When you’re writing a long-running series, how do you keep the chemistry between reoccurring characters genuine, and, well, sexy? We asked contemporary romance author Marie Force to tell us how she manages to keep us loving the characters in her suspenseful Fatal Series through nine books and two novellas. (And, as an added bonus, Marie gave us two sets of the print editions of the Fatal Series to give away! See the Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post.)
Today is the release day for Fatal Frenzy, book 9 in my Fatal Series, which is now five years old with no end in sight. It’s a tiny bit surreal to consider that this series has now gone to nine books—and two novellas—when you consider its somewhat inauspicious beginning. I wanted to write a series that featured the same couple in every book—a female homicide detective who is romantically involved with an up-and-coming politician. Editors love the idea for the first book, but weren’t too keen on the idea of the same couple headlining every book in the series. “It’s simply not done in romance,” one editor famously told me.
But I was determined from the beginning to write this series the way I saw it, and that was with one couple at the forefront of every book. Set in Washington, D.C. against a backdrop of politics and murder, I figured this series could live on indefinitely if—and only if—I could make the readers fall in love with the two main characters, D.C. homicide detective Samantha “Sam” Holland and political operative Nick Cappuano. Before I wrote the first book, I sought out the advice of someone who has successfully pulled this off. At a chat with Nora Roberts at RWA, I asked her the secret to keeping the romance fresh when writing the same couple in every book in a long-running series (she writes the In Death Series as J.D. Robb), and she said, in her typically blunt style: “If they’re young and hot and hot for each other, you’ll be all set.” The series eventually sold to Harlequin’s Carina Press and recently recorded its 1 millionth sale. In July, I entered into a new seven-figure deal with Harlequin’s HQN imprint for four more Fatal books. I think it’s safe to say the readers have fallen in love with Sam and Nick.
I’ve never forgotten Nora’s words of wisdom as I write Sam and Nick’s story, which actually began six years before the opening of book 1, Fatal Affair, with a “memorable” one-night stand that readers only read about this year in the prequel novella One Night With You (available now for a short time for free in ebook format). In writing One Night With You after so much had already happened for Sam and Nick in the Fatal Series, I had to make sure the heat and chemistry that’s sizzled between them in the series was apparent during that first critical meeting years earlier. It was so much fun to go back in time, knowing what I know now about how things would unfold for them, to write about a night neither of them ever forgot.
Though the Fatal Series is billed as romantic suspense—and there is plenty of suspense and mystery and intrigue in every book—at the heart of this series is Sam and Nick’s passionate romance. As the series stretched to four, five, six books and beyond, I began to worry about whether I could keep their romance hot and steamy, whether it would grow dull for me to write or worse yet for the readers to read. But as I spend more time with them, I’m finding the opposite to be true—I can’t get enough of them, and thankfully, neither can the readers. Due to the intense nature of their jobs and the very public life they lead, they’re always facing new challenges that force them to look inside themselves and their marriage to cope with the crazy fishbowl in which they live. And then there’s the boy who enters their lives in book three and changes them both in ways they never could’ve expected.
Book 9, Fatal Frenzy, opens in the aftermath of a wild two-book story arc that began in book 7, Fatal Jeopardy, and continued in book 8, Fatal Scandal. Sam is suffering through the effects of a traumatic event that has her questioning everything about herself, her instincts and her career. Nick is suffering right along with her, and together they work their way through it the way they always do.
If you haven’t yet started the New York Times bestselling Fatal Series, you can begin with One Night With You and then go right into Fatal Affair. If you’d like to discuss the series with other fans, check out the Fatal Series Reader Group at Facebook.com/groups/FatalSeries.
To get you started reading the Fatal Series, I’ll give away the first eight books and the novellas in print format to two lucky readers. And here’s some more about Fatal Frenzy:
Inauguration day is almost here…
Lieutenant Sam Holland is on leave, recovering from an attack that shook her to the core. With no case to distract her, she’s trying to stay busy—even voluntarily meeting with her new White House staff. But it’s not enough to keep the horrific memories at bay, and her family is worried…especially her husband, Nick.
Nick is dealing with his own demons where his wife’s safety is concerned, losing night after night of sleep as he works to make sure what happened that day will never happen again. The pressure is building inside the Cappuanos’ marriage, and something’s got to give before Nick takes the oath of office.
When two college girls go missing in the midst of inauguration madness, the chief of police needs the one cop he can count on to find them and save the Metro PD from disgrace. In a case full of ugly twists and turns, Sam will have to confront her past and find her strength again…before it’s too late.
Marie Force is the New York Times bestselling author of more than 40 contemporary, romantic suspense and erotic romance novels. She’s sold more than 4 million books in her career so far. Find out more about Marie and her books at marieforce.com, and connect with online on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.