Muse Wednesday: Heather Graham

This Wednesday I am thrilled to have best-selling author Heather Graham sharing a book that made a deep impression on her and one she recommends to other authors for its true to life characters living in one of the most tumultuous times in American History, the Civil War.  And if you are in Cleveland, Ohio or even nearby, join Heather and me along with CJ Lyons, Jordan Dane, and Lori Armstrong as we talk about how we use romance and sex to spice up the genres of mystery, suspense, and thrillers. Our panel is scheduled for 4 P.M. on Friday, October 5th. Here is the complete Bouchercon schedule. –Monette
Heather’s essay:

There are books that we read that are so powerful they stay with us forever. For different people, they may certainly be different books—but there’s always something about the human character within those pages that becomes something almost like nostalgia. Often, they’re books you can read over and over again throughout your life.

There are many authors out there—from the past and the present—I love. I hate to be asked what I’m reading most of the time or what books I would recommend because I read so many and have so many author friends I’m afraid I’m going to forget a wonderful author or great book.

But for me, there’s one book I never hesitate to recommend, especially to author friends. It’s a book about the American Civil War written by Michael Shaara and the title is Killer Angels.

Now, I don’t recommend the book because it’s about the war. It takes place at Gettysburg—in fact, the movie made from the book is titled Gettysburg. And I think it was a good movie with fine acting by an excellent cast. But, a movie can’t possible give you what this book gives you because—although it takes place during an incredibly important time in our history; the turning point of the war, most scholars agree—it isn’t half as much about war as it is about people.

I’m first generation American so I didn’t even have family here during the war, but reading this book, I cried for men on both sides. Shaara gives us men who fought together in Mexico, who went to school together, who were fathers and sons, in-laws, cousins and boyhood friends—and faced one another in a monumental divide. You come to know so many of the important players, where they came from, what they believed, and why they felt the passion they did for their causes. I’m going to paraphrase a bit, but through Shaara’s eyes, we come to tremendously admire generals Armistead of the Confederacy and Hancock of the Union; they were dear friends. Armistead was godfather to one of Hancock’s children.

Armistead is one of the leaders in Picket’s Charge. Through correspondence, he and Hancock had talked about getting together when they could—their bond of friendship being deeper than war. But, Armistead charged right at Hancock’s troops. Being mortally wounded, he told the soldier who tried to help him, “Please give General Hancock General Armistead’s regrets; he will not be making dinner.”

It is easy now for us to look back at slavery and wonder what those who came before us could possibly be thinking—it’s anathema to us to consider ownership of another human being. But we see the society that created that vein of thought, and from our lofty perches looking back, we can say they were pretty much so greedy capitalists.

But, in a world where we still judge and dictate—as you can hear in the Broadway play Avenue Q we’re all a little prejudice, we’re fighting over gay marriage, abortion rights, etc., and women have really not had the vote all that long!—Shaara gives us a deeper insight into the lives that were led when our nation faced its mighty challenge for unity. We meet Lincoln and Lee, and see the heartache of Lee losing his wife’s family home, Arlington—built by George Washington’s stepson. We are able to see the courage of Mrs. Lee as well as the general—as she fled many times, she’d leave notes to the Union soldiers to please not destroy artifacts that had belonged to the Father of our country.

I recommend this book as I said, especially to authors, because high concepts are great—but it’s always characters that make up a story be mystery, romance, suspense or in any genre of fiction.

Michael Shaara won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1975 with this title. He didn’t live to see the movie version but I think he would have liked it. Still, no matter how excellent the movie, it doesn’t compare, to me, with the pure written magic of the book.

No one has ever made people come alive to me with such excellent characterizations put forth in this novel. For that reason—even if a reader loathes history!—I suggest that they read Killer Angels. Watch the movie, too, if you like—but Shaara’s words are true magic in creating scenes that the reader truly envisions and bringing to life men and women who lived at a pivotal and traumatic time in our history.

Heather Graham’s Bio:
New York Times and USA Today best-selling author Heather Graham majored in theater arts at the University of South Florida. After a stint of several years in dinner theater, back-up vocals, and bartending, she stayed home after the birth of her third child and began to write, working on short horror stories and romances. After some trial and error, she sold her first book, WHEN NEXT WE LOVE, in 1982 and since then, she has written over one hundred novels and novellas including category, romantic suspense, historical romance, vampire fiction, time travel, occult, and Christmas holiday fare. She wrote the launch books for the Dell’s Ecstasy Supreme line, Silhouette’s Shadows, and for Harlequin’s mainstream fiction imprint, Mira Books.

