Romance writer E.M. Shue writes the Securities International series, which launched in 2017 and now includes five full-length novels (with a sixth due out in August) and a couple of shorter works that add to the overall story. “Sniper’s Kiss,” the first entry in the series, focuses on the Maya and Duncan, who fall in lust at first sight and spend the rest of the novel evading danger, having sex and worrying about the long-term viability of their relationship. The book is repetitive in spots and confusing in others, but Shue keeps the action — both gunplay and foreplay (and well beyond) — coming.
In this e-interview, Shue, who was born in the Midwest and moved to Alaska as a young girl, discusses her writing career, the ideas that got the series started, her work with her editor, and more. She will be at M & M Bookstore in Cedar Rapids from 6 to 7 p.m. Thursday to discuss her latest book, “Tougher Embrace,” released in May.
Q: How’d you get your start as a writer and what was the initial spark for your series? Why did you choose to self-publish your work?
A: I’ve always enjoyed writing be it poems, short stories, things I’ve done or just my imagination. A teacher once told me I should send in a paper I wrote to be published because it was so good. But as usual life happened and my writing just was something I did for college and journaling. I participate in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writers Month in November) most years and at least one Camp NaNo every year since I started. I’ve found through the years that writing is a way to release extra stress and tension. I just kill off people in my books that piss me off.
I woke up from a vivid dream about a female police officer and a British security guy. The scene was actually him saving them from an explosion using a blast plate. Of course, that scene pretty much ended up in book three (“Love’s First Kiss”) with a different couple but it was an inspiration. I kept talking about this dream and my husband, Shaun, was like write it down, so I did. After that first story the rest just started flowing. Now I’ve got the plan for at least 10 more of the main Securities International members and a plan for some books about the kids. Just recently I came up with a spinoff series featuring three new characters that will be introduced in my next book, “Identity’s Kiss.” I’ve also been working on a paranormal romance action adventure. I write what I like to read.
I also wanted to write strong female leads because I’m the mother of three girls. I want my girls to know that sometimes the heroine saves the hero.
When it came to traditional or indie publishing, I went to some local meetings for a couple writing groups and the rest is history. Self-publishing was the route for me because I’m such a control freak.
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Q: Tell me a little bit about you research process. You obviously know a lot about sniper work, for example. Where does that knowledge come from?
A: For research I do personal interviews with several people. Police officers, military men and gun experts. I also watch YouTube for different fight scenes and specific guns or cars. I want the books as believable and true to fact as can be. I watched the History Channel series on snipers over and over. I don’t have as much gun knowledge as you would think, but I’ve tried to learn as much as I can.
Q: Your books blend action, character development and a healthy helping of pretty explicit sex. When you’re writing Maya and Duncan’s story how do you find the right balance between these elements?
A: I’m a panther not a plotter, meaning I let the words flow and don’t plan where the book is going to lead. I’ve had to blend the plotting into my process as the books continue to keep everything in line and correct. I don’t really figure out if there is a balance, it just happens. For Maya and Duncan, they were a very sexual couple, so I wanted to give them as much hot and steamy action as I could. But this was also a story about trusting in life again. So, the story needed to include Maya’s journey. Before I published, I had several alpha readers give me suggestions, and then I hired my editor and she helped me develop the story.
Q: Do you have a collaborative relationship with your editor? What sorts of things does she help with?
A: My editor, Nadine Winningham of the Editing Maven, has been with me since the beginning. She keeps Excel spreadsheets on my characters just like I do. She helps me with develop edits as well as structural. She knows my characters as well as I do. For research, I do most of it but I’m pretty sure that Nadine does some to check my facts. I feel like my editor and I have a collaborative relationship because she knows we can discuss scenes and work through them. One of our more interesting conversations regards adding in an additional (point of view). Sometimes the story needs a third; sometimes it doesn’t.
I can’t do what I do without the following people: my personal assistant, Sara Patten of Sara Cunningham PA, who organizes my life and helps promote me; my newest cover designer, Leah Holt of Always Ink Covers, helps me put covers together that are eye catching; my formatted, Marley Valentine, helps format my books for each of the vendors. My family does the most between sacrifices and help with research.
Q: You live in Alaska, which is quite a way from Iowa. Is your stop in Cedar Rapids part of a larger tour?
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A: Yeah, Alaska is bit of a jaunt from Iowa. My personal assistant is local to you all in Iowa, and she is the reason I’m doing the book signing in Cedar Rapids. She helped get my books into M & M Bookstore.
I’m actually attending the book signing Writers on the River in Peoria, Illinois, on Saturday. This will be my first major signing and I’m really excited. I believe there are still tickets available for the signing.
• What: E.M. Shue will sign copies of her books, including her new book, “Tougher Embrace”
• When: 6 to 7 p.m. Thursday
• Where: M & M Books, 212 Edgewood Rd. NW, Cedar Rapids
• Cost: Free