Tuesday, March 20, 2012

New Release feature Born to Darkness and Q&A w/Suzanne Brockmann

 Q&A with Suzanne Brockmann
featuring her new release Born to Darkness

Debbie - Suzanne, first of all I LOVE you, your novels (all of them) and your views, we’ll get to all of those things but let me welcome you to the forums at B&N.com
Suz:  Thank you so much!  It’s my pleasure to be here!

D - Born to Darkness is the first of a brand new series, so tell us a little about it.
Suz:  The new series is called “Fighting Destiny.”  I’m taking my trademark character-driven, multi-story-arc, military-action-adventure romantic suspense and I’m setting in a darkly futuristic and vaguely paranormal world. 
Now, when I say paranormal, I’m not talking vampires or other types of demons or monsters.  (I’ve always felt that human beings can be quite monstrous enough, thanks!  Plus, I do believe that between Joss Whedon and JR Ward, all that needs to be said about vampires has been said quite nicely!)  The paranormal elements that I bring into the books in the Fighting Destiny series are based roughly in science – what we know, or rather, what little we know about the human brain.
I have a friend who can listen to a symphony once, and then, from memory, transcribe the score.  Can you imagine that?  Listening to a complex piece of music, and knowing exactly what the clarinets are playing, what the violins are doing, what the oboes…  Once, I asked him how he did it, and he just kind of blinked and asked me, “How do you breathe?”  In short, he just… did it. 
I’ve used his response – “How do you breathe?” – when people ask me how I come up with the ideas for my books.  For me, those ideas are out there, and finding them are – again, for me – as easy as breathing.
But, still, the things I cannot do (transcribe the score of a symphony from memory, learn a foreign language in a few weeks (or months or years!), figure out complex math problems in my head) seem crazy and miraculous when others can do them easily. 
Recently there was a story in the news about an autistic man who was able to draw a detailed and accurate map of New York after a half hour helicopter ride over the city.  How on earth did he do that?  For him, it was as easy as breathing, but for the rest of us, it seems almost… super human.
Imagine if we could exercise our brain and, through intensive training and practice, could tap into the same abilities that my friend or the autistic man can easily access.  Or… some people can control their blood pressure and heart rate, but what if we could teach ourselves to take those abilities even further and learn to heal our injuries and illnesses?  Take it a step further (considering the brain is such a complex mystery) and imagine if we could harness powers that seem supernatural, like telekinesis, telepathy, prescient abilities… 
So that’s where I went with this story.  I set in it a world where certain rare people are born with the potential to access and exercise and learn to utilize more of their brains than the rest of us.  In fact, the people with the highest amount of potential power are, ironically, those that so many world societies throw away or denigrate: little girls. 
So the heroine of BORN TO DARKNESS is one of those former little girls, all grown up, and still training hard to harness her powers.  The hero is a former military officer who is thrown into a crazy-to-him world where nerdly scientist types and petite women (like the heroine) can thoroughly kick his highly-trained, highly-skilled Navy SEAL butt.
When a very special little girl goes missing, all hell breaks loose…

D -Now tell us what happens to the Troubleshooters series, is it just on hiatus or has it come to an end.
Suz:  I’m pretty sure it’s merely on hiatus.  I can’t imagine being able to stay away from Jules, Robin, Sam, Alyssa, and the rest of the TS gang for very long.  In fact, I just wrote a new Jules & Robin short story called BEGINNINGS AND ENDS that will be available in all e-formats sometime this summer.  (Exact date TBA!)
I’ve got a TS anthology – a collection of short stories – coming out from Ballantine books in February 2013. 
And of course there’s Navy SEAL Jay Lopez.  Hard to imagine that I won’t feel compelled to write his story in the very near future!

D -There are many of your previous genre romances being re-issued, do you modernize them up before they release or do you let them stand as they were first published.
Suz:  I leave them very close to the original.  I reserve the right to fix typos, but other than the occasional small fixes, I really feel that the books stand as I wrote them.  And I wrote many of them in the days before everyone carried a cell phone.  (The SEALs in my TDD series, recently reissued by HQN, all carry pagers!  Yikes!)  Readers will have to consider them to be “recent historicals.”

