Bestselling and award-winning master of romantic suspense Lynette Eason talks about her new book, Life Flight, the first in the high-octane adventure series Extreme Measures.
Hi there, I’m your host Jenny Wheeler, and on Binge Reading this week Lynette talks about the secret of putting her military and emergency first responder heroes in the worst possible situations and seeing them beat the odds.
Free Books Giveaway
As usual, we’ve got free books to give away, this time a selection of books from a group of authors with the theme of Wartime Romance and a Gothic Victorian whimsy.
You can access the Wartime Romances offer here:
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Links mentioned in this episode
Links to websites mentioned in this episode:
Terri Blackstock: http://terriblackstock.com/
Colleen Coble: https://colleencoble.com/
Dee Henderson: http://www.deehenderson.com/ and Danger In The Shadows: https://www.amazon.com/Danger-Shadows-Prequel-OMalley-Henderson/dp/1414310552
Jaime Wright: https://www.jaimewrightbooks.com/
Natalie Walters: https://www.nataliewalterswriter.com/
Carrie Stuart Parks: http://www.carriestuartparks.com/
James Patterson: https://www.jamespatterson.com/
Deborah Raney: https://deborahraney.com/
Karen Kingsbury: https://www.karenkingsbury.com/
Where to find Lynette Eason:
What follows is a “near as” transcript of our conversation, not word for word but pretty close to it, with links to the show notes in The Joys of Binge Reading.com for important mentions.
But now, here’s Lynette.
Introducing author Lynette Eason
Jenny Wheeler: Hello there Lynette, and welcome to the show. It’s great to have you with us.
Lynette Eason: Thank you. I’m glad to be here.
Jenny Wheeler: You are a bestselling and award-winning author with more than fifty books to your credit, which is fantastic. You work with several different series and different publishers, so you’ve got your hands full.
The series are generally adventure with suspense and romance built into them, and a lot of formerly military heroes or people who are in the helping professions, the rescue professions. When you started out with your first books, was this how you started or did that gradually develop as you went along?
Lynette Eason: I started with a romantic suspense genre and then stuck with it ever since. That was what I was interested in writing, and I didn’t see any reason to write anything else.
Jenny Wheeler: How did you get started? Was there a kind of epiphany moment when you thought, I’ve just got to get that book written? Was it something you’d always wanted to do or was it something you fell into?
Lynette Eason: There was an epiphany moment. When I was growing up, I always loved to read suspense like the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew, Alfred Hitchcock and Agatha Christie. I loved all of that stuff. As far as trying to write, I tried to write a book when I was in the eighth grade and gave up because it was too hard. But I have always done really well with writing. In school I always had good compliments on any creative writing exercise and stories and that kind of thing.
How Lynette Eason got started
When my daughter was born, my husband traveled a lot with his job and I was lonely. I thought, this might be a good time to try to write a book, because I always wanted to but like I said, in eighth grade I gave up. When he was gone, I would sit down and – I call it talking to the voices in my head – I pounded out a story.
I knew I wanted to write suspense. It was romantic suspense I wanted to write until I read a Dee Henderson book, Danger in the Shadows. That was the epiphany. I was like, this is what I want to write, so I tried to come up with that type of story.
Jenny Wheeler: The most recent one you’ve got out at the moment is Life Flight. It is the first book in a new series called Extreme Measures, and the hero of that is Penny, a medical rescue helicopter pilot who gets stuck on a mountain in a bad storm where there’s a serial killer loose. It sounds like a great premise to start off with. It’s a real page turner, I must admit. This is the way you go with a lot of your stories. How do you keep the action moving?
Lynette Eason: It’s funny because I don’t think out my stories completely. I just start writing and see where the characters and the action take me. When things get bad, I try to figure out what can make it worse and work that into the story somehow so that the readers are going, can this get any worse, and then, oh yes, it actually can.
Keeping readers on the edge
It keeps readers awake and on the edge of their seats and keeps them coming back for more. I guess they really enjoy it.
Jenny Wheeler: That’s great. I started to dip into the series before this one as well, Danger Never Sleeps. I got really hooked into Danger Never Sleeps, and you’ve got a four-book series there. They are all ex-military who have worked together in Afghanistan in one way or another on a military deployment.
