Wednesday, January 9, 2013


My guest is suspense/thriller writer, Colby Marshall. Her debut novel is a captivating story of an assassin with an agenda, a government in crisis, a dangerous web of lies and corruption, and as with all good stories—a touch of romance. Being the curious sort, I had some questions for Colby.
How has your own romance colored how you write romance in your stories? Or does it?

I laughed out loud at this question, because my first thought was, “Does your blog have a rating?”  Let’s just say between us girls that some of the love scenes…hmm.  I’d better plead the fifth.  My mom might read this post! 

All joking aside, my husband is actually a brilliant sounding board for my romances, simply because I do write from both female and male points of view.  When it comes to the violence in the story, I've heard many times that I write like a guy. What five-foot-one girl who owns more glitter than your average craft store doesn't have a thing for car chases and knife fights, right?  But when it comes to writing romance from a man’s point of view, I’m sometimes a bit too…tasteful.  My husband reads my work as I write, and he always reminds me to keep my voice in the right place when writing a male POV.

Well, I don’t have the glitter but I’ll admit I love fights, car chases, and action flicks and books 

  • You’re a dancer and choreographer. Do you design the dance composition of a piece, like the dance patterns and movements? I’m thinking of the routines they do with Dancing With The Stars?

Yep, that’s exactly what I do.  In fact, not too long ago I was one of the professional dancers for the Dancing Stars of Central Georgia, a charity event modeled after Dancing with the Stars that raised over $200k for the Central Georgia Alzheimer’s Association.  I was paired with a local celebrity, and I created a routine for us.  I trained him for eight weeks prior to the event, where we performed the samba to Lady Gaga’s “Telephone.”  I love flashy concepts and do a lot of choreography for theatres, so of course we dressed the parts as well, complete with glittery lightning bolts on our faces and crazily-teased hair.  What can I say?  The theatricality came out!

Wow! Sounds like a lot of work but fun, too!

I love to read a good thriller although writing one would be tough I think because all of the parts that have to come together to make the story flow and build tension.

  • What excites you about this genre?
Those things that have to come together are both the most challenging thing about writing thrillers as well as the thing that excites me most about them.  When I’m reading a thriller, I try to solve the puzzles as I go, and if a read keeps me guessing until the end and delivers a resolution that I believe, that author has made a fan for life in me.  That’s why when I’m writing a thriller, I will give myself headaches to make it more layered and complex: I hope to give readers that experience of not knowing what’s coming, but also the ability to read back and totally see how it was coming the whole time.  

  • How much do current events play into your writing? 

Current events (and past events) do often give me initial sparks of ideas.  CHAIN OF COMMAND first took root in my head when a few years ago, more women began to appear in campaigns for the White House.  The idea for the new thriller I’m currently working on started when I read about a recent high profile murder case.  My stories are never “based on a true” story type things, as they are entirely fictional, but I do tend to hear news items and think, “But what if that sort of a situation happened with a different twist?”

  • What do you like about McKenzie McClendon, the heroine of Chain of Command? What about Noah? 

McKenzie is fearless.  She might not know she’s fearless, but she is.  When she gets an idea in her head, she will chase it down, wrestle it to the ground, and beat it into submission no matter what.  I think her tenacity makes her a fun character to write.  As for Noah, I just love that he is a complete badass.  There’s no way around that phrase to describe him for me.  He’s the type who, in movies, sets off the explosion and walks away without flinching.  They’re both independent, but that mutual boldness is exactly why they bring each other to their knees where no one else can.     

What’s not to love about a badass like Noah?

  • Noah is a SEAL and proud of his training (and McKenzie has a rather negative view of SEALS)—what’s their common ground that allows them to work together? 

They definitely don’t have much common ground at all in the beginning.  They end up working together because each has an ulterior motive: Noah plans to use McKenzie to get out of a sticky situation, and McKenzie thinks she can use Noah for a career-making story.  Unfortunately for both of those well laid plans, as they hunt for the truth, the two of them find out the other is a real person and not just a tool to be utilized.

  • Now that you’re a new mother how has this impacted on your writing time? 

Balancing a new baby and writing time is a feat.  Sometimes I do it quite literally: I balance the baby on my lap to feed her with one arm and pluck out keystrokes with the other.  The biggest impact on my writing time is that now it is not guaranteed.  When I get settled in to write, I know at any moment I could be interrupted.  A chunk of writing here and there as I can grab it has to work, where before I would make sure my writing environment was more controlled.  Basically, I have had to become one with the chaos.  Luckily, I’m good at multitasking.  (Birthday cake ice cream helps, too.)

  • How has being published changed your life? In what ways? 

It’s an interesting change, for sure.  Mostly, I've noticed how things that would before have seemed so “out there” now feel like just part of a running machine.  Recently, I missed a phone call that a few months ago I’d have scheduled my entire day around.  I wasn't able to return the call that day because I was in between TV spots to promote the book, which felt crazy!  I've had people I've been friends with for years ask if they could possibly “get me to autograph” a book for a friend of theirs.  I always want to say, “Are you kidding?  I love signing books!”  I always tell them of course but laugh and say, “But I do hear if you can find a copy that isn't signed, it’s worth an absolute fortune.” 

  • What’s coming next from Colby Marshall? 

I’m currently editing the next book in the McKenzie McClendon series, which is about a surgeon providing infants for the black market baby trade.  McKenzie needs an angle on this story to keep her job—and her home.  When her high school sweet heart tips her off that his wife may have been one of the victims, she launches a frantic search to find the killer and her ex’s son.  I’m also working on a new series about a forensic psychiatrist with graphemeàcolor synesthesia—a form of synesthesia in which an individual's perception of numbers and letters is associated with the experience of colors. One half of a vicious team of killers is caught, and she uses her unique gift to hunt down the mastermind still at large.

