As if yesterday’s Three Ways to Win Contest wasn’t exciting enough, today we’ve got a Q&A with romantic suspense author Laura Griffin and she’s generously offered to give away one of her full-length Tracer novels to one of our readers!
I’m stealing the copy from the back cover to tell you a bit about the romantic suspense anthology DEADLY PROMISES: “New York Times bestselling authors Sherrilyn Kenyon, Dianna Love, and Cindy Gerard and rising romance star Laura Griffin mix seduction and suspense in three romantic adventures.”
While all three stories in Deadly Promises are terrific reads, I must admit that Laura’s Tracers novella UNSTOPPABLE is my personal favorite. In it, “forensic anthropologist Kelsey Quinn goes to a remote Texas border region to dig up ancient bones, but ends up unearthing a deadly secret. When Kelsey’s discovery jeopardizes not just her dig, but her life, she turns to US Navy SEAL Gage Brewer, who may be the only person brave enough—and lethal enough—to help.”
Let’s get to it!
JB: Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions, Laura. With Deadly Promises just releasing on September 28th, you must be extremely busy.
Laura Griffin: What a week it’s been! I turned in a book today (Book 4 in the Tracers series). And Wednesday I received the fabulous news that DEADLY PROMISES made the New York Times best seller list (#35) and the USA Today best seller list (#123). I’m so thrilled!
JB: Speaking of being thrilled, your books are full of danger and intrigue -- what's the most dangerous thing that's happened to you or you've done?
Laura Griffin: Oh, let me see. That might have to be jumping out of an airplane! Skydiving was probably the scariest thing I’ve ever done. It was a major rush, too. I’d love to do it again someday. I put a skydiving scene in my second novel, ONE WRONG STEP, which was fun to write.
JB: You mentioned that you’ve just turned in the fourth book of your Tracers series, I’m curious, how did you come up with the idea for the series?
Laura Griffin: I started thinking about the Tracers series as I was interviewing a cold case detective up in Dallas. I was fascinated by his job and thought how cool it would be to write a character who went back and tried to solve the toughest cases that had been haunting detectives for years. (This character ended up being Ric Santos, by the way, from UNSPEAKABLE and UNFORGIVABLE).
Many of these cases are solved through DNA, and so that led to the development of the Delphi Center, where the mission is to help catch up on our country’s tremendous backlog of DNA evidence. Homicide cops will be the first to tell you that real life isn’t like CSI and investigators have a host of challenges when it comes to solving cold cases, even when DNA evidence is right there.
I’ve met so many dedicated, passionate people in law enforcement—from cops to forensic scientists. And I try to bring that passion to the characters in the series.
JB: What can readers expect from you next?
Laura Griffin: Next up is UNFORGIVABLE, which is Ric and Mia’s story. Ric is a homicide detective and Mia is a DNA expert. They worked together to help solve a cold case in UNSPEAKABLE. They’re back now with another murder case, and this time they’re working even more closely, which is how the romance develops. Funny how that happens.
I’ve been so happy with the popularity of the Tracers series, and it’s going to continue with several more books (including the one I just turned in this week). People always ask me if they have to read the books in order, and the answer is no. The characters overlap, but each suspense plot stands alone, so people can dive right in!
JB: Thank you for taking the time to chat with me. I’m looking forward to reading many more Tracers novels!
Laura Griffin: JB, thanks so much for reading and inviting me to talk with you all on KILLER CHICKS!
Read the following excerpt of UNSTOPPABLE (and find out why I fell for Gage from page one) from the Deadly Promises anthology and tell us in the comments section, what kind of gun Gage carries. You’ll be entered in the drawing for Laura Griffin’s most recent full-length Tracers novel UNSPEAKABLE. Entries must be received by 11:59pm EST Sunday, October 24th, 2010.Winner will be chosen at random and announced next Tuesday, 10/26/10 -- be sure to check back then!
Sometimes they went in with a flash and crash, but Lieutenant Gage Brewer always preferred stealth. And tonight, because the team’s mission was to outsmart a band of Taliban insurgents, stealth was the operative word.
The night smelled like smoldering garbage and rot as Gage crept through the darkened alley in this industrial neighborhood on the outskirts of the city. They were in a hot zone, a place where anyone they encountered would like nothing better than to use them for target practice.
