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Between the lines with Carla Neggers (Q&A)

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Today, Hartford Books Examiner welcomes Carla Neggers.

Ms. Neggers is the author of the newly released Harbor Island (Harlequin MIRA, $24.95). She has written more than 60 novels of contemporary romance and romantic suspense; her titles have reached New York Times bestseller status and have been translated into 24 languages and sold in more than 30 countries. Her popular series include Sharpe & Donovan and Swift River Valley. Ms. Neggers frequents Ireland but lives with her family in New England.

Harbor Island is the fourth entry in the Sharpe & Donovan series (and includes the bonus prequel novella, Rock Point). The title was named a Top Pick by RT Book Reviews and Monique Daoust of Fresh Fiction praised, “HARBOR ISLAND is a carefully crafted suspense that unfolds mostly in Maine and Ireland, both locations brought to life through the author's accurate and loving descriptions. There are several quite unexpected twists and turns, no detail is in vain; everything leads to a dramatic conclusion. I had no inkling as to who did what and why; I couldn't ask for anything better!”

From the publisher:

In this vivid and suspenseful addition to her widely acclaimed Sharpe & Donovan series, New York Times bestselling author Carla Neggers takes readers on a heart-stopping journey from Boston to Ireland to the rocky coast of Maine

Emma Sharpe, granddaughter of world-renowned art detective Wendell Sharpe, is a handpicked member of a small Boston-based FBI team. For the past decade Emma and her grandfather have been trailing an elusive serial art thief. The first heist was in Ireland, where an ancient Celtic cross was stolen. Now the Sharpes receive a replica of the cross after every new theft—reminding them of their continued failure to capture their prey.

When Emma receives a message that leads her to the body of a woman on a small island in Boston Harbor, she finds the victim holding a small, cross-inscribed stone—one she recognizes all too well. Emma's fiancé, FBI deep-cover agent Colin Donovan, is troubled that she's gone off to the island alone, especially given the deadly turn the thief has taken. But as they dig deeper they are certain there is more to this murder than meets the eye.

As the danger escalates, Emma and Colin must also face do-or-die questions about their relationship. While there's no doubt they are in love, can they give their hearts and souls to their work and have anything left for each other? There's one thing Emma and Colin definitely agree on: before they can focus on their future, they must outwit one of the smartest, most ruthless killers they've ever encountered.

Now, Carla Neggers reveals a few pages from the book of her life …

1) As a child, did you wear your literary lust loud and proud or were you a closet bibliophile?

I was open about my love of reading but circumspect about my love of writing! Most of my books came from the library when I was a kid, and the librarian encouraged me to try new authors and genres. That’s how I discovered Mary Stewart, Helen MacInnes, Dorothy Gilman and so many others. Writing, though…I would climb a tree with a pad and pen or slip into my closet to spin stories.

2) What book(s) were you likely to be caught keeping company with under the covers?

Ones I couldn’t put down! Once I’m into a story, I don’t like to stop until I’ve reached the end. That will keep me reading late into the night, under the covers, even now. When I was a kid, I would sneak books out of my older brother’s room. I remember literally hiding under the covers to read HMS ULYSSES by Alistair MacLean and THE MALTESE FALCON by Dashiell Hammett. Couldn’t put them down. My brother also had all the books by Raymond Chandler, VON RYAN’S EXPRESS and “Hulk” comic books. I love the Hulk!

3) What are you reading currently & what is your initial impression?

I’m rereading THE WRONG GIRL by Hank Phillippi Ryan. I love her writing—so crisp and engaging—and I raced through THE WRONG GIRL because of a deadline (imagine that!). Totally loved it but I need to read it again! I’m looking forward to TRUTH BE TOLD, the third book in the Jane Ryland series. Fabulous series.

4) What one book do you always recommend when asked?

Well … hmm … there isn’t one book I always recommend. There are many. I got my mother reading Sue Grafton, a friend into reading Elizabeth George, my husband into reading Ian Rankin. My mother got me into reading Patrick Taylor. On it goes. “Word of mouth” is still a great way to find out about books. Note the plural! When someone asks me what to read, I’ve got a list. And I’ll ask — what’s your mood? Because I know there are certain books that I can’t read if I’m not in the right mood, or if I’m on deadline or traveling or chasing my two little grandkids.

5) Which of your own books would you suggest to readers & why?

I’d suggest the first books in my two ongoing series. That would be SAINT’S GATE for my Sharpe & Donovan FBI series and SECRETS OF THE LOST SUMMER for my Swift River Valley contemporary romance series. Then keep reading! You don’t have to read the books in order, but when I discover a new author mid-series, I tend to go back and read the books in order.

6) Is there a book or author that readers would be surprised to know you’ve read and liked?

Last summer I got into reading the memoirs of Civil War generals. Now, come on. That’s a surprise, isn’t it? One was about eight inches thick, and that’s only a slight exaggeration. Absolutely fascinating.

7) Who is the one author that would, or did, make you weak in the knees upon meeting?

R.L. Stine of “Goosebumps” fame. He’d probably laugh reading that, but it’s true. I think it’s because not only is he a huge success and a wonderful storyteller but he helped turn my son into an avid reader. He’d been reading so many tragic novels in school, and here come these crazy “Goosebumps” books. He loved them! R.L. Stine happens also to be one of the nicest writers I’ve ever met.

8) Has there been an “I’ve made it” moment in your career?

When I got my first agent. She called at dinnertime—I was making Cornish hens (and burned them!)—and I’ll never forget how excited I was. A real New York agent loved my writing and wanted to represent me. It was a great moment. Of course, I had no idea what I was doing! Happily, there have been many great moments since then, but I never think in terms of “making it.” I think in terms of writing the best books I can and enjoying each day in this ever-changing but wonderful business.

9) What is your greatest literary ambition?

To finish the book I just started writing! It’s called KEEPER’S REACH, and it’s the next up in my Sharpe & Donovan series. Emma and Colin, my FBI agents, are in a big mess. Mike Donovan, Colin’s older brother, a wilderness guide who likes his alone time, is in the thick of things. I’ve got snippets of scenes and great plans for the story, but my biggest ambition right now is to keep writing, enjoy the process and type THE END before Valentine’s Day.

10) Fill in the blank: Hartford Books Examiner is _____.

Terrific!

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With thanks to Carla Neggers for her generosity of time and thought and to Nancy Berland, President and CEO of Nancy Berland Public Relations, Inc., and Alissa Letkowski, Meryl Moss Media Relations, for helping to facilitate this interview.

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