Jen: Today we are pleased to welcome Virginia Kelly to Romancing the Book. Virginia, will you share a short bio with us?
Virginia: Virginia’s first story involved a mouse that hitched a ride with Paul Revere. She was eleven. A bit later and bit more organized, dreams of romance (with a happily ever after), adventure, and danger came together to produce To the Limit, her RWA Golden Heart nominated novel. She writes about dangerous heroes (sexy, gorgeous ones, of course!) and the adventurous women willing to take a chance on them. An academic librarian, Virginia is a native of Peru and lives in Florida with her family.
Jen: Will you tell us a little about your newest release?
Virginia: My newest book is In the Arms of a Stranger, from Entangled Publishing’s Ignite line, is a romantic suspense novel.
A dangerous man on the run . . .
Wounded and accused of treason, CIA Paramilitary Operations Officer JP Blackmon is on the run from his own agency and desperate to clear his name. When he finds out his old partner is dead, he’ll do anything to get to the truth…including using his partner’s widow.
Finds a vulnerable woman looking for answers . . .
Abby Price wanted nothing more than a family and a safe home. But her late husband kept big secrets from her—secrets that got him killed and has government agents watching her every move. And she’s started fearing for her life. The only man who can help her is a mysterious stranger who suddenly appears out of nowhere. But can she trust him?
Together they discover a passion worth dying for.
As danger stalks them at every turn, unexpected passion flares between JP and Abby. But the last thing either wants or needs is more complications. Romance? No. Way. That would involve trust—something neither is willing to do. But in the end, sharing their deadly secrets is their only hope for survival…their only hope to hold onto the love they’ve just begun to share…
Excerpt from In the Arms of a Stranger (JP and Abby are standing on the steps at the back of a house on a bayou):
JP stopped one step below Abby and squatted, his face even with hers. “Are you hurt?” he asked, his voice hoarse.
She shook her head. She hadn’t cried. Or called out. She’d probably been too terrified. Her hair was disheveled, her T-shirt off one shoulder, revealing her bra strap.
She looked vulnerable, frightened. He’d left her alone. In his single-minded effort to find something to clear himself, he’d almost gotten her killed. Now all he could do was try to comfort her. God knew, he hadn’t intended to touch her again, but he found himself reaching out to pull her T-shirt up over her shoulder, and moved his hand to her neck. She let out an audible, shaky breath. And reached for him.
That did it. He pulled her tight against his chest, wondering how he’d managed to do anything even half right when all he’d been thinking about was her. She settled against him, despite the awkwardness of their embrace, her face in his neck, her arms tight around him. He soothed her with long strokes up and down her back. “You’re sure you’re not hurt?” he asked.
She nodded, her head bumping his shoulder. “Are you?” she breathed.
“I’m fine. Just fine.” Now that I know you’re okay. She had no way of knowing what he’d trained for his entire adult life.
He pulled away enough to see her face, still cast in shadow.
His intention was to reassure himself that she really was okay, to let her go, to deal with the two men he’d killed, but when his hands brushed her arms, smooth and chilled, he found himself running them up to her shoulders, down to her waist. He pulled her to her feet, into his embrace. And kissed her.
She didn’t protest the kiss. If she had, he would have stopped—would have accepted that what he was doing was out of line. But she didn’t. And he wanted more than this, more than a kiss after deadly fear…
This was so not right. He ended the kiss, but held her tight, knowing he had to do something to protect this woman. The tangled emotions that had precipitated their kiss could get her killed. Then his life wouldn’t be worth living.
Jen: What age did you discover writing? Tell us your call story.
Virginia: I tried writing when I was very young, eleven. I wish I still had some of those stories, especially the one about the mouse (see my bio) and the one about a western wagon train. That was inspired by my 6th grade class project which involved paper mache figures (really ugly paper mache ones, I might add) of pioneers and covered wagons. I again tried writing, this time a complete novel, when I was home with small children, but the small children made it impossible—and I doubt I was really ready. I began to seriously pursue publishable writing when I met a fellow librarian at a library conference. She wrote romance, which I love, so I thought, why not? Many years later, with one rejection in hand, my second manuscript finaled in RWA’s Golden Heart Contest, then sold! For several reasons, I didn’t publish again for a few years, but I’m now able to devote more the time to my writing.
Jen: Are you a plotter or pantser?
Virginia: Oh, I’m a pantser, all the way! I am trying to move to at least outlining the bare bones of a story, but fear if I do too much planning, the story will be over for me. To me, writing the story is a journey. If I know all the stops along the way, I don’t enjoy the adventure and tend to give up.
Jen: If this book was made into a movie, who do you see playing the main characters?
Virginia: To me, JP Blackmon from In the Arms of a Stranger looks like model/actor Noah Mills. However, the intensity and physicality of JP would best be conveyed by Matt Damon in his Jason Bourne role. Abby Price could be played by a younger Sandra Bullock, as she appeared in Speed.
Jen: What’s the most interesting comment you’ve received about your books?
Virginia: The most interesting and most flattering comment appears in a review of one of my books (on Amazon). I would so love to thank the wonderful reader/reviewer who said this: “Her writing is on a par with the more prolific writers, such as Nora Roberts and Mary Balogh.” All I can say is “I wish!” and “Thank you! What’s your address? I’ll send flowers.” 🙂
Jen: What’s been the highlight of you career to this point?
Virginia: Every fan letter I receive is a high point. I love to hear from readers. Every letter is a “keeper.”
Jen: What’s next for you?
Virginia: My next book, tentatively titled Do You Believe in Magic, will be out in late April or early May. It’s a romantic suspense novel, heavy on the romance, set at the wedding of the hero’s sister to the heroine’s brother, and is the sequel to my Against the Wind.