Thursday, May 23, 2013

Villains, Red Herrings, and All That Jazz

Congratulations to "Mary P." and "Martha L.", the winners in Susanne's giveaway. Thank you to all who participated!

When I sat down to write my first Romance/Suspense novel, FIRE ANGEL, I knew what the crime was, who the hero and heroine were, and where the story would take place. I wasn’t sure who the villain was, but I knew exactly what he would be like. Now, I haven’t met a lot of serial killer-pyromaniacs in my life; in fact, I haven’t met any, but as a student of history, I realize that a character of that type is more common than we’d like to believe.

I’ve found in real-life that the villains rarely look like the monsters that they are; they don’t go around wearing a black hat in a world where others wear white ones. More often they have the faces of angels and an outward persona that makes them likeable, charismatic, and hugely popular. Think of some of the most notorious criminals, and you’ll see that rarely did they stand out from the crowd until after they’d committed their horrors.

I began writing FIRE ANGEL with that kind of villain in mind—a man who would not be suspected of the crime and when he presented himself to me, I was amazed. He fit the bill perfectly. He was exactly the kind of nasty piece of work I wanted—an invaluable member of the community, a man always putting himself out for others, but one with a hidden agenda that no one suspected, least of all the reader. A man bent on revenge for what he saw as an injustice committed against him.

Now that my villain had a name and a face, I needed to find his nemesis, those who would take him down, and fall in love in the process. I wanted a man and a woman who would have something to prove not only to themselves but to others. Characters that had been wounded both physically and emotionally and who could rise above the hand they’d been dealt in life and triumph over adversity. Wounded warrior, criminal profiler Jake McKenzie guards his heart and the secret of a betrayal in much the same way fire and arson investigator Alexis Michaels does hers. Both have been betrayed by those who should have loved and cared for them, and each has to overcome trust issues.

When they put their skills together and truly trust one another, that’s when they can identify and overcome the Fire Angel and fall in love in the process. In my novels, it’s essential that my characters be the kind of people my readers can identify and empathize with, and I think I’ve succeeded.

Susanne will be giving away a digital copy of FIRE ANGEL to two people leaving a comment or email entry.

Excerpt from FIRE ANGEL:
“That still doesn’t mean the cases are connected; arson is often used to cover up other crimes. In this case, the dealer wasn’t too popular with his clients; maybe he was shorting not only his landlord but his supplier—those guys kill one another at the drop of a hat. Getting access to drugs wouldn’t be a problem for them.”

Jake nodded, impressed by how well she knew her stuff. “The local coroner found traces of the same drug in two of the bodies found in the flophouse. The guys were a couple of local handymen, only they made a habit of taking advantage of people by doing substandard work and using inferior materials. They probably short-changed everyone in the region at one time or another. They didn’t even live there, for God’s sake!” He shook his head.

“The arson boys found evidence of a modern Molotov cocktail at the scene. The kitchen was the only area damaged, but the smoke must have been horrendous. The others in the house, three itinerant construction workers from Quebec, were clean except for a high concentration of alcohol in their systems. The smoke alarm had been disabled. They died of smoke inhalation. The bodies in the kitchen showed signs of being burned alive, Alexis. We kept this out of the papers and out of the public reports.” He finished his beer.

“Are you saying that the men in the kitchen were awake? Why didn’t they try to get away?” she asked horrified.

“The techs think they were glued to the chairs.”

“My God!”

Alexis stood and began to pace the way he suspected she always did when she was upset or nervous. She wrapped her arms around herself and worried her lower lip. He could tell the information had upset her, and she was trying hard to hide her dismay.

“What kind of sociopath are we dealing with?” She stood still in front of him, her lips pursed, her forehead wrinkling as she tried to make sense of it.

FIRE ANGEL was released April 29, 2013 and is available at from Crimson Romance ebooks,, Kobo, iTunes and All Romance. You’ll find direct links on her website.

About the Author:

Susanne Matthews grew up as an avid reader of all types of books, but always with a penchant for happily ever after romances. In her imagination, she travelled to foreign lands, past and present, and soared into the future. Today, she has made her dreams come true. A retired educator, she now gets to spend her time writing, so she can share her adventures with her readers. She loves the ins and outs of romance, and the complex journey it takes to get from the first word to the last period of a novel. As she writes, her characters take on a life of their own, and she shares their fears and agonies on the road to self-discovery and love.

You can learn more about Susanne at

Giveaway ends 11:59pm EST May 24th. Please supply your email in the post. You may use spaces or full text for security. (ex. jsmith at gmail dot com) If you do not wish to supply your email, or have trouble posting, please email with a subject title of JRS GIVEAWAY to be entered in the current giveaway.


  1. Hi Susanne,
    I find your post most interesting. Congratulations! I am glad to see it is on KOBO. I will be reading your book!


  2. Congrats Susanne on the release of your book Fire Angel! Liking what you have shared. Best wishes on your book and your writing!

  3. Nice excerpt

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

  4. It sounds really intriguing! I love villains that no one suspects/that the reader can actually relate to!

    callejbrookes at live dot com

  5. A great villain can make a story just that touch more exciting & suspenseful. Of course you do need to counteract that with those who will foil their evil ways.


    1. It is a challenge, but I hope you'll agree that I made it work.

  6. Sounds great!! You are a new to me author, I love finding them. Thanks for the chance to win.

    mlawson17 at hotmail dot com

  7. Loved the excerpt - I've added it to my Nook list.

    jtcgc at yahoo dot com

  8. I love the excerpt and the book description. It is so true that readers identify themselves with the characters. They want to see a bit of themselves in the characters. There are those of us who would like to save the day. Thanks for the interview.


    1. You're welcome. I strive to make my characters real, so that my readers can identify with them.I think we all have a little superhero complex in us.

  9. I have not read any of your books as of yet, but, that is about to change. Romantic suspense is my favorite genre, love the intrigue, and do like to see the good guys win, and the guy get the

    1. I hope you enjoy the book. My second one is due out in August. It's called IN PLAIN SIGHT and is another romantic suspense.Thanks for your comment.

  10. This sounds like a great book! Thanks for the giveaway!

  11. I do enjoy a story where the villain is completely unexpected.
    mce1011 AT aol DOT com

  12. Angle Fire sounds terrific. Thanks for the excerpt. I have added it to my To Read Shelf.


  13. Maureen,
    Thank you so much for this opportunity. I enjoyed connecting with you and your readers and hope to do it again. My second book, IN PLAIN SIGHT will be out August 12th. I hope I can visit again.