Sandra Orchard is a Canadian author of romantic suspense. She visited my blog last year to celebrate the release of her debut novel, Deep Cover (interview here), and she’s back to tell us about the next in the series. Welcome, Sandra!
Janet: Shades of Truth is the second in your Undercover Cops series, and although there’s a new hero and heroine, the story is set in the same small town. How is writing a series different than a stand-alone title? Did you know when writing Deep Cover that it would be part of a series?
Sandra: From the beginning, I’d hoped it would be picked up as a series. I deliberately created secondary characters that could move into the roles of hero or heroine in future books. I also introduced locations that I imagined future characters frequenting. The main difference in writing a series versus a stand-alone is that you need to anticipate people or things that you’ll want in place for the next novel. The challenge is keeping facts straight from one book to the next. I don’t want my sidekick with brown hair and eyes showing up in the next book with green eyes and red hair…unless of course she’s working undercover!
Janet: I notice that many Love Inspired authors produce two or three books in a year. Does working on a series make this easier, perhaps in terms of character or setting creation?
Sandra: I find it easier, because I’m already familiar with the locale and many of the characters, and the editor’s expectations.
Janet: One of the secondary characters in Deep Cover is a special needs adult. Shades of Truth is set in a young offenders’ detention centre. Do you have a personal interest in groups who tend to be marginalized?
Sandra: I have several friends with special needs children so, yes, they are definitely a group that is close to my heart. I became more compassionate to the plight of young offenders after listening to our pastor’s daughter share about her experiences working with the youth at a detention centre.
Janet: By writing these elements as an organic part of your stories, you give readers the chance to understand. Is there another personal connection in the series’ next instalment, Critical Condition?
Sandra: Yes, I suppose there is. Experimental and alternative cancer treatments play a role in the investigation. My mom had tried a number of experimental treatments and my critique partner who fought the disease for over twenty years had tried many alternatives as well as experimental treatments. I also have a friend whose mom travelled to Mexico to seek alternative treatment unavailable here. She died there alone.
Janet: Those experiences leave a person sensitive to the needs of cancer patients and their families. I think it’s your inclusion of these heart-connections that make your stories so strong. Was it hard to convince your US publisher to accept a Canadian setting?
Sandra: No, Love Inspired (an imprint of Harlequin owned by Torstar) is actually a Canadian company, only its editorial offices are in New York. They are open to Canadian settings.
Janet: Very cool! I did not know that. Thanks for joining us today, Sandra, and all the best as you keep writing.
Big-city detective Ethan Reed is working deep undercover at a Christian youth detention center. The kind of place he spent some harrowing time in as a kid. Ethan’s mission: ferret out who’s recruiting resident teens for a drug ring. He expects help from the lovely, devoted director of Hope Manor. But Kim Corbett won’t tell Ethan anything—even when she’s threatened and attacked. When Ethan discovers what Kim is protecting, his guarded heart opens just a bit wider. Enough to make this the most dangerous assignment of his career.