Jen: Today we are excited to welcome Julie Ann Walker to Romancing the Book as she celebrates the release of the first book in her Black Knights series. Julie Ann, please tell us about Hell on Wheels and where the idea came from.
JW: HELL ON WHEELS is the first in my Black Knights Inc. romantic suspense series. To give you an idea of the concept behind the series, Black Knights Inc. is a covert government defense firm operating under the guise of a custom motorcycle shop. Think The Expendables, but with younger, hotter guys, cooler weapons, and meaner bikes. HELL ON WHEELS is the story of Nate “Ghost” Weller, a former marine scout sniper, and Ali Morgan, a chatty-Kathy kindergarten teacher. And, baby, do opposites attract! He’s solemn and aloof. She’s bubbly and chatty. He’s made a promise to keep his hands to himself where she’s concerned. She’s determined to put a crack in his tough exterior. And when you throw in a crooked Senator, the Italian mob, and missing files, things really start to heat up!
The idea of Black Knights Inc. came about in two parts. The first part, the military men who’ve started their own covert government defense firm, stems from my time volunteering at the USO. I’ve been humbled and privileged to meet real life heroes in the men and women of our armed services, so I knew from the get-go I wanted to tell their stories. The custom motorcycle part? Well, that came about because I think leather-wearing, Harley-riding bad boys are delicious! 😉 I mean, who doesn’t?
Jen: What kind of research did you do for this book/series?
JW: I had to study up on military hierarchy, lingo, weaponry, etc. But the nice thing about volunteering at the USO is that I can always pull a soldier aside and ask questions. They’re more than happy to talk machine guns, flash-bangs, and hand grenades. Usually too happy. By the time they’re finished, my brains are sliding out through my nose and ears. I’ve fired handguns to get a feel for how they kick and to hear the different noises they make. And I’ve consumed every episode of Orange County Choppers so I’m current on all the bike-building jargon.
Jen: Who has inspired you as an author?
JW: That’s such a difficult question since I’m a prolific reader. But I can tell you I started writing my own stories after I read all the Romana books by Beverly Cleary. As for those authors who inspired me to write romantic suspense, I’d have to give credit to Cindy Gerard, Tara Janzen, and the queen herself, Suzanne Brockmann.
Jen: Do you have a writing routine? Are you a plotter or a panster?
JW: I’m a total panster. My characters are always very clear in my mind, but what their specific journey will be unfolds for me as I go along. Which probably means I do a lot more deleting than a plotter would, but that’s all part of the fun. Going, “No, no. That didn’t work. Let’s go somewhere new, shall we?” is such a rush.
Jen: What’s next for you?
JW: I’m currently finishing up the fourth book in the series. It’s the story of Richard “Rock” Babineaux and Vanessa Cordero. It’s set in the jungles of Costa Rica. Rock has been listed as a rogue operator and he’s on the run. And, oh, my, my! Is it ever STEAMY!!!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Deep in the heart of the Windy City, three things can be found at Julie Ann Walker’s fingertips: a keyboard, a carafe of coffee, and a sleepy yellow Labrador retriever. They, along with her ever-patient husband, keep her grounded as her imagination flies high. Look for the next two books in her fast-paced series: In Rides Trouble (September 2012) and Rev It Up (October 2012). For more information, please visit www.julieannwalker.com or follow her on Twitter, @JAWalkerAuthor and Facebook, www.facebook.com/