... Elysa Hendricks
1. Tell me about your book TANGO IN PARADISE and where you got your inspiration for it?
TANGO IN PARADISE is a contemporary, action/adventure romance. When idealist school teacher Darcy is caught up in a South American revolution she's rescued by Jase, a mercenary. Together they're on a run for their lives through the jungle and over the mountains from both sides of the conflict.
It's hard to say exactly what inspired this story. Each story starts with a germ of an idea. For TANGO IN PARADISE I had the idea of two people on the run through the jungle. Then I had to figure out who they were and why they were there.
2. Ninjas or Pirates?
Definitely pirates, especially if they look like Johnny Depp's Captain Jack Sparrow (with just a tad less swish) or Errol Flynn's Dr. Blood. Ninjas are fun, too, but there's something about knee boots and cutlasses that appeal to me more than black pajamas.
3. Do you have a writing process? If so describe it.
To paraphrase the movie Treasure of the Sierra Madras or Blazing Saddles, "Process? Process? I don't need no stinking process." I'm a pantster. Or like I say - I write into the mist.
While writing is hard work, I can't quantify the process. I can't say how a story develops or how I build the characters. To me it's organic. I don't use timelines or index cards. I just start writing and follow the journey along with my characters.
Of course, as a pantster, I often I write my characters into a corner. Then I have to stop and figure out where I went wrong and how to fix the problems my lack of planning or my characters' refusal to cooperate have caused.
So I guess my "process" is write, rewrite, revise and edit until the story flows to a satisfying conclusion.
4. What is usually your first thought in the morning?
First thought is usually - "Aw, shit! Morning again?" I admit it, I'm a morning slug. Takes me a long time to wake up and become human. Maybe if I liked coffee, I could speed up the process, but I've never developed a taste for the stuff. Plus, I'm super sensitive to caffeine. It doesn't give me a boost during the day, but it'll keep me awake at night.
5. You’re given one million pounds/dollars/euros, what would you spend it on?
A million dollars? After I helped pay off my sons' student loans and helped my family, I'd love to throw a big party for all my friends and family, maybe at a tropical resort or Disney World. It would also make my husband's and my coming retirement at lot easier. Other than that there's not much I need or want.
6. Are you mostly a clean or messy person?
I'm a clean/messy person. I like things neat and organized, but I can never manage to come up with a system to keep everything in its proper place.
7. If someone came up to you and wanted to tell you about an idea or a book they were writing, what would you do? Or what advice would you give?
This happens a lot when I tell people I'm a writer. What I tell them is that only they can write their story their way. While I might find the idea interesting, but if I took it and wrote a book, it would no longer be their story, it would be mine. I encourage them to write it themselves. To help them get started, I point them to local writing groups and resources online.
My dad is convinced if I write his story - Vinnie Castanza: King of the World it'll be a best seller. His is the only story I'd consider writing other than my own.
8. How would you describe yourself in three words?
Bright. Bold. Bossy.
9. What is the most demeaning/demoralising thing ever said about you as a writer?
Hmm, that's a long list. Let's see, one of my stories was described as being "contrived with too many unlikely events." This has become a running joke in my family when we watch a movie where the plot is totally unbelievable. Another of my books was called "bad porn." My question for that reviewer is: How much porn do you have to read to tell the difference between good porn and bad porn? Fortunately, over the years I've been writing I've managed to develop a thick skin. I just shrug and laugh at bad reviews and I avoid any people who try to demean me.
10. Are the names of characters in your novels important?
Naming my characters is fun. And yes, their names are important. I try to give each character a name that fits who they are, that represents their personality to the reader. I have a great little book FIRST NAME REVERSE DICTIONARY: Given Names Listed by Meaning by Yvonne Navarro. I use it to name not only my characters, but also places and things in my fantasy novels.
11. What are the most important attributes to staying sane as a writer?
There is NO way for a writer to be sane. If we were sane, we wouldn't write. Other people who hear voices in their heads end up in straitjackets. Writing is a terrible way to make a living. But, because we're totally crazy, it's the only thing we can do. My hubby always refers to my writer's group meetings as his wife's 12-step program group. Like the song says "I'll just stay addicted and hope I can endure."
12. Do you research your novels?
Yes, I love research. Delving into the past or even the present and learning about people, places and things is exciting. Sometimes I read books on various subjects just to gather ideas. I'm like a squirrel collecting information nuts and storing them away for when I need them.
13. What are books for?
Books are for entertaining people, for opening their minds and hearts to new places and ideas. Books make the world a richer place. Books allow the reader to go places, to experience adventures and emotions they'd never otherwise be able to. Books are food for the soul, for the imagination, for humanity.
