Monday, October 28, 2013

Kame's Interview with Pamela Clare!


Colorado author Pamela Clare began her writing career as a columnist and investigative reporter and eventually became the first woman editor-in-chief of two different newspapers. Along the way, she and her team won numerous state and national honors, including the First Amendment Award and the National Journalism Award for Public Service. This year, she was honored by the Colorado Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists with their Keeper of the Flame Lifetime Achievement Award for her work. A single mother with two college-aged sons, she writes historical romance and contemporary romantic suspense within view of the beautiful Rocky Mountains. She is a RITA finalist (Surrender, 2006) and a three-time Daphne du Maurier finalist (I-Team series). She loves history, having studied archaeology in college, and has traveled extensively, living for almost three years in Denmark, which feels like home to her. She attributes her love of historical romance with the years she spent visiting ruins and castles in Europe.

Where to Find Pamela:

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Kame: Wow – can I just take a moment – after I did my first interview on TBQ's Book Palace I told a few friends that someday I hoped to get up enough guts to ask Pamela Clare for an interview – and here I am! I want to thank you so much to taking time away from writing to help bring our readers up to speed on your fantastic I-Team series.

Pamela: That’s so sweet! I’m glad then that we’re finally doing this. I’m thrilled to be here. It’s always fun to chat about the I-Team.

K: If you had to describe the I-Team series to someone who has never picked one up, how would you describe them?

P: The I-Team series—I-Team is short for Investigative Team—is about a group of dedicated investigative reporters who tackle the biggest, most dangerous stories of their careers and find love along the way. The stories are drawn from my 20-year career as an investigative reporter, about 12 years of which were spent as the first woman editor-in-chief of two different papers. The stories are gritty and emotionally intense. They’re packed with real-world events and detailed research, some of which I researched the hard way by living through it. I try very hard to balance romance with suspense so that by the end of the book the reader doesn’t feel that either was lacking. Also, I write fairly steamy sex scenes, but I don’t put gratuitous sex. It needs to be in the story at the right time — not too soon, not too late — and it has to be there for a reason.

K: Okay so let’s start off at the beginning.  You had written many historical romances before you started the I-Team, what made you write Extreme Exposure? And did you envision a series?

P: Writing romantic suspense was my agent’s idea.

My agent called one night to check on my progress with my second novel, a historical romance. I told her about my day at work, which had involved a call from a state official who was afraid for my safety. I was in the middle of investigating a cement plant for pollution, and the state official had heard the plant manager whipping the workers into an angry frenzy over my articles. The official felt the workers might take what the plant manager had said as a reason to confront me. “These guys aren’t going to write you letters to the editor,” he said. “They’re going to beat the shit out of you with baseball bats.”

This wasn’t the first warning I’d gotten. I’d had two stalkers by that time and gotten serious death threats. This didn’t even rate on my own personal danger Richter scale. But my agent listened and then got really quiet.

“You should write romantic suspense because you live it,” she said.

“Except for the ‘romantic’ part,” I replied.

That conversation planted the seed for the I-Team series. I had never read romantic suspense before I wrote that story. It was great fun to write a story set in our time, very different from writing a historical, which requires much more painstaking attention to every little world. That’s not to say I don’t love writing historicals. That painstaking detail is part of what’s fun about it for me. But writing romantic suspense was kind of like just running free.

I decided to try to craft a five-book series, though I didn’t plan it out ahead of time at all. That series is about to see the release of its six full-length novel.

K: One thing I love about this series is the plots.  Oh my, you can tell you are an award winning journalist – these plots do not deal with fluff issues. Is there one plot that readers responded to stronger than others?

P: No, they don’t deal with fluff. I focused my career on women’s issues, American Indian issues, and prison issues primarily. The job of journalist is to be a voice for the voiceless. I tried to use ink on behalf of groups who very rarely got the attention their issues deserved. So some of the topics are pretty intense. But that’s what also makes them strong human stories, I think.

