Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I’m a military physician turned novelist who grew up on a farm, and until I went out on my own, the only way I could travel was through books. I strive to create that magical, transportive experience for readers—everyone can use an escape sometimes!
Do you write full-time or part-time?
Full-time, now that I’ve retired.
How much research do you do?
Lots! Much of what I write is from direct experience (medical or military subplots, scuba diving, aviation) but for the rest, I do extensive research online as well as interviews, and getting beta readers who are like my characters—it’s so important to make them authentic and avoid any “gimme a break” moments. For example, I wrote a Deaf heroine in Submerged Hopes and benefitted greatly from a fantastic beta reader who’s Deaf, and I consulted the Greek community for aspects of the Helios Series.
What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex? It was great to grow up with brothers and serve in the military; I use a unisex name in my online international critique group and was quite pleased when men assumed I was a male and wondered “how I could write women so well!” To me, the most difficult thing is a male POV for sex scenes. I devil my poor husband with all sorts of questions.
How did you come up with the idea for your series, Helios?
I wanted to write a romance novel (my first novel was a thriller and still unpublishes) but felt “stuck” at how to start it—too many fun ideas swirling around in my head, and it felt like a shaken-up snow globe. Finally, I drew character types and tropes out of a bowl, so that’s why Helios features a sheltered young woman, a foreign billionaire alpha hero, a workplace romance, and elements of dubious consent—although the latter was hard to do, so I softened that aspect. The rest came out of my military background and “what if” thoughts. I really love some adventure and suspense in my stories, so that’s where the rock climbing, scuba diving, and adventure racing come in, plus I want my stories to be varied, so each pairing is different in terms of characters and conflicts. I also wanted to write a series in which each novel was a stand-alone so that readers could enter at any point.
What are your current projects?
I just published Fly Boy, about a crop duster in Texas and a woman trying to keep her late grandmother’s farm out of foreclosure, and am in final revisions on No Easy Match, about a transplant surgeon setting up a program for an enigmatic CEO in The Bahamas. It’ll be out late summer. I also just signed a contract with The Wild Rose Press for a novella in their Passports to Pleasure series. This one’s about an American GI who encounters a German girl outside a pub, in the middle of a raucous group of soccer fans.
What does literary success look like to you?
Ha! Though I wouldn’t turn down a movie based on my stories, success to me is having a cadre of readers who have been touched by my work and eagerly anticipate my next story.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
1) Read, read, read, both in and out of the genre in which you’d like to write. Seeing that the best-loved stories are still imperfect is freeing. 2) Find your “tribe” of fellow authors, with whom you can compare notes, get feedback, and hone your craft. 3) Eventually, you’ve got to take off the training wheels and put yourself out there! It’s scary at first but gets better.
Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?
My website has my blog, more about the books, and people can sign up for my newsletter to download a free copy of Finders, Keepers: https://www.chloeholiday.com/
You can also find me here:
Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share with us?
Travis pulled dry clothes over his damp skin and drove home, thinking. It was about the most embarrassing way to run into her he could have imagined, but the good thing was it could only get better from there, and at least the encounter had broken the ice.
Time to man up.
When he got home, he texted the number Nana had given him in the event of an emergency, asking to meet Tricia the next day. She sent a terse reply, granting an audience.
I’ll take Jake with me. Tricia always had a soft spot for animals, and women loved the yellow Lab. “It sucks that I need to use you to smooth the way, though,” he told the dog, who wagged and grinned, though he was less happy about the bath that followed.
The next morning at ten, Travis signaled for Jake to jump into the pickup—the cab this time, since it was so hot. The dog sat in the passenger seat, tongue hanging out, as he gazed around.
“Try to charm her,” Travis advised him. “Soften her up for me.”
Jake wagged, as good as a promise, but just to make sure it went well, Travis stopped on the shoulder short of the final bend and opened the door. “Hop out and pee now—I don’t want you hosing down her flower bushes.”
