Message From The Author
WITH A SEXY NEW ACTION ROMANCE, SUZANNE BROCKMANN IS ON THE VERGE OF SUPERSTARDOM
By Alexandra Kay
IN HER 12 YEARS AS A ROMANCE author, Suzanne Brockmann has signed a
lot of autographs. She's signed at bookstores across the country, tirelessly scribbling greetings for fans who sometimes braved blizzards to attend her readings. She's signed at conventions, attracting lines of book lovers
so long even Nora Roberts might be envious. She even signed in the bathroom of a New York hotel once.
Why all the fuss? Brockmann knows what readers want: characters they can relate to,
a hero they can daydream about and, most importantly, an author they can feel con-
nected to. As a result of her hard work
and dedication, she's become one of the genre's fastest rising stars.
While the New York Times bestselling author has written more than 40 books, it's her Troubleshooter series, featuring the buff and brawny members of Navy SEAL team 16 that really put her on the map as a master of romance fiction.
But it's not only her writing talent that keeps readers so devoted. Brockmann's positive attitude has also won over fans. "She laughs, cries and listens to us," says reader Cindy Olp. Adds Nancy Fecca, "She is a part of our family. She's the kind of person who gives
The admiration is definitely not one-sided. Brockmann cares about and appreciates her readers just as much as they do her (in case you couldn't tell from the bathroom incident). In fact, she credits much of her success to their loyalty. "My readers are the nicest, smartest, most wonderful people, and I am incredibly lucky," the 44-year-old author enthuses. "If it weren't for them,
I wouldn't be where I am."
Beyond hours spent talking to fans at book signings, Brockmann maintains a frequently updated website and message board, where she communicates regularly with her readers. The Boston-based author has even organized events like fan weekends and charity drives for donations for troops on a Navy ship in Iraq.
Her January release from Ballantine, Hot Target, the latest in the Troubleshooter series, is sure to garner just as much attention as her other novels. In it, Brockmann, who is a major film buff, manages to combine both
her loveswriting and movieswhen Navy SEAL Chief Cosmo Richter falls for Hollywood producer Jane Mercedes Chadwick.
Cosmo, like many of Brockmann's wildly popular heroes, is an alpha male with a twist: He's strong and he's deadly, but he's also
intelligent, sensitive and tolerant. All necessary qualities for a Brockmann hero, since the author admits she "has always tried to use characters that reflect the diversity" of her own community.
It isn't just sexy characters that leave readers hungering for more of Brockmann's work, though; both the author and her books appeal to readers for many reasons. "She's not afraid to write about subjects which others consider taboo in romance," says reader Natalie Schlossman.
Indeed, Brockmann has covered such unconventional topics as interracial romance and homosexuality in her novels. One of her readers' favorite characters, in fact, is a gay FBI agent named Jules Cassidy, who appeared for the first time in her second Troubleshooters novel, The Defiant Hero.
While Jules started out as a mere background character, reader response was so great that Suzanne made him a recurring character in her series. Now, in Hot Target, he plays a much larger role and has a romantic subplot of his own. It's one of the fewif not onlytimes a gay character's romantic life has been incorporated into a mainstream romance novel.
"I wanted to bring in a gay character because my son Jason is gay, and I'm very, very aware of the fact that there is so much ignorance in terms of people who don't understand what that means and who are afraid of gay people," says Brockmann. "And here was my opportunity to introduce them to Jules Cassidy. He's a good person, he likes himself, he's someone you'd want as your friend and, oh yeah, he's gay. I didn't want to do any preaching." Jules' popularity with Brockmann fans is a testament to the great job she's done in "introducing" him.
Perhaps Brockmann's characters appeal to readers so much because she so deftly infuses them with some of her own life experiences. In Hot Target, Jane Mercedes Chadwick has a job that Brockmann once dreamed of: movie producer.
Though she's found much success and made a comfortable home for herself in the genre, writing romance fiction wasn't Brockmann's original goal. "Before I started writing romance, I wrote screenplays and TV scripts," she says, "but I was writing, writing, writing and getting nowhere with it."
But the author still aspires to write and produce movies, and she'll make one this April. Brockmann, her husband, Ed Gaffney, and her best friend, Eric Ruben, will take part in the 48-Hour Film Project in April, a traveling competition in which teams have just 48 hours to write, cast, produce, shoot and edit a four- to eight-minute film. Founded last year by film producers Mark Ruppert and Liz Langston, the event has grown in popularity and 2003's winning films were even screened at the prestigious South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin, TX. "We're so psyched about this," she says. "We have a feeling that once we spend a weekend doing it, we'll see that it's not
as hard as we imagine."
