What is the inspiration behind the CORE Shadow Trilogy?
When I came up with the idea for the first book, I hadn’t intended to create a series. But as I began writing Shadow of Danger (which has had two other titles BTW) I realized that my hero didn’t work for the FBI, but he used to. So, I had to come up with the agency he worked for and find a way to make that agency part of the story. I sat down and made up all sorts of acronyms and decided CORE (Criminal Observance Resolution and Evidence) would be the perfect name for my private investigation agency. When that happened I realized this book could lead to a series. How? Why not have every member of the CORE team come from a different background. In Shadow of Danger, the hero is former FBI, in Shadow of Perception, he’s former CIA, and in the third book, Shadow of Vengeance, the hero is former U.S. Secret Service and the heroine former U.S. Army Intelligence. I do have another CORE Trilogy planned for next year and can’t wait to get started!This book is the second in the trilogy. When can we expect the third book?
Shadow of Vengeance will be out in October!Can you give a us a preview of it?
I’d love to!Which character has been the most fun to write?
Here’s the back cover blurb:
SHADOW OF VENGEANCE (Book 3 CORE Shadow Trilogy)
Welcome to Hell Week. You have seven days to find him…
At Wexman University, male students will do anything to get into a top fraternity. They’ll prove their worth during Hell Week by participating in various physical, psychological and even juvenile pranks. But those shenanigans aren’t so funny when pledges start disappearing. What kind of evil has stalked this small Michigan university for the past two decades? Theories range from obscene scientific experiments to grotesque satanic killings…but they’re all wrong. The murdered boys serve a single purpose…the ultimate revenge.
Rachel Davis, forensic computer analyst for the private investigation agency CORE, has been itching to leave her desk behind and work in the field. When her brother Sean, a student at Wexman, is found beaten and his roommate kidnapped during Hell Week, she gets her chance. Only her boss insists former U.S. Secret Service Agent, Owen Malcolm, helps her with the investigation. Owen is the last person she wants on this assignment. She’d been secretly half in love with him for over four years, until the night he’d crushed her ego and destroyed her hopes for any kind of future with him.
For his own reasons, Owen refuses to risk becoming involved with a coworker. Now that he and Rachel are stuck working side-by-side to solve this perverse investigation, he’s having a hard time fighting his attraction to her…an attraction he’s tried to deny from the moment they met. But time is ticking. They have seven days to find the missing pledge and catch a killer. Seven days before the body count rises and the pledge ends up another victim of Hell Week.
Here’s a short excerpt from the bad guy’s POV:
With a yawn and a stretch, he climbed out of bed and toed on his slippers. After shrugging into his robe, like a kid at Christmas, he raced down the staircase and into the kitchen. Eagerness and excitement hummed through his veins. Better than Christmas or a birthday or any other holiday, today marked a special day, a special beginning. The time of year he anticipated the most. Hell Week.
As the coffee brewed, the strong, rich aroma of hazelnut and cinnamon wafted throughout the kitchen. While he waited for that first delicious cup, he did a mental checklist of today’s schedule. Monday’s were always a full workday, filled with meetings and preparations for the upcoming week. Pity. He’d love to play hooky today. He’d love to play with the pledge in his basement.
The pledge would have to wait until this evening. Work came first. Deviating from his daily routine was not an option. Besides, he knew in his heart, now, this moment wasn’t the right time. In the past, he’d made mistakes with his pledges. In his overzealousness, he’d rushed things, which had made for some…deadly results. He couldn’t rush anything with the new pledge. Twenty years ago, what begun as therapy had now become legend. He had become legendary. No. There would be no rushing, no overzealousness. No more mistakes.
After what Junior had done on Saturday, there had better not be any more mistakes. He poured coffee into the mug, then blew on the liquid before taking a sip. Although still angry over Junior’s screw up, he couldn’t stay mad at his only child. Hell Week would become Junior’s legacy. The gifts of dominance, control, power…definitely the kind of inheritance that keeps on giving.And he wanted his child to feel, to truly understand, what it is to have power over another human being. Over their pledge.
