Sarah, oh Sarah, where art thou lovely image, Sarah? I could not, I repeat, could NOT find a picture of Ms. Ballance ANYWHERE and I was looking hard, too. I mean, I probably would’ve found Waldo a few times over in the amount of time it took me to try and find just one of Ms. Ballance. I said to myself: Ren, why not put up a portrait of classic beauty?
The name Sarah makes me think of old-school femininity and this one of Dame Elizabeth is one of my favourites. So Sarah, you elusive creature, please enjoy my improvisation.
Can you tell us a little something about yourself. I’m a perpetually frazzled homeschooling mom of six (13, 11, 8, 5, 4, and 1) – five on purpose, and the last my husband’s fault (I had my tubes tied after #5, so clearly HIS input is what caused baby #6, LOL). He and I have been married for over 14 years and every day is truly better than the last. He’s amazing – he works all day, then takes over the kids in the evenings so I can write. He also makes for an awesome research partner when it comes to the good parts. *grin*
Six kids? I don’t know how you do it. I nearly went insane with the one I have. How do you manage to write? I mean, where do you go to write? What’s the set-up? After dinner I escape the bedroom and do most of my writing sprawled on the bed. I pretty much have to have background noise to drown out whatever the kids are up to elsewhere in the house. I love music but I tend to sing along, so my go-to noise is usually reruns on TV Land. I pay the kids 25 cents a cup for coffee, cappuccino, or hot chocolate … but only if they don’t bother me too often. The system works!
Nice 🙂 Who are some of your favourite authors? Have they inspired you to write? My greatest source of writing inspiration is the Harlequin Intrigue line. It hooked me on romantic suspense, and when I need to re-center I just grab one from the HUGE pile by the bed and dive in. There’s a feeling of *yes, THIS* every time I get between the pages of one.
Really? I like the Historical or the Nocturne lines. My TBR pile is ridiculous. What is it about this genre that you like? My favorite genre is romantic suspense. One theory is I like to take out my daily frustrations (at home with six kids, remember) by putting my characters in peril (*evil cackle here*). Some days there might be some truth in that, LOL, but honestly, the added tension danger adds to the story just adds to the romantic or sexual tension. When emotions are high, anything can happen. I love the intensity there.
That makes total sense, lol. How long does it take you to write out the story from start to finish? For a long while, I only managed about 10k words a month. Then I had a tight deadline for a charity story, and I kicked it up a notch. Now that I know I *can* write faster, I find I’m doing it under less duress, LOL.
How did you come up with the idea for Familiar Light? It started with the theme of the blog tour, which is “Timeless Desire.” I paired that with my love of the beach and anything suspense, then talked it out with my husband. (He doesn’t read romance at all, but he’s my go-to guy for hashing plots. He’s insanely good at it.) We came up with the suspense aspect of the plot, which I tweaked as I wrote. As for the title, I ended up with a random song in my head and got the words wrong – instead of “different light” I said “familiar light” and thought, wow. Old lovers reunited, and a lighthouse central to the plot. How much better does it get?
I love how authors can basically connect the dots with the inspiration, character build-up, the plot, the fine details and all of the other things that make it work. Can you describe your book for potential readers? Laney and Bridger have a heated past that went cold in a hurry when she left town and didn’t come back as she promised she would. Years later, she has high hopes for reconciliation but he’s got better things to do … until events take a deadly turn and their one night together comes perilously close to being their last.
What is your favourite scene in the story? The opening scene. The tension between the two of them is pretty thick, and I love his … dare I call it sarcasm? After seven years, he’s still hurt by her disappearance and none too happy about it. He’s rather blunt with her about how he feels as a way of protecting himself against those emotions, but just as honest with himself about how it’s not working. I just love how he tries to mask those feelings.
What are some of the more important traits that you wanted your characters to have and why? I always shoot for real emotions. Will everyone react the way my characters did to a particular situation? Of course not. But my goal as an author is to justify and make believable their actions. In that sense, I hope readers can relate to my characters and their stories even if readers themselves have never been the target of a killer or found themselves stuck in an awkward situation with an ex who made him/herself that way for a reason. (Any votes on which of the two situations might be worse? LOL.)
