(or you could just scroll down )
PINTIP: I am so thrilled to bring you a very special interview today. Not only do we have five-time Golden Heart finalist Sharon Wray, but she is accompanied by the hot men of her two finaling manuscripts, JULIET’S ROGUE and ROGUE’S REDEMPTION. Sergeant Rafe Montfort and Major Nate Walker are tough ex-soldiers willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done and protect the women they love. Oh, and did I mention they were hot?
But don’t just take my word for it. Read on and find out for yourselves!
(Note: We are sitting outside at the Firefly Cafe in Savannah, GA drinking sweet tea while the men are trying to act like they fit in. But their combat pants, black T’s, massive biceps, and Rafe’s arm tattoos have just scared away our waitress. Oh, well. We didn’t really need that second brownie.)
SHARON: Thank you so much for interviewing me today, Pintip. Rafe’s story has finaled before, but this is a first for Nate. Although I never think I have a chance, Rafe was convinced he’d final again (yes, he is that arrogant). But Nate was my long shot so we were both surprised. I’m sure Nate figured if he finaled, he get more “horizontal time” with his heroine. That’s my Nate. Always the dreamer.
NATE: I just wish I’d finaled alone. Now I have to go to Atlanta with Rafe.
RAFE (grinning): I’ve finaled three times. And I won the Daphne Du Maurier contest. Nate came in third. Or was it fourth?
NATE: You’re a mon–
SHARON: If you call him a monkey buttshine, we’re ending now. Can we move on, Pintip? Please.
RAFE: How about a sexy hero protecting a stubborn, beautiful, and intelligent heroine (whom I adore), bad-ass arms dealers, a three-hundred year old curse, a 12th century manuscript, a sultry Georgia sea island, and romance. Too be honest, I’d prefer more sex and less talking. But that’s just me.
NATE (laughing): You? A sexy hero? All I saw was a pain-in-the-ass ex-Green Beret who disobeyed my direct order and ended up in prison. And didn’t Juliet slap you? Twice?
RAFE: My lovely wife has forgiven me. Besides, I know Sara put you through hell. Especially when she walked out on you and took all your weapons. And your clothes. Didn’t she slap you, too?
NATE: I don’t remember that part. But my story has an even sexier hero trying to ditch a beautiful, intelligent heroine (a Smithsonian Archivist specializing in Colonial American history) tormented by an arms dealer who needs her to translate one of George Washington’s unsolved ciphers from the American Revolution.
NATE: I didn’t know about the cipher. I mean, it sounds ridiculous. A pirate’s cipher used by General Washington during the Revolution? A cipher that unlocked a series of hidden tunnels holding high-tech weapons and drugs in old cemeteries along the South Carolina coast? That’s nuts.
RAFE: Yeah, especially to someone who’s spent his life fighting bad guys with the most advanced technology available, then finds himself disgraced and living with his men in a rundown southern mansion without electricity. So when Sara showed up unexpectedly, demanding help, Nate was unprepared. I liked that part.
NATE (sighing): Who, besides my wife, translates 17th century Latin ciphers anymore? And wanders around old cemeteries? I’ve got to say, though, the Latin-thing is hot. Speaking of which, we could’ve had more sex and less talking, too. Is there still time to revise?
PINTIP: I could listen to (and look at) these guys talk forever. But if you insist. Sharon, can you tell us a bit about your writing schedule? How long do you write everyday, and how do you balance life with writing?
SHARON: When the kids are in school, I write. I take short breaks to make beds, do laundry, dishes, pet the dog. Once they’re home, I’m off the computer for the night. During the summer, I get up early and get two hours done before the kid stuff begins.
PINTIP: That’s impressive, Sharon. I think we all struggle with the work/life balance. What about you, Rafe and Nate? How do you balance careers with love and family?
RAFE: Considering I ditched my wife, left my A-team, and went to work as an assassin for an arms dealer before ending up in jail for five years, I’d say not well.
RAFE: Since I won my wife back after a hell of a lot of work and even more groveling, I have a plan. No more mercenary work. No more lying to the people I love. And I’m committed to making my wife feel safe and loved forever.
NATE: When did you become a romantic?
RAFE: About the same time you did. So let’s hear how you balance everything, Mr. Perfect-who-follows-every-rule-even-if-they-bite-me-in-the-ass.
NATE: Rules are there for a reason. Maybe if you’d followed my orders–
SHARON: Enough! Nate, either answer or we’re moving on.
NATE (smiling): Yes, ma’am. I married the only woman who will put up with me. As long as I don’t piss her off, I’m good.
PINTIP (smiling): I’ve never had this much fun in an interview. Nate, as an ex-Green-Beret, trust is essential between you and the members of your team. Can you talk about how it felt when one of your trusted team members turned on you?
NATE: That’s a hell of a question. After years of living and working with each other, we form a bond that’s deeper than friendship, more important than blood. It becomes a part of you, until the mission and the safety of your buddies is your only priority.
So when one of our own set us up in Afghanistan on murder charges, then watched as we all went to prison and were dishonorably discharged, it felt like a knife through my ba–I mean, gut. Unfortunately, half of our men are still imprisoned. We’re outside the intel community. We have no money, fewer weapons, and are alone in our mission to figure out what happened and why.
NATE: Rafe? Shut the hell up.
PINTIP: Wow, Nate. I see why readers fell in love with your story. I’m starting to fall a little bit in love myself. (clears throat) Rafe, you’ve had experience doing something you believe in deeply, although it’s been very difficult under the circumstances. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
RAFE: I’d rather not.
