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Thursday, 24 March 2016

VBT & #GIVEAWAY - Collateral Damage by Gwenan Haines


Romantic suspense



For three years Laura Drake has watched Senator Pete Worthington promote a series of gorgeous women while she sits in a forgotten corner answering constituent letters on an outdated computer. When Worthington asks her to find an elusive file one Friday night he sets off a series of events that brands her as a killer and puts her life in jeopardy. The path she sets out on forces her to confront not only the nature of evil but the ghosts from her past that have never been set to rest.FBI Agent Dalton Ross transferred from Chicago to Washington to escape his own ghosts. When his investigation leads him to Laura he's torn between his desire to keep her safe and the need to protect his own heart. As the mystery that surrounds them deepens, Laura and Dalton race to save themselves and the nation from someone willing to sacrifice anything to protect a secret.

He slid onto the barstool next to hers. From the way the man who had been sitting there had gotten up she wondered if he’d slipped him some cash. Though, to be fair, she hadn’t actually seen him do it…

His eyes locked onto hers. “You don’t sound too sure about that.” What was it about him that made her pulse quicken? Was it “sexual chemistry,” a phrase Zoe always used when explaining her latest one-night stand? Or fear, an emotion even more basic—and more dangerous. “I am meeting someone,” she said quickly. “Or I was.”

“Now you’re not?”

Before she could answer the bartender appeared and set down two pints of beer in front of them. Her companion paid, sliding the lighter pint toward her. “I’m Dalton Ross, by the way. And you would be—”


“Well, Laura,” he said after a slight pause, “I hope you don’t mind Pilsner. Didn’t figure you for a Guinness girl.” He raised a glass of dark liquid to her and took a swig. “To new friends.”

Laura raised her own glass and took a tentative sip. “And to old ones, too.” Was it her imagination or did his eyes visibly darken? Before she could decide, he was again the charming redhead hitting on her in a crowded bar.

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Can you tell us a little about yourself?

This is a tougher question that you’d think and it’s actually the last one I answered. I always have a hard time describing myself, but I’ll give it a shot. I live in New England in an old Cape house with my 15-year-old daughter and a Siberian husky. I teach literature and writing at a nearby community college and write poetry under a different name. I’ve got three novels now with Wild Rose Press (Amazon Encore picked up the first this summer) and have written two more. I love coffee, traveling, reading, Netflix binge-watching, and have a weakness for potato chips. I can’t cook and I try to run as much as I can. Last year I completed a 5-mile race and I was pretty proud of that. Oh, and I’m still waiting to meet the love of my life.

How did you choose the genre you write in?
I’ve always loved mysteries and suspense novels, especially the ones with some romance thrown into the mix. When I first started writing I tried to write a straight romance novel and I failed miserably, probably because most of what I read in the genre is suspense. But I would like to try straight romance again someday, especially a romantic comedy. Lately my life has seemed like a bit of comedy so I feel like it could work. I also recently wrote a paranormal shifter novella and novel, which are currently under consideration. I’ve always been crazy about wolves so writing a shifter novel was a lot of fun.

Can you tell us about your upcoming book?

Collateral Damage tells the story of Laura Drake, a lowly staff on Capitol Hill, and Dalton Ross, an FBI agent who has recently transferred to Washington from Chicago. The FBI picks up some strange chatter that originates from the senate office Laura works for….and one thing leads to another. Not long afterward, the chief of staff in Laura’s office ends up dead and Laura’s life is put in danger. She and Dalton are left with a mystery to solve—and not much time to solve it in.

What was your favourite chapter (or part) to write and why?

I can’t go into it without spoiling the story but I will say that there is a hacker, Eli Todorev, that ends up being a bit of a stage hog. I got very fond of him as I was writing and gave him more space than I originally intended. I also want to do something more with him in the future, though I’m not sure what because he’s definitely not the leading-man type.

What has been the best compliment?

The best compliment I got has been about my first novel Vertigo, which is now on sale with Amazon Encore for 99 cents. One of the Amazon reviewers wrote she was late to work because she had to finish the book. I love that comment. It also meant something when my teen-age daughter – a very tough critic – said she liked Vertigo (though she told me she skipped all the sex scenes, which was fine with me).

