Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Jo Robertson and The Avenger

Today, I'm excited to welcome back to the blog my fantastic critique partner Jo Robertson. Jo's first romantic thriller, The Watcher came out in August and reached the Amazon Top 100 for Romantic Suspense!

SUPER CONGRATS! Please tell us a little about your second book, The Avenger.

JR: Thanks, Cindy, and thanks for inviting me back to your blog. The Watcher keeps moving in and out of that Amazon Top 100 List, but it's pretty exciting because I've never made a list before. It's my little fifteen minutes of fame!

AC: Previously, you told us the idea for The Watcher came from a psychology class you took. Where did you find the inspiration for The Avenger?

JR: I can't be absolutely sure where the idea came from. You know, we writers have brains that are more like warehouses than workshops, and all kinds of weird and strange stuff meanders around there firing up our synapses!

[NOTE: Aunty knows that all too well!]

JR: But I think I've always had a fairly strong grasp on religious ideologies and how they influence history. It's always been interesting to me that so many events – wars, in particular – are inspired by religious fervor. The Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, a Jihad. So I played with the idea of what motivates people who are deeply religious, but also are psychopathic killers. And I came up with the villain in The Avenger.

The title is a bit misleading because "The Avenger" is a term the killer applies to himself, but the hero, Jackson Holt, is also an avenger in the sense that he's trying to speak for the dead victims and repudiate the wrongs he's done himself while working for a secret organization over the years.

AC: I think the duality of the title is fascinating! Please tell us how this book is tied to your previous one, The Watcher, and your next romantic thriller, The Traitor.

JR: All three books are tied by setting to Bigler County, California, which is a fictional county based on the county where I live. It's nestled at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountain chain, and the sheriff is Ben Slater (the main protagonist in The Watcher). The books can all be read as stand-alone novels because the resolutions are settled in each book and the happy ending guaranteed for the hero and heroine.

In The Avenger Slater's and Olivia Gant's childhood friend is Jackson Holt, the hero. Something happened years ago when Jack "betrayed" them in a sense, but no one knew the full story. This book brings the issue to closure.

AC: You seem adept at creating very scary and memorable villains. Any idea why? Are they your favorite characters to create?

JR: Trust me, I've lain awake at night wondering why my villains speak so clearly to me. I may need a lot of redemption for my "thoughts" in the hereafter.

Just kidding, of course, but villains who are two-dimensional, flat characters have never appealed to me. I've always preferred the complex, rounded villains. I find it extremely interesting to discover what makes people turn out to be the kinds of folks they are, good or bad. Are we hard-wired a certain way or does environment really affect a person significantly?

AC: What is next for Jo Robertson?

JR: I'm nearly finished with the third book in the trilogy which introduces a new hero, Ashraf Hashemi, a DEA agent at odds with ADA Isabella Torres, who played a role in The Avenger. In The Traitor Isabella focuses on putting an end to human trafficking because she believes her beautiful older sister Maria, who disappeared on a graduation trip to Mexico years ago, was actually kidnapped and is alive. Rafe is looking at the same man, Diego Vargas, for instituting new drug trafficking routes in California.

I'm having fun bringing Vargas' lawyer/bodyguard, Gabriel Santos, back as a major player in this story.

[AC rubs her hands together with gleeful anticipation because Santos is a GREAT character!]

JR: After these three books have a chance to reach readers, I'm considering publishing my two historical suspense books, both inspired by real events. I hope readers will enjoy them.

Finally, I'll be returning to Bigler County for the fourth and last book in the not-trilogy (ha, ha), an untitled book which will actually be about Gabriel Santos, who's an interesting and complex villain with his own unique moral compass.

A question for the readers of today's blog: Do you enjoy seeing recurring characters in books, especially secondary ones who get their own stories?

Have you ever been fascinated enough by a "villain" that you'd like to see if he/she has a story of their own to tell?

What's your favorite fall dessert? Ha, gotcha!

Seriously, leave a good recipe for fall on Aunty Cindy's blog and I'll enter you in a contest to win a download of either The Watcher or The Avenger.


Kathleen O said...

