I’m pleased and honored to welcome New York Times Bestselling Author Stephanie Tyler to Closetreader! I’ve been hooked on Stephanie’s stories ever since I read her novella “Night Vision” which is part of the “Hot Nights Dark Desires”, anthology in 2008. Stephanie’s “Hard To Hold”, trilogy was published in 2009 and 2010 by Dell Books and I can only say Jake, Nick and Chris’s stories hold a special place on my keeper shelf.
Stephanie is now delighting fans of her hot, action packed and gritty military romances with a new series from Dell Books called “Shadow Force”, the first book “Lie With Me” is available now and the second story, “Promises In The Dark” will be published on November 23, 2010! “In The Air Tonight” will be coming in 2011 and it is to be followed by two more Shadow Force Books! (WOOT)
Lea: Welcome to Closetreader Stephanie!
Stephanie: Thanks for the wonderful introduction, Lea! I’m so honored to be on your keeper shelf Thanks for having me back here!
I have to say, I’m pretty impressed at how a sweet wholesome mother of two can develop and write such gritty, tough and lethal military heroes Stephanie! Was military romantic suspense always your first love when writing?
Absolutely on the milrom / suspense – it was what I started out reading when I got back into reading romance (Lucky from Lucky’s Lady was former military and he was the first romance I read back in 2002 and it was that book that made me say, I can do this and I want to write this!)…there’s just something about military men that makes them so incredibly fun and fulfilling to write. Plus, they curse a lot and they can kill with their pinky and I like that.
So much for sweet and wholesome – LOL!
Your books tell stories about the lives and loves of the exceptionally strong and driven men who are in the elite military, namely Navy SEALs, and as in Cameron Moore’s case in “Lie With Me”, Delta Force. The Shadow Force novels in particular are about these tough military men who basically straddle the line between accomplishing their missions while on duty, however whether by choice or not they step into the shadowy world of black ops. What was the impetus behind the Shadow Force series Steph?
I’m always so intrigued by that gray area – how people tune their own moral compass. You know, I’ve always loved the quote, “We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm,” and I think, without getting too political here, we have to remember that, although some things might be personally distasteful, they’re done to give us our freedom and peace of mind. Having lived ½ an hour away from 9/11 – and having my husband in Manhattan at the time (he got home safely, unlike many others)…well, I think after you’ve gone through something like that, everything changes. You appreciate those rough men even more than you did before…and I’m so grateful for all my friends and family who serve in the military and law enforcement.
So I don’t know if I set out to write about a group of mercs, but Cam walked onto the scene during the Hold series and then Dylan and Zane and Caleb showed up and I was like, oh, okay, I get it now. These are men who have a little more freedom, men who do the right thing because it’s the right thing on their black ops mission, not because they’re told it’s the right thing.
Readers met Cameron very briefly in “Hold On Tight”, as he was part of the failed mission that was the foundation of that story. Did you have Cameron’s character mapped out in your mind when you wrote Chris’s story or did he come to your before that?
I didn’t know his full story, but I did know that he had a lasered-off tattoo and he felt completely trapped. I also knew he was a hero for sure. The rest unfolded when I started writing his story – but I knew he was a man of many secrets, and that when the time was right, he’d let me in on them.
“Lie With Me”, is a multi layered story with a number of sub-plots that involve not only the a hot romance between the hero and heroine, but also a very tumultuous relationship between secondary characters Dylan and Riley, and you have written in a pretty scary home grown terror group. The story is gritty, fasted paced and edge of the seat suspenseful. I felt the sub-plots flowed well and you cleverly tied everything together, essentially unraveling a mystery surrounding Cameron’s history. You seem to like to have a number of sub-plots running concurrently through your narratives, any particular reason why?
You know, Pearl recently asked me the same question – and it’s a good one. I do love subplots, but it’s more than that. I think the post I did explains a lot, so I invite you to read that.
Your heroes are hot, tough, lethal military men, and they all have a lot of personal and emotional baggage. I guess one would say “tortured heroes” but I think it makes them all the more appealing. You match them with equally strong heroines who also have a lot of issues. It makes the romance more special I think because these guys really need someone who understands them. Do you characterize your heroes first and then develop that special woman for them Steph?
