Fatal Judgment, Guardians of Justice Series #1Fatal Judgment, Guardians of Justice Series #1
Irene Hannon
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U.S. Marshal Jake Taylor has seen plenty of action during his years in law enforcement. But he'd rather go back to Iraq than face his next assignment: protection detail for federal judge Liz Michaels. His feelings toward Liz haven't warmed in the five years since she lost her husband--and Jake's best friend--to possible suicide. How can Jake be expected to care for the coldhearted workaholic who drove his friend to despair?

As the danger mounts and Jake gets to know Liz better, his feelings slowly start to change. When it becomes clear that an unknown enemy may want her dead, the stakes are raised. Because now both her life--and his heart--are in mortal danger.

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Irene Hannon Irene Hannon is the author of more than 25 novels, including the CBA bestsellers Against All Odds, An Eye for an Eye, and In Harm's Way. Her books have been honored with the coveted RITA Award from Romance Writers of America, the HOLT Medallion, and the Reviewer's Choice Award from Romantic Times BOOKreviews magazine. She lives in Missouri. she enjoys singing, long walks, cooking, gardening, traveling, and spending time with family. She and her husband make their home in Missouri.

 Favorite Verse: Matthew 6:21  For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.

Visit Irene Hannon in our Writers Corner


 Christianbook.com Interview with Irene Hannon


Please tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m a former communications executive with a Fortune 500 company who now writes full time and loves every minute of it! I live in Missouri, where I sing, take long walks, read and garden in my spare time. I have a B.A. in psychology and an M.A. in journalism, and my books have been honored with a number of awards, including the RITA and Daphne du Maurier. I’m also married to my very own romantic hero!

How did you get started writing Christian fiction?

When I began writing novels 20+ years ago, there was very little Christian fiction in the marketplace. And to be honest, I wasn’t familiar with the genre. I just wanted to write books that featured values consistent with my beliefs. That meant no graphic sex, gratuitous violence or four-letter words. As Mary Higgins Clark has said, you don’t need those to tell a good story.

Because my books reflect a Christian worldview, they have been classified as Christian fiction. And I’m honored to be part of a genre that is home to a rich and diverse spectrum of thought-provoking and entertaining novels.

How did you come up with the concept for Fatal Judgment?

Fatal Judgment is Book 1 in my new Guardians of Justice series. In my first series, Heroes of Quantico, I featured the FBI and its Hostage Rescue Team. In this series, I wanted to focus on three siblings who are involved in justice-related professions. In doing some initial research, I became intrigued by the U.S. Marshals Service and decided the first brother would be a deputy marshal. As I delved deeper into the kinds of situations they deal with, I discovered the sovereign citizen movement—and found my plot. What’s interesting is how timely this turned out to be, considering that public sentiment has shifted against big government, higher taxes and increased public spending, and that there are growing concerns about the government taking liberties with the Constitution.

How much of Fatal Judgment is factual?

The story is completely fictitious, but because I do painstaking research and work closely with law enforcement personnel and experts in other fields, the factual parts of the story are accurate. With this book, I worked with a U.S. marshal, a judge, an attorney, a former FBI agent and other authorities. So the legal, judicial and law enforcement details are real. And so is the sovereign citizen movement!

How closely is Fatal Judgment based on your life experiences?
It’s not—happily! As part of my research early in my suspense career, I attended the local citizen police academy. That included a white-knuckle ride-along with a patrol officer who responded (at very high speeds!) to a burglary call and a domestic violence incident. As I discovered, I much prefer my suspense between the pages of a book—not up close and personal!

How long did Fatal Judgment take you to complete?
I didn’t track the exact time, but I always allow at least nine months for a book of this length and complexity as I have to juggle commitments from two different publishers.


Do you have a favorite character in Fatal Judgment? Why?

I love Jake, my hero. He’s strong but sensitive, able to admit when he’s wrong, and goes to extremes to protect the people he loves. He’s the kind of guy you’d want on your side in a dicey situation. I also connected with Liz, my heroine. She’s smart, savvy and a survivor, but she’s dealing with a lot of angst over the choices she’s made in her life. She’s the kind of thoughtful person you’d want for a friend. And I was thoroughly intrigued by my villain, who is a fascinating study in contradictions.