SHARON: Answer the question, Rafe. Or no more sex. Ever.
RAFE (scowling): First of all, everything I’ve done–and will ever do–has been to protect my wife. But while I worked for the arms dealer Aidan Mitchell, I got caught up in one of his enterprises–ridding the world of mercenaries who refuse to follow the rules of war. And, yes, there are rules. While killing is never easy–and I’m done with it–sometimes it’s necessary. And that’s all I’m going say about it.
SHARON: Yes! On a whim I bought a long, grecian-styled, chiffon gown with one shoulder strap made of pearls and crystals. And it’s orange. Not pumpkin orange, more of a summery coral orange. Now to find shoes…
PINTIP: Oooh, Sharon, that sounds absolutely dreamy. You are going to look stunning in it. Nate and Rafe, can you chime in with some fashion advice here? What would you like to see your girl wear on a special night like this?
RAFE: I like naked.
SHARON (horrified and embarrassed!): Pintip was talking about me! Not Juliet or Sara.
RAFE (blushing): I’m sure you’ll look nice in whatever you choose.
NATE (staring at the floor): And thin.
SHARON: Good grief. See what I have to put up with?
PINTIP: I do see. And I’m kinda thinking you are one lucky girl to have men like these in your head all day! But this can be a tough business. Any advice on how to stay motivated?
SHARON: I’m terrible at motivating people (just ask my kids. And my dog) but I do have some advice on how to get and stay focused.
PINTIP: Just for the record? Totally disagree. Sharon has motivated me on a number of occasions. But go ahead…
Know what you want to write. The genre, the style, the recurring themes.
(Know them. Love them. Be true to them.)
Don’t count the years. Or the manuscripts.
(Nine years and eight manuscripts–but I’m NOT counting.)
Don’t compare yourself or your work to anyone else.
Stay true to your strengths.
(They will carry you through when you feel like giving up.)
Find your weaknesses, both personal and professional, and slay them ruthlessly.
Be as honest as you can with yourself about your own work and be open to fair criticism.
Learn to recognize destructive criticism and toss it out before it ruins your writing day (or year).
Be kind to yourself.
(Give yourself little rewards for every query sent, every contest final, after EVERY rejection.)
(One of mine is to have a new manuscript every year to enter in the GH–or to sell!)
Keep your head down in the work and out of the noise.
(This one, my favorite, came from my amazing agent Deidre Knight who told me the most important thing is the current manuscript. Nothing else matters. If the entire publishing industry implodes, you’ll be the one who has a brilliant new story that someone will be desperate to read.)
PINTIP: Thanks so much to all three of you for being here today!
SHARON: Thank you, Pintip! We had a wonderful time!
Wow. Just wow. I don’t know about you, but after that interview, I cannot wait to get my hand on these stories! I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did!
Juliet’s Rogue: Juliet Capel, from a small Savannah sea island, knows the devastation of true love. Abandoned by her people after she married Rafe Montfort, a Special Forces soldier from the wrong family, then scarred by his desertion and imprisonment, she vowed never to rely on others or fall in love again. But when Rafe returns sexier than ever, with tales of an arms dealer who believes she holds the key to a medieval biological weapon, she accepts Rafe’s help. He has the strength, the guns, and the experience. All she has is a curse.
Ex-Green Beret Rafe Montfort has lived a violent life since leaving his men and his wife. But when he’s unexpectedly freed from prison, he discovers the arms dealer he’s still tied to needs Juliet to unlock secrets their feuding families have held for centuries. Secrets protected by the Capel Curse. Now Rafe must convince the only woman he’s ever loved that breaking the curse—reliving a tragic love story from the past—is their last chance to destroy the weapon, release Rafe from his devil’s deal, and keep Juliet alive. Except Rafe knows if Juliet can’t learn to trust, and love, again they will lose each other. And maybe the entire world.
Rogue’s Redemption: Sara Munro, a Smithsonian Archivist, knows her hypothesis that pirates built secret rooms beneath the oldest cemeteries in the South is the joke her department. Her belief that the locations of these rooms are hidden in the only unsolved Revolutionary War cipher hasn’t helped her reputation. Yet, despite the scorn of her peers and the unwanted attention of a brutal arms dealer, Sara refuses to give up. Not even when, while searching for answers in a Savannah cemetery, she discovers a secret paramilitary operation led by sexy ex-Green Beret Nate Walker.
Nate, on a mission of his own to find out who betrayed his A-team, isn’t happy. Although Sara is beautiful, smart, and sexy, he doesn’t have time for her nonsense about cipher keys buried in the tragic story of two 17th century lovers. He has to figure out why he and his men were dishonorably discharged, why ten of his men are still in prison. And he has zero interest in reliving this doomed three-hundred year-old love affair–until he realizes that Sara’s legend is not only real, but is being resurrected by the arms dealer he fought in Afghanistan. Now, in order to stop a massive drugs-for-weapons conspiracy, he must help Sara solve the cipher, take down the arms dealer, and learn that forgiveness, not revenge, is the only road to redemption.
A librarian/archivist who also studied dress design in the couture houses of Paris, Sharon is a five-time RWA Golden Heart Romantic Suspense author repped by Deidre Knight of The Knight Agency. As she waits for the “Call”, Sharon writes stories of adventure, suspense and love and blogs on her own website, Kiss and Thrill, The Dashing Duchesses, The Firebirds, and Blame it on the Muse.
When she’s not writing, she’s snapping photos of her own hero/husband, her boy/girl twins, and her garden while negotiating backyard territory rights with her dog Donut.
**All photographs courtesy of Sharon Wray.**