Best-selling romantic suspense author Christina Dodd returns to Virtue Falls, Washington, in our September Romance Top Pick, Obsession Falls. In this 7 Questions interview, the very funny Dodd talks about what she's learned after writing 52 (!) novels, her preferred alternate identity, stone circles and more.
Describe your new novel in one sentence.
"Christina Dodd mixes a chilling cocktail of suspense and romance in Obsession Falls." —BookPage review
You told me to describe it in one sentence. You didn't tell me it had to be my sentence! I could never say it as well as reviewer Christie Ridgway.
You write in multiple romance genres. Which genre is the most fun to write?
I've written suspense, paranormal and historical, and I love whatever I'm working on . . . unless the story is giving me fits, in which case I loathe it. I find variety makes me a better, happier writer. Obsession Falls is my 52nd book, and I love what I do. I love creating stories! Few people in this world get to do what they were born to do; I’m one of them. I am blessed.
What’s the silliest stereotype about romance authors or readers that you’ve heard?
I've been published for 25 years, so I've heard a lot, and for quite a while now, I've been quoting two statistics:
According to a study cited by Dr. Joyce Brothers, women who read romance novels make love 74 percent more often than women who don’t read romance novels.
According to special research from the British Medical Journal, the more orgasms you have, the longer you’re likely to live.
Assuming those studies are true, we need to stop worrying about what the stereotypes are or whether we are respected. We romance readers are going to outlive all the critics anyway.
The action in Obsession Falls moves from the Sawtooth Mountains of Idaho to Virtue Falls, Washington. What inspired your settings?
I lived in Idaho for 15 years, so I have some experience with camping, fishing, hiking and sleeping in a tent in the summer with a good sleeping bag and a blow-up mattress that goes flat at 2 AM. My experiences were quite different from Taylor's: She is shot at and barely escapes into the wilderness, completely unprepared to survive the oncoming winter. And believe me, that's a terrifying thought; I've visited the Sawtooth Mountains, and they are exactly as I described them: majestic, breathtaking, cruel. From the very beginning of Obsession Falls, Taylor is in trouble and nothing can save her—except her own ingenuity and resourcefulness.
After being challenged by my editor to build a town that is in itself a character, I created Virtue Falls. My whole life experience went into that project: my years in Texas where big personalities abound, my current life in Washington state where free spirits are the norm, and of course my childhood in California and my warm relationship with my mom. If Virtue Falls had a motto, it would be: Welcome to Virtue Falls: small town on the wild Pacific coast, tourist destination, a home for eccentrics . . . and a magnet for murder.
If you had to take on a new identity like the heroine in 'Obsession Falls,' what would it be?
I'd like to be the writer everyone thinks I am. You know, An Author: Someone who has a muse, lives in some exotic foreign locale (preferably someplace windswept and romantic), travels the world signing books on glamorous book tours, has an editor weeping over her work and handsome lovers hanging on her every word (when she deigns to meet them), types her manuscripts on paper on a typewriter and—this is the cool part—writes only when she is inspired and then gets so involved in the story she forgets to eat.
I've got two kids, two dogs, have been married to the same man since the earth's crust cooled and I have NEVER IN MY LIFE forgotten to eat. We do have a stone circle . . . but that probably makes us eccentric rather than exotic and mysterious.
In addition to writing, you can cook! What’s your favorite food to cook?
I'm an incredibly lazy cook; I simply like good food. So I would say pork rack, which is so easy. The recipe is on my website; it makes grown men make yummy sounds.
On the other hand, I am currently working my way through the America's Test Kitchen International Cookbook. My husband says if America’s Test Kitchen told me to hop up and down, pat my head and rub my tummy while stirring their marinara with my elbow, I would do it. And that's probably the truth.
What are you working on next?
Illusion Falls, book three of the Virtue Falls series. It’s a mash-up of the two grand old movies Gaslight and Rear Window.
It was an interesting story to write for me. Obsession Falls takes place on a big canvas under wide skies and along dark winding roads, moving from in the Idaho wilderness to the mountains of the Washington Olympic Peninsula. In comparison, Illusion Falls is almost claustrophobic, taking place for the most part on one street in Virtue Falls.
Hero Jacob suffers from PTSD, hides in the dark in his house with tin foil over the windows, starving and alone, waiting for the moment when he can throw himself off the cliff and into the ocean. Heroine "Mad" Maddie Hewitson is being gaslighted by some unknown fiend, tortured with illusions of monsters from her past. She's always sleep-deprived, always terrified, and on a quick and necessary trip to the grocery store, she falls asleep at the wheel, drives into Jacob's house and breaks it wide open, dragging him unwillingly back into the world.
With the highs and lows of emotion, the broken hero, the hidden villain and of course more visits with beloved characters, this book was great fun to write!
Thank you, Christina! You can read more about the author on her website.
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