Thanks, Lindsay, for having me today! I’ve had a bit of a rough month writing wise, and it’s good to get back into the swing of things! I know we’ve discussed my series writing, and I thought I’d go more in depth about my romantic suspense, the PAVAD series. Many people have compared the first two book to the television show Criminal Minds, and I find that ironic. Criminal Minds was a big inspiration for the series!
PAVAD—The Prevention & Analysis of Violent Acts Division—started in January of 2009 right after I first discovered the television show Criminal Minds. Criminal Minds follows a group of FBI profilers who use their brains to catch the bad guys by studying other bad guys. I was intrigued by the character Emily Prentiss and the hints of possible romances I could see for her character and several of her teammates. I’d just finished up a few projects and was at a loss for what to do next so I took a few weeks to play around in the “What if…” stage of novel writing.
The first answer to the “what if…” question was characters. People with careers. People that had interesting things going on in their lives. I wanted something similar to Criminal Minds, but wanted something unique enough to stand on its own two feet. I wanted something different than any other book about criminal profilers. So my next step was research. I love research. I can spend weeks looking up obscure things on the internet to use in my books. I absolutely love research. In fact, if I ever feel the need to start my own company again (I also freelance graphic design and non-fiction writing) I would bill myself as a “novel-researcher-extraordinaire”. I’d love to research for other novelists. In my profiler research, I discovered that the FBI had profilers located on both the East and West coasts. So I decided to stick my team directly in the middle in a city I’d always liked, St. Louis.
I also didn’t want to limit my main characters to profilers. The FBI consists of all kinds of professionals, and I wanted a unit that incorporated all kinds of skill sets. I wanted a unit designed to fight today’s type of crimes. Crimes that spanned several specialties. Thus, PAVAD (a name that took me weeks to come up with, BTW!) was formed. The leader of the unit was a 57 year old man named Ed Dennis.
But I still needed people! Other than Ed.
And I needed a team with profilers and ‘others’. So…I created Ana. Ana was small, gutsy, redheaded, and dedicated to her job. She didn’t have much family and was really only close to her best friend and teammate Georgia…Dennis. Daughter of Ed. So there were two female characters from the very beginning.
After some daydreaming, Ana’s hero emerged. Ana was emotionally wounded in so many ways and I had to explore why. That lead to a man in Ana’s past. Fin. Fin and Ana had worked together in the past, until a case-gone-horribly wrong ruined their lives. Fin lost an arm to amputation, and Ana was consumed with guilt for what caused the injury. They parted ways after Fin lost control of himself in an alcoholic haze. Ana ran, requesting a transfer out of the unit the very next day.
PAVAD was in its infancy now, and Ed Dennis was looking for the best agents the Bureau had to offer. He knew his daughter and her partner Ana could handle the demands of this new team, but he needed others. Fin McLaughlin came to his attention.
So Ed brings Fin in.
And that’s where the story pretty much stalled for me, around the end of 2009. I was working fifty hour weeks, had just gotten married, and didn’t have much time for writing. And besides…Ana’s best friend Georgia was really stealing the show.
So I put Ana aside, and in my free time I wrote Georgia’s book. After I left the marketing job that took too much for too little reward I had in my mind the idea that I would work full-time on freelancing. And I made a decent living from it, squeezing a few chapters of fiction in here and there. Georgia’s book hit the halfway mark.
Then…I got pregnant. And sick with the most horrific case of morning sickness imaginable. I did nothing for the next ten months (I was in and out of the hospital from the morning sickness of all things!).
Finally, a few months after the birth of my daughter, I needed to do something creative or I was going to go bonkers. An idle stay-at-home person I am not. I had to have some kinds of projects going. I just had to. And I suck at housekeeping. So I went back to the stories I had in progress.
There was Georgia, just waiting for me. I reread it, edited it, and tightened it using all my skills as a book editor (part of my freelance work was book editing, so I was very experienced at it!). And then I went back at it full-force.
