~~ Susan Kearney ~~
Interview with Tracey West ~~ April 2005 ~~
Kearney, author of over 31 stories to date, hits it big with her newest
story, The Challenge, in one of the
hottest new lines from a popular publisher, TOR Books.
Susan is one of the authors leading this new
publisher to greatest and after reading The
Challenge, I was interested in getting to know this author and
a few questions about this sci-fi/paranormal story that’s riveting and
Susan was gracious enough
to agree to sit in the RTR Hot Seat…
The Road to Romance Susan!
Thanks. Glad to be here.
Tracey – First off,
tell readers a little bit about yourself? Where do you reside, a bit
Susan – I
was born in NYC, lived in Jersey as a kid, attended the
of Michigan in the Midwest
lived in Florida
my adult life. I have a husband, two
kids and two Boston Terriers.
Tracey – When did you
wanted to be a writer Susan? Was this something you grew up having an
Susan – I
always loved to read but have a business degree. I
started to write a book while in college
and never finished. I didn’t try writing
again until I was 40. I wrote 5 books in
18 months and then sold my first book to Zebra, but they canceled the
the book never came out. But I sold
again to Harlequin Intrigue 4 months later and Tara’s
Child was my first published book.
Tracey – What is the
first step for
you when you sit to write a new book? Do you outline everything –
world, etc.? Or do you just sit and write?
Susan – I
start with plot and then fill in the characters as I go.
I work from a synopsis that I often don’t
Tracey – What can you
readers about TOR Books? What kind of stories would readers find from
Susan – Tor
Romance Books are all paranormal romances—time travel, ghosts,
futuristics etc. The stories encompass a
wide variety of plots
and different levels of sexuality.
Tracey – Your February
2005 story, The
Challenge, published by TOR Books, is a science fiction romance
futuristic Earth. The heroine, Tessa
Camen, a Special Agent in charge of keeping the President of the United States
safe, is shot doing just that. She survives and wakes up in the arms of
Kahn, who informs her that it is 2324 Earth, and that she has to
her psi abilities and he will be her trainer. Where Tessa thought
President safe was a significant job, she now has to save Earth itself.
Where did you get the
for this story?
Susan – I’ve
always had a vivid imagination and can’t really say where my ideas come
from. I originally wrote THE CHALLENGE
as my very first book. It went unsold
for 12 years and ended up being published as my 38th book. I was a little ahead of my time, plus I had
to learn how the craft of writing in order to sell this unusual story. The sex is edgy, not exactly pc and I wanted
to show how an Alpha male and an Alpha female could make sparks fly as
Tracey – The suit that
Tessa has to
wear on the ship with Kahn, having read The Challenge I know more about
suit that readers whom haven’t read it, but this is a very unique and
addition to the story. I have to say I had some laugh out loud moments
of Tessa’s reaction to this suit. What
brought to mind, this additional part to the story?
Was this suit an add-in to the story after it
was completed, or an idea you had for it which was put in place
Susan - I
can tell you that the psi driven suit originally came from my
preference not to
write about what my character is wearing. Description is my least
of writing. Then
the suit kept involving as the story went
along. Sometime in the writing process,
I tied the suit to the psi power and the entire training process
Tracey – Kahn, the hero
Challenge, a very strong, determined and in touch with Tessa (no
intended Susan <g>), is a very profound hero. What was the
with him like for you? Was he difficult to work with? Did he try to
any parts of the book? What about Tessa? Was she a willing heroine to
direct her, or did she/they direct you?
Susan – Kahn
was impossible. The entire point of this
book is watching him change as Tessa tames him.
I didn’t give her an easy job. In
the beginning, Kahn only knows one way of doing things—his way, the
warrior way. But as he comes to admire
and like then love Tessa, he learns that to make her happy, which makes
he’d got to give. Tessa was easy to
write. I love kickass heroines—but she has met her match in Kahn.
Tracey – I really also
liked that in
The Challenge, we were graced with the first female
President, the one
that Tessa is protecting. This is
that I can only imagine as being talked about among readers. Have you
feedback from readers, positive or otherwise, about this aspect of the
you think Susan, we’ll see a female President of the United States
Susan – I
most certainly think we will someday have a female president. But readers rarely talk about that aspect of
the book. Mostly they ask me about Kahn,
the suit and the edgy sex. J
Tracey – Dora – the
befriended Tessa. Such a real character who was a characterization of
best girlfriend, which she was to Tessa. Where did you get the idea for
aspect of the story, for Dora?
