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First, congratulations on your release of Carnal Knowledge, the second stand-alone Thriller in your Deadly Sins series. How did this newest launch go for you? Were there any particular highlights? 

Thank you so much!  Book releases are always stressful. Between spending months gathering reviews, editing, editing some more, praying that readers love it, and planning out the next book, it’s that kind of stress that you have a love-hate relationship with. No matter how many books you write, it never changes. The fear and stress and hope are always there. A nail-biting time for sure! 

The Deadly Sins series, so far, is comprised of stand-alone novels with different main characters. What inspired you to write a series of books this way instead of in the traditional vein of following one main character through multiple books?

The simple fact is I wasn’t sure I could come up with a believable way to string one set of characters together in a way that would embrace all seven sins. I really strive to make what I do original and unlike other books in the genre. It is a goal for each book and for the entire series. I think readers will like the fact that they can grab any book and not be lost, moving seamlessly into the next. The sins are the silver thread that bind them all together. 

Which do you find easier? Writing multiple standalones or writing a more traditional multi-book series? 

This is my second series, my first being a Romance trilogy. I think that writing one standalone after another is harder, for sure. In writing a series, you typically have the story carry on from one book to the next. There isn’t the need to create a new world and birth new characters and a fresh, exciting plot. It’s almost like writing one huge book that is simply broken down into smaller stories. I’ve done both, and I like both, but I love the challenge of creating an entirely new story based around one central theme. 

What was your favorite part of the entire writing process from beginning to end with Carnal Knowledge?

The end, hands down. I’m super proud of how the end came out and took it as a personal challenge to ensure that I created an ending no one would guess. I love twisted, surprise endings, so I really wanted this one to be a thing of beauty. I think it turned out simply perfect, and from feedback I’ve received, readers love it as well. It is my favorite ending in any of my books to date. I had the ending in mind when I wrote the book, and I created the entire book around it. 

You used to be a Romance author before you dipped into Thrillers with the first book in the Deadly Sins series, Break My Bones. What prompted you to switch genres? Did you know would be something you enjoyed as much as you do before you sat down to write Break My Bones?

I used Romance to hone my skills and build my writer’s muscles. I always wanted to dive into thrillers, but when I did, I wanted to be sure that I was where I needed to be to pull it off. When I was ready to try, it was a process of weaning my readers away from my romance and into darker waters with Crazy Love and Lucifer’s Game. When I started Break My Bones, I was ready but scared, since it was so different than what I was used to. However, once I got a taste of it, I knew there was no going back.  

Do you still currently write Romance, or have you officially made the switch to Crime and Domestic Thrillers?

My last romance was the novella Once Upon a Kiss. It was my last official contemporary romance. I wrote it between Break My Bones and Carnal Knowledge as a sort of kiss goodnight to the genre. That being said, I’m in the process of a co-writing in a genre I’ve never tried before. I have plans to release a short novella next year with author Cynthia Austin. This time, it will be a Dystopian thriller. Look for that next spring. Anything I write now will be in one genre or another but always a subgenre of thriller. I don’t see myself going back to romance. 

Twelve years spent as a 911 emergency operator and police dispatcher has set the groundwork for your intimate knowledge of domestic crimes, among many other types. How much of your own personal experience in this field dictates the subject matter of the Deadly Sins series?

Break My Bones is spun around a true event that occurred my first year of dispatching. The story of what led to Brooklyn’s escape from her husband was taken from a true story. In Carnal Knowledge, I worked from the other side of law enforcement, not wanting to write myself into a cliché or a box when it comes to criminal fiction. The need to make the story its own and not fit into the box got to me, and I created a police force that has characteristics that, while realistic in some aspects, aren’t usually how police are portrayed in fiction. I needed the book not to be the run-of-the-mill, serial-killer book, and so I drew upon my knowledge to make that happen. 

What is the most difficult or your least favorite aspect of writing Domestic Thrillers? What is the easiest or your most favorite aspect?

The raw power of domestic fiction can be hard to swallow. Sometimes I write a difficult scene and wonder how readers will take it, knowing that it might be a trigger for someone. But then I have to look at it from the other side as well, realizing it may be a trigger but is also cathartic, and some of these things need to have attention drawn to them. People reading these stories should be feeling the emotions that are drawn up in these kinds of books. The best way to help someone in these situations is to draw attention to the hard truth of it. 

For aspiring authors out there wanting to break into the Thriller genre themselves, what would you say are the top three things every good Thriller novel must have? 

The ability to bring realistic and raw emotions into your story is terribly important. You can write a fast-paced story with breakneck, white-knuckle turns, but if it’s flat, then no one will get it. I recommend authors look into and practice what is called writing in deep point of view. It’s the ability to draw the reader into the character’s head so fully that they can feel the emotions, they are there in the moment, and that is what you want in a book like a thriller. Learn to do that, and you are set. 

And finally, what can readers and fans of the Deadly Sins series expect from you in the future?

Book three should be signed soon with my publisher, expect that one out sometime in 2021. That one will center around the sin of greed, and it is another one full of twists and turns. Nothing like the first two books but perfect for the series. I have just started working on book four as well.

Thank you so much for joining us for this exclusive interview at TopShelf Magazine, Rachael, and congratulations again!

Thank you Kathrin Hutson for the terrific interview!