Lisa: I think one of the appeals of my detective, D.D. Warren and CJ’s FBI agent Lucy Guardino, is that they face real world issues readers can relate to. So, on the one hand, maybe our readers haven’t tracked down a serial killer lately. On the other hand, having a job with demanding hours, or missing their kid’s soccer game yet again, or falling in bed exhausted every night from all the stresses of the day, hits close to home.
CJ: I agree. I think most women these days are struggling to have it all—and somehow that seems wrong. It’s not an either/or question. If you don’t “have it all” (whatever “all” means!) it doesn’t mean that you’ve failed in any way. I love that both D.D. and Lucy sometimes screw up the whole work/family teeter-totter balance, but they never give up.
One of my favorite scenes from your "Fear Nothing" was when the bad guy is threatening D.D.’s family and all she wants to do is go after him, but she’s torn because she also needs to take care of her family—and herself, since she’s wounded. I think so many women forget that important bit--including Lucy, this is where she’s always screwing up, putting herself last and then running out of strength right when she needs it most.
What I loved about the scene in "Fear Nothing" was that D.D. is all bristling Xena Warrior Princess and yet is so worried about how powerless she feels bringing this evil into her home, and Alex simply takes her hand and moves to stand beside her, shoulder to shoulder. I so loved that solidarity. It said it all about their relationship.
Lisa: Opposites attract. When D.D. is maimed and can’t return to work, she’s forced to really deal with the household, her own insecurities and her own vulnerabilities. Naturally, she’s terrible at it. Alex, on the other hand, is brilliant at coaxing her through, and trying to get her to understand that patience really can be a virtue.
CJ: I love how both D.D. and Lucy are just as passionate about their jobs and victims they protect as they are their families.
But sometimes you have to make a choice, as Lucy does in "After Shock". I set it up so she’s in a no-win situation. Any decision she makes is going to be the wrong one and put both her family and her career at risk. She faces the kind of dilemma that I love torturing characters with: is it okay to do all the wrong things for all the right reasons?
Lisa: I love the whole Machiavellian concept of does the end justify the means. On the one hand, if the rules don’t matter, what’s the point of being a cop? On the other hand, when a killer breaks into her home in "Fear Nothing", D.D.’s not thinking so much about legal boundaries, as she’s considering doing anything and everything possible to stop this threat to her family. Preferably with three shots to center mass.
CJ: I think, unlike some thriller characters who have bullets bouncing off them, creating characters like Lucy and D.D. who are real and vulnerable and fallible allows readers to still enjoy the vicarious thrill and entertainment while also providing some thought-provoking moments. I love making my readers pause and think: what would I do if this happened to me or my family?
Lisa: Right. I think we’re all drawn to that thrill of wondering what would we do? If our family was threatened? If a serial killer were stalking us?
Also, one of the big appeals of suspense is that even the darkest story line is ultimately about empowerment and closure. Our characters not only consider how to outsmart a killer, they do it. Using their own wits and determination and sheer grit. And that’s fun to read about. You want the good to win, the strong to survive. Then, as a reader, you turn that final page and get to sleep well at night. Welcome to the value of great entertainment!