FBI Agents, Detectives and Marshals—Oh My!

Inspirational author Irene Hannon has transitioned from writing contemporary series books to creating tales of romantic suspense. Discover which classic tales of suspense inspired the author to try her hand at this new genre and find out what she's learned as she starts her second romantic suspense series.

When I decided to dip my toes into romantic suspense after writing 20+ contemporary series romances, I knew I’d be entering a whole new world.

It wasn’t going to be Kansas anymore.

And taking such a plunge is always a little scary.

But I’ve loved romantic suspense ever since my Nancy Drew days. In fact, my first novel—now buried in the deepest, darkest corner of my closet, where it shall forever remain—was a romantic suspense. And it was bad. Really bad. I didn’t have the law enforcement background to write that kind of book, nor was the internet around in those days. So I went with contemporary romance.

A few years ago, however, the urge to write romantic suspense returned.

But there was one little problem. The genre had changed. A lot. Many of the books were filled with grisly murders, depraved villains, graphic sex, enough four letter words to make Howard Stern blush and sheer horror a la Stephen King.

That’s not what I wanted to write.

But could I sell if I bucked the trend?

My original plan was to test the waters with one book. However, when two hunky friends of my hero begged me to tell their stories, too—what could I do?

So I wrote three books, which became my Heroes of Quantico series. And I did them all on spec. No contract.

It was a huge risk.

But I had high hopes. I liked the stories. I liked the characters. And I’d done my homework. My one law enforcement contact led me to many others—an FBI agent, a U.S. marshal, police detectives, chemists, doctors, attorneys, judges, a hypothermia expert…my roster of sources kept growing. I also attended our local citizen police academy, which included a heart-pounding ride-along with a patrol officer. (The poor guy had to practically peel my fingers off the dashboard after one high-speed burglary response!) And of course, I now had the internet, too!

As it turns out, my confidence in these stories wasn’t misplaced. Not only did the series find a home, but all three books became best-sellers and garnered a number of honors in 2010, including a Daphne du Maurier award and an RT Reviewers’ Choice award. Plus, one was named a RITA finalist!

As 2011 gets under way, I’m excited about the launch of my Guardians of Justice series, which features two brothers and a sister bound by blood and a passion for justice. Fatal Judgment, which revolves around a U.S. deputy marshal, a federal judge—and a killer on the hunt—has just hit the shelves.

So if you’d like to try a romantic suspense book without excessive violence, graphic sex, profanity-laced dialogue or horror, check it out. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. As RT said in its review, “Hannon’s ability to write scenes that cause readers to feel uneasy and to second-guess their safety always makes her stories page-turners.”

As for my journey away from Kansas—I’m loving every minute of it!

Happy reading—and happy new year—to all!

- Irene Hannon

You can now enjoy the first novel in Hannon's second series of Inspirational romantic suspense novels. Fatal Judgment is on shelves now!