My heroes and heroines really do kind of walk on in my mind. I don’t have to do a whole lot of work on who they are and their backgrounds, although sometimes I have to dig to get them to spill their secrets. But the heroes always come first. And then it’s a matter of waiting for the right heroine to show up.
I just had this problem with Kell’s book – NIGHT MOVES – because it was supposed to be Reid’s book. But Kell kept jumping in when he wasn’t supposed to and I couldn’t get going and then I was like, duh, this is Kell’s heroine and Kell’s book. It’s going much better now.
“Lie With Me” is a cliff hanger of sorts because heroine Skyler Slavin’s physician Dr. Olivia Strohm is kidnapped by the terrorists. Navy SEAL Zane Scott who is introduced and plays a role in “Lie With Me”, is a witness to her abduction and is unable to save her which leads nicely into the next book “Promises In The Dark”, their story. (I’m chewing my nails for Olivia! lol)
I’ve got to say all your heroes are hot, but Zane? Uber hot!! This guy loves to live on the edge. I just want to share a little snippet from “Lie With Me” where you introduce Zane.
“Getting Zane involved, though, wasn’t an issue. His youngest brother was always up for anything, especially a party. Dylan knew that facade let Zane keep his past tamped down—so far, it had worked for his brother. A Navy SEAL with a penchant for black ops, gray ops and any other color in between, Zane always approached Dylan for work when he was on leave. Mainly because Zane tended to get into trouble when he didn’t keep busy.
Dylan figured that if Zane was going to get into trouble, at least it would be trouble Dylan would be able to help him out of.
And Zane had gotten damned good at getting places Dylan couldn’t, which annoyed the shit out of Dylan and made Zane pretty damned pleased with himself.
Fucking and fighting were all part of the same game for Dylan’s youngest brother, and Zane seemed to always have the fucking part outweighing the fighting by a mile.
It was why Zane was able to get more intel on Riley in twenty-four hours than Dylan had been able to get in three years between his CIA contacts and others.
“You weren’t looking in the right place,” Zane told him now over the phone. “I’ve got the scratches down my back to prove it.”
Lie With Me © Stephanie Tyler
I can just hear this cool, calculating, lethal guy talking on the phone Steph. Just awesome! Can you tell readers a bit about where you will be taking the series next in Promises In The Dark, and in Mace’s story “In The Air Tonight”?
Ah, Zane – I adore him! He’s a SEAL from Jake’s team and he’s pretty wild. Okay, so in Promises, yes, Zane goes after Olivia to rescue her…and it doesn’t go all that smoothly. I won’t say much more except he and Liv are completely perfect for one another.
Again, I have multiple storylines going that all tie in – so you’ll have Zane in Sierra Leone with Olivia and Caleb and Vivi back home…and another couple who walked on. I fell so in love with them and I felt they were really crucial to the story. You’ll have more of Elijah and DMH as well.
Mace’s book – IN THE AIR TONIGHT – is kind of a cabin romance, set in the Catskills in Upstate New York – and Caleb and Vivi’s subplot will continue in that book.
Was the title for “In The Air Tonight”, inspired by the Genesis song by the same name?
Yes!!! I love music and always write to it and that was a song on the original soundtrack I created for that book. So my editor and I have been on a songs for titles kick (Promises in the Dark is an old Pat Benetar tune and then Kell’s book, Night Moves, is inspired by the Bob Seger song!)
Stephanie, thanks so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk with me today. For what it’s worth, I think your series ROCKS.
I think you rock, Miss Lea – thank you for all your support!
Thank you Steph and you are most welcome!
Contest Now Closed!
Winners will be posted soon. Thanks Everyone!
Excerpt from “Lie With Me”:
From Chapter One
The sleek, dark bitch tailing him over the crest of the mountain was definitely not standard Army issue.
Cameron Moore ignored both the snow swirling furiously around his Harley and the classiﬁed stealth helo on his six as he began his ascent up the thin, curved ridge ringed by stone that would lead him to his destination.
Half a mile earlier, when he’d heard the familiar thump of the quiet bird over the roar of his bike, the hairs on the back of his neck had risen. Now his gut tightened in tandem with the heavy whir of the rotors, and fuck, he’d thought this was over and done with.
