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The Shelf Care Interview: Lynette Eason

Welcome to the Shelf Care Interview, an occasional conversation series where Booklist talks to book people. This Shelf Care Interview is sponsored by Revell.

In this episode of the Shelf Care Interview, Susan Maguire talks to Lynette Eason, award-winning author of over 50 books, including the Women of Justice series, the Deadly Reunions series, and the Blue Justice series. Her books have appeared on multiple best-seller lists and the movie, Her Stolen Past, based on Lynette’s novel of the same name, premiered in February 2018 on Lifetime.

The first book in the Danger Never Sleeps series, Collateral Damage, comes out in January 2020 from Revell.

You can listen to this Shelf Care Interview here. The transcript has been edited for clarity.

SUSAN MAGUIRE: Thank you for joining me, Lynette Eason.

LYNETTE EASON: Thank you for having me, I’m so glad to be here.

So tell us a little bit about Collateral Damage, and about the Danger Never Sleeps series.

When it came time to come up with a new series idea, I asked some friends, writing buddies, and readers, and I was like, “What do you guys want me to write about next?” Then a lot of them said, “Well we like military.” And I thought, “Oh well that’s just lovely because I don’t know much about military.”

Oh!

I know, right? But I have a lot of contacts in the military, so I just kind of reached out and said, “Hey, if I were to write a series about this, would you guys help me out, and make sure I don’t make a fool out of myself?” And after a good laugh they said, “Yeah, sure.”

Collateral Damage is the first book in this series and it is about a military psychologist. Her name is Brooke Adams. She leaves the army after nearly being killed by an explosion and has gone into practice with a buddy of hers who gave her a job after she got out. And Asher James—he’s former special ops and he has a lot of PTSD issues and he finally caves into the need for help and goes to see Brooke. And the story starts from there.

To say that’s just the beginning is an understatement because a lot of stuff happens in this book. You’ve written about law enforcement before, right? In some of your other series?

Oh, yeah.

What was the big difference? Part of Collateral Damage is set in Afghanistan, but really most of the action takes place in the U.S. I guess I want to know more about your research process and if knowing about U.S. law enforcement was helpful or if there were things you had to unlearn?

Well, my main concern was making sure that I portrayed my military themes correctly. The first couple of chapters did take place in Afghanistan, and I wanted to make sure that everything—the description of the country, the setting—was accurate. And so it was really funny . . . I was at a conference back in January, and I had to turn the book in in February and I was starting to panic because I couldn’t get a straight answer from the people that had said they were going to help me out. And they were trying to be very helpful, actually. It was just some of the information—

Oh my gosh, wait, that sounds dangerous.

I know right? I was starting to panic. But I mean they truly were trying to be helpful, but some of the information was . . . it was like it could go either way. It was not conflicting necessarily, but, “If you could write it this way, or you can write it this way, or it could happen this way.” And I’m like, “Ugh.”

So I was at this conference in January and I ran into a guy who actually had the exact same job as the hero in my story. And I was like, “Oh good, you’re hired.” And so . . .

“Let me buy you a coffee.”

Exactly. So I was like, “Oh, please, will you be willing to read this and help me out, and give me the correct terminology and just give it that little bit of flair that anybody in the army who reads this will go, Oh wow. She did her research.” And so he did. We sat down together, actually, and he’s like, “I changed this to this, and this to this, and add this in there, because that’ll be really . . . ”

So anyway, it really worked out well. And so now he’s my go-to person for the rest of the series.

Nice, good. Speaking of getting conflicting information from people, I’m sure everybody has such different experiences there. And even your characters . . . As a romance reader, I’m going to make a guess that her three friends are involved in future books in the series?

Right, yeah.

But their experiences in Afghanistan were so different from each other that I can see why you’d get conflicting information.

Right. Yeah. And so to actually have somebody who had the same job—who did the exact same thing—say, “This is how it would go down; this has been my experience,” I felt like I could write it from that perspective and be accurate.

Cool, well you mentioned polling your friends to find out what to write next, but can you talk about what inspires your writing, or if there was something else besides maybe your bossy friends that inspired you to go the military route?

