Tamara Morgan Dishes on Her Favorite Heists

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Who hasn't stayed up late rewatching Mr. & Mrs. Smith for the umpteenth time? We love a story with a hero and heroine at odds, and Tamara Morgan's Stealing Mr. Right (Sourcebooks, Mar.) definitely delivers. Heroine Penelope Blue is a wanted jewel thief, but her husband? He's the FBI agent after her! Read an excerpt here, and enjoy a behind-the-scenes look at the book from Tamara Morgan herself below. 
Writing about a jewel thief is a complicated, sophisticated endeavor that mostly requires me to sit on the couch with a pad of a paper and a stack of heist movies. 
I know, I know. It’s not as authentic as riding along with an FBI agent to uncover a ring of actual thieves or visiting jewelry stores and asking them about their sophisticated security systems, but let’s be honest. In the world of fiction — books, movies, or otherwise — real heists aren’t very much fun. 
Take the recent heist of $6 million in jewelry taken from a Manhattan wholesaler on New Year’s Eve as an example. The headlines make it sound pretty cool, what with all the diamonds they stole and the timing of the theft to coincide with the dropping of the ball in Times Square, but the actual details leave something to be desired. The thieves had keys to the freight entrance. They knew the combinations ahead of time, so all they had to do was open the safes up and take what they wanted. And then they left by the stairs. The stairs, of all things. 
There’s also the small matter of them taking something that didn’t belong to them. Which, let’s face it, isn’t exactly heroic behavior.
That’s why I get most of my research from fictional heists. Not only are they much less harmful to the general human population, but they tend to be a lot more intricate and entertaining than the real deal. We’re talking explosions and contortionists and plans so intricate and detailed they take years to develop. Call me a traditionalist, but I’ll take C4 and a fast-talking greaseman over a tame stairwell exit any day. 
To help accomplish this goal, I make it a point to absorb as many caper-style movies and TV shows as I can. I’m not above enjoying the usual blockbusters: Ocean’s Eleven, Entrapment, The Italian Job. I also love several of the not-as-well-known options like Gambit, Layer Cake and Sexy Beast. (And I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I am at any mention of the forthcoming Ocean’s Eight.) Basically, if it has an irreverent con man, criminal, or thief in it, I’m there. 
I also try to keep with the latest in theft tech, which probably has me on about fifty watchlists, but is really fun anyway. One of my recent favorites is the use of magnets to open safes. Although the real guys doing this kind of stuff are locksmiths using small magnets and small safes to prove how easy access can be for determined thieves, it’s fun to think about how their methods could be applied in a larger context. Car yard magnets and lifting an entire wall of safety deposit boxes out of a bank, maybe? Ooh, that might be fun. 
Unfortunately, the one thing that’s lacking from most of the movies I watch is the strong romantic component. Oh, sure, there’s usually a romance involved, but it almost always takes a back seat to the heist itself. And that’s fine — especially if we’re talking action movies — but I don’t pretend to be an author of action-adventure fiction. I’m a romance writer first and foremost. 
That’s what I love best about writing a “heist romance” like Stealing Mr. Right. I get to combine all my favorite elements of caper movies, throw in some Mythbusters-style tech, and also showcase two people falling deeply and profoundly in love. All the safe-cracking in the world can’t compete with that.
For now, I’ll continue to scour the headlines for news about real-world heists, and I may even gather up the nerve someday to call up a jewelry store and ask them about their ductwork, but movies have always been and always will be my main inspiration. 
Popcorn and a lockpicking kit are optional.  
— Tamara Morgan
Who else wants to have a movie night? Read an excerpt from Stealing Mr. Right here and pre-order your copy from one of these retailers: Amazon | B&N | iTunes | Indiebound