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1. What led you to write a serial killer thriller?
We’ve both always been fascinated by serial killers, both in fiction and non-fiction. I remember reading Red Dragon by Thomas Harris years ago and thinking, “Man, I wish I could write like that.”
2. What was your experience writing this genre compared to your other books?
Our first novel, Casting Shadows Everywhere, is basically a thriller. Since then, we’ve written an urban fantasy series, a post-apocalyptic series, and a slasher horror novel. So going back to a straight thriller felt a little like returning home.
3. Tell us about FBI agent Violet Darger.
She’s tough but damaged. Violet is hard-nosed and driven in her work, and sometimes that intensity is directed at the people around her and results in conflict.
4. Why did you decide Violet would be a rookie agent?
We wanted the first few books to sort of serve as Violet’s origin story, so starting at the beginning of her agent career just made sense.
5. Do you know how many books will be in this series?
Right now we have solid plans for three full length novels, as well as a few novellas. But we intend this series to be open-ended and for each book to be a standalone that could be read out of order.
I like what D. Baldacci has done with the Amos Dekker series, although this wasn’t my favorite one. The best part was the last 1/3 of the book. The first 2/3’s IS well written, intriguing, with a killer hook, but still felt lacking. Having said all of that—David Baldacci still writes the best plots! They’re absolutely off the charts, cerebral, and entertaining. Also enjoyed the introduction of a new character, DIS agent Harper Brown. She played a vital role throughout the book and I can sense she’ll be back in the future.
David Baldacci is a master storyteller on steroids.
This was my first Will Robbie book and loved it! Not many people can make an assassin so intriguing, appealing, and compelling. Loved the wit, charm, and sarcastic humor of Robie. His personality fully springs out of the dynamics of his relationship with FBI agent Vance, and fourteen old runaway.
Baldacci writes the most complex plots that I’ve read of any author, yet his characters are just as deep. The use of foreshadowing, characters, tension, stakes, causes you to be lost in the story.
ABOUT LESLIE TENTLER
Leslie Tentler is the author of six novels, including BEFORE THE STORM, LOW TIDE, FALLEN and the Chasing Evil Trilogy (MIDNIGHT CALLER, MIDNIGHT FEAR and EDGE OF MIDNIGHT). She was a finalist for Best First Novel at ThrillerFest 2012, and is a two-time finalist for the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery and Suspense. She is also the recipient of the prestigious Maggie Award of Excellence. A native of East Tennessee, she currently resides in Atlanta with her husband, standard poodle and three aloof cats.
Tell us about Rarity Cove and what bearings it has on the story.
Setting is such an important piece of any story. It sets the atmosphere and builds the mood. I first introduced readers to Rarity Cove in Before the Storm (Rarity Cove Book One). It’s a fictional seaside town about forty minutes outside of Charleston, South Carolina. It’s a small tourist town and quite idyllic, with a quaint downtown with centuries old live oaks in the square and the ocean boardwalk nearby. Rarity Cove is best known for the St. Clair, which is a four-star resort hotel that has been run by the St. Clair family for generations.
What’s the St. Clair family like?
I strongly recommend reading Before the Storm before moving on to Low Tide (Rarity Cove Book Two) in order to truly get to know the St. Clair family and especially to understand the dynamics between Mark, the eldest St. Clair sibling and the hero in book one, and Carter, the younger brother who is the hero in book two.
The St. Clair family is considered to be “old money” in the small Southern town, and Mark, who is head of the St. Clair hotel, is a business and civic leader. In book one, Carter is sort of the prodigal son who has returned to Rarity Cove while on hiatus from the soap opera he stars on in New York City. He and Mark have a bit of a contentious relationship, and the reason as to why is revealed in Before the Storm.
In Before the Storm, you’ll also be introduced to Mercer, the youngest St. Clair sibling and only daughter, and Olivia, the family matriarch, who is a socialite and a bit of a meddler in her family’s personal lives. You’ll visit all these characters again in Low Tide.
