Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Interview with author Sarah Ballance

Author Sarah Ballance is here to talk about her new romantic suspense novel Run To You.

Mattie James can't pinpoint exactly when she lost control of her life, but the moment she decided to take it back made the front page of the local paper. Desperate to dodge the fallout— and the tabloids—she jumps at the chance to spend an off-season week in a tiny resort community by the sea. Making the trip with her ex-lover is a complication she can live with; coming face to face with a dead woman is not.

The last thing Sheriff Wyatt Reed expected to find on the storm-ravaged beach was a beautiful blonde with a jealous sidekick, but one look at Mattie left him wanting more. Their first date takes an ominous turn when he gets the call that a woman was found murdered. With a killer on the loose and a troubling lack of suspects or motive, Wyatt has to put his feelings aside to focus on the case. But his vow not to become personally involved is shattered when he discovers Mattie's life is on the line, and this time the truth leaves her with a deadly choice ...  and nowhere to run.

Tell us about Run To You.

Who hasn't dreamed of heading to the beach to get away from it all?  That's where the story begins.  After a nasty breakup literally makes the papers, Mattie takes her ex-lover turned closest friend up on  his offer to spend a week at the beach.  She figures it’s the perfect way to put her not-so-distant past behind her, and if she can find a fling to pass the time, all the better.  Unfortunately, her ex-lover had his own set of intentions which didn't include a threesome, and Mattie's own plans didn't include coming face to face with a murder victim … or becoming the killer's next target.

Share with us your favorite scene in the story, without giving too much away, of course.

Although I'm kind of partial to the banter in the opening scene between Mattie and her ex, Hutch, I have to say my favorite scene is when Mattie and Wyatt (he's the fling) consummate things.  I actually wrote that scene last – for months it sat as "insert sex here," LOL.  Although I can read explicit sex day long, I'm not comfortable with the usual flinging, heaving body parts in my own writing.  Making the scene hot and sensual and sexy without using the typical "dirty words" represented a huge challenge for me, but I'm thrilled with how it turned out.  Their lovemaking is a deeply emotional journey for Mattie, it ties in with the story in tremendous ways, and the scene ends with a significant acknowledgement of doubt and uncertainty.  As hard as it was for me to write, the sex between them now stands as one of my greatest personal writing victories.

What draws you to writing romantic suspense? 

I love to read it.  As a kid, I read the Nancy Drew Case Files and remember telling myself I'd stop at the end of a given chapter and never could close the book.  For years thereafter I traded romance books for parenting magazines, but fell in love again with Harlequin Intrigues.  The sense of danger sends the romantic tension to a whole new level, and my math brain loves the puzzle of crafting a story around the clues without giving too much away.  My goal is to build toward a really gritty suspense, and my next work-in-progress is definitely a step above.  I spent a full day researching what ended up being a single typewritten page, but it's an accurate page, dang it!

Tell us a little bit about your writing process. For instance, are you a pantser or a plotter? If you’re a plotter, what method do you like to use?

I'm a little bit of each.  I summarize my story in one paragraph, or in five to ten plot points.  That's the extent of my outline, and it might change every day, but it gives me a thread of direction. Beyond it – in spite of it, for that matter – my characters do what they like.  I tweak for them, but they seldom give me an inch, LOL.  My stories are quite vivid and real to me, however, and writing is almost like jotting down what I see in my mind.  They tell me what they're about, and I merely take notes.  *grin*

What are some of the writers and books that have inspired you?

I think I find a little more of myself in every book I read in the sense that I'll see things I like – or even don't like – that further shape my own words.  In terms of writing style, however, I've got to give another plug to Rosalie Stanton.  Her book "Ripples Through Time" blew me away.  What I found between the covers was pure brilliance.  Every page is full of clever quips, one-liners, and the kind of wit I can only aspire to write, and I'm currently clamoring all over myself to own her entire backlist.

Your bio says you have six homeschooled children – where in the world do you find the time to write?

