Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Interview with Marie Force

After graduating college with a double major in journalism and  political science, Marie Force entered the workforce with a small community newspaper - what she calls "the writing equivalent of boot camp."  A few years later she married her Navy husband and spent the next several years traveling the world courtesy of the U.S. Navy and starting a family.  She now resides in Rhode Island with her husband and children, enjoying her job as communications director for a non-profit and writing the books that are making her a contender in the world of romantic suspense.    Please join me in welcoming Marie to The Romance Dish!

We're delighted to have you with us today, Marie! Congratulations on the release of your first e-book with Carina Press, Fatal Affair. It’s been garnering some terrific reviews. Will you tell us a bit about the story?

Thanks so much for having me! Just a reminder that I am at a conference today for the day job and will be in and out throughout the day. Here’s some info about Fatal Affair:

On the morning of the most important vote of Senator John O’Connor’s career he is late—again. His best friend and chief of staff, Nick Cappuano sets off to O'Connor’s apartment expecting to roust him from bed and hoping he is alone. But what Nick finds is that O’Connor, the handsome, amiable Senator from Virginia, has been brutally murdered, and Nick’s world comes crashing down around him. Complicating the disaster, the detective assigned to the case is none other than Sam Holland, Nick’s one-night stand from six years earlier, the woman who broke his heart and haunts his dreams. With six years worth of unfinished business hanging between them and more than a few scores to settle personally and professionally, Nick and Sam set out to find the senator's killer while trying—and failing—to resist the overwhelming attraction between them that seems to have only grown over the years.

It soon becomes clear that the senator’s past holds secrets that not only led to his death but now endanger Nick and Sam as well. Working together to find a killer and to rediscover the love they thought they lost long ago, they must put the past behind them and build a future that offers a world of new opportunities for both of them—including an offer from the Virginia Democrats for Nick to finish the last year of John’s term. You can buy the book at Carina Press.

I love romantic suspense!  Fatal Affair sounds like the kind of book that will keep me happily turning pages late into the night. There’s quite a back story surrounding this book and the next book in the series, Fatal Justice. Will you share with us the journey these two books took to publication and lessons that were learned in the process?

Yes! You’re right, there’s a great story. The full, unabridged version can be found on my website at www.mariesullivanforce.com. Here’s the short story: When we first put Fatal Affair out on submission in 2008, we were told that editors loved the book but not the idea for the series, which features the same couple throughout. I was already halfway through the second book when I learned the first one hadn’t sold. After I had a major pity party, I got busy finishing Fatal Justice. When Carina opened its doors last November saying that no good story should go untold, I figured why not and submitted Fatal Affair. They bought the book on Feb. 18. They bought Fatal Justice on May 18. Fatal Affair was released on June 21 and in the most recent issue of Romantic Times magazine I was listed as a future star of romantic suspense. All that in four months’ time!

Congratulations!  That's a wonderful testament to believing in your product and never giving up!  

As you mentioned above, Sam and Nick will be the lead characters in each of the books in this series. How does writing the same continuing characters in a series differ from writing single-title books with a HEA at the end of each? Do you find one more difficult than the other? More satisfying?

To be honest, after I fought tooth and nail to write this series the way I wanted to, Fatal Justice turned out to be the most challenging book ever. It took me a full year to write, which is about nine months longer than usual. I found it was very difficult indeed to keep up the tension in this newly-in-love relationship, and I really struggled with it. Part of that, probably, was knowing the book would be dead on arrival since the first one hadn’t sold. Working on book 3, I’m already finding it easier because I know this couple and this world so well by now that it’s just like putting on a comfy pair of slippers to re-enter their orbit. It helps that I really and truly love Sam and Nick and feel like I could write them forever and never get tired of them. And don’t worry, each Fatal book ends very happily. I am promising readers equal parts romance, mystery and politics in these books, so you’ll always get a satisfying HEA on the romance front, even though I plan to torture them further in the next book.

LOL!   Sounds like it's going to be a fun ride!  

I thoroughly enjoyed your first two books, Line of Scrimmage and Love at First Flight. Will you continue to write books for paper publication or do you plan to concentrate solely on the e-book market for the foreseeable future?

