This week's featured author is Michele Martinez, author of Most Wanted, The Finishing School and the forthcoming Cover-Up, which hits shelves in March.
You can read excerpts and descriptions of all her books on her website, www.michelemartinez.com, or catch up with her adventures at The Lipstick Chronicles where she is a regular blogger.
WN: Tell us about your new book and about your main character, Melanie Vargas. Who's going to really like these books?
MARTINEZ: Melanie Vargas is a young, ambitious federal prosecutor in New York City who handles the most dangerous cases while juggling her complicated love life. Both men and women love these books. They've been called a cross between "Law & Order" and "Sex and the City" because they combine a gritty, authentic, streetwise look at crime in New York with hot romance and a glamorous Manhattan lifestyle. In "Cover-Up," (March '07) Melanie investigates the brutal murder of Suzanne Shepard, a TV reporter who was found raped and stabbed in Central Park. Suzanne specialized in digging up dirt on the rich and famous, so she had a long list of high-profile enemies.
When Melanie starts getting threatening e-mails from an anonymous stranger who knows a suspicious amount about the crime, the investigation takes an even more dangerous turn. "Cover-Up" is the third book in the Melanie Vargas series, after "Most Wanted" and "The Finishing School."
WN: How much of your background and experience as a federal prosecutor has become the background and experience for Melanie Vargas?
MARTINEZ: I was a federal prosecutor in New York for eight years, specializing in narcotics and gang cases. I could not write these books without having loads of real life experience. It's there on every page -- from how the cops talk, to how the killers think, to what happens in the courtroom, to the politics and turf battles in a big city prosecutor's office. My books are realistic in a way that sets them apart, while still maintaining a sense of humor and mixing in lots of sizzling romance.
WN: What's the best part of being a writer to you? What's the most challenging part of writing for you?
MARTINEZ: Best part -- I get to work in my pajamas. No, seriously, the best part is being able to provide enjoyment and inspiration to people I've never even met. Whether it's a grandmother writing to tell me she stayed up all night and can't wait to hear what happens next between Melanie and sexy-as-hell FBI agent Dan O'Reilly, or a Hispanic teen e-mailing to say that my books give her confidence that she can become a lawyer, I feel like I get to touch people's lives. It's a great privilege and very special!
Most challenging part -- it can be lonely sitting at the computer day after day. Sometimes the people in the book start seeming more real than they should. I have been known to talk to them while working out dialogue!
WN: What's next for you as a writer?
MARTINEZ: I am hard at work on the fourth book in the Melanie Vargas series, "Notorious," which will be out in March '08. In "Notorious," Melanie is about to bring a famous rapper to trial on murder charges when his defense lawyer is assassinated before her eyes in a car bombing. What was already a challenging case morphs into a dangerous murder investigation with national security implications.
WN: What is the best/most influential book you have ever read and why did it inspire you?
MARTINEZ: When I was a kid, I lived in a tough neighborhood and as a consequence I spent a lot of time indoors reading. Some of my favorite books that really inspired me? "Little Women" by Louisa May Alcott, which is about overcoming hardship with the love and support of your family, and "To Kill A Mockingbird," which influences many young people to see law as an important and meaningful career path.
WN: What is your favorite word and why?
MARTINEZ: I love words like "hope" and "perseverance." I am a big believer in facing challenges with positive energy, and my books always have upbeat endings.
WN: What piece of advice helped you out the most as a writer?
MARTINEZ: To treat writing like a job rather than a hobby. If you want to get published, you have to put in the time and make the commitment to do your very best work.