Nina Barrett (Author Interview)
April 28, 2016
Please tell us a little about yourself, the romance subgenre(s) in which you write, and your newest book.
I’ve been writing for years in the field of romantic suspense. My Western romance Marriage Made in Haven was published by Musa Publishing. Since then the Wild Rose Press has published my books Return of the Dixie Deb and A Man to Waste Time On. On April 27 my latest romance, Renegade Heart, will be released by the Wild Rose Press. Like A Man to Waste Time On, Renegade Heart is set in Las Vegas.
What inspired you to write romance fiction?
I grew up reading the works of such wonderful romantic suspense writers as Phyllis Whitney, Mary Steward, Mignon Eberhart and Daphne du Maurier. I was able to take a writing class with Jennifer Crusie who is as supportive and encouraging as she is talented. It gave me the courage to openly declare myself a writer, join RWA and subsequently achieve publication.
Tell us about your favorite hero from one of your stories.
What do you love about him? Hmm, Tom Marco from A Man to Waste Time On is one of my favs. Love him for his struggle to win Cinnamon Smith, the hometown girl he fell for years ago. But he needs to convince her he’s not the waste of time loser who dated and dumped her sister that Cinnamon thinks he is. All this has to make time for his continuing investigation into ongoing criminal activity at the Imperial Hotel Casino where he’s general manager. It’s tough but so was Afghanistan. Nothing to going to stop the former Army Ranger – not Cinnamon’s get lost attitude, Vegas’ flood of the century, or an attempt on his life from Tom’s winning the woman he loves.
What’s your favorite part of writing?
I think my favorite part of writing is working out problems. Maybe it comes from my love of mystery. I enjoy painting my hero or heroine into a corner and then coming up with a way to get them out. Often I’ll wake up at night and think, well, of course.
What stories do you have in the works right now?
My work in progress is part three in my Las Vegas series. Tentatively titled Deep, Dark, Delicious. And Deadly. It open when candy store heiress Sofie Matthews wakes up from her coma to discover she’s suffering from amnesia, a handsome stranger is dogging her footsteps and for some reason there’s a ring on her finger.
Hi, I’m Nina Barrett. I live in southwestern Ohio in my hometown, recently featured on the cover of Ohio magazine. I attended Ohio University (which is not Ohio State – go Bobcats) and graduated from Wright State University with a degree in history, married, had a son and taught in the public schools for thirty years.
I loved teaching and I think I did a good job, but I always knew it was what I did, not what I was.
I was a writer if only in my head. My mother was a great reader and introduced me to books – Mother Goose, Thornton Burgess and a trip to the grocery meant another Little Golden Book. At night I would lie awake dreaming up new adventures with Roy and Dale or Robin Hood.
I completed my first story in junior high, an Agatha Christie-type mystery. Through my twenties and thirties I continued writing mysteries when I could make the time, submitting to agents and publishers and growing discouraged. When I started reading the novels of Mary Higgins Clark, I remember how much I’d enjoyed the romantic suspense books of my teens. Hmm . . . romantic suspense: romance + mystery + an HEA. Maybe I could do that.
I won a scholarship to the Antioch Writers’ Workshop and over the years took classes with such incomparable authors as Sue Grafton and Jennifer Crusie. I was sitting in a roundtable discussion when local author Sharon Short made an offhand remark about how she had accumulated something like 120 rejections slips before she was published.
It was like being struck by lightening. I thought well, I may not be as a good a writer as she is, but I can be that brave.
As if Vegas didn’t have excitement enough, December brings the National Finals Rodeo to the city. In charge of the Imperial Hotel Casino’s participation as a host hotel, Kerstin Hennepin is rushing to a meeting when a fall sends her tumbling into a stranger’s arms. And he’s in no hurry to let her go.
Jake Aaron is a troubleshooter for the rodeo. Or maybe just plain trouble. Their attraction is electric and one close encounter leads to another, but Jake comes with questions. True he’s busy handling the offstage antics of rowdy rodeo contestants, but does his job also include romancing a young barrel rider and carrying a concealed weapon?
With the finale of the finals approaching, Kerstin is running out of time to find answers. But her search for the truth reveals more is going on behind the scenes than on the arena floor and she and Jake are squarely in someone’s crosshairs.
Catering was unloading dinner from the penthouse’s private elevator. She skipped waiting in favor of the stairs. She’d take a quick look at their guest rooms before she . . .
Aah . . . Kerstin gasped, screaming as she lurched forward. She grabbed futilely at the banister, panic sweeping over her as her feet gave way.
She impacted something solid, but safe. A face under a Stetson peered down at her.
“Are you all right, little lady?”
She gasped and tried to speak. Was the pounding in her chest audible? She could feel her savior’s heartbeat as she breathed in the aromas of soap and leather.
A cowboy to the rescue?
He smiled, making no effort to release her as she wiggled.
Try again. She planted both hands on his chest and pushed.
Slowly. Deliberately slowly? He released her, letting her slide down until she . . .
“Pardon?” her rescuer asked.
Wordlessly she held up her shoe, the heel dangling by threads.
“Whoops. Let sit you down and take a look at your ankle.”
He helped her sit. She needed a moment to recover. Life had been hectic enough even before.
She shivered as he massaged her foot and gently manipulated the bones of her ankle.
“How’s it feel?” He looked up at her.
Fine? Not even close. Something else was going on here. Grasping the railing, she started to pull herself up.
“Careful.” Her rescuer stood and slid an arm around her waist.
Standing on the step below her, his eyes met hers. They were the deepest blue she’d even seen. Dark hair. Thick and well cut, but probably not by one of Vegas’ pricier salons. He looked as if something amused him. What was so funny about someone nearly breaking her neck?
“I’m alright.” She bent down and removed her other shoe. At least she was level now.
Remember your manners, Kerstin. Express some gratitude.
“Thank you for your help.”
Not nearly enough. She could have knocked herself out, lying unconscious until who knows when.
“I really am grateful.” She felt herself coloring.
“Glad to be of service, ma’am.” He touched his hat.
Ma’am? Tipping his Stetson. He had to be with the rodeo.
“Jake Aaron. Guess I was in the right place at the right time.”
“Kerstin Hennepin.” She extended her hand. “I’m fortunate you were. Were you on your way up to the penthouse?”
He nodded. “I’m meeting some folks up there. Took the opportunity to stretch my legs.”
“I work here at the Imperial, setting up events like hosting the rodeo. I was just coming down to check the rooms for our rodeo guests.”
“I’m one of them. Just checked in. I’ve got a title but basically I troubleshoot for the rodeo. We may be seeing more of each other.”
“Hopefully I won’t run into you quite so literally.”
He shook his head and smiled.
“Thank you again, Mr. Aaron.”