I’m so glad you enjoyed LOS and L@FF. I love hearing from satisfied readers! That’s the best part of being an author. My next paperback, Everybody Loves a Hero, is out Feb. 1. After that, I’m not quite sure yet what will come next. I hope to continue to do a combination of paperbacks and e-books. My experience with Carina has made a true e-book believer out of me. I really expect that in very short order, e-books are going to claim the majority of the fiction market, and it’s great to be in on the ground floor of what I think will be a very successful endeavor by Harlequin and Carina Press.

As the new owner of a Nook that came with a $50 gift card, I'm looking forward to exploring the e-book universe!  

We love call stories here at the Dish. How did you learn of your first sale? Did you do anything special to celebrate?

September 27, 2007. Not that I know the date by heart or anything! ;-) I was with my cousin attempting to watch the season premier of Grey’s Anatomy. We were kid-free, husband-free and enjoying some fun girl time, except our phones kept ringing. It was starting to drive us a little batty, so when my cell rang AGAIN, we almost ignored it. I’m glad I didn’t because it was my agent letting me know we had an offer for Line of Scrimmage. My cousin and I celebrated all night and never did get around to watching Grey’s that night! It’s hard to believe that was already three years ago. Time flies when you’re having fun!

I sure am glad you answered that phone.  Line of Scrimmage was terrific!  

Marie, you balance a family, a career and a busy writing schedule. How do you manage to keep it all together? Any tips for the unpublished writers out there trying to figure out a way to do it all and do it well?

I wish there was some secret formula I could share to making it all work. I guess what really makes it work are the three things I spend most of my time doing: taking care of my family, working, and writing. All these things bring me joy. I love my kids, especially at the ages they are now, 15 this week and soon-to-be 12. They and my husband are very supportive of my writing career. They know how important it is to me and have ridden the rollercoaster right along with me. I also really love the job that I’ve had for almost 15 years, and it’s rarely ever a chore to go to work (especially since I work from home). Most days are good days, and for that I’m grateful. The writing gig is my passion, and it gives me something to look forward to at the end of a long day. I guess the best tip I can give anyone pursuing this path while balancing numerous other demands is that you have to really, really want it, and more than anything, you have to really love to write. If writing is a painful chore for you, maybe this isn’t the path for you. Loving the writing will make all the difference on the days when the business side doesn’t go the way you wish it would—and that happens often enough that loving the craft is critical to maintaining your sanity.

I agree that loving what you do is the key.  How wonderful for you (and us) that you've found joy in your writing career.  Happy Birthday to your daughter!  I remember she was assisting you and celebrating her birthday the day I met you at RWA last year.  

Time for a whimsical question! You’ve been around boats most of your life. If you were to set sail on a dream adventure, where would you go and what (10 or fewer) fictional characters would you take along with you?

You will laugh, but the last thing in the world I’d ever want to do is sail off on a grand adventure. My idea of fun on the boat is to motor to the mooring, tie up for the day, and then swim, sun, eat, drink and be merry. Even though I grew up on boats, I get quite sea sick when it’s rough. Embarrassing, huh? I’d also probably leave the fictional characters behind since they’d make a lot of noise, which would annoy me when I’m trying to write. :-)

Getting sea sick is no fun but swimming, sunning, eating, drinking and being merry at the dock sure are.  Doesn't sound like a such a bad deal to me! :)

The RWA National Conference is coming up in a couple weeks. Will you be attending? One of the highlights of the conference for readers is the literacy book signing. For what authors would you stand in line to have a book signed?

Yes, I’ll be there, and signing Love at First Flight at the literacy signing. I’m looking forward to that. Since we’re signing we don’t get much chance to wait in the lines, but I’d wait for a signed copy of any Lisa Kleypas, Mary Balogh, Robyn Carr or Nora Roberts book.

Great authors and some of my favorites.  I'd be right there in line with you!

What’s next from the creative imagination of Marie Force?

I’m working on the third Fatal book, Fatal Consequences, and a light contemporary called Posh & Naughty, which is turning out to be so naughty I’ll probably have to publish it under a pen name. ;-)

Oh, now that sounds interesting!  

Marie, thank you so much for visiting with us today and giving us a glimpse into your life and books.  Is there a question you’d like to ask our visitors?

I’d like to know what your readers think of a romance series with the same couple headlining each book, and I’d also ask what makes a character unforgettable to you?

