Sunday, 6 September 2009

Getting to know Irene Hannon

Irene Hannon has been writing successfully for years but has now garnered herself a whole new set of readers with her romantic suspense series, Heroes of Quantico. I love Irene's characters and the heart pounding suspense she seems to create with ease.

The second in the trilogy, An Eye for An Eye, has just released and it is brilliant :)

Enjoy this insight into Irene and be sure to grab her books ~ you will not be disappointed!

If you could have chosen your own name, what would it be?

I'm named after my grandmother, who I never knew, but I've heard wonderful stories about her. So I've always been perfectly happy with my name.

Your first pet's name?

Hmm. I know we had a dog when I was very young, but I can't recall his/her name. My favourite pet's name, however, was Skippy. She was a mutt that my dad found rummaging through our garbage can one cold, snowy night when I was about eight. She had beautiful golden hair and wonderful expressive eyes. Many years later, old and in failing health, she disappeared as she'd come, on a cold, snowy night. Despite an exhaustive search, we never found her.

Your best friend's name in primary (elementary) school?

I went through a series of “best friends” in school. But my perennial best friend, who came every summer to visit her grandmother a couple of houses down the block, was named Sharon. We spent hours playing dress-up in our mother's fancy old party outfits. She had a red dress to die for! We've never lost touch, though we've always lived hundreds of miles apart, and to this day she's still “the lady in the red” to me!

Did you have a special toy that went everywhere with you when you were young? Please describe.

I can't say it went everywhere with me, but I had a beloved Raggedy Ann doll that was never too far away. She was patched so many times my mom started putting patches on patches. I still have her, tucked away in a box on the top shelf of my closet. In fact, she was the inspiration for the doll that appears in Book 3 of my Heroes of Quantico series, In Harms' Way, which will be out next April. We even used a Raggedy Ann doll on the cover because it's such a critical element in the story.

If you were stranded on a desert island what one object would you want with you?

Assuming you mean something more than the basics needed for life support (because I'm very practical and those would be the first items on my list), I think it would have to be a pen that never ran dry and a tablet with unlimited sheets. I can't imagine not being able to write!

What's your favourite ice cream flavour?

I'm not a huge ice cream eater. I'd much rather have a decadent chocolate pastry! But chocolate or strawberry would be my ice cream flavours of choice.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

I went through a whole bunch of things, including an astronaut, an astronomer and a singer/actress. I didn't settle on my final career choice until I was in college. But I always wrote--so it's not surprising I ended up as a novelist.

If you coul
d travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?

I've been fortunate to be able to travel to lots of exotic places, from the jungles of Bali, to the pyramids in Egypt, to the windmills of Santorini, to the souk in Marrakesh. But what I've learned is that I like coastal areas best, and my husband and I almost always try to work those into our vacation plans.

Favourite book?

I don't have one favourite. I've read many books I've liked. A few that come to mind are Five Smooth Stones by Ann Fairbairn, Mila 18 by Leon Uris and A Woman of Substance by Barbara Taylor Bradford. I also enjoyed the Mitford series by Jan Karon.

Rel:~ Mila 18 is one of my absolute favourites, also!

Favourite movie?

Again, no single movie. But I do like happy endings! And for pure enjoyment, it's hard to beat a Cary Grant flick. The Bachelor and the Bobbysoxer is fabulous if you like romantic comedy. And it's timeless.

Favourite musical?

Camelot. I love the sweeping grandeur of that show. But I like many others, too, mostly from the classic era of Broadway musicals (Lerner and Lowe, Rodgers & Hammerstein, etc.)

Your favourite hobby ?

Performing in musical theatre productions. I love to sing, and I've been blessed to play some wonderful leading-lady roles in my favourite shows, including Anna in The King and I, Fiona in Brigadoon, Nellie in South Pacific, Laurey in Oklahoma, Reno in Anything Goes--and many others.

Where is the most interesting place you have been?

I love all the places I've been, some of which are mentioned above. Others include the island of Molokai in Hawaii, the remote island of Inishbofin off the west coast of Ireland, Tuscany and the Amalfi Coast (including Pompeii), and the streets of Paris. Can you tell I love to travel?

Rel: Pompeii is fabulous ~ I went in 1996 and was completely fascinated.

Great Barrier Reef, Uluru (Ayers Rock) or Sydney Harbour Bridge?

Despite my love of travel, I've never made it to Australia. But it's on my list of places to visit!

What's your most fervent prayer?

That God will help me discern His will and give me the grace, courage and strength to carry it out--and to endure when life is difficult.

What is your favourite Bible verse (or "one" of your favourites) and what does it mean to you?

Matthew 6:21--“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” This verse always helps me keep my priorities straight.

Besides God, who has influenced you the most?

My parents. They have always been my ardent fans, encouraging me every step of the way in every venture I undertook. They believed in me, and because they believed, I believed, too. There's an old saying about the two gifts parents can give their children--one is roots, the other wings. My parents gave me both. They created a home where I was accepted without question, loved without conditions and encouraged without restraint. With that kind of foundation, it's easy to take on the world. I give thanks every day for the gift of their continued presence in my life.