I’ll go with the second one 🙂 Did you have any difficulty with a particular scene/character? How did you resolve it? Sex. The sex scenes hate me, and they always have. I couldn’t ask for better source of inspiration than my husband, but when it comes time to put those feelings on paper, darn if I can do them justice. I’ll have to get back with you on that “resolving” part … in the meantime, I’ll just keep picking loose plaster out of my hair and try not to bang my head on the wall quite so hard the next time.
Its weird that you can feel “feelings” but to try and write them down can be so hard. Oh, you can get back to me on that “resolving part” 🙂 How many books are in the series? Familiar Light has a sequel. The plot in FL is resolved for Bridger and Laney, but what comes next will forever alter local detective Holden Whitlow. Tide of Lies picks up with his story and a devastating development that changes everything … then threatens to take it all away.
While writing Familiar Light, who were you picturing as the main/secondary characters? I found a sensual, smokin’ hot black and white picture (thank you, Google) of a couple in the middle of a scorching moment. I don’t know who they were – couldn’t even see them very well in terms of features – but the mood of that picture is what I used as inspiration for my characters.
Google is one of the best creations out there. You can find ANYTHING, and I mean, ANYTHING on it 🙂 What advice would you give for aspiring writers? LOL! It’s not original advice, but it’s crucial: find a crit partner who will tell it like it is. Simply put, you can find out your weaknesses in private, or you can unleash them on paying readers and wait for them to tell you, publicly and en masse. My vote is for private lashings, thank you very much.
I’ll second that vote. I know I get lots of those from my writer’s group, lol. What can we expect from Sarah Ballance in the future? I’m Packing Heat! Er, that is, I’m working on the next title in my romantic suspense series with Noble Romance. The Packing Heat series kicked off with UNFORGIVEN in September, and the next one, LAST CALL, is in the works. Although readers will recognize characters from one title to another, each story stands alone so they may be enjoyed in any order. *Ahem.*
Readers, did any of you pick up on that very subtle hint? *wink, wink* 🙂 I like to ask this question: If you could pick an era in history to travel back to, where would you go and why? Oh, this is hard! I’m fascinated by colonial American history and the wild west. I’d love to go back to an old ghost town – Harper’s Ferry WV, Virginia City NV, Deadwood SD – and see it in its heyday. Only problem is if I had to give birth back then (even ONE time) I’d freaking DIE. I am SUCH a wimp … I rather like modern medicine, thank you very much. (I’ve had babies without the benefit of pain meds, and let’s just say if I have to feel like I’m dying, I like to do so in a gleaming medical facility.)
I can’t even begin to fathom going to the dentist back then let along giving birth. I totally agree with you there 🙂 On that delightful note, LOL, may I say I am just honored to be here and promise not to skip out on the cleaning bills. (That, and whatever broke, I didn’t do it.) Readers, here’s a tip for you: if you subscribe to my blog *by email* you will be automatically entered for a weekly drawing to score your choice of a $10 gift card to Noble or a $5 gift certificate to Amazon.com. Head on over to http://sarahballance.wordpress.com/weekly-giveaways/ for details. I’m thrilled to see you here, and I’d love to see you there!
Sarah, thank you so very much for coming by 🙂
Here is a sneak peek from Familiar Light by Sarah Ballance:
Seven years of longing comes down to just one night.
Laney Kent returns to Barrier Shoals hoping to reunite with her first love, Bridger. She anticipates his reception might be chilly, but what she doesn’t expect is to become the victim of a deadly obsession … or that this night with Bridger could be her last.
Bridger Jansen tangled a lot of sheets trying to forget about Laney, but his heart knew what the rest of him refused to admit: he could love no one else. He’s determined not to forgive her for leaving him without explanation, but when he fails to protect her from a viscous attack, the person he can’t forgive just might be himself.
“Can I help you?” The gruff question trickled through the cavernous space like water leaking through pipes. He seemed to materialize from the shadows as he strode toward her, the rise of heat from the concrete floor keeping him just out of focus.
But her heart knew.
She swallowed a hard knob of regret. “Bridger?”
He couldn’t have heard her—not with the way she clung to his name, as if saying it out loud would be to lose another piece of him. But his step faltered, and the recognition in that interrupted cadence brought the burn of tears to her eyes.
