I’m delighted to have fellow New Jersey Romance Writers member Janet Lane Walters as my guest here today!
Tell us about your current release, Code Blue. When Susan finds the body of the hospital’s “gossip queen” in the orthopedic storage room, she doesn’t realize this is the first of a series of murders involving her colleagues or that her life is in danger. She is a widow and is exploring a new romantic relationship that promises love but she fears the man she is falling for is as controlling as her dead husband. The arrival of courtship gifts, at first, seen as innocuous soon takes on a sinister note.
What inspired this story? I love medical suspense story and this began as a what if sort of scenario. What if the nurses and doctors on one unit of the hospital are being killed? What if the first looks like a murder and the later victims look as if they could be the killer? Thus the story began and I sat down and planned the murders, hopefully not revealing the killer too soon. The book was fun to write and kind of eerie. Some of the victims deserved to die and the heroine watches as her colleagues and friends are killed. The courtship gifts added another dimension to the story. Who is concerned about a box of candy left at the nurses’ station for a nurse but the gifts move from the general to more and more specific. This book was originally published as “Obsessions.” but the original title was “Code Blue” but the publisher wanted me to change it. I did but returned the original title when it was released and re-published.
What are you working on now? Do you have any releases scheduled for this year? At present I’m working on a fantasy romance called Lines of Fire. I’m creating a new world with an interesting premise. This is part of a trilogy. As far as I know I have two scheduled. One is Confrontations under J. L. Walters since this is a YA fantasy and the final book of the four books series. Also a spicy novella A Surprise Seduction. There is one book at the publisher’s waiting for an acceptance, The Micro-Manager Murder that I should hear about soon.
What do you enjoy most about writing? Actually I like every part of writing. One might say it’s an obsession. From rough draft through all the other drafts each one brings a different pleasure. I really think I like watching the story evolve, the characters come to life, describing the settings and then finding all the right words to replace the ones that aren’t quite right.
Where do you start when writing? Research, plotting, character, or…? Always the idea. The idea is often just a word or a question. What if? I go from there and find the other ingredients. What if the nurses and doctors were the victims? What if Katherine was faced with the return of an old love as well as finding a new one? What does that passage in the book on Egypt trigger? What does that old house bring to mind? Guess each story is triggered by something different.
What did you learn from writing your first book or what do you wish you’d known before becoming published? This is an interesting question since my first book benefited from a variety of editors giving me a crash course in writing. This was in the days when editors sent long and wonderful critiques and you had to send in the entire book for fiction. The advice I received sent me back to do another revision. “Your characters are acting in a vacuum, sent me to a revision getting bits and pieces of the environment into the story. “All your characters sound the same, sent me to look at dialogue. What they all said was that the idea for the story was a good one and they took time to both write letters and to mark the manuscript as well. What I learned was invaluable and I feel sorry this is no longer the case for new writers.
Do you have a favorite time of day for writing? No particular time. I spend about 8 hours a day writing. Retirement has its advantages.
What is your favorite scene from this story and why? Actually my favorite scene in Code Blue is the final one. Had a lot of criticism from my critique group about the ending but I knew it was the right one. I won’t give this away, only to say Susan, the heroine, acted in character to the end.
What do you like to read? I read everything and anything, no favorite genre. Don’t read much literary fiction since it bores me.
Who first introduced you to the love of reading? As a very young child, my parents and my grandfather read to me. My grandfather used his finger under the words and by the time I was three I could read. He used to read me a lot of poetry. My mother read the children’s classics to me and my father read me Edgar Rice Burroughs, Tom Swift and other books like that. They helped develop my love of reading everything.
These are few of my favorite things:
1. Grandchildren – I have seven, four biracial and three from China.
3.Classical music with Tchaikovsky at the head of the list.
He crouched in the cemetery that embraced three sides of the hillside parking lot across from Bradley Memorial Hospital. A massive family marker shielded him from view, yet allowed him a clear view of the steps, the street and the door of the Emergency Room. Dark clouds slid across the surface of the moon. Lights, set high on poles around the perimeter of the lot sent finger shadows groping among the cars.
The watcher straightened and edged from behind the granite marker. White puffs of vapor from the shallow, rapid breaths he took coalesced around his face. He held his body as rigid as a tombstone. As he waited for the evening nurses to end their tour of duty and hurry across the street to their cars, his narrowed eyes focused on the brightly-lit hospital entrance. Every night for a week, he had watched while excitement and anticipation had circled like a swarm of hornets. Would she come tonight?
“I’ll never leave you.” When he was eight, Mommy had said the words that had become his litany. That broken promise had brought him here.
He stared at the steps. When would Susan come?
When Mommy was a patient, Susan had been her favorite nurse. He had liked Susan, too, but she hadn’t stopped those other people from hurting Mommy. His shoulders tensed.
“I’ll never leave you. They’ll have to kill me first.”
The night Mommy had died was etched into his memories. On that dreadful night, he had begun his plan to make them pay.
Mommy would be unhappy about what he meant to do. To her, nurses were special and Susan more wonderful than the rest.
He rocked from his heels to his toes. The last time he had disobeyed, Mommy had threatened to tell everyone how bad he was. He had promised her he would be good. His hands curled into fists. Sometimes he wanted to feel the heat of accomplishment so much he felt sick.
He gulped a breath. Tonight the heat would blossom and he would feel powerful again.
Susan was like Mommy. She would tell. He chewed on his lower lip. Her death would free him to still the people who had hurt Mommy on that dreadful night.
His smile became a grimace.
He had trusted Susan but she had failed to keep Mommy safe. Though he wished to see the others dead, Susan had to be first. He had laid his plans carefully, and while he had considered all the things that could go wrong, days had become weeks and then months.
The bright lights across the street caught his attention and stirred his hopes. She had to come tonight. He wanted to be free.
His hand brushed Mommy’s tombstone. He pressed his fingers against the engraved letters of her name. He cocked his head and listened to the whisper of the wind.
“Nurses give so much to others. Someone should take care of them.”
Mommy’s husky voice thrummed in a corner of his mind. Her face appeared. Tears spilled from her eyes. He shook his head. Why should he listen to her when she had left him?
Sometimes at night when he slept in her bed, he caught a glimmer of her presence. For fleeting moments, the scent of her perfume brought her to him.
He squared his shoulders. Since he was eight and Daddy died, Mommy had watched him carefully. One day, her vigilance had wavered. The neighborhood bully had fallen from a tree and broken his neck. That awful boy shouldn’t have torn up Mommy’s flower garden.
Janet Lane Walters has been writing since the dark ages. Actually since the days of typewriters and carbon paper. Her first short story was sold in 1968, she followed this with a dozen more until an editor told her the story sounded like the synopsis for a novel. She then learned through trial and error to write longer works. During this time she published four “sweet nurse” romance novels and a half dozen poems. She returned to work as a nurse to help put her four children through college. In 1994 she returned to writing full time and has published twenty-five novels and novellas. She also worked as a ghost writer for a time and has three non-fiction books written for doctors. Now she lives in a Hudson River Village with her husband of fifty years. She has four children and seven grandchildren.
Jewels of the Quill: http://www.angelfire.com/stars4/kswiesner/jewels10.html
Janet Lane Walters Amazon Author Page