Heather was a founding member of the Florida Romance Writers chapter of RWA and, since 1999, has hosted the Romantic Times Vampire Ball, with all revenues going directly to children’s charity.

She is pleased to have been published in approximately twenty languages, and to have been honored with awards from Waldenbooks. B. Dalton, Georgia Romance Writers, Affaire de Coeur, Romantic Times, and more. She has had books selected for the Doubleday Book Club and the Literary Guild, and has been quoted, interviewed, or featured in such publications as The Nation, Redbook, People, and USA Today and appeared on many newscasts including local television and Entertainment Tonight.

Heather loves travel and anything have to do with the water, and is a certitified scuba diver. Married since high school graduation and the mother of five, her greatest love in life remains her family, but she also believes her career has been an incredible gift, and she is grateful every day to be doing something that she loves so very much for a living.

Great Romantic Suspense Beach Reads

Welcome to the Love’s A Beach blog hop from the folks at JustRomanceMe.  If this is your first time on the blog tour bus, you’re in for a treat.  If you’re a regular welcome back!

If you started here, you might want to go back and begin HERE. That way you will take the blog tour bus from the beginning, won’t miss any of the great blogs, and then have the chance to enter for FREE to win great prizes provided by the participating authors including a Nook with Glowlight loaded with books. Oh, and winners will be announced at Gem Sivad’s place on Sunday, August 19th at 7 pm (EST), during a live chat with many of the authors and fellow hoppers.

Oh, and if you read all the way to the end — there is a chance to win a FREE book on this blog, also!

What do I like to read in the summer? What books would I take to the beach? My favorite genre to escape it all — and let’s face it when you’re at the beach, you want to escape your usual 24/7 life — is the romantic suspense/thriller/mystery genre.

And it just so happens, I will be moderating a panel of some of the bestselling romantic suspense/thriller/mystery authors this October 4-7, in Cleveland, Ohio during Bouchercon. Our panel is titled the “I Used to Love Her, But I Had to Kill Her” panel, named after a song from Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee, Guns ‘N Roses.  The subtitle of the panel is “Murder, Mayhem, and the Mattress Mambo.”  Heather Graham, Jordan Dane, CJ Lyons, Lori Armstrong, and myself will be discussing how sex plays a role in suspense/thrillers/mystery books.

Here are some sneak peeks into what this panel is all about– and  I’m sure, like me, you’ll find the perfect book for that lazy day on the beach — or wherever you go to escape every  day life.

From bestselling author, Heather Graham, comes the third and final book of her Krewe of Hunters Trilogy (publication date 8/28/2012).

Blurb:

  Philadelphia mansion plays host to uninvited death

1777: In the throes of the Revolutionary War, Landon Mansion is commandeered by British Lord “Butcher” Bedford. He stabs Lucy Tarleton-who spurned his king and his love-leaving her to die in her father’s arms.

Now: After the day’s final tour, docent Allison Leigh makes her rounds while locking up…and finds a colleague slumped over Bedford’s desk, impaled on his own replica bayonet.

Resident ghosts may be the stock-in-trade of stately Philadelphia homes, but Allison-a noted historian-is indignant at the prospect of “ghost hunters” investigating this apparent murder.

Agent Tyler Montague knows his hauntings and his history. But while Allison is skeptical of the newcomer, a second mysterious murder occurs. Has “Butcher” Bedford resurfaced? Or is there another malevolent force at work in Landon Mansion? Wary, yet deeply attracted, Allison has to trust in Tyler and work with him to discover just what uninvited guest-dead or alive-has taken over the house.Or their lives could become history!

For more on the Krewe of Hunters Trilogy and all the other fabulous books Heather has authored, visit Heather Graham’s website.

From bestselling author, Jordan Dane, comes the third book in her Sweet Justice series, The Echoes of Violence (pub date 9/2010).

