Leslie Parrish is the pseudonym for multi-published, award-winning romance author Leslie Kelly. The author of more than thirty light, sexy contemporary romance novels, her new Leslie Parrish books are an exploration of her second genre love–dark suspense. Giving in to her dark side has been an exciting dream-come-true, and she hopes to be able to continue to walk the balance beam between sexy, light-hearted fun and dark, dangerous thrills.
Leslie lives in Maryland with her husband Bruce and their three daughters. To learn more about her alter ego, visit www.lesliekelly.com.
Q: You also write as Leslie Kelly. How on earth did you go from writing super-sexy, funny contemporary romances to such dark, gritty suspense?
A: I’ve always been an avid reader and have incredibly varied tastes when it comes to books. For all that I love funny romance authors like Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Jennifer Crusie, I’m equally wild about Stephen King and Peter Straub. Even something you love doing can get a little tiring eventually, so after writing more than thirty playful, sexy romance novels, I really wanted to try to challenge myself as a writer and explore the darker side of my imagination. And the Leslie Parrish books were born.
Q: Why did you decide to take a pseudonym?
A: My Leslie Kelly readers have been so wonderful to me, and I love writing the kind of books they enjoy reading. But these books are very different. While the core romantic element is there, instead of being couched in sexy humor, it is wrapped up in murder and darkness. I would really hate to have a reader pick up a book because it has my name on it, expecting a light, fun story, and get something that’s going to give them nightmares.
Q: Why the name Parrish?
A: I went through a number of name combinations, and ended up with this one because (as I jokingly told my new editor) many people are going to perish in my books. (PS: I did NOT know anything about Leslie Parrish, the Little Abner actress, until long after I’d contracted to do the books under this pseudonym.)
Q: What are the Black CATs books…romances? Thrillers? Mysteries?
A: These books are dark romantic-suspense novels. Possibly verging on romantic-thriller. But they definitely are romances at the core.
Q: How did you come up with the idea for the new series?
A: I came up with the idea for what was originally supposed to be book 1 (now titled Pitch Black, and now the 2nd in the trilogy) when I was reading about someone who’d gotten caught up in one of those Nigerian email scams and lost thousands of dollars. It stunned me that these silly emails I always ditch from my own in-box can actually suck people in. I began to wonder about the people who respond to them, how far they might go in an effort to “get-rich-quick” and pictured this nice, slightly gullible teenager actually getting himself killed over it. That was the starting point for the whole thing.
Q: Why did you decide to write about Cyber Action Team, rather than a group of standard FBI agents? Do you have computer experience or something?
A: There are a lot of FBI agent books, shows and movies out there, and I wanted to try something new and fresh. Giving each of the crimes in my books an Internet angle allowed me to explore some interesting possibilities. Real FBI Cyber Action Teams sound so exciting–small groups of experts who are whisked off to various places in the world at a moment’s notice to counter some threat. They’re a melting pot of agents with different backgrounds and different levels of expertise, which meant I could populate my books with characters who were richly developed and vastly different from one another.
And no, I don’t have much computer experience, but I was very fortunate to find Leo Notenboom, an extremely knowledgeable and helpful expert, to answer my questions at the drop of a hat. Be sure to visit him at www.ask-leo.com if you ever need computer advice or information!
Q: Do the books have to be read in order?
A: No, they completely stand alone in terms of the romantic relationship of the lead characters, and the individual case. And there aren’t a bunch of annoying “cameo” appearances by happy lead couples from previous books. That said, the books are probably more enjoyable if they are read in order. There are threads that go back to the beginning of book one, Fade To Black, that eventually become important all the way in book three, Black At Heart. I really liked having an over-riding story arc that winds through all three books and readers might enjoy seeing the way the characters change and develop throughout.
Q: Am I guaranteed a happily-ever-after with these books?
A: Each main couple will get a HEA and each central case will be resolved. But I can’t promise you’ll get all the answers at the end of each story, or that every character you get to know in book one is still going to be alive and well by the end of book three.
Q: Are you planning any more Black CATs books?
A: If this trilogy does well, I am absolutely interested in continuing with the series. There are several team members I’d love to write about. And, sadly, there are any number of ways the Internet can be involved in a murder case.
It all comes down to how well these books do. The fiction market is incredibly tough right now and publishers (even wonderful ones like mine) aren’t going to continue series that don’t perform really well right out of the gate. That’s why I so appreciate each and every one of you!
Q: How can I reach you?
A: Just click on ‘contact Leslie’ under the ‘about Leslie’ drop down menu at the top of the page.