How much research did Fatal Judgment take?

Lots! As I mentioned earlier, I’m a stickler for accuracy, so I invest a huge amount of time in research. I’ll sometimes spend an hour on the internet checking and double-checking a tiny detail that might end up only being a sentence or two in the story.

What was the most interesting tidbit that you learned while writing Fatal Judgment?

I learned so many interesting things it’s hard to pick just one. But learning about some of the tactics of the sovereign citizen groups—including their use of red crayons to circumvent the law (you’ll have to read the book to find out more!)—was fascinating.

What are some of the challenges you face as an author?
Maintaining balance is probably my biggest challenge. Writing can very easily become an obsession for me, and success can feed that. For a while, I was writing twelve-plus hours a day and on weekends. I’ve now made a conscious effort to scale that back and make time for other things. In fact, last summer I indulged one of my other passions by playing the leading role in a community musical theater production of Anything Goes!

What was your favorite book(s) as a child?

I loved the Nancy Drew books. All of them. Those are the earliest books I remember, though I did have a whole collection of Golden Books as a child. I recently passed those on to my young nieces, and considering their threadbare condition, they were all well-loved and much-read!


What aspects of being a writer do you enjoy the most?

The polishing process. In fact, that’s how I start every writing day—by polishing what I wrote the day before. It gets my creative juices flowing and immerses me in the story again. That’s when my writing really begins to sing for me. The basics are there, but massaging the words, rearranging them for better flow, punching up the dialogue—that’s lots of fun!

What is your writing style?   (Do you outline?  Write “by-the-seat-of-your-pants?   Or somewhere in-between?)

Somewhere in between. I have a good sense of my characters and the basic flow of the story, as well as the ending, when I begin. But individual scenes come to me as I write, as do the details of the story.

Do your characters begin to take on a life of their own as you write?

Absolutely! I learn about them as I go, and they begin to reveal details to me that I then work into the story. In Fatal Judgment, I didn’t know that one of my characters made killer cannoli until I got to that scene. Nor did I know that Liz, my heroine, always took a daily walk. Or that Jake called his kid sister Twig. It’s as much fun for me, as the writer, to discover all these little details as it is for the reader to learn about them!

What other new projects do you have on the horizon? 
Book 2 in the Guardians of Justice is now in production. That will be released in September. And in February, I’ll have a new contemporary romance out from Steeple Hill, Child of Grace. Meanwhile, I’m hard at work on Book 3 in the Guardians of Justice series and planning a new series called Starfish Bay for Steeple Hill.

What message would you like your readers to take from Fatal Judgment?

My main goals with every book I write are detailed below.  With this series, I’m also trying to highlight the incredible gift of a loving family.

What is your greatest achievement?

In terms of my career as a novelist, winning the RITA award (the “Oscar” of romantic fiction) and having all three of my Heroes of Quantico books make both the CBA and ECPA bestsellers lists top the list.


What is your goal or mission as a writer?

It’s threefold. First, I try to entertain. People need wholesome ways to unwind in today’s stressful, fast-paced world, and I do my best to create books that help them put aside their cares for a few hours. Second, I want to leave people with hope; with a belief that no matter how tough life gets, a happy ending is always possible. And finally, I want people to close the last page with a better appreciation for the tremendous power of love to change lives.

What do you do to get away from it all?

I love to sing, and I participate in community musical theater productions whenever my schedule permits. I also enjoy taking long walks, gardening, visiting with family and spending time with my husband.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

I’ve been very, very gratified by reader response to my debut suspense series, Heroes of Quantico, and I’m delighted to be introducing Guardians of Justice. To all of the readers who gave me a try, thank you! I invite everyone to visit my website, www.irenehannon.com, for more information about my books, and I encourage you to write me with comments. My e-mail address is on my website, and I do read—and respond—to every single e-mail.


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