Irene Hannon is a bestselling, award-winning author who has written more than 45 romance and romantic suspense novels. Her books have been honored with two RITA awards—the “Oscar” of romantic fiction—and she is a six-time finalist. Her books have also won a Daphne du Maurier award, a Carol award, two HOLT Medallions, a National Readers’ Choice Award, a Retailers Choice Award and two Reviewers’ Choice awards from RT Book Reviews magazine.
Irene, who holds a B.A. in psychology and an M.A. in journalism, juggled two careers for many years until she gave up her executive corporate communications position with a Fortune 500 company to write full-time. When not otherwise occupied, Irene and her husband enjoy traveling, Saturday mornings at their favorite coffee shop and spending time with family. They make their home in Missouri. Connect with her here.
NAW- When did your literary journey begin? At what age did you discover that you wanted to write?
I’ve always been a writer, from the day I was old enough to put words on paper. I truly believe writers are born, not made. Like any other talent, writing is a gift. You can hone it and develop it and improve it, but the basic ability has to be there.
NAW- Tell us about your books? Which one is your personal favourite?
That’s like asking a mother to pick her favorite child! I’ve written more than 45 romantic suspense and contemporary romance/women’s fiction novels, and each has its own place in my heart. I’d have to say, though, that “Against All Odds” is extra special because it launched my career in the romantic suspense genre and made me a bestselling author.
NAW- How do you do the research for your books?
Because I have a background in journalism, accuracy is crucial for me. I do extensive online and book research for all my novels, and I’ve also cultivated expert sources in a variety of fields. These are people who can answer questions specific to my story and who add the final ring of authenticity to my books. This is especially helpful in the suspense genre, where I’m often dealing with law enforcement situations. I have a retired FBI agent, a U.S. Marshal, police detectives and PIs who help me. But I’ve also worked with experts in other fields, including doctors, attorneys, pharmacists, chemists—even a cranberry farmer! By the time I finish a suspense book, I usually have more than 100 single-spaced pages of notes and research citations. For my contemporary romance/women’s fiction book, I have 60-70 pages.
NAW- Tell us about your newest work, “One Perfect Spring”?
“One Perfect Spring” is a story about how one simple gesture of kindness can have a ripple effect that brings hope and love to multiple lives. In the book, independent single mom Claire Summers is doing her best to make lemonade out of the lemons life has handed her. Workaholic Keith Watson is interested only in the bottom line—until a letter from Claire’s eleven-year-old daughter reaches his desk and changes everything. As the executive assistant to a philanthropic businessman, Keith is used to fielding requests for donations. But the girl isn’t asking for money. She wants help finding the long-lost son of a neighbor. As Keith reluctantly digs into this assignment in his usual results-oriented style, he has no idea how involved he and Claire will become—nor how unusual the results will be.
It’s a tender, touching, heartwarming story that will appeal to fans of New York Times bestselling author Debbie Macomber. In fact, she endorsed the book, saying, “I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. Irene Hannon is one great storyteller.”
NAW- What do you do when you are not writing?
Hmm…when am I not writing? Okay, seriously, I do try to maintain balance in my life. I love to spend time with family, travel and garden—and when my schedule permits I enjoy performing in community musical theater productions. I love to sing!
NAW- Did you face any trouble in finding publishers for your first book?
Yes! It took me a very long time to earn the published-author title—and it was a discouraging journey. The pile of rejection letters grew and grew and grew. But I never stopped making queries and sending out manuscripts. Most important, I never stopped writing. By the time I sold my first book, I had three finished manuscripts ready to go—and all of them sold.
NAW- Tell us about the marketing process for your books? Did you hire somebody or did it by yourself?
My publisher handles most of this for me—ads, blog tours, interviews, etc. But I do maintain an up-to-date website and I’m active on Facebook and Twitter.
NAW- Which writers would you name as literary influences?
I don’t know that I can single out any specific authors. I learn something about writing from every book I read—and I read broadly, across genres, with a critical eye. So many, many authors have influenced my development.
NAW- How many of your books have been translated into other languages? Were you always satisfied with the translation process or you felt it deviated from the original voice?
About a third of my books have been translated, including all of my newer, trade-length novels. My romantic suspense novels are especially popular in Germany, and Polish readers are particularly fond of my contemporary romance/women’s fiction books. As for the translation process itself—since I don’t speak any of those languages, I have no idea if the non-English versions of my books preserved my voice. I hope so!
NAW- Please name your 5 favourite books.
Impossible. I’ve read many, many wonderful books through the years, all special for different reasons.
NAW- What are your upcoming projects?
The final book in my Private Justice series, “Deceived,” will be out in October. I just signed a new contract for another suspense series called Men of Valor, which will debut in April 2015 with “Buried Secrets.” That contract includes more contemporary romance/women’s fiction, too—so I’ll be very busy for the foreseeable future!