What's the bravest thing you've ever done?

Signing up for voice lessons in college--and going to auditions for musicals. I'd always wanted to sing, but had zero confidence in my abilities. Taking the first step of committing to voice lessons was tough…and going to those first auditions in front of a roomful of competitors who wanted you to fail was even tougher. But I wanted it badly enough to persevere--and it paid off. Kind of like getting published!

What was your most embarrassing moment in High School?

I honestly can't remember any truly embarrassing moments.

How did your husband propose?

He took me to our favourite restaurant and presented me with a hand-lettered declaration of his love that I treasure to this day.

What is the best advice you have received about marriage?

I didn't actually receive any advice before my own marriage, but a few years later I heard some from a friend who was getting married. It had been passed on to her by her mother, who told her not to expect her husband to be perfect, because if he was perfect, he would never have chosen her for his wife. That was a bit blunt, but true. We all have out faults, and it's best to acknowledge--and accept--that right up front.

How did you make the adjustment from a high powered career in communications to the rather solitary life of a writer?

The truth is, there was no adjustment. I'm perfectly happy spending my days with the fascinating characters who people my novels. I don't miss the power at all. And I sure don't miss the rush-hour commute, corporate politics or a relentless BlackBerry that never slept!

What has been one of your highlights of your writing career?

There have been a number of highlights. Winning the RITA (the “Oscar” of romantic fiction) from Romance Writers of America in 2003--and being nominated twice since then--is certainly near the top of the list. Selling my Heroes of Quantico series to Revell and successfully making the leap from category romance to single title has also been a thrill. And the letters I get from readers never fail to touch me. Especially the ones where a reader tells me one of my books has changed her life.

Heroes of Quantico series

  • Against All Odds
  • An Eye for an Eye
  • In Harm's Way (releasing April, 2010)

You have written romance novels for many years - what made you turn your hand to romantic suspense?

I always loved both romance and suspense, and I wanted to write a bigger book, so romantic suspense was the obvious genre for my breakout book. And the results have been amazing. Book 1 in the series, Against All Odds, was on both the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists for multiple months and has gone into a third printing. And Book 2 has just garnered a stellar review from Booklist. So I'm expecting great things from it in the marketplace, too!

Please describe each of your main characters with one word







Do you have a favourite book or character from this series?

That's like asking a mother to pick her favourite child! I love them all!

How much research is involved in stories about the FBI?

A huge amount! I had no background in law enforcement when I began working on the series, so the first thing I did was research the FBI and its Hostage Rescue Team. Several very good books were invaluable to me on those subjects. But books only go so far. Eventually you have to talk to real people. I started with a police detective who sang with me in the church choir, and he put me in touch with a just-retired FBI agent who was a tremendous help. Eventually, one connection led to another. In the course of writing this series, I worked with police officers, FBI agents, physicians, academics and a host of other experts in their fields. I also enrolled in the Citizens Police Academy. And I spent hours on the Net.

How do you integrate your faith into the stories and lives of your characters?

For me, it's a very natural thing; the faith element is organic to the story because at least one of my main characters has a strong faith that guides his or her life. But my books aren't preachy. The faith content is subtle and reflected more in characters' actions than in words. I prefer to show characters living their faith rather than talking about it.

What do you hope readers will take away from the Heroes of Quantico stories?

I try to do three things with every book I write. First, I want to entertain. People need wholesome ways to unwind in today's stressful, fast-paced world, and I do my best to write books that help them put aside their cares for a few hours. Second, I want to leave people with hope; with a belief that no matter how tough life gets, a happy ending is always possible. And finally, I want people to close the last page with a better appreciation for the tremendous power of love--both human and divine--to change lives.

What is in your writing pipeline after this series? No pressure but a sneak peek would be lovely!

I'm thrilled to announce that I just signed a new contract with Revell for another three-book suspense series! This series will revolve around three siblings involved in justice-related professions--two brothers and a sister. I'm hard at work on the first book, which features a U.S. marshal and a federal judge, and I expect it to release early in 2011.

Thank you so much, Irene, for sharing some of yourself and your story with us! I am thrilled you have another contract as I loved Against All Odds and devoured An Eye for An Eye, certainly one of my top reads for 2009!

Coming soon @ Relz Reviewz:~

  • Character spotlight on Mark and Emily
  • My review of An Eye for An Eye

Relz Reviewz Extras

Character spotlight on Monica and Coop from Against All Odds

Visit Irene's website

Buy Irene's books at Amazon or Koorong


Diane said...

Great interview and fun questions! :O)

Jenny said...

I really enjoyed this interview, ladies. Thanks for sharing. :)

Rel said...

Thanks Diane and Jenny!

I so appreciate comments on interviews that authors have given so much time to :)

Nice pic of you, Diane :)

16shamrock said...

My thanks, too, to Diane and Jenny for taking time to comment. And to Rel for giving me the chance to offer readers an "inside peek" at my life and work. Irene Hannon

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