Sam Cheever is a prolific author of romance novels, as Houston readers will discover in the course of this interview. Her books are romantic and fun, sexy and suspenseful.
Welcome to the Examiner, Sam! Please tell everyone what prompted you to start writing romantic suspense.
Like many authors, I started writing suspense because that’s what I loved to read. My first romance story was actually a fantasy. I love writing fantasy, but I felt like I needed to mix it up a bit…you know…use both sides of my brain. Fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal, mystery, and romantic suspense are my favorite genres. So it was an easy choice for me to write suspense.
Most authors are particularly successful when they write in the genre that they enjoy reading, and you’re no exception. So who was the first romantic suspense author you remember reading?
I read some real classics for sure, written probably in the 40s and 50s. When I was a teen I used to buy boxes of hardcover books with the front covers torn off. Those older romantic suspense stories were great, and I was hooked. Nora Roberts/JD Robb is probably my most memorable current author. She’s so extremely talented. Nobody builds a character, or a secondary character like Nora Roberts.
Are your stories more character-based or plot-based?
Definitely character driven, though I give my characters LOTS of plot to work with.
What else do you give them? In other words, what do you consider some of the important ingredients of a compelling romantic suspense story?
Of course the most important ingredient is tension. When you’re talking romantic suspense the tension must be sexual as well as plot induced. Your reader’s palms should be a little sweaty as she reads…her heart pumping a little harder than usual. Along with the tension you need a strong storyline, likeable characters, and a little bit of something for the reader to solve by the end of the book. Reading a good romantic suspense is not a sedentary activity. If your brain and heart ain’t pumpin’ you must be readin’ a different genre!
How do you keep track of the details in romantic suspense—for example, red herrings, real clues, timelines of the investigation? Do you keep a detailed form or do you use note cards or something else?
Whiteboards, prayer, glue…preferably Gorilla Glue, a good editor, and…did I say prayer? But seriously, I do use a whiteboard, but I’m definitely a seat of the pants writer so I’m not organized enough to have cards or forms. Good heavens, that might actually make my life easier! No, I just do it the old fashioned way, I write some stuff in as I go and then add more and move stuff around a bit in rewrites.
Does that make it more difficult to keep the book on track toward the ending? Do you know the ending before you begin writing?
I mentioned the seat of the pants thing right? I start every story with a vague idea for how it will end. Sometimes it’s as vague as…and then they lived happily ever after… As you can see there’s lots of room for detail in that ending. I usually have a Eureka! moment somewhere along the way that gives me that much needed detail. But my mind is a slavering, sharp clawed harpy, and if you try to cage her she goes a little ugly. So I let her fly free and drool all over everybody. She hasn’t disappointed me yet!
That’s a great image for a writer’s muse…now please tell us what your free-flying harpy has come up with most recently.
My next romantic suspense will release around Halloween. A Honeybun in Hell is Book 4 in my Honeybun Hunks romantic suspense series, which is based on a family of eight, sexy brothers with strange old English names and a proclivity toward finding and dealing with trouble.
Honeybun video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tUcXkkyMo64
Blurb for A Honeybun in Hell
Edric Honeybun visits a haunted hotel in Hell, Indiana over Halloween. While there, Edric expects to frolic with imaginary ghosts and develop plot twists for his new book. What he doesn’t expect is to meet a beautiful witch who says she can talk to ghosts…and who appears to be the target of a killer.
Bella Rawnie comes from a long line of Gypsies with a special gift. Her abilities have made her an outsider all her life. A strong woman with a soft persona, Bella’s used to being disliked because of her heritage. What she isn’t used to is being the object of a madman’s revenge.
When people start turning up dead, Bella tries to use her gift to bring the culprit down. But her enemy proves too much for her and Edric must set aside his disbelief to save her…before she becomes the killer’s final target.
That sounds like a fun and exciting storyline. What was your favorite scene to write in this book?
In nearly every book I write, the first meeting between the hero and heroine is one of my favorites. A Honeybun in Hell was no exception:
He entered the cemetery beneath an ivy covered archway and looked around. The grass under his sneakers was thick and well-tended and the faint smell of lemons wafted toward him from somewhere. He peered around looking for the source.
That’s when he spotted her.
She sat in the center of an ornate concrete bench, her feet stretched out in front of her and her hands resting on either side of her hips. She wore an oversized, cream colored sweater and jeans. Matching leather boots climbed her legs to mid calf and were scrunched softly over her jeans. Her hair fell past her shoulders and was a rich auburn color. It was carelessly bunched at the back of her head, captured in some kind of plastic clip, like she’d shoved it there just to get it out of her face.
She sat perfectly still, as if she were focusing hard on something. Or listening carefully.
Edric started toward her, feeling as if a line extended from her to him, reeling him inexorably in.
She turned when he was only a few steps away, fixing gorgeous, dark green eyes on him. When she smiled, it was if the dense cloud cover had parted and the sun shined only on them. “Well hello there.” In just those three words Edric could tell she was a Southern Indiana girl. But she’d put her own special brand on the distinctive accent. It was husky and warm, like honey drizzled over warm biscuits, and it made him want to keep her talking.
Edric offered her his hand and she shifted on the bench to clasp it. Her face was pale, with an exotic olive tone, her skin flawless and her cheeks touched with pink. Her mouth was bow shaped and tinted to match her cheeks. Her hair swept back from a wide, unlined forehead. A few, soft tendrils trailed down the sides of her round face. She had the prettiest dimples in her cheeks when she smiled.
Her pretty green eyes widened. “The Edric Honeybun? Of Smart Murders, Inc.?”
Smart Murders, Inc. was the series name for Edric’s well-known thriller books.
He lifted her soft, white hand to his lips and bowed over it. “I would be that scoundrel, yes.”
Excellent hero-heroine meet! Very enticing. But what’s next? Would you like to write a sequel to any of your books, continuing the lives of your main characters?
Giggle, har, snarf! I do write sequels of all my characters! I have no restraint…none at all.
And I’m sure your fans appreciate that lack of restraint. What are you working on now?
I currently have 2 works in progress and an idea brewing for my 5th Honeybun book. The first WIP is a contemporary romance of the Cougar variety called Bits ‘N Bytes. The second is a light paranormal called Probationary Angel.
And the Honeybun idea? Well…we’ll see…
My website is: www.SamCheever.com
I also have a blog at: www.tweenyouandme.blogspot.com/
And I’m on Twitter: www.twitter.com/samcheever
I also visit my fan page on Facebook pretty regularly: www.facebook.com/pages/Sam-Cheever-Author/102117321982