Jonetta: Your life story is amazing. How much of yourself and your personal circumstances finds their way into your characters and/or the stories?
Marie: Not all that much other than the emotions that go along with various life experiences. With very few exceptions, my characters are entirely fictional and are not based on anyone I know.
Jonetta: You majored in journalism and spent many years in this field. How have those career experiences helped you as a writer?
Marie: My years as a newspaper reporter, in particular, taught me to be a lean, economical writer contending with frequent deadlines, which serves me well now as a fiction writer with relentless deadlines.
Jonetta: You went for years with what turned about to be “Treading Water” always in your head. Is this first book the most special to you?
Marie: Treading Water will always be special to me because it came first. Jack Harrington, the architect hero of that story, was the first character who presented himself to me as a fully formed character demanding I tell his story. Jack is still very important to me today. My company is named after him: HTJB, Inc. House That Jack Built, otherwise known as just “Jack” to the people who work with me. Everything began with Treading Water, which I finished nine years ago.
Jonetta: In 2010, you ventured into self publishing and have been extremely successful in getting your books to readers and ending up as a NY Times best seller list several times over. What one best practice would you share with other writers?
Marie: Quality is always job one, but in the digital age QUANTITY is job two. You have to keep the books coming to keep the readers interested and engaged. I’ve also had tremendously good luck with offering first books in series for free, which have propelled tons of new readers to try my series. Many of them go on to buy all the books.
Jonetta: The Fatal series is your sole romantic suspense work. How did you conceive Sam and Nick?
Marie: I also have The Wreck, which is a standalone romantic suspense. The Fatal Series concept was conceived when I read about a congressman who was found dead in his DC-area home. The death was briefly investigated as a homicide before it was determined that he died from a heart attack. The real-life story sparked some questions for me—who would be the one to find him? What law enforcement agency would have jurisdiction? From those questions came Sam and Nick and the now almost eight-book series.
Jonetta: What would you want first-time readers of this series to know about the main characters, Sam (Samantha) Holland and Nick Cappuano?
Marie: That first and foremost, the Fatal Series is a romance—an epic romance between two people who probably shouldn’t even like each other but who are madly in love and incredibly devoted to each other, their families and their jobs. Everything else that happens in the series is secondary, in my opinion anyway, to their love story.
Jonetta: What would you say has stronger resonance in the Fatal series, romance or suspense? Or, do you think they’re about equal?
Marie: I try to keep it a 60-40 split with the emphasis always more strongly on the romance than the suspense. If you asked a hundred readers why they come back for more of the series, I know almost of them would say to read more about Sam and Nick’s romance. The murder investigations are secondary to them—and to me.
Jonetta: Is it easier, tougher or about the same to write stories with suspense and tension versus contemporary romance? What sort of challenges does it present, if any?
Marie: It’s much more difficult to write suspense than it is to write straight contemporary. In fact, I’m not always in the best of moods when I’m writing a Fatal book. It takes a LOT more out of me as a writer and as a storyteller to get those books right. The suspense element, the police procedural aspects and the detective work add another entire layer to those books, which require a tremendous amount of brainpower and bone marrow. I’m usually left exhausted when I finish one of them. I sort of hate the writing of them but always love the finished product. It’s a love-hate relationship. LOL! Sam is my all-time favorite character to write, so any time I get to spend with her is always fun.
Jonetta: You have two special office mates, Louie and Brandy. Do they provide any inspiration or comic relief?
Marie: Brandy and Louie are an endless source of comic relief to me. They are hilarious! It’s not uncommon for one to create a diversion so the other will give up the bone they are playing with. We love that! They are so smart and funny and silly. My husband is now working from home, so they divide their time between us, which is not fair. They were MINE during the day for years and now they are OURS.
Jonetta: I’ll let you have the last word. What else would you like to share with our followers?
Marie: A lot of people tell me they are “afraid” to read the Fatal Series because of the murder mystery aspects of the story, but I like to encourage readers to try the series if they love to read romance, because that’s what you’ll find in the Fatal Series—a romance for the ages, along with several secondary romances that span multiple books.
Thanks for having me!
The latest book in the series, Fatal Jeopardy, was released in March. The 8th book, Fatal Scandal, will be released in January.
With more than 2.5 million books sold, Marie Force is the New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling, award-winning author of more than 30 contemporary romances. Her New York Times bestselling self-published McCarthys of Gansett Island Series has sold more than 1.3 million e-books since Maid for Love was released in 2011. She is also the author of the New York Times bestselling Fatal Series from Harlequin’s Carina Press, as well as the Treading Water Series and numerous stand-alone books. All You Need is Love, book 1 in her new Green Mountain Series from Berkley Sensation, was a New York Times and USA Today bestseller in February 2014 The second book, I Want to Hold Your Hand, will be out in June, and the third book, I Saw Her Standing There, is coming in November. In 2014, Marie will have eight mass-market print releases—the first five Fatal Series books from Harlequin and the first three Green Mountain Series books from Berkley. Fatal Jeopardy, book 7 in the Fatal Series, released on March 24, 2014, was a New York Times and USA Today bestseller.
While her husband was in the Navy, Marie lived in Spain, Maryland and Florida, and she is now settled in her home state of Rhode Island. She is the mother of two teenagers and two feisty dogs, Brandy and Louie. Join Marie’s mailing list at http://marieforce.com/ for news about new books and other possible appearances in your area. Follow her on Twitter @marieforce and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MarieForceAuthor/. Join one of Marie’s many reader groups by viewing the complete listing at http://marieforce.com/connect/. Contact Marie at firstname.lastname@example.org.