Now they are back in the US and trying to settle down into normal lives and various things that happened in Afghanistan are impacting on their lives as they try and get back to some normality. In book two in the series, I was quite struck because Heather goes sandboarding in the Bamiyan mountains.
We had New Zealand troops deployed and their headquarters for part of the time was in the Bamiyan mountains and I’d never heard of anybody going sandboarding there. I thought, you’ve got the sort of detail that makes things come alive, and I wondered how you managed to get so close to the action. Do you have family involved in the military or how do you do your research?
Lynette Eason: It was really complete research. I have a couple of acquaintances who served there and have been home. One of those has turned into a good friend, and in the first book he gave me a lot of little details that only somebody who’d served in the military would know about. In Active Defense I simply did some research. You have all these people serving in the military and they can’t be on 24/7. They have got to have some fun in their lives or they are going to go nuts.
Military heroes celebrated
So, what do they do? I started asking around and doing some research online and I found that they actually do go sandboarding in these mountains. I was like, that’s really cool. My character is going to do that.
Jenny Wheeler: Yes, I was quite struck by that. All the way through those books there is that sort of detail you feel only someone who served there would really know that’s the way it happens. I always enjoy that aspect as well as all the action stuff. You are getting a sense of a new location, a new environment, and it’s great. In general, do you mainly rely on Google for your research or are there other ways in which you do your research? Is it mainly online?
Lynette Eason: I do a lot online, but it’s mostly talking to people I have come into contact with through various conferences, and through other people introducing me and saying, hey, this person, I know you’re researching this.
Or I put a call out on Facebook and say, hey, I need somebody who can talk to me and tell me what it’s like to do whatever. Facebook friends will say, oh, my brother’s wife’s cousin’s son is doing that job. Would you like to talk to him? I’m like, yeah, sure. I do my best to talk to people who are in that situation or have done that job or can give me the details about what it all entails.
Jenny Wheeler: You haven’t actually, for example, flown helicopters yourself.
Lynette Eason: No, I have not flown a helicopter, but I have an FBI agent buddy who has, and he has given me all the details for all the helicopter stuff.
Lynette Eason’s typical working day
Jenny Wheeler: That’s great. Do you have an ideal output in terms of word count or the number of books you want to produce a year? What’s your production schedule?
Lynette Eason: I do have a word count that I strive to reach each day. I don’t always do it, therefore when the deadline creeps up I find myself in panic mode, such as right now. But interference is not always a bad thing. I have family and other obligations. I have a niece and nephew that I love to keep up with. They are 7 years old and twins – my kids are older – so I do have that.
But I write every day, whether it’s 50 words or a thousand or two thousand. At some point, I am on my laptop just about every single day, and I’m trying to reach that word count because I know if I don’t it’s going to be more the next day and more the next day and more the next day. I usually work holidays, weekends, you name it. There will be times I’ll take a couple of days off to do something fun with family.
But I’m an empty nester. My kids are pretty much grown and out of the house. My husband works a lot of hours. He’s pastor of a church and he works with a ministry in the Dominican and a ministry in Africa, and so he’s gone quite a bit and it’s just me and the dog, so I work. I’m okay with that. I enjoy what I do and I try to get done what I need to do because if I don’t, I have to do it at some point.
A ‘series’ or a ‘collection’ of stories?
Jenny Wheeler: I talked to Susan May Warren last week and she raised an interesting question which I’ve never really thought about before, about whether you’re writing a series or a collection. She made a distinction between those two things. I think of anything as a series where there’s a similar location or a similar group of people who are involved. Do you make that kind of distinction between series and collections, and are your books series or collections?
Lynette Eason: I call them series. In a collection, the stories may be unrelated. They may have a similar theme but they’re not necessarily related in any other way.
For example, Dee Henderson, Dani Pettrey and I did two anthologies, collections, if you will. The first one was called Sins of the Past. While the characters were not related in the stories, each of them had to deal with their sins of the past. It was a common theme that ran through those novellas, whereas my series books have the different characters in each story.