Who is Carter St. Clair?
When you first meet Carter in Before the Storm, he is an actor on a soap opera in New York City, still on the cusp of superstardom. At the end of that book, his career has taken off in a big way, and you’re just beginning to get a glimpse of his trajectory to fame.
Low Tide begins three years later, and Carter is now an A-list Hollywood leading man, very much in demand. But then the unexpected happens. Seriously wounded in his LA mansion by a deranged stalker, he leaves the glare of Hollywood and returns home to Rarity Cove to recuperate, both physically and emotionally.
A few readers mentioned to me they initially had qualms about reading Carter’s story in Low Tide, since he was a bit of an antagonist to Mark in Before the Storm, at least until the two brothers finally buried the hatchet over something that had happened years earlier. But those same readers have told me how much they ended up loving Carter in book two. Carter has matured quite a bit and the nearly fatal stalker attack in particular has forced him to really take a hard look at his life and the kind of man he wants to be.
Introduce us to Quinn Reese.
Quinn Reese is a physical therapist who has returned to her mother’s home in Rarity Cove after fleeing her soon-to- be ex-husband, a professional football player in San Francisco. Currently out of work, she receives a lucrative offer from the St. Clair family to work with Carter. But Quinn has her own personal history with the St. Clairs, and with Carter in particular. Mark talks her into working with Carter since he has been resistant to other physical therapists so far. Mark believes Quinn won’t be intimidated by Carter’s fame, since she was married to someone famous herself. Quinn is reluctant, but needs the money to truly get a fresh start on life.
I really enjoyed writing Quinn—she’s smart, good at her job, and empathetic. She’s also a vegetarian, a dog lover and a yoga enthusiast. But while she seems like she has it all together on the outside, on the inside, she’s kind of a mess and keeping some pretty big secrets that spill out over the course of Low Tide.
What was your experience like writing Low Tide?
Low Tide was my first foray into writing a continuing series. Both Before the Storm and Low Tide are also my only books that aren’t high-stakes, law enforcement oriented thrillers. I enjoyed revisiting the characters I’d created in Before the Storm in Low Tide.
Who is your favorite character?
With this series, it really is Carter. I had a lot of fun making him a bad boy in Before the Storm, and then knocking him off his throne in Low Tide. At the beginning of Low Tide, Carter is in pain, he’s depressed and he’s really struggling with the “new normal” in his life after being so seriously wounded. Until Quinn’s arrival, he’d lashed out against physical therapy, but Quinn isn’t having any of his attitude. At the point that Carter realizes he’s falling for Quinn, he really has made a 180-degree turn from the man he used to be. Carter has been a “ladies man” his whole life—his looks, the St. Clair money and later, his fame—always allowed him to have his choice of women. Having him realize that ordinary Quinn is actually someone quite special, someone he wants to protect and cherish, was fulfilling for me as a writer.
If you could be any character in this book who would it be?
Quinn, definitely. Who wouldn’t want to be the heroine in her own book? 😉
LOW TIDE (Rarity Cove Book Two) BACK COVER BLURB
Hollywood leading man Carter St. Clair had it all—until a brutal stalker attack nearly takes his life. Seriously injured, he returns to his hometown of Rarity Cove, South Carolina, to recover in private, his outlook on fame forever changed by someone claiming to be his “number-one fan.”
Physical therapist Quinn Reese fled San Francisco to be free of her soon-to- be ex-husband, professional football player Jake Medero. Staying at her mother’s house in Rarity Cove seems like her only option until she can get back on her feet financially. When the St. Clair family makes her a lucrative offer of employment, Quinn sees the potential for starting over, even if it means working with Carter, who broke her heart years ago. As Carter heals under Quinn’s care, a fragile bond forms between them. Carter also recognizes a parallel between his own stalker and the possessive pro baller who considers Quinn his property. But even as Carter steps into the role of Quinn’s protector, another dangerous storm is brewing…one for which neither of them is prepared.
