Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Interview with romantic suspense author Leslie McKelvey

Today we get to learn a bit about romantic suspense author Leslie McKelvey as she stops here along her virtual book tour for her debut novel, Accidental Affair.

Leslie's publisher, Black Velvet Seductions is giving away a $25 Amazon gift certificate to a lucky commentor. To be entered for a chance to win, make sure to leave an e-mail address with your comment below. And for more chances to win, follow the tour and comment at other stops.

Bio: Leslie McKelvey has been writing since she learned to write, and her mother still stores boxes of handwritten stories in the attic. Leslie read her first romance at 12 and was hooked. When her high school Creative Writing teacher told her she needed to be a novelist, she decided to give it a try. Finally, at the ripe old age of...forty-something...her debut novel, Accidental Affair made it into print through Black Velvet Seductions Publishing. The publisher has also contracted two more manuscripts, which will follow Accidental Affair shortly.

Leslie is a war-veteran who served with the U.S. Navy during the Gulf War, and she was among the first groups of women to work the flight deck of an aircraft carrier. During her five years of service she was stationed at NAS Miramar (think Tom Cruise in Top Gun) and was an F-14 Tomcat mechanic. While in San Diego she spent time on the carriers USS Independence, USS Ranger, USS Lincoln, and the USS Nimitz. The final two years of her enlistment were spent on Guam (on an Air Force base, oddly enough) and her squadron frequently deployed to Japan and the Middle East.

She learned everything she knows about firearms and tactics from her police officer husband, who is a weapons expert and firearms instructor for one of the most highly-respected law-enforcement agencies in the world (and one he wishes her NOT to disclose). He is her biggest supporter and her unpaid consultant on everything law-enforcement and weapons related. She has three boys, the oldest of whom will soon be wearing the uniform of a United States Marine (SEMPER FI!). She spends her off-time (kidding...WHAT off-time?) reading, taking pictures, and sending lead down range (that's shooting, for those who are unfamiliar). One of her favorite scents is the smell of gunpowder in the morning....

Welcome, Leslie. Please tell us about your current release.
Accidental Affair is the story of Dr. Laine Wheeler and Special Agent Jack Vaughn, and what happens after she nearly runs him over on a rural Montana highway. Laine is an emergency physician hiding from her past, and Jack is an undercover ATF agent tasked to infiltrate a domestic terror group. After his cover is blown he barely escapes with his life, and now that Laine has made the fateful decision to help him, both of their lives are in danger. The story follows them as they run from their pursuers across Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado, and the fiery, although inconvenient, passion building between them.

What inspired you to write this book?
Oddly enough (or not), dreams often inspire what I write. I love to sleep (like every mother with children), and part of the motivation, aside from needing rest, is that I have vivid, Technicolor, action/suspense dreams. I’ll usually have one scene in a dream that spurs me to start writing, and the particular scene for Accidental Affair was the opener in which the heroine almost runs over the hero. The setting was inspired by a family trip that led us from California to Ohio through Washington State, Idaho, Montana and the Dakotas. In addition to the awe-inspiring scenery, what I remember most about Montana was the sign we saw at almost every off-ramp, NO SERVICES. As a native of California that was one of the strangest things, to travel MILES and see NOTHING. It was awesome, but also a little scary. If something happens out there in the middle of the wild, help is an awfully long way away.

            Laine took a step then stopped. What was she doing? The side of a deserted highway was no place to be a hero. She looked at the prone figure for a moment, debating with herself. A low, pained moan escaped the person, and the mournful, gravelly sound spurred her. Laine squared her shoulders. Right place or not, she wasn’t the type to run, and she knew there was no way she was going to just leave an injured person in the middle of the road. She ran around the front of the Rover, looked down at the person for a split second then knelt at their side. It was a man dressed in camouflage pants and a khaki shirt, and from the stained, disheveled state of his clothes it looked like he’d been rolling in the dirt well before his tumble down the embankment. He lay on his side with his back to her, he wasn’t moving, and the silence hung heavy. She waited a few moments, and as each second ticked off her alarm grew. Laine hesitated then pressed two fingers into his neck to check for a pulse. It was weak and thready but it was there, and she sighed in relief. Grasping his shoulder, she rolled him onto his back.
            Dark red blood stained the upper left side of his chest and Laine drew back, startled. That she had not expected. It took her a second to compose herself, and she reached for the collar of his shirt to get a look at the wound. Before she could peel back the material his fingers snaked around her wrist. She jumped and fell onto her backside, her heart nearly exploding from her chest.
            “Please.” His grip tightened slightly. “Get the bag and get out of here.” He spoke in a hoarse whisper. “They’re not far behind me.”

What exciting story are you working on next?
For all who fall in love with Jack Vaughn’s best friend, get ready. The next story slated for release is Special Agent Ted “Bear” Bristol’s, tentatively titles “Right Place, Right Time.” The 6’8” FBI agent saves wildlife photographer Beth Drummond’s life and loses his heart to her in the process, a dangerous journey that tests the boundaries of loyalty, friendship, and love.

I’m also working on a story for another secondary character from Accidental Affair, Sheriff Grant Donovan. It’s still in the creation phase, but I do believe Laine, Jack, Bear, and Beth will make an appearance. It was hard to get started on something after Bear (I’m totally in love with his character) but my editor asked me, “Would Bear want to be the reason you don’t write anything else?” I know the answer is “NO” so I forced myself to break up with him (cue sad music and sobs here) and now I find myself completely infatuated with the fictional sheriff (cue bluebirds and Cupid hearts). Crazy, I know, but that’s part of the appeal of being a writer in my genre. I get to have imaginary affairs with all my leading men….