Susan – After
I started writing, I realized Tessa needed someone to talk to. Since no one else was on the ship, I created
Dora. Lots of computers have no
emotions, and I wanted to be different so I gave Dora emotions right
Tracey – The sequel to The
Challenge is The Dare – July 2005 release date. Not to give
of what happened in The Challenge away, but The Dare is
story. What can we expect from that story?
Susan – Dora
wants to make love with a sexy warrior that caught her imagination in
CHALLENGE. To do that she needs a body. But she finds that being human is very
than she imagines.
Tracey – What is it about
science fiction genre that you enjoyed while writing The Challenge?l
Susan – I
love creating new worlds, new customs and ways of thinking, relating
loving. It’s fun for me to really let go
and see what comes out of my mind. The
technology of the future is fun to play with but it’s how the people
it that makes a story interesting to me.
In the Challenge I created several aliens who Tessa
had to understand,
and because she’s unique and from Earth she views the aliens
other beings in the Federation.
Tracey – What do you
think sets TOR
Books apart from other publisher? What is TOR’s objective with writing,
stories produced in this line?
Susan – My
editor at Tor, Anna Genoese, is primarily responsible for creating the
line which is new to Tor. I think the
paranormal elements have become very popular among readers. At Tor, I’ve never been told, you
write that. You can’t use that kind of
language, you can’t write that kind of sex.
There are no restrictions or guidelines—except the
book must be a
paranormal romance. As a writer this is
so freeing and exciting and stimulating to creativity and it gives
wide cariety of books to choose from.
Tracey – How long did it
take you to
write The Challenge?
Susan – The
first time, I wrote it in two months.
When I sold it, I threw away the first version and
took four months to
rewrite it. Since 12 years passed
between the two versions, I’d learned a lot and started from scratch
writing. I also changed the ending
because after the TV show, Survivor, the original ending had become
Tracey – Do you get any
on a next book, when promoting a new release?
Susan – Oh,
yes. I’m already writing the book that
will be out in Feb. 06 titled THE ULTIMATUM.
Meanwhile, I’m doing online interviews like this one
for THE CHALLENGE
and placing ads for THE DARE.
Tracey – Will you have
paranormal tales in the works after The Dare is released, more
Susan – Absolutely. I’ve sold two more books to Tor, and the
planned release date for THE ULTIMATUM,
is Feb. 06 and a fourth, currently untitled book will be out in July
Tracey – When you aren’t
what are you doing in your spare time?
Susan – Helping
my kids, keeping track of my husband.
Figure skating. Letting
in and out. Traveling and eating lots of
Tracey – What authors
would we find
you reading when taking a break?
Susan – I
like Nora Roberts, Julie Elizabeth Leto, Susan Grant, Carly Phillips
Tracey – You have written
to date and received many great reviews.
Do you worry with every release, how it will be
received by your
readers? Does the nervousness, even for a very successful author like
does it every go away?
Susan – I
tend to write edgy. I know some readers
will hate my books and that others will love them.
I simply hope that I have a large enough
audience to make my publisher happy so I can continue to write them. What’s wonderful about this business is that
when readers find an author they like, they are loyal and watch for the
book and they also tell their friends—something I really appreciate.
Tracey – Besides The
what is next for readers from you? Do you have anything further set for
Susan – In
March, I have an anthology with Jacquie D’Alessandro and Julie Kenner
THE HOPE CHEST. It’s about a hope chest
that travels through time. Jacquie wrote
the historical, Julie the contemporary and I did the futuristic. In May, ON THE EDGE is my first single title
paranormal romantic suspense for Harlequin Signature.
The story follows two sisters—one whose been
kidnapped and the other who has dreams that come true and is searching
sister. The hero also has his own
paranormal power. He’s so passionate
inside, he uses a blue aura to cool it and can extend that aura over
the heroine. In June my Blaze
UNCONTROLLABLE will be
out—another sexy paranormal. This time
the villain has seductive paranomal powers—To avoid succumbing to him,
heroine brings along a hero to keep her sexually satisfied.
Tracey – Is there
anything you would
care to add Susan that we have not covered?
Susan – Yes,
I have excerpts on all my books up on my website. It’s
www.SusanKearney.com And if readers sign up for my newsletter,
I’ll send them an email notice of when my current books hit the stores.
Tracey – Could we
possibly have an
excerpt from The Challenge?