I don’t know if readers respond to any of the plots more than they do others, but Unlawful Contact and Breaking Point seem to be two favorites. Unlawful Contact’s plot revolves around prison issues, which I reported on for 15 years, including a stay in jail as a bogus felony arrest. Breaking Point touches on border issues, Mexican drug cartels and Las Muertas de Ju├írez — the murdered and missing women of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, a topic I touched on once for an article. But I think it’s the hot alpha heroes readers respond to more than the plots, though both are very emotional stories.

K: Reece is the hero in Extreme Exposure, he is a former teacher who is now a senator.  In your second book the hero is a FBI agent and is a little darker.  Was that a conscious choice to make Julian so different from Reece?

P: Characters come to me the way they come to me. Though I do consciously make an effort not to fall into any avoidable patterns in these stories, I don’t sit down and say, “Okay, I want to write someone darker.” The characters determine the plot, and it’s their stories that come to me.
I would say two things happened. One, I began reading romantic suspense and realized that the heroes of these stories for the most part did not wear suits. Two, the investigation behind Extreme Exposure was not nearly as dark as my investigation into child sex trafficking, upon which Hard Evidence is loosely based.

The two men are very different in many ways. Reece is a high school social studies teacher who runs for public office to show his students that one person can make a difference. Julian Darcangelo is an undercover agent who spends his life investigating one of the worst possible crimes that we can imagine — the kidnapping and sexual slavery of minors.

After my investigation into child sex trafficking — one of the most upsetting of my career — I wondered what it must be like to be the person who is pretending to want to buy the 5-year-old girl or the terrible photographs or video footage of unspeakable acts. What must that do to a person in the long term?

The answer that came to me is what shaped Julian’s character. He couldn’t help but be darker than Reece.

K: It seems a lot of us I-Team fans are drawn to these books because of the heroes.  They are all such different characters; they share a common core of a deep sense of protecting the ones they love. The heroines are strong characters too – do you think these men are the only ones they could truly love?

P: I think realistically most of us could love any number of people in our lifetimes. To back that up, I point out that our society is largely one based on serial monogamy. This relationship ends. Another starts. This marriage ends. People date and get married again.
But the circumstances under which these heroes and heroines meet creates a special bond between them. They become one another’s salvation and redemption. They might have fallen in love with someone else, but this relationship represents the greatest love they could have. That’s how I see it anyway.

K: Do the heroines all have a little bit of you in their character?

P: Yes, they do.

Kara McMillan from Extreme Exposure is especially close to who I am as a mother, a journalist, a writer, a woman. Some of the scenes in that story are verbatim from my own dating life, not to mention the violent break-in at her house, though in my case it was two men with knives, not one man with a gun. She was my first contemporary heroine and a single mother like I was, so I think I leaked a lot into her. Kaleo Griffith, who narrates the series, has told me that she is his favorite I-Team heroine because he sees a lot of me in her.

Tessa Novak might represent my girly side — and my absolute addiction to caffeine.

Sophie is close to her brother David. I have two younger brothers, one of whom is named David, and I, like Sophie, can’t stand chocolate chips in my chocolate chip cookies.

Kat James is Navajo, drawn from my time reporting on events in Arizona. Though I’m not Navajo, I can relate in many ways to her feeling of being an outsider and to her love of nature.

Natalie Benoit has had to deal with post-traumatic stress disorder in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, something I had to face as well after the men broke into my home. Also, we are both arachnophobic in the extreme.

There are elements of me in Megan (Rawlings) Hunter, to be sure. She’s a survivor of childhood sexual assault, as am I, something I’ve been very open about since “coming out” in a column in my newspaper in 2007.

And Laura Nilsson from Striking Distance is drawn very much from my European/Scandinavian side. I lived in Denmark for a few years and have friends there. My sister has dual US-Swedish citizenship like Laura, so Laura was a fun character to write for that reason alone.

But here’s the interesting thing. There’s a lot of me in the heroes, too. Say what? Yes, it’s true!
I think the thing about writers is that the stories come from inside us, so it’s natural that parts of us are found everywhere.

