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Behind the Book: The Mostly True Story of the Writing of Byte Me

Why did I put two impossible romances in this book?

behind Byte Me

Because I’m featuring my Lonesome Lawmen Complete Bundle for March, I thought I’d share my Behind the Book interviews from the original release. If you haven’t visited before, I interview myself about writing the books. Yes, it gets a little strange.

Without further ado, here’s the interview:

Me: Wow, I hardly know where to start with Byte Me. There’s just so much to cover.

Myself. Like the [original] cover?

original cover for byte me

Me: (laughs) Yeah. It’s a real departure from your other covers. Let’s start with that. What’s the deal with the cover?

Myself: When I turned the book into Five Star, the editor emailed me and asked for suggestions or ideas, so I told her I’d always seen this with my heroine/thief on the cover, suspended between two buildings.

Me: And she said….?

Myself: Um, we can’t do that. We don’t have an artist on staff, we usually work from photographs. Do you have one? Yeah, right. I love my books and wanted the right cover, but no way I was suspending myself between two buildings! Still, I wanted a good cover, so I asked my husband, Greg, if he had any ideas. And he suggested we ask an artist friend to do a drawing from my concept.

Me: We were a bit worried about it, weren’t we?

Myself: Oh yeah. But I think Lourdes did a great job. When I saw it, I could see right away how fun it was and how much it captured the (hopefully) fun and over-the-top story. And as a nice side benefit from it, I own the copyright on it, so I was able to use it on my e-book, too, thus having a first for me—a matching cover for all editions of the book. Hard Shell [my publisher at the time] liked it as much as Five Star did, so that was fun.

Me: Que fun. <g> So, this book took you a while to write. A loooong while.

Myself: You know, it’s not always that great to have me interview myself. You know too much! <g> Yes, I had a hard time finishing this book. I’d start to work on it, then some editor or other would get interested in my other three books and ask for a rewrite or edit or something and I’d have to put it aside. I didn’t really commit to finishing it until after Five Star brought The Last Enemy out. I sent both my editors an email and sort of mentioned that I’d envisioned it as the first in the series, that I wanted to write stories for the other two brothers. They both appeared to be delighted by the idea, so now I had to finish it.

Me: What made it so hard?

Myself: Well, for one thing, I’d heard some advice from this big name author, but I got it slightly wrong. She said that for good conflict in a book, if your hero is a firefighter, then your heroine should be a suspected arsonist. Only the way I heard it, the “suspected” part got left out. So I made my heroine an actual thief.

Me: And your hero, Jake, a real US Marshal?

Myself: Yup. I sort of knew how to resolve the “getting them together” at the end without her having to do jail time first, because of some research I’d done about hackers and stuff, but it was still a challenge to just get them some face time.

Me: This is your first book with a subplot, too, isn’t it?

Myself: Yeah, I’m not quite sure where Phagan came from. I don’t remember or I’m suppressing it or something, but he kept surprising me throughout the book, especially his passion for Bryn, the FBI agent. Why, oh, why did I insert TWO impossible romances in ONE book?

Me: You obviously don’t mind suffering for our art.

Myself: Was that a question?

Me: No, but here’s a good one: why did you have to make her smarter than us? Why don’t you just paint a big old “S” on a tee shirt and have us try to leap tall buildings?

Myself: That was a…miscalculation on my part. <g> Big note to myself: never again make any character smarter than me. Satisfied? [I lost that note. lol]

Me: I’m asking the questions here. So, you wrote yourself into a very tiny corner, didn’t you?

Myself: For a while, but I got us out of it. I let my smart character figure it out and she did. It’s called trusting the process, something you obviously have a problem with.

Me: I think we’re losing our focus here. There’s real grief in Phoebe’s backstory, a grief that drives the plot of Byte Me. More of that survivor guilt that we also dealt with in The Last Enemy. Why do you think you chose that theme for two books?

Myself: You know, I’m still not sure I have the answer to that, though I’ve wondered about it often. I had a normal, happy childhood. Obviously, in a story, some of that will come from the need for contrast in the characters. Happy characters don’t make for good fiction. But for both my characters, their pasts sort of came with them. It was as if they were just waiting for me to mature enough as a writer to see them inside my head.

Not every character I write has been like that. Luci, in Do Wah Diddy Die, was hard for me every time I worked on that book. But both Phoebe and Dani were eager to have their stories told. I was the one who had a hard time dealing with their pain and getting it down right.

Me: I love the high tech stuff in this book.

Myself: It was so fun to write! I think that’s one reason I love the TV show Alias on ABC, because of all the cool stuff Sidney gets to use. The hardest thing for me in was coming up with some technology for them to steal that would stay “cool” long past the life of the book. I tried to push the envelope a bit with everything, so the book wouldn’t get dated too quickly.

Me: Did you ever think of giving Phagan and Bryn their own book?

Myself: I did consider it, yes, but a friend pointed out to me that Dewey is not your typical hero name and it was too late for me to rename him. He was what he was. I do resolve their story in Missing You.

Me: You seem to have a real feel for rock climbing and yet you admit that you’re a bit afraid of heights?

Myself: That’s true. I’m no rock climber, but my brother and his son are. I spent some time with them and even let them lower me down into a rock cave and haul me back up, just so I’d know what it felt like when you’re hanging over space and then the harness catches your weight. It was fun and terrifying (which adventures with my brother always are!), but beyond that was spending time with my nephew. He seemed, well, immune to gravity. Like he didn’t feel it. It’s that quality I tried to capture in the book. Actually, I even tried to force it in the book. I had to cut out a whole climbing scene because it had no point other than the fact it was fun to write. But I got some great stuff from him that I used in all three books to some extent. And who knows, I may use it again. Rock climbers are very cool. 🙂

Me: You consider this book a breakthrough book for you for another reason, don’t you?

Myself: You know I do. This was my first effort to write a book “on demand.” Prior to Byte Me, I wrote for myself. Oh, I wanted to publish, but I was the only thing pushing me to finish anything. This book wasn’t contracted, but it was wanted by both my publishers. I learned I could finish a book on demand and I needed to know that.

Me: Phoebe was a departure for you in another way, wasn’t she?

Myself: You just had to ask that, didn’t you?

Me: You know I did. <g>

Myself: She was my first…well-endowed character. I wasn’t sure my imagination was good enough for that. And I found I enjoyed getting inside her skin and her kick-butt attitude. She was a lot of things I’m not, which is part of the fun of writing.

Me: And the other part?

Myself: Praise and adulation, of course. <g>

Me: Well, let me know when you get it.

Myself: Will do. <g>

Me: Well, I think that covers Byte Me from cover to story. Next time we’ll be wrapping up this feature with Missing You, the last book in the series.

Myself: I can’t believe we made it this far. And without hurting each other, too.

Me: We’re both grownups, aren’t we?

Myself: I don’t have to answer that. The interview is over.

Me: Coward.

Myself: Duh.

So that wraps up a reposting of the interview. If you think I’ve reached the edge of my personal crazy zone, you are wrong. Stay tuned for the Missing You interview coming up next!

Perilously yours,


cover art

This is the current cover for Byte Me. I just gave the series a makeover. 🙂


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