Carolyn LaRoche is the author of several romances including Witness Protection and Homeland Security. Today she comes to Foreplay and Fangs on tour with her novel Undercover In Six-Inch Stilettos, and some reflection on the act of writing what you love. Carolyn grew up in snow country but fled the cold and ice several years ago. She now lives near the beach with her husband, their two boys, two finicky cats and one old dog. When she is not at the baseball field cheering on big hits and home runs, she is busy teaching science to unwilling teenagers.
Write What You Know or What You Love?
Thank you to Foreplay and Fangs for allowing me to visit with all of you today. I am very excited about my recent release, Undercover in Six Inch Stilettos, the first book in my new Secret Lives series where a group of women married to police officers keep finding themselves tip-toeing the fine line between justice and crime, love and lust.
After more than fifteen years of being married to a police officer, I have to admit that there are so many things that have happened in our marriage that if I didn’t laugh, I would cry. All day, every day. For instance, we will never, ever eat in a restaurant that doesn’t have an available table where his seat allows him to face all entrances in to the building. At a meal with friends, we used to rush to get to the table first so he could choose his seat and not have to explain why. Of course, everyone knows now but for a long time it was almost comical trying to arrange seating without making a production of it. Sometimes, we still did. It was embarrassing or it was just the way things were.
We cannot—I repeat, cannot—go anywhere in a car without a running commentary of every broken taillight, misfired directional or defective piece of equipment on the road. This has gone on for so long that I now find myself doing it when I am alone!
It is absolutely imperative that I check all pockets before washing uniforms and don’t get me started on the time he called and instructed me to meet him in the driveway with soap, a bowl of water and a towel…
Of course, there were the times he received the medal of valor for saving someone from a house fire and the two life-saving awards for his part in preventing a suicide and tending a life-threatening stab wound—none of which I found out about until a letter came from his chief. There are so many things that can be looked at as good or bad; it’s really all about perspective. I, like Cyndi, try to maintain a good sense of humor.
There is a scene in the book where Cyndi comes home later than Jason thought she should. Her husband lectures her about the dangers of the world then simultaneously locks down the house while propositioning his wife. Cyndi lets the lecture slide and plays along with his attempts to make up the best way he knows how.
I wish that I could tell you that Jason’s security system, door and window locks and motion lights were a figment of my imagination but alas, they are not. Neither are the twelve pairs of handcuffs hanging in a tree in the second book of the series. I may also have come home once or twice, later than I should have been to hear a litany of all the things that could have happened to me. So much of my real life has made it into the series that, at times, I find myself confused between realities!
When my husband and I first met, I was a student in a graduate program of forensic science and crime scene investigation. He was a criminal justice graduate looking to get into law enforcement so from the very start, our lives have involved a healthy dose of interest in criminal activity. Once, out to dinner with a friend of ours that ran the local crime lab, we ate steak and discussed in detail a serial murder case the friend was working on. It never occurred to us that this was unusual dinner conversation until the couple at the next table got up to leave and tossed out an unhappy comment about our choice of topic. In retrospect, we felt bad about it and have been careful to censor ourselves in public ever since but the truth is, those sorts of things fuel my creative brain and are regular dinner table conversation at home. It is so easy to write about a crime when you have a ready source of research right there next to you.
One of the things I had hoped to accomplish with this series, in addition to poking fun at my own often comical life, was to prove that romance novels don’t always have to center around couples in their twenties or even thirties. Cyndi and Jason have been married for a decade, have a daughter and are hovering around mid-life. That doesn’t stop Jason from trying to get his wife in bed at every single viable opportunity. They have a healthy intimacy that I think is not often recognized in romance books in couples that are in their forties or older. All of the books in the series have a similar sub-plot—that sex and romance don’t end when you say I do.
Romantic intrigue/mysteries have become the most comfortable place for me on the genre spectrum. I would love to say I have every detail mapped out in advance and a full outline of twists and turns ready to go but that would be a big fat lie on my part. I’m a total seat of my pants writer. When an idea comes to me, I mull it around for a few days in my head. Maybe I’ll jot down some character names and a few personality traits but not always. A lot of my characters are loosely developed around the people in my life, they become the picture in my mind as I write them. I prefer strong female leads that are a good match emotionally and psychologically to the men they end up falling for. It’s okay if they have flaws or even visible emotional weaknesses but when push comes to shove they need to be able to stand their own ground. Aside from that, the story is told as it comes to me. Sometimes I think I have a fantastic idea for a sub-plot and the characters just do what they want anyway. Fortunately, so far, this has worked well. Mysteries get solved, heroes get to be heroes and strong, independent women get the man. If they want him…
Someone once told me to write what I know. Others have told me to write what I enjoy reading. Both are excellent advice. It is with sheer luck that I have been able to marry the two together. I know how to live with and love a man whose job migrates into every facet of our lives. I love to read mysteries and romances and I’m a pure sucker for a happily ever after. Bonus points if there is a man in uniform involved.