Jo I was lucky enough to win a copy of your book The Watcher, I have not had a chance to read it yet, but I will get to it….really. And to know that there is a continuing book, just delights me…
I love to see the continuation of characters in a book… I love to know that those secondary characters are going to get their own stories and we readers want to know more about them, what makes them tick…

My favourite fall desert is any thing with pumpkin.. I make my own pumpkin bread. I am not Betty Crocker by any means, but I whip up a few batches. I will be making some this week, as it is our Thanksgiving in Canada this Monday… So lots of feasting will be going on..
Jo, I look forward to reading The Watcher and The Avenger too…

Thanks for a wonderful interview Aunty Cindy and Jo…

jo robertson said...

Hi, Kathleen, thanks for stopping by! Congratulations (again) on winning a copy of "The Watcher." I hope you'll enjoy reading it.

Ooooh, pumpkin bread, pumpkin pie, I'm so there with you! Do you have a specific special recipe? Anything with pumpkin in it shouts HOLIDAY! to me.

jo robertson said...

I didn't know Monday was the Canadian Thanksgiving! My calendar says we're celebrating Columbus Day that day too -- yay! a duel celebration.

Be sure to post that recipe. I want to compare it with mine!

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Morning Kathleen and Jo!

Thanx for the GREAT interview Jo, and the lovely eye-candy on the cover of the Avenger. ;-)

Kathleen, thanx as always for taking the time to drop by and comment. Sorry, I'm not a big fan of pumpkin, but I do like pumpkin bread. Can't wait to try your recipe!

I celebrated in Canada once -- totally by accident. Didn't know it was that Monday until it happened! I think I even blogged about it... if not here, then on Romance Bandits. :-)


Donnell said...

I loved The Watcher, and am so behind, I've yet to write a review. But 100 in Amazon, you obviously don't kneed my shove

I can't wait to read THE AVENGER. Anything written by Jo Robertson is on my Must Buy list.

Thanks Aunty Cindy for bringing us Jo today!

Loretta said...

I loved this interview, probably because like Jo, I'm drawn to the psychology of a "twisted" character. I also like for them to be more than two dimensional:)Both of her works sound like excellent reads:)
Now, as to the questions (I'm trying to remember all of them, it's been a few nano seconds,so of course they've drifted sideways in my head!:)
I like both secondary characters (I use strong secondary's in my writing also) and returning characters. To me, there's nothing so enticing as knowing you're going to see some of these folks again. (And if they're evil, well, you're just sure to read with the light on;) So write away Jo, stir the pot well!
Favorite fall dessert...probably pumpkin pie. I can't imagine fall without it!


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Morning Donnell!

I'm with you, anything by Jo Robertson *I* wanna read it! Of course I do have a slight advantage. Being her loyal CP means I get to read everything... FIRST! ;-)


Nancy said...

Jo, and Cindy, what a fun post! Jo, now I'm worried that your villains speak so clearly to you! *g*

I love recurring characters, and I love to see secondary ones step to the front. It's like visiting old friends.

I've never gotten that interested in the psyche of the villain, though. I thought the first Superman movie spent way too much time with Luthor's crew and the first Batman movie spent way too much time on the Joker's origins and twisted thinking (possibly because Gene Hackman and Jack Nicholson were way bigger names than Christopher Reeve and Michael Keaton. I want the villain to be three-dimensional and thus believable in his motivations, but beyond that, I don't much care.

Brenda said...

Hi Jo--

As you know from my review of THE WATCHER on, I'm a big fan.

So good to see you here. Anything with pumpkin is also my favorite. Might be time to make my famous pumpkin bread (okay, maybe it's not so famous, but I like it! LOL).

Anna (AJ) said...

Hey, Jo!! Sounds like everything's going ganbusters for your books! So happy for you! I have your books waiting on my Kindle as a reward for meeting writing goals . The new book sounds great!

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Hi Loretta,
Thanks for stopping by.

I love to see returning characters too. Just gives me a little thrill when I "recognize" them. :-)

Okay, if you create villains as creepy as Jo's, I might be a bit worried about you... just sayin'.

