Three years ago, I had an idea for a spy novel. One that had a cold-as-ice female assassin, and more action in it than three other thrillers combined.
The problem was I didn't have time to write it. I was too busy with other projects, and couldn't devote the attention to the project that it needed.
Then last year I had an epiphany. Instead of writing it on my own, I could do a rough outline, find a collaborator, and we could both write the book.
I hunted around for the perfect partner for a while before approaching my friend, Ann Voss Peterson. Ann knew how much I was earning with ebooks (hell, everyone knows how much I'm earning with ebooks), and after plying her with liquor she agreed to co-write FLEE.
If all goes well, it will be released as an ebook and a print book at the end of March. Here's the Carl Graves cover (click on it to make it larger and read the back jacket copy.)
The cover image is taken from a pivotal scene in the novel. Set in Chicago, the hero is chased to the iconic Hancock Building and gets into a firefight in the Signature Room on the 95th floor. Windows are blown out, and she falls.
The tagline is, "If the adrenaline doesn't kill you, she will."
I'm extremely happy with how the book is going so far. It's like James Bond on steroids, loaded with firefights, sex, violence, double-crosses, narrow escapes, and faster pacing than any other book ever written. No bullshit.
Ann and I are doing a 50/50 split on all royalties, and if the book sells modestly there will be more to come.
While writing FLEE, I began to pester Ann to get a short story up on Kindle, and...
Well, I'll let her tell it.
Ann: Wild Night Is Calling started as a slightly strange thriller short story I wrote last year. I mentioned it to Joe, and he had the crazy idea of writing a companion piece to it and self-publishing them together. And since he’s Joe Konrath, he kept after me until I agreed. And I have to say, I love the result. Here's the ultra-brief synopsis:
Late at night.
Two teenage girls are picked up by two boys, who invite them back to their place to party. But an innocent mistake turns the party into a nightmare, where nothing is what it seems...
Wild Night is a 5000 word short available for 99 cents on Kindle, Nook, Smashwords, and coming soon to other ereaders.
The ebook also contains the first few pages of FLEE, which is going to be released in March or April, depending on how fast Joe can write.
Joe: I can write pretty fast, but I'm taking my time with FLEE. It's special. I haven't felt this way about a story since I wrote Whiskey Sour back in 2002. I really dig the main character, the set-up, and the ridiculous amount of energy this book has.
Ann: FLEE is very high-octane. It’s the kind of story that should be made into a star vehicle for Angelina Jolie, if her star vehicles were this good. Seriously, the story is non-stop action and conflict layered upon conflict.
Joe sprang this idea on me as we were carpooling to Bouchercon. Neither of us had time to work on it until recently, but it’s been a blast to write. I’ve always had a bit of a tendency to write dark and action-heavy romantic suspense, something I’ve tried to control in my Harlequins. In FLEE, I’ve been able to let loose.
Joe: We should talk about your writing background. And by "we" I mean "you."
Ann: I got my start writing and publishing books at the age of six. They had very marketable construction paper covers and featured hooky premises like saving my best friend from being eaten by goblins. But even with that background, I turned my back on genre fiction in college and became a literary snob, like any good English major. I read the classics and wrote short stories about characters with deep, absorbing problems that they couldn’t quite identify. I earned A's, and although I didn’t yet understand how to weave a compelling story, I did learn a lot about word craft and how to use criticism to improve my work.
After earning my Bachelor’s degree, I turned down graduate school in favor of living life. I tended bar, traveled around the country as a horse show groom and started my own window washing business. It wasn’t until my husband the DJ began a feature on his morning radio show called “Romance Novel Theater,” that I considered reading a romance (I didn’t realize Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters wrote romance). And when I discovered there were romance novels that featured suspense storylines, I knew I’d found what I wanted to write.
I soon discovered that writing romance wasn’t easy, especially without having read much of it. So I read like crazy and wrote three complete romantic suspense manuscripts before I felt I had anything good enough to submit. I sold the third manuscript to Harlequin’s Intrigue line, and it was published in 2000. My 25th book for Harlequin will be released in November. Many have won awards, including the Daphne du Maurier award for series romantic suspense, and I have around 3 million books in print all over the world. My most recent release hit number one on the Borders Bestsellers List for series romance.
Joe: JA's First Rule of Collaboration is: Try to team up with someone who sells more books than you do. 3 million certainly qualifies.
I'll confess that I'm pretty geeked about FLEE, and I have a feeling readers will like it. I pride myself on writing fast-paced books, but this one makes much of my earlier stuff look tame. FLEE starts pretty quick, then keeps picking up speed for 300 pages.
Until FLEE comes out, I encourage romance readers to check out Ann's books, and thriller readers to check out Wild Night Is Calling. If you were ever a fan of the old TV show Alfred Hitchcock Presents, you'll see immediately what Ann and I were trying to do with Wild Night.
Anyone who buys a copy of Wild Night is Calling will get a free copy of FLEE for free, in the ereader format of their choice. Just email me at joekonrath(at)comcast(dot)net with the header FREE FLEE. To prove you bought Wild Night, write the last line of the story in your email.
If you can follow those easy instructions, I'll send you a free copy of FLEE a week before it goes on sale. You'll be the envy of all your friends, and get to brag that you're super-special buddies with two bestselling authors.
And if anyone has questions about what it's like to work for a giant publisher like Harlequin, or why Ann is beginning to self-publish ebooks, please post them for her in the comments section.
Some questions might include:
Is writing series romance lucrative?
What's it like working with Konrath?
Do you think ebooks are the future?
Are you selling any of those construction paper books on your website?
Come to think of it, I'd like to know the answers to these myself...