I don't find it – I demand it.  I HAVE to write.  Writing gives me a sense of accomplishment because – unlike the schooling, cooking, cleaning, and laundry – it's something I can finish.  I am so very blessed by being able to spend all day with my kids and I wouldn't trade it for anything, but if they don't leave me alone for an hour or so each morning I just glare at them until they go away, LOL.  The key, I think, is keeping up my end of the deal.  I always stop writing when I say I will and I give them my full attention from that point on.  As such, there is a great deal of mutual respect.  (That, and as soon as I close the computer it's time for math drills, so heaven forbid they bug me until I stop ahead of schedule.  *cackles*)

What’s on the horizon for you – any works in progress you can tease readers about?

I had been working on a romance, but the aforementioned suspense really bullied its way to the front of the line.  It's a gritty, bullets-flying kind of story full of sexual tension stemming from a broken past between the two main characters.  The romance it edged out combines a taste of the forbidden with an encounter with the unexplained, and the result is a bit disconcerting at times.  The story actually makes me uncomfortable, and I think that's what I love most about it.  I hope both novels will be finished by spring.

Thank you so very much for allowing me to hang out with you for the day!  It's been an absolute pleasure to get to know you, and I'll be around to answer any questions your readers may have – even the personal ones.  ;-)
Thank you Sarah!

Find Sarah Ballance online at her website, blog, Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads.

Run To You can be purchased at Noble Romance, where you can also read an excerpt, and Amazon.


  1. Thank you so much for having me, Sonya! I've really got to get to work on those two novels now that I've gone public, LOL!

  2. I'm a little more in love with Sarah every day. I swear, if ever I need an ego-boost, I know where to go.

    Thanks for the pimp, sweetie.

    To everyone else reading this comment: Sarah's a brilliant author with nowhere to go but up. Her characters are fresh and exciting, and she finds unique ways to spin stories you think you might have heard before. Her debut novel kept me riveted, and while I haven't yet had a chance to pick up "Run To You," it's currently sitting at the end of my rather considerable TBR list as a reward for making it to the end. I know how to motivate myself. ;)

    Seriously, do yourself a favor and add her to your "MUST READ" authors. You won't regret it.

  3. I've read Run to You...and it's fantastic.

    All my favorite things: romance, stormy beaches, gorgeous men, MYSTERY and SUSPENSE.

    At every turn, you'll think you know 'who-done-it', but you'll just THINK you do.

    Congratulations on the release, Sarah. Love, love the sexy, brooding cover.

  4. @Rosalie, holy smokes. Thanks for making me cry. (Like I don't look scary enough without makeup - now I get to be puffy and blotchy. THAT, ladies and gentlemen, is how I keep the kids away!) Of course, us brilliant types have our quirks. You, for example, MAY be prone to exaggeration, LOL. BUT, I will take it and consider my spot at the bottom of your TBR list a raging compliment. *giggle*

  5. @Zampa, Thank you so much for your unending support. I'm THRILLED you still love the story after seeing what had to be way too much of it. ;c) Of course, the cover does have a way of making looking at it bearable, doesn't it? You've always made me feel SO good about this story and you get much of the credit for making it what it is. I can't thank you enough!

  6. Sarah, you give great interview! ;-) Come back anytime.

  7. I love me some Sarah Ballance, and I 100% wholeheartedly agree with Rosalie said! This book was amazing, funny, sexy and all suck you down inside it suspenseful. I can't WAIT to see what else comes out of the twisted and brilliant mind of Sarah.
    Plus, the fact that me cracks me up helps. Glaring at the kids until they go away ... I need a picture so I can work on my look, apparently! Mine have been in my lap 3 times since I started trying to comment an hour ago!

  8. @Adrienne - First I'm brilliant, then I'm twisted. You guys make a stellar fan club! *GRIN* I think I'll take that as a challenge ... what will my twisted mind come up with next? I'm wasting my brilliance on 'go away' faces for the kids, ya'll! LOL. You'll a doll, A. You've inspired me (or is it provoked? LOL!)

  9. @Sonya - Thanks, m'dear! I'm going to write my next book then hunt you down for another nosh. ;c) Awesome joint you've got here - it's been a pleasure!