Brynn is here to talk about her latest book, Edge of Truth, book 2 in her Legionnaires series.
Click here for more information about the book and the current reviews.
Q: What's your inspiration for this story?
The character of the hero, Flynn, was the starting point for Edge of Truth, because he appears in Deception Island, my first book in the Legionnaires series for HQN. The challenge was to create a story that did him justice. He’s a brusque, potty-mouthed, guarded Australian legionnaire, but he’s also witty and swashbuckling—a reluctant hero but very much a hero. He’s the rough but likeable boy from the wrong side of the tracks you secretly had a crush on at high school, even though you knew he was a little dangerous. Like many of us, he looks in the mirror and sees only his flaws and regrets and secrets, and in Edge of Truth he’s forced to confront these.
Q: Tell us more about Tess Newell. What makes her a heroine we would root for?
Tess is the kind of reporter I always admired during my twenty-year journalism career—fearless in pursuit of the truth. Journalists are so often disparaged but I wish I could introduce those critics who lump all journalists into a homogenous fiction called the “mainstream media” to some of the everyday heroes I’ve had the privilege to work with in (yes) the “mainstream media.” It’s humbling to see the hours these people put in, the crap they put up with and the risks they take, usually for modest financial reward. Yes, there are gutter journalists out there, but also incredibly courageous people who genuinely want to help people, keep our leaders honest and see justice done.
Tess is one of these everyday heroes, but she’s flawed, too. The flipside of her character is that she can get a little too curious and dogged, which puts her into explosive conflict with Flynn, who is desperate to keep his big secrets hidden. But she just can’t help picking at his wounds…
Q: Please share a fun and intriguing fact or experience during the research of writing this book.
One of my biggest research challenges in this Legionnaire series is setting, because I love throwing my characters into exotic settings that are beautiful but extreme and unforgiving and unfamiliar (to them). I like to yank them out of their comfort zones to ratchet up the intensity of their journey. Edge of Truth is set in Ethiopia, a magical and diverse country where I once volunteered as an aid worker for the UNHCR, so I loved the chance to revisit that incredible experience, at least on the page.
Q: How do you come up with emotional scenes that tug at the reader's heartstrings?
I find these come organically, if you as a writer know your characters well enough and have dug far enough into their psyches and histories and conflicts, and set them on the right collision course, both with their internal conflicts and flaws and their external journeys. (And in the case of Edge of Truth there are dual external plots, the suspense and the romance, so there’s plenty of conflict.)
Tess and Flynn are very different people chasing the same goal. Plus, they each have a history that (they believe) precludes a relationship between them—and in fact, he believes her to be downright dangerous for him. So, although they have the same overall goal of defeating the villain, and there’s a strong chemistry between them, they’re also opposing magnets.
Once you’ve created strong, authentic tensions and applied the right stress, the sparks tend to come out of that. And once the sparks have a healthy glow, I believe it’s best to duck out of the way and watch them explode. I know I’ve done my job right if the magic comes without being forced. If the emotional scenes don’t flow, it may be because the foundations aren’t there, that I haven’t excavated the characters deeply enough (and that includes the villain), so those may need some work before I can come back to the scene in question. The best moments in writing are when I feel more like conductor than composer, more director than playwright, just letting these fully formed characters loose, with each bringing to the scene their flaws and their fraught histories and their battling agendas.
And of course, with romantic suspense, you can use the romantic plot to crank the suspense plot, and vice versa, challenging your characters emotionally and physically and mentally, and building tension in all sorts of ways. Usually, to win the fight, they have to confront not only the villain and their feelings for each other, but their own shortcomings and flawed beliefs. The tougher that journey, the greater the character growth—and the greater the resulting emotions.
Q: What's up next for you?
I’ve been working on two more Legionnaire stories, about two other soldiers in Flynn’s commando unit—Texas and Doc. They appear in Edge of Truth (and they do get real names in their own stories!) Texas’s story was a blast to write because I set it on a wild, isolated river in New Zealand’s South Island—real Middle Earth territory. He’s a risk taker and loner who is forced to pair up with a risk-averse Kiwi helicopter pilot to outrun (out-kayak, to be precise) a mass murderer. It’s a novella called Forbidden River, and it’ll be out later this year in ebook, and next year in paperback.
The story about Doc, the Scottish medic, is a full-length novel to round out the Legionnaires series. In it, he returns to the UK with fiercely smart hacker Samira, who is also in Edge of Truth, to bring down one of the world’s most powerful men. Introverted Samira intends to battle this villain from behind a computer screen, but she and Doc are forced into a series of ever-deadlier confrontations. This is due to be published next year.
In both these stories, like in Edge of Truth and Deception Island, the mistakes and regrets of the soldiers’ pasts catch up with them and they’re forced to conquer their demons before they can overpower the villains and win their happy endings.
About the Author
After an award-winning twenty-year career as a journalist, Brynn Kelly has abandoned fact in favor of her first love, fiction.
She’s delighted that she gets to spend her days in a bubble of delicious words and fiendish plots, turning all those stranger-than-fiction news reports into larger-than-life romantic thrillers for HQN Books, a Harlequin/HarperCollins imprint.
Brynn has a journalism and communications degree and has won several prestigious writing awards, including the Valerie Parv Award and Pacific Hearts Award. Her acclaimed debut novel, Deception Island, was nominated for a Golden Heart Award® by Romance Writers of America. She’s also the bestselling author of four nonfiction books in her native New Zealand, and a mother of two.
In her (guffaw) spare time, she murders Italian arias studies classical singing, indulges her theatre geek tendencies, and doesn’t do nearly as much yoga as she should.
She is working on a third novel and a novella in the Legionnaires series, to be published in 2018.