There are two main characters in each story and the main characters may become the secondary characters in the next books. That’s my way of differentiating between a series and a collection.
Jenny Wheeler: Yes, and in your books you can often sense that one of the secondary characters is going to have their own story in the next book. You introduce them so that you are setting them up for their own story in the coming book.
Lynette Eason: Yes.
Jenny Wheeler: I understand also from Susan May that you are working with her on producing a series under her publishing company. Tell us a bit about that new project.
A new publishing project
Lynette Eason: I have a series called the Elite Guardians. I did that with Revell, I can’t remember exactly what years they released, but it was four stories. Susie has come up with a publishing house called Sunrise Publishing, and she has a lead author such as myself or Lisa Harris or Rachel Hauck. What she does is give people who are striving and working to become traditionally published the opportunity to work with a lead author, someone who has a lot of experience, who has been through the process multiple times.
They work together with us. We are more of a mentor than anything and we guide those authors in how to develop a story, how to write it, craft – you name it and we have talked about it. In the end we have a story such as, say, Lynette Eason presenting whatever the name of the author is, and they have a book. It has been a really cool mentoring process, teaching these ladies. They were working so hard to get their name out there, to get published, and this is a great way for them to do that.
It’s been a fun process. It’s a lot of work, but they are such great people and it’s so encouraging to see the progress and how far they’ve come from the time they start to the time that the book comes out is truly amazing.
Jenny Wheeler: How does that relate back to Elite Guardians? You mentioned that series at the beginning.
Building on the Elite Guardians series
Lynette Eason: Oh, I’m sorry. Yes, we took the Elite Guardian series, that world I created with characters I created, and they took three of my secondary characters I had mentioned – I think it was the last elite guardian and a couple of the characters have been throughout the whole thing. They took those characters and gave them their own story. That was cool, to see those characters come to life that I had created in a sense, but they built into 3D people who had their own stories.
Jenny Wheeler: That does raise the other issue I was interested in talking to you about. You’ve got quite a sense of social justice in a lot of your stories and in a series like Elite Guardians and Women of Justice there is that sense coming through of wanting to see right prevail. Tell us about that aspect of your work. Has that always been an important thing to you?
Lynette Eason: Yes, I’m big on justice in the sense that I love that the bad guys get taken down. I love that when somebody does wrong, the characters I create have this sense of justice in that, we are going to fix this, we are going to make it right. It might be a control thing too because you see so much that’s wrong in this world. You see so many things you can’t do anything about, as much as you would love to help solve the crisis of hunger and homelessness and all these things in the world. You can do your part, but you’re not going to fix it.
The importance of happy endings
In my stories I always have that happily ever after. I’m not saying it’s cheesy and everything always works out in the end, but for the most part I give my readers a happy ending because that’s why they read. Mostly people want the happy ending. I want the happy ending, and I love that I can do that. I get to control it. I just have a strong sense of justice. If there’s an underdog, I like to see the little person become the hero. I love to see characters change and grow and learn something about themselves, not just outwardly, but inwardly, that makes them a better person.
Jenny Wheeler: The other aspect of this is that your publishers are mainly faith-based publishers, like life inspired, romance and Revell. There are faith aspects to your stories, not in a heavy-handed way. I wonder how you try and keep the right balance in introducing those things? There’s that joke that everybody calls out on God when they’re faced with tough situations. How do you do that in a way that isn’t going to turn people off?
Lynette Eason: I don’t like to preach. There’s preaching and there’s preaching. I go to church and I go to preaching. I know I’m going to get preached at in church. When I’m reading a book, I don’t want to read a sermon. My first goal is to be entertained, and as a writer, I want my readers to be entertained. I don’t want them to be flipping pages going, I want to get to the action, I want to get to the story, I can read about this other stuff – that kind of thing.
Introducing the faith element
If my characters are Christians, if they have a faith element, I want them to live it naturally. I want it to come through as a part of their character in that it’s very natural. It doesn’t come across as if I’m trying to force it or trying to fake it or anything like that, because nobody’s going to respond to that – not positively anyway. In my stories, if I put myself in that situation where somebody trying to kill me, I’m going to be praying a lot probably. Even if I don’t have a strong faith element, it’s going to make me think about things.
