Leslie was kind enough to answer my questions. Take it away, Leslie!
That’s a good question, because I’ve considered writing contemporary romance, too.
That being said, however, I really enjoy the roller coaster ride of thrillers and romantic suspense. Setting your story against a backdrop of danger lets you explore high-stakes situations and heightened emotions between characters.
In each book of the Chasing Evil trilogy, a different FBI agent is working a serial murder investigation. I love writing about the dangerous aspects of law enforcement and the cat-and-mouse game between the hunter and the hunted.
I remember hearing that friends of Heath Ledger believed his dark portrayal of the Joker in the last movie he did was one of the reasons he was struggling emotionally. Your story deals with a sadistic serial killer. It is difficult to immerse yourself into something so dark?
I’m showing my age here, but do you remember “The John Larroquette Show”? Although it was a sitcom, he had a sign in his office that read, “This is a Dark Ride,” obviously taken from an amusement park somewhere. But for him, that sign had a very different meaning. I’m like that, too, I think. I do write dark and I like dark stories, even though they can take a toll on you. I didn’t have any trouble immersing myself in the world of the serial killer, or homicide investigations, for that matter. But I did notice that when I rented movies or watched television, I’d deliberately avoid anything that looked too serious for a while – I wanted comedy and lighter fare to balance out all the darkness going on in my head with these books.
It also helps that all three of the Chasing Evil stories end on the note of good triumphing over evil. In real life, that’s often not the case. There I go being dark again.
What kinds of research did you have to do to make your story believable?
For the first book, Midnight Caller, I did a lot of online research on vampirism and the Goth subculture, as it plays a big role in that book. And in Midnight Fear, I had to learn a lot about horses, since my heroine runs a non-profit equine therapy program.
In my newest book, Edge of Midnight, my heroine is a crime reporter in Jacksonville, Fla. I did do some in-person research into the life of a reporter, as I know several journalists and picked their brains, so to speak.
Also, a few years ago, I took a very helpful online course on homicide investigations through Romance Writers of America’s Kiss of Death chapter. A police detective taught it and I learned a lot about investigational protocol.
Do you write full time? If not, do you hope to?
I still work in public relations as a writer and editor, although I am taking a lot fewer assignments these days. With both jobs, I work from home, so I can’t complain.
I would like to write fiction full-time, however. Maybe someday soon.
What’s a typical day for you?
Like Dustin Hoffman’s character in “Rain Man,” I thrive on structure, the same thing every day at the same time. Unless the weather is downright horrible, I start the day off with a long walk. From there, I keep regular office hours and try to wrap things up by dinner. However, when I’m on deadline, I have been known to work until ten or eleven at night. That’s not preferable for me, though, as my mind is sharpest in the daytime. Problems – plot holes, character inconsistencies – all seem magnified to me at night.
Do you typically read in the genre you write in? Why or why not?
I’m a very eclectic reader – the last book I read was the latest in Chelsea Cain’s “Heartsick” series, and before that it was “American on Purpose”, an autobiography by comedian Craig Ferguson. I read in my genre (romantic suspense) occasionally, but not that often.
Of course, these days almost all of my reading is accomplished via audio book (I love Ferguson’s Scottish accent, so that was a bonus). I’m pretty busy, so audio books allow me to “read” while doing something else, like exercising or picking up around the house. It also lets me give my eyes a rest – which is important, since I spend a lot of time at the computer.
Anything new coming up from you that you’d like to share?
I’m currently working on another romantic thriller, this time about an Atlanta police detective who’s investigating the murder of another cop. The story also centers on the detective and his ex-wife, who is an ER trauma doctor. I’m excited about it, as it’s a different type of story from the ones in the Chasing Evil trilogy.
There’s also a story I was working on that I put aside when the Chasing Evil trilogy sold. It’s romantic suspense but isn’t police-oriented. It’s about a widower who runs a family-owned hotel outside of Charleston, S.C., and a woman in hiding who seeks refuge in the coastal resort town. I’d like to get back to that one, too.
Thanks for having me today!
The writer becomes the story when crime reporter Mia Hale is discovered on a Jacksonville beach – bloodied and disoriented, but alive. She remembers nothing, but her wounds bear the signature of a sadistic serial killer. After years lying dormant, The Collector has resumed his grim hobby: abducting women and taking gruesome souvenirs before dumping their bodies. But none of his victims has ever escaped – and he wants Mia back, more than he ever wanted any of the others.
FBI agent Eric Macfarlane has pursued The Collector for a long time. The case runs deep in his veins, bordering on obsession...and Mia holds the key. She’ll risk everything to recover her memory and bring the madman to justice, and Eric swears to protect this fierce, fragile survivor. But The Collector will not be denied. In his mind, he knows just how their story ends.
What RT Book Reviews Says About EDGE OF MIDNIGHT
4 ½ STARS
“A compelling plot, thick suspense, a cunning villain, a shattered cop and a victim who wants answers at any cost place Tentler in the same category as bestselling authors Lisa Jackson and Beverly Barton.”
About the author: Leslie Tentler worked in PR as a writer and editor for nearly two decades before pursuing her love of writing fiction. She is the author of the Chasing Evil trilogy of romantic thrillers from MIRA Books, which includes Midnight Caller, Midnight Fear and Edge of Midnight. She lives in Atlanta.