Mal Olson is the author of Shadow of Deceit, a pulse-pounding romantic suspense from Wild Rose Press. Mal dropped by the virtual offices to discuss her book and her writing.
[Manga Maniac Café] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.
[Mal Olson] Optimistic, diligent, upbeat, wife, mother, grandmother, nurturer, friend, and author of adrenaline kicked romantic suspense.
[Manga Maniac Café] Can you tell us a little about Shadow of Deceit?
[Mal Olson] In Shadow of Deceit, FBI agent Tony Crazaniak risks his career when he collaborates with Shannon Riedel, a haunting young widow who’s desperate to prove herself and her husband innocent of diamond trafficking.
Shannon faces down danger when a gunman breaks into her office claiming her dead husband swindled him. Even though there’s a connection between Shannon and the terrorist who killed Tony’s Delta Force team three years ago, sexual heat sizzles between Tony and Shannon.
With danger surrounding them, two emotionally wounded souls bond, but can they put their demons to rest and trust in love? Can they survive long enough to find out?
[Manga Maniac Café] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?
[Mal Olson] I don’t remember exactly. But for me, the characters almost always come first, and the story evolves from them. Tony and Shannon evolved, along with their internal conflicts, over a series of revisions of this story. The final product ended up rich with compelling issues that drive the story.
[Manga Maniac Café] What was the most challenging aspect of writing the story?
[Mal Olson] Keeping the writing fresh while juggling all of the "writing balls"—realistic dialogue, characterization, scene-sequel, goal-motivation-conflict, show don’t tell, etc., etc., etc.
[Manga Maniac Café] What are three things Tony would never have in his pockets?
[Mal Olson] His silver star—the incident for which he received it only serves to fuel his guilt.
A picture of his Dad—he’s never been able to achieve his father’s approval.
A letter from home—there aren’t any.
[Manga Maniac Café] What do you enjoy most about romantic suspense?
[Mal Olson] Love on the brink of danger is where it’s at for me, Baby. Adrenaline kicked action keeps me turning pages both when I read and when I write.
[Manga Maniac Café] What are your greatest creative influences?
[Mal Olson] Good books, movies, songs, special locations, perhaps a good human interest news story. Then the twisting begins.
[Manga Maniac Café] What three things do you need in order to write?
[Mal Olson] My computer—words flow best when I’m at a keyboard.
To be physically and mentally organized. Yes, clutter always accumulates around my writing cave, but when it accumulates too much, it’s totally distracting.
Daily inspiration from reading something really well written.
[Manga Maniac Café] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?
[Mal Olson] It’s been so long ago I don’t remember. I do remember as a young adult, that a Janet Daily romance turned me onto reading the romance genre. One of my earliest favorites is Linda Howard’s Heart of Fire.
[Manga Maniac Café] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?
[Mal Olson] Read, jam with friends on the mountain dulcimer, travel, watch Sunday Packer games, hike in the nearby state forest, and spend time with my family and friends. Girls’ day out is a favorite time—lunch with my two daughters and my grand-daughter.
[Manga Maniac Café] Thanks!!
You can learn more about Mal by visiting her website.
Shadow of Deceit is available now! You can order a copy by clicking the widget below.
EXCERPT – Shadow of Deceit:
Shannon sat, stalled, her heart pummeling like prey snagged in an icy hunter’s trap.
Someone knocked on her window.
Heart in her throat, every muscle in her body tensed as she jerked her head toward the passenger side and looked through frosted glass into the face of Special Agent Tony Crazaniak.
Relief uncoiled the knot in her stomach. She’d never been so happy to see anyone in her life. She unlocked the door, and he opened it.
“Jesus, what the hell was that all about?” He dipped his head and plunked a snow-clogged foot onto the floor mat as he grabbed her bags and tossed them over the seat.
“I don’t know, and I wasn’t sticking around to find out.”
Cramming six-foot-plus inches of man into her Porsche was like stuffing two hundred pounds of prime beef into a picnic cooler. But he managed not only to squeeze in and make himself comfortable, he took charge.
“Traffic’s moving, go!”
She eased the accelerator, launching forward into an ice-jammed gridlock of traffic crawling west.
“You want to tell me what’s going on?” His shoulder brushed against hers when he shifted in the seat.
“I would if I had the slightest clue.”
His heat made her nerve endings prickle. And as far as telling him what was going on? The “would if I could” may not have been the entire truth, but it was close enough. Besides, she didn’t want to tell him anything. Yet.
What did she actually know?
Snow bunched on the windshield as the wiper blades plowed through thick gruel, as her brain churned, as she tried to come up with an answer the FBI operative would buy. “Obviously someone’s after me.”
“Obviously. But, who?”
“I don’t know.”
Snapping her head around, she glared at him. The full effect of his intense eyes sent heat waves rippling down her spine.