D -You co-wrote an Off Broadway play which debuted in 2010 and it stars your son Jason. What lead you to do this, would you do it again and how was writing a play different from writing a novel.
Suz:  Oh, wow, the play was just the start!  We got done with our New York City adventure, and almost immediately set about writing a screenplay called THE PERFECT WEDDING.  Like the stage play, I co-wrote it with my husband, Ed Gaffney, only this time, we also collaborated with our son Jason.  That was an adventure, but when the dust settled, we had a script for a romcom with a hero and a hero that we really, REALLY loved, so we took it a step further, and produced it ourselves.  (That’s the only way a writer can keep total control of a script – you gotta be a producer, too.)  We filmed the move – it’s a feature length indie – over the course of 21 days last June, here in Sarasota, Florida.  We had a cast of nine main actors, including James Rebhorn (Homeland, Independence Day) and Kristine Sutherland (best known for her role as Buffy’s mom), and a crew and post-production team around fifty talented people. 
The film’s currently in the final phases of post-production.  We’re hoping to make an announcement about our upcoming spring first film festival screenings very soon!  Readers who want to know more about the movie should “like” our facebook page at www.facebook.com/theperfectweddingmovie
As for the differences between writing a script and a novel?  The biggest difference is the collaboration.  When I write a book, I’m god.  Whatever I say goes.  But when I wrote THE PERFECT WEDDING, I had to duke things out with Ed and Jason – and that was just the start.  Remember the nine plus actors and the fifty crew and production team members?  They all contributed to the storytelling process, too. 
But here’s the deal:  there’s no way I could make a movie by myself.  I don’t have the ability or knowledge to light a room, or design a set, or run a camera.  Directing, editing, sound, set dressing…  There’s so much more to movie-making than just writing the script.
But the bottom line is, with a movie, there are so many people adding their talent and skill – and contributing to the way the story is told.

D - You are a very vocal advocate for Gay rights, I applaud all the things you do and say and it’s a breath of fresh air to see an attitude in a parent that not only embraces but celebrates the difference, on that note in one of your most applauded Troubleshooter Novels you’ve brought us the culmination of the romance between one of your most beloved characters FBI agent (who I love) Jules Cassidy and Hollywood heartthrob Robin Chadwick.
Did the advocacy lead to the Jules story, was it the other way around, what made you add a Gay leading character’s HEA(happy ever after- for you non-romance addicts) in your very hetero and testosterone filled series.
Suz:  I’d pretty much figured out that my son, Jason, was gay back when he was around three years old.  As he grew up, I had a lot of time to really think about what it meant to grow up gay in America – a place where LGBT citizens don’t have the same rights as the rest of us. 
As I became more and more educated about LGBT rights (or the lack thereof), I became very aware that homophobia and discrimination against gay people comes from fear and ignorance.  And the best way to battle fear and ignorance is with education and knowledge. 
I knew from my work with LGBT advocacy groups that the best way to educate others was to make it personal.  I knew that people learn and grow (and hearts and minds are changed) when they know someone who is gay, or someone who has a gay family member.  Think about it this way:  It’s easier to be afraid of “those nameless gay men” than it is to be afraid of your friendly and kind neighbors Bob and Tom.
With that in mind, I decided to give all of my readers a “gay best friend.”  That’s one of the reasons why I created Jules Cassidy.  I also created Jules because I love including in my books the very real diversity that I find in urban America. 
Jules first appeared back in the second TS book, THE DEFIANT HERO, and (through the years, as Jason grew up) I slowly but surely included Jules in book after book after book as the highly skilled, very competent, funny, smart, and kickass FBI agent who, time and time again, came in to save the day.
I included Jules’s HEA ending because he’s just as a worthy a romance hero as any of my other characters.  He just happens to be gay.

D -You’re not the only writer in the house your husband Ed Gaffney is also a bestselling author. Do you share offices, write together, fall over each other. How does it work in your house.
Suz:  Oooh, we each have our own office, as far apart as possible! 
Ed grew up as the oldest of eight kids, so he likes to write in a “Grand Central Station” type environment.  I need peace and quiet.
But Ed also is a morning person and I’m not, so he gets up early to walk the dogs – and gets a lot of writing done before they all come in to wake me up at a more reasonable hour!

