Elizabeth Lowell is one of the undeniable queens of romance, having written everything from historicals to contemporaries and beyond. In recent years she’s made her writing home straddling the line between mystery and romantic suspense. However, her latest novel, Beautiful Sacrifice, places her firmly on the romance side of the divide. Today we snag five minutes (and five questions) with the incomparable Lowell on Beautiful Sacrifice’s release date! Plus, learn how you can snag your own copy of Lowell's new release at the end of this post!

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From the outside, it seems like Beautiful Sacrifice heroine Lina, the professor, is the brain and hero Hunter, the security expert is the brawn. But your characters are certainly more complex than this. Besides her intelligence and his protective instinct, what do you consider your characters' greatest strengths?

Both characters have integrity and a sense of humor, intelligence (Hunter is hardly a dummy!), passion, courage, and the ability to love. They take responsibility for their own actions and outcomes, rather than making excuses or blaming other people. They are active rather than passive. I wouldn't have them any other way.

While your story has some great suspense moments we have come to love in your writing, Beautiful Sacrifice has a lot more romance than some of your recent releases. What has you returning to your romance roots?

I missed the romance, so I chose a different kind of mystery to solve, one that would allow for more emphasis on the romance without putting brakes on the plot and jerking from romance to mystery and back. That's a good way to get mental whiplash and a choppy read. I also cut out other points of view, which allows the reader to spend more time on the page with the hero and heroine. The result is still a mystery that is solved, but there's more time for play along the way. ;-)

With the Mayan doomsday date coming up this year, readers are seeing lots of books with this prophesy at the core. However, many of these tales are paranormal — not so yours. You ground your work in science. What made you decide to stay away from the supernatural and stay focused in reality?

In this case, what people actually make of the reality of the Maya was as interesting to me and as useful in driving a plot as shape-shifting gods or devils or aliens or whatever. That said, my firm belief that we don't know everything about everything leaves me a lot of room to bend reality into different perspectives. It's a matter of choosing where your descriptive emphasis goes. You can describe the same thing as tranquil or eerie or boring. It's all in the words you choose.

Beautiful Sacrifice is steeped in indigenous culture and religion which is certainly a fertile ground for "what ifs" considering that the Mayan civilization pre-dates Columbus' voyage. Did you ever feel intimidated by taking on such a vast and intricate culture?

Actually, it was exciting. Because I'm writing fiction, I don't have to know a long list of facts, names, dates, etc. I can take pieces of what historians and archaeologists know and imagine different ways of making stories from them. For me, facts are the platform from which I dive into fiction. The process of a novel is rather like cooking. I don't need to learn chemistry to know that some basic ingredients are included in almost all cooking. It is how you blend those ingredients that make individual dishes unique.

Finally, we have to ask — what will you be doing on December 21st, the day of the Mayan prophecy? (Please say it involves working on your next release!)

LOL. I'll be writing, shopping, wrapping gifts, cooking, or all of them in various combinations. I don't need the possibility of catastrophic change to give spice to my life. Ordinary is just fine with me.

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GIVEAWAY ALERT: We're giving away three hardcover copies of Beautiful Sacrifice. To enter to win one, leave a comment telling us your favorite aspect of romantic suspense. You can also e-mail your response, along with your mailing address, with the subject "Elizabeth Lowell Giveaway" here. Winners will be announced June 1. U.S. addresses only please.

BLOG UPDATE 6/1/2012: The winners are Lissette Martinez, mrsworldwidewebb and remlegault.

Want more? You can pick up your own copy of Elizabeth Lowell’s Beautiful Sacrifice in stores now. And to keep up with all the latest genre news and reviews be sure to stop by RT’s Everything Romance Page

Tags: RT Daily Blog, Romance
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