Please welcome Joan Swan to The Qwillery as part of the 2012 Debut Author Challenge Interviews.

TQ:  What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

Joan:  Interesting? Oh, wow. I don’t know that any of my quirks are interesting. Really, I have a LOT of quirks, but the only one that has any consistency is my McDonald’s fetish. I have breakfast at McDonald’s almost every morning. The only time I don’t is when I have a breakfast date with my husband – usually the day after I get home from being gone for three days at work so we can catch up.

I prefer to write away from home because the pull of housework and bills and the general untidiness wreaks chaos on my mind. McDonald’s has all you can drink soda for $1 and free internet. What’s not to like? My only beef is that there are no outlets. (I think they’re trying to tell me something. *la la la la la la* I can’t hear you!)

TQ:  Who are some of your favorite writers? Who do you feel has influenced your writing?

Joan:  I love Dean Koontz for his gorgeous prose and many other craft techniques. I love Suzanne Brockmann’s Troubleshooters for her voice and the team atmosphere she creates. I’m fond of Susan Elizabeth Phillips humor and Robert Crais’ fast-pacing and Sandra Brown’s complex plotting and characterization. Oh…so many awesome authors…so little time!

TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Joan:  I create plot points for major events and pants-it in between the dots. How’s that for vague?

TQ:  What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Joan:  Keeping my ass in the chair. I’m an anxious writer. Any time I’m stressed, I feel the need to escape. Well, heh, when I’m writing a romantic suspense and all I do for 300 pages is cause conflict, conflict, conflict…what do you think I want to do all the time? Keeping my butt in the chair and my fingers on the keyboard instead of letting myself escape the anxiety of what’s on the page (or needs to be on the page) is, by far, my biggest challenge.

TQ:  Describe Fever (Phoenix Rising 1) in 140 characters or less.

Joan:  A desperate convict with nothing to lose. A determined hostage with everything to live for. An enemy with unlimited power and grave secrets.

TQ:  What inspired you to write Fever?

Joan:  Lots and lots of bad boys…and a few bad dreams to go with them.

I’ve been a sonographer for twenty years and one of the hospitals where I worked serviced a huge prisoner clientele. I spent half my day surrounded by guards and inmates and the more I understand their routines and procedures, the more clearly I recognized how easily something could go wrong. With something as simple as one tip off from someone inside the hospital or one officer off his game that day, the unthinkable could have occurred.

I simply spent one too many days wondering, “What if…?”

TQ:  What sort of research did you do for Fever?

Joan:  As far as the inciting incident, I lived it, as I mentioned above. Beyond that, I’ve lived in California all my life and traveled most of the roads, so the journey Teague and Alyssa struck out on in FEVER was very familiar to me. In fact, the town of Truckee, where they ended up, was a location my family and I lived for several years and the café where Alyssa and Luke, a secondary character and the hero in the next book, BLAZE, meet, called, Wild Cherry’s, is an actual café my husband and I favorited when we lived there.

So, I suppose you could say a lot of the research for Fever had been completed well in advance of the novel. :-)

TQ:  Who was the easiest character to write and why? Hardest and why?

Joan:  I think Alyssa was the easiest to write. She and I share a profession and we share a common disposition held by those in the profession—independent, determined, diligent. I spend a lot of my time on the job either coaxing people into doing things I need them to do or insisting that they do it. When a doctor needs answers, there is no valid excuse as to why you’ve come back without them, so you learn not to accept defeat.

In that way, Alyssa is an impossible diehard. When her mind is set on escape, nothing keeps her from trying to seek freedom. When her mind is set on his well-being, nothing can dissuade her from fighting for him. Her brain is always working, endlessly seeking a solution.

I understand that deeply ingrained part of Alyssa, which made it easier to anticipate her actions and reactions and ultimately, easier to write her character.

The hardest character to write was Luke. Luke is a secondary, but critical, character in FEVER, and he is the hero in the second book, BLAZE, which releases in October. Fans who read FEVER before BLAZE may notice that Luke’s character arc begins in FEVER, therefore he’s a very different character than he is in BLAZE, so writing Luke here was like writing a very dark version of my awesome hero. That was very difficult. And after seeing how Luke comes through in BLAZE, it was worth every second of work.

