My good friend Jamie Lynn Miller has another fantastic new release! She agreed to an interview and to talk about Broken Soldier.
Tell us about your new release, Broken Soldier. What was your inspiration behind it?
The majority of the inspiration for this book came from my time spent attending citizen police academy classes. I would listen to the detectives talk about undercover work and how far they needed to go and how dangerous it could be and how it could end up breaking them, living this other life. And this was just to take down drug dealers or gangs. So I upped the ante even further by making this a military book and the "target" an arms dealer supplying weapons to terrorists. Just imagine the lengths a covert ops team would go to, to stop this man. I really put Connor and Shawn (most especially Shawn) through the emotional and physical wringer to complete their mission.
What can readers expect when they read a story from you? What would you like readers to know about your writing style?
Well-rounded characters with faults and flaws. And in-depth research. Since my tag line is "Men in uniform…and out" I do a lot of research (much of it hands on) to make my cops and firemen and paramedics (and now soldiers) come alive and be authentic.
And until this book I would have also said "Hearts and flowers romance with a bit of angst thrown in for good measure".
But that statement changed pretty drastically with Broken Soldier. I believe in challenging myself as a writer and taking chances. And that's what I've done here. This book is dark and gritty. It tackles drug use/addiction and how far Shawn is willing to go, submitting himself to the bad guy emotionally and physically until it breaks him and nearly kills him.
This is a big change for me, and I hope that my regular readers will give this book a chance. Because even though it's not my usual style, I am, and always will be, the Queen of Happy Endings. I will put my boys through hell, but love and dedication will always put them back together again. So give it a try! You just might like it!
Tell us a bit about your cover. Did you create it yourself? How does your design process work?
I'm a graphic designer by day (and romance writer by night!) so cover design is one aspect of being an author that I love. I've designed all but one of my covers. I love having the control and ability to design it exactly the way I want it.
The hardest part for me is finding the perfect photos, as I'm sure it is with most cover designers. Though it's not TOO much of a hardship having to look at pages and pages of gorgeous men. :-) I probably search 6-8 stock photo sites. I couldn't believe how incredibly lucky I got that I found two soldiers that look SO much like my characters Connor and Shawn. I was a bit stunned! All I had to do was mess with "Shawn's" hair a bit and also add a pair of dog tags to him and that's all. Easy fixes.
Normally I'll go through a dozen different designs with different pictures, different fonts, different colors. But with Broken Soldier it came together so smoothly it shocked me! This was just the second design I came up with and I was very happy with it. I think the fonts I chose get across both the military aspect and that neither of them will come out of this unscathed with the shattered looking letters. Then of course there's my two soldier boys themselves. And finally there's the photo of the powdered heroin. This was especially important for me to include since drugs play a big part in this book and I wanted my readers to know that.
And that's how the cover for Broken Soldier came to be!
Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, how do you cure it?
Oh sure, absolutely. Thankfully it usually never lasts longer than a couple days. I find that I work through my writer's block in my dreams. If I'm stuck on something I make a conscious effort to think of it right before I go to bed then my subconscious takes over and runs through different scenarios. It really works! I've woken up many times with my solution.
What comes first, plot or characters?
Nine times out of ten it's the plot for me. I suddenly think of some situation that I want to be the main focus of my book and the characters develop from there.
Despite the fact that you do extensive plotting and outlines, do your characters still sometimes take over and send the story in a different direction?
Usually not with major plot points, but with dialogue for sure. I had an idea in my head how the conversation(s) would go and suddenly my guys are taking things in another direction. And it's usually for the better! Rule of thumb - always listen to your characters. :-)
Sergeant Connor Finley and Sergeant Shawn Weller are dedicated soldiers working covert ops for Shadow Unit -- a joint UK/US anti-terrorism task force.
Partners in the field and out, they had been through hell together for the last four years and made it through standing side by side. But when their latest undercover op to bring down an arms dealer plunges them into a world of drugs, sex and violence, Shawn must literally get in bed with the enemy in order to complete the mission. And Connor is forced to watch, helpless, as his partner is broken into pieces.
Will love be enough to put them both back together or will this be their final mission?
WARNING: Contains scenes of drug use, graphic sex and realistic situations
Shawn gave Connor a grin. “So we can chalk this up in the win column.”
Connor sat back heavily in the chair, dumbfounded. “You call this a win?” he said incredulously, throwing his arms open to indicate Shawn lying in the hospital bed. “You died, Shawn,” he said forcefully. “Do you have any idea what it was like for me to see you lying there, bloody, not breathing, pushing on your chest, yelling at you to come back to me…” Connor’s voice broke and he swallowed hard.
Shawn’s expression softened. “I’m sorry, Connor. I never meant to put you through that.” He reached out and Connor took his hand. “Thank you for saving my life. You’ve always got my back.”
Connor squeezed Shawn’s hand, locking gazes with him. “Always,” he said quietly.
They sat there for a moment in silence, just reconnecting with one another, until Shawn spoke again.
“Do one more thing for me?” he asked.
Connor gave a small chuckle. “What? Saving your life wasn’t enough?”
Shawn didn’t laugh. “Get me out of here.”
Connor shook his head. “Shawn, you’re hurt – “ he started but his partner cut him off.
“Listen to me, Connor. I know what’s coming. The withdrawal. Just the small taste of it I’ve gotten this week has been bad enough. You’ve seen some of it. What I’m going to go through soon is going to be ten times worse.” He paused then and squeezed Connor’s hand. “I can’t…I can’t let anyone from the team see me like that. Please, Connor. Take me somewhere. Just me and you. Help me get through this. You’re the only one I trust.”
Connor heard the anguish and desperation in his partner’s voice and it hit him like a punch to the gut. He nodded his head. “Okay, I’ll talk to your doctor.”
Shawn blew out a shaky breath and nodded his head, his eyes closing. Connor could see the exhaustion written on his face. He squeezed Shawn’s hand again and released it.
“Get some rest,” he said quietly, standing up.
“Copy that,” Shawn breathed, already drifting off.
Connor stood there for a moment, looking down at his beaten and battered partner. He understood why Shawn wanted to seclude himself away from the others. He would’ve asked for the same thing. They were soldiers and you didn’t show weakness or vulnerability. Most especially in front of your teammates. He knew it was hard enough for Shawn to be lying in that hospital bed. Even though everyone knew that none of this was Shawn’s fault he wouldn’t put his partner through more than this if he could. Because like Shawn said, he had his back.
Meet and Connect with Jamie Lynn!
Jamie Lynn Miller has been writing fiction since childhood and decided to take the plunge and go pro in 2008, finding to her amazement that people truly enjoyed her love stories. She’s a romantic at heart, and her tales reflect the desire we all have to find “the one,” persevering through trials and heartache for that happy ending.
Jamie has a degree in fine arts and has spent the last twenty years working as a graphic designer, though she’d much rather be writing. She was born in Chicago and still lives there today with her husband and their two furry, four-footed children, er… cats.
If she’s not brainstorming story ideas, you can find Jamie at a sci-fi convention, in front of a furnace doing glass blowing, or on a mat twisted into a yoga pose.
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