Bio:A former criminal prosecutor and now National Bestselling Author for Berkley (paranormal romantic suspense), HQN (single title romantic suspense) and HRS (category romantic suspense).
B&D: First of all, Virna, we would like to thank you for taking the time to chat with your 2 biggest fangirls. As you know, Danielle and I
stalk talk about you all the time and are huge fans of your Para-Ops series. Why don’t you tell us a little about yourself? (We already know all of this but tell us anyway)
You guys rock as fans and friends! It was wonderful meeting Bells in Ohio and I hope to meet Danielle someday soon. About me? I’m a mother of three young boys, a former criminal prosecutor, and a long-time romance reader who loves to travel, see Broadway shows, and is always struggling with balancing all the important aspects of my life. I want to write incredible books, keep a beautiful house, raise smart, kind, happy kids, keep the romance alive in my marriage, and hang out with my good friends. I’d also love to get back to my pre-writing weight! I’ve never quite got all those things in the pocket, but I never want to stop trying, either.
You were once a successful prosecutor and made the transition to become a wonderful author. Have you always wanted to write and did you find the transition to becoming a writer difficult?
I love reading romance books and was always a writer (I was an English lit major in college and wrote appellate briefs as a lawyer) but I never thought I’d be able to actually write a novel. However, as I grew less satisfied with my law job, I wanted more and more to do something creative. After giving singing, acting, painting, etc a try, I finally decided to write a book.
As far as being difficult, getting published was definitely a journey of highs and lows. I had success very early on with several “close” sales. The latest one occurred in June of 2009, when an editor tried to buy the Para-Ops series. She seriously loved it, and so did all the other editors, but marketing passed during the acquisitions meeting because the line had acquired several debut authors already and they weren’t sure how I’d stand apart. I kept writing and submitting, but I was definitely feeling beaten down. On November 18, 2009, my agent called to tell me Berkley had made an offer for the series. The call came when I was least expecting it. I was thrilled. My husband was home and we screamed and jumped up and down together! I subsequently sold a different series to the editor who originally tried to buy the Para-Ops series! Despite all the highs and lows, I’m thrilled to have finally found my creative niche.
Most authors are readers themselves. Which authors are your favorites and have you had the opportunity to meet any of them?
I have SO many favorite authors, including contemporary authors Linda Howard, Lori Foster, Rachel Gibson, Lori Wilde, Sandra Brown and paranormal authors J.R. Ward, Larissa Ione, Nalini Singh, Rhyannon Byrd, Kristin Douglas (aka Anne Stuart) (and countless others on my keeper shelves). I’ve been able to meet almost all of these writers. My biggest fan girl moment was when I met Linda Howard and squealed, “You’re the reason I became a writer.” How many times do you think she’s heard that!? LOL
D: You’ve been doing a lot of book signings lately. How does it feel to have a reader come up to you and express their feeling for your work? Btw, Bells totally geeked out when she met you. She told me this. I remember her calling me and telling me that she had finally meet you and that you were so nice and took the time to want to get to know her as a person. I think she might be stalking you more.
The idea that someone is excited to meet me because I’ve brought them joy and entertainment through my writing? Well, that’s beyond amazing to me. It’s a weird thing to put my heart and soul into a book and then send it out into the world—exposing not just my story to other people’s opinions/judgment, but also exposing myself. When I can connect with readers who “get me” one-on-one, it makes it all worth it. It was SO cool meeting Bells – I’ve found romance writers and readers are generally so kind-hearted and just pure fun to be with, and I could immediately tell this was true about Bells.
B: Yes I really did call Danielle while I was at the Lori Foster’s event so that she could chat with Virna on the phone. Can you believe that she didn’t answer? Virna do you plan on doing more book signings in the future. *coughsoIcanstalkyouagaincough*
LOL! Stalk away, baby! I wish I was going to AAD in Philly and Rom Con in Denver. I LOVE conferences but now that I have consistent deadlines (and still want to spend time with my family—trying for balance, remember?) I have to exercise some restraint. But I love meeting readers, so I’m definitely open to whatever opportunities come up.
B&D: Let’s talk Para-Ops. How did you come up with the concept for this series?
The Para-Ops team is the first special ops team formed by the FBI to recruit both humans and Otherborn, humanlike creatures with superhuman DNA. The team is formed after humans and Otherborn fought each other in the second civil war. There is tension on the team not just between humans and Otherborn; each race has to grapple with their own fears and biases even as they try to work towards peace in the nation as a whole.
I came up with the series because I was writing contemporary romantic suspense at a time when breaking into that genre was very hard (I hear it still is!). I went to a conference and realized two things—1) publishers couldn’t get enough of paranormals, and 2) I’d been reading so many paranormals myself and loving them--why not try combining the two genres I loved? I looked at the books that were out and realized no one had done the whole “special ops with fangs” thing. So I jumped on it. The minute I began writing, I knew I’d hit on something special. I loved creating a different world and not being held back by “reality.”
