In Memory of Aimee Thurlo

Paula Graves

COOPER JUSTICE: COLD CASE INVESTIGATION
Harlequin Intrigue
Hitched and Hunted - April 2011
The Man from Gossamer Ridge - May 2011
Cooper Vengeance - June 2011
1) What's your new book about?
Cooper Justice: Cold Case Investigation, a Harlequin Intrigue trilogy starting in April, solves the years-old mystery of who killed Brenda Cooper, the wife of eldest Cooper brother J.D. Cooper. Twelve years ago, while J.D. was in the Navy, his wife Brenda was murdered while working a late night shift at an isolated trucking company. Her murder has never been solved--until now. In my April book, Hitched and Hunted, married couple Jake and Mariah find themselves running for their lives when Mariah's checkered past comes back to haunt them. But they also uncover an important clue to the identity of Brenda Cooper's killer. In May's The Man from Gossamer Ridge, Gabe Cooper gets a chance to redeem himself for the thoughtless act he believes led to Brenda's murder when Alicia Solano, a pretty criminal psychology instructor, brings him in on her investigation of a string of recent murders she believes may be connected to Brenda's murder twelve years ago. But when Alicia becomes the killer's next target, can Gabe come through for her the way he failed to come through for his sister-in-law? And in the final book of the series, June's Cooper Vengeance, Brenda's widower J.D. goes back to Brenda's hometown to investigate te murder of a woman he believes may be the killer's latest victim. But the victim's sister, Sheriff's Deputy Natalie Becker, has her own theory of who's behind her sister's murder, putting her and J.D. at odds. Can they join forces to get to the truth when they can't even agree on the motive for the latest murder?

2) How do you balance your work and your life?
Lots and lots of organization. I set myself a schedule and do my best to keep to it. I'm not married and I don't have children, which takes some of the pressure off. But I do live in a household with my retired mother and my disabled sister and her two children. Plus, I work a full-time job. So I have to work around my day job, and I have to be really strict with myself when I'm on a deadline. I'm a plotter, fortunately. I don't think I could write quickly enough to pull this balancing act off if I were someone who wrote by the seat of my pants.

3) What's your writing process-- do you work from outlines or do you prefer off-the-cuff?
Definitely from an outline, at least where the mystery plot is concerned. The outline may change as I go, but the basic structure rarely changes. I usually come up with the major plot points, the twists, the character basics, and I lay it out in a short chapter by chapter listing that I use as I write. If a plot point changes, I'll take a minute to stop and update the outline, because I'm usually racing to finish a book as it is. I need to have a good, consistent roadmap to work from. However, I do plot the relationship between the characters a little more loosely. I still try to plan out the map of the relationship--where they come upon their various romantic realizations--but those are the elements that are more likely to change for me as I write, as the characters take control of the reins and set the pace they want.

4) What advice would you give a new writer wanting to break in?
Start thinking of writing as a business. Right now. Realize you're going to have to write to deadlines, so get yourself into the habit of writing on a schedule. Realize you're going to be dealing with editors and agents who are just as capable of Googling as you are, so comport yourself as a professional online. And write. Write hard. Write as well as you can. Listen to good advice from people who have been where you want to be. It's fine to reject advice from time to time--nobody's right all the time, even professionals--but at least take a little time to consider the advice with an open mind. Write and polish and submit--then start something new. Don't cling to what you've already sent off to an editor or an agent. Even if by some miracle you sell the first thing you submit, the first question out of the editor's mouth after you've settled the particulars will be, "What else do you have to look at?" So be sure you do have something else for an editor to look at. Be kind to people--they could be potential readers. Besides, kindness is something you should always strive for.

5) Where do you get your ideas?
Anywhere. Everywhere. Songs, documentaries, news reports, Tweets on Twitter, dreams--anything that sparks you to ask, "What if...?"

6) Who are your favorite authors?
I have so many, across so many genres. I love Dean Koontz, especially his Odd Thomas books. I'm crazy about all the Harlequin Intrigue authors--and I'm especially thrilled that one of my long-time favorites, Gayle Wilson, has a new Intrigue coming out in August of this year, her first in several years. I love Jane Austen and Mark Twain, Pat Conroy and Dick Francis. Love JK Rowling's Harry Potter series--very re-readable. I'm a re-reader--I can read a good book any number of times and still find something to love about it.

7) Is there anything you'd like to tell your readers?
I love to hear from my readers. If you'll visit my website, www.paulagraves.com, there's a "contact" link on the page. That will send an email to me, and I'd love to hear from you. It's okay if you didn't like my book--I'd like to hear why it didn't work for you. Maybe I can learn from what you have to say. And, of course, if you love it, I'd like to hear that, too! I hope you enjoy my books as much as I love writing them!

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