Message From The Author
Linda Howard Gives Readers A BLONDE, TO DIE FOR
By Lisa Harris
Linda Howard does not have many firsts left to check off her list. The author of ten New York Times bestsellers has written everything from romantic suspense to category romances to historical westerns
during her twenty-plus years in the industry.
But she's found one more mountain to climb: writing a novel entirely in the first-person perspective. "I always thought it would be difficult to tell a story from just one character's point of view, but it was remarkably easy—and a lot of fun," Howard says.
In fact, the voice of the heroine came through to her so strongly, it demanded a schedule-revision. In addition to her one big hardcover release per year, the romantic suspense novel To Die For (Ballantine) was slotted for a December 28 release.
"It was an extra little idea I had, and it was so cute and different that we did a separate contract for it as a mass-market paperback," the author says. "The whole tone of it is different, and in a way, we could do more with it as a paperback than we could as a hardback."
The heroine, described by Howard as smart, sarcastic, optimistic, witty and high-maintenance, sets the tone of the humorous book, which chronicles the thoughts and observations of thirty year old Blair Mallory, a former high school and college cheerleader and current fitness club owner, who fears for her life when she sees a murder.
The murder victim just happens to be a club member who had become a little bit too enchanted by Blair, emulating her in every possible way, from her hairdo to the type of car she drives. Things get worse when Blair is listed as a witness to the murder in her North Carolina town's newspaper and begins to worry that the killer will come after the real target — her! Blair's questions and fears, and a barrage of murder attempts, lead her back into the arms of police lieutenant Wyatt Bloodsworth — the man she swore off years ago.
"They have great chemistry," Howard says. "Wyatt tries to fight it, but he finally just gives up and accepts his fate. He's very alpha but he's smart, and he's well aware of what he's signing on for when he falls in love with Blair."
Fans of the sarcastic heroine, Jaine, of Howard's, Mr. Perfect, will enjoy the novel's comic touches, such as Wyatt's tough-love approach. When Blair can't think of a single enemy who might be targeting her, the clever cop quips, "Then think harder. You're a cheerleader; there must be hundreds of people who'd like to kill you." Says Howard: "The back-and-forth arguing between Blair and Wyatt was a lot of fun. Even Blair's moments
of near death are funny, sort of, because they're seen from her perspective, and her perspective is very different."
Never a cheerleader herself, Howard found the chance to take a walk in Blair's tennis shoes, in To Die For, both freeing and fun: "I'm one of those horribly logical people, but it was fun to enter Blair's world and watch her operate. I think I channeled this character that women can really relate to, because several friends who read the book asked me if I'd used things they'd told me in the past!"
Howard's next novel involves some channeling as well. It's a time-travel mystery called Unraveled, tentatively scheduled for release next July. But there's no telling if the humor in To Die For will grace her next release. "I have a lot less control over my stories than most readers would think. I can't make up the stories or the voices, I can only tell them," she says. "Some of the stories are funny and some of them aren't." We'll just have to wait—in suspense—to find out.
Excerpt from To Die For:
"Blair," he said, coming over to stand way too close.
"Are you all right?"
What did he care? I gave him a startled, faintly alarmed look, like the one women get when some strange man is getting too close and too familiar, and discreetly hitched my chair just an inch away from him. "Uh…yes, I'm fine," I said warily, then subtly changed my expression to one of puzzlement as I stared at him, as if I half-recognized his face but couldn't pull a name out of my memory banks to match it.
I was surprised by the flash of potent anger in his green eyes. "Wyatt," he said curtly.
I backed up a little more. "Why what?" I leaned to the side and looked around him, as if making certain there were still cops within calling distance to protect me if he turned violent—which, to be honest, he looked as if he might.
"Wyatt Bloodsworth." The words dropped from his grim mouth like lead balloons. He wasn't finding my little charade at all funny, but I was having a great time.
I repeated the name silently to myself, moving my lips just a little, then let enlightenment dawn on my face. "Oh! Oh! I remember now. I'm so sorry, I'm terrible with names. How's your mother?"
You can write to Linda at P.O. Box 2099, Gadsden, AL 35903.
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