Julie Ann Walker is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of award-winning romantic suspense. She has won the Book Buyers Best Award, been nominated for the National Readers Choice Award, the Australian Romance Reader Awards, and the Romance Writers of America's prestigious RITA award. Her latest release was named a Top Ten Romance of 2014 by Booklist. Her books have been described as "alpha, edgy, and downright hot." Most days you can find her on her bicycle along the lake shore in Chicago or blasting away at her keyboard, trying to wrangle her capricious imagination into submission.
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First off, can you tell us a bit about you?
I would love to! I mean, it's one of my favorite topics! :-D Okay, in all seriousness, I grew up in rural Oklahoma, majored in mathematics, and taught high school for seven years before throwing my hat into the publishing ring. Now I live in downtown Chicago with my super supportive husband. I love to spout movie quotes and song lyrics - usually to the annoyance of family and friends. And the main item on my bucket list is to visit 100 countries before I, you know, kick the bucket. No small feat, but I've been to 46 so far and am trying to hit 1 or 2 new spots each year... between hellacious book deadlines. *looks around to see if publisher is reading*
Did you always want to be a writer?
Ha! Not in the least. Wait... that sounded bad, didn't it? What I meant to say is that I always wanted to be a reader. Before becoming a contracted author, I would read anywhere from 4-6 books a week. I gobbled up romances, mysteries, and thrillers faster than my local bookstore could supply them, and certainly faster than my husband could install more bookshelves in our house - which resulted in towering stacks of paperbacks in just about every corner. (Truly, it was/is an issue.) But sometime in early 2010 I had this idea about a story that centered around secret government agents using a custom motorcycle shop as their cover. Sort of Hells Angels meets Mission Impossible. I scoured my library, my local Barnes & Noble, and all online resources trying to find a book or series that told this particular tale. When I couldn't find it, I sat down at the keyboard to write it myself. And the rest, as they say, is history...
What kind of writer are you? Panster or Plotter?
I'm a total pantser. Well, that's not 100% true. I have incredibly detailed character outlines. I know the way all my characters talk and think, their likes and dislikes, their idiosyncrasies and motivations. I know each of my characters' histories, their fears, their triumphs and their failures. All of that is to say, I'm a plot-pantser and a character-plotter. Does that make any sense whatsoever? LOL!
Where do your ideas come from?
Because I write romantic suspense, I take things from the headlines and ask myself the "what if?" question. What if there was a female CIA agent who had assets imbedded inside the Islamic State? What would she do, what would she risk, to keep their identities hidden? What if the government incorrectly listed one of their agents as "rogue?" What would this agent have to do to clear his name? It starts out with a small spark ignited when I ask myself "what if?" and then I put my butt in the chair, my fingers on the keyboard, and I fan that spark until it turns into a flame.
A la Twitter style, can you describe your book (or series) in 140 characters or less.
As hot, hard, & heavenly to look at as their custom-made Harley choppers, the men of Black Knights Inc. will steal your breath & your heart!
What are some of your favorite kinds of stories to read?
I like anything that combines romance, mystery, and adventure. Which is probably why I write romantic suspense. The genre encompasses all those elements. But currently I'm reading Shana Galen's Lord and Lady Spy series. It's sort of like romantic suspense set in the Regency era so it adds in the historical angle. I'm here to say it's so much frickin' fun!
Do you have a favorite book and if so what is it?
Oy! That's a hard one. I have hundreds of books that I love and have reread. Christine by Stephen King comes to mind. That book still scares the bajeezus out of me. Anne Of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery is another. It was the first book I read as a young girl that made me consider "adult" issues. And I love, love, love The Fault In Our Stars by John Green. The movie just doesn't do it justice. If you haven't read that book, do so. NOW!!!
What are the scenes that are the hardest for you to write?
The emotional, gooey scenes. Shhhh, don't tell that to other romance writers whose bread and butter is emotional goo. Believe me, I love to read it. But writing it is a slog for me. I love banging out action and sex scenes, but emotions? So hard to get just right.
If you could have dinner with any three authors, who would you choose and why?
#1 - Suzanne Brockmann because she's the reigning queen of romantic suspense and the whole reason I write in the genre. I would fan-girl her so hard!
#2 - Beverly Cleary because she's the reason I developed a mad love for reading at a young age. Her Ralph S. Mouse series and Ramona and Beezus series are some of the best children's' stories every written.
#3 - Hunter S. Thompson because the man was a crazy, drug-addled whackadoo who was equal parts brilliant and incomprehensible. He'd be so fun to share a couple bottles of wine with, don't you think?
Last question, are you working on anything right now?
I am! I just finished Hell or High Water, the first book in my new Deep Six romantic suspense series. It debuts July, 2015. I have a charity anthology coming out in May of 2015 titled Way of the Warrior, and all author and publisher proceeds are pledged to the Wounded Warrior Project - I'm insanely proud of this endeavor. And I'm currently in the middle of writing the next Black Knights Inc. book. So many more mission, so much more mayhem to pen!
Thanks so much for having me on Ramblings From This Chick today. It was a treat!
She Needs a Hero...
Abby Thompson didn't sign up to be the daughter of the President of the United States. The position was forced on her by the small matter of her birth. Preferring a quiet life of study, she's content to leave the politics and the international intrigue to her father. Unfortunately, the most powerful man on the planet is sure to make enemies. When a group of armed thugs takes her hostage half a world away, demanding the U.S. government release prisoners in exchange for her safe return, she fears her father's policy of "not negotiating with terrorists" means she'll never see the shores of the Potomac again. Luckily, there's one glimmer of hope. His name is Carlos Soto. And though she abruptly ended things with him years ago, she knows now he's the only man who can save her…
Black Knights, Inc. to the Rescue...
Carlos "Steady" Soto has taken part in his fair share of dangerous missions working at the covert government defense firm of Black Knights Inc. But nothing prepared him for the emotional rollercoaster he faces when he's tasked with rescuing the only woman he ever loved-who also broke his heart. Racing against time and outmaneuvering a group of trained terrorists will take everything he's got. Plus there's the heat simmering between them which is threatening to ignite into an inferno. While ruthless enemies stalk them, they must learn to trust each other again. Even if they do make it out alive, will Abby turn her back on him... for the second time?
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