As the SEAL team’s point man, Gage moved silently, every sense attuned to the shadows around him. Particularly alert at this moment was Gage’s sixth sense--that vague, indefinable thing his teammates liked to call his frog vision. Gage didn’t know what to call it; he only knew it has saved his ass a time or two.
In the distance, the muted drone of an electrical generator in this city still prone to blackouts. And closer still, footsteps. The slow clomp of boots on gravel, moving steadily nearer, then pausing, pivoting, and fading away.
Wait, Gage signaled his team. Lieutenant Junior Grade Mark Colter melted into the shadows, followed a heartbeat later by Petty Officers Mike Dietz and Adam Mays. Gage approached the corner of the building--an unimposing brick structure that was supposedly a textile factory. Crouching down, he slipped a tiny mirror from the pocket of his tactical vest and held it at an angle to see around the corner.
A solitary shadow ambled north toward the front of the building, an AK-47 slung casually across his body. The shadow told Gage three things: the intel they’d been given was good, this building was under armed guard, and what was going down tonight at this factory had nothing to do with textiles.
Gage eased back into the alley.
“Sixty seconds,” Colter whispered.
Gage had known Colt since BUD/S training. Besides being a demolitions expert, the Texan had the best sense of time and direction of any man in Alpha squad, and tonight he was in charge of keeping everyone on schedule.
Soundlessly, they waited.
Then like clockwork, a distant rat-tat-tat as the rest of Alpha squad exchanged carefully staged, non-lethal gunfire in an alley much like this one.
Beside Gage, the building came alive. Footsteps thundered in a stairwell. Excited voices carried through the walls. A door banged open, and more shouts filled the night as men poured from the building. A truck engine roared to life. Gage and his teammates watched from the shadows as a pickup loaded with heavily armed insurgents peeled off, no doubt to help wipe out the American commandos gullible enough to walk into a trap.
Twenty more seconds and Colt gave the signal. Gage peered around the corner. The guard now stood in a pool of light spilling down from a second-story window. The sour expression on his bearded face told Gage he wasn’t too happy about being stuck guarding hostages while his comrades got to slaughter American soldiers. His lips moved, and Gage guessed he was cursing his prisoners--two Afghani teachers whose heinous crime had been taking a job at a newly opened school that allowed girls.
Their boss, the school’s principal, had been beheaded on live Webcam just two days ago.
Watching the footage had made Gage’s blood boil. But his anger was tempered now, a tightly controlled force he would use tonight to carry out his mission.
In addition to rescuing the Afghanis, the SEALs were tasked with finding and retrieving forty-two-year-old Elizabeth Bauer, an American reporter who had been working on a story for the Associated Press when the Taliban stormed the school. She was thought to be next in line for execution, if she wasn’t dead already.
Gage chose to believe she was still alive, mainly because pictures of her beheading weren’t yet bouncing around cyberspace. The picture Gage had seen--the one provided during the briefing--had reminded him of his aunt back in Chicago. The minute he’d seen it, Gage had felt an emotional connection that went beyond his usual one-hundred-and-ten-percent commitment to an op.
The guard turned the corner. Colt and Dietz fell back, circling around to the building’s other side.
Follow me, Gage signaled Mays. The kid was young, green. He’d grown up in Tennessee and spoke with the thickest accent Gage had ever heard. But he could shoot like nobody’s business, and Gage was glad to have him on the team.
A quiet thud as they rounded the corner told Gage that Colter and Dietz had neutralized the guard about ten seconds ahead of schedule. Gage stepped over the lifeless body and entered the building with his finger on the trigger of his M4. He glanced around. The space was dim and cavernous, empty except for few junked out trucks and some tires piled in corners. A band of light shone onto the dirt floor from some sort of upstairs office. Given the satellite dish they’d seen mounted outside, Gage figured it was used as a media room. According to their intel, the hostages were being kept in the basement.
Colter went up to take out any hostiles who might have stayed behind. Gage scanned the room’s perimeter and quickly located an open doorway leading down to a lower level.
The earthen steps were steep, and Gage took them silently. Clearing out the bulk of the tangos with a diversion had been a good plan, but one that relied on a fair amount of luck. Gage was a gambling man, and the first rule of gambling was that luck eventually ran out. He expected an armed guard at the foot of the stairs, and that’s exactly what he found.