Another vote for pumpkin pie! I know I'm in the tiny minority of people who don't like it. Do you have a favorite recipe? Mine is see what's on sale at the grocery store! LOL!


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Morning Nancy and BIG THANX for swinging by from the Lair (where you have your own guest)!

Yes, sometimes I wonder where sweet lil Jo-Mama comes up with such twisted villains, but then, that's all part of being a "Boom!" girl, isn't it?!?!

And I TOTALLY AGREE with you about the first Superman and Batman movies. I don't think they could have lured Hackman or Nicholson to the projects otherwise... ;-)


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Hi Brenda!

Thanx so much for stopping by, and we'd LOVE to have the recipe for your famous (or INFAMOUS) pumpkin bread. Seems to be a fall favorite with lots of people!


Loretta said...

Okay, if you create villains as creepy as Jo's, I might be a bit worried about you... just sayin'.

Another vote for pumpkin pie! I know I'm in the tiny minority of people who don't like it. Do you have a favorite recipe? Mine is see what's on sale at the grocery store! LOL!
I'm back, couldn't resist the "yank" on my chain...(WG)
Ah, yes, my villains are a piece of work...and I do listen to them and all their ramblings. I don't necessarily "agree" with their viewpoint, but I do take notes...copious notes, they usually have a LOT to say:)
As for my punkin pie, honey chile, it's the recipe on the back of the Libby's can...OR...the best lookin' one the store has on display:)


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Hi Anna!
(Aunty waves at our lovely chaptermate!)

Get busy on meeting those goals. Jo's books are a wonderful reward! Would Aunty lie to you?!?! ;-)


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

LOL Loretta!
Glad you don't mind a little friendly chain yanking. ;-) And THANK GOODNESS you don't necessarily agree with those villains! For the record, I LURVE reading about them when they are "pieces of work!"

And YAY on buying the best looking pie on the store display! You are my kinda woman.

AC said...

Hi Jo!

Both books sound exciting - I've got them on my Xmas wsh list. Do I want to see villiana have their own books? Not so sure about that. Do I like repeat characters? Yes, if they're interesting (quite often the secondary characters are more interesting as secondary characters). My favorite fall recipe? Any fruit crisp, apple crisp, peach crisp, rhubarb crisp. Yummy stuff.

Good blog Jo and Cindy!


Anna Campbell said...

Waving madly at Jo and AC! Jo, what a fascinating idea for the background of The Avenger. And congratulations on hitting the top 100!!!!

jennifer tanner said...

Hola Jo & AC!

Can't wait to get my copy of "The Avenger"!

I love to read about reoccurring characters.

Fall desserts center around pumpkin. Pumpkin pie is my fave but pumpkin cream cheese bars come in a close second.

Congrats, Jo!

jo robertson said...

Thanks, Donnell, I appreciate your dropping by and I'm glad you enjoyed "The Watcher."

Got a fave fall recipe you want to share with us?

jo robertson said...

Hi, Loretta! Aren't those twisted characters fascinating? While they scare me to death, I always wonder how they got to be that way.

jo robertson said...

Nancy said, "I want the villain to be three-dimensional and thus believable in his motivations, but beyond that, I don't much care."

That's where I'm different, Nancy. I guess I want the reader to think, there but for the grace of God when they read about the villain. They have to hate them, but feel a certain pity for them too.

Hmm, maybe I should see a psychiatrist LOL!

jo robertson said...

Thanks, Brenda, for most the compliment and the review you gave "The Watcher."

Want to share your pumpkin bread recipe with us? I've eaten at your house and the desserts are always delish!

Ooooh, you know what? I want the recipe for the sugar cookies your daughter makes!

Jane said...

Hi Jo and Aunty Cindy,
I love it when secondary characters get their own book. It's always nice to revisit with past characters. Can't say I've ever been fascinated by a villain that much. Does Halloween candy count as an autumn dessert?

Jane said...

Jo, I forgot to mention that I just saw your name as a replacement winner on the Romance Dish for a Cathy Maxwell book.

jo robertson said...

Anna, thanks! I appreciate your buying the two books and hope you enjoy them.

