Bestselling author Irene Hannon visits Shelf Pleasure
Irene Hannon is the bestselling author of over 40 books, including more than two dozen contemporary romance novels and the Heroes of Quantico and Guardians of Justice suspense series. Her books have garnered many honors, including two RITA Awards from Romance Writers of America, a Carol Award, and two Reviewers’ Choice Awards from RT Book Reviews magazine. In addition, Booklist included one of her novels in its “Top 10 Inspirational Fiction” list for 2011.
Irene talks to us about her latest contemporary romance, That Certain Summer, out now from Revell. Doesn’t the cover just make you want to throw it in your beach bag and curl up by the pool?
Your books are usually described as either edge-of-the-seat suspense or tender, heartwarming romance. How do you straddle both of those very different sides? Do you ever find yourself accidentally combining the elements?
Actually, I combine them all the time—on purpose! My suspense books all have a romantic element, similar to Nora Roberts’ mainstream suspense novels. And while my romances don’t contain life-and-death scenarios, there’s plenty of drama to keep readers turning the pages. Plus, as I pointed out in my author’s note in That Certain Summer, no matter the genre, what interests me most when I write a book are the people on the pages. I want to understand the forces that shaped the characters and the choices they make. The genre I choose is simply a vehicle for delving into the minds—and hearts—of my characters as I put them in challenging situations that test their mettle.
We love the cover for That Certain Summer, which also just received such a nice Publisher’s Weekly review. What are readers who’ve never experienced your writing before in for with that read?
In a nutshell, That Certain Summer is the story of two estranged sisters, an unexpected homecoming, and one grace-filled summer of healing, hope and love. It’s a tale of complex family relationships, transgressions revealed and forgiven, and the complicated process of finding love. I think this book will have great appeal for fans of Debbie Macomber.
How involved are you in the publication process of your novels? Do you have, for example, any say in your covers?
I’m very lucky to be working with a fabulous publisher (Revell) on my long contemporary romances and suspense novels. The entire team involves me in every step along the way, so I have a great deal of input on my covers. For this cover, we looked at three very different options. While the other two were nice, they were very romancey. Since this book contains a lot of women’s fiction elements as well as romance, we chose one that was more intriguing and compelling.
You gave up your day job to write full time. What made you take the leap, and how do you balance your writing time?
I’d been juggling my writing and corporate careers for many years, and as I rose in the ranks at my company I had less and less time or energy for my fiction writing. I finally reached the point where I knew I had to give up one of my careers. It was a very tough decision in many ways, because I truly had a dream day job. Yet as I was struggling with that choice, several things happened that convinced me it was time to focus on fiction. I won the RITA award from Romance Writers of America (the “Oscar” of romantic fiction), I was offered a three-book contract, and new management was put in place in my division at work, which dramatically changed the dynamics—and not for the better. So in the end, the decision was easier than I’d expected—and I’ve never had a single regret. As for balance—I try very hard to achieve it, because writing can take over your life if you let it. Some days I succeed; some days I don’t.
What books are sitting on your own nightstand right now?
No books—just page proofs for my next suspense novel, Trapped, which will be out in September. I don’t have nearly as much time as I’d like to read for pleasure these days.
Anything else you want to tell our readers?
I’m very excited about That Certain Summer, which has been getting great reviews. In addition to the praise from Publishers Weekly and The New York Journal of Books, RT Book Reviews called it “beautiful storytelling” and “a gem of a read.” Can’t ask for more than that! I hope readers who’ve enjoyed my previous books, or who like relationship-based stories, will give this one a try. I’d also invite everyone to visit me on Facebook. I was pulled to that party kicking and screaming last fall, certain it would be a time suck, but I’ve loved having the chance to interact with readers.
Have your own questions for Irene? Leave them in the comments! And learn more and order your copy of The Certain Summer here:
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