Earlier this month, I had the privilege of reading Hot Zone, a romantic suspense novel by Catherine Mann. It totally blew me away, from one of the most gripping opening scenes I’ve ever read all the way to its poignant ending.
I loved it so much, I seethed with jealousy that I didn’t write it myself.
I’m so happy to have Catherine here today, giving away a copy of Hot Zone and answering my nosy questions. Welcome, Catherine!
Thanks for inviting me to visit on your blog – and thank you very much for your cheers for HOT Zone!
1. You started off with a career in arts and teaching. You’ve got degrees in theater and fine arts, and you’ve taught at advanced levels. Can you tell us how you transitioned from that career into a writing career, especially one where you write gritty military suspense novels?
I’ve always been an avid romance reader, since my early teens, and even tried to write a novel in junior high school. But I tabled the dream and tucked away that first attempt, because hey, what are the odds of selling a book, right? My creative outlet then turned to the theater, which in hindsight I see now that somehow I seem drawn to careers that are difficult to break into. But my mother always said in choosing your career, follow your dreams, your passion, and the rest will fall into place. (Thanks, Mom!)
2. How has your theater background helped you as a writer? Do you find yourself incorporating theatrical skills (like storyboarding or having a keen eye for setting) when writing your novels?
I love this question – I recently answered it in an interview for USA Today’s Happily Ever After blog, where I discussed a good bit about setting. So I’ll go for a different answer here. 🙂 Definitely I have used my theater training in characterization. Constantin Stanislavski’s Method Acting approach involves the actor immersing himself/herself deeply into a memory to evoke an emotion, engage the senses. In turn, my characters need to have those pivotal memories to immerse them (and hopefully the reader too) in the emotional journey.
3. You’ve taught a workshop on “high-octane heroes” at RWA’s national conference, and after reading Hot Zone I know what you mean by high-octane hero, but could you explain a little how you create one? What makes them so compelling?
I divide the military hero’s characterization into six elements: Prowess, Focus, Camaraderie, Ego, Compassion, Selflessness. Those elements are part of who they are, even when they’re not in uniform. I consider them high octane because they live life completely on the edge in all fronts, no holds barred. They are in your face, in the thick of the battle, and when it comes to heroine, they commit to love with that same all-out intensity. High octane men are exhausting, but mesmerizing.
4. How do you manage to write for three different publishers (Berkley, Sourcebooks and Harlequin Desire)? Do you get to explore different kinds of stories and characters through each one?
Writing for different publishers gives me the opportunity to shift gears, which keeps me from slipping into a rut. I’m a driven, Type A personality, and I consider myself very blessed to have publishing homes for all the stories whirling around in my head.
5. Hot Zone is set in the Bahamas after a devastating earthquake, and I’ve read that you wrote it after the Haiti earthquake. The novel explores a horrific problem that comes up after every major disaster: how can we protect children in times of chaos? Was this an issue that particularly inspired you to write this novel? Or did it come out as you researched disaster response?
As I watched television footage, the faces of the orphaned/lost children really reached out to me as a mother of four. Thinking of being unable to reach my kids, to have to trust strangers in chaos… that really hit me. The story came to life from that seed. Then, I dug in on the research!
CM: Thank you so much for having me here to visit on your blog!
KL: Thanks for coming, and for the giveaway, Catherine!
USA Today bestseller Catherine Mann writes military romantic suspense for Sourcebooks and Berkley, as well as steamy romances for Harlequin Desire. A RITA Award winner, she resides in Florida with her military flyboy husband and their four children. Check out her upcoming releases – PROTECTOR (March), HONORABLE INTENTIONS (April) and UNDER FIRE (May.)
For those of you who would like to learn more about the pararescue world, here’s an AWESOME youtube clip from the History Channel’s MAIL CALL. Stellar footage of incredibly brave servicemen.
Catherine’s giving away a copy of Hot Zone to someone who leaves a comment here, telling us what your favorite holiday gift or memory is this year.
I’ll announce the winner on Tuesday, January 3. Good luck, everyone!