This month's Hidden Diamond is a fellow Soulie, an author from Soul Mate Publishing, Sally Brandle. She writes slow-burn romantic suspense set in Seattle and Montana, featuring women who learn to trust their inner gifts and the heroes who earn their love. For those looking for a chance to meet Sally in person, she'll be at the Readers and Writers Author Event in Seattle on July 13th, 2019.
Sally's latest book, Torn By Vengeance (Book 2 of Love Thrives in Emma Springs), has just been released for presale and will be available in May 2019. Corrin is a skilled lawyer with a promising career but a determined stalker forces her to hide in Emma Springs. Kyle is the town doctor and he might be charming but Corrin has sworn a moratorium on men. A mix of thrilling suspense and sweet romance creates a compelling, page-turning story.
Today Sally shares the inspiration behind her Emma Springs series and her answers to our author questionnaire.
Writing What You Know
Fans and friends consistently ask where I’ve gotten the premises for the seven unique stories I’ve created. Do I have a vivid imagination? Yup. Do I watch people and their reactions? Ahh…yup. Unique personal history? Absolutely. Transferring my experiences and emotions to credible fiction challenged me to deepen the intensity of flickering moments embedded in my memory.
I haven’t witness an attempted mob hit, but the unsettling vibe for the opening scene of The Hitman’s Mistake came from one of Seattle’s government buildings. The atmosphere during a visit put me on edge during daylight, so I contemplated how creepy I’d feel in the shadows of evening. Getting Miranda’s premonition of doom on paper required multiple revisions. This wasn’t the case in the next story, Torn by Vengeance. Throughout the summer before I turned fifteen, a girlfriend and I crisscrossed our Michigan town on bicycles. One sweltering hot day, we headed to a local park adjoining a large river. We made a bad decision to hop off our ten-speeds and hop into a jet boat with a couple of twenty-year-old guys we’d just met. The progression of the unfolding events and how we escaped the bad situation remains firmly seared onto my brain. I manipulated the scenery in my book, but not Corrin’s recollections of fear.
I’m currently editing the third book in the series, The Targeted Pawn, which casts the prospect for happiness squarely on the shoulders of a hero and heroine who are both closer to forty. Writing from a mature viewpoint allows exploration of unique conflicts, restrictive old habits, and the nuances of second chance romance. I married after I turned thirty, and stayed too long in a prior relationship out of loyalty, a core trait of my heroine, Elon. She’s been hired as a welder (my Dad possessed those skills) and bakes when she’s anxious. I had the privilege of travelling to Montana while working for a commercial French pastry company, so replicated familiar scenery and trusted baking tips into Rane and Elon’s story.
Researching unfamiliar elements constantly introduces me to interesting new worlds. I firmly believe if I don’t qualify the validity of an action, tool, or regulation, I’m leading my reader astray. And that’s not my style. For The Targeted Pawn I’ll need an expert on development near Native American burial grounds, so if you know of someone, please contact me.
An Author Interview With Sally Brandle
What is the craziest thing you’ve done to research a book?
Big red is a mule that plays a key role in The Hitman’s Mistake. My own equine buddy happens to be a Quarter Horse gelding, and I know enough about different horse breeds to realize the devil would be in the steed’s tails. I joined Facebook groups and asked for help on correctly describing characteristics unique to our long-eared friends. One kind soul invited me to her ranch to meet her mules. Driving into rural country reminded me of my Michigan childhood and Deb’s friendly assistance allowed insight into collaborating with a mule. The bonus is that I’ll be the guest speaker at her Backcountry Horseman meeting in April. If you find yourself in the shadows of Mt. Rainier on April 24th, look me up!
What is your writing process?
I churned out my first book in five days—fifty-five thousand words hitting the basic stages of romantic suspense in plot structure, but not in refined form by any stretch of the imagination. I took classes while producing seven more books. I’d say I’m a plantster hybrid. I write a big drafty outline, then plot out the necessary character, romance, and suspense arcs. Those become integrated into the manuscript. The real work begins after my wonderful Soul Mate Publishing editor, Sharon, offers her developmental suggestions sending me to my quiet desk. I’m not the coffee shop writer you see hunched over a laptop. We downsized about a decade ago, and I’m privileged to spend time in an office overlooking my garden, which slopes to a serene lake.
What is your favorite thing to do to relax?
Trail riding on my mature (he’ll be 29 in May) gelding, Lance, not only quiets my mental state, but loosens my back. To say I’m living the childhood dream I never had puts it mildly. Lance often poses his opinion, and during our seven years together, we’ve learned to compromise. Studies continuously show how horses sense human emotions, and I’ll share an example. I stayed overnight in the hospital with my dying mom, knowing she’d be gone by morning. My confidant, friend, travelling companion, and cheerleader passed peacefully at dawn. By seven thirty, I’d walked out of the hospital and driven to the horse barn. I’d been riding Lance about a year, and on this day, he was grazing at the far side of a pasture with several other horses. I called out to him, and for the first time ever, he trotted to me and rested his head on my shoulder so I could lean against his neck and process my loss. He gave me a gift I’ll never forget.
Who is your favorite fictional crush?
Rane Falconer in the Wild Swan series by Celeste De Blasis still resonates in my memory as a true hunk of hero, and I read the books over twenty years ago. His love for Alex and his willingness to fight to retain her unique spirit had an impact on my life.
And in the spirit of the great Joss Whedon debate: who would win: cavemen or astronauts?
My off-the-cuff answer would be cavemen. Survival skills never lose their impact, whether you instinctively sense someone’s following you or recognize which berry you can eat.
Thank you, Sally, for being my first Soulie Hidden Diamond! And for those who want their very own copies of Sally Brandle's books or to follow her on social media, you can find her at the following links.
Thanks for joining us! Come back next month on March 28th for a new Hidden Diamond!
Or take a look at last month's Hidden Diamond: Freya Barker
Or you check out last week's blogpost: Genre Expectations, my opinion on outside authors who come into the romance genre and ignore reader expectations.