Yeah, well originally when I first started writing . . . I always loved the suspense stories. I grew up on Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, Sweet Valley High, Trixie Belden, and the Boxcar Children, so I always loved that mystery and suspense aspect. As I got older I started reading Alfred Hitchcock and Agatha Christie, all those, but I also like romance, too. And so I thought, “Well, I like the whole romantic suspense genre the best, and so I think that’s what I’m going to try and write.”

And then it was just a matter of sitting down and kind of trying to think of a story that would fit a publisher’s expectations and after four or five rejections . . .

Okay, yes. The truth.

Yeah, that’s right. I finally landed a contract with Harlequin’s Love Inspired Suspense line, and then a couple of years later, Revell liked the longer stories that I had in mind. And I always talked to my editor. I’m like, “Okay, what do you think the market is looking for? What do you think the committees are looking for?” Because I can pretty much make a story out of anything, I just need an idea and I can run with it.

Yeah. Yeah, because I think—especially with romance and maybe with mystery, too—the characters are, to me as a reader anyway, the most important part. So, as long as you have those characters it sounds like you can kind of shape them into something that will suit the market.

Absolutely, yeah.

It’s also interesting, I think, for nonwriters to hear about the editor contributing to the beginning parts of the book. I think we often think of the editor as the person who receives the manuscript and makes it better. So that’s interesting to hear how you and your editor talk about things from the beginning.

Oh absolutely. Of course, she is the only editor I’ve had at this publishing house and so we’ve gotten to know each other and developed a relationship over the 12 years that I’ve been writing for her. Now I’ll call her up, or I usually see her at a conference, and say, “Okay, it’s about time for another series. Do you have anything you want from me?” Or, “What do you think about this? And I have a story idea.” This past September at a conference in San Antonio, I told her I was planning to open the third book in the Danger Never Sleep series, which is the one I’m working on right now, and she was like, “Oh, you know what? I don’t think that’s going to fly, what about this?” And so she threw out another idea and I was like, “Oh, I actually like that better, thank you.”

Oh, nice.

Yeah. So it is nice to be able to have that feedback from your editor.

So you mentioned starting as a young reader with Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys and those classic books like that, but are there any contemporary writers who you really look up to or who really inspire you?

I guess when I first started as a writer—oh, way back in ’94, ’95 something like that, or ’96, I don’t remember—and her name was Dee Henderson, and I read—

Sure, Dee Henderson will be familiar to our listeners, I think.

I would think so, yeah. She’s phenomenal. I read her book called Danger in the Shadows, and it just clicked. It was like, “Oh my gosh, this is so what I want to write. I want to write a story like this.” And so I think I started just kind of playing with writing at that point, and just sat down and started writing something, came up with characters, a story line, plot, that kind of stuff.

And then she came out with The Negotiator, which was another one in the O’Malley series. And I read that one, and in the back it had her e-mail address. And I thought, “Oh, I’m going to e-mail her and just tell her how much I love her stories.” And I did, and I said, “I want to be just like you when I grow up.” And lo and behold, she e-mailed me back and I nearly died. And she was just so encouraging, and very gracious.

I mean she’s still kind of a mentor. I could e-mail her and call her at any point and just go, “Hey, what do you think about this?” She’s so supportive, so wonderful, and being able to do a couple of anthologies with her and have my name on the cover of a book with her has been phenomenal.

Well, so it’s about time to wrap up our quick conversation, but before we started recording you were worried that your dog was going to bark and she hasn’t. But if you want to give a shout out to your dog . . .

Oh my goodness, Sasha is an American Eskimo. She’s a miniature, she weighs about 15 pounds; a big white fluffy fur ball, very vocal about what she wants and what she doesn’t want. And right now she wants to be back here with me, but that’s just not going to happen while I’m on an interview.

Absolutely majestic.

She loves your book, she can’t help it.

Yeah, and she’s definitely kept me on my toes, but she’s turning into a wonderful writing buddy.

Good. I’m glad to hear it. So do you know when the next Danger Never Sleeps book is coming out?

The next book is called Acceptable Risk, and it releases in the fall of 2020 . . . I think it’s out in September.

Okay, great. Well thank you for joining me and for chatting. We kind of covered a little bit of everything, so it was really nice to talk to you.

This Shelf Care Interview was sponsored by Revell, publisher of Lynette Eason’s Collateral Damage, available in January 2020. Happy reading!

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