TQ:  Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in Fever?

Joan:  I love pivotal scenes – usually concerning the internal landscape of a character: a personal epiphany, a moment of crisis when the character’s true essence or vulnerability shows or that second the character pushes themselves past a fear and acts.

In Fever, I love the scene when Alyssa is tired of Teague’s repeated rejection of her physically when they both know he wants her. She finds a bag of condoms in the medicine cabinet, ones Teague had been given in a getaway kit supplied by accomplices and carries them into the bedroom where Teague is not yet sleeping.
     Indecision zinged around her chest like a firefly trapped in a jar. She pulled in a slow breath then blew it out.
     “Wrong room, Lys.” His voice came out low and languid and lusty, giving her firefly a shot of adrenaline. But his eyes stayed closed, his body still.
     “I…don’t think so.” She garnered another ounce of confidence and walked toward the bed.
     “I don’t want to talk anymore, Alyssa.”
     He didn’t move even a millimeter, but his lids cracked, and he tracked her with his eyes. The heat there, the longing, gave her the final flash of confidence she needed to make her move.
     “Neither do I.” She dropped the condoms on his chest. Watched as they scattered over muscle. Teague’s gaze darted to the little packages and held. “I had something else in mind.”
I think that is fun and gutsy.

Another scene I like is when, after Teague and Alyssa have made love, Alyssa wakes in the middle of the night to find him gone from bed. She hears the shower running and goes to join him, but when she surprises him, Teague reacts like he would react in a prison shower.
     Already naked, Alyssa pushed the curtain aside just enough to slip in behind him. She closed the distance and wrapped her arms around his torso from behind. Before she could lay her cheek to his back, Teague whipped around. One arm slashed across her throat, the other shoved her against the shower wall. The force of the thrust snapped her head on the tile. Pain exploded beneath her skull. She cried out.
     When she opened her eyes, she found Teague staring at her with an expression she could only describe as menacing. His eyes were dark and flat and glazed, filled with violence.
     “Teague.” She gripped his forearm, tried to pry it off her throat. “Stop.”
     His eyes cleared, but he didn’t release pressure. Water sizzled as it hit his skin, evaporated and filled the shower like a steam bath. Heat seared through her neck where his arm nearly cut off her air supply.
     “Teague,” she tried again, “you’re hurting me.”
     The hostility in his eyes shifted to fear then to a sick regret as he fully focused. “Oh, my God.” Teague instantly released her, hands up, palms out. “Oh, my God. Lys. I’m sorry.” In the next instant, he swept her up in his arms. “I’m so sorry.”
     She didn’t immediately return the embrace, still stunned and confused.
     “I-- I--,” he stuttered, “Oh, my God.” He pressed his face to her neck and let out a sound somewhere between a sob and a growl. “I didn’t think. I just reacted. I thought— I thought—“ he shook his head and buried his face deeper. “Fuck.”
     His turmoil churned her own gut. She wrapped her arms around his shoulders, ran her hands over the smoothed course of his new hair growth. “Okay. It’s okay. I’m okay.”
     “It’s not okay.” He let her go as quickly as he’d pull her close and turned away. He slammed both fists against the shower tile, knuckles first. “It’s not okay. Nothing about this is okay.”
I love seeing and showing the inner torment people live with from their past—it makes them so very real.

TQ:  What's next? /this is where you share anything you'd like/

Joan:  I’m really excited about the revision I’m working on right now. This romantic suspense manuscript finalled in the RWA Golden Heart twice, and I’m publishing the story as an Indie novel in April 2012, called INTIMATE ENEMIES.

Cassandra Christo is on a quest for answers. Six months after the mysterious yacht explosion that killed her mother and stepbrother, authorities still have no answers to the cause. Searching for closure, Cassie returns to her childhood home on the Pacific Coast of Baja, Mexico, where she launches her own investigation into the accident. But there she runs into two major obstacles: her stepfather, a man Cassie despises and who she suspects is involved in illegal activities, and Rio Santana, Saul’s right hand man and the person she unknowingly let into her heart after he comforted her during the darkest moment of her life.