D&B: This team rocked our world! There are 2 humans, one with physic abilities. A vamp. A wraith. A mage. And a werebeast. Together they make an awesome team, when the aren’t fighting each other. It was so much fun reading about them. Do you have a favorite member of the team? Danielle’s favorite is Knox, while Bells loves Caleb and Wraith.
I love all the team members, but I think because he was my “first,” and because he’s a little bit controversial and misunderstood by some, Knox is my favorite. He grapples with balancing duty and desire, and this is something I struggle with, too. He’s complex and he doesn’t always do the right thing, but he’s got a good heart and his capacity for love is huge.
That said, Wraith and Caleb are the hero and heroine of Book 2, Chosen By Fate. While Knox’s book had to introduce readers to the Para-Ops world, Chosen By Fate is much more relationship-focused. Wraith, who is equal parts prickly bitch and vulnerable female, is not an easy character either, but one I hope readers will cheer for when she gets her HEA with Caleb.
B: I am dying to read Chosen By Fate, which will be Caleb and Wraith’s book. The tension between the two of them reached a whole new level for me as a reader. Can you tell us a little about their book? (Read it, LOVED IT!)
I LOVED writing that tension between them. It was so overt and in everyone’s face. I figured people could SMELL their lust for each other! J In Chosen By Fate, Wraith and Caleb have to deal with the tension between pain and pleasure, a dichotomy that is brought to the forefront when they set out on their next mission, investigating a series of crimes in the feline community. Here’s the back cover blurb for the book:
Although he keeps company with a vampire and a were, human Shaman Caleb O’Flare can hold his own. But neither his psychic ability nor his healing powers can help his sexy-as-hell teammate, Wraith—a ghost with no memory of her human existence, one who cannot experience touch without pain.
No wraith has managed to exist past its tenth year, so Wraith’s time is about to run out. She wants only two things before accepting her fate: to learn her human identity and experience one night with Caleb. Willing to risk any amount of pain, Wraith propositions him. But when a sign of impending death appears on his chest, Wraith sacrifices her own needs on the chance that sex with her could kill him.
Caleb doesn’t understand Wraith’s change of heart but refuses to let her push him away. As the team travels to Los Angeles to investigate a series of crimes in the feline community, Caleb sets out to prove to Wraith that pleasure and love are worth any risk, including death.
D: How many books do you have planned for the series? When last talking with you, you were working on a deadline. Which book are you working on?
I’m planning at least four books in total for the series, so I can get Dex and Lucy’s books out after Chosen By Fate. I’m also introducing some new intriguing characters (including a dragon shifter) that may get their own stories, as well. Depends on how much time readers are willing to spend with us! The deadline I was working on was for Shades Of Desire, a contemporary romantic suspense for HQN. It’s about a photographer who’s going blind, took a picture she shouldn’t have, and must now help a cop track down a killer.
B&D: Do you have any plans to write any other books?
Always! I’ve got more books coming out with Harlequin’s Romantic Suspense line, and Shades Of Desire is only the first book in the series. Plus, I’m continuing to self-publish e-books. This Magic Moment, a sexy contemporary novel, is currently in the top 100 contemporary romances on Amazon.
D: Bells and I are planning to go to Romance Times in 2012. Are you planning on being there? (Another chance to stalk you. Yes! *fist pump)
I sure am!! Chicago, here I come. I’m also planning to go to AAD in New Orleans. Both great towns to party with other writers and readers!
B&D: Virna, thanks again for taking the time to chat with us. We are pretty sure that you will be gaining lots of fangirls in the near future because of your awesome books. Keep the hotties coming because we just can’t get enough of your male characters.
Thank you for having me here. I can’t tell you how much it means to count you two as my supporters. I look forward to getting to know you both better!!
If you haven't read any of Virna's books yet, you're missing out!
Here is info on her Para-Ops series.
Book 1 in The Para-Ops Series
Five years after the Second Civil War ends, humans and otherborn— humanlike creatures with superhuman DNA—still struggle for peace. To ensure the continued rights of both, the FBI forms a Para-Ops team with a unique set of skills.
Leader of an Otherborn clan, half-breed vampire Knox Devereaux would do anything to find a cure for the anti-vamp vaccine slowly starving his people into extinction. When the FBI contacts him about leading a team of hand-selected Others on a mission to reclaim the stolen antidote, Knox accepts. His new assignment places him in direct contact with Special Agent Felicia Locke, the beautiful human he’s craved since their very first meeting.
My review: Link
Book 2 in The Para-Ops series
Release date: October 4, 2011
Although he keeps company with a vampire and a were, human Shaman Caleb O'Flare can definitely hold his own. But neither his psychic ability nor his healing powers can help his sexy-as-hell teammate, Wraith-a ghost with no memory of her human existence, who cannot experience touch without pain. No wraith has managed to exist past its tenth year, so her time is about to run out. She wants only two things before accepting her fate: to learn her human identity, and experience one night with Caleb...
My review: Link