Q. After writing about chefs, what inspired you to base your next series on firemen?
A. I’m a big fan of the every day hero and there’s no one who embodies that more than a firefighter. These are regular guys who live in your city and neighborhood–and also happen to run into burning buildings. How amazing is that? I’ve always loved writing about family ties, the ones you’re born to and the ones you make. So for this series, I wanted to focus on a family where the bond is everything, not because of genetics but because of a foster sibling relationship and a brotherhood that originates in the firehouse. I thought it would add another layer to the idea of family that would resonate with readers.
Q. Was it hard to decide which of the Dempsey’s stories to tell in the ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’ novella? And was it hard to get people invested in a new family of characters in so few pages?
A. Actually, I didn’t really have a choice! My original proposal was to have four Dempseys—Wyatt, Luke, Gage, and Alex—and tell three primary romances and one M/M romance over those three longer books. That’s what I sold to Simon and Schuster in September 2013. But then my publisher suggested I be part of their holiday anthology, which was a huge opportunity to get people excited about the Dempseys and the Hot in Chicago world before FLIRTING was released. So Beck was born. I’d never written a novella before, so it took me a while to get into the rhythm of writing short. I was determined to introduce all the heroes: Beck, Luke, Gage, Brady, Eli, and Wyatt all have their moment in the BICO novella. In fact the only person who doesn’t get a look in is Alex, but she has plenty of page time in FLIRTING.
Q. What can you tell us about Wyatt’s book? My inner matchmaker can’t help but wonder if maybe Logan’s widow will make an appearance ….?
A. Okay, I’ll admit that this pairing was my first idea. I had a notion that Book 3 would be a very emotional story with Wyatt in love with his dead brother’s widow (Wyatt and Logan were biological brothers, not just foster, so more taboo). But as I finished up FLIRTING WITH FIRE, I realized that the tone of that first book—and the entire series—was too light for those kinds of angst levels. He needed a woman who could bring him joy and would recognize all his great rock-solid qualities, and if there’s all this guilt dragging it down, it would be too hard to pull off (I’m no Kristan Higgins!). What we know about Wyatt from FLIRTING (minor spoiler here) is that he’s spending nights away from home and keeping his whereabouts/doings a secret. He’s the strong and silent type, who loves his family, but sometimes they are just a bit too much for him. His “secret” will cause a lot of friction with the family. As for his heroine, she hasn’t made an appearance yet, but they will have had a history. Can’t say more than that 🙂
Q. How important is the setting of Chicago to your books?
A. While I recognize that small town contemporary is a juggernaut to be reckoned with, I’ve always loved stories with urban settings. I think readers are always looking for an alternative to the “sweetness” of the small town. I’m originally from Dublin, Ireland, and now make my home in Chicago. As a backdrop to sexy, driven people falling in love, it couldn’t be better.
Q. And finally, who are your favourite contemporary romance authors?
A. So many, but I’d say a few of my favorites are Kristan Higgins, Jill Shalvis, and Susan Elizabeth Phillips. They write with such humor and heart, and I’m in awe of their craft.
Thanks for the great questions, CL!
Thanks so much for Kate for letting me host this Q&A. If you ever feel the need to add another book to the series, how about a story where Logan’s widow meets a wickedly hot rebound guy …. who turns out to be a long-lost Dempsey / long-lost sibling of one of our existing heroes/heroines and she is thereby forced to confront her feelings for Logan / the Dempseys / new guy ?! (I’m not going to let this go!!) 😉