(Originally published on the USA Today HEA blog.)
“What do you do?” people ask me. When I tell them I’m an author, they say, “So you write children’s books?”
Uhhh…no. I’m the Spy Next Door. Or wannabe spy, anyway. You know, the nice, friendly neighbor with two kids and two dogs who writes about cloak and dagger missions, dead drops, coded messages, and sexy spies.
“Do you work from home?” people ask.
Sometimes, but not always. Like most authors, I have a writer’s cave…a desk, a computer, reference materials, research files, and a few lucky charms to bring the muse out to play. But my “cave” travels some days. In the morning, I might work at the kitchen table. That afternoon, my SUV becomes my office while I’m in the car pool line. Come evening, you might find me at the library, the local coffee shop, Langley, or in the bleachers of my son’s baseball game. Just kidding about Langley. I’m not a spy. Honest. <wink>
When I’m home and able to sit at my desk, it looks like this:
Pretty normal for an author of spy novels, right? A few Top Secret files (research for the next book), my purple pens, (an absolute must for the copious notes I take), and a few hidden tools of the trade. What’s in the drawers? Nothing much…passports in various names, listening devices, night vision goggles. Standard operating equipment for someone undercover. Oh, and the trench coat and sunglasses in the closet? Come rain or shine, I’m ready to work.
Along with my top secret research – a.k.a. pictures of hot guys who inspire my sexy CIA heroes – these props put me in the mood to write fast-paced romantic suspense. I mean, you never know when the CIA might actually need me to jump into action. Or I might have to take out the terrorist living next door…
While I sip the nectar of the gods, I pull up the playlist for my work-in-progress – I have a playlist for every Super Agent novel. Even if I’m waiting in the dentist’s reception area, typing away while one or both of my twin sons get their teeth cleaned, I stick in my earbuds and mentally travel to a place where my hero and heroine are undercover, running for their lives, and saving the world from terrorists, crime lords, and notorious hitmen.
Research is a big part of what I do. It’s grueling, let me tell you. What kind of shoes can my heroine wear that catch my hero’s attention, yet allow her to kick a criminal’s butt? Can she hide a lock pick or a weapon in the heel? I spend hours on Zappos looking for just the right pair! Why are you giving me that look? It’s research for my novel, I swear.
And my hero. What about him? Is he a Bond or Bourne character? Stubble or clean shaven? Boxers or briefs? Google is my best friend, providing hundreds of photos of potential Super Agents. (Hey, it’s a dirty job, but someone has to pick the right ones and pin them to my Pinterest board so my fans can drool over them!)
What’s that ringing coming from the desk lamp? Nothing really. Just one of my many burn phones hidden under the dragonfly shade. And that Mission Impossible ringtone? That’s the one I assigned the Agency. Guess it’s time to dig out my trench coat and sunglasses, and get ready for another cloak and dagger op – er, I mean, another day at the office…