I finished it. And then, just like the ‘how-to-writes’ said, I sat it aside for a while. Wrote something else. Self-published that piece , The Blood King, which is now free at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Wrote the next paranormal (a far cry from romantic suspense!) and the next. I self-published those, as well, and found I really like being in control of my own career.
Then I returned to Georgia’s story. WATCHING was darned good. I enjoyed reading it with fresh eyes, and other than a few Linda/Laura name confusion issues it was definitely ready. So I wrote the query and sent it…to four agents. Yeah, talk about really doing things slow…
Within a few weeks I had four rejections.
1. Agent didn’t like FBI books where both characters were in the FBI.
2. Agent didn’t like where the hero/heroine worked together.
3. Agent didn’t like it when the characters knew each other months before the book started.
4. Agent already had a profiler book in the works, and didn’t have room for another.
None of my rejections were because of the writing or the story! In fact, all four agents felt the story was good and even salable. They just didn’t like it enough. Disillusionment with the whole agent route hit me hard, even though I’d only sampled the waters. I wasn’t going to continue to send out queries/fulls and then wait for arbitrary rejections. I don’t think it’s in my makeup…
By this point my Dardanos paranormal series was really taking off. I’d far surpassed my goals for the series, so I discussed the idea of publishing the romantic suspense with my husband and my critique buddy. And then I got a cover made, and just…did it. It’s not my best-seller (my paranormals are more numerous, at this point) but it does very well, and is gaining in exposure.
Then I wrote the second book in the series. And am working on the rest. (There are 12 planned, currently!) I’m also still fully in love with my paranormal series. I’ve created an editorial calendar that allows for all 12 books (there are 12 paranormal, so far, as well!) in both series’ to be written by the end of 2014. Ana’s story will hopefully be released as a prequel sometime toward the end of 2013.
My next PAVAD book will come out this Valentine’s Day, and will be a 2N1. It will include two 45,000 word books in one volume. Ed Dennis finally gets a woman who cares about him, and a character from both WATCHING and the second book, WANTING, Dan Reynolds, finally gets his happy ending. And HUNTING, Dr. Jules Bellows’ story (she’s a strong secondary character in WATCHING and WANTING) is scheduled to come out this May. My next paranormal is a few weeks behind schedule due to family illnesses and a computer catastrophe, but I hope to have it out on Jan. 15th.
Calle J. Brookes is the author of several paranormal romances set in Dardanos, Colorado and of the PAVAD romantic suspenses. Her work can be purchased at every major ebook retailer, including Barnes and Noble and Amazon. She can be found lurking around the web at www.callejbrookes.wordpress.com.
People who preyed on those weaker and more defenseless than themselves deserved whatever punishment was thrown at them.
That thought drove Dr. Georgia Dennis in every decision she made, personal and professional. A profiler with the Complex Crimes Unit of the FBI, she was tired of being second-guessed by her boss Michael “Hell” Hellbrook.
Once they caught the sociopath responsible for stoning teenaged girls, she was gone from Hellbrook’s team faster than the ink could dry on the transfer papers.
Georgia and Hellbrook are hot on the trail of a sadistic killer targeting women and girls with brown hair and brown eyes—women with a striking resemblance to Georgia.
Hellbrook will do anything to protect his team, even the woman he never wanted on it in the first place. By keeping her at his side, he grows closer to her until the flame between them erupts and consumes them both.
As they get deeper involved with the case and with each other, they do not realize someone else is watching, someone whose descent into madness threatens everyone around them.
Is this watcher their killer, or someone much closer?
She saw herself in the missing little girl, and Special Agent Carrie Sparks would do whatever she had to do to find that child. Even pair up with Unit Chief Sebastian Lorcan. Lorcan always watched her, judging every move she made. And Carrie knew she always came up short with him. Still…there was a little girl out there who needed them both…
Calle’s buy links:
Watching @ Amazon.com
Watching @ Barnes & Noble