this? Perhaps you don’t know what I’m capable of.”
“I know exactly what you’re capable of,” she said, through clenched teeth. “It’s the reason I called you. And I’m fully aware that you have Gene Montiel’s resources at your disposal, and that you can disappear on a moment’s notice to a nation without extradition. But understand that if I am murdered here tonight, nothing short of that will keep you from being arrested.”
Luke tightened his grip on her hair, pulling her nearly-naked frame against him. “Murder wasn’t what I had in mind,” he whispered. A bit of bald truth in a tangle of lies. He waited for a shiver of fear, but instead she jerked away, teeth bared.
“Do it, then.”
“You think I don’t know what kind of man you are? That I didn’t know before I came here what you might demand?” Her voice vibrated with anger, maybe even with disgust, but at the same time, tears bloomed in her eyes. “Your mistake is in thinking I care,” she shot. “If sex is the currency you want, then get it over with. It’s hot out here and it stinks.”
Warning bells went off. Walk away. A tumble with Kara Chandler wasn’t worth losing the shipment. Or Frank Collado.
Luke stepped back, scooped her clothes from the ground and fired them at her chest. “Count yourself lucky that I’m partial to brunettes,” he said, but didn’t bother turning away while she hurried back into her clothes. He tried not to notice the sense of loss in his gut as she covered herself, tried not to wonder what—besides a set-up—would drive a woman of the law to such extremes as to try to hire a hit.
That thought was more than Luke could ignore. She bent down to pick up her bag and just before she would have walked away, he stopped her with his voice. “Ms. Chandler,” he said, “you never told me: Whose boat and whose death?”
She looked him straight in the eyes. “Mine.”
Publisher: Forever Publication Date: February 25, 2014 Number of Pages: 426 pages ISBN: 1455502065 ASIN: B00CO7GIDA
THANKS TO MARISSA AT FOREVER ROMANCE/GCP,
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