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SCORE! For a limited time you can grab a copy for just 99 cents! Click image for details - offer good through May 31, 2011.

My guest today is a new-to-me author, but I’ve got to tell you guys, she impressed the heck out of me.  I can just TELL she’s good – REALLY good.  (Check out the blurbs on her website … aMAZEing!)  And what’s more, she’s here with a free e-copy of her new release HER OWN BEST ENEMY for one lucky commentor, but I’ve got to be honest with you.  She practically brought one for ALL of us, because that sucker is on sale for just 99 cents through the end of the month.  Yeah, I know.  New fan club right here, right?  *Loves*  Okay, I’ll stop hogging her now.  Folks, please meet romantic suspense author Cynthia Justlin!

Welcome, Cynthia!  I’ve gotta say, I love your science background.  I have a similar affliction (mine is biology and biochemistry) so here’s a question I’m dying to ask:  Does the science ever stifle your creativity, or is it more of a weapon in the arsenal for writing suspense?

You’re a brave woman for having a biology background! 😉 I couldn’t stomach the dissections in high-school, LOL, so I buried myself in the chemistry classroom. I do think being science-minded keeps me from letting go as much in my writing. I tend to overanalyze every detail, so it’s really hard for me to just vomit out a first draft, as the saying goes. I’m rooted in specifics and logic and I can’t just make a note and move on. It’s got to be perfect the first time around. But I love using science and technology in my books, even if I end up spending a lot of time on research. So, in that way, I think it adds to my creativity by giving me endless possibilities to explore.

Oh, my holy grail!  Would I sound too much like a stalker if I told you I am the SAME WAY?  I can’t move on to the next chapter until the first one is practically publishable.  And I’m just delighted this great explanation came from another science-minded person.  I feel so darn … explained now!  Whew!  Your list of work – both published and in progress – is somewhere beyond impressive and fast approaching incredible.  Such a huge variety of topics and story ideas!  How does a new idea typically find you?

Thanks! In all honesty, I don’t know how ideas find me. I’m like static-cling that way. LOL. Typically, though, I’ll come up with a character first, and that alone compels me to figure out their story. In HER OWN BEST ENEMY, I came up with the heroine—a mother desperate to find her son—and built the plot from there.

Clearly, it works for you.  I bet that’s an exciting way to write, too!  On the flipside, which genre are you drawn to as a reader?  Do you prefer to read in the same genre as your WIP or do you mix it up?

I love reading anything romance—suspense, historical, contemporary, young adult. I’m not much of a paranormal reader, though, and I find myself reading less and less romantic suspense now that I’m writing it. I’m not sure if that’s because I don’t want it to mess with my own creativity or what, but as a result, I find myself glomming historical romances more than I ever used to.

Nothing like surrounding oneself with romance to stay in the mood!  And speaking of “the mood,” LOL, looking back over all of the intimate moments you’ve created between characters, which scene would you most like to experience for yourself?  What makes it so alluring?

I don’t consider myself much of a hot/sexy writer. My books are pretty tame compared to most. But, my favorite intimate moments in my books always come from my hero and heroine sharing an emotional connection. For instance, in HER OWN BEST ENEMY, I love the moment when Keith finally understands the profound love Grace has for her son. It completely changes his perspective about home and family, two concepts that were always completely foreign to him.

Oh, man, that IS hot.  It’s hot in that forever kind of way.  ;c)  Have you ever battled with any of your characters over their personality traits?  If so, who won – you or the character?

I think this is where my science background really comes into play because I find that I keep a pretty tight rein on my characters. Maybe I’m just controlling that way, but I make them do what I want. LOL. Although, characters have surprised me by revealing their secrets a time or two!

Oooh, I bet those are some great surprises!  Have you ever made big changes in your story because someone – your crit partner, a friend, or beta reader – really didn’t like it?  Are you glad you did (or didn’t)?

I have made changes based on feedback, but I’m lucky to have a fabulous crit partner that “gets me” and understands what I’m trying to do in a story, which I think is key. I trust her judgment because I know she’s not trying to tell me to write the story she thinks I should write. I also completely re-wrote a book on an agent’s feedback, and while the changes ultimately didn’t end up with her offering representation, the book was so much stronger because of it.

Those experiences are so valuable, but you are so right – you can’t beat a crit partner who truly “gets” you.  As a suspense writer, how do you keep track of the clues and plot twists?

It’s all in my head. Seriously. I wish I could be one of those writers who do extensive storyboards and outlines, but I just can’t force myself to spend time doing them when the plot is already all worked out in my mind. I’m a plotter, I couldn’t write romantic suspense if I wasn’t, but I hate writing things down.

I admit, I marvel at those huge plot boards.  I’m the type to change something in my story and immediately consider the whole thing of no use any longer, LOL.  (Yeah, a simple update would suffice!)  That’s a good point about time better spent writing!  Which of your novels most reflects who you are as a writer?  Why?

Wow. This is tough. I think each of my novels own a little part of me. For the romantic suspense novels I’ve written: HER OWN BEST ENEMY because I’m a mother and I could readily identify with the heroine’s plight, INTRUSION because the heroine is a scientist, and I got to play with the humorous side of myself that I didn’t even realize I had, and THE CELL because it was written during a dark time in my life, and when I re-read that book I can see my heart, completely exposed on the pages.

Wow, if you didn’t just sell THAT backlist!  LOL.  What are you currently working on? 

I’m currently working on a novella to be released this summer. Rebecca is a traumatized woman afraid to leave her home and Jack is the boy who’d once been her best friend. Now he’s a hostage negotiator, burying his pain of a mission-gone-bad with a desk job that doesn’t require him to engage. But when Rebecca is taken hostage in her own home, Jack must risk it all to take down the madman and convince Rebecca to let go of her fears and embrace life.

And coming in the fall, INTRUSION, a full length novel about a cocky security consultant and a feisty scientist who must team up to gather evidence against a ruthless thief who’s stolen a top-secret prototype before he uses it for his own sinister agenda.

Okay, seriously?  I’m in.  I’m a HUGE fan of romantic suspense and you’ve absolutely sold me on your backlist.  Can’t wait to start reading!  And, dear readers, you’re about to be totally swept away by the blurb to this must read book, so before I lose you let me remind you to leave a comment for a chance win an e-copy.  And if it’s not your lucky day, you still mega-win because you can pick up a copy for just 99 cents through the end of the month.  (I know I’m about to feed my Kindle – that’s a suhweet deal!)


Desperate to track down her ex-husband who disappeared along with their son, Grace Stevens delves into his past and uncovers evidence of a shocking dual life. The man she thought was an ordinary computer consultant is in fact a former high-ranking Special Forces officer with unique skills in military intelligence. With nowhere to turn she is forced to plead for help from Keith King, the one man she hoped to never see again. Against her better judgment she’ll have to put her child’s fate into his hands.

Keith has officially hit rock bottom. Framed for the theft of deadly missile components, the cynical Special Forces officer is in danger of losing the only thing he can count on: his career. His one shot at clearing his name lies in locating Grace’s ex, who was working with Keith on a secret mission to take down a cutthroat military traitor. But to team up with Grace he’ll need to spend 24/7 with a woman who has every reason to hate him. Out to use each other for their own agenda, desperate mother and disillusioned soldier find they must work together to stay alive, and in the process discover that sometimes even the best of enemies fall in love.