Friday, February 8, 2013

Featured Author Interview: Irene Hannon

Irene Hannon
Irene Hannon, who writes both romance and romantic suspense, is the author of more than 40 novels. A former corporate communications executive with a Fortune 500 company, Irene now writes full time. 

In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, gardening and singing. A trained vocalist, she has sung the leading role in numerous musicals, including “South Pacific,” “Brigadoon,” “Oklahoma” “The King and I” and “Anything Goes.” She is also a soloist at her church.

When not otherwise occupied, Irene and her husband enjoy traveling, Saturday mornings at their favorite coffee shop and spending time with family. They make their home in Missouri.

The following is a February 2013 interview with Irene.

Picture1.   Tell us a little about yourself. 

Hmm…where to begin? I could tell you some of the fun stuff I’ve done—like attending the monkey dance in the moonlit jungle on Bali, or gliding over the Alaskan glaciers in a float plane at sunset, or winging down to the Caribbean for lunch on a cruise ship with the CEO and chairman of the board of a Fortune 500 company—but  I’ll stick to the basics! I have a B.A. in psychology and a master’s in journalism. I worked for the aforementioned Fortune 500 company for 20+ years in corporate communications, writing fiction on the side. After rising to the executive ranks…and finding myself on call 24/7…I left the corporate world a few years ago to write full time—and never looked back! I’m also married to my very own romantic hero!

If you want the “official” bio, here it is: Irene Hannon is the author of more than 40 novels, including the bestselling Heroes of Quantico and Guardians of Justice series. Her books have been honored with two coveted RITA awards (the “Oscar” of romantic fiction), a National Readers’ Choice Award, a HOLT Medallion, a Retailers Choice Award, a Daphne du Maurier Award and two Reviewers’ Choice Awards from RT Book Reviews magazine.Booklist also named one of her novels a “Top 10 Inspirational Fiction” title for 2011.

2.  How did you become a novelist, and did you always want to write? 

I’ve always loved to read and write, and the progression to novelist was a natural one. As for “becoming” a writer—I  think writers are born, not made. I’ve always believed that writing, like many other talents, is a gift. For example, much as I wish I could draw, no matter how many lessons I might take every person I tried to sketch would still end up being a stick figure. I just don’t see with the eyes of an artist. I think writing is like that. But I do like to tell people that I launched my professional writing career at the age of 10, when I was one of the honorees in a complete-the-story contest sponsored by a national children’s magazine!

3.   What do you think is significant about Christian fiction? 

Christian fiction is a hope-filled genre, and I think that’s what sets it apart from many secular books. Because the stories are told from a Christian worldview, readers are never left in darkness. There is light at the end of the tunnel. There is redemption. There is forgiveness. All things are possible. That doesn’t mean Christian fiction is preachy. Not at all. In my books, the faith element is subtle; the Christian characters live their beliefs more than talk about them. But those beliefs guide every choice and decision they make.

4.   How do you hope your readers react to the stories you write? 

I have three goals when I write a book. First, entertain. Second, leave people with hope; with the belief that no matter how bad things get, happy endings are possible. And finally, I want to give readers a better appreciation for the tremendous power of love—both human and divine—to transform lives.

5.   What responses to your novels have affected you the most and why? 

I’m touched every single time a reader makes the effort to write me a note about one of my books. But the ones where a reader tells me a book changed his or her life…those take my breath away.

6.   How has being a novelist impacted your relationship with Christ? 

It’s definitely deepened that relationship, because whenever I write about characters’ faith journeys, I have to get inside their heads and understand their struggles to connect with God and to hear his voice in their lives. That helps me on my own journey.

7.   Other than writing great novels, what other goals do you have for your life? 

My biggest goal is to be the person God wants me to be, every single day, and to be open to his direction even if sometimes it conflicts with my own plans.

8.   What do you like to do in your spare time? 

I LOVE to sing. I studied voice while I was in college and graduate school, took tap and ballet for many years, and I’ve been performing since my days of backyard shows when I was the writer, producer, director and star! These days, I perform in community musical theater productions whenever I get the chance. I’ve been very blessed to play the leading role in many classic musicals, including OklahomaBrigadoonThe King and ISouth Pacific and Anything Goes, to name a few. I also enjoy spending time with my family, including my two young nieces!

9.   What can you tell us about your latest novel? 

Vanished is Book 1 in my Private Justice series, which feature three ex-law enforcement operatives who’ve banded together to form a PI firm. 

In Vanished, Pulitzer-prize-nominated reporter Moira Harrison hits a pedestrian on a rainy night in a wooded area—only to have both the victim and the good Samaritan who stopped to assist disappear. The police dismiss her story, so she turns to P.I. Cal Burke, an ex-homicide detective, to help her sort out the puzzle. He’s more than a little skeptical…but as clues begin to surface, bringing them closer to answers, the danger mounts. Because someone doesn’t want this mystery solved—and will stop at nothing to protect a shocking secret that will destroy a life built on lies. 

[Purchase: | Amazon Kindle]

10.   What stories can your fans expect from you in the days ahead? 
In June, my first long contemporary romance, That Certain Summer, will be released. It’s the story of two estranged sisters, an unexpected homecoming, and a grace-filled summer of healing, hope and love. I think it will appeal to fans of Debbie Macomber and Karen Kingsbury.

[Pre-Order: | Amazon Kindle]

In October, Book 2 in my Private Justice series, Trapped, will be released. I just saw the cover, and it’s terrific! In Trapped, librarian Laura Griffin’s sixteen-year-old sister disappears on a frigid February day, leaving only a brief note behind. Laura resolves to do whatever it takes to track down the runaway teen…and that includes recruiting ATF agent turned PI James “Dev” Devlin to help. But the deeper he digs, the more he begins to suspect that something sinister is at work in the girl’s disappearance. And the closer he gets to uncovering the truth, the clearer it becomes that the situation isn’t just dangerous—it’s deadly.

11.   What would you like to say to your fans in New Zealand, and others worldwide?

Most of all, I’d like to thank you for buying and reading my books. Your support of my work is what makes it possible for me to keep writing the stories in my heart. And I’m always thrilled to hear from readers around the world. So please feel free to visit me on Facebook, or drop me a line through my website. I respond to every single note!

12.   Do you have any parting words?

If you haven’t read any of my books, please do give Vanished a try! You can watch the trailer here:

Or visit my website to read a synopsis and excerpt. And if contemporary romance is more to your liking, please watch for That Certain Summer in June! There’s a synopsis and excerpt of that on my website, too.

Finally, I’m thrilled to announce that Amazon picked Vanished as of the best new books in January and a top-ten romance release. In addition, the book is currently on numerous bestseller lists, including Publishers Weekly. What a great way to start the new year!

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