Can you bring us up to speed with the characters in Christmas Undercover?
Sure! Will Rankin is a widower and father of two young girls. He struggles with shame, feeling like he failed his wife because she shut him out during the last months of her battle with cancer. Will is also frustrated by her parents, who are critical of his parenting style. While out on a hike to clear his head, Will runs into FBI agent Sara Vaughn who defied her boss’s order to take time off. Instead she goes rogue and pursues suspected criminals in the rugged Cascade Mountains. She witnesses two of the suspects shoot their business partner and she becomes a target. In her attempt to escape danger she falls down a mountainside and is found the next morning by Will. Injured and paranoid, Sara thinks he’s an assassin hired to kill her and she threatens him with a gun! Not a great way to start a relationship.
What’s your fondest Christmas memory?
When my boys were little and they opened their Christmas presents—a toy electric guitar for my oldest (then 6) and Power Rangers action figures for my youngest (then 3). Their faces lit up with such joy! That expression of total abandon on both of their faces is permanently etched into my mind. Well, that and the sound of my son wailing on his guitar throughout the day.
The book is dedicated to a member of the Seattle PD to thank him for answering your many questions. What new information did you learn?
Actually, my source at the Seattle PD has taught me so much through our email exchanges regarding police procedure over the years. In this case I learned that members of other law enforcement agencies do not get a free pass if they cross the line. For instance, when Sara (FBI) shot the bad guy who was beating up Will, the local cops wouldn’t just look the other way (even if the deceased were a criminal). She had to be interrogated about the incident, just like anyone else. Charges were not brought because there was a witness, but still, it was not rubber-stamped by the local PD.
What is one thing that you absolutely need while writing?
I’d have to say I absolutely need two things: tea and music. I’m a tea freak—love green, white and herbals—and energizing music. The music stimulates something in my brain that gives the signal, “time to write!” It also drowns out the barking cat (yes, he barks) and ringing phone (why do I still have this land line?). Lately I’ve been listening to the Lindsey Stirling station on Pandora for inspiration. In the past I’ve created playlists for my books featuring bands like U2, Enation, Snow Patrol, and Lady Antebellum.
Which actors would you choose to fan cast Sara Vaughn and Will Rankin?
Nathan Fillion would make a GREAT Will Rankin, inspired by Nathan’s role as Rick Castle on the Castle TV show (ABC). Both onscreen on off, Nathan seems like a playful guy who’d be such a good father to young girls. I’d then cast Stana Katic, aka Kate Beckett from Castle, as Sara Vaughn because Sara is determined and focused, yet damaged. She doesn’t let anything get in the way of solving the crime!
What was the first romance novel that you ever read?
Back in middle school I wasn’t much of a reader. I think an undiagnosed learning disability made it hard for me to enjoy reading. Then my school librarian gave me a few Victoria Holt and Mary Stewart books and something clicked. The first romance I read was “The Pride of the Peacock” by Victoria Holt. It had everything: arranged marriage, forbidden romance, mystery and suspense. The perfect choice!
Without giving away too much, what’s your favorite scene in Christmas Undercover?
Oh, that would have to be the scene in Will’s house when he and Sara find themselves under the mistletoe. The girls giggle from their partially open bedroom door down the hall, waiting to see if Daddy kisses Miss Sara. It’s such a tender, romantic and incredibly normal scene amidst the chaos of a criminal investigation.
What’s the best response you’ve ever received from a fan?
A letter from a thirteen-year-old girl who referred to me as, “the greatest writer ever!” This meant so much, and no not because she called me great, but because I remember the awkwardness of being thirteen. The fact that my book affected her and motivated her to write me a letter—a real letter not an e-mail—was awesome.
Do you have any author conferences or book signings in the near future?
Not at this time because I’m working on the next two books in the Echo Mountain series. However, I will be teaching a continuing education class titled “From Concept to Publication” at Bellevue College in Bellevue, Washington starting September 29 (http://bit.ly/1Nka2Xb). I’m very excited to share what I’ve learned about writing over the past 15 years with students.
What are you working on next?
I’m writing the next book in the Echo Mountain series that features Police Chief Nate Walsh and Property Manager Cassie McBride. Cassie finds herself in a world of trouble when she discovers a dead body in a rental cabin she’s prepping for incoming guests. When she sees a stranger coming toward the house carrying a shovel, she thinks he’s the killer and runs for safety, but not before he spots her. Will Chief Walsh be able to protect Cassie from the mysterious threat, especially when it seems to be shadowing her every move?
HOPE WHITE began her career as a reporter and feature writer for newspapers and magazines before discovering her passion for writing fiction. When not at the computer Hope is usually off hiking one of the many trails by her house, taking in a movie, or enjoying a cup of tea with friends. Hope lives in the Pacific Northwest with her hero husband, two sons, and way too many pets.