Jen: Today we welcome Tara Wyatt to Romancing the Book. Tara, will you share a short bio with us?
Tara: Tara Wyatt is the author of The Bodyguards series. Her debut novel, Necessary Risk, will be published in February 2016. Known for her humor and steamy love scenes, Tara’s writing has won several awards, including the Unpublished Winter Rose, the Linda Howard Award of Excellence, and the Heart of the West. A librarian by day and romance writer by night, Tara lives in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada with her dog and husband. Visit her online at www.tara-wyatt.com, or find her on Twitter @taradwyatt, and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/tarawyattauthor
Jen: Please tell us about your newest release and where the idea came from.
Tara: Necessary Risk is my debut novel! It’s a romantic suspense set in Hollywood. The hero, Sean Owens, is a bodyguard for a security firm, and the heroine, Sierra Blake, is a former child-star turned women’s health advocate. When her safety is threatened by a radical protest group, she hires Sean to protect her. He knows that it’s unprofessional to get involved with a client, but he’ll find himself crossing all kinds of lines when it comes to Sierra. 😉
The idea originally came to me about five years ago. I was reading a celebrity gossip magazine, and there was an article about how hot some of the bodyguards protecting the celebrities were. So I started thinking about what would happen if a celebrity got involved with a bodyguard, and it all spiraled from there.
Sierra took a breath, and her words tumbled out in a rush. “I’d like to hire you, if you—”
Sean cut her off by gently laying a hand on her knee. Warmth radiated outward from where he touched her. “Yes. Absolutely, yes.”
It must’ve been only a few seconds at most, but the seconds stretched out, warm and slow, as his brown eyes held hers. The weight that had been pressing down on her since the attack yesterday afternoon lifted, and she suddenly felt as though she could breathe again. She swallowed and Sean took his hand back.
“Thank you. I’m not sure what you charge, but…”
He cut her off again, this time with a wave of his hand. “We’ll figure something out.” He smiled, a slow quirk of the corner of his mouth, and heat spiraled through Sierra’s body. “I’m glad you’re here, and that you’re OK.”
“I’ve been a bit of a target ever since I started working for Choices a few years ago, but nothing I couldn’t handle. Nasty e-mails, comments online, that sort of thing. I knew I was opening myself up to that kind of stuff when I agreed to work with them. Some people see it as a controversial topic, so I expected the hate mail and the online stuff. But I’ve never had anything like this happen before. I’ve never felt genuinely afraid before.” She ducked her head, inhaling a few quick breaths to try to dispel the sting of tears pressing at her eyes.
“Hey.” Sean’s deep voice was gentle. With a featherlight touch, he tipped her chin up. The sensation of his skin on hers sent sparks shooting up her spine, and she bit her lip. Sean tracked the movement with his eyes before flicking them back up to hers. He shifted almost imperceptibly closer. “I’m not going to let anything happen to you. I promise. From here on out, I’ve got you.” Her breath caught in her chest and she nodded, the movement brushing the tips of his wide fingers against her chin. “For the record, I think what you’re doing is brave. It takes guts to stand up for what you believe in. It takes strength.”
His words washed over her, replenishing her resolve to keep working for Choices. “Thank you,” she said, her voice a little hoarse. She cleared her throat. “That means a lot to me. I was starting to question if I was doing the right thing.” She wanted to close her eyes and press her face into his palm, but he dropped his hand, once again quickly taking it back.
“That’s only natural, given everything you’ve been through in the past twenty-four hours.”
She nodded, twisting her fingers together. “So…what happens now?” she asked, glancing out at the office space.
“We work in teams. I’ll be lead on this, meaning I’ll be with you twenty-four/seven, and another guard will rotate on and off.”
“Twenty-four/seven?” she asked, licking her lips as more of her tension melted away. How was it possible that she barely knew him, and yet he made her feel so safe?
“I’d feel better being on site at all times, yes. There will always be someone in the house with you, either me or someone from my team. We don’t know who we’re dealing with, and until we do, I’m not going to risk leaving you alone.”
Jen: Are you a plotter or pantser?
Tara: I describe myself as a hybrid. I’m like 25% plotter, 75% pantser. Before I start a new project, I spend some time getting to know the characters first, and sometimes I’ll do detailed character sketches. Then I plot out the general arc of the story with a few key scenes (first kiss, first time they have sex, the black moment, etc.) and then I dive into the manuscript. I figure out most of the smaller detail stuff as I go. I usually have a strong sense of where I’m going, and if I get stuck, it’s often because I’ve taken a wrong turn somewhere, so I know I need to back and figure out where I went wrong.
Jen: Describe your writing in 3 words.
Tara: Hot, funny, entertaining.
Jen: Do you have a writing routine?
Tara: Sort of? I work full-time, so all of my writing happens on evenings and weekends. Typically, I write from 7-10 pm on weeknights. Weekends vary depending on what else is going on—sometimes I have lots of time to work, and others I don’t. My writing time is fairly limited, so it does force me to focus and be somewhat disciplined with the time I have.
Jen: How do you remember ideas that come to you at odd times?
Tara: I have my phone on me at all times, and I use an app called Evernote to write anything down. Sometimes it’s a general concept, other times it’s a scene idea, or even snippets of dialogue. I also use music when I write, so if a song comes on the radio and I want to remember it because it’s inspiring me in some way, I’ll use an app called Shazam to identify and save it so I can come back to it later. Also, my mom bought me this awesome waterproof notepad, and I keep that in the shower just in case inspiration strikes. ☺
Jen: Is there a genre you’d like to write? Is there one you’ll probably stay away from? Why?
Tara: Currently, I’m writing romantic suspense, and while I love it, I’d also love to write contemporary and erotic romance. I can’t really see myself writing historical or paranormal anytime soon. I love to read them, but most of my ideas are very contemporary. But never say never! Nothing is impossible.
Jen: If this book was made into a movie, who do you see playing the main characters?
Tara: I love this question! I cast all of my projects—I find that being able to visualize the characters helps me bring them to life on the page. So, if I were casting Necessary Risk, I would cast Joe Manganiello as Sean Owens, and Rachel Bilson as Sierra Blake.
Jen: What’s next for you?
Tara: I have two more releases in the Bodyguards series this year! Primal Instinct will be published in May, and Chain Reaction will be published in December. While the books can each be read separately, some of the characters do overlap. I also have a couple of other projects in the works, but I can’t reveal anything yet.