We are so excited to welcome author Tracy Tappan as our FIRST EVER Guest Blogger to celebrate the release of the third novel in her Wings Of Gold Military Romantic Suspense series, Man Down. I’m anxiously waiting for the Kindle bells to let me know my book as been downloaded.
Tracy is “our kind of people”, and writes them too. You will love her sexy, fun heroes and strong, smart, REAL heroines! She is awesome with her fans on social media. Thank you Tracy for spending some time with us today**.
Write what you know.
This seems to be a common author mantra, but what does it really mean? Something different to every writer, probably, or maybe even nothing to some. For me it means to know what I write. To understand my characters and what motivates their behavior and emotional reactions on a deep level. To achieve this, I draw on everything from my degree in psychology and book research to life experience.
In fact, actual life experience has proved especially valuable to me in creating my Wings of Gold Series about Naval aviators.
I am a military wife, married to a man who served in the Navy for thirty years. He spent much of that time as an H-60 Seahawk helicopter pilot, and deployed a fair amount. So I know what it’s like to wait and worry… To stay glued to the TV set to see if anything especially “hot” is going on in the world that would affect my husband… To keep half an eye on the front driveway for fear that a car would pull up and men in uniform would get out bearing the worst news a military wife could ever be forced to bear… To be so desperate for contact with my husband that I would relish those two o’clock in the morning drunken phone calls from him out of some sleazy dockside bar—he deployed back in the day when there wasn’t Facebook or Skype or email. So for six weeks or more at a time, while he was floating, we would have absolutely no contact with each other. Then he’d get a port-call and all of a sudden, letters would fill my mailbox and I’d receive phone calls. Then back to sea, and back to nothing.
So I know these feelings. I know what it’s like to be lonely and scared. I know how tough it is to love a man who regularly goes into harm’s way.
I know these men who serve.
Helicopter pilots are a unique breed. I have never met men of more integrity, nobility, and strength of purpose than these men who have the technological smarts and courage to do the kind of low-level flying that brings them so close to a dangerous target, they risk missile lock-on and strafing. They fly this way without flinching to do what they do.
The makings of a great romantic hero, right?
Yes, I thought so, too.
So I knew the emotions, I’d discovered my heroes…what about story?
My husband had already shared many of his experiences with me, but I wanted more. So I sat down with my husband and some of his aviator buddies (including the former commander of a Special Operations squadron), plied them with my curiosity (okay, maybe a lot of beer), and got them telling war stories on a level they never had before. My respect factor went up into the stratosphere. I knew the business of flying a helicopter was complicated, but not that complicated. I knew the missions they flew were hazardous, but hadn’t realized some of the things they’d actually done (there were a fair amount of stories my husband had never told me because he didn’t want me to worry while he was deployed). Once I got over what a stinker he was for that, I was feeling very wow about all the thrilling plots I now had at my fingertips.
Wings of Gold was born. Well…almost.
There were still the heroines to consider—an important consideration.
I wanted to do something different with my military romantic suspense series. I felt like there were already plenty of romance novels out there about ex-military heroes who use their specialized training on American soil to save the day in some way. So I wanted my books to show military men where, in my mind, they were at their heroic best: in the field. Which meant I needed heroines who could hold their own beside these men in some pretty hairy situations.
The heroine in book 1, BEYOND THE CALL OF DUTY, is a black-belt DEA agent, and in book 2, ALLIED OPERATIONS, she is an LA Times newspaper reporter in charge of the mission to save four American hostages. These two heroines arrive on the scene with their fair share of vulnerabilities, yes, but they are no shrinking violets, and what a blast they were to write.
In book 3, MAN DOWN, I wanted to change things up and make the heroine closer to an everyday woman (because isn’t that fun, too?). She is more like those of us flesh-and-blood women who read romances, with real curves, and, no, she isn’t able to perform a spinning back-kick. But she certainly is able to use her intelligence and her heart to be just as much a part of the solution, and not the problem, of the story as the first two heroines.
The heroines and heroes together? Ah, yes. Here lies the ultimate power of the romance novel to move us: everlasting love and commitment—not to mention a healthy dollop of passion thrown in. But the military relationship is a uniquely challenging one, and I didn’t feel like it should be entered into lightly. It was essential to me to pace the developing relationship on the page properly, to nurture the love along until it made absolute sense for it to culminate in feelings that were as much about passion as contentment and mutual dedication. The reader would trust a couple like this to work through the tough times, and so could close the book with a satisfied sigh.
Here again, my actual life experiences played a significant role. I married a real-life romantic hero, and so have enjoyed a marriage of mostly far winds and following seas. The romance stories I write are gritty and authentic, true, but the deep love I share with my husband also seeps through onto every page. My stories always end in triumphant happily ever afters. This is what I believe in—on the page and in real life.
Lucky for me, I really have been able to write what I know.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tracy is the bestselling and award-winning author of gritty romance, her books spanning genres across paranormal (The Community series), military romantic suspense (The Wings of Gold series), and medieval historical (The Baron’s War trilogy). She is married to a former Navy helicopter pilot who served his country for thirty years. During their tours of duty, they lived all over the United States and in Europe, enjoying seven years overseas in the diplomatic community, first in Rome then in Madrid, before settling back in San Diego. She has a master’s degree in Marriage, Family, Child Counseling (MFCC), volunteers for the USO and Wounded Warrior program, and raised Guide Dog puppies.
She loves to play tennis, enjoys a great glass of wine, and talks to her two Labradors like they are humans (admittedly, the wine drinking and the dog talking probably go together). Her website is a fount of information and sexy fun. http://www.tracytappan.com
**Tracy will be checking in, reading comments and answering questions. Show her some SSS love!