- Chapter One
I died and gone
to heaven?" Tessa muttered.
opening her eyes,
she could feel heat permeating the deep chill that stole her energy as
been frozen. Except for shivers and the tingling that slowly returned
to her numb limbs, there was no pain. No gunshot wound.
wondrous heat, like
the touch of sun-kissed male flesh. Toned, smooth skin, sharing blessed
rocking her. No, carrying her? A large gentle hand smoothed her hair
forehead and a deep masculine voice assured her that she would soon be
the dream to
fade, expecting to see a hospital room, a doctor, beeping machines,
delayed opening her eyes. She didn't want to face her fellow agents who
tell her the sad news that she'd failed her assignment and that the
was dead. But she'd never been one to hide from reality. Tessa forced
eyes. Instead of a hospital room and her detail, she found herself in a
she didn't recognize, alone with a stranger, her head pillowed on his
Her gaze locked stares with the amber eyes of a blond-haired giant, her
curled intimately under the vest that didn't fully cover his broad
She must be hallucinating. Out of
her head from painkillers, the result of a bullet ricocheting inside
She blinked, expecting him to vanish. He didn't.
Okay. He was real. Or she was
preferred the first option, but did a double check. Beneath her hand,
beat with disturbing regularity, and her fingers had somehow twisted
crisp blond chest hair. She took a deep breath and his scent reminded
exotic spices and sandalwood soap.
might be a dream man,
but he was no fantasy. He appeared quite the living, breathing person,
her as if she weighed nothing. No matter how baffled she might be, no
her right mind could fail to appreciate such a fine male specimen. Yet
naturally possessed eyes the color of his tupelo-honey ones, the irises
with fiery gold, and framed by a perfect crescent of thick golden
sported a strong nose, a square jaw that suggested stubbornness, carved
cheekbones of a highborn savage and flawless bronze skin of a hue that
knock a woman flat on her heels for a second look.
generous mouth curled
with a touch of sympathy, and yet his eyes shot off hints of irritation
impatience. "Are you warm?"
was cold, already
craving a hot cup of coffee. And naked. Naked in the strange man's
arms. In a
room that resembled no hospital she'd ever seen, he laid down with her
shimmering metallic platform. A hundred questions burned in her mind.
been taken hostage? Where was she?
waking up in his
arms, she'd leapt between a traitorous Secret Service Agent and POTUS.
recalled the driver's betrayal. Was this man or his group holding the
suspected she was a
prisoner, kept naked to make her feel vulnerable. Or had she somehow
in a sanatorium? But then where was her hospital gown? Where were her
and her gun? Her detail?
stranger briskly rubbed
her arms, creating a friction that heated her numbed limbs. As he
Tessa searched for an exit in the shimmering silver walls, floor and
all bare of any adornments and constructed of an unrecognizable
substance that made her question her eyesight. During her years in
homes, she'd seen some strange decor, but nothing like the
that surrounded her. She must be hallucinating.
when she held up her
hand that he'd finished rubbing, she clearly counted four fingers and
thumb. And the hunk was still there, watching her with those strange
efficiently and briskly rubbing her other arm. Even into adulthood,
nightmares of abandonment, of losing her parents and her home—but she'd
had a dream this weird. Never been this cold, although his
helping her to warm up.
tried to speak but her
dry throat only issued a weak croak.
picked up an odd-shaped
vessel and held it to her lips. "Drink."
peered suspiciously at
what appeared to be water. Hell, if he wanted to drug her, in her
state, he'd have no trouble. She parted her lips voluntarily.
water slid down her
parched throat. Greedily she emptied the vessel, and refreshed, her
working. Where was she? What had happened to the President? Why had
stranger carried her? What was going on? Why was she so stiff? Her
with worry and
without her detail to back her up, she followed training procedures.
ask her first questions out loud for fear that she might help the
a mouth cottony
from disuse, confusion and suspicion, she forced out words that
anyone. "Who are you?"
moved those large,
capable hands to her icy feet. "My name is Kahn."
answered her simply,
with no embellishment, almost as if he expected her to panic if he said
much. She might be frightened, but she was too well-trained to let her
overrule her good sense. She'd always kept her emotions deep inside. In
past, cool-headed thinking had saved her. Tamping down a rising panic
skill of long practice, she pulled her foot from the stranger's hands,
uncomfortable with the intimacy of his touch. Off kilter, she breathed
but even the air didn't smell normal here. Her body felt too heavy.
took extra effort. Keeping calm was all very well, but suppose her good
told her the correct reaction was panic?