K: Many of us fans love how these heroes become fast friends, and they have such a great rapport with each other. I am not sure if I had read many I-Team books when you released Beer Run. Can you share with us how the idea of that short novella at the end of Skin Deep came to be written?

P: Oh, I loved writing the Beer Run!

I can’t remember what we were talking about in my I-Team Facebook group, but one of the members said that she’d read anything I wrote about the heroes, even if it was just Marc and Julian going for a beer run. The idea stuck, and I took it as a challenge. Could I write “Marc and Julian Make a Beer Run” and have it be a fun story? I know a lot of men in law enforcement and the military, and I’m also shoot firearms myself, so the gun talk at the beginning of the story is exactly the sort of thing you hear when you get several of these guys together. The subject of firearms comes up and that’s it. It’s part of their job, part of how they protect themselves and others, so it’s not trivial conversation, but at times it can be very funny.

Another fun part about it was showing the I-Team husbands on their day off just being dads and husbands — until something unexpected happens and they’re called to do more.

What struck me as so fun was how many I-Team fans skipped Skin Deep and went straight to the back to read the Beer Run.

K: You are releasing some new I-Team titles, and introducing us to a new I-Team hero. Reece, Julian, Marc, Gabe, Zach and Nate will now be joined by Javier.  Javi is the hero of First Strike and Striking Distance.

First Strike , a novella, you are self-publishing released in eBook form October 20th. Then you have the full-length Striking Distance I-Team novel releasing November 5. Can you give our readers a short description of what to expect from each?

P: First Strike is an erotic contemporary novella—my first foray into erotica—and tells the story of how Laura, a broadcast journalist, and Javier, an active-duty Navy SEAL meet. It was created out of the original prologue to Striking Distance. I had to cut those pages, but I didn’t want to let them go. So I expanded them and told the full story of how they meet in a hotel bar in Dubai and spend a weekend having a wild “no-strings-attached” fling. Of course, unmarried sex is illegal in Dubai, so there is some suspense, some danger, that they have to deal with. The story ends with a major cliffhanger that leads directly into Striking Distance.

The prologue to Striking Distance picks up 18 months after First Strike ends, then jumps forward another two years, and finishes Laura and Javier’s journey to a happy ever after. And it’s a tough journey. I don’t want to say anything for fear of spoiling the novella for people.

Kame: I am so excited for your new releases – I think they are incredible and I just know people will be blown away!

Pamela: Thank you! I am excited, too!

Kame: Okay TBQ has a tradition of a few quick questions that everyone has to answer– ready for the speed round?


A day on a secluded island OR a day at the spa?
Secluded island! I love beaches and the ocean. If I were Gilligan, I would not have tried to get off the island.

Reading a spicy romance novel OR a sweet “my-heart-skips-a-beat” one?

Which would you rather have an affair with: a sexy highlander OR a devilishly handsome English lord?
Give me a Highlander any day.

Hot summer days OR cold winter nights?
I love winter. I grew up in Colorado right against the mountains, so snuggling down with a cup of coffee in front of the fire when the flakes are falling is the perfect day for me.

Where would your dream house be: in the city, where all the action is OR nestled in the mountain where you can enjoy the quiet and the wilderness?
Can I go back and forth? I love the cultural scene of the city — the restaurants, the museums, the gardens and galleries — but then I need the quiet of the mountains.

If you could live in any time period, past or future, which one would it be?
One? Just one?

My degree is in archaeology, and I love history with a passion. I focused on Rome, Greece (especially the Cycladic cultures), Egypt and Crete. It would be very hard to choose just one. I’d love to see Minoan culture at its height. Then again, wouldn’t it be amazing to walk the streets of ancient Rome or ancient Alexandria? I would love to meet Alexander the Great.

Also, I’d love to go back and give Mozart a big shot of penicillin! I think about this a lot.

If I could prevent World War I and thus World War II, I would do that, also.

