Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Sydney Katt, The Shattered Alliance

AUTHOR: Sydney Katt
BOOK TITLE: The Shattered Alliance
PUBLISHER: Random Distraction Books

Tell me a little about your book.

How long can you play with fire before the fire starts playing with you?

Two years ago, infamous bank robber Raptor turned Skylar Montgomery’s life upside-down with the startling murder of her father in a heist gone wrong. Sick of waiting on the FBI, she allies herself with con man Parker Ramsey, the only person in Raptor’s crew who got away with his life. As he draws her further into his web of seduction and cryptic half-truths, she can’t be certain of anything. Is he trying to help her or is he setting her up?

Freshly transferred to the Dallas office, FBI Special Agent Jackson Caldwell longs for a juicy case that will help distract him from his touch and go relationship with the woman he loves, but a bank robbery and murder case with no leads threaten his plans. Between socialites, indecisive women and a partner with more secrets than the perp, he has his work cut out for him.

As they get closer to unraveling Raptor’s identity, it’s anyone’s guess whether Skylar or the FBI will get to him first…or if they’ll live to tell.

While this is the second book in the Undercover Series, it’s not necessary to read Agents of Deceit first.

What gave you the idea for this particular story?

In what feels like another life, I had a career in banking and financial services. I don’t think there’s a bank employee alive who’s never daydreamed about robbing their bank…especially when their boss is a jerk. Obviously, I never robbed the bank, but I did have a blast writing the book. Since writing a bank robbery manual in the form of fiction didn’t feel quite right, I decided to focus more on the aftermath of one robbery and the planning of another. With a little romance. Or a lot of romance. Either way.

Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?

I’m a full-time writer, but most of my writing time goes to client projects. Actually, things have been so busy since the beginning of the year that all my writing time has gone to client work. (I’m not complaining.) Now that things are starting to calm down a bit, I’m hoping that I’ll be able to get all my client stuff done by lunch so that I can take the rest of the day for fiction. If that doesn’t work, I guess I’ll have to start drinking caffeine again so that I can pull some all-nighters since my Spring 2014 release isn’t written yet.

When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?

Honestly, I don’t think there was really ever anything else I wanted to do. Sure, I flirted with being a rock star model astronaut president princess for a while, but once I realized I couldn’t sing or play an instrument, that house of cards fantasy sort of fell apart. If anyone in my life had ever expressed that it was possible to make a living as a full-time writer, I probably wouldn’t have wasted so much time in a migraine-inducing career.

What do you hope readers will take from your writing?

I really wish I could say that there’s this awesome message of hope or some kind of theme that will make readers view life differently. There’s not. It’s straight-up entertainment of the sarcastic sexy suspense variety. If you’ve read the first book, there’s more of a resolution to Jackson’s storyline, but…a deeply thought-provoking, life-changing experience it is not. There’s sarcasm. There’s sex. There’s suspense. If those don’t happen to be your favorite brands of vodka, you might want to take a pass.

Which genres do you write, which do you prefer, and why?

Suspense is at the heart of absolutely everything I write, regardless of whether it’s a flirty romance or a gritty mystery. For this particular series, I’d probably classify the writing as suspense with romance since I’m too much of a genre rule-breaker to get away with calling it romantic suspense.

I decided to make 2013 my year of straight-up suspense writing before I started branching out with my work. Next year will possibly see a comedy, a paranormal suspense and an erotic romance. While the type of suspense books I’m releasing this year are my absolute favorite kind to write (and read!), the characters from the comedy series are starting to dominate the chatter in my head. If I don’t get to writing them soon, I may never get the theme song from The Golden Girls out of my head again.

What is the toughest part about being a writer and how do you get past it?

The toughest part hands down is the lack of time. I have 30 books – most of which are fully-plotted – demanding to be written. But there’s not enough hours in the day. Luckily, I’ve got an insanely good memory. I started a spreadsheet where I listed working titles, character names and a one-line summary of the plot. When I look at the entry for each book, I can instantly remember the plot twists and dialog snippets I’ve already come up with for it. Having a way to keep up with all the ideas helps me to focus a little better on what I have to write first. It’s not perfect, but until we switch over to a 37-hour day, it’ll just have to do.

Is there anything in your story based upon a real life event? If so, tell me about it.

Well, let’s just say that during my time in banking, I learned the ins and outs of the security systems. I might’ve also been in charge of a portfolio of wealthy customers and assisted with a fundraising gala. So…while none of the events or people in the book are based off a single incident or encounter, it would be fair to say that I didn’t exactly make up all the pretentious character traits and security features out of the thin blue air.

How much is your protagonist like you? How different?

She’s not like me at all. I’m really probably more like Jackson, the FBI agent who was the protagonist from the first book. Skylar though…wow. That chick has zero filter between her brain and her mouth. I might be like that with my husband because we’ve been married just this side of forever and officially share a brain now, but she just really doesn’t care who’s around or whether what she’s about to say or do is wildly inappropriate. Probably what made her so much fun to write, the fact that she’s nothing like me.

What kind of research did you do for this type of story?

Since my job had already given me most of the background I’d need, there wasn’t much. I guess since I’m such a sponge for random bits of information that normal people would dismiss, it’s fairly easy for me to assimilate these bits into my plots without having to hunt for facts. Now, as far as a crazy Kama Sutra-esque sex scene in the book, I will neither confirm nor deny whether I had to do any research to make sure it was physically possible.

Do writing violent or highly sexual scenes bother you? Why or why not?

