There are so many exciting things going on in publishing right now, and so many new ways to discover authors and their stories.
Just recently I learned about Kindle Worlds, a series of stories written in the worlds of other books. It’s like fan fiction taken to a whole new level, with authors writing spin-off stories of other authors’ books. For example, a story about how Aiden became a relief worker, or the story of what happened next in Kat and Owen’s relationship would be perfect Kindle Worlds stories.
I learned about Kindle Worlds when I sat down to talk with author Heather Sunseri about her latest project. After launching her own In Darkness series of romantic suspense novels, readers wanted to know what became of one of the more minor characters in the story. Heather had no plans to write about Charley, until she was invited to write a Kindle Worlds story. The result, Protected in Darkness is out today.
I talked to Heather about her genre-bending work, her passion for travel, and her love of pizza.
In your books, you blend genres, but romance, suspense, and science always predominate. If you’ll pardon the pun, what’s the attraction?
Yes, I pretty much write romantic suspense. Sometimes that comes in the form of science fiction as in the Mindspeak Series, dystopian fiction as in the Emerge series, and, of course, straight romantic suspense as in the In Darkness series. But even in the In Darkness series, I started the series with a bioterrorism case in which I made up the lethal poison that was used to contaminate bourbon in order to poison a lot of people. I’m definitely attracted to science for two reasons: 1) I grew up on such things as Star Wars and Battle Star Galactica; and 2) I think that’s the world we live in. Science is constantly changing how we live our lives. Whether it’s in the medical world (which I’m especially attracted to) or technology (both the gadgets we use and in the cyber world). In both those areas, there is a lot of good happening, but there’s also a lot of room for potential crime and misuse of the technology. And when good and crime converge, there’s opportunity for compelling fiction.
Your third and fourth books in the In Darkness series came out in August, which means more terrifying adventures for Brooke. I’m curious if you have a background in bioterrorism and cyber terrorism, or if you write about topics you want to learn about.
My husband works for the Kentucky Office of Homeland Security, and, of course, I pay attention to the news. And when my husband and I take long walks with Jenny, our Golden Retriever, we use that time as sort of a think tank. We analyze what’s going on in the world, what could potentially go wrong, and what criminals and terrorists might try next. And then I research if the ideas are plausible, and if I can gather enough material to actually make a plot out of it. (Yes, I’m nearly positive that I’m on several watch lists based on my internet search history.)
So, to answer your question, I don’t have a background in bioterrorism or cyber terrorism. And I don’t necessarily write about topics I “want” to learn about, but about topics that I find interesting, are scary as hell, and could be possible threats to people around the world.
Do you have a topic you’d love to explore, but which you haven’t written about yet?
TONS! Stay tuned to future books. 🙂
You and I have much in common, including “recovering” from left-brained first careers. When did you realize you were meant to write and how did you make that transition from CPA to author?
I think I was always meant to be creative in some way. I’m not artistic at all, but I love art. I love beautiful design and the act of doing something creative—anything. And I was dying a slow, miserable death in the corporate world where anytime you had a creative idea, you were handed another boring assignment that required hours and hours of just sitting at the computer and crunching numbers. I started writing as a way to escape. I began writing any time I had time off, but mostly in the summers when I actually took off three months. I continued working after I released books one and two of the Mindspeak series. But by the time I released book three, I was pretty sure that if I quit my job I could work faster and release books fast enough to make a living. And I had been saving every bit of the money I was making from book sales. So I had built up a nice savings before I took the giant leap.
Last we chatted, you asked me about my travels, so now I get to turn the question back on you. What’s your favorite country that you’ve visited? Favorite city? Best travel experience?
Favorite country? At this moment… England, though I very much enjoyed Costa Rica, as well.
Favorite City? This is just so hard! I like different places for different reasons. But I’ll choose London for now. But I also love San Francisco. Ask me next year, and you might get a different answer.
And best travel experience? There are too many. I loved biking across the Golden Gate Bridge, kayaking to the Blue Room in Curacao, zip lining in Costa Rica, and everything about the trip I just got back from with my daughter to Paris and London. We simply had so much fun and experiences we’ll talk about for a long time! Travel is just the best gift you can give someone.
On your website, you mention home-made pizza. Of course, that piqued my interest. Is cooking another creative outlet, a meditative pastime, or something you have to do so your family doesn’t rebel?
I wish I loved cooking. And I definitely do love it when I have the time to do it “right”. But for the most part, I cook so that my family won’t rebel, and as a necessity because we live in a small town with very few restaurants who serve vegan options and both of my kids are 100% vegan.
The home-made pizza is a recipe my mom made every Saturday night when I was growing up. So, this is something my family and I do almost ever Friday night. I have my mom’s version and my kids’ new vegan version. I make one of each on Friday nights.
Thanks, Heather. It’s always great to chat with you.
Thank you so much, Lisa for inviting me to your little space on the internet!! I truly love our little chats. We should make this a regular thing!! There’s nothing I love more than to talk books, art, and travel over pizza.
Heather’s Kindle World novella, Protected in Darkness is out today.
Four years ago, Charley Packstone was hopelessly stuck in a miserable life as the daughter of the thug running Kentucky’s deadliest outlaw motorcycle gang and the twin sister to the gang’s future leader.
As Kate Ward, she’s built a simple but lonely life for herself and her four-year-old daughter inside the Witness Protection Program.
Kate has rules—rules to keep her and her daughter hidden from the wrath of the motorcycle club that wants her dead. But one fateful night, she lets her guard down after meeting a handsome stranger—Navy Seal Colt Callaway—at a bar along the Virginia Beach boardwalk. And after a sexy one-night-stand, Colt resolves to penetrate the steep walls that protect Kate’s heart.
A dead rat left on Kate’s front porch the next morning sends a clear message: the biker gang she ratted out years ago has finally found her.
No matter how badly Colt believes he can save the troubled and beautiful woman he just met, Kate’s only choice is to grab her daughter and vanish under a fresh identity. But can she do it before someone close to her is killed? And can she truly say goodbye to Colt forever?
About Heather Sunseri:
Heather Sunseri is a recovering CPA who began writing novels in order to escape the mundane life as a muggle. After twenty years in the corporate world, Heather decided to use her business savvy and curious mind to start a publishing business anchored by fictional stories. She is proof that one can be a numbers person and a creative… And that it’s never too late (or too early) to get a do over. She’s married to the love of her life, mom to two amazing kids, and caregiver to the best golden retriever and one very, needy cat. When she’s not writing, she’s making homemade pizza and drinking Kentucky bourbon.