Okay readers, it's your turn to sound off.  Marie will be giving a PDF copy of her new e-book, Fatal Affair to one randomly chosen commenter. 



  1. Hi Marie

    Congrats on the e-book release I loved your first 2 books and really want to read this one. I will have to download it to my pc though I don't have an e-book reader yet, one of my friends read Fatal Affair acouple of weeks ago and said she loved it

    Have Fun

  2. Hey Helen,
    Thanks for checking out Fatal Affair! Hope you enjoy it!

  3. You are such an inspiration! I am still laughing about the naughty book comment! I love being able to follow characters. You get to know them better and see how the evolve.

  4. Hi, Marie! I'm fascinated by the Washington background of your Fatal books. I wrote a blog once pondering the question of why we don't see more romances with political backgrounds. Fatal Affair sounds like something I'll like and can also share with my political scientist sister.

    Mysteries are my second favorite choice when I read fiction, and most of my favorite writers have on-going romantic relationships in their books. Margaret Maron manages to keep me interested in what's happening with Deborah Knott and Dwight Bryant even after their wedding, and I've been waiting forever to learn what's next for Julia Spenser-Fleming's Clare Fergusson and Russ Van Alstyne. But killing off a main character is taboo for me. I don't join the fury of frenzied fans proclaiming that a writer "has no right" to such a choice, but I do stop buying and reading the books.

  5. Hi, Marie. I think a series with the same couple headlining it is a great idea, especially if it's Sam and Nick. I just adore those two.

    And it's hard to say what makes a character unforgettable, but I think it's the same thing that makes him/her interesting in the first place. They do and say the things that we only think, and while they may suffer for it, they do spark change all around them.

  6. Hi Helen! Like you, I also loved Marie's first two books. I'm looking forward to reading Fatal Affair!

  7. Hi Marie! I hope your conference is going well. Thanks for popping in this morning!

  8. Monie said; I am still laughing about the naughty book comment!

    Wasn't that great? I'm still chuckling too. :)

  9. Janga said; I'm fascinated by the Washington background of your Fatal books. I wrote a blog once pondering the question of why we don't see more romances with political backgrounds.

    I'm with you, Janga. I would think the political arena would be teeming with story ideas for romance. I'm a long-time fan of political thrillers and a long-time fan of romances. Put the two together and I'm sold!

  10. Welcome, Keena! Glad you stopped by!

  11. Hi everyone,
    PJ, thanks for holding down the fort for me today. I told PJ that I am at a conference today for my day job. Picture RWA but for accountants rather than romance writers and my company would be the RWA staff in this scenario, so it's a busy week for us!

    I'm glad you all got a kick out of the naughty comment. It's quite QUITE naughty, but I do surprise myself with how much I enjoy writing that heat level. Perhaps my contemporaries will head in the direction of erotica. One never knows! I'll make sure to cue you in if I do go the pen name route! My security word for this post is "blenis" as in rhymes with... LOL! Should I take that as a sign????

    Keena, thanks for the shout out for Sam and Nick. So glad you enjoyed them so much. And PJ, can you even believe it's already my daughter's bday again? Wasn't that five minutes ago? I'll never forget her meeting Nora Roberts after the Ritas and letting Nora know it was her bday and having their picture taken together. It was soooo awesome!

  12. Hey Marie! Welcome to The Romance Dish!

    I have heard a lot of great things about Fatal Affair, and it sounds like a wonderful read.

  13. Congrats on your release!
    I think a series with the same lead characters would be great.
    What makes some characters unforgettable is being able to really understand them, it's almost like you know them.

  14. Hi, Marie. I've heard great things about your books. They're on my TBB list. I look forward to meeting you at RWA!

    My hubby was in the Navy for 21 years, so I can relate to the travel. I loved it!

  15. Hi, Marie! Congrats on Fatal Affair--as I've mentioned before, I didn't think I was a fan of a series that followed a single couple, but I think you could convince me otherwise! Can't wait to read all the titles in this series of yours!

  16. Thanks to everyone who stopped by for my visit. I am now home from the first conference in Orlando and gearing up for RWA at which I get to be JUST a participant. Yay! Thanks for all the great feedback on my series idea, and Fedora, I'm out to make a believer out of you! :-)