D - Do you know how the story ends before you start writing it.
Suz:  Always.  I’m an outliner, a plotter, a planner.  I write copious notes and backstory and character info before I sit down to write chapter one.  And I usually outline story arcs books in advance – so I know what will happen three or five or eight books into the future!

D -I’m sure your fans here would love to meet you in person, do you have any Barnes & Noble events or signings planned.
Suz:  I do!  Here’s my schedule of upcoming B&N appearances:
Tuesday, March 20, 2012 -- Sarasota, FL
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Barnes & Noble
4010 S. Tamiami Trail (in the Best Buy Plaza)
Sarasota, FL 34231
Store phone: (941) 923-9907
Q&A and book signing (Born to Darkness)
Saturday, March 24, 2012 -- San Francisco/Sacramento/Napa Area
Time: 3:00 p.m.
Barnes & Noble
1600 Gateway Blvd.
Fairfield, CA 94533
Store phone: 707-435-0484
Q&A and book signing (Born to Darkness)
Note from Suz: This store is about the same distance from both San Jose and Sacramento, a little bit closer to San Francisco, and just down the road from Napa, where I'll be taking a post-virtual-signing mini-break with Ed and Jason! Readers in Northern California, I hope you'll come and say hi!
Tuesday, April 3, 2012 -- East Brunswick, NJ (NYC area!)
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Barnes & Noble
753 Route 18 / Brunswick Square Mall
East Brunswick, NJ 08816
Store phone: (732) 432-0100
Q&A and book signing (Born to Darkness)
Wednesday, April 4, 2012 -- Framingham, MA (Boston area!)
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Barnes & Noble
1 Worcester Road
Framingham, MA 01701
Store phone: (508) 628-5567
Q&A and book signing (Born to Darkness)

D -Suzanne, thank you so much for taking the time out of your schedule to let us into your world a little bit, and congratulations and good luck on you upcoming debut in your brand new series.
Suz:  Thank you so much!

Visit Suzanne's website here
Buy the novel here


  1. YAy, Suz--and Deb! This is a terrific interview..and a wonderful peek into a brilliant mind. Love to you both..and much continued success. ("recent historicals"..love it!)

    1. Hi Hank, Thanks you are a doll, and I can't wait til I can do this for The Other Woman :)
      love you

  2. Hey, Hank! Nice to see you here! (Hank is one of my favorite authors!)

    And thank you again, Debbie, for asking some really terrific questions!

    1. Suze, you are wonderful thank you for doing this, good luck with this book and all your other endeavors :)

  3. I loved the book, and I love this interview because it gives me a sense of how the idea for this series came about.

    I'm very much looking forward to more books in the Fighting Destiny series, but I'm glad the Troubleshooters are only on an extended hiatus, too. I'm a bit concerned about the title of this summer's short story - the word "ends" sounds ominous! I'll definitely download it as soon as it's available!

    I'm also looking forward to seeing THE PERFECT WEDDING. Fingers crossed that you've lined up a good distribution deal!

    I'm glad you're not updating the early stories too much. I'm cracking up at your "recent historical" description!

    1. I'm still looking forward to reading it Becke, glad you liked it, but really how could any of us fans of Suze not like it, I love all her work :)
      thanks for the comment, the retweets, the reposts on FB and all you do for me.

  4. Fantastic and informative interview..picking this book up..thanks!

  5. Great interview, Debbie! I was lucky enough to have breakfast with Suzanne back in October when we were seated at the speakers table at a NJ conference. Poor Suzanne never had a bite of breakfast. We were all happily scarfing down a delicious meal, and she was up at the podium giving a fabulous talk!! It was wonderful to meet her and get a personal look at her life as a writer, her day to day schedule., her work habits, etc. She was gracious, charming and a fabulous speaker. Becke did a great feature on her on the B and N mystery forums.

    1. Thanks for your comment Mary, I adore Suze and am so lucky that she granted this interview with me.