Welcome to Coffee Time Romance, Lara. Why don't you start by telling us something about yourself.
Thanks so much, Lori. I was hoping for a painless interview. ;-)
My name is Lara Santiago. Tell you something about myself…let’s see. Well, I’m double jointed, I love to laugh so I’m convinced that I’m very funny, I’m good at math and when in doubt I’ll make a spreadsheet to prove my point. That might not be quite what you’re looking for, but still, it’s all true. Ask anyone. ;)
Where did your love for writing come from? Was it a life time dream, or did you just have an epiphany one day?
I’m sure my love of writing is closely linked with my love of reading. It all started with The Pokey Little Puppy. Later on, Nancy Drew became my preteen idol and as a full fledged teenager, I discovered romances courtesy of Kathleen E. Woodiwiss. I’ve loved mysteries and romance books all my life.
Writing was a life long dream of mine, but I let the analytical part of my brain take over early on and got a ‘real’ job.
I started writing with the intent of making it a career about five years ago when we moved to Florida due to my husband’s job, and the characters banging around inside of my mind would no longer be silenced. J
I’ve always had stories running around in my head. When I was eleven, I penned a story about being shipwrecked on an island. I guess timing is everything. Look at the success of Lost. J
Your book, "The Blonde Bomb Tech", is a romantic suspense story between a bomb technician and a firefighter. What inspired you to write this story, and how did you research your characters?
I wrote The Blonde Bomb Tech as part of a writing class at my RWA chapter craft workshop. We started in February and met once a month with the intent of finishing a book by August. A week before the class, I was searching for unique characters and an engaging premise and literally dreamed it up one day after a nap. I thought, what if there was a girl bomb technician who was afraid of explosions? Why was she afraid? Who would be the perfect hero for her?
The first scene that came clearly into my head is also the first one in the book. My heroine is running for her life doing a countdown in her head for a bomb that’s about to blow up and literally crashes into my firefighter hero seconds before the explosion.
As for research, my uncle is a firefighter. After I asked him a bunch of questions, he put me in touch with an actual bomb technician in his station house. I learned a lot.
This book has received great reviews (congrats!). How important are these to you? What is your favorite "fan" moment?
Thanks so much. The reviews for this book have been fantastic. Reviews are very important to me. I believe they are a reflection of what my readers think of my stories and I want to do the best job I can for them. Plus I’m convinced that new readers look at reviews to make decisions on whether to give me a first try. I want to make them happy too. J
I understand you like to talk to yourself. Some would say this means you have money in the bank *wink*. Do you brainstorm your stories during these conversations? And, even more so, do you talk to your characters and what do they say?
Okay, it’s true. I talk to myself. Who told on me? J
Hmm, money in the bank is appealing although, I’m not sure that’s true. (Grin.)
I do brainstorm my ideas during these conversations. I’ve also been smart enough to buy a mini tape recorder for these discussions in case brilliant things slip out. I do talk to my characters. Mostly I hash out their back story. Who are they? What motivates them? Why won’t they let me sleep? J Quite frankly, my characters tell me their story and I write it down then I put them into situations and see what happens.
There are few women who could resist a sexy firefighter, and Jake is no exception (insert drool bowl here). What is it about firefighting that made you choose this profession for your character?
Yes. I would be included in that category as well and I’m going to need my own drool bowl. Straight up I chose firefighting because who better than a firefighter would understand the life of a bomb technician and visa versa. I thought Sabrina and Jake were well suited to each other. J
Tell us about 'the call'. Where you were, what you said, and what it means to you now as an accomplished writer.
When I got ‘the call’ I was chatting with one of my kids about his day at school. The phone rang and I expected it was going to be some salesman trying to sell me water softener, but instead it was my publisher.
When she said her name over the line, I recognized it and fell to my knees in shock. She started talking about wanting to publish my book and my brain stopped functioning. I did climb up off the tile floor to attempt normal conversation. I started dancing and leaping around the room pointing at the phone. My son squinted, and mouthed, “Is it Dad?” I rolled my eyes. “Seriously, when do I ever do a dance and leap around the room when your dad calls?” hee hee
That call meant absolutely everything to me. I framed the e-mail my publisher sent to me directly after my ‘call’. It still hangs over my desk.
If you had the chance to meet with one author for a day and ask anything you want -- who would it be, and what would you ask?
Oh my goodness, the pressure of selecting only one! I’ve been to several romance conferences and have been able to meet almost all of my favorite romance authors so I’m going to choose a surprise author in a different genre.
I’d want to spend the day with mystery author Lee Child. I’ve never met him, but I adore his Jack Reacher series. I don’t even think I’d ask him anything. I’d just want to stand near him for as long as possible in the hopes that his superb storytelling skills aura would brush off on to me. Okay, maybe I’d ask him if I could be a character in his next book. J
You're a wife, mother, sister, etc...what sort of support system do you have from your family? What advice would you give your children should they decide to follow in your footsteps?