He’d had nearly ﬁve months of freedom, having been assured that his debt was paid in full, which meant there would be no more black ops jobs involving the CIA and this fucking helo from hell following him. But he’d been down this road before—after ﬁve years, eight years, ten years. The promise of release had never been kept, eleven years and counting.
It’ll never be fully paid. You knew that…you just didn’t want to believe it.
And still, he pushed on, trying to ignore the past that wouldn’t let him forget.
He’d only been back from a mission with Delta Force for forty- eight hours, on leave for the past twenty and headed to visit Dylan Scott—a man he’d met through Delta and his best friend—in the Catskills when he’d been tracked.
One of these days, Gabriel Creighton—CIA chameleon extraordinaire—wouldn’t be able to ﬁnd Cam anymore. The chip that had once been implanted in Cam’s right forearm was only as big as a postage stamp, and as slim as one too…and was long gone. He’d convinced himself that Gabriel couldn’t track him without it.
Obviously, Cam had been way fucking wrong.
He didn’t have to wonder what his life would be like if he’d never met the man—he’d still be in jail, serving two consecutive life sentences. And he despised Gabriel more than his father, which was really damned hard to do, considering his father had framed him for the murders and left him to rot in a maximum security cell.
For eleven years, Gabriel had been both mentor and taskmaster. Cam had never asked Gabriel for anything, not a single goddamned favor.
The favors Gabriel insisted Cam provide for him were always dangerous and usually above the law. Jobs that necessitated a non-CIA operator with insider information, which Cam indeed was, hiding in the job of a Delta Force operator.
If Cam’s immediate sups knew what the jobs he did for Creighton really entailed, they’d never let on. And so Cam lived and worked, waiting for the magic number—the time limit Gabriel had imposed on him when Cam had been nineteen and willing to do anything to get out of that cell. An expiration date that only Gabriel knew.
Now he stared down at the mark on the inside of his left forearm—the result of a tattoo that had been lasered off. It wasn’t completely erased, was still a reminder. That was the thing about pasts, you could never fully eradicate them, and fuck it all, he’d tried to more than once.
Finally, he stopped the bike on the edge of one of the small cliffs, pulled as close to it as he possibly could. The wind whipped him, making it hard to hold on to his footing, never mind the heavy metal between his legs.
The stealth hovered, unable to land, but more than willing to block him. As he stared down at the dark, cavernous chasm ahead of him, he knew his choices were limited. Going down would be the coward’s way out—and he was anything but.
He’d never let go of the idea of vengeance, tasted it like a ﬁne wine on his tongue—it ran heated through his blood, slamming his veins with a barely concealed fury.
In all his years of military service, he’d saved a lot of people, killed more and prayed for salvation daily.
In so many ways, he’d never left the ten by ten cell where he’d lived for twenty- three months, four days and ten hours. At the time, he’d been wary of his rescuer, but he’d assumed things couldn’t have gotten worse.
He’d been so fucking young—fear and bravado mixing together in a heady combination. He’d been a punk, a ﬁghter, willing to do anything to stay alive. Had kept his pride during those years, refusing to let prison take it from him, the way his freedom had been ripped away.
Pride had been all he had.
He ﬁnally turned around on the mountain, the way he had eleven years earlier when the police chased him between a rock and a hard place. That night, the police had impounded his bike.
Now Cam knew that a good operative never left anything behind. He revved his bike and let it ride over the edge without him, listened as it screeched and crashed against the mountain walls below.
And then he walked to the helo and used the rope ladder they’d lowered to climb aboard.
Two years of max security had taught him many things—that life wasn’t fair; that typically the bigger you were, the more shit you talked and the harder you went down; that this life wasn’t for the weak. His time in the Rangers and Delta Force had reﬁned those teachings until his mind functioned like the elite warrior he was; but make no mistake, he was still that same damned punk—and he wouldn’t take Gabriel Creighton’s shit anymore.
This time, he would shoot the messenger Gabriel always sent, no matter what the job entailed, and then he would walk away and deal with the consequences—any and all, because the yoke around his neck had ﬁnally tightened to where he could no longer breathe.
Lie With Me © Stephanie Tyler