Welcome to Under the Covers, Suzanne! We are so excited to have you here today to talk a bit about your latest release SOME KIND OF HERO (out July 11, 2017).
I’m happy to be here—thanks so much for inviting me!
Can you tell us a little bit more about it and what was your favorite, as well as least favorite, thing about going back to write a Troubleshooters book?
I’d been struggling to write a book that I’d outlined extensively—there was even cover art for it up online! Eeek, the pressure, as I kept missing deadline after deadline!
But I was going through some Life Stuff (it happens to all of us!) and for a few years it got really, really hard for me to write. My wonderful editor encouraged me to writing ANYthing, just sit down and see what comes out, and I ended up writing a trilogy of TS shorts. Well, the third installment, Ready to Roll, isn’t so short. It’s actually full novel size—but it’s not a traditional romance. It introduces a team of young SEAL candidates going through rigorous SEAL BUD/S training (as well as continuing a very sweet YA m/m subplot from the earlier installments in the trilogy).
But I really loved writing the SEAL candidates story—they’re a group of misfits all with the same name, who get lumped together in one destined-to-fail group nicknamed “Boat Squad John” during the notorious part of BUD/S known as “Hell Week.” As I told their story, I realized that I needed to create a tough-as-nails BUD/S instructor, and I brought back a SEAL lieutenant nicknamed “Grunge.” His real name is Peter Greene, and although I’d mentioned him in the TS series (he’s talked about in Hot Pursuit!), he’d never appeared on page as a walking-talking-living-breathing character. So I had a lot of leeway with him—to make him what I needed for Ready to Roll. He became this incredibly merciless and unforgiving man whose job is to mold young candidates into best-of-the-best Navy SEALs, and I fell madly in love with him. (Turns out he’s just as merciless and unforgiving of himself, which makes him terribly vulnerable!)
I approached my editor with the idea to write Pete’s story, sent her an outline and a coupla chapters that just flowed out of me after writing Ready to Roll, and her wise words to me were “Keep writing. Don’t stop.”
So I didn’t.
I gave Pete (he hates his SEAL nickname!) a long-estranged and extremely angry/moody/grieving fifteen-year-old daughter named Maddie who has run away, and paired him up with Shayla Whitman, a divorced, slightly older romance author with two teen sons. And although there’s a rollicking, fast-paced adventure as together they search for Maddie—who’s gotten herself into some very real danger—Pete’s most challenging journey is his attempt to make a connection with his daughter. And that’s what romance writers do best. We use our words and storytelling skills to create connections. So Shayla’s not just along for the ride, she’s full-on contributing to resolving one of the book’s most important conflicts!
It’s entirely possible Some Kind of Hero is my all-time favorite book I’ve ever written. It’s truly my love letter to the genre. And Shay is, absolutely, my favorite heroine.
My favorite thing about returning to my TS world was being able to include Navy SEAL Izzy Zanella as a point-of-view character. I love writing him—and the other TS characters who pop up to lend a hand!
Least favorite thing…? Nope. Nothing bad at all about sinking back into the lovely familiarity of my TS universe!
Your Troubleshooters series continues to be well loved and popular. What would you say is the secret to keep a long-standing series like this one fresh and enticing to readers and how do you balance the romance and suspense in each installment?
Thank you! I think that the TS books are popular because readers love the powerful loyalty and friendships between the main characters, whether they’re SEALs or FBI agents or civilian operators working at TS, Inc.
I believe that my hardest job is achieving a balance between the book’s subplots (which usually feature well-loved characters who’ve already won their romance HEA or haven’t yet earned it) and the main romantic arc. Those two main characters are, by nature, seemingly less interesting because they’re following the tried-and-true romance novel relationship path. But I think of them as the spine of the book—the HEA delivery device. (I think in SKOH, I finally managed to achieve that balance between main romance and subplots. I’m looking forward to hearing what readers think!!)
I also struggle a bit attempting to fit into the mold of “romantic suspense author.” I think what I write is more drama plus comedy (dramady?) with elements of action/adventure/suspense.
Yes, there’s always an external conflict that puts the characters into danger, but I really like writing stories in which large groups of people (some of whom don’t get along) must figure out how to work together to solve the crime or rescue/protect the endangered.
All those interpersonal relationships of the team members—usually a mix of SEALs with friends and family—provide for many fun (and important!) scenes. For example, there’s a scene in Some Kind of Hero where an elderly relative of the hero’s daughter (an 80+ year old rather prickly Japanese American woman named Hiroko) has to be picked up and brought to a safe house. And naturally Hiroko doesn’t want to go. So who do I send to knock on her door and convince her to come with…? Izzy Zanella, of course. (So much fun to write!!)
And what happens when Izzy, a long-time friend of Pete, meets Shayla? And what happens when Shay meets the young men of Boat Squad John (who play a significant role in SKOH)? And how about when Pete meets Shay’s two sons…? And on and on it goes.
So… not romance, not suspense, but each of those scenes is vital to my formation of this team whose job it is to find and save Maddie. (I have to make you, the reader, love this entire large group of people, and the best way to do that is by showing them interacting!)