Gage delivered a well-placed blow with the butt of his rifle, rendering the man unconscious before his weapon even clattered to the floor. A collective gasp went up from across the room as Gage knelt down to collect the Kalashnikov. He slung it over his shoulder while Mays zip-cuffed the guard. Their orders were to keep at least one of them alive, if possible, in case they needed him for information.
The hostages stumbled to their feet, and Gage turned his flashlight on them. The beam illuminated two slightly-built Afghani men and a fortyish woman.
“Lieutenant Gage Brewer, U.S. Navy.” He zeroed in on the woman. “Ma’am, are you--”
“Betsy Bauer.” She reached out and touched his arm, as if to make sure he was real. “And I’ve never been so glad to see anyone in my life.”
Colter tromped down the steps to join them. “All clear up there.” He held up a black piece of cloth. It was a flag with a skull and a sword painted on it, and Gage recognized it from the video footage.
Colt had found the beheading room.
“Anyone injured?” This from Dietz, the team corpsman. “Anything that might prevent you from--”
“We’re fine.” Betsy Bauer cast a worried look at the door. “Let’s just get out of here.”
Gage’s thoughts exactly. He led everyone up the stairs. Mays and Dietz guarded their flanks and Colter watched their six.
“Five minutes,” Colter said from the back.
They were ahead of schedule. Another stroke of luck. More than four minutes until their helo would drop down in a nearby field. The other half of their squad would already be on it, after having spent a few minutes pretending to be ambushed by Taliban fighters before vanishing into the night.
Gage started to get anxious as he neared the door. That damned sixth sense again--
His gaze landed on something long and black, sticking out from the back of one of the trucks. He jogged over to investigate.
“What is it?” Mays asked.
Gage blinked down at the truck bed. “I’m looking at a shit ton of weapons. RPGs, AKs, a couple Carl Gs.” He glanced up at Colter, and a flash of understanding passed between them.
“Let’s hit the extraction point,” Gage said, jogging back to the group. He checked the surrounding area before hustling the hostages to a nearby clearing. Gage watched the reporter, relieved that she seemed to be moving okay. No telling what hell she’d endured these last forty-eight hours.
A familiar whump-whump grew louder as their helo approached. Gage scanned the area, ready to eliminate anything that might try to botch their extraction. Dust and trash kicked up as the Seahawk dropped down onto the landing zone. Gage loaded in the hostages, then counted the heads inside. Every man in Alpha squad accounted for. They were good to go.
Another glance at Colter. He was a demo man, as was Gage, and they were thinking the same thing.
“Two minutes,” Gage yelled at his commanding officer.
Dirt tornadoed around them as Gage squinted into the Seahawk. It was too loud--and time was too short--for him to explain what he wanted to do. It was a critical moment. Did his CO trust him or not? The officer gave a brief nod.
Gage and Colter took off at a dead run. In less than ninety seconds, they had the two truck beds rigged with enough C-4 to blow up a tank. No way were they going to leave a fuckload of ordnance around for the enemy to use against U.S. troops.
“Ten seconds,” Colt said.
Gage’s heart pounded as he added more C-4, just to be sure. Then he and Colter got the hell out.
An earsplitting blast ripped the night. Gage’s face hit the dirt. The earth shook beneath him as the building fireballed and then fireballed again. Debris rained down around him--concrete, mud, chunks of brick.
Burning embers pelted him as he tried to move, but his body seemed cemented to the ground. Colt grabbed his flak vest and hauled him to his feet just as a truck careened around a corner and barreled straight for them.
“Go, go, go!”
They leapt for the helo as dozens of arms reached out to pull them aboard. And then Gage was inside, his heart hammering, his face pressed flat against the metal floor as the Seahawk lifted up into the air. Machine gun fire sputtered below, and Gage sat up, shocked. He gazed down at the inferno. He glanced at Colter.
A little too much boom, his friend’s look seemed to say, and Gage smiled. He couldn’t believe they’d made it out of there unscathed.
A bullet whizzed past his cheek. Gage whirled around.
And he wouldn’t smile again for a very long time.
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Copyright 2010 Laura Griffin