Nope. Not even a little. I blame my parents. They thought I was “mature enough” to handle R-rated movies when I was like eight or nine. Sex and violence seeped into my warped little brain early, I guess. That said, in my fourth book (out in December 2013), I spent a lot of time writing from the serial killer’s point of view. Normally, I can make myself at home in any monster’s head without issue, but this time…I guess I was a little freaked out when I didn’t remember writing one night and woke up the next morning to discover a particularly disturbing scene with the serial killer.

But then I stopped taking Ambien and all was right with my twisted world again.

What about your book makes it special?

I don’t know if it makes it special, but you get an opportunity to root for the bad guys in The Shattered Alliance. Sure, yes, the FBI agent hero from the first book is still there and working against them, but you WANT Skylar and Parker to find Raptor’s identity before Jackson does. It’s fun to live vicariously through criminals sometimes…right?

What is your marketing plan?

I should be ashamed of letting my business degree and all those marketing classes go to waste, but I really don’t have a marketing plan. The plan is simply to write the best books I can and release the as regularly as possible so that I can give my readers what they want – and since my readers seem to be as impatient as I am, I think I’m on the right track. Once I have more books out, I’m sure I’ll get more creative with my marketing efforts.

Where can people learn more about you and your work?

My website is the best place to get my thoughts on writing, the occasional inside scoopage on my books and a truly epic load of randomness where I discuss sword-fighting muggers in alleys and why so much mythology starts with gods who couldn’t keep it in their pants (www.authorsydneykatt.com). For daily fun and appropriate levels of fanfare when there’s a book release, a special sale price or a free book giveaway, my social media sites are the place to be (www.twitter.com/Sydney_Katt and www.facebook.com/authorsydneykatt).

Any tips for new writers hoping to write in the genre of your book?

Honestly, don’t write in this strange genre hybrid I’ve selected because it does present marketing challenges. If you can write a straight-up mystery/thriller or a romance that follows genre rules, do that instead. Life will be easier. But we like to write what we write.

Short of fitting your writing into a neat little genre box with endings that wrap up your stories in a cute little bow (I don’t do that either…series writer-itis, I guess), hire a professional editor. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with self-publishing or indie publishing, but there is something wrong with releasing books out in the wild that are more convoluted than some of the Facebook statuses my acquaintances post. Whether you view your writing as a passion project or a business, it’s time to be professional if you expect people to pay so much as a shiny penny for it. Maybe you can skimp on the cover art or the typesetting or the advertising, but not the editing. I’m also a professional editor in my day job world and I would never, EVER try to self-edit. Trust me, you think your words are good now? Wait till you see what a professional editor will do to them.

What’s in the future for you?

Well, the fortune cookie just told me that my goal will be met in two months, so I guess I’m going to be wildly wealthy and living a fairytale life of leisure on a fabulous beach somewhere. Just in case that doesn’t happen, I’ve got two more novel releases in 2013. Foresight is Flawless (there’s an extended preview of it at the end of The Shattered Alliance) will release Friday, September 13, 2013. Love Lies Bleeding (follow-up to what might be the cruelest cliffhanger in history) will release on Friday, December 13, 2013. Yes, I totally do have a weird obsession with the number 13.

Excerpt for The Shattered Alliance:

Parker was about to answer her when a knock at the door interrupted them. Whoever it was had damn good timing. When she’d moved her arms, it changed something about the angle with her shirt and a lacy edge to her bra was beckoning to him from the low neckline of her blouse. It would help him sell his answer if his eyes weren’t glued to her breasts.
She rose and brushed by him on the way to the door. Against his will, his eyes strayed to her ass. Fitted black slacks were a definite improvement over the baggy jeans she seemed to favor. He tore his eyes up to meet hers as she looked back to him from the viewer.
Her eyes were wide with an annoyance that didn’t seem to be because she caught him ogling her.
“Who is it?”
“I don’t know, but it looks like he has a badge in his hand,” she whispered, urgent. “You shouldn’t be here when I open the door.”
Parker nodded. “I’ll wait in the bedroom.”
“Are you kidding me?” Even though she was too short to be intimidating, she advanced on him and caught his arm before he made it to her room. “Didn’t we just talk about this?”
His eyes swept over the room. “I’m pretty sure a cop will notice me hiding under the coffee table, so where did you want me to go, sweetheart?” He inched nearer to her. “Or did you want me to wait in the shower for you? You balked at that suggestion before, but never gave me an answer of substance.”
Was now really the time to test the limits of the sexual tension between them? A cop was standing on the other side of the door and he was considering breaking his number one rule when on a con. Like the seething woman in front of him, he didn’t mix business and pleasure unless it was a necessary part of the plan.
And he didn’t need to seduce her to get to Raptor.
Yet Parker still found himself considering it. For Skylar Montgomery, he would toss out all his carefully constructed rules of the game. If this were about anything other than Raptor, he would take her to bed without a second thought for the score he was blowing. Based solely on the sexual chemistry smoldering in the few inches of space separating their bodies, the trade would be worth it.
Well worth it.
But this was about Raptor. For that reason - and that reason alone - sex with Skylar was off the table until after the last play was made. It didn’t matter that she still hadn’t released his arm, or that one of her fingers was stroking it.
It figured that she wasn’t going to make this easy on him.
She stared at him, barely breathing until they heard another knock at the door. Skylar finally shook herself out of it and shoved him into the bedroom. “Just be quiet and leave my underwear alone.”
“I wouldn’t think of touching a thing until I get an invitation.”
“Keep dreaming. Not gonna happen.”
“We’ll see.” He grinned and stepped out of sight from the front door. “You were thinking about the shower. We both know it.”
Unfortunately, so was he.

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