Rio’s been fantasizing about reconnecting with Cassie for months. But not here and sure as hell not now, when he’s only weeks away from finalizing transport of a terrorist cell over the U.S.-Mexico border. As an undercover agent with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, he’s working the biggest sting operation in all of northern Mexico, and he definitely doesn’t have time for the wild attraction he feels for Cassie, let alone the risk it poses to his cover.

So when Cassie’s stepfather grows nervous about her investigation and orders Rio to use seduction as a last ditch effort to keep her from learning too much, Rio thinks he’s found the perfect solution. Until, that is, the heat between them turns into a full blown inferno. Suddenly, Rio’s not sure who’s doing the seducing. And not only is his cover on the line, so is his heart. Because as the end of a yearlong operation draws closer, Rio knows if he tells Cassie the truth about who and what he is, it won’t only jeopardize his mission, it may result in him losing her forever. And if he doesn’t, his lies and deception could get them both killed.

TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Joan:  Thanks for having me!!

About Fever

Phoenix Rising 1
Kensington Brava , February 28, 2012
Trade Paperback and eBook,  448 pages

Interview with Joan Swan and Giveaway - February 21, 2012
Dr. Alyssa Foster will admit to a bad boy fetish...

But when she finds herself face to face with a convicted murderer with a ripped body, a determination for freedom and an eye on her as his get out of jail free card, Alyssa knows she’s in deep trouble.... Not just because Teague Creek is a prisoner desperate for freedom, but because his every touch makes her desperate for more.

A man with a life sentence has nothing to lose...

Teague Creek has one shot at freedom, but his plan to escape with a hostage develops a fatal flaw: Alyssa. On the run from both the law and deadly undercover operatives who know of his strange abilities, he needs to avoid trouble, but every heated kiss tells him the fire between them could be just as devastating as the flames that changed him forever.

About Joan

Interview with Joan Swan and Giveaway - February 21, 2012
Joan Swan is a triple RWA® Golden Heart finalist and writes sexy romantic suspense with a paranormal twist. Her debut novel with Kensington Brava, FEVER, releases February 28, 2012. Her second novel, BLAZE, follows in October, 2012.

In her day job, she works as a sonographer for one of the top ten medical facilities in the nation and lives on the California central coast in beautiful wine country with her husband and two daughters.

Joan's Links:


Joan has a tour giveaway**!  All comments are eligible for tour grand prize of either a COLOR NOOK or KINDLE FIRE. Enter here:

** The Qwillery is not affiliated with Joan's tour giveaway and is providing this for informational purposes only. Please follow Joan's rules to enter to win the tour grand prize of either a COLOR NOOK or KINDLE FIRE .

The Giveaway


What:  One commenter will win a print copy of Fever (Phoenix Rising 1) from Joan. US/CANADA ONLY.

How:  Leave a comment answering the following question:

Who is your favorite bad boy from novels, film, TV?

Please remember - if you don't answer the question your entry will not be counted.

You may receive additional entries at The Qwillery to win the print copy of Fever by:

1)   Being a Follower of The Qwillery.

2)   Mentioning the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter. Even if you mention the giveaway on both, you will get only one additional entry. You get only one additional entry even if you mention the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter multiple times.

3)   Mentioning the giveaway on your on blog or website. It must be your own blog or website; not a website that belongs to someone else or a site where giveaways, contests, etc. are posted.

There are a total of 4 entries you may receive at The Qwillery: Comment (1 entry), Follower (+1 entry), Facebook and/or Twitter (+ 1 entry), and personal blog/website mention (+1 entry). This is subject to change again in the future for future giveaways.

Please leave links for Facebook, Twitter, or blog/website mentions. In addition YOU MUST leave a way to contact you.

Who and When:  The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a US or Canadian mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59pm US Eastern Time on Tuesday, February 28, 2012. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.

*Giveaway rules are subject to change.*

Interview with Joan Swan and Giveaway - February 21, 2012