LOW TIDE is the second book in the Rarity Cove series, so we recommend reading
BEFORE THE STORM first. Low Tide is available at the following retailers:
1. What led you into writing from your other fields of interest?
Writing is one of those things that, if you want to do it, I suggest don’t hesitate and delay. I did both for a long time and regret it. Even a few pages here and there will keep one from abandoning it. In my case, other, very important things in life crowded it out, but it was always there. So a few years ago I decided I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t take the risks and jump in.
As for KNOLL, I’m with the majority of Americans that still believe JFK was murdered as the result of a conspiracy. Some things nag at you, itch until you have to scratch and open them so they can be treated and healed. For me, the itch was the assassination of JFK. It got worse as I pondered over the years how something that momentous, that public a spectacle, could remain obscure and unresolved. Growing up in Louisiana with friends whose fathers were “made men” in the Mob, my brother playing in the band at the club secretly owned by Mafia Kingpin Carlos Marcello, my father as night manager at the downtown Shreveport hotel where vice was part of the room service, all went into the soup. Teaching inmates at Rikers Island helped me understand how little ever gets known about murder. My career as practicing lawyer (including as a lobbyist in Washington, D.C.) helped me understand how things “off the record”, hidden from public view, can determine so much of what we call history. The healing balm was writing a story based in very substantial part on true facts, including references to Dalton Trumbo, the Academy Award-winning, blacklisted Hollywood screenwriter who first had the nerve to write a movie (Executive Action) about the assassination conspiracy. I wanted to explore how the mystery might (or might not) still be resolved in this twilight era of the last active JFK conspiracy activists. So all my other fields of interest contributed to this story.
2. How does writing compare to your previous work experience?
I confess, I treat writing much like a fascinating legal case or business project, with the same level of passion and discipline and attention to research that I would apply to an entrepreneurial investment or a legal case. I get “into” of all those and want to see each of them through. Inspiration and a creative muse are the fun part.
3. Who is Bus McIntyre?
Bus is me in an alternative universe. He has doubts, he struggles to get his bearings in a universe of errant stars and uncertain tides. He is driven to know that which is probably unknowable — in this case the truth behind the murders of his father and JFK. Yes, like Bus, I ride a Harley.
4. The plot for Knoll is very intriguing. Why did you choose this particular one?
Depending on your source, KNOLL is somewhere between the 4,000th and 40,000th book on JFK. It is, however, one of a relative short list of fictional treatments (including movies, comics, and songs) of those events. It is the only one set self-consciously in this moment where the “last of the JFK conspiracists” are fading away, perhaps sealing the fate of the matter as one of the great cold cases of history. It also recognizes that the case just might still be solved. If intelligence resources at the level that were applied to find Osama Bin Laden were applied to this case, plus a lucky break or two of new facts, the unravelling thread might well be pulled from the tapestry of mystery. That is the world into which the two key characters, Banner McCoy, the Millenial NSA fugitive, and Bus McIntyre, the Bilbo Baggins of the JFK Mystery, find themselves. Of course, there are forces out there, living and dead, that will fiercely protect those secrets.
5. Tell us about your experience in researching this book.
What great fun! Of course, the book is a work of fiction, and I have taken liberties in names, places and events. Behind those, I read much of the JFK literature, researched all the historical characters and places — Carlos Marcello, Elvis, Dalton Trumbo, Bossier City — and revisited all of the sites in the story.
6. What was the most enjoyable part in writing Knoll?
My favorites were writing the too-brief character of Banner McCoy, along with Bus’ journey on his bike to find the truth about himself and these murders, plus the final stalk in the canyon lands near Grand Junction, Colorado.
7. What was the most challenging?
Writing the too-brief character of young Banner McCoy. My kids helped me a lot with that. More important, Banner will be a key character in a sequel that takes all the events in KNOLL for a speed ride into a higher political dimension.
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