tried another innocuous
question to find out what was going on without revealing critical
about Secret Service standard operating procedures or POTUS. "Why are
was carrying you to
the warming chamber, but you awakened on your own." If she was reading
those amber eyes correctly, he'd answered her question easily, simply
possibly honestly, but she had the suspicion that his words meant one
him and another to her. Although the bone cold had diminished, she
chilled, yearned for coffee. She'd never heard of a warming chamber,
the sympathy in his tone and maintained her vigilance, especially after
added, "I'm from Rystan."
lay beside her and
pulled her back against his side, sharing his heat. There was nothing
about his contact, but she didn't appreciate being held so closely.
she wouldn't verbally object until she had more clues to exactly what
said he was from
"Rystan" and acted as though the information he'd supplied should
have meant something to her, but he might as well have spoken in
She'd never heard of the place and wondered if it was part of the new
republic and if he was a terrorist.
wanted to roll away,
detach herself from his disturbing heat, but then he would have a much
view of her nudity than he did with her lying pressed against him.
needed his heat to throw off her chills.
did she? She was warmer
now. And she sure as hell wasn't going to develop Stockholm syndrome
with her captor. But was she a prisoner?
silence tactic had
gained her little information, so she did the unexpected, firing a slew
questions at him, hoping he might reveal more than he intended. "What
happened to the President? What is this place? Where are my clothes?"
shot her an
I'm-not-falling-for-that-trick look. "I'm supposed to give you this."
He handed her an official-looking envelope.
people said it
would explain everything. If you have more questions after reading
this, I will
try to answer them."
sounded cooperative and
supportive, but his shoulders had tensed, and he regarded her with a
watchfulness that reminded her of Master Chen, her martial arts
when he'd considered her fifth request to take her on as his student.
perseverance had paid off, and he'd finally agreed to train the
skinny kid she'd once been. Master Chen had passed on three years ago,
he could have been with her now, he would have advised her to assess,
and plan before taking physical action. Good advice—especially since
know if this Kahn character had any knowledge of her fighting skills.
allowed him to prop her
head with his muscle-bound arm and kept the envelope between his gaze
bare breasts. Stomach churning, she plucked the sheet of paper from the
envelope, unfolded it and focused on the letter. Was the document a
The date, 2324, over three centuries in her future, must be a
she examined the official seal at the top of the page from the desk of
President of the United States
of North America,
she almost crushed
the paper with her fist and flung the hoax aside. She might not be up
politics, but there was no United States
of North America. However, she
overruled her temper and read the short note.
Dear Ms. Camen:
This letter will
undoubtably come as a shock to you, but our planet is
in critical need of your services. Earth has been invited to join a
alliance. This union is not only propitious to our country, but
to humanity's continued survival. Earth desperately needs advanced
technological help to clean our environment. The Federation of Planets
only accept us into their alliance if one of our species passes their
"Challenge." You are our chosen candidate and the good wishes, hopes
and prayers of all of humanity go with you.
President, United States
of North America
She chuckled, wondering if her Secret Service bosses with their oddball
imaginations had thought up this bizarre hoax to determine if she'd
recovered from whatever had happened to her. Usually, however, the
Service people came up with straight-laced scenarios—nothing this
refuse," Kahn told her, as if he expected her to take the letter
always has a
choice." She turned her head and inspected his strange amber eyes,
for her clothes. She'd been so proud the day she'd passed her final
Service exam and had worn the uniform that made her a part of a team, a
who didn't just guard the lives of important people but watched one
backs. Without her detail, she was so alone. And the lack of clothing
feel vulnerable; however, she didn't betray her worry. "Great contact
lenses. I don't believe I've ever seen them in that exact shade of—"
translator in my suit doesn't always work properly. What is this
that correct vision or change eye color," she answered, giving herself
moment to digest his offhand comment about a translator. His language
stilted but unaccented and that made reading his emotions difficult.
Was it her
imagination or was he sincerely sympathetic to her predicament? If so,
could she use that knowledge to her advantage?
do not have
contact lenses on Rystan." He dismissed the subject.
now I get it.
Rystan is your planet. You are an alien and I have traveled through
She chortled. "Great scenario. Tell me more."
The Challenge is now available at many
bookstores online and in stores nearest
readers. To visit TOR Books to keep up to date on all their paranormal
delights, bookmark their website
To keep apprised of
release dates and even find previous titles by this author, visit her
site www.susankearney.com/ A backlist of all Susan’s titles can be found
there, as well as info on her latest and upcoming stories.
Thank you, Susan for
taking the time
out of your busy schedule to visit with us.
The Road to Romance
you on your newest release and wishes you much success!