Julie Ann Walker e-interviewed by Martina Bexte (August, 2012)
Julie Ann Walker grew up in rural Oklahoma and was introduced to books at a very early age, a love that eventually led to her becoming the senior editor of her high school newspaper. Once she was off to college however, Julie Ann says she 'longed for a challenge' so pursued mathematics and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree. She went on to teach advanced high school math and although she loved interacting with her students, writing was still her first passion. After a move to Chicago and encouragement from her husband, it didn't take Julie Ann long to sign that first contract.
Her debut release, Hell on Wheels, has already garnered plenty of praise and a legion of fans eager to gobble up more stories about Black Knights Inc., Walker's kick ass romantic suspense series that focuses on an elite Special Ops team who are much more than they seem.
Q: Why romantic suspense, and why with a military twist? What is it about this genre that fulfills you as a reader and now, as a writer?
A: I'm a total action movie junkie and, for me, romantic suspense is sort of the literary equivalent. I mean, flying bullets, alpha males, explosions, damsels in distress and ... steamy sex. What's not to love, am I right? Hehe! And the military aspect came about because I volunteer for the USO and have firsthand experience of the courage and sacrifice our men and women in uniform display every day. From the beginning, I wanted to tell their stories. It's fulfilling to tell their stories. We see the after-effects of battle on the news, the wounded and dead. But what we don't see is the valour and daring in the middle of the fray. By writing romantic suspense, I get to show readers those heart-pounding, gut-wrenching aspects, and I find that very satisfying.
Q: Tell readers what makes your Black Knights Inc. series different from some of the other military romantic suspense series out there right now?
A: I like to think there are a couple of things that make this series stand out. The first is that there's a twist. Black Knights Inc. isn't just a covert government defence firm. It's a covert government defence firm operating under the guise of a custom motorcycle shop. So, therefore, we get a double whammy of delicious alpha heroes. The man in uniform, and the leather-wearing, Harley-riding rebel with - in this case - a cause. Oh, it fair makes a gal's heart flutter! And, secondly, my writing style is very urban and fresh, filled with pop-culture references and some pretty funny banter that one doesn't often find in romantic suspense.
Q: Did you find it challenging to research the military aspects of your stories?
A: I didn't, thank goodness. Since I volunteer at the USO, it's a piece of cake to pull a soldier aside and pepper him or her with questions. They're always happy to help, especially when I tell them I'm writing a sultry romance. *wink, wink*.
Q: Your heroes are dark, dangerous and carry lots of personal and professional baggage - would you say that's the most essential element of this series and your characters' growth?
A: Absolutely it's essential to the series and the growth of the characters. As an evil author, I love to torture my leads, give them real, often-times ugly histories that tend to get in the way of their happily-ever-afters. Now, why do I do this? Because, oh, once they do finally overcome all those obstacles, once they do finally drop - or at least lighten the load - of all that baggage they're carrying around, it's pure, 100%, unadulterated bliss.
Q: So far, your female leads are take no prisoners types of gals, especially Becky Reichert, heroine of the second instalment, In Rides Trouble, due out in September. Why were you so tough on Becky - not to mention CO, Frank Knight?
A: Why was I so tough on them? Because they're both stubborn as mules, that's why! Seriously, there were times even I wanted to crack their heads together. But I'll admit I had the most fun writing their story and it's probably because they fought me - and each other - every step of the way. I am a romantic suspense writer, after all. So you know I like a good battle.
Q: Your flash-bang action scenes transported me right into the thick of things - do you find these portions of your stories easy or difficult to choreograph?
A: My agent and editor will tell you I thrive on action. Those scenes where bullets are flying and people are running for cover are my milk and honey. I get so caught up in them, in fact, that I tend to overwrite. Thanks goodness for editors, or Black Knights Inc. would probably be nothing but a series of motorcycle chases, explosions, and near misses - with a few wild sex scenes thrown in, you know, just to spice things up. Ha!
Q: You also have a deft hand at keeping the sexual tension at a high-octane level - how important is this balance in a romantic suspense?
A: Now, to be quite honest, this is where I struggle. You think I have a deft hand at it - which I'm oh-so-pleased to hear - but the truth of the matter is I have to fight to keep the sexual tension, the romance in the book. Usually I write my scenes, be they action or exposition or whatever, and then I go back and pepper in the emotional angst. I always say that part doesn't come naturally for me, but my agent disagrees and says it just doesn't come first for me. I'm not sure which one of us is right ...
Q: The Black Knights home base operates under the guise of a custom motorcycle shop, which, when the guys are in full mission mode, is transformed into what they call the bat cave. How much fun was it for you to create this aspect of the Knights' world?
A: Oh. My. Gosh. The day I sat down and started outlining the Black Knights' world, I totally got carried away. Drawing sketches of the guys. Outlining their characters. Coming up with some pretty terrible schematics for BKI headquarters. Everything about Black Knights Inc., from the compound, to the weapons, to the characters, has been - and continues to be - a total blast. I seriously can't wait to jump out of bed every morning to see who's up to what, and where the story will take me next!
Q: You've already introduced an intriguing assortment of Spec Ops soldiers (and their secrets) in your first two instalments: will each team member eventually get their own story?
A: Absolutely. All the boys and girls at Black Knights Inc. are special and they each deserve their own happily-ever-after. And I'm determined to give it to them!
Q: Are there any other genres that you're interested in trying out?
A: I'm playing around with a series that my agent doesn't know whether to label as paranormal, fantasy, or sci-fi romance, since it's a bit of all three. I can't give too much away, but I will say this, it's outside of the box. And I can't wait for readers to weigh in!Look for the next two books in Julie Ann Walker's fast-paced and exciting series: In Rides Trouble (September 2012) and Rev It Up (October 2012). For more information about the author and her Knights, please visit JulieAnnWalker.com or follow her on Facebook or Twitter@JAWalkerAuthor.
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