Friday, August 26, 2011

Interview with Sandra Orchard

I’d like to welcome our guest today, Sandra Orchard. It’s a pleasure having you come visit us at Much Cheaper Than Therapy, where chocolate is plentiful and advice is free. So grab some chocolate and a lounge chair. Your therapy session has begun.

I understand you have a new release out called Deep Cover. Can you tell us a little bit about your fabulous new book?

My hero is an undercover cop who was compelled to sacrifice a relationship with the woman he loved rather than endanger her life by telling her who he really was.

But when she lands in the center of his investigation into the arson that killed his partner, confessing the truth that might win her back isn’t an option. To make matters worse, he’s going by a different alias than the one she knew, and to catch the murderer, he must earn her cooperation when it will cost her everything she’s striving to accomplish for her mentally-challenged sister.

Worse than that, she becomes the next target, and he can’t warn her.

Deep Cover is a very interesting title. How did you arrive at that name?

Not how you’d expect! My original title was Shades of Gray. The hero’s name is Rick Gray and he struggles with having to lie in his job as an undercover cop. One of those lies (or omissions) is not telling the heroine he’s a cop. A decision that could get her killed. Near the end of the story Rick says of Ginny, “She’s a black and white kind of person. And I live in shades of gray.” His partner pokes him in the chest and responds, “But never in here. There’s no room for shades of gray in your heart…” Hence, my choice of titles. But my editor wanted a title that identified the story’s hook more accurately. We volleyed ideas back and forth until finally settling on Deep Cover.

Would you describe your book as a cozy, mystery, suspense, or thriller?


What made you decide to write in this genre?

Inspirational romance played a big role in helping me sort out my emotions following my mom’s death. Seeing characters struggle with the same kinds of things I was dealing with gave me hope and strategies. But I also enjoy trying to anticipate plot twists, along with the faster, more intense pace of romantic suspense. So romantic suspense, rather than the straight inspirational romance, was what I quickly gravitated to once I began writing.

Where did you get your idea for this particular book?

The original idea came from a news article, but this story went through so many revisions that there is no vestige of that initial inspiration in the final product!

Do you have all the key suspense/mystery elements thought out before you begin writing?

I do now! When I first started writing, I didn’t fully appreciate the essential elements. Now, when I plot a book, I spend a lot of time brainstorming ahead of time to ensure I have the elements needed to make the story work. (Although they sometimes change as I go along.) And I still have much to learn. For example, in Deep Cover the heroine is in danger from start to finish. That’s just how the story worked. I didn’t realize it was an essential element until I received my revision letter for the second book.

Did you have to do a lot of research for the book? What are your favorite research books or sites?

I talked to a number of police officers. I researched the heroine’s occupation. The heroine’s sister is developmentally challenged and the construction of a group home for her is central to the plot, so although I’ve done a lot of construction myself, I researched that further, as well as sought the advice of several people who work with the developmentally challenged. Anyone writing fiction involving police should have Lee Lofland’s book Police Procedure and Investigation. His blog The Graveyard Shift is also a favorite resource of mine. After finishing Deep Cover, I attended a Writer’s Police Academy which was an amazing opportunity to experience what cops do. I’ll be blogging on that in a couple of weeks.

Which character did you like writing about the most, and why?

I love my hero. In general I find it easier to write the male point of view. Not sure why. In Rick’s case, he’s torn between two equally compelling choices, either of which will exact a tremendous personal cost to himself. He wants to be a man of honor. He wants to do what’s right. He wants justice to be served. The internal conflict he experiences is so intense and immediate in every one of his scenes, it was a lot of fun to explore and make it even worse at every turn.

Do you have any authors that inspired you?

The author who initially inspired me to write fiction is fellow Canadian and Love Inspired author Carolyne Aarsen. I’d been reading Love Inspired books for a couple of years and I always read the bios. When I read that Carolyne was from Alberta, Canada, I was intrigued. And the seed was planted.

What do you feel is the most effective promotion you have done for your book?

Since the book doesn’t hit bookstore shelves until September 6th, I don’t know if any of the promotion I’ve done has been effective. However, I have thoroughly enjoyed watching new faces pop up on my novel’s fan page.

What do we have to look forward next?

Shades of Truth releases in March 2012. The heroine is the girlfriend of the heroine in Deep Cover. She works at a youth detention center that has been infiltrated by a drug ring. The police chief suspects a dirty cop is sabotaging investigations and brings in an officer from outside the region to work undercover at the center to ferret out the inside connection.

Thanks, Sandra!

Your turn: This is Sandra's debut novel with Harlequin and she's been receiving a lot of questions from pre-pubbed writers about what happens next. If you have something about the publishing process you've been wondering about, Sandra will be around all day and happy to answer questions.

She's also giving away a $25.00 gift card on her blog and she wll be adding the names of people who stop by and leave a comment here.

Check out author’s website at



Anonymous said...

Good morning, Sandra. Thanks for joining us today. Your chocolate will be ready as soon as the kittens decide to quit lounging by the pantry door. I also like to use real stories or articles to help brainstorm ideas. It's amazing what people out there do, and with a few tweaks.... Truth is stranger than fiction but fiction is so much more fun to write. :) What does your typical writing day look like? Enjoy your day with us and the release of your first Love Inspired. There's nothing like it.

Rebekah E. said...

congrats on your debut novel with harlequinn.

Sandra Orchard said...

Thanks for having me, Kim, and for the congrats, Rebekah :)

Lately, my typical writing day is sitting at my computer from breakfast to bedtime, as in addition to revisions on book three, I'm launching a blog, finding my way around FB and busily writing guest posts for my book's blog tour. As I feel my way around in this very new world for me, I'm struggling to find balance. It's so much fun "meeting" new people online, it can quickly swallow my writing time.
Please shoo away those kittens, I woke up with a headache and need some serious chocolate :)

Estella said...

Congrats on your debut with Harlequin!

I love romantic suspense.

catslady said...

Congratulations. I too enjoy romantic suspense. Do you think you will be trying out any other genres?

Na said...

Hi Sandra,
I really like the hero in your book. He made a sacrifice that cost him love but saved the life of the woman he loved. I'm definitely rooting for these two!

Sandra Orchard said...

Thank you Estella and Catslady. Yes, I've written a mystery which is the first in a series, but it's been put on the back burner as LIS would like me to write 2-3 books a year for them so that's where I'm focusing my energy. I also have a historical I've researched, but not day.

Sandra Orchard said...

Na, I'm so glad you like my hero! He really is an honorable guy :)