One of my absolute favorite authors is stopping by today to give us the dirty secrets about her new series, living in Germany, and PTSD research on her new book. Janie Crouch is the author of several Harlequin Intrigues including Countermeasures, Untraceable, and her upcoming release Fully Committed.
Thank you so much for agreeing to this interview, Janie! I really appreciate you taking the time to be with us.
Tell us a little about the inspiration behind the Omega Sector series published with Harlequin Intrigue. Did you expect the series to be such a hit?
Well, I’m not sure I would call the series a hit, but thanks very much for doing so! My first book, PRIMAL INSTINCT, was a stand-alone novel that I had hoped to turn in to a 3-book series (about three sisters). Unfortunately, my editors at Intrigue didn’t feel like the other two books would be a good fit for their line (particularly because there are some slight paranormal elements in them). I had another idea about an FBI-type agent who had been in on a deep undercover assignment for a long time when he came across an innocent woman in the bad guys’ clutches. He has to try to complete his mission while also keeping her alive. I knew that writing about the FBI had its own set of headaches – a lot of FBI stuff involves following their many rules. So I created Omega Sector where I could make the rules. 🙂
Thus, the book INFILTRATION was born. The other three books of the original Omega Sector series were based on the siblings of that hero (two brothers and a sister), who all also had ties to Omega Sector. When that 4-book series completed in 2015, it came time to submit a new proposal. I knew I didn’t want to write about undercover agents again, but still liked the thought of the Omega world continuing. So I just made it bigger! I created the Critical Response Division. Still Omega, but not covert, undercover work. Instead, the Critical Response Division included SWAT, hostage rescue, profiling, hostage negotiation, etc. So much fun to write! The Omega Sector: Critical Response series releases throughout 2016.
Your fans might’ve noticed you don’t actually live in the States despite the fact you’re originally from Virginia. How has moving to Germany affected your work/career and does Germany inspire you in ways the US hasn’t?
We’ve lived in Germany a year now. Certainly I believe new places, new people, new situations can help spark creativity. I’ve done a lot more plane and train travel – I think you can definitely plan to find some hijacking plots in my upcoming novels! Unfortunately, Intrigue books aren’t like some of the other Harlequin lines where international settings are encouraged. So Europe probably won’t be playing an overt role in my books, but living here definitely inspires me to think differently. Career wise, I will say that being in Germany means I don’t ever walk into a bookstore and find my books on the shelves which is a little sad. Also, I’ve missed some opportunities for book signings and writing retreats, things like that. But, I talk every day with other authors, keep up great friendships even though we’re thousands of miles away. That’s the wonderful thing about communication in contemporary times! I don’t have to live nearby to feel like I am close by.
You’ve posted in Harlequin forums over the last few months that you haven’t signed with an agent and aren’t interested in doing so. Since most of your peers with HQN Intrigue are agented, what’s your reasoning for staying agent-free?
I first got signed with Harlequin by being a part of their forums and entering a contest held there which got my work in front of an editor (You can read about my entire publishing timeline here). To write for Harlequin series an author is not required to have an agent. I have successfully sold eleven books to them without one. My reasons for no agent are purely financial. Why give someone 15% of my earning for what I can do for myself for free? The bad thing about not having an agent is that I have to trust my own judgment so completely. That’s easier said than done sometimes. Are my ideas good? What are the trends in the genre I’m writing? What are my long-term goals and short-term steps I need to take to reach them? Having someone to talk these issues through would be a big help sometimes. So, as with everything, there are pros and cons to an agent. If I decide to write single title novels, I will be required to submit through an agent. That’s probably when I will try to get one.
Your recent release, Covert Intents, was your first dive into the self-publishing world. What was your experience taking on this massive responsibility and why self-publish in the first place?
I self-published COVERT INTENTS because I had a large gap between Intrigue books (nearly 8 months, which in the publishing world for a relatively new author is an eternity). The novella only came out 3.5 months ago, so right now it is too early to make any real evaluations about how it will do overall. I will say the initial sale numbers were not great. I tried to capitalize on the fact that the story was a cross over between characters from Primal Instinct and my Omega Sector series, but it didn’t really go anywhere. Although I have almost made back my initial investment (for cover design and formatting), self-publishing is not something I would quickly jump into again. It’s a pretty flooded market (particularly for romantic suspense) that has to be navigated carefully to make money. But… ask me again in a year and I might feel differently. 🙂
I talk every day with other authors, keep up great friendships even though we’re thousands of miles away. – Janie Crouch
Personally, I can’t wait to get my hands on your upcoming release, Fully Committed, in which your heroine suffers from PTSD. What kind of research did you have to sift through to get this disorder right and what can you tell us about the book?
First, I want to say that I take PTSD very seriously. My family is stationed on a military base right now, so people dealing with psychological trauma is common and forefront. I did a pretty extensive amount of research before being willing to call what she was going through PTSD. The heroine in FULLY COMMITTED is not military. She is a forensic artist on the verge of a breakdown from repeatedly helping victims without giving herself any recuperation time in between. She thinks PTSD is only diagnosed for soldiers who have been at war, but it’s not. Getting inside victims heads and helping them relive their horrific stories over and over has her suffering in a similar way to soldiers who witness violence in the field. The hero, Jon Hatton, actually figures out that what she’s going through (feeling cold all the time, lack of sleep) was actually PTSD. These are his thoughts in the book just before he begins helping her come to grips with it:
Trauma affected the brain. Whether you experienced it firsthand or not, the brain could only take so much before it started taking measures to protect itself. Sherry’s mind was trying to stop her from doing further damage to her psyche.
Thanks so much to Janie again for stopping by and answering my most pressing questions! Janie is by far one of my favorite authors in the Intrigue line because of her real-to-life characters, fast-paced suspense, and elegant writing. If you’d like to learn more about Janie and her books, please visit her website, follow her on Twitter, or Facebook.
About the Author
Janie Crouch loves to read – almost exclusively romance – and has been doing so since middle school. She cut her teeth on Harlequin (Mills & Boon) Romances when she lived in Wales, UK as a preteen, then moved on to a passion for romantic suspense as an adult. Her favorite authors include: Linda Howard, Nora Roberts, and Elizabeth Lowell.
Janie recently relocated with her husband and four children to Germany (due to her husband’s job as support for the U.S. Military), after living in Virginia for nearly 20 years. When she’s not listening to the voices in her head (and even when she is), she enjoys traveling, long-distance running, movie-watching, knitting and adventure (obstacle) racing. Janie completed an Ironman Triathlon in 2014.
Most of all, she loves to laugh and smile and count her blessings. And her blessings are many.