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’ve considered myself a writer for as long as I could write, but I didn’t consider myself an author until I received my first publishing contract, which was in August of 2010. I remember the date because my youngest son broke his leg on August 2nd of that year. When we got home from the hospital (a week later after surgery and a titanium rod in his femur) I almost threw the contract out, thinking it was another rejection letter from yet another publisher. Imagine my surprise when I opened the envelope instead of just tossing it in the recycle bin. Best way EVER to end an otherwise awful week!

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I’m a stay-at-home-mom with three boys, 18, 14, and 9, and a cop’s wife, so I already have a full-time job. I write whenever I can. I spend most of my time (when I’m not tending to someone else’s needs) sitting in front of a computer. I make an effort to write something every day, but I am not always successful. Many times life gets in the way, and I just have to roll with it. I am almost always thinking of writing, working out scenes in my head, and I’ve had to let my family know that if they hear me talking to myself I’m not going crazy (well, not in the technical sense). I’m working on dialogue (great excuse, eh?). Many times I’ll be up until the wee hours of the morning working on a story, and I do mean WEE (circa four or five a.m.). It’s quiet then because everyone else is in bed, the phone isn’t ringing, and the television is OFF. Good times!

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I can story-hop with more speed than the fastest bunny in the world. I have half a dozen completed manuscripts and at least twice that number in various stages of production. I write until I either run out of ideas for a particular story, or until another, stronger idea takes over my brain. I’ve discovered I have to put down what’s in my head or I lose it, so when a great story idea appears I’ll drop what I’m working on to get the new one on paper (Microsoft Word in today’s world). After I get the initial idea down I may go back to what I was previously working on, or I may be inspired to keep going with the new one. I plan to finish them all eventually, but we’ll see how that plays out.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I’ve always wanted to be a writer, but in junior high I also wanted to be President (thankfully, I recognized my error about the latter and abandoned the idea not too long after that). In high school I wanted to just survive high school, but the last year or so I decided I wanted to be a dancer (in addition to being a writer). I took classes at the local junior college (GREAT performing arts program) and performed in several productions there. I’d taken dance for almost a decade as a child but gave it up when I became a teenager and was more interested in socializing than posture and ballet positions. An injury ended that dream, so it was after that I really focused on writing. Still, nothing happened for almost 20 years, but I kept writing. Just like my teacher told me….

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I’m an amateur photographer, and I have extensive training in firearms and police tactics. I finished 2nd in my sniper class (and I was the ONLY female), and SWAT training was AMAZING. Those guys have a tough job, but if I could, I’d seriously consider turning back time and pursuing a career in law-enforcement (it would certainly give me a LOT to write about and I do love those predominantly male environments!). I tell my hubby all the time he’s lucky to do what he does (they’ll never let ME dangle from a wire 100 feet beneath a helicopter as I’m flown into an illegal pot farm), but at least I can live vicariously through him. Cops (and the military and firefighters) never have to wonder if they make a difference in the world. I often wonder what I’ve done to contribute to society, and then I think if the books I write make someone smile, help to relieve stress, or provide an escape, I’m happy. I may not have saved someone’s life, but hopefully I made a few of their hours a little more enjoyable.

Thanks, Leslie!

Readers, don't forget about leaving a comment for a chance to win the gift card.


Unknown said...

Thank you Ms. Haselton, for hosting me today! I look forward to interacting with your readers!

Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thank you for hosting today.

Lyra L7 said...

What is your favorite trait in your heroine?

lyra.lucky7 at gmail dot com

Catherine Lee said...

I love your bio, Leslie! How very exciting. It sounds like your life has been interesting and now you are writing and married to an alpha man working for a mysterious, covert government agency. My oh my...I just love it!
catherinelee100 at gmail dot com

Unknown said...

Lyra L7, I think my favorite trait in Laine is her ability to stay calm even in the middle of a hurricane. I've been in some pretty hair-raising situations while in the military, and trust me, that trait can often be the difference, literally, between life and death. Thanks for asking!

Unknown said...

Thanks, Catherine! When I look back I guess my life HAS been rather atypical, and I HAVE done a lot of things a lot of women wouldn't even think of doing. And, I have to admit, I like being married to that atypical alpha male. Guess it all plays together. Thanks for dropping in!

Rita Wray said...

I'm looking forward to reading Laine and Jack's story.


MomJane said...

Your heroine sounds like a strong, unflapable woman. I love that.

Unknown said...

I love that is part of a series. It is always great to keep going once you read a book and love it. Thanks for letting us know about the follow up novel

fencingromein at hotmail dot com

Unknown said...

Thanks, Ingeborg. I hope you enjoy it. Please let me know your thoughts when you finish it. Nice of you to drop by!

Unknown said...

You're right, MomJane, she is unflappable (LOVE that word, btw). Given her profession(s) she has to be, and it certainly helps when she meets Jack. Thanks for commenting!

Unknown said...

Well, Shannon, I didn't plan it that way, but Bear started to take over. My publisher actually had me tone him down from the original manuscript because he was starting to outshine the main characters (naughty, naughty boy!). So, he gets his own story. Good for both of us! Thanks for taking the time to comment, and good luck in the drawing!

Mary Preston said...

My dreams are always vivid too, but so weird I doubt they would translate well into a story.


Unknown said...

I, too, have dreams that would qualify for straitjackets, but sometimes there is ONE frame in there that makes sense, and many times that is all it takes.

Thanks for stopping by, Mary! Good luck in the drawing.

Andra Lyn said...

When writing, what do you focus on more? Character development? Plot? world building? :) Thanks for the chance to win!


Andra Lyn said...

Thanks for the chance to win!

andralynn7@ gmail DOT com