I’m so fortunate to have a very supportive family. I’ve even started dancing and leaping around the room whenever my husband calls. J My mother wonders why I don’t write mysteries after all those Nancy Drew books, but is always excited when I have a good news to share about my career.
If my kids ever decided to follow in my footsteps, I’d fall to the floor in shock again, but once I recovered, I’d tell them to keep at it and never give up. That’s my advice for new writers as well.
You're about to release a print-only anthology from Siren's Publishing with your story, "The Prosecutor's Paramour". Tell us a little more about this story and what it means to you to have a book in print.
“The Prosecutor’s Paramour” is very exciting for me. It will be the first book of mine that won’t be published in e-format. It will be available at Siren Publishing soon and also brick and mortar stores later on. I can’t wait. J
The story is a prequel to a futuristic series I have with Siren called The Wives Tales. I have to say it’s one of my favorite stories. Fun because I got to go back in time to a world I’d already created and bring new things to light and challenging because I had to keep in mind everything I’d already written in the series.
Here’s a blurb:
[Futuristic] In the year 2075, undercover enforcer Evie Marsh is dispatched to spy on the ambitious prosecutor, Zachary Valetta, only to fall in love and is betrayed by him as the radical Tiberius Group takes control of the U.S. and turns women into virtual properties in marriage auctions. [Prequel to The Wives Tales]
Please feel free to share an excerpt and/or a snippet of a review. I'm sure readers would love to have a taste!
A review snippet for The Blonde Bomb Tech:
4 Cups: "This is a totally engrossing novel from the first exciting scene…full of suspense and unexpected twists and turns, and the bomber is truly evil. This is a great story!" —Maura, Coffee Time Romance
Here is a short excerpt:
Eight…You better move your butt!!!
Seven…Where the hell is the minimum safe distance barrier?
Six…Thank God, there’s the perimeter. Jump for it.
Five…Who’s that in the way?
Four…Who cares! Tackle him.
Three…Damn! Hard, lean, muscular body under me.
Two…Whoa! Hard, lean, muscular body over me.
Sabrina Morgan’s entire body shook as glass and flying debris flew into the air from the detonation. The bomb she’d been working on had gone off. The ensuing explosion ripped through the quiet summer morning. She was the bomb technician. She was supposed to have stopped the bomb, but it had blown despite her best effort. How could that have happened?
With no answer forthcoming from the assembled emergency teams cowering down around her, Sabrina panicked.
The bomb nightmares she’d had for most of her life flew through her mind. Then she lost complete control of herself…which never happened, either. Not ever.
“Oh, no! No!” Sabrina sobbed hysterically into the crisp, clean collar of the fireman who covered her body protectively with his own.
The thought of someone having to protect her from the bomb she’d failed to stop made her cry harder. She heard herself babble nonsensically as she turned her face into the fireman’s rough, whiskered cheek. He smelled safe and good. She needed to check out for a few minutes to get herself together.
Sighing, Sabrina burrowed her cheek further into his throat scented with a musky cologne. Her lips connected with his skin as she inhaled his delectable scent. Her senses reeled as she clung to him. In her trance-like, panicked state, he was her only lifeline. She tasted the salt of her own tears.
“Shh, don’t cry. It’ll be okay, I promise,” the man holding her said, his voice honey-smooth. His breath tickled the loose hair next to her ear when he spoke. Booming noises continued to burst from the building. The comforting words from him intruded into her consciousness. She opened her eyes and was surprised to find her mouth still pressed to his neck, her lips rubbing sensuously along the male skin. Her fisted hands clutched both sides of his open jacket, securing him in place. She wanted him to say something else in that seductive voice.
She’d had a moment to appreciate the warm, male body covering hers, and then her panic set in again. Sabrina stopped kissing him. She loosened her fingers from the death grip she had on his protective yellow and black jacket.
The bomb had gone off—the bomb she’d tried to defuse, the very reason for her existence. She’d been a bomb technician for nearly five years. Until today, she’d never failed to diffuse a bomb.
Is there anything else for you in the future?
Oh gosh, I hope so, I want to live! Thanks for letting me be a goofball. J
I’m currently working on another book for my wives tales series called, The Mercenary’s Wife. The hero is Tyler Blackthorn. He’s a character who is introduced in The Prosecutor’s Paramour and he has a secret connection with another of the heroes in the series. Muwahahaha.
Thank you, Lara, for taking time to speak with us. I wish you the best of luck with everything in the future!
Thanks, Lori. You’re right the interview was painless. Great questions!
I appreciate your talking with me.
You think I’m funny now, don’t you? J