Wednesday, July 16, 2014

SUNNY - RELEASE DAY INTERVIEW, REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: "Into the Shadows" by Carolyn Crane

Welcome to a Release Day Event for Carolyn Crane’s latest addition to The Associates series, Into the Shadows  I am a huge fan of Carolyn’s work and especially this particular series.  Join us for a special interview with the author (fan-girl *squeal*), a book review, and a giveaway. 

Welcome, Carolyn to Love Affair with an E-Reader. I am so pleased that you dropped by to talk about your latest book, Into the Shadows

Hi, Sunny! Thank you so much for having me out to your lovely blog!

To start with, for those readers who are new to the series, tell us about The Associates.  How is this series different from your other books? 

The Associates are a group of undercover agents who are hot, brilliant, and lethal, and they each have a kind of specialty, like linguistics or with this book, a philosophical approach to fighting. The Associates solve mysteries, stop horrible crimes, and prevent dangerous world events. They don’t belong to any government, though they sometimes help different governments. So, they’re slightly vigilante-ish.

Where did you get the idea to incorporate Bruce Lee's philosophy?  Are you a fan of Bruce Lee?

Actually, my husband, who studied and taught martial arts much of his life, is into Bruce Lee, so I absorbed a ton of information about—and respect for—Bruce Lee over the years. Bruce Lee is such an icon, and he was so physically beyond anybody else in martial arts, and he had this whole system of thought around what he did - I felt like it could be interesting for a hero to embrace Bruce Lee. Also, Bruce Lee’s outlook can be applied to fighting, but so much more, and that makes it rich for a book. (As I worked on the book it occurred to me his thinking could be applied to writing, like, getting yourself out of the way, being totally responsive, etc.)

Your characters always have a special skills/mindset - math wiz, linguistic genius, emotional detacher/Bruce Lee philosopher - how do you find these characteristics?  How do you go about doing your research? 

After I finished the book about the linguist secret agent (Off the Edge) I thought, WHAT have I gotten myself into? What if I run out of things like that for the agents to be into? But I haven’t yet. Each requires different research. On the first book, I only read books and I didn’t find a live expert to talk to, and I think the incorporation of logistics in that one was thinner than with books 2&3. Now my method is clear – I read books on the topic and find somebody who has expertise and interview them. Obviously it was easy with the Bruce Lee thing.

Who, if any, was your inspiration for Thorne? 

Thorne just evolved inside the book. The thing that really helped me see him was when I started defining the relationship between him and Nadia and trying different things, and when I got it right, he came into focus. 

You given us some enticing tidbits about The Associates, Dax and Zelda. Will they get their own story someday or will you be revealing a little more of their story in each book? 

Zelda is the subject of the next book! She’s a forensic botanist who takes the place of her long-lost twin—a prostitute who was won in a card game by a dangerous drug cartel. 

Dax’s book is coming, too. It’s sort of dangerous, because I don’t have the idea for his book, and every time I write something about him, I lock in some details about him that I may chafe against later. But I really like Dax.

Here's our rapid fire 3-2-1 List:

What are the Top Three ways you like to spend a lazy afternoon?
1. Reading at the beach
2. Running
3. Or a crafty project, like drawing.

What are your Top Two favorite books from your childhood? 
1. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn 
2. Every Nancy Drew.

What one person, past or present, would you choose to share a meal with? 
1. Yikes!! I would have to say rocker Patti Smith. I think she is so smart and cool, and I actually think about her a lot. 

Thank you, Carolyn for joining us and letting us share in your "Opening Day"!

Into the Shadows is book 3 in The Associates series.

He’s working undercover for the good guys. That doesn’t mean he’s one of them.

Thorne McKelvey knows exactly how Nadia sees him—as a brute and a killer just kinky enough to play her sexy games. And that’s how it has to stay. Leaving her was the hardest thing he ever did, but his undercover mission could blow up at any second. No way will he drag Nadia down with him.

Maybe it was foolish to fall in love with her late father’s deadliest henchman, but Nadia Volkov’s not sorry; without Thorne she wouldn’t have their beautiful little boy. There’s nothing she won’t do to protect Benny, which means she must hide his identity—especially from his father.

