It is my great pleasure to welcome back to Book Lovers Inc. military romance and romantic suspense author Kaylea Cross, who is here today to celebrate the release of Tactical Strike, the 2nd book in her Bagram Special Ops series! Kaylea was kind enough to answer all my questions about her writing, so join us and get to know Ryan and Ace, the hero and heroine of this new nail-biter story of hers.
Stella: Hi Kaylea, welcome back to Book Lovers Inc! Can you please tell us a bit about yourself?
Kaylea: Hi, Stella, and thanks for having me again! I write mostly military romantic suspense, because I love it, and I’m also a Registered Massage Therapist and Board member of a private scholarship foundation based here in Vancouver, BC. Oh, and I LOVE military heroes.
Stella: Are you a planner or pantser? Can you tell us a bit about your writing process?
Kaylea: Oh, I’m definitely a planner! I always plot out my books so I have a roadmap when I begin writing a new story. I can change things as I go, but I need that direction and the meat-and-potatoes there to give me structure to work with. I start with an idea or a point I want to make with the story, then develop characters and start on a plot. I always like to think up at least two twists for each story, to take the book in a direction the reader doesn’t expect.
For me, it’s the drafting phase of writing that takes the longest. I’m a very slow drafter! But once the hard part’s done, I really enjoy revising a story and getting it ready to submit to my editor.
Stella: What do you think is the difference between a reader and a real Book Lover?
Kaylea: I’d say the difference is a real Book Lover reads obsessively, every day, and might even have several books on the go at once. A true book lover raves to their friends about their favorite books and authors, and will willingly go without sleep to finish a good book. They also believe that suffering the next day from lack of sleep is totally worth it. And I also believe that a true Book Lover cries inside when they see someone breaking the spine of a new book. I know I always cringe when I see that!
Stella: Lol, I know, I also cringe, my superpower is being able to read 500 page long books without breaking the spine Your latest novel, Tactical Strike, the second book in your Bagram Special Ops series was published today, congratulations! (Readers, I have devoured it and it is sooo good! ) Can you tell our readers what they can expect of it?
Kaylea: Thank you! I’m so excited for everyone to read Ryan and Ace’s story. He likes to break the rules and she doesn’t, so their relationship definitely starts out as an “opposites attract” thing. Sparks certainly fly between these two!
The second half of the book is pretty tense, and the stakes are high for everyone caught out in enemy territory when a mission goes wrong.
As a side note, I use a lot of military acronyms in this book because I wanted to stay true to how my characters would actually speak. However, the hero, Ryan, was thoughtful enough to include a glossary of terms at the end of the book for your reference. His sense of humor certainly shines through in it.
Stella: I was very grateful for that glossary since I bemoaned its lack in the first book, and having such now, especially with Ryan’s funny style was a riot! Could you introduce the hero and heroine of Tactical Strike to us?
Kaylea: I’d love to!
USAF Staff Sergeant Ryan Wentworth, CCT: Six feet, one inches tall. Two hundred ten pounds of lean, mean fighting machine. Mahogany brown eyes, brown hair and beard with a reddish tint. Lives to get a rise out of people and bend break every rule he feels in need of adjustment.
“I like your shirt,” he said. Beneath her partially zipped black hoodie, the tight gray T-shirt fit snugly across her amazingly full breasts—reason enough for the compliment—and the picture on it made him grin. It showed a C-130U Spooky II firing its 105 mm Howitzer with the words You can run, but you’ll only die tired. True enough, he thought with a surge of admiration. That aircraft was damned amazing, and so was she, except for the too-uptight thing.
USAF Captain Candace “Ace” Bradford, Spooky gunship crew: Five feet, ten inches tall. One hundred and fifty pounds. Long, honey blond hair, dark brown eyes. A strict rule follower who’s spent her entire Air Force career guarding her carefully garnered reputation, and she’s not about to let a bad-boy CCT jeopardize that. Or so she thinks…
Oblivious to, or maybe because of her embarrassment, Ryan dropped into the chair opposite hers next to Maya, his tall frame taking up all the space in her line of vision as he set his tray down and leaned forward. Candace couldn’t help but gape at his meal. His plate was piled high with scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, potatoes, toast and pancakes. His breakfast was a full day’s worth of calories for her. Even his damn metabolism was arrogant.
Stella: Now can you tell us 3 reasons why people should read Tactical Strike?
Kaylea: Sure can!
1) Ryan’s a USAF Combat Controller (CCT), and they’re just plain badass, in the best way possible.
2) Because of his job as a Battlefield Airman, Ryan has to go “semi-native” with his grooming standards, and therefore he has a beard. A delicious, oh-so-masculine beard.
3) You’ll learn a ton about lesser known branches of the Special Operations Forces, like CCTs, gunship crews, and Pararescue Jumpers (PJs)
Stella: Could you please summarize Tactical Strike for us Twitter-style (in 140 characters or less)?
Kaylea: An uptight gunship crew captain meets her match in a bad boy combat controller. When they’re thrown together in harm’s way, they must rely on each other to make it out alive.
Stella: Tactical Strike was a long time in the making. How do your novels usually come to life or was this one particularly challenging?