Another big challenge lies in beating back (with a giant stick!) recurring TS characters—so I don’t overwhelm readers who are new to the series! (Quick, send Izzy’s wife Eden, and his SEAL-in-law Dan’s family out of town, where they’re looking at colleges with Eden’s little brother Ben! And send most of SEAL Team 16 out on a training op!)
In your newest release, Some Kind of Hero, the heroine (Shayla Whitman) is a romantic suspense writer who is suffering from writer’s block. Is this something you have experienced yourself? And if so, what do you do to help the words flow again?
Yeah, I relate to Shayla! She, too, is experiencing Life Stuff. I used to swear up and down that writer’s block was a myth. Whereupon it laughed in my face and made me its bitch for a few years. <sigh> My salvation came from searching for (and finding!) characters who demanded their stories be told.
If you could spend time with any of your TroubleShooter characters (male or female), who would it be and why?
Gotta be Jules Cassidy.
I love Izzy Zanella madly, but… Jules helped me help change the world. And that change impacted my life directly. For those readers who missed it, here’s a link to an archived e-Newsletter in which I talk about (with pictures!!) my son Jason’s March 2016 wedding to the man of his dreams: click here.
Jules Cassidy—and Jason, by allowing readers to get to know him, too—changed hearts and minds by showing that love is love is love.
So my office door is always and forever open to Jules—who takes advantage and appears in my head on a somewhat regular basis, even at inopportune moments! In fact, I made sure that Shay, the romance novelist heroine of Some Kind of Hero, has her own personal Jules—an FBI agent character named Harry Parker who’s always popping into her head with pithy comments, too!
I really enjoyed reading Do or Die in the Reluctant Heroes as well as Born to Darkness in the Fighting Destiny series. When can we expect more books from these series?
Thanks! I’m working on both of those. But I’m gonna drop some breaking news: I’m currently writing a new installment in my Tall, Dark & Dangerous series about Navy SEAL Team Ten. My most FAQ is about those books: “Will you ever write Tasha and Thomas’s story?” I think it’s time to change my answer from “We’ll see” to “Yes!” My current plan is to self-publish a new Team Ten adventure in early 2018, with T&T’s book to follow shortly after that.
When you are not writing, what author do you pick up to read as an escape?
I love Alexis Hall. LOVE. I also really enjoy reading YA and have recently discovered Heidi Heilig and Pintip Dunn. Oh, and Angie Thomas’s book, The Hate U Give was amazing. She’s now on my auto-buy list for whatever she decides to write next. In terms of romance, I also love Virginia Kantra, Farrah Rochon, ooh, I just discovered Alyssa Cole… And I’ve got the latest by Julia Quinn waiting for me on my e-reader, too.
What did you buy with your first advance?
It definitely went to pay the rent/buy food. Those early years were pure Starving Artist!
What is the first book that has ever made you cry?
Here Comes the Bus by Carolyn Haywood. I cried because my sister took it back to school before I’d finished it, which broke my tiny heart. I was only three, and no one knew I could read at that level, and I probably didn’t realize the book came from the school library, not the public one (which we visited weekly, thank you from the bottom of my heart, Mom!!). I must’ve started reading it in the afternoon, when my sister brought it home from school, but then she took it back with her the next day, and I was very upset! “But I wasn’t done!!!!!” Oh, the indignation and frustration!
Thanks so much for taking some time and sharing with us today!
Available July 11, 2017!
The Troubleshooters return in the latest thriller from New York Times bestselling author Suzanne Brockmann! Some Kind of Hero showcases Brockmann’s signature white-knuckle suspense, romantic twists, and sexy Navy SEALs.
Navy men don’t come tougher than Lieutenant Peter Greene. Every day he whips hotshot SEAL wannabes into elite fighters. So why can’t he handle one fifteen-year-old girl? His ex’s death left him a single dad overnight, and very unprepared. Though he can’t relate to an angsty teen, he can at least keep Maddie safe—until the day she disappears. Though Pete’s lacking in fatherly intuition, his instinct for detecting danger is razor sharp. Maddie’s in trouble. Now he needs the Troubleshooters team at his back, along with an unconventional ally.
Romance writer Shayla Whitman never expected to be drawn into a real-world thriller—or meet a hero who makes her pulse pound. Action on the page is one thing. Actually living it is another story. Shay’s not as bold as her heroines, but she’s a mother. She sees the panic in her new neighbor’s usually fearless blue eyes—and knows there’s no greater terror for a parent than having their child at risk. It’s an ordeal Shay won’t let Pete face alone. She’s no highly trained operative, but she’s smart, resourceful, and knows what makes teenagers tick.
Still, working alongside Pete has its own perils—like letting the heat between them rise out of control. Intimate emotions could mean dangerous, even deadly, consequences for their mission. No matter what, they must be on top of their game, and playing for keeps . . . or else Pete’s daughter may be gone for good.
Praise for Suzanne Brockmann
“Brockmann strikes the perfect balance between white-knuckle suspense and richly emotional romance.”—Chicago Tribune
“Brockmann is a master of adventure, drama, passion, and suspense.”—The Tampa Tribune
“[Brockmann] brilliantly combines superbly crafted, realistically complex characters with white-knuckle plotting.”—Booklist