Gemma…welcome to our blog! We’ll ask some traditional questions, and then surprise you with some you may not have been asked before!
GIVEAWAY ALERT: Gemma will be giving away an ebook copy of both SPYING IN HIGH HEELS and HOLLYWOOD SCANDALS to one person who leaves a comment. Comments must be posted by midnight EST 18 April...and please put your email address in the comment box with your comment!
Gemma had a hard time figuring out what she wanted to be when she grew up. She worked as a film and television actress, a teddy bear importer, a department store administrator, a preschool teacher, a temporary tattoo artist, and a 900 number psychic, before finally selling her first book, Spying in High Heels, in 2005 and deciding to be a writer.
Since then, Gemma has written several mystery novels and been the recipient of numerous awards, including a National Reader's Choice award and three RITA nominations. Her books have hit both the USA Today and the New York Times Bestseller lists.
Gemma now makes her home in the San Francisco Bay area where she is hard at work on her next book.
Q: Tell us about the first book you published: how long did it take for you to write, sell, and see it published.
A: The first book I published was SPYING IN HIGH HEELS, which took me about 4 months to write. However, before that I had written six other novels that did not sell to publishers, so this wasn't my very first try at writing, either. I originally sold SPYING to a publisher off of an "elevator pitch" at a writing conference. I gave her a quick two-liner about the premise and genre, and she was intrigued enough to request that i send it to her. I did, and a month later she offered me a contract.
Q: Every author has a routine/ritual/quirks they utilize for their writing. What are yours?
A: I like to write in the mornings, before the craziness of the day has had much time to invade my brain. I generally like quiet and have to have a drink on hand - coffee, tea, a glass of wine. When I get stuck on a scene, I try to go to the park with my laptop, take along walk, then sit down and hammer out the scene outdoors. The change of scenery always helps.
Q: High Heels/Hollywood Headlines series…has any special place/thing/person/event inspire those series?
A: I would have to say that my love of shoes inspired the High Heels series. :) I've always been a fan of fashion, though, unlike my main character, Maddie, I have no talent at designing. So, I live vicariously through her.
The Hollywood Headlines series was inspired by my own adventures living in the L.A. area and working as an actress on film sets. I had a blast doing that job in my twenties, and met a lot of really interesting characters - some famous celebrities and some wacky Hollywood locals. A lot of those people make appearances in my books now.
Q: Advice time! Tell us one piece of advice you have for anyone looking to publish a romance book. AND, tell us one piece of advice what NOT to do.
A: To do: read a ton of books in the style/genre you want to write. Even more so than craft books, this really helped me to know the rhythm and flow of my particular genre and what the readers of that genre would expect from my books.
Not to do: Over analyze. I've seen writers spend over a year revising one manuscript over and over and over until it's so polished that it's lost all of its character and charm. I say revise to the best of your ability, but then let it go and start something new. You're going to get better with each manuscript, so don't sweat making #1 your one shining masterpiece.
Q: Which one of your books is your favorite…the “book of your heart”? Why?
A: My personal favorite is the first in my Hollywood Headlines series, HOLLYWOOD SCANDALS. I really loved writing the main character, Tina, who had a distinct edge to her character. She had a lot of depth to her, and I think she was a lot of fun.
Q: If you could meet with any author (dead or alive) who wrote any type of book, who would it be? What would you talk about?
A: Hands down, Agatha Christie. She was my idol growing up, and I'd love to pick her brain. I'm sure she had some wild plots floating around in there that never made it to paper, and I'd love to hear them!
Q: Tell us about your recent release, PLAY NICE.
A: PLAY NICE is my thriller debut, which is a bit of a departure from the humorous mysteries that I've written in the past. It's very high energy, high stakes, fast paced and follows a former assassin trying to go straight... which, as you can imagine is harder than it sounds.
Q: Where can we find you?
A: You can visit my website here: http://www.gemmahalliday.com
And find me on Facebook here: http://www.facebook.com/gemmahallidayauthor
Q: You have an upcoming YA release this month, SOCIAL SUICIDE. What inspired you to write this?
A: SOCIAL SUICIDE is the second book in my Deadly Cool young adult series. It's been a blast revisiting my teen self through my main character, Hartley, and I look forward to doing more of that in the future.
Originally I turned to YA because I really wanted to write something that my son and his friends could read. He's had a copy of my first book, SPYING IN HIGH HEELS on his bookshelf ever since he was 6 years old, so it was really gratifying to write something that he could finally not only display on his shelf but also read and enjoy.