When does a secret become a lie?
Cyndi has a beautiful daughter, and her husband Jason is totally hot for her, but something is missing. As a cop, Jason is extremely vigilant about safety and security, and Cyndi longs for some time to herself, so she takes a Friday night job.
Jason thinks she’s cleaning offices, when she’s actually dancing in a red bustier and six-inch stilettos at a club called Sugar Shakers, something only her three best friends, also police wives, know.
When club employees start disappearing, the truth comes out…
A young runaway, Jade, and a military widow, Lola, vanish, and Lola’s body is later found in the ocean. Cyndi begins investigating—with some help from her friends—but when anonymous threats put her daughter in jeopardy, she has no choice but to confess her lie to Jason, rocking their previously solid marriage.
Jason is furious, but Cyndi has to ask for even more if she hopes to solve the mystery…
Cyndi convinces Jason to sign her up as a confidential informant, and she officially goes undercover at the club, while Jason struggles to control his jealousy. As the evidence mounts and the danger becomes all too real, Jason fights to keep Cyndi safe.
But no amount of security can protect someone when lies are more common than the truth and no one is who they appear to be.
Jason leaned against the counter, arms folded across his chest. She recognized that look immediately. He was doing the cop thing, analyzing her, and she could tell he knew something didn't add up. His left eyebrow rose just a tad higher than the right as he studied her. "Why do you have glitter in your hair?"
Cyndi shook her hair and a shower of glitter rained down on her sweatshirt. Damn. Somehow she had missed a boat load of sparkle. Damn, that stuff got everywhere.
"Jody brought her daughter's costume for a dance recital to work so I could help her fix a tear. It was all covered in sparkles. The damn stuff got on everything. Had to go back over the carpets with the sweeper twice and I'm still not sure we got it all."
Jason continued to stare down at her from his full six feet of height. His stare was laser sharp, his presence imposing. It was no wonder he was so good at catching the bad guy. Hardened criminals squirmed under the intensity of that stare. Hopefully he couldn't see through her despite the fact she felt as transparent as the shower curtain hanging in their bathroom.
"You think Harper is going to want to do that stuff?"
"Harper is four. It's a little early to predict if she will be a dancer or a swimmer or...whatever."
"Yeah, well, I just don't want that glittery stuff all over the house. The guys won't ever let me live it down, I show up to work all sparkly like that." He shook his head.
Cyndi stepped closer to her husband and wrapped her arms around him. "I'm exhausted, honey. How about we go to bed?"
Jason hugged her close. "You gonna wear a little French maid's outfit like you do when you clean those offices?"
"Can't fault a guy for trying." Jason's grin was a sharp contrast to his earlier scrutiny. He pulled out the neckline of her top and peered down into it. "Come on. I know you gotta wear some kinda uniform!"
Thank God she had changed in to her old white bra from the discount store and left her bustier at work. Stepping back, Cyndi held her arms out and spun around slowly. "You're looking at it, baby. Doesn't my ratty old sweatshirt turn you on?"
"Not as much as a little maid's outfit would. It's nearly Halloween. Maybe I ought to pick one up for you to wear at work. You know, so you don't mess up your own clothes."
"Ohhh, Jason... you are such a guy!"
"You would rather I be such a girl?"
"Of course, not! Just don't be so obvious about being a man all the time." Cyndi filled a glass of water from the tap, drank it in one gulp, then placed her used cup in the sink before heading toward their bedroom. "Come on, cop man. You play your cards right I might let you frisk me before we go to sleep."
Cyndi heard light switches flip, door chains sliding and the announcement that the house emergency alarm was being set. Jason rushed through his nightly round of safety checks as he yelled to her from various locations around the house.
"Do you have anything on you that might hurt me?" Snap went the deadbolt on the front door. "Needles, knives, or guns?" Click went the security latch on the sliding door to the back yard. "Do I need gloves or cuffs...?"
"Not sure you're gonna need gloves but cuffs might be fun," she called back as she climbed out of her clothes and dropped into the cool sheets.