She stood, trembling, as the fifty feet between them dwindled to ten. When he was close enough for her to make out the stubble lining his jaw, his legs stopped moving, but his gaze tore over her. The impassioned glare was without direction, a harsh reflection of the hard lines edging his face. The warm brown eyes she remembered were now a bitter shade of espresso.
“What are you doing here?” he asked.
The words, tense with fury, sent her backpedaling against the concrete wall. Too late, she realized she no longer knew this man. They were kids when they’d parted ways, too naïve to realize they’d never keep those breathless promises. At least she’d been that way. His tone suggested otherwise.
They were alone in the deeply shadowed belly of Barrier Shoals Light. And for the first time within those walls, Laney tasted fear.
“Was I supposed to wait for you?” he asked.
Seven years had passed since her weak-kneed promise to return to him. She didn’t have an answer for that.
He took another step, boxing her against the curvature of the rock. He stood close—so close, she had to tip her head to meet his eyes.
And she summoned courage to do it.
“Was I?” he asked, his voice softer now. He leaned closer. The stifling heat morphed into sexual innuendo, his skin slick with sweat, daring her to touch.
She was one careless thought away from taking him up on that unspoken suggestion. Her fingers itched to claw through his hair, to draw him closer until the distance between them evaporated. Memories of frantically grasping for purchase against the stone wall besieged her, curling fear into boundless adrenaline. “Did you?”
Her words coaxed a slow grin from his sensual mouth. “Was I supposed to?”
Wait for me, Bridger I’ll be back.
The thought came from nowhere, peeling away seven years to their last night together. He’d held her, caressed the hair from her face, and kissed every salty inch of her skin. Stay. A single word. A plea from a man who asked for nothing—and yet owned it all. Every piece of her was his.
She’d just taken too long to realize it. And those eyes . . . . They bore into her, dark with the kind of passion that made anger futile and sex magnificent.
She remembered the latter well.
“Can we talk?” she asked. Lame. But in that moment, all that mattered.
He ran his index finger along her jaw—a slow, teasing exploration he abandoned in short order to toy with a strand of her hair. Dipping his head so his lips grazed her ear, he said, “To think I have anything to say is to assume I still give a damn, Laney. And I think I left that behind a long time ago.”
His words were so much at odds with his actions she failed to reconcile the two. Lack of awareness might also be blamed on the hand curling at her nape, the gentle touch drawing her against his chest. Or the heat of his mouth lingering on her flesh, following the coy path his finger trailed across her jaw. Every nuance of touch electrified her, each moment captured in a single thud of her heartbeat.
He stood so close she saw only snapshots of memories, each one triggering another landslide of emotion. His mouth closing over her skin. His fingers laced through hers. That wicked grin he wore as he held her captive with his touch, her wrists pressed overhead against the sand. The dark shadow of his profile blotting out the dance of moonlight on water, their heavy breaths intoxicated with salt air and lust . . . and a promise she failed to keep.
“If I were less of a man,” he said, “I’d tell you what you wanted to hear. We’d have a good time, and then I’d walk. Let you spend the next few years wondering what the hell you did to lose me.”
“But no one deserves that. Not even you.” His tight smile brought hard lines to his jaw, but no trace of forgiveness. Holding fast to her gaze, he stepped away, taking twenty degrees of Fahrenheit with him.
Laney shivered. He may have put distance between them, but the narrow darkness in his eyes clutched her throat. She’d mistaken the flat, slated glare for fury, but it wasn’t anger . . . it was hurt. She’d hurt him by not coming back. And that was far worse than his wrath.
“You should go.”
She opened her mouth and closed it. Every reason she counted for coming back begged her to stay and stand up for what they once had, but there was one thing missing from her fight: a leg upon which to stand.
So, with nothing left to say, she went.
About the Author:
Sarah and her husband of over fourteen years live on the mid-Atlantic coast with their six young children, all of whom are perfectly adorable when they’re asleep. She often jokes that she writes to be around people who will listen to her, but her characters aren’t much better than her kids. Fortunately, her husband is quite supportive, having generously offered to help her research “the good parts.” She’s never had to ask twice.
Please visit Sarah at one of the places listed below:
NOBLE ROMANCE https://www.nobleromance.com/Authors/97/Sarah-Ballance
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