Message From The Author
a Q&A with Suzanne Brockmann
September marks the release of Suzanne Brockmanns newest single title, Over the Edge, the third in her series, The Troubleshooters, for Ivy Books. This romantic adventure gives readers another fix of intrepid Navy SEAL Team Sixteen, first introduced in her Tall, Dark and Dangerous series
The teams latest mission is to rescue a hijacked airliner holding, among others, the head of the FBI and the daughter of a U.S. Senator. Senior Chief Stan Wolchonok and Lt. Teresa Howe are suddenly called from their training mission to assist with the hostage situation. In the process, they learn a thing or two about themselves and their own desires. The story also interweaves two other storylines: one being the tense but titillating relationship between Tall, Dark and Dangerous favorite Sam Starrett and Alyssa Locke, a female FBI counterterrorist agent; the other concerns Helga, an elderly Jewish woman with Alzheimers who has flashbacks of her childhood in World War II-era Denmark, the only European country to actively protect all their citizensincluding the Jewish onesfrom the Nazis.
I had a chance to speak with Ms. Brockmann, who shared her thoughts on the appeal of the single-title format, Navy SEALs and Casablanca.
RT: I was struck by the description of the characters as caught between duty and destiny. Why do you think thats significant?
Romantic heroes tend to be guys trying to be in control. But love is an emotion that you cant control. My number one rule in creating believable heroes is to find where the characters are vulnerable and make them deal with things they dont want to.
RT: So its the tension between the armor and the chink in the armor?
Right. These heroes take on the role of the superman. But deep inside, theyre vulnerable. Particularly the military guys, they have this idealistic view of things. So when they fall, they fall really hard.
RT: Would you say theyre even more romantic than most heroes?
Yeah, once you get past the hard outer shell, you get to the chewy soft inside. (Laughs.)
My heroines tend to be pretty tough, but pretty sensitive. They learn to look beyond the facade these guys put up.
Stan is a guy whos used to taking care of other people. Hes Mr. Fix-It. And he doesnt see himself ever finding love. Teri works her way under his skin. She does little things for him that hes always done for others. Hes surprised by how much he wants to be loved and taken care of.
RT: And what are your heroines struggles?
I wanted this to have elements of Beauty and the Beast, as well as Cyrano de Bergerac. Teri is beautiful and intelligent, but also shy, introverted. In the helicopter, shes in control and safe, but in social situations, shes not. She finds it hard to confront people. A lot of women go out of their way to avoid conflict. They let themselves get hurt. Stan makes her feel at ease. He teaches her how to stand strong. So she learns to stand up for what she wants and what she wants is him! She really comes into her own, much to his chagrin!
RT: The words describing the SEALS are very strong: courage, code of honor, discipline. What is it about these qualities that appeals to you?
In a way, they have elements of the historical romancethe knight in shining armor. We live in a society where we dont have too many heroes. To me, theres something heroic in the military lifestyle. The SEALS work is to prevent wars from happening; they want to do the right thing.
RT: What can fans of Tall, Dark and Dangerous expect from this single-title series, The Troubleshooters?
I set out to take the most popular elements of Tall, Dark, and Dangerousa team of men closer than brothersand make it more realistic, use more gritty language. I mean, theyre sailors, thats how sailors talk! The readers and I know these characters so wellits really enjoyable to go back into that world.
Also, in these books, I can have broader stories with subplots. The longer format of the single title gives more opportunities to expand with secondary characters.
RT: What do these secondary characters and subplots bring?
Readers are interested in going to new places. Since Ive always been a WWII buff, I knew I wanted to include that at some point. The history of WWII Denmark is eye-opening, really enlightening. And I love being able to use elderly characters [like Helga] in my stories. It adds another texture. Were living in an age when people live longer. So the elderly play a part in our society, but we tend to overlook them. I wanted to say to the world, Just because youre old, doesnt mean youre useless.
Often [in romance novels] you have what I call a Gilbert and Sullivan ending, where everyone ends up with the perfect partner. But [in subplots] you can have unhappy or bittersweet endings. I think romance readers are ready for that. For example, Casablanca doesnt have a happy ending, but its so poignant and moving.
RT: So if its not just about the happy ending, what is it about?
Its about sacrifice. In Casablanca, they do the right thingthere again, its that idea of duty. Theres something cathartic about someone who loses as opposed to someone who always wins. It adds an unpredictability thats missing in romance novels and the reader response to this has been huge!
To learn more about OVER THE EDGE and Suzanne, visit www.suzannebrockmann.com.
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