Despite her love of film and screenwriting, the author has no intention of ever giving up novel writing. And Brockmann's readers can soon look forward to more great books. There's her eagerly anticipated July release, Breaking Point, in which beloved characters Max and Gina finally get their story. Fans have followed the saga of tormented FBI negotiator Max Bhagat and former hostage Gina Vitagliano throughout the series, beginning in Over the Edge, and the couple will finally take center stage.
"There's such chaos inside Max's head. And as for Gina, well, my intention was to kill her off in Over the Edge," Brockmann says. "But she was like 'Oh, no you don't.' It
was clear to everyone but Max that he'd met his match."
And come this summer, Brockmann won't be the only
published author in the family. Her husband, Ed, wrote a legal thriller, Premeditated Murder, that's coming out in June from Dell. "He often tells people that living with me has been like taking an 11-year writing workshop," says Brockmann with a laugh.
Gaffney's novel revolves around two young attorneys defending a man accused of a horrible multiple homicide in
a small Massachusetts town. "His book is so well written and so filled with personality, and I am so thrilled," she says.
"I'm glad to be able to recommend it to my readers."
It's typical Suzanne Brockmann: kind, generous and
always thinking about others.
Alexandra Kay is a freelance magazine writer, member of the Hudson Valley Romance Writers of America chapter and aspiring romance writer. She lives in Peekskill, NY.
Excerpt from HOT TARGET
The FBI agent drove a rented Mercury Sable. Robin wasn't sure exactly what he'd expected, but it sure as hell wasn't
a four-door family sedan.
The FBI agent was also shorter and younger than he'd imagined, getting out of the car as Robin approached the gate. Compact, with a trim build, he had dark hair that he wore cut short and a face that could have appeared next to Robin's on the cover of Tiger Beat magazine.
He could just imagine this guy's meeting with his high school guidance counselor. "You could be a model or a TV staryou don't really need any acting skills for thator
Oh, here's something just perfect! *NSYNC is looking for new blood..." "Well, you see, Mrs. Smersh, I hate to disappoint you, but I really have my heart set on becoming an FBI agent
"Sorry," Robin called as he came the last few feet down the drive.
"It sticks sometimes."
The gate actually stuck most of the time, and they'd gotten into the habit of leaving it open. But Jane had wanted it closed todayprobably to fool the private security team into thinking she was taking precautions with her safety.
It took him four tries to get the damn thing to work. His smile definitely felt strained around the edges by the time it finally opened.
Now that they were both on the same side of the fence, the agent flashed his badge as he held out his hand. "Jules Cassidy, FBI."
"Robin Chadwick, SAG." They shook hands. "I'm the brother."
"Nice to meet you. SAG?"
"Screen Actors Guild," Robin explained. "Sorry, I have this inability
to not be an asshole, especially when I'm not provoked."
The double negatives didn't stop Jules for even a second, and he laughed, taking off his sunglasses and
Hello. Big eye contact. The FBI guy not only was shorter and younger, but he was also gayer than Robin had expected.
Ever since he'd gone blond to play Hal Lord in American Hero, he'd been hit on by gay men more times than he could count. It had been a little nerve-wracking at first, but he'd learned to remove any potential mystery as quickly as possible.
"Not gay," Robin said now. "Don't waste your energy."
Jules laughed again. He appeared to be genuinely amused.
"You're making some pretty large assumptions, aren't you?"
"Assume everything," Robin told him cheerfully. "That's my motto.
It keeps me out of trouble."
"I would think it might get you into it," Jules countered.
"And still you flirt with me, you devil. What part of 'Not gay,' did you not understand?"
Jules was still laughingand he was pretty damn adorable when he laughed. Harve and Guillermo and Gary the Grip and even Ricco, who was in a long term relationship, were going to swoon when they met him.
"Tell me the truth, Jules Cassidy, FBI," Robin said. "These death threats that my sister isn't taking seriously
? Do we really have
something to worry about here?"
The FBI agent got real serious, real fast, morphing from happy, flirty gay boy into completely grown-up hard-ass with a nearly palpable sense of purpose and a determination that matched his set of giant steel balls. Holy macaroni, Mrs. Smersh. Wherever did you get the idea that Jules Cassidy couldn't act?
"Yes," Jules told him. "You do. Have you ever heard of the
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