Shannon here: Kelly Irvin shares insight into her latest Romantic Suspense, Closer Than She Knows. Comment or answer the question in this post to enter the drawing for a copy. Deadline: July 4th, 11:59 pm central time. Here’s Kelly:
The Millennial and I by Kelly Irvin:
As I sat down to begin writing Closer Than She Knows last year, I contemplated my heroine Teagan O’Rourke. I knew she was a court reporter in a family of law enforcement officers. But who was she outside the courtroom and away from her family? My mind conjured up a single woman who lives alone in a house she rehabbed with a garden in the backyard and a Little Free Library in the front yard. She has a pit bull puppy named Tigger. She’s a Sunday school teacher and has a secret crush on a close friend named Max.
And she’s twenty-six years old.
That’s when it hit me. I’m writing a main character who is a millennial. Teagan is in the same generation as my daughter, even though she’s slightly younger than Erin. I’m sixty-two. I’ve been married for thirty-two years. I have three grandchildren. Do I really know how to write an authentic millennial? What if she comes out sounding like Grandma Kelly?
First of all, I’m not a fan of these generational tags. Nor do I judge people by their age and the characteristics allegedly associated with their generation. Secondly, writers create characters from all walks of life with all sorts of beliefs, moral values, and backstories different from their own.
Like me, Teagan doesn’t like guns and doesn’t give a fig about second amendment rights when held up against school shootings. Also like me, she loves reading murder mysteries and suspense. She’s a tree hugger who believes climate change is a real threat to our children and grandchildren’s futures.
So what did I have to do to make Teagan an authentic millennial living in San Antonio? It’s in the details. She drives a Prius. She lives in a small fixer-upper near downtown so she can rent a scooter and zip to work whenever possible. She prefers texting to calling. She likes to eat from food trucks and binge watch HGTV. She gets her news from Twitter feeds. She saves her discretionary income for traveling with friends. She works hard, takes pride in her work, and makes good financial decisions with the money she earns.
Teagan also has an acute sense of how messed up the world is. She grew up in the Post-911 world. She’s always had to take her shoes off for the TSA screening at the airport. She doesn’t remember a time when mass shootings weren’t common occurrences.
Growing up in that world and losing her mother at an early age has had an impact on Teagan’s ability to see herself falling in love, marrying, and living happily ever after. Does that even happen anymore, she wonders?
She can’t help how she feels about Max. She suspects he feels the same way, but she refuses to act on it. Max thinks it’s because he’s comes with a lot of baggage—he’s a sober alcoholic and a veteran with PTSD. The truth is Teagan feels she’s the one who’s lacking. She doesn’t want to have children. She doesn’t want to bring small, innocent human beings into such a defiled, chaotic, failing world. Max, who was an only child born to a couple late in life, has no family left. He wants children in the worst way.
That’s Teagan’s dilemma, one she has to reconcile in order to find happiness with the man she loves. I understand Teagan’s fears and her reservations. I can relate. I worry about the world I’m leaving for my grandchildren. But I also have hope because of my grandchildren and all the children in this messed up world. They will be smarter, more tech savvy, and braver than I am. I wouldn’t bet against the Greta Thunbergs of the next generation.
Teagan and I are different in that respect. But I have thirty-five years more of life experience than she does. I know that love might not conquer all, but it can make life shiny and new again. Give it time, she’ll get there.
Excerpt from Closer Than She Knows by Kelly Irvin:
Teagan went to the kitchen sink to wipe down her travel mug, then glanced out the window. Max, wearing a sleeveless T-shirt and basketball shorts, had the hood up on her car under the carport. He’d switched his youth minister hat for his mechanic hat. She hugged Tigger, told herself to behave, grabbed her purse and mug, and bolted out the door.
Max didn’t hear her approach. She allowed herself a minute to ogle him like a teenage girl. Yes, she loved him for his mind, but she also enjoyed the biceps and burly shoulders. If only she could give him his heart’s desire. Waving her fingers in an attempt to cool her face, she cleared her throat. “What are you doing?”
Max straightened and wiped his hands on an already greasy rag. “Just making sure everything is in tip-top condition.”