“No.” Cheeks blooming hot, she tugged her glance away and added, “No lovers.”
She felt his scrutiny slow-slide over her. The bloom that heated her cheeks spread down her neck.
“You ought to fix that,” said Tall-Dark-and-Scrumptious.
And the fact that she noticed that he was scrumptious flustered her. She wasn’t looking for…anything. Although, she could use his broad-shouldered, don’t-mess-with-me attitude and his FBI badge riding shotgun until she ditched the Lexus.
“Listen, I’m not…I mean…” What did she mean? “Not in the market…All I want is a guard dog until I lose the lunatic in the Lexus.”
He shrugged. “Can’t blame a guy for trying.” His smile slammed the scrumptious meter so high she heard bells ring, which made her reconsider her comfort level. She realized she would be safer, at least on an estrogen-to-testosterone level, without his massive presence and raw animal magnetism steaming up the Porsche’s windows.
Looking into the mirror, she couldn’t see the Lexus. She turned around and still couldn’t spot it. Even if it were there, it couldn’t pass four cars on Wisconsin Avenue on a good day, let alone in this snowy mess.
“On second thought, why don’t I pull over at the next light and you can hop out. If I want help, I’ll whistle.”
“I don’t think so.” He swiveled to look out the rear window, his mouth nearly brushing her cheek.
Too close. Too hot. Too dangerous.
She couldn’t pull over without getting stuck in the slushy excuse for a right lane, but that didn’t mean she couldn’t stop, and that he couldn’t let himself out.
When the line of traffic stalled again, she eased her foot on the brake and said with a prick of guilt over ditching him in calf-high muck, “End of the ride, Agent Crazaniak.”
He shook his head.
“I can make it home from here. Thanks for your concern.” Too bad he hadn’t worn boots.
He settled his broad shoulders against the seat.
“I no longer need your assistance.” She glanced over her shoulder again. “The Lexus is gone.”
“Not my style to leave a woman in distress.”
“Distress?” At the moment, he was the cause of her distress. All she wanted was to get rid of FBI Agent Tony Crazaniak.
Her attention snagged on the Tahoe in front of them, which attempted a jackrabbit start, fishtailed, and landed in a snow bank.
“Maybe when you get out, you could give the guy in the Tahoe a hand.”
“You need protection.”
She reached into the glove box and whipped out a gold lipstick tube. “I’ve got it.” Pepper spray. She waggled bouquet de Red Hot Chili Pepper at him.
“You need my protection.”
“How do I know you’re really an FBI agent?” She flipped off the top.
He eyed her small but effective weapon.
“Come on, Shannon, don’t mess around.” Raising his hands in surrender, he leaned away and grasped the door handle. “I don’t think you want to do that.”
“All I want is to go home. Alone…please.”
A nanosecond later, she found herself watching him stuff her pepper spray into his pocket. She didn’t know how the exchange had happened. Other than fast.
“Protective custody.” He patted his pocket. “I’ll get you home safely, and you won’t even have to whistle.”
Dear God, she was trapped in her car with a man who oozed so much male charisma she felt like she was drowning in testosterone.
“Seriously, how do I know your ID is legit? You could be an ax murderer for all I know.”
“You want to call the Bureau?” He offered his cell phone. “You can get the number from information. You wouldn’t want to trust a suspected mass murderer for the correct number.”
She rolled her eyes.
“It’s listed under Federal Bureau of Investigation. They’ll vouch that I’m a really nice guy.”
When she took the phone, his body heat clung to it and warmed her palm, irritatingly so. “Are you, really?”
“What, hiding an ax under my jacket?”
“No.” She scowled and thumbed in 411. It didn’t hurt to check him out. “Are you really a nice guy?”
“What do you think?”
She thought he wanted to interrogate her. And none of the nice guys she knew were pumped like Hercules. Rather than answering him, she spoke into the phone, “I’d like the number for the Federal Bureau of Investigation.”
The car behind them honked, and she turned her attention to driving and squeezed past the stranded Tahoe. While edging into the intersection, she concentrated on the snow squall, the taillights of the car ahead of them, and on memorizing the numbers the automated voice was reciting in her ear.
“Look out!” Crazaniak yelled as the Lexus materialized from the right, racing toward them. “The bastard must have turned off somewhere and circled around.”
“Jeez, he’s going to ram us!” Shannon dropped the phone and stomped the gas pedal. The tires whined and spun and finally dug beneath the slush. But when rubber found traction, the car catapulted forward too fast.
Her 944 swapped ends twice on the glazed surface and came to a dead stop in the middle of the intersection.
The Lexus revved its engine, its wheels pelting ice. Then rocketed toward them for a second attack.
Paralyzed, Shannon froze in terror. Every muscle in her body locked up. Static electricity lifted the hair at her nape. An image of the accident two years ago flashed through her mind.
“Hit the gas! Hit the gas!”