I don’t want to beat people over the head with the gospel. I want to present it in a very natural way. I want to have the symbolism there, so that if a non-believer picks the book up, they might see the message but they’re not feeling offended by it or beaten over the head with it or feel like I’m trying to condemn them and shake my finger at them.
Jenny Wheeler: There is the saying that there are no atheists in foxholes.
Lynette Eason: Very true, yes.
Jenny Wheeler: I noticed on your website that your husband Jack has also written a book called The Loneliness Solution. I wondered what that one was about, and did he ask your advice when he was writing it?
Lynette Eason: Yes. Like I said, he’s the pastor of a church and he has a heart for people who are in dire situations – not necessarily dire situations, but lonely. He feels loneliness is very relevant right now, especially with the whole pandemic thing.
Husband Jack is also an author
He actually wrote the book before the pandemic, so loneliness is not a new thing. It’s been around a while, and he decided he was going to address the issue – talk about what people can do if they’re feeling lonely and who they can reach out to and how that works. And then maybe talk about people who are not suffering loneliness necessarily, but how they can recognize someone who is, and reach out to that person.
He really wanted the title to be We’re Better Together. That was the whole point of the book. We’re better together. We’re better as a community. We can help each other and have each other’s back. He took that back to Acts. In biblical times people gathered in houses. They may not have a blood relationship but they were still family. That was the point of his book.
He did ask my advice. I did edit the first draft. I went through it and gave him my thoughts on it. I’m not a nonfiction writer but I was able to offer some feedback. Vicki Crumpton at Revell was one of the editors. She liked the concept, the idea, to give to the pub board and they bought it. Unfortunately, it released in the middle of a pandemic, so it has been hard to get the word out about it. But it is very relevant, more so now than when he was writing it, which makes it kind of ironic.
Jenny Wheeler: I quite agree with you that it’s extremely relevant now, even more so than before probably, because a lot of people are being forced to isolate.
Life experience that feeds the books
Turning to the wider aspects of your own career – what kind of life experience did you have before you started writing novels and did the things you did earlier on help when you came to be a writer?
Lynette Eason: Like I said before, I would rather write a paper than take a multiple-choice test because I’m really good at writing. I was a teacher for 12 years, and I met a lot of people from a lot of different backgrounds, especially my students. I worked at a school for the deaf and blind and taught deaf kids for a long time. I met many, many people from all walks of life.
My brother was a prison guard for a long time, so I have always had that law enforcement aspect in my family. One of my cousins is a state trooper in Tennessee, and so I had those contacts, and I heard stories of what their job was like, so that was interesting.
Going to school and college and getting a Masters degree in Teaching taught me a lot about how to find information that I wanted. Even though I didn’t have a law enforcement background or a military background or anything like that, I was able to take the research and the information I learned and the people I’ve talked to and and put that into a story format. The fact that I have a good imagination probably helps.
Jenny Wheeler: What was your goal when you started out? I’m sure you didn’t have a goal of writing more than 50 books.
Fitting the pieces of publishing together
Lynette Eason: No. I didn’t really have a goal, to be honest, when I started writing. I’m stubborn, and that’s probably helped a lot because what happened was I wrote a book. I was like, I’m lonely. I’ll do this. It’ll take some time. It will fill in time.
Anyway, then somebody read it and they’re like, that’s really good – somebody who was not a writer and could not see all the errors and terrible stuff in it. They’re like, you should try to get this published, it’s a great story. I’m like, okay, maybe I’ll try to do that. I sent it off to two or three publishing houses and I got rejected with all of them. I was like, really? Why? What am I doing wrong? Then I had to figure it out.
It was like this whole pub puzzle. I had to figure out what I was doing wrong and how the pieces fit. I was like, I’m going to get published. I’m going to figure this out and they’re going to buy my book and they’re going to publish it. Once I did that, I was okay, now I’m done. I don’t need to do this again. Well, I got bitten by the bug, and once I did figure it all out, I went to conferences and I studied. It was eight years before I got published. I decided I liked it. They kept buying them and I kept writing them.