14. Are you jealous of other writers?
Hell, yes, when I see another author hit a bestseller list, or receive fame, acclaim and money for their work, I'm green with envy, but I'm also happy for them. The one thing I don't do is let my envy keep me from working harder on my own writing. Nor do I want to take anything away from them. I'm of the opinion that a high tide lifts all boats.
15. What would you do with 1 million ping pong balls?
I'd make the biggest ball pit and invite all my friends to come play in it.
16. What do you like most about being a writer?
I love that no matter where I am or what's going on around me I can always escape into another world, a world I create and control (or at least that's what I tell my characters. They tend to disagree.) Writing isn't just what I do, it's part of who I am. I'm never bored. Even when I'm forced to wait for doctor's appointments or sit on hold the stories and characters in my mind keep me entertained.
17. What are your current projects?
I have a sci-fi romance coming out from ImaJinn Books called DARK STAR DAWNING. I'm working on a contemporary fantasy romance called THE NINE LIVES OF THOMAS CASH RILEY, about a matchmaking cat. And a friend and I have co-authored a humorous women's fiction novel called GRANNIES AND TRANNIES:VEGAS OR BUST that we're shopping around to agents and editors.
18. Do you recall how your interest in writing occurred?
I've always been a story teller and a voracious reader. When I was a child I was the one who came up with the "stories" for the games played with my friends. In grade school I kept the kids on the playground entertained with tales about being from Venus. In high school I took a creative writing class and wrote short stories. But it took me a long time to realize that authors were actually real people, not distant gods, that I too could write books. Once I discovered this I never looked back. I can no longer remember what it was like to not be a writer, to not look at the world and people and wonder how I can use what's happened or what someone said or did in my writing.
19. If you could go back in time and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?
Don't be so afraid to make a mistake, to try something different, to write crap, to put myself out there. Basically, I'd tell myself to "just do it."
Looking for adventure and a change from her quiet life as a small town grade school teacher, 29 year old DARCY "DC" CAMDEN travels to Paraiso as a nanny for a businessman. Her idealism and compassion for the downtrodden populace draws her into supplying them with food and medicine. Her involvement increases and she agrees to help the rebels overthrow the dictator by hacking into his computer to find information they can use against him.
When the conflict escalates into war DC finds herself on the run with a man she doesn't know whether to fear or trust, hate or love.
Hidden from view by the dense foliage, Jase watched the woman weave her way through the jungle. In seconds she broke out into the clearing.
Breathing hard, she leaned forward and rested her palms on her thighs. Sweat glistened on her bare arms and in the shadowy hollow between her breasts. Thick auburn hair tangled around her face and shoulders.
Who was she? And what in the hell was she doing here? Jase ignored the questions chasing around inside his head. The answers didn't matter. They couldn't matter. Her presence jeopardized his mission. "Tango. 10 o'clock," he whispered into the mike at his throat.
Silent as a snake, a man emerged from the jungle's edge and struck. The woman made no sound as Bull's big hand clamped over her mouth and nose and his arm wrapped vise-like around her slender waist. With her arms pinned to her side, she kicked, banging her sneaker-covered feet against him. She snapped her head back. The crack of her skull against Bull's sounded loud in the quiet jungle clearing. His hold didn't loosen, but the woman sagged in pain.
Jase slid from his cover and strode across the small clearing. The woman's green eyes lit with sudden hope as they met his then dimmed as he spoke to Bull.
"Anyone following her?"
"Three men. Couldn't tell which faction. But they want her bad."
"She lost them about twenty minutes ago by doubling back on her own tracks and taking to water."
Clever girl. Woman. Jase eyed her struggling in Bull's relentless grip.
Her eyes pleaded. Bull's large hand blocked any wisp of air from her straining lungs. Her struggle told the tale. She didn't want to die.
In another minute her wants wouldn't matter.
Over her head Bull's gaze asked for a decision. Live? Or die? The choice was Jase's.
Bull wouldn't blink as he snuffed the life from the woman's slight body. His ability to kill on command was why he was a part of this operation. A good man to have at your back; the wrong one to have as an enemy. A perfect soldier, he followed orders without question. And the orders came from Jase. Any guilt or remorse belonged to him.
Elysa Hendricks is 5'6" tall. She has curly hair and brown eyes. She's an author, a wife, a mother and a daughter. Everything else is subject to change without notice. But if you insist on knowing more about her boring, beige life (she saves the adventure and excitement for her fictional characters) you can visit her at her web site: http://www.elysahendricks.com or find her hanging out (way too much) on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Elysa-Hendricks-Author/137316289643103