VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR: Interview with Romantic Suspense Author Mary Burton

MARY BURTON’s southern family has always enjoyed tall tales and a good yarns. Early on, Mary realized that Story had tremendous power to inspire strong responses such fear, laughter, love and even sorrow. It didn’t matter if the tale was found in the pages of a book, spoken in hushed tones around a Girl Scout campfire, or spouted at an old fashioned southern family reunion. This appreciation of story motivated her to earn an English degree from Virginia’s Hollins University.

After decade of working in marketing and sales, Mary became convinced she could write and sell one of the many stories buzzing around her brain. Fingers crossed, she left the marketing profession and devoted all her spare time to writing a novel. Soon after, she sold her first manuscript to Harlequin Historicals. Since that initial sale, Mary had written twelve historical romances for Harlequin Historicals, four short romantic suspenses for Silhouette Romantic Suspense and a non-fiction book The Insider’s Guide to Direct Marketing. Her latest is her first single title romantic suspense for Zebra titled I’m Watching You.

In 2005, The Unexpected Wife was a finalist Romance Writers of America’s RITA contest and Wise Moves was 2006 nominee for the Romantic Times’ Critics Choice Award. I’m Watching You received critical acclaim from New York Times Best Selling author Carla Neggers who said, “Taut, compelling and emotional, I’m Watching You is romantic suspense at its most riveting. Mary Burton delivers a page-turner.”

Mary resides in Virginia where she enjoys yoga, cooking, hiking and the occasional triathlon.

You can visit her website at to find out more about this talented author and her book!


About the Book:

A killer is on the loose. Lindsay O’Neil discovers the first victim in the yard at Sanctuary, the shelter for battered women that she runs in Richmond, Virginia. If that’s not bad enough, the detective who arrives on the scene is recovering alcoholic Zack Kier, her ex-husband. That brings his partner and her long-time friend, Jacob Warwick, into the picture as well.

It could have been a one time reunion, except for some reason Lindsay keeps being thrust into the middle of the investigation. That means Zack is way too involved in her life and he and Jacob are way too interested in her personal business. She also can’t get TV news reporter Kendall Shaw off of her trail, which is a problem because Lindsay has her own secrets—including that she’s providing shelter at her own home for Nicole Piper, a friend on the run from her abusive husband. As the killing continues it becomes shockingly clear that Lindsay is being stalked by an enraged murderer—and that she and those she loves are targets.


Thank you for this interview, Mary. Why don’t you begin by telling us a little about yourself?

I was born and raised in Virginia and I majored in English and History at Hollins University. Before I started writing full time I was the marketing director of an engineering firm.

My first book was a western and released by Harlequin Historicals in March 2000. Since then I’ve written twelve historical novels and novellas for Harlequin, four books for Silhouette Romantic Suspense, two single titles and a novella for Kensington. I’M WATCHING YOU came in December 2007 and the follow up, DEAD RINGER, will be out in November 2008. My novella appears in the Kensington anthology SILVER BELLS, due also in November 2008.

Tell us a bit about your latest book and what inspired you to write it?

My latest book is I’M WATCHING YOU. It’s a December 2007 Zebra Romantic Suspense. I’M WATCHING YOU started with the book’s heroine, Lindsay O’Neil. I’m not sure where she came from. But I found that as I was working on my other books, she keeping popping into my mind. She’s a strong woman who not only survived her mother’s murder, but also has gone on to be an advocate for abused women. However, the strength and control that had enabled Lindsay to survive up to this point is taking its toll on her. Her own marriage is failing and she’s working so hard she doesn’t take the time to care of herself. She a wonderful example of the saying: “What can make you great can also destroy you.”

Did your book require a lot of research?

It sure did. I knew I had to ratchet up the level of detail in the book. I attended the Henrico County Citizens Police Academy, which required weekly three-hour classes over a three-month period. The course not only included classroom instruction but time with a firing simulator and also on the firing range. I also did a ride along with a uniformed officer, read more research books than I can count, and attended Sisters in Crime’s Forensics University in St. Louis last year.

Do you get along with your muse? What do you do to placate her when she refuses to inspire you?

Generally, my muse and I get along. But if she is being coy, I head to the kitchen and bake. You can always tell how the muse and I are getting along based on the number of cupcakes on the counter. A couple of dozen likely means I’ve been in the kitchen for hours trying to work out sticky plot points.

Describe your working environment?

What should have been the living room in my house is my office. It’s complete with desk, bookshelves, fax, etc. It really is great. However since the arrival of my miniature dachshund puppies, (Bella and Buddy) this year I’ve had to be a little more flexible. They each only weighed about three pounds when I got them so much of the spring was spent working on the laptop in the den while they slept next to me on the couch.

Are you a disciplined writer?

You bet. You’ve got to be to get the book done. I write every day. And when I turn a book in, I’m generally working on the next book within a couple of days.

Do you write non-stop until you have a first draft, or do you edit as you go along?

I write the first draft straight through and don’t worry about anything other than getting the pages into the computer. I know I can always fix something if I’ve got it in the computer. After the first draft, it seems the real work starts. The second draft is about making sure major plot points are present and in the right place. Every draft after that focuses on smoothing and crafting the words. It generally takes me about seven or eight drafts to the book just right.

What is the best writing advice you’ve every received?

It was years ago. My first three manuscripts had yet to sell. I was getting discouraged and complaining to a writer friend of mine who’d sold her first book and had been nominated for more awards than I can remember. She said simply: If you quit you definitely won’t get published. Simple, obvious and very true. You’ve got to have a thick skin and a strong desire to write if you want to publish. Quitters don’t make it in this business.

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