Jenny Wheeler: Eight years. That’s dedication, isn’t it?
Lynette Eason: It was eight years off and on. It wasn’t like I was consistently sending stuff in. That first story got rejected. I got a second story rejected. My third story is the one they bought.
Jenny Wheeler: This is The Joys of Binge Reading, and we like to ask you about your own reading tastes, and if you’ve got books you’d like to recommend to our listeners. Have you been a binge reader in the past and who do you like to read now?
Lynette Eason: I have always been a binge reader. I read all of my favorites, all the ones I was reading before I was even published. Terri Blackstock, Colleen Coble, Dee Henderson, Deborah Raney. They have been writing for a long time. And I enjoy Karen Kingsbury. That’s who I was reading when I started writing. Dee Henderson was my all-time favorite. When I read Danger in the Shadows, I thought, this is what I want to write.
Now I read other people who have come along since then that have started writing. Jamie Petrie, Lynn Blackburn, Natalie Walters is a good one. Carrie Stuart Parks is a favorite. She is an awesome person too. Whenever they have a new one come out, I usually grab them up. I save them for when I’m not meeting deadlines, and then I’ll binge read all the books I’ve been saving.
I do read some secular authors, I guess. I am choosy about what I read with some of these. There are some James Patterson. I love his Michael Bennett series. There are other books by him that I don’t like. Some books by Lee Child, some by Jeffery Deaver. I think Jeffery Deaver is a master plotter. I study his books and try to figure out how he plots these books. He blows me away with his plotting. Those are some of my favorites.
Learning from the masters of craft
Jenny Wheeler: There are plenty there for people to choose from.
Looking back down the tunnel of time, if there was one thing about your writing career that you would change if you could, what would it be?
Lynette Eason: Honestly I don’t know that I would change anything. I might not write quite as much. I would pace myself a little better, maybe take care of myself a little better physically. I was always on deadline – running here and there and going crazy trying to meet deadlines. But I’ve been very blessed and very fortunate in being able to do what I do.
Jenny Wheeler: Sounds like you’re a bit of a workaholic. Would that be right?
Lynette Eason: Oh yeah, a bit. I’m trying to change that though.
Jenny Wheeler: What’s next for the Lynette the author as you look ahead to the next 12 months?
Lynette Eason: I have two more books in the current series to turn in. Crossfire comes after Life Flight. I don’t think we have a title for the third book yet. I am in the process of writing the third book in that series right now. Then I’ll write the fourth book and then I have another series I’ve already sold. We haven’t decided on a name for it. It is four more books after that. I think that takes us through to December 2025 maybe, so I’m set for the next three years pretty much.
Jenny Wheeler: That’s great. Do you enjoy interacting with your readers and where can they find you online?
Where you can find Lynette online
Lynette Eason: Yes, absolutely. I appreciate the readers so much. Obviously without them, I couldn’t do what I do, so I’m a big fan of readers. My website is Lynette Eason.com and I’m on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram. If you do a search for me, you’ll find me. It’s just my name.
Jenny Wheeler: Sure. We’ll put all those links into the show notes for this episode, so that they’re easy to find. We’re running out of time for this particular chat, but we could definitely get together again in the future. It’s been great talking.
Lynette Eason: Thank you so much. I appreciate it. It’s great talking to you too.
If you enjoyed Lynette Eason’s romantic suspense you might also enjoy: Kathryn Lane’s International Thrillers: https://thejoysofbingereading.com/kathryn-lane-international-thrillers/
Next week on Binge Reading, for fans of Kate Quinn and Kristen Hannah, we have Meg Waite Clayton, author of international bestseller The Last Train to London. She has a new wartime story that will grab you by the throat. The Postmistress of Paris, set in the dark early days of German occupation in France, is a haunting love story of high stakes danger and incomparable courage. It tells of a young American heiress who helped artists hunted by the Nazis to escape war torn France.
That’s it for today. Thanks for listening. Don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast so you can be sure not to miss us next week, and if you’d like to go that extra mile in offering support, check out Binge Reading on Patreon for entertaining bonus content – like our favorite authors’ answers to the Five Quickfire questions.
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