Being protected from the imminent threat of a drugged-out psycho may not be the best way to start a romance (although it may beat online dating) but that’s what happens in Lisa Marie Rice’s Midnight Vengeance (Carina Press, August 2014).

Lauren Dare is finally putting her troubled life back together with a new life and a new identity, when one mistake leaves her exposed. Morton “Jacko” Jackman believes she is out of his league, so he has loved her in secret until now, going so far as to step out of his tough-guy comfort zone to take her painting classes. When Lauren’s stalker resurfaces, Jacko draws on his training as a Navy SEAL to protect her from harm.

BookTrib recently sat down with Lisa Marie Rice about “becoming” her characters, which Hollywood actors should play Lauren and Jacko, and her top tips for aspiring writers.

BookTrib: What can you tell us about your new release, Midnight Vengeance?

Lisa Marie Rice: We first met Jacko a couple of books ago. He’s a tough former Navy SEAL whose molecules were re-arranged when he spent an hour listening to his boss’s wife playing the harp. Allegra’s music is beautiful, ethereal, and the polar opposite of the heavy metal that is Jacko’s usual soundtrack. Jacko has been wildly attracted to a beautiful woman who is worlds away from his usual casual girlfriends—biker chicks who like it rough. No matter how many times he tells himself to walk away from her, his feet simply won’t obey. Which is crazy, right? Because what would a beautiful woman, a frigging artist, want with him? Luckily, a homicidal maniac steps in and acts as Cupid.

BT: Who would you choose to play these two characters in a movie?[giveaway giveaway_id=1694 side=”right”]

LMR: For Jacko, a young Vin Diesel, who is both tough and tender. And for Lauren, a blue-eyed Kristen Kreuk who has that delicate-yet-strong vibe.

BT: What films or books made you start writing sexy romantic suspense?

LMR: Writers such as Nora Roberts and Suzanne Brockmann really fired me up. Somehow Hollywood has yet to do really deep and really good romantic suspense. Maybe because  romantic suspense gives equal space to the hero and heroine—it’s a journey of two people—and movies focus more on the heroes. To me, writing sexy romantic suspense is a no-brainer. Make it over the top in every way. Make the hero and heroine super brave and smart, make the villains heart-stoppingly dangerous, and make the love story burn bright with romantic and sexual energy.

BT: You’ve said before that it’s really fun “being” your heroines while writing about them. Can you tell us about the process of becoming your character?

LMR: When I sat down and “became” Lauren I put myself in the shoes of a young woman in constant danger, and I became very grateful for all the good things in my life. Lauren’s under huge stress and on the run. She has to see to the heart of things, which is why she can completely appreciate Jacko, a man whose path she wouldn’t ordinarily cross. She is forced to see things more clearly and she sees Jacko—sees his strength and deep character and sense of loyalty.

BT: Do you ever have to do any research when it comes to your character’s professions?

LMR: Many of my heroes are former military and I have done a lot of reading of soldiers’ memoirs and books on geopolitics. I’ve had scientist heroines and I make a point of reading up on the basics of their professions.

64695_199393546832313_166916647_nBT: What are your top tips for aspiring writers?

LMR: Nowadays you can write fan fiction and join writing groups and just write your heart out. And one day it’s as if you slipped into a new and higher gear and the writing takes off. Read a lot, always. Study writers you admire, figure out how they manage to keep you enthralled and touch your heart. Learn all the techniques and then pare away what doesn’t work for you until you have the beating heart of what you are meant to write.

BT: Do you agree that writing at a later age is better because you have more life experience behind you?

LMR: You need to have lived a lot before you can infuse your characters with life. You need to have traveled widely, studied profoundly, you should have had your heart broken a couple of times, been betrayed, been astonished by acts of generosity, and have admired wisdom.

BT: What are you working on next?

LMR: I’m writing the sequel to Midnight Vengeance, which is titled Midnight Promises. Look for it in January 2015!