Message From The Author
Where in the World is Cherry Adair?
THE T-FLAC AUTHOR SPANS THE GLOBE WITH HEROIC WIZARD OPERATIVES IN HER LATEST BACK-TO-BACK TRILOGY
By Lauren Spielberg
Cherry Adair doesn't believe in making people wait. Not when it comes to reading her latest T-FLAC paranormal trilogy, at least! And while the author jokes about vaguely recalling the days back when she had a life -- otherwise known as pre-trilogy -- she also extols the virtues of "instant gratification" when it comes to releasing three books back to back.
Night Fall (Ballantine) jump-starts the trilogy this month, with T-FLAC (Terrorist Force Logistical Assault Command) operative Simon Blackthorne short on his luck in Africa. Assigned to shadow a foreign president's new publicist, he finds his wizarding powers short-circuiting whenever he's around his target, Kess Goodall. Sleuthing out whether Kess is friend or foe is no easy feat for Simon, especially with his powers in unsettling disrepair.
Adair continues the action-packed series with November's Night Secrets -- and things are looking to get mighty steamy! She pairs a disgraced journalist with a disappearing (quite literally; this is Adair's world after all) T-FLAC counterterrorist wizard to expose the threat of biological weapons infiltrating major cities. Lucas Fox entrusts his secret identity to Sydney McBride, secretly plotting to modify her memory once he accomplishes his modest goal of saving the world.
Last in the trilogy -- although in no means the last of the T-FLAC single titles -- will be Night Shadow, out in hardcover in December. This time two new T-FLAC operatives, Alex and Lexi, get together to overthrow the Drones, a group of rebellious wizards dedicated to thwarting the T-FLAC operation. Adair re-introduces heroes Lucas and Simon from the first two novels, opening them up to even more danger and, yes, plenty of heroism.
Naturally, the trilogy is linked via the unflappable T-FLAC operatives and exotic locales. However, the author also bound her three heroes in another way. "Simon, Lucas and Alex are foster brothers, of sorts," Adair shares. "They're also powerful wizards and they work for T-FLAC/psi [paranormal division]. One is thoughtful, one is stern, one's a joker.
"Kess, Sydney and Lexi are all very different women," Adair continues, "but they have some things in common: They're brave, they're smart and they know a good thing when they meet him."
In a piece of fun Adair trivia, the T-FLAC series debuted as a category romance in 1994, under the Harlequin Temptation imprint. The Mercenary introduced the world to the T-FLAC initiative -- which at the time did not include magically inclined operatives -- and most importantly, Marc Savin. When pressed, the author reveals that Marc is her favorite hero in the series.
"Writing The Mercenary was great fun, and as part of the process, I created a whole world for Marc Savin, thinking maybe I might write another T-FLAC story about another counterterrorist operative," she says. "That opportunity became a reality when Ballantine bought the next book as a single title in 2000. Harlequin was kind enough this year to reprint an updated version of The Mercenary, so new and recent fans can now read that HQN book to see how it all started."
Adair's move to paranormal was born in yet another back-to-back trilogy she masterminded in 2006, with the Edge brothers front and center in Edge of Danger, Edge of Fear and Edge of Darkness. Those USA Today bestselling novels showcased for the first time the T-FLAC/psi paranormal division. But how do the two departments -- magical and nonmagical -- differ, apart from the obvious?
"The operatives in T-FLAC's psi division have paranormal powers. So they can do anything I tell them to do," Adair explains, laughing. "The regular operatives are simply extraordinary, well-trained special ops personnel, very much like the men and women working in black ops all over the world today. Since T-FLAC is a privately funded organization, they have their own rules and code of ethics and behaviors to adhere to.
"I've used various branches of the military as models for some of that framework, including training, so my T-FLAC guys are a compilation of Navy SEALs, Marines and other branches of the military. In other words, my real-life heroes."
While the single-title T-FLAC novels don't need to be read in any particular order, Adair does encourage readers to embrace the chronology of her trilogies. "Those books are best read in order because the story arc spans all three books," she explains.