Cover Lover OR Blurb Fan?
Both, though one or the other can easily sway me. I have bought books based on their covers alone. There. I admitted it. It’s true! But I always read the back, as well as the excerpt inside the jacket.

Steamy Novella OR Sweet Novel? (aka, Quickie or Slow Build Up?)
Not much for sweet. Need the steam.

Quick—name the one food that you cannot live without?
Coffee. Coffee is a food, right? Can we say it’s a food?

And finally, tell us 3 unique/wacky/fun things about yourself:

I love music to an obsessive degree and sing to myself so much that one day my 80-year-old neighbor in Copenhagen came over to make sure I was okay because I hadn’t been singing. She told me much she enjoyed listening to me sing—at which point I must have turned crimson from utter mortification. She also got me drunk at ten in the morning on sherry, causing me to lock myself out of my flat, but that’s another story.

I was born on February 29, making me a Leap Day baby, and I’m left-handed. That’s kind of weird.

And I am a Trekkie, a Ringer, and a Browncoat. Yes, I’m a nerd, okay?

Bonus weird thing: I love languages. I’ve studied nine, but am only fluent in a couple. Still, I know a fair amount of several. But it’s not just languages, it’s language itself. I make up a lot of words, mixing English with all sorts of other languages, as well as made-up stuff from my own imagination. It’s a wonder my kids ever learned how to speak and call things by their rightful names. Living here must be a bit like living in a James Joyce novel.

Kame: I will yell it from the roof tops that Striking Distance is the BEST book I have read in 2013 (and those of you reading my reviews know I have read over 100 books so far this year!). Make sure to get both First Strike and Striking Distance – and if you are new to the I-Team check out the other books, TBQ will be posting a link to all of my I-Team reviews at the end of this post.

Thank you so much Pamela for your time today you have made my day!

Pamela: Thank you so much for the fun questions! I really appreciate the chance to chat with you and your readers. This has been an absolute pleasure.

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Striking Distance by Pamela Clare

Publisher: Berkley (November 5, 2013) 

Series: I-Team, 6

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Her past is a secret—even to her.
Discovering it will be the most dangerous move of her life.

TV reporter Laura Nilsson, known as the "Baghdad Babe," spent eighteen months in an Al Qaeda compound after being kidnapped live on the air. Two years later, she's still wondering why.

No rescue mission in Javier Corbray's fourteen years as a Navy SEAL affected him the way Laura's rescue did. No woman has stirred his protective instincts the way she has. And he wants her more than he's ever wanted anyone.

As Laura and Javier's passion ignites, so does Laura's need to discover the mystery of her past. Especially when she learns that her abduction was not random—and that she's still a target for a killer with an impenetrable motive. Now Javier will have to rely on his skills to keep the woman he loves from being struck down before she dares uncover the truth.

Where to Buy*:
More Info:

Kame's Reviews of the I-Team Series:

Extreme Exposure (#1)
Hard Evidence (#2)
Naked Edge (#4)
Breaking Point (#5)
First Strike (#5.9)
Striking Distance (#6) [Review posts 11/5!]

*Note, Kame does not have full reviews of book 3, novella 1.5, or novella 5.5 on the blog . . . yet. :)

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Thank you so much for being here today, Pamela! Kame did a wonderful interview, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading through it! It makes me want to play catch up on this series that much more (I have read Naked Edge, which I adored!). Please know that you are welcome back anytime!

Have you been bitten by the I-Team bug? Do you have a favorite book in this series? 

Pamela admits to us she's a "nerd"; let's show her that she's not alone! Who else is a proud nerd and why? 

I could list my nerd attributes for hours, I'm sure. LOTR, Harry Potter...


Until Next Time,

  *TBQ's Book Palace is a member of both the Amazon and Barnes and Nobles affiliates program. By using the links provided to buy products from either website, I receive a very small percentage of the order. To read my full disclosure on the matter, please see this post!


Kame said...

