Ashley: I’m joined by Lisa Harris author of the Southern Crime series. If you’re a fan of romance, but need that twist of suspense to keep the pages turning, then Hidden Agenda is the right read this spring. Lisa Harris continues her exciting Southern Crime series with the third installment Hidden Agenda. I had some time to sit down and ask Lisa some questions about her new book and about her as an author. Lisa how did you come up with the idea for this series?
Lisa: Like with most of my books, they start with a character. In this series, that was Avery North. At first, all I knew is that she was a single mom and a police officer, but I knew I had to tell her story. A brainstorming session with a group of authors helped me further develop the series that eventually came to revolve around the Hunts, a family from Atlanta who has served their country through the armed service or police department for generations. Despite conflicts that arise between them, they are very close knit, and when it comes to fighting injustice, they stick together and do whatever it takes to stop that injustice.
Ashley: Who are Hidden Agenda’s main characters?
Lisa: I really had fun writing Michael and Olivia’s story in Hidden Agenda, primarily because their stories were different from anything I’ve written. They are two people who come from opposite worlds who end up having to work together to stay alive. Michael’s the son of a former Police Captain and an undercover detective. Olivia’s father is part of a South American drug cartel and wants Michael dead. But despite their mistakes, they both are after the same thing. The truth.
Ashley: I promise these two characters’ stories deliver on the promises of romance and suspense. Lisa, in three sentences what is this book about?
Lisa: For the past eight months, Michael’s family has thought he was dead, but the undercover assignment he’s been working on has just been blown. With a contracted hit on his life by the cartel and not knowing who he can trust in the police department, Michael finds himself on the run from both the cartel and the law with the daughter of the man who wants him dead, Olivia Hamilton.
Ashley: Lisa what are the Biblical threads woven into the series?
Lisa: Overall, I’d say it’s a call for us to realize our own weaknesses and fears and to in turn learn to rely only on God’s strength. Each main character in this series is pulled out of his or her comfort zone to a place where they have to turn to God.
Ashley: Do you prefer to outline the entire series, or do you write as you go letting the characters take control of the story?
Lisa: A little of both, but for the most part I spent a lot of time staring at a pile of sticky notes in order to bring the story together. ☺ The plots of each individual story, and then the three books together as well, are woven pretty tightly, so that forced me to stay organized. But there were also a few surprises along the way as some of the characters took over!
Lisa: I love it when the characters take over. Heavily outlined books that don’t give into the characters’ personalities can seem predictable. I can imagine your characters’ surprise moments only increased the suspense for the books. Did you do any certain research for your books?
Lisa: I spent hours doing research on everything from the setting (Atlanta and the Georgia coastline), to drug trafficking, to bomb squads. I love the research part of writing and too often find myself having to stop or I’d never get any books written!
Ashley: As a reader I appreciate a well researched book. Can you give us a hint at your next project?
Lisa: I just turned in book one of a brand new series to my editor at Revell. It’s about a newly established missing person task force, and this first one is set around the Smoky Mountains. Like the last series, this one took tons of research—everything from rappelling, to poaching, to mobile command posts—but I really enjoyed that part of the writing.
Ashley: Sounds like you invest a lot of time in writing. Are you a full time writer?
Lisa: No. For the first time in seven years, though my role as ‘mom’ has changed. I’ve been a homeschooling mom until just a few months ago when the last of my kids went off to attend a missionary boarding school. It’s been an adjustment, but thankful, I have plenty to keep myself busy with as I’m still writing, am involved in our women’s ministry, and run a non-profit called The ECHO Project that helps meet people’s physical needs where we live here in Mozambique.
Ashley: Thanks for sharing about Hidden Agenda all the way from Mozambique and thanks for serving for the Kingdom there. You can learn more about Lisa Harris from her website lisaharriswrites.com, like her on her facebook and keep up with her tweets @heartofafrica