Kaylea: This one was challenging for me, because both the hero and heroine are active duty military stationed overseas at Bagram, in Afghanistan. I agonized for a long time about how to portray the non-fraternization issue, since I didn’t want to be disrespectful to our men and women serving in uniform. That`s partly why it took me so long to finish the book—I felt I`d painted myself into a corner by setting the books at Bagram.
Stella: You are the one who made me discover the military romance genre (thank you once again! ), so naturally I’m curious: how did you discover this sub-genre, what attracted you to it?
Kaylea: I’m so happy I could do that! I’ve always had a real love of military history, even as a young girl, so somehow that interest segued first to the American Civil War (I’m a total Civil War geek), and then to Special Ops. In my teens I began to read romances about military heroes, but I always wanted to know more about what it was like for them out in the field. That’s what I try to portray in my books, and with the Bagram Special Ops series, I also write about military heroines, which I felt was important.
Stella: Do you have any personal experience with men and women working in the military or how do you research your books and your characters? How extensively do you try to be factual and accurate or are you more liberal since your books are fiction?
Kaylea: My grandfather was a WWII vet, and two of my uncles served as well, so we do have a tradition in the family of serving our country. I’ve also been fortunate to have made some wonderful and reliable connections in the military world that include a recently retired Combat Controller, a Pararescueman, and I also have friends who are married to an ex-SEAL and an elite Marine sniper. Very handy resources for my writing!
I try very hard to be as factual as possible, but I’ll admit, there are times when I just have to flat out guess about a particular detail, and others where I have to bend the plot to fit the story. Still, I hope my readers will learn a lot about what our military personnel do on the battlefield.
Stella: What is your favourite part of a romance novel to read or write? The beginning, the first meeting, first kiss, getting to know each other, first love scene, big fight, HEA, or something else?
Kaylea: To read, I’d say it’s definitely the sexual tension between the characters. I love it when you can feel that undeniable pull right along with the hero and heroine. So, I guess it would be the first love scene (that makes me sound so bad! LOL.).
To write, it’s any scene with a lot of emotional conflict in it, like a fight or a really intense love scene.
Stella: What is next on your schedule? Any future plans you’d like to share with us? And when can we expect to see Book #3 in the Bagram Special Ops series?
Kaylea: The 3rd Bagram Special Ops book (Lethal Pursuit) is coming out September 16th, but before then I’m going to self publish a Civil War romance (shocking, that I would write one of those) in late May/early June. I did SO much research for that book and I finally decided I had to put it out there. After that, I *may* write a novella for the Bagram series, but I’m almost finished drafting the first book of a new series. I have lots to keep me busy, that’s for sure!
Stella: Yay, so glad to hear hat, looking very much forward to reading more of your stories! Could you share with us something, a trivia that not many people know about you?
Kaylea: Okay, but it’s highly ironic. All my military heroes are really brave men who willingly jump out of perfectly functioning aircraft…but though I love writing about all that stuff, I’m absolutely terrified of flying.
I know! But it’s true. In my graduating year of high school, one of my classmates was the sole survivor of a plane crash and she lost her entire extended family in the accident. It took seven hours for the rescue crew to hike in to the crash site and bring her out, and then she had almost two dozen surgeries to put her body back together. Before that accident I flew all around the world no problem, but ever since I’m convinced I’m going to die every time I set foot on an aircraft. (Don’t tell my heroes! They’d be so disappointed in me.)
By the time this interview goes live, I’ll be in Kauai, having braved another flight. I`ll be a sweaty mess the whole time, but I try hard to hide it so my kids won’t be traumatized. Wish me luck for the flight home!
Stella: Good luck Kaylea, hope the flight went ok and have a terrific time in Hawaii! Thank you for stopping by Kaylea and congrats once again!
Kaylea: Thank you so much for hosting me! I love talking about military characters.
Kaylea Cross is an award winning author of edge-of-your-seat romantic suspense. A Registered Massage Therapist, Kaylea is an avid gardener, artist, Civil War buff, Special Ops aficionado, bellydancer and former nationally-carded softball pitcher. She is an active member of the Greater Vancouver Romance Writers of America chapter and lives in Vancouver, BC with her husband.
Book #2 in the Bagram Special Ops series
Gunship pilot Captain Candace Bradford has worked long and hard to earn her rank and position within the male-dominated world of Air Force Special Operations. She’s not about to let anything or anyone jeopardize that, let alone one sinfully tempting man who seems determined to cause her nothing but trouble. Even if she’s starting to fall for him.
As an elite Combat Controller, Staff Sergeant Ryan Wentworth is used to overcoming adversity in order to complete a mission. Breaking through Candace’s prickly exterior and into her heart is a challenge he can’t let go. But just when he’s begun to gain her trust, they’re thrown together in the field facing an overwhelming enemy force.
Candace and Ryan find themselves on the run, searching the skies for an emergency extraction. But one dangerous enemy has an agenda in mind and he’ll use whatever means necessary to achieve it, including using American forces to do his dirty work…
Kaylea is gifting a 11 total digital backlist titles, one for each number of tour stops! The more tour stops you comment on, the greater your chances of winning. Please follow the Rafflecopter directions and see the terms and conditions on the widget for additional rules.