She faked her death to escape life as an assassin. But now her enemies have tracked her down, and this time they want her to stay dead.
Anya Danielovich was a highly-trained killing machine in her former life. But that was a long time ago. Today she's just Anna Smith - a single, thirtysomething woman living in San Francisco with an undemanding day job, a loving, if dim-witted, dog, and a simple desire to lead a simple better life. But she's still haunted by her past - the people she killed, the mentor she betrayed, the woman she was. She's taken care to cover her tracks, but she's beginning to feel like she's being watched...
Nick Dade is a hired gunman, the best of the best. He's read Anya's file inside-out and, after weeks of surveillance, he's ready to pull the trigger...until someone else beats him to the punch. With his agenda shattered, Nick suddenly finds himself thrown together with the woman he's been sent to eliminate. Who is she really? Who hired the second hit? And who can he trust? Together Nick and Anna find themselves embroiled in a web of deceit and desire as an unknown enemy - one with dangerous ties to Anna's former life, and a present-day political assassination - closes in. To unravel the truth, Anna must face her past even if that means risking both Dade's life and her own...for good this time.
Take it off."
Anya looked across the over-furnished room at the man who'd issued the command. General Fedorov. Fifties, salt and pepper hair, eyes as dark as two bottomless pits. He took a deceptively casual position, leaning back in a plush, velvet armchair, one leg crossed over the other. But Anya wasn't fooled. She could see the tension still present in his limbs, as if he were ready to pounce at the slightest provocation. He held a lit cigar in one hand, the cloyingly sweet scent tickling her nostrils as she complied, slipping the straps of her dress down her right shoulder, then the left. She shimmied her hips until it fell to the floor, leaving her bare beneath his gaze but for the red, patent leather heels on her feet.
"Like this?" she asked, her voice barely a whisper.
Fedorov nodded, looked her up and down. A flicker of appreciation crossed his sharp features. He took another long drag from the cigar, as if dragging in the sight of her, then slowly blew it up toward the ceiling.
Her stomach clenched. But she did. Her long legs crossing the distance between them until she was standing directly in front of him, so close she could feel the heat emanating from his body.
"And now?" she asked.
Again, Anya did as she was told, her bare knees hitting the cool marble floor. She swallowed a shot of apprehension, noticing the growing bulge beneath his tailored slacks.
You've done this a thousand times before. You can do it again. One last time.
"And now?" she asked. Even though she knew full well what "and now" would be. They'd been watching him for weeks. They knew his habits, his mannerisms, what kind of soap he washed with in the morning, and what color socks he wore at night. What kind of cigars he smoked and what kind of recreation he indulged in. Blondes. Expensive ones. If they were lucky, he let them leave in the morning. Others became just another casualty of war.
Fedorov reached out, trailing a finger down Anya's cheek. His hands were rough, calloused, like him. She shivered but leaned into his touch all the same, doing a kitten like mew deep in her throat. He gave an answering groan, telling her she'd done her research well. He liked.
His hand left her face, and Anya could swear she felt her skin sigh in relief. Fedorov moved to set his cigar down, his free hand reaching for his zipper.
"No. Let me," Anya purred, sliding her hands up the expensive wool fabric that covered his thighs. "Please," she begged.
A smirk crossed his features before he picked up his cigar again. He liked it when they begged.
She smiled up at him, holding his eyes as she slowly lowered his zipper. She did another feminine coo, letting her eyes flicker to him as she licked her lips.
He chuckled, leaned back in his chair, closed his eyes in anticipation.
Anya's heart pounded in her chest, her hands shook. No matter how many times she did this, nerves always hit her. She supposed some small part of her was glad. At least it was a sign she was still human, still had some notion of right and wrong. She closed her eyes, took a deep breath.
Then quickly thrust the zipper back upward, jamming Fedorov's scrotum in the sharp teeth.
He howled, hands going to his crotch as he jumped to his feet. But not quickly enough. Anya's right hand shot out and grabbed the double-action revolver he always kept strapped to his right ankle. She didn't hesitate, didn't think, didn't feel.
Just aimed and pulled the trigger.
The first shot took out his right knee, sending him to the ground just long enough for Anya to put some distance between them. She backed up, quickly firing off another to his temple. He hit the ground with a sickening thud, and the room was plunged into eerie silence.