Balancing life with writing and deadlines for a trilogy sometimes felt as challenging as one of her own characters' death-defying missions. "Life?" she asks playfully. "A social life? Vacations? Going to a movie? I remember those ... vaguely. Writing back-to-back trilogies can be tough. And life doesn't get put on hold, it's indefinitely postponed for the duration and beyond. And it's not just the time necessary to write the books.
"There's plotting, massive amount of research, revisions on book one while researching and plotting book two, plotting/researching book three ... . And on it goes. Sometimes all of this can be overwhelming, but for the most part I totally love the insanity of it all. I am striving to work on better time management. It's good to have goals."
Another goal ticked off her to-do list was the design of her websites, cherryadair.com and tflac.com, which went live at the end of April. Adair, a former interior designer, teamed up with the Seattle Design Group and graphic artist Virginia Finucane to bring to life an elaborate labor of cyber love.
Adair explains the site's many intricacies: "Visitors will find dossiers on my operatives, pictures associated with the different missions my characters have been on, as well as interviews, book excerpts and more to entertain them. It takes over an hour just to look at the images alone. Do something in moderation? Not me!
"Frankly, while I find the site engrossing and riveting," she laughs, "I never expected anyone else to spend hours upon hours there, so I was stunned to discover that thousands of my readers are doing just that. That said, it's ridiculously elaborate and interactive for an author site. I've seen and admired the most simple, clean, easily navigated sites, with absolutely no bells or whistles, and loved them just as much. I suspect my website has become my favorite hobby."
While her next accomplishment just may be fitting a nap into her schedule, Adair is also hard at work finishing the Black Flower trilogy, which started with Hot Ice and White Heat. It's another venture into the nonparanormal T-FLAC world, and although the book is currently without a title, Adair promises, "It's going to have a big finish." What's more, this past summer she contributed a T-FLAC story to Rescue Me, an anthology from St. Martin's, where she shared billing with Lora Leigh and Cindy Gerard.
The T-FLAC world keeps expanding, and with Adair at the helm, there's no foreseeable end in sight.
Excerpt from Night Fall
While he was a gift of sartorial splendor, even wearing plain jeans and a bright white T-shirt, she was a mess. After traveling, at breakneck speed, for four hours through the bush in an open jeep, and after spending three nights sleeping on the ground, she needed a shower and a change of clothes. Desperately. He'd smiled in the hallway, but he wasn't smiling now.
She probably stunk to high heaven. "I have to go home and change. And shower," she tacked on quickly.
"I'll go with you."
"You'll go w-- " Her heart did a little tap dance at the image of this man squeezed into her tiny shower stall with her. Wet skin. Soap. Slippery skin on slippery skin. "What? No," she said a little too vehemently. "I mean, no, just wait for me downstairs. I'll be back in an hour." Fifty-six minutes of that scrubbing off bushveldt.
He glanced back at President Bongani. "The supply trucks will be here -- "
"At three," the president told him.
Kess wasn't waiting another four hours to start back. "Oh, yeah. Okay. I'll meet you downstairs at three. You'll need to bring a sleeping bag and enough supplies for three or four days."
She bet not. The man looked like he could handle just about anything. Good to know, because he was in for a shock when he saw the condition of the villagers. "I hope you have a strong stomach." She wanted to put him off. She really, really didn't want the distraction of him in the medical camp. "It's really bad. Lots of blood, people throwing up everywhere. No proper toilets -- "
"I get the picture," he said, cutting off her litany of gross things he should anticipate.
"Don't worry, Kess." The president clasped his friend on the shoulder. "Simon can handle anything."
"I'm sure he can." She sounded as gloomy as she felt. It was going to be impossible to concentrate with the guy around. Kess wanted to lean into him just a little, to inhale the dizzying fragrance of his skin. Damn he smelled good. There was a faint tang of citrus mixed in with the fresh smell of the sea. He smelled ... lickable.
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