Although Junior had been born a disappointment, he never wanted his own flesh and blood to experience what he had twenty-five years ago. The powerlessness, the helplessness, the utter degradation at the hands of monsters. While it had taken him years to battle the nightmares that still haunted him, he’d made his mark on the world. Well, at least in Bola, Michigan.
Chuckling, he shrugged and looked out the kitchen window. He glanced at the trees in his backyard, now naked save for the clumps of icy snow resting on their branches, then to the path which led to the Menominee River. When he’d been a child, that path had terrified him. His parents had warned him never to walk through the forest alone, to never go near the river, or bad things will happen. Too true, he chuckled again, then took another sip of his coffee.
He no longer knew what it was like to be afraid. The Townies knew. They knew and they feared him.
Just like his parents had done, the town folk of Bola had spun terrifying stories to their children in order to keep them from venturing too far into the dense forests surrounding Bola. The university students, most of them spoiled, coddled, little shitheads, didn’t buy into the Townies fears and beliefs. They’d considered him a myth, akin to the celebrated Bigfoot many of the ignorant Townies had claimed to have seen roaming the area.
He was no myth. But he should be feared. Every male student at the university should agonize and wonder.
Will he come for me this year?
While he’d bet there were a few young men who worried, they wouldn’t have to concern themselves any longer. He’d taken his pledge. By noon today, word of the boy’s disappearance would reach every corner of the campus and county. And so it would begin.
Seven days of torture.
Seven days of hell.
I really enjoyed writing the bad guy in Shadow of Perception. I’m sure it shows, too. I spent a lot of time developing and motivating him. Honestly, I liked this guy. I didn’t like what I had him do to his victims, but I liked him as a person. I know this sounds strange, but if you read the book, I think you’ll understand why. I also realize I made him up, but it’s hard not to become invested in the characters I create.What kind of research did you need to do for this series?
Although I made up an agency, I still have to make sure that I follow proper legal procedures and protocols. I’ve done a lot of research on law enforcement and bug my cop neighbor with questions all the time. Each individual story, depending on the storyline, requires additional research. Some random examples: In Shadow of Danger I learned a ton about cranberry farming (talk about random!). For Shadow of Perception I looked into plastic surgery and child beauty pageants. With the next book, Shadow of Vengeance, I did a lot of research on quadriplegics. I love making things up, but I also want to be accurate and make sure what I write is believable.You like to write dark, suspenseful romances. What is it about this combination of genres that appeals to you so much as a writer?
I love bringing a hero and heroine together, watching their relationship develop and grow, putting them through emotional hardships, then making sure they live happily ever after. While writing a hero and heroine who struggle with their relationship and eventually find love is a major appeal, having the couple also struggle to stop the bad guy adds more excitement. And honestly, I love being able to write creepy bad guys. I have a lot of fun coming up with villains and have even more fun trying to create storylines that keep the reader guessing.Why do you think it appeals so much to readers?
I can’t answer for others, but I’m assuming for the same reasons I enjoy writing and reading dark, romantic suspense. You get the romance and the mystery. Done well, this type of book should keep the reader engaged and turning the pages. When I’m reading or writing a scene with the bad guy, I want to be tense, on the edge of my seat and wondering what’s going to happen next. I want to root for the hero and heroine as they try to find love while trying to solve the mystery.Have you ever thought about branching out beyond the romance genre?
There are a few horror stories rolling around my head that would love to be told. Alas, they must wait. Between my family and current projects, there’s just not enough time in the day!On what other projects are you currently working?
I’m wrapping up Shadow of Vengeance (Book 3 CORE Shadow Trilogy) and preparing for its release. I’m also beginning my second book in my Reality TV Romance series. These books are fun, sexy contemporary romances. No creepy bad guys allowed! I enjoy writing these stories. As much as I love writing dark, suspenseful romances, I love and need a contemporary romance now and then. Sometimes I need a break from trying to figure out where to hide a body!How do you find time to write with four kids?