Blurb:

The Echo of Violence The man she’d trust with her heart could sabotage everything…

When terrorists attack a Haitian missionary school, brutally killing their hostages and posting videos of the senseless murders online, time is running out. Sentinels’ agent Alexa Marlowe is forced into an unlikely alliance with a relentless mercenary. But he is no stranger.

Jackson Kinkaid witnessed the raid, and only he can track the killers to their mountain stronghold. Guarding a dark secret, rumored to sell his services to the highest bidder, Jackson is not the same man Alexa once knew. And although he can lead her to the terrorist leader she’s been ordered to take alive, how can she be sure he won’t sabotage her mission to save the one person who got him through the worst nightmare of his life?

For more books from Jordan visit her website.

From bestselling author CJ Lyons comes the print re-release of her best-selling e-book with new material, Blind Faith (July 31, 2012).

Blurb:

When her husband and son are murdered, she thought she’d lost it all. But for Sarah Durandt the nightmare is just beginning…

Sarah has just witnessed the execution of the man who confessed to killing her husband and son, among others. She leaves with no closure as the killer has refused her repeated requests to reveal the site of her family’s graves. Sarah returns home to her small town of Hopewell in the Adirondacks Mountains and vows to search until she finds Sam and Josh.

Her hunt leads her to a trail of lies and unearths a new killer. In a race to save everything she holds dear, Sarah is forced to place her faith in the man who betrayed her…her husband.

Note: This new edition contains material not found in the original e-version which hit #2 on the New York Times Bestseller list!

Want to see more from CJ Lyons? Visit her website.

From bestselling author Lori Armstrong comes the second book in her Mercy Gunderson mystery series, Mercy Kill (pub date 1/2011 ).

Blurb:

Former Black Ops Army sniper, Mercy Gunderson isn’t adjusting well to the laid-back rhythm of civilian life on her family’s ranch in South Dakota. To fill her time, Mercy accepts a temporary bartending gig at a local watering hole. Yet her attempts to settle in back home are tested when Titan Oil, a Canadian company proposing to run an underground pipeline through Eagle River County, sends Jason Hawley, Mercy’s former Army buddy to the area to convince ranchers to get behind the project.

While local business owners support the pipeline, Hawley’s presence riles the landowners and Mercy is torn. After ugly threats and multiple altercations escalate tensions in the county, Mercy discovers Hawley’s brutally mutilated body in the bar parking lot. When it appears Sheriff Dawson cares more about campaigning for re-election than investigating the case, Mercy vows to find Jason Hawley’s killer—even if she has to run against Dawson for sheriff to ensure justice is served.

But Mercy soon learns her former military pal had plenty of secrets. Her search for the truth brings unwanted exposure to the county’s dark side and risks deadly repercussions for the entire community.

Visit Lori’s Website.

And finally we come to my most recent top seller, Cold Day in Hell, Book 2 in the Security Specialists International series.


Blurb:

Calista Meyers is a world-famous, soon-to-be-ex-supermodel. After arriving for a fashion shoot in Cartagena, Colombia, she realizes her agent has misled her about the nature of her last modeling assignment.

Paramilitary leader Jaime Cruz paid her slimy agent a lot of money to get Callie to his part of the world. Cruz has threatened to kidnap and kill her younger brothers if she attempts to leave the country.

What’s a Marine brat to do? Callie calls on her childhood friend Keely Walsh-Maddox and Keely’s husband Ren, the owner of Security Specialists International, to help her.

SSI sends operative Risto Smith to rescue Callie. The former Marine has had a thing for the model ever since he’d first seen her picture on a magazine cover. But he knows he isn’t nearly good enough for a lady like her. She’s an assignment and can be nothing else.

Callie knows Risto is just the man for her and decides to use the close quarters of their escape from Colombia to convince the stubborn male. When Risto leaves her in Panama and disappears, Callie is upset but not defeated. But after two months passes with no word from Risto and with her enemy Cruz in the US and back on her trail, Callie once again turns to Risto for protection.

This time, it would be a cold day in hell before Callie allows Risto to turn his back on their love.

To find out more about my books?  Check out the book pages on this blog or go to my website.
Thanks for visiting my little piece of the blog tour — please comment and share your favorite romantic suspense/thriller/mystery, and I will award one person a FREE download of Cold Day in Hell!
Have a book-filled rest of the summer! — Monette