Yes I have to get those reviews I missed done - purely oversight - I loved the novellas and read Marc's book while I was grading finals and forgot to go back! Thank you again TBQ and Pamela - this was a dream!

Colleen Isolde said...

What a great interview!!!! As you know I LOVE Pamela Clare's writing whether it is romantic suspense or her historicals. I HIGHLY recommend her books, especially Breaking Point (I-Team Book 5) - Go Team Zach! ;) I couldn't resist.

First Strike was amazing and November 5 can not come fast enough for me so I can read Striking Distance!

Pat Egan Fordyce said...

Thanks Kame and Pamela!! Great interview. You know how I feel about the I-team books Kame!, but it is even more of an overwhelming experience to listen to them read by the great Kaleo Griffith. I love her words and his voice.

Bonnie Edgar said...

I am and always will be an AVID fan of Pamela's and will read ANYTHING she puts out....I love every I Team, but my favorite is Hard Evidence...I am a huge Julian fan because he is so a replica of someone very dear to me, but then I love them all, lol. This was such a great interview Kame, thank you so much for doing this to share with all of us and for bringing to light so many interesting facts about OUR Pamela. Since I've only joined her group this year, I am still learning about her....she is a truly gifted author, and amazing person and I personally love her to death!! The group is awesome and has many wonderful friends to meet and enjoy. I know her new book is going to blow our minds and I CAN NOT WAIT, only a few more days!!!!!

Kame said...

Thank you Bonnie - I am so happy you enjoyed it. I am a Gabe, Nate and Javi fan myself. Favorite books Naked, Skin Deep and Striking with a side of Breaking

Kame said...

Kaleo! Now that is an idea - one with Pamela and Kaleo - the only part we will miss is his voice - hmm...

Kame said...

Colleen - I don't think anyone will forget your love of Breaking Point - LOL - or that I waited over a year to read Striking Distance and while I was waiting read the whole series!
Thanks for the share and stopping by

Pat Egan Fordyce said...

I LIKE that idea Kame! So much fun.

The_Book_Queen said...

;) Anytime you get them done, I'll be ready to post them. Think of it this way, now you have an "excuse" to do another reread. Homework, as it is. ;) LOL. Thanks again for the wonderful interview, girl! And a big thank you to Pamela, of course!

Tricia Davis said...

What a wonderful interview! You know?? Once a reader discovers Pamela's stories, they become instantly hooked. It's not just the characters that draws us women in, but oh my, all of the males in all of Pamela's stories do tug at every woman's fantasy strings and wishing we were the leading female in every story (both I-Team and the MacKinnon's series) but it's how very well the stories are written, delivering such dynamic and diversified dialogues between the characters, delivering such imagery about the scenes unfolding where the readers can easily visualize who, what, when, where and why with a hint of gritty, edgy suspense yet filled with such delicious romantic passion all added to one hell of an entertaining, steamy and memorable read. Pamela is in a caliber of her own and the number of fans anticipating every new story, demanding more, says everything there is to say about this wonderful, nice, thoughtful lady. BTW, First Strike was superb and the wait for Striking Distance to be released is almost painful a wait, especially if one is impatient like I am. :-)

Sharon Cox said...

Thank you for posting this wonderful interview. I am an avid fan of all of Pamela's books, both contemporary and historical. My favorite of all? Breaking Point! Zack will live in my heart forever!

Colleen Isolde said...

Great idea!!!! Maybe you could record a skype session with them or record them and post the audio?

Kame said...

I couldn't agree more Tricia - thank you for stopping by!

Kame said...

That would be awesome - then everyone can hear Kaleo and become afflicted with OKD!

Kame said...

Thank you for stopping by Sharon!

Tricia Davis said...

I forgot to put in that Pamela's stories will no doubt pull at your heartstrings. They reach you on an emotional level.

Brenda Heald said...

Terrific interview. I love how open Pamela is about her process and how her own experiences make their way into her books. Thanks for the interview; it's helping me pass the time until Striking Distance comes out next week.