Now Thorne has burst back into her home, searching for clues to a gangland mystery…and stirring a hunger Nadia hasn’t felt in two years. But Benny’s identity isn’t the only secret she’s keeping, and things are turning deadly. Can Thorne and Nadia trust each other long enough to stay alive and have a chance at happiness?

Thorne is an “unofficial” operative of the Associates, a clandestine organization fighting crime so deep undercover that the members don’t even know who is on their side.  Thorne is recruited by the Associates to infiltrate the Hangman gang and work his way to becoming its leader. He is in deep in more ways than one.  During his tenure under the former boss, Victor, Thorne falls in love with Victor’s daughter, Nadia. Unfortunately, due to a series of unfortunate misunderstandings, Thorne and Nadia break up.  Only years later are they reunited both in love and in purpose, but she now has her own set of secrets as she searches for a treasure that heretofore she didn’t know existed. 

This is a story about being redeemed, giving and accepting love, knowing and believing that you are worthy of it, all wrapped up in an intense romantic suspense thriller.  They say that the farthest distance that a person can travel is from the heart to the head.  Our hero Thorne is so blinded by his past that he fails to see what is real and vital before him.  He cannot see his own heart, much less believe that he is good. He thinks he is a thug; he believes he is unworthy.  The only time he feels worthy is when he is with Nadia.  Their relationship is tricky.  There is a different kind of dynamic in the relationship, not your normal romantic trope. Their romance is edgy, relentless and devouring: There are so many layers to our fucked up layer cake, I don’t know how to untangle it.

In the past, they played this dark game where she calls him derogatory names and belittles him and he loves it.  He loves it because he feels like she is naming his truth – that he is a thug and lowlife.  She does it as a game; he uses it as a means to be real and connect with her:  He never could resist her distain because it was real and raw. And it got him hot. However in truth, if he were truly that evil man, he wouldn’t feel any need to connect. 

We discover that Thorne is a philosophical man, living the words of Bruce Lee both in life and in battle. He is a Zen warrior. He believes that his superpower to win fights is his ability to detach from everything and everyone: Best way to fight was to releasing all needs, need to stay undercover, releasing the desire to live.  His mantra is, I’m free to win because I’m free to die.

However, despite his denial, he is a deeply feeling man.  Nadia helps him find his real truth. His awkwardness is endearing and when he tries to learn to relate to her, it is so sweet: like going to movies alone to figure out how men were suppose to act with women they loved. What shit they would say and do.  Because what the fuck did he know about couples?  He’d even read one of the Hunter S. Thompson books she so loved.

Nadia is a woman completely comfortable in her own skin.  Growing up the daughter of a head of a criminal organization, she knows how to use humor, both soft and hard, to make people feel at ease.  However, that is not who she is.  Thorne breaks through the façade to see the real Nadia. 

There are a lot of great things about this book – the characters, the plot, the intimate scenes, the heart-stopping suspense, but to me, the very best part of this book is the writing.  Carolyn Crane has such a unique voice; there are no other writers like her. She invites readers to follow her distinctively quirky thinking – complex, but not confusing. I love how she finds and uses funny and uncommon details like the forensic botanist. Who knew? The line about the “preventive pee” before a big mission is so right on (This is a lesson I learned when I went on my first ride-along. Go the bathroom before and whenever you can because you don’t know when you’ll be able to go again). And the comment about the hotel soap…it completely gutted me. She is a master storyteller. 

IN A NUTSHELL: I can always tell the level of engagement I have with a story just by the number of highlights I have in my book.  This one is a sea of yellow. This is one of my best reads of the year. Period.

BUY THE  BOOK:  ARe | Amazon | B&N 

Carolyn and I are each giving away a book.  She is offering either Into the Shadows or any book from her back list, all in e-format. I am offering Into the Shadows in a Kindle (.mobi) format. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Love this interview! Two of my favorite people in one place, talking about a book I'm loving even only after one chapter. Great job ladies!! Since I already own everything of Carolyn's I'll give someone else a shot to win the contest. ;-)

  2. Great interview! I love this series, and I've been looking forward to this book. And I love your review, Sunny! "A master storyteller"--yes.

  3. I just thought the review was very good and now I have a new author to read