Jake leapt out and lifted his leg.
The Lab raised his nose, whirled, and took off.
“No! Bad dog.” Travis slammed the pickup door. “Jake, wait. Hey, come back!” Damn it. Travis loped after him but when he heard a feminine cry of outrage, he broke into a sprint.
“Eww! Get off her!”
Travis tore up the lane to the yard.
Jake was trying his darnedest to hump a tall white poodle-looking dog, while Tricia hauled back on his collar. The thing had shaggy leggings like the boots of an exotic dancer, fluffy ears, and was otherwise sleekly sculpted except for a poof at the end of her tail.
Well, hell. “Jake, no. Bad dog!” Travis caught up and pulled his dog away, panting from the run, trying not to stare at Tricia’s cleavage on display as she wrangled her poodle.
Tricia glared at him. “Is this your dog?”
“Yeah. Sorry. I don’t know what got into him—or maybe I do. I think your dog’s in heat.” The poodle angled her fancy behind toward the eager Lab, wagging, and Travis got a better grip on Jake’s collar.
Tricia scowled. “Even if she is, that’s still no excuse.”
“Yeah, it is. They can’t help it—just doing what comes naturally.” He glanced at the lah-dee-dah pooch and tried to disarm Tricia with a joke. “He just can’t resist a pretty tail.”
“Well, he’d better resist or I’ll castrate him myself.” She eyed Travis as if considering a two-for one. “There better not be any puppies from this.”
“He’s already neutered. He was just going through the motions.” From her snort, that was the wrong thing to say.
“What is he doing here, anyway?”
Jake wagged harder, as if she’d praised him.
“I just thought you’d like to meet him. And that maybe the subliminal would be good, with the secret language of dogs and all.”
Her eyebrows rose. “Secret language? It wasn’t subtle in the least, let alone secret. ‘Hey, baby, let’s get it on’ doesn’t remotely qualify.” She narrowed her eyes at Jake. “You can stay in the bathroom, Romeo.” Holding the door open, she pointed down the hall.
“Come on, Jake.” Travis took his dog inside. Feminine shoes were lined up at the entrance, and he glanced at her bare feet, red toenail polish flashing in the sun at the threshold. “The secret language of dogs means what folks extrapolate to the owners,” he explained, slipping off his boots before she asked.
“You mean like rude and undisciplined?”
“Ouch.” He put Jake in the bathroom, told him, “Stay,” and closed the door. He padded back to the living room. Strange not to see Nana puttering in the kitchen.
Tricia nodded to the sofa. “Have a seat, and an apple if you’re hungry.”
“Thanks.” He pulled his gaze from pretty feet to a glass coffee table which held a bowl of fruit like always, a big new picture book beside it. “No, a Labrador signals that a man is reliable, decent, and family-oriented.” He spread his hands when she raised an eyebrow. “Hey, you can’t argue with science.”
Tricia snorted again and headed to the kitchen, graceful as he remembered. “Science, huh?”
Thank heavens she was over her snit. “Yep. A man with a pit bull or Rottweiler is perceived as more aggressive, or maybe a lawbreaker.” Well, damn, that hadn’t been smart. Travis hurried on. “And a lady with a poodle—” Oh, Lord. Just shut up now.
She paused, her hand on the fridge door. “Yeah? What’s the great, secret significance of a woman with a poodle?” She jerked it open and pulled out a pitcher of tea.
Well, hell. “It, uh … Women who own poodles are, uh, supposed to be the kind most likely to agree to … a one-night stand.” His cheeks heated.
Tricia blinked, her face completely blank. But instead of the expected explosion, she laughed so hard she spilled tea on the tray. She threw down a dishtowel to blot it, carried the tray over to the coffee table, and handed him a glass before she dabbed at her eyes. “You could be right, I suppose—”
Damn! Is she offering? Travis choked on his tea.
“—but Nana’s not here to ask. This is her dog, Bella.”
Travis coughed until his eyes teared up.