A second author Q&A within a week—that’s nearly unheard of here on my blog. Q&As are some of my favourite posts, though, so I’m quite happy about this timing.
Today’s Q&A, with The Cave author Amanda McKinney, is just as interesting as Sunday’s post. We get to learn a bit about everything from where Amanda’s inspiration comes from, to the choice behind writing full time, to what’s coming next in her author career. And, if you’re interested, you can also stop by Amanda’s rafflecopter, where she’s giving away a $50 Amazon gift card.
Could you please tell us a bit about yourself and what inspires you?
I was born in a small, southern town that has more cows than people. Big trucks, American flags, cowboy hats, sweet tea—all the fantastic clichés. From a very early age, I loved two things: reading and the outdoors. For me, inspiration sparks when I’m in nature. There’s something about being out in the mountains, that can be magical and enchanting, but also dark, creepy, and extremely lonely—which makes one hell of a backdrop for a murder mystery series. Each book in the Berry Springs series is shaped around the outdoors—The Woods, The Lake, The Storm, The Fog, The Creek, The Shadow, The Cave. Throw in a few dead bodies, a sexy alpha male, and strong, independent female and the series was born!
What do you like to read in your free time?
I’m a sucker for romantic suspense. I love the delicate mix of romance, intrigue, edge-of-your-seat suspense, mystery, and of course the grand finale of it all, the happily ever after ending! And let’s be honest, a swoon-worthy hero doesn’t hurt either. As a reader and a writer, pacing is very important to me. One of my favorite things about the genre is that the stories are fast-paced. Nothing pulls me out of a book more than slow pacing or that ever-dreaded lagging middle section. When I write a book, I focus on creating a page-turning experience and making the reader feel a mix of emotions—fear, anticipation, shock, lust, you name it. If he, or she, goes to bed thinking about my book, or stays up all night just to finish it, I’ve done my job. A few of my favorite romantic suspense authors that do this very well are Nora Roberts, Laura Griffin, Toni Anderson, Sandra Brown, Linda Howard, and Karen Rose.
Did you find it difficult to walk away from your career to become a writer?
Absolutely. The decision to begin my writing career was the answer to a lot of soul-searching and prayers, to be honest. I’d always struggled with what I was meant to do professionally. My world was cubicles, PowerPoint presentations, quotas, and ass-kissing. I knew, deep down, that this was not my path. I wanted to be the person who said, “I love what I do so much that it doesn’t feel like work.” So, I kept sending positive energy out into the world, open-minded to what that job might be, and one day, the decades-long quest finally ended after I wrote the first few paragraphs of my first book (that was so terrible it never saw the light of day!). I fell in love with writing instantly. I have absolutely no regrets.
Who or what would you say has influenced your writing style the most?
Nora Roberts’ stories inspire me. She has a way with words that is a true gift. Her personal story inspires me as well. She had no writing experience or ties to the publishing world what-so-ever, but one day she decided to sit down and write a book, and today she is one of the most successful Romance authors in the world. She loved to write, and she made it happen. That’s awesome. I’m also inspired by Laura Griffin’s books. The forensic research and facts that she puts into her books is incredible. I learn a lot just from reading them.
Can you tell us more about your upcoming release, The Cave?
The Cave is a fast-paced, sexy, small-town murder mystery about two very different strangers—Owen is a rescue swimmer with the Coast Guard, and Sadie is a smart, independent forensic anthropologist—who come together to solve a cold case, but get trapped in a remote cave where they must work together to survive while being hunted by a ruthless killer.
What type of scene(s) do you find the most difficult to write and why?
For me, it’s the first few chapters of the book! This is when I establish the setting, characters, conflict, drop in a dead body, and set the sexual tension between my hero and heroine. There’s a lot to that! Once I hit the middle, it’s solving the mystery and enhancing the relationship, which I usually breeze through (and love).
Where do you see this series going?
Each book is a standalone love story and mystery (the location, Berry Springs, carries over), so the series will continue as long as readers keep reading!
What’s next for you?
I am kid-in-a-candy-shop excited about a new series I plan to release later this year. I can’t say too much about it now, but it will have all the thrills, chills, sexy alphas, dead bodies, and mystery that you expect with my books. I can’t wait to get it into the readers’ hands! The best way to stay up to date on this new series, upcoming releases, enter in fun contests, and get tons of freebies is to sign up for my newsletter here.
About The Cave
After getting trapped in a remote cave, two strangers must work together to survive while being hunted by a ruthless killer…
Life is full of surprises, rescue swimmer Owen Grayson knows that better than anyone, especially when he’s forced to take an indefinite military leave and return home to pick up the pieces of his dad’s latest mistake. As Owen struggles to settle back into his roots, he is called to a remote cave where he discovers the mysterious death of his uncle wasn’t an accident at all. As the clues begin to unravel, it becomes apparent that the cave is hiding secrets worth killing for… and everyone on site has a target on their back.
Coming off a bad break up and an even worse few days, Forensic Anthropologist Dr. Sadie Hart is brought in to excavate human remains found deep in the treacherous mountains of Berry Springs, in a cave rumored to be haunted, nonetheless. When her team stumbles upon a dead body before they even reach the cave, Sadie quickly realizes this is going to be no ordinary job—especially when she meets a particularly bull-headed Adonis who claims to be related to the victim.
A storm hits, trapping Sadie and Owen inside the cave with nothing but a flashlight and a small backpack with provisions… and someone who wants them dead. As the odds stack up against them, Sadie begins to fear she and Owen will become the next pile of bones found deep in the catacombs of Crypts Cavern…
THE CAVE is a standalone romantic suspense novel.
About Amanda McKinney
Amanda McKinney is the bestselling and multi-award-winning author of more than ten romantic suspense and mystery novels. She wrote her debut novel, LETHAL LEGACY, in 2017 after walking away from her career to become a writer and stay-at-home mom. Set in small, southern towns, Amanda’s books are page-turning murder mysteries packed with steamy romance.