Message From The Author
FOR HUMOR, DYNAMIC HEROES AND STALWART HEROINES, THE CODE NAME IS CHRISTINA
By Lauren Spielberg
For some people, hearing voices is a sign of a serious medical condition. For Christina Skye, it's how she devises plots for her bestselling Code Name series.
Code Name: Blondie, a May HQN release, follows a growing
list of hits for the author and her troupe of sexy and stalwart Navy SEALs -- members of the elusive Foxfire Team -- and their lady loves. In Code Name: Nanny (2004), an FBI agent is paired with Navy SEAL Gabe Morgan to protect the daughters of a high-profile assistant district attorney. Hawk Mackenzie, another Foxfire recruit, saves the day -- and prevents a priceless government experiment from landing in the wrong hands in Code Name: Princess (2004), which was Waldenbooks' bestselling romantic comedy of the year. One year later, Code Name: Baby not only marked the furry debut of the Foxfire team's genetically enhanced canines, it was selected for Cosmopolitan's book club and honored by Borders as the Best Romance of 2005. Well received across the board, the series also scored top marks from RT BOOKclub's senior contemporary reviewer, Jill Smith.
While the first two titles were penned for publisher Dell,
the series changed homes in 2005 after being picked up by Harlequin and its HQN imprint. "HQN really does an excellent
job," the Arizona-based author says. "They're open to all kinds of stories. It's great to work with people who love romance!"
Coyly suggesting the possibility of future spin-offs for some of her more beloved secondary characters, most notably the recurring Izzy Teague, she continues, "So long as there are characters yelling at me to write these books, I'll keep doing it." As for keeping the Code Name brand on store shelves for years to come, that's wholly dependent, she remarks, on the characters and the external threats facing them.
"They don't bring these guys out for missing paper clips," she quips. "Believe me, when Navy SEALs are deployed, it has to be serious, not just any domestic disturbance. Each book in the series presents a real and timely threat."
Likening Code Name: Blondie's intrigue, exotic locale and relationship drama to the hit television show Lost, Skye asks, "What's not to like about a man and woman stranded together in the tropics?"
Up-and-coming photographer Miki Fortune is left to fend for herself on a deserted island after narrowly avoiding death, plus the unwanted advances of a wealthy, libidinous producer. After she survives a plane crash and is brought to shore by a mysterious man and his Labrador, she struggles to determine if he means to help or hurt her. Far from a ditzy blonde, Miki is as talented with the camera as she is with a set of knitting needles. And with strange men running loose on the island, she intrepidly finds other, more practical uses for her needles that have nothing to do with yarn or counting rows.
Echoing one of the catchy taglines from her new book, "Sometimes your best weapon is closer than you think," Skye reveled in showcasing bits and pieces of her young, adventurous heroine's personality as an ardent knitter. Not only does
it emphasize Miki's resourcefulness and desire to survive,
it also "peppers the story with a great deal of humor," which Skye pointedly infuses into her series, along with a healthy dollop of suspense.
The multifaceted author picked up the knitting bug herself while in high school, remarking that it's "basically like yoga, with a cool sweater in the end." She continues, "Knitting is very focusing. It's a lot like writing, actually. Play with images, shifting patterns, until finally you come up with something great."
To help promote Code Name: Blondie, Skye has posted several free knitting patterns on her website, including one that was specifically designed for her new Code Name release. "It's a smart, clever pattern that looks like it's advanced but is really quite easy," she says. "I gave the designer two instructions: big needles and big yarn."
Of course, man and woman cannot defeat bad guys with knitting needles alone. Luckily for Miki, help isn't too far behind, even if it comes with a catch. Navy SEAL Max Preston and his military-trained Labrador, Truman, are her rescuers. Although Max worries that Miki may be in cahoots with Enrique Cruz, a former Foxfire operative gone renegade, he can't deny their mutual attraction. Caught in a maelstrom of dangerous fugitives and harsh weather conditions, Miki and Max must learn to trust one another if they're to leave the island in one piece.
"There seem to be two kinds of writers: those who from detailed outlines and those who work from the inside out, carried by their characters. I'm definitely the second kind," Skye says. "I start to agonize when I reach the last chapter. 'What are people going to think,' I ask myself. My feeling is that I'm happy if I know I've done the best job I can. For nine months, I gave all the time and clarity that was in me. I'm constantly revising, stripping away, asking myself if I took out all the boring stuff."
Revisiting characters from prior Code Name books is another Skye trademark, which readers appreciate wholeheartedly. Some of the characters from Code Name: Baby make cameo appearances in Blondie. "Once they got a spot onstage, they took over," Skye says enigmatically, opting not
to name names and ruin the surprise
Despite the usual amount of nerves that goes into the release of her books, Skye is a writer's writer, constantly working on her craft to improve incrementally with each work. "Readers nowadays have so little free time. It's really the responsibility of the writer to make the story jump from line one."
And so long as her characters continue to resonate in her ears, the sky is the limit for Skye and her indomitable series.
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