What to Read in Romantic Suspense: Toni Anderson Dishes on Her Latest Novel

What to Read in Romantic Suspense: Toni Anderson Dishes on Her Latest Novel
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If there’s something the world needs right now, it’s hope. And Toni Anderson’s latest romantic suspense, Colder Than Sin, has got it in spades. 

Quentin Savage’s presence was her most precious weapon of all. The thing that kept people alive even during the worst atrocities. Quentin gave her hope.

Once it starts, it never slows down. It’s rough. It’s tense. It’s gritty. Hell, it’s got a content advisory. FBI crisis negotiator Quentin Savage is the keynote speaker at a security summit on an island in Indonesia, where Haley Cramer is attending, trying to drum up interest in her security firm. When terrorists invade and begin killing all the guests late in the evening, Quentin grabs Haley and they make a run for it. Only, they don’t get very far before they’re captured. The nightmare that ensues is enough to make any fan of the genre break out in a sweat. Quentin is first and foremost an FBI agent, sworn to protect the lives of his fellow Americans. So when he and Haley come across other Americans who’ve been held hostage in the same area, he’s duty- (and morally) bound to help them escape. Danger escalates around almost every corner, and every time you think Quentin and Haley have caught a break, the danger escalates. This was another great book, but it was exhausting. 

I was excited to catch up with Anderson to get a little insight into her FBI world and figure out how a marine biologist with a Ph.D. on the ‘effects of temperature and temperature acclimation on muscle fiber properties and swim performance in fish’ made the shift to NYT and USA Today Bestselling romantic suspense author.

What is the most interesting/unexpected thing about you that’s not on your Web bio?

In high school it was a toss-up as to whether I pursued fine arts or science. Writing was never on my horizon even though I was an avid reader. At that point in my life the idea of being a published author was right up there with climbing into a rocket ship and heading off on a one-woman Mars mission. 

You’re English and now live in Canada – why the FBI, not MI5? 

Good question. I have used MI6 in small ways (The Killing Game), and the British SAS characters who pop up in the Cold Justice books are a Black Ops group run covertly by MI6. But the FBI appealed for many reasons. One, the market wasn’t saturated with FBI Agents at the time I started writing the books, and I don’t believe it’s saturated now. Two, the FBI deal with every kind of crime imaginable and that gave me a wide scope for potential stories. And the US market is the biggest market for Romance, so it made sense to set the books there. But I am a little obsessed with the FBI. It could be a problem 😉

What is your writing process? 

It’s ugly. I’m also constantly trying to improve it, and constantly failing. 

I assume you research content for your books in the field … what is the most fun you’ve had doing research?

I don’t do as much field research as I’d like unfortunately. I have the most fun at the Writers Police Academy/MurderCon conferences. Between firearms simulation training and doing PIT maneuvers to knock cars off the road, it’s an absolute blast! I did visit the Strategic Information and Operations Center inside FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C. in January 2016. It was during the transition and the Unit Chief pointed out the secure room where they’d investigated Hillary Clinton’s emails. He wiped his brow at the memory. 

FBI HQ 2017
Testing for blood at MurderCon

What was the tipping point that took you from working scientist to romance author?

Pregnancy. Not really, but kind of. At the time my kids were born my husband had a job that was partly in Scotland and partly in Australia. It was impossible for me to work as an independent scientist during this phase of our lives and also be with him and raise babies. I’d started writing during my last post-doc and I was hooked. Then we moved back to Canada and the upheaval continued. My husband always supported my choices, but I think he was surprised when I went from a career scientist to a stay-at-home-mom writing Romance. It worked out though. ☺

What is your favorite instance of the FBI in pop culture – tv, movies, books? 

X-files! 

What tv show/movie/book gets FBI characters the most correct? 

Oh, tricky question. I think the great joy of writing fiction is that, although we want to make it as accurate as possible, the story/entertainment comes first. Some of the TV shows are crazy fantasyland representations of what I understand the FBI to be. And I also twist a lot of situations for my fictional purposes so I can’t really lay claim to being accurate, although I do my best. The books that get it most correct… autobiographies of former FBI Special Agents 😉 

What drew you to FBI hostage negotiators?

A wonderful man called Terry Waite gave the commencement speech at my brother’s graduation in the 1980s and not long afterwards was taken hostage in Lebanon, and held for 1,763 days. This event sparked a lifelong interest in stories about kidnap and hostage-taking for me. I’ve read pretty much everything ever written on the subject. It seemed a natural fit for my fictional FBI world.

Have you been to Indonesia? 

No, but I really want to! Definitely on the bucket list.

What are you reading right now? 

I’m on a Bronwyn Parry blitz. I’ve had her books on my e-reader forever, but just started to glom them. Love her writing and the Outback setting. 

About the Author:

Toni Anderson is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, RITA® finalist, science nerd, professional tourist, dog lover, gardener, mom. Originally from a small town in England, Toni studied Marine Biology at University of Liverpool (B.Sc.) and University of St. Andrews (Ph.D.) with the intention she’d never be far from the ocean. Well, that plan backfired and she ended up in the Canadian prairies with her biology professor husband, two kids, a rescue dog, and a laid-back leopard gecko. Toni started writing while pregnant with her first child and never stopped. Her greatest achievements are mastering the Tokyo subway, climbing Ben Lomond, snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef, and surviving fourteen Winnipeg winters (fingers crossed). She loves to travel for research purposes and was lucky enough to visit the Strategic Information and Operations Center inside FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C. in 2016, and she also got to shove another car off the road during pursuit training at the Writer’s Police Academy in Wisconsin. Watch out world!

Connect with Toni:

Website

Instagram

Facebook

Twitter

Colder than Sin by Toni Anderson, out now!

Top FBI negotiator Quentin Savage is hurled into his worst nightmare when a terrorist attack on a luxury hotel propels him from esteemed keynote speaker to powerless captive.

Haley Cramer is co-owner of a private security firm and prides herself on her independence, but she is shaken to the core when gunmen attack a conference she is attending. She survives, but only because Quentin Savage pretends she’s his wife.

Together Savage and Haley plot their escape from a ragtag army of brutal but efficient thugs while struggling to figure out exactly who the enemy is. Why was the conference attacked, and why was Quentin a specific target?

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