It’s a constant struggle, but now that the kids are back in school I have a decent (not ideal) schedule. I write during my two-year-old daughter’s nap and also when I send her to the neighbors for a couple of hours twice a week. I try to grab some time in the evening after everyone is home from whatever extracurricular activity, but I’m usually pretty fried by then. My husband is super supportive and tries to take the kids out of the house on Sundays to give me more opportunity to write. I think my writing schedule will continue to be a work in progress until all the kids are in school full-time. Until then, I do what I can without compromising the time I spend with my family.What are some of your favorite books/authors?
I’ll read most genres, but I love historical and contemporary romances. I also love reading a good horror or thriller. Lisa Kleypas is one of my go to authors, along with Jeffery Deaver and older books by Stephen King. Joe Hill has been on my radar lately, too. Sometimes I like to go back and read older historical romances by authors like Kathleen Woodiwiss or Bertrice Small. I’m currently reading Joe Hill’s NOS4A2. If only I had more time to sit and read!!Thank you so much for your time!
Thank you for hosting today! I enjoyed all of your interview questions.
Shadow of Perception
by Kristine Mason
What happens when negligent plastic surgeons receive a taste of their own medicine…?
Chicago investigative reporter, Eden Risk, receives an unmarked envelope containing a postcard ordering her to watch the enclosed DVD…or someone else dies. No Police. After Eden watches the DVD, a gruesome, horrifying surgery, she turns to the private criminal investigation agency, CORE, for help. Only she hadn’t expected that help to come with a catch. Her former lover, Hudson Patterson, has been assigned to the case.
Hudson would rather have another CORE agent handle the investigation. Two years ago, he’d screwed things up with Eden…bad. And as more DVDs arrive, Eden and Hudson find themselves not only knee-deep in a twisted investigation, but forced to deal with their past, and the love they’d tried to deny.
Read an excerpt
“Hey, Eden,” Hudson Patterson said as he shrugged out of his leather coat and pierced her with his steely blue gaze. “I see you got yourself into another mess.”
The room shrank and her sole focus remained on the one man who had stirred more emotions in her than all the other men before and after him combined. Two years ago, he’d lit a fire inside her, and within months, he’d smothered the flames with his arrogance and bullheaded attitude.
Based on the condescending remark he’d just made, she doubted his opinion of her had changed. His appearance had, though. Harder, darker, more dangerous. His brown, wavy hair now reached his shoulders and he needed a shave. Even without the worn, black leather jacket, which now hung on the coat rack, he looked thuggish in a tattered charcoal gray thermal shirt, low-riding jeans and black Doc Marten boots. The whole badass biker look shouldn’t have appealed to her, but Hudson owned it and wore it well.
She glanced at his mouth, then immediately regretted it. Lust slammed into her belly as wicked memories of what his firm lips had done to her surfaced. Those unwanted memories collided into a kaleidoscope of naked skin, harsh moans and multiple orgasms. Even now, she swore she could still feel his rough hands urging her hips, spreading her legs, gripping her bottom.
Could imagine his mouth on hers, or better yet, between her thighs.
Hudson smiled. A smug, satisfying smile that snapped her out of her sexual spell and reminded her exactly why breaking things off with him had been the right decision. Her body might not have thought so at the time, and those urges to have him in her bed right now might still be strong, but her head knew better. Hudson was an arrogant jerk who exuded less emotion than she did.
Also available on iTunes
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
I didn’t pick up my first romance novel until I was in my late twenties. Immediately hooked, I read a bazillion books before deciding to write one of my own. After the birth of my first son I needed something to keep my mind from turning to mush, and Sesame Street wasn’t cutting it. While that first book will never see the light of day, something good had come from writing it. I realized my passion, and had found a career that I love.
When I’m not writing contemporary romances and dark, romantic suspense novels (or reading them!) I’m chasing after my four kids and two neurotic dogs.
FACE BOOK: http://www.facebook.com/kristine.mason.1029
Kristine will be awarding $5 Amazon gift cards to six randomly drawn commenters during the tour as well as print books to ten other randomly drawn commenters during the tour. Five will be of Pick Me, a contemporary romance; and a gnome will come with the five copies of Shadow of Danger, book one of the suspense series. [US ONLY on the books]. Follow the tour for more chances to win!