What sort of Starbuck’s coffee would your characters order? Simple coffee or some complicated soy-non-fat-extra-espresso-half-caff-nightmare?

Great question. Dalton Ross is a simple black coffee kind of guy. I don’t even think he’d like Starbucks, never mind anything with soy or extra expresso. I imagine Laura starting out as a simple coffee kind of person but ending up as the complicated soy-non-fat person. Or at least, she’d try some of that stuff. She’s lived in her own prison for so long she needs to enjoy her freedom once she finally breaks out.

Is there a certain type of scene that is harder to write than other? Racy? Love? Action?

It varies. The more I write a particular type of scene the easier it gets. At first I had a really hard time writing love scenes. I had to go through a bunch of romance novels and study how the authors handled sex. When I wrote Vertigo a lot of the reviews were positive but a few people said they giggled through the major sex scene. When I wrote Collateral Risk, which is in the editing stages, I felt as if I got the sex scenes right. Or at least I hope readers won’t be breaking out into laughter when they get to them!

Is there one subject you would never write about? What is it?

I’m pretty open but I don’t think I could ever write about violence toward women in a relationship that ends up working out, even if the hero is struggling with his own issues. I know Shades of Grey was hugely successful and many of my friends love the series but I could never bring myself to read it. So I definitely don’t see myself writing anything along those lines (though I should also confess one of my favorite books of all time is Wuthering Heights and Healthcliff is a major badass – I mean, the guy tries to hang a spaniel with a handkerchief at one point – but his relationship with Cathy is all about them being equals).

In Collateral Damage, Laura has some scars from the past to come to terms with and in the beginning her goal is to fade into the background. But eventually, she finds her center and grows stronger. Dalton’s tough but would never do anything to hurt Laura.

Do you read your reviews?

Yes, though not as much as I used to. A few years ago I published a racy gothic story set in the English moors. I wrote it mostly as a lark but it ended up selling really well. When it got to #3 on Amazon’s Regency bestseller list (ranked around 200 overall) the one-star reviews started coming. Some were brutal. Not only did they criticize the story but they called into question my ability to write. One was so bad it made me cry. Since then, I’ve gotten a little bit of a thicker skin. I also understand that writing is a process that you need to step back from a look at more as a “landscape.” Even the best writers falter. What they don’t do is stop writing because of negative comments. Now I try to model myself on those writers. 

Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad?

A fellow writer once told me to never, ever respond and she’s absolutely right. Readers have a right to their opinion, no matter how hard it is to hear. And to be honest, some of the negative reviews have helped me. Even bad reviews remind me there’s somebody on the other end—a real person who buys a book because she wants to connect with your story and your characters. That makes me want to push myself further as a writer, to tell better stories. 

 I live in an old Cape house with my daughter, too many books, and a red-and-white Siberian husky born on Halloween. After working in Washington, D.C. for several years and traveling to Russia, Europe and Pakistan, I moved back to New England. I’m the author of the romantic suspense novel Vertigo, which is available as an E-book from Amazon Encore and in paperback from Wild Rose Press. Collateral Risk, the follow-up novel to Collateral Damage (which features Dalton’s boss Nick Doyle and scientist Mia Lindgren), is forthcoming from Wild Rose Press. When I’m not working on fiction, I write poetry, teach literature and am still trying to learn how to cook.

Website  |  Goodreads  |  Facebook  |  Amazon Author Page

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  1. What did you find most useful in learning to write? What was least useful or most destructive?

  2. Awesome interview! It's always fun reading about authors and thanks for sharing the excerpt! :)

  3. Looks like an interesting book ;)

  4. Do you like specific genre of books?

  5. How did u came up with the idea of becomming a writer ? thx for the chance

  6. I love suspence novels with a bit of romance sprinkled in

  7. Great interview and the Coffee-question definitely made me smile - fictional characters need their caffeine too that's for sure!

  8. Hi everyone, so great to be here. Not sure why but my computer seems to be duplicating and deleting comments. I will try back later and answer everyone's questions!

  9. I love romantic suspense! What is your favorite part about writing them?

  10. Political intrigue. I love it! (

  11. Great interview!
    I love romantic suspense, I've only been reading this genre for a couple years

  12. What made you choose this genre? Or did it choose you :)

  13. I enjoyed both the interview and the book excerpt.