“I thought you didn’t work on hybrids.”
“I don’t.” He shut the hood with a sure touch. “But I know enough to make sure your brakes are in good working order and nothing looks out of a whack.”
“Thank you.” Teagan forced herself to glance toward the street. Dad would be there any minute. Max’s dedication to her safety covered everything from prayer to the practical. And he looked so hot doing it. “You’ll be late to work.”
“I texted Rick. He knows what I’m up to and gave his approval, 100 percent.” Max moved from the driveway to where she stood on the porch. “He told me to take all the time I need.”
“What did he say about you staying here?”
“To behave myself.”
Exactly what she kept telling herself. Heat once again toasted Teagan’s cheeks. “Dad’s on his way.”
“How about if I make us some supper tonight?”
So far they’d done takeout, delivery, and PB and J sandwiches. They were playing house together. It felt good. How would it feel when the nightmare ended and that issue on the backburner suddenly moved front and center? “You don’t have to. I can pick up Thai on the way back.”
“Don’t do that.” Max stepped into her space. He smelled of grease and man sweat. What would it be like to fall into those simmering amber eyes? To run her hands through his sandy-brown hair. He smiled. “Let us have these moments. Let us see how we fit together beyond ball games and mission projects. Trust me, okay?”
“Why are you subjecting yourself to this? This torture?”
“Because you asked me to.” His lopsided smile turned sardonic. “Because I want you to know what you’ll be missing if you take the easy way out.”
“The easy way out? There’s nothing easy about this.”
“I’m asking you to trust God.”
“Where was God when my mother died?”
Max raised his hands toward the sky. “He held her hand and escorted her to the throne.”
“I was nine.”
“And you’ve been honed by the fire. There’s nothing He can’t make good come from.”
Teagan stared up at the June sky. Who would she have been had her mother lived? How would her life have been different? Gracie, Billy, and Leyla’s lives? Justin’s?
“Take a shower.” She inhaled his scent one more time and scooted back. “Go to work. You have the mission trip with the kids to plan.”
“I’m ready. For the mission trip and for anything else that comes my way.”
Dad pulled up to the curb and honked.
Saved by the bell. “See you tonight.”
About Kelly: Bestseller Kelly Irvin is the author of eighteen books, including romantic suspense and Amish romance. Publisher’s Weekly calls Closer Than She Knows a “brisk, smoothly written thriller.” She’s also the author of Tell Her No Lies and Over the Line. The two-time ACFW Carol finalist worked as a newspaper reporter for six years writing stories on the Texas-Mexico border. Those experiences fuel her romantic suspense novels set in Texas. A retired public relations professional, Kelly now writes fiction full-time. She lives with her husband, photographer Tim Irvin, in San Antonio. They are the parents of two children, three grandchildren, and two ornery cats. Learn more & connect:
About the book – Closer Than She Knows:
A serial killer bent on revenge . . . and striking too close to home.
Teagan O’Rourke has always loved murder mysteries. In her job as a court reporter, she has written official records for dozens of real-life murders. She’s slapped evidence stickers on crime scene photos. She’s listened to hours of chilling testimony. But she’s never known the smell of death. And she never thought she might be a victim.
A young police officer is murdered just inches away from her, and then a man calling himself a serial killer starts leaving Teagan notes, signing each with the name of a different murderer from her favorite mystery novels.
Panicked, Teagan turns to her friend Max Kennedy. Max longs for more than friendship with Teagan, but he fears she’ll never trust someone with a past like his. He wonders how much of God’s “tough love” he can take before he gives up on love completely. And he wonders if he’ll be able to keep Teagan alive long enough to find out.
As Teagan, Max, and Teagan’s police officer father race to track down the elusive killer, they each know they could be the next victim. Desperate to save those she loves, Teagan battles fears that once haunted her in childhood. Nothing seems to stop this obsessed murderer. No matter what she does, he seems to be getting closer . . .
Can’t wait for the drawing or worried you won’t win? Get your copy now!
Question for Readers: What are you reading during this time of sheltering at home? Sweet escape beach reads or action-packed adventure and suspense? Both? Or something else?
Come back June 26th for Leeann Betts!