Hmm, how soon did you say I can read these? I'm looking forward to getting my hands on these!

Colby, thank you for taking  time, out of a very busy life, to answer my questions and sharing a bit about your other loves. 
  • A publisher's ARC copy is up for grabs for a lucky commenter today.


The road to the Oval Office is paved in blood… 

The simultaneous assassinations of the President and Vice President catapults the Speaker of the House into the White House as the first female President of the United States. Evidence points to a former Navy SEAL as one of the assassins.

Relegated to writing sidebar stories instead of headlines, journalist McKenzie McClendon composes a scathing story about the Navy training killers, igniting the fury of the alleged assassin’s former partner.

Former Navy SEAL Noah Hutchins doesn’t believe his partner could have committed the heinous crime. They’d endured the horrors of Afghanistan together. His buddy was a hero, not a murderer. 

No one who knows the truth is safe… 

Thrown together in a search for the truth—and a career-making story—McKenzie and Noah must unravel a dangerous web of lies that includes a radical foreign faction, a violent ultra-feminist group, and corrupt politicians willing to kill to keep their secrets. And an assassin who is still on the loose. 

His next targets are already in his crosshairs…Excerpt

  •  A publisher's ARC copy is up for grabs for a lucky commenter today.


~Sia McKye~ said...

Colby, welcome to Over Coffee. It's great to finally see the book I've heard so much about!

Loved the pictures of your Dancing With The Stars production. You look so pretty and vibrant. Thanks for sharing them.

readwriteandedit said...

Colby, this sounds like an awesome story. I love a strong hero. And I think it's great that your husband helps you out, reminds you that guys think differently from women. Good luck with the book.

Kat Sheridan said...

I love, love, LOVE this book! Colby's dance background definitely comes through in the fight/action scenes. They feel so REAL. This book just grabbed me by the throat and never let go for the whole mad whirlwind ride of it. And what can I say about Noah? Oh, my. Yes. And her villain will give you nightmares.

colbymarshall said...

I tried to post these earlier and somehow they didn't make it through! Yipes!

Sia- thank you! I hope you enjoy the book. The Dancing Stars event was lots of fun, and I'm looking forward to doing it again this May!

readwriteandedit- thank you. I hope you'll enjoy the characters. I did get quite lucky in the husband department, I think! ;-)

Kat- sometimes I wonder what it would be like to dance with Noah. What can say? I think the man would probably have some moves!

Jo said...

Looking forward to reading it.

Good interview Sia.

Other Lisa said...

Great interview, as always, Sia! And many congratulations, Colby! I'm super-interested in the dance angle and how that might affect your writing -- I find that musicality and rhythm are aspects of "voice" that are really important to me, and you don't hear them discussed much.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Interesting thoughts Lisa! I think that musicality would lend itself to the flow and pace of a story. I know it works well in getting fight scenes down.

John Philipp said...

Sia, excellent interview. Lisa, I look forward to reading your book. If Ken liked it, that's good enough for me. He's hard to please (except for his own novels :)

Also, I will be very interested in seeing how you treat graphemeàcolor synesthesia as a writer. My head hurts already thinking how I'd explain what's in the person's mind.

colbymarshall said...

Hope you like it, Jo!

Lisa, I definitely feel like choreography experience plays a big role in my action scenes, but I haven't really ever considered the way dance affects writing. Now that you mention it, though, I do tend to write to particular rhythms in the background while I write, be it music or a movie, etc. When writing or editing, I find that I get downright stalled if I haven't chosen JUST the right music or movie to play as white noise, because it will distract me rather than lend itself to the writing.

Thanks for your interest, John. Writing the grapheme-->color synesthesia is tough, but I do have the advantage of actually having that particular disorder, which is one reason I decided to write about it. That said, you're very right that it's tough to put into words, and the manuscript has really challenged me to take something I just kind of naturally do and try to explain how it "works" to others, which is quite fun in many ways!

~Sia McKye~ said...

Colby,I had to look it up. When I saw it I said, huh? *scratching my head.*

Perhaps seeing a character and their actions would give a better sense of it.

colbymarshall said...

Sia, I didn't know it had a name (or was even a phenomenon known to anyone but me) until a few years ago. I told someone about how I do that (associate things with colors), and they said, "Oh! That's actually a natural phenomenon/condition." It blew my mind! I just thought I was weird.

Mason Canyon said...

Sia, great interview. Thanks for the introduction to Colby.

Colby, your take on suspense/thrillers with a touch of romance are intriguing. Wishing you much success.

Thoughts in Progress

Unknown said...

This a good book. It cut my writing time by a lot until I finished it.

Kat Sheridan said...

Colby, YOU have grapheme-->color synesthesia? I have a sis with that (she sees numbers and letters as colors). Sounds fascinating! As does the one about the baby trade! OK, I'll just have to add your work to my "auto buy" list.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Dale, it must have been good for it to cut into YOUR writing time!

colbymarshall said...

Thank you so much, Mason!

I'm honored to have cut into someone's writing time. What a lovely compliment! :-)

I do. I tend to associate numbers, letters, people, days of the week, months of the year, books, characters, and a variety of other things with colors. Soemtimes I'll refuse to use a notebook to take notes on a book if it's the wrong color (i.e, not the one I associate with the manuscript) because it just doesn't look right and confuses me.

colbymarshall said...

The winner of the drawing for the copy of the book is John Phillip! Please contact me at with your address so that I can send the copy your way!