Got a fave fall recipe you want to share? I'm dying for a good dessert LOL. But then I'm ALWAYS dying for dessert!

jo robertson said...

LOL, Aunty Cindy. I think I'm more a "boom inside the brain" gal!

jo robertson said...

Loretta said, "it's the recipe on the back of the Libby's can...OR...the best lookin' one the store has on display:)"

I'm with you there, girl! I always use that Libby's recipe if I make one from scratch, although I do like to make my own pie crust (I always add a bit more sugar to it, because, well there's no such thing as too much sugar, right?

If I'm behind on baking, I buy Marie Callander's pies. They all so yummy!

jo robertson said...

Hi, Jansenschmidt! Thanks for stopping by. It's always tricky for a writing to make a villain evil and good. Sometimes a hero can APPEAR bad, but there are some lines he can't cross and still turn out to be a hero.

Yes, returning secondary characters are fun. I find writing them interesting too even while the h/h are having their romantic romp LOL.

Wanna share a fave fall recipe?

jo robertson said...

Hi, Anna, fellow bandita. Thanks for swinging by.

I really enjoyed playing with that duality in "The Avenger."

Surely you have a fave recipe for us, maybe something totally Aussie?

jo robertson said...

Okay, Jen, you gotta share the recipe for pumpkim cheese bars. No far tantalizing us with the name and leaving us hanging!

jo robertson said...

Jane said, "Does Halloween candy count as an autumn dessert?"

Absolutely! What's your favorite kind?

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Hi Patricia (Jansen)!

I'd LOVE to have your recipe for peach crisp! Sounds YUM!

P.S. Everyone, Jansen will be a guest here on Aunty Cindy next week. Be sure to drop by!

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Hi Fo!
Thanx for swinging by from the Bandit Lair. Since you are in Oz, care to share a SPRING recipe with us?!?! ;-)


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Okay Jen, you MUST share the recipe for pumpkin cream cheese bars. Anything with cream cheese will get a BIG THUMBS UP from yer olde Aunty! :-)

And LOL, Jane! OF COURSE Halloween candy counts! Candy corn is a veggie, right? And I saw ghost and skull peeps at the grocery store yesterday. TOO FUN!


Theresa Ragan said...

Hi Jo, wow, love your covers and the Watcher and the Avenger sound amazing. Must get those right away! I have never read a continuation, but all four of my sisters look for books that are series before they hit buy.

There is not a fall dessert that I would turn down. I'm hungry now!

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Hi Theresa!

Thanx so much for dropping by. I don't seek out books that are part of a series, but they seem to be really popular.

NOT as popular as dessert! At least not for me. ;-)


jo robertson said...

Hi, Theresa, thanks for swinging by. You must be the same kind of sucker for desserts that I am. Cakes, pies, pastries, I'm down for all of it.

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

I love returning characters. I think it goes back to my beginning reading days with Jude Deveraux and Julie Garwood. It's like spending more time with a good friend. :)

You know I wish you lots and lots of sales, Jo. I feel like I've gone through a lot of your pain and now joy through SVR. You are really cookin' now and I am very proud of you and love to see your enthusiasm.



8 ounces mezzi rigatoni or short pasta (1/2 box)
1 14 ounce can artichoke hearts, rinsed and quartered.
1 9 ounce package frozen creamed spinach, thawed
¼ cup grated Parmesan (1 ounce)
2 cups grated Mozzarella (8 ounces)
Black pepper

Cook pasta according to the package directions, drain and return it to the pot. Heat broiler.

Add the artichoke hearts, spinach, Parmesan, half of the Mozzarella and ¼ teaspoon pepper to the pasta and toss to combine.

Transfer the mixture to a shallow 2 quart (or 8 inch square) broiler proof baking dish and sprinkle with the remaining Mozzarella.

Broil until the cheese is browned in spots. (2 to 3 minutes)

½ can Cream of mushroom/browned sausage can be added.

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

OMGOSH, Paisley!

That dish sounds WONDERFUL! Quick and PERFECT for a rainy fall day. I LURVE artichoke hearts. Thanx so much for sharing, and you know we are all wishing you the very best with your stories, too!