Friday, November 7, 2008

A Taste of Spy Candy

by Nancy Northcott

Today we welcome Kensington author Gina Robinson into the lair. Gina's celebrating the release of her first novel, Spy Candy. A two-time Golden Heart finalist and a Pacific Northwest Writers Association finalist, Gina will discuss Spy Candy and the long road that brought her to its publication. Welcome, Gina! Tell us a little about your hero and heroine.

Jenna, the heroine, is kind of a librarian archetype. She’s a cautious, conservative banker who doesn’t see herself as attractive. But on the inside, she longs for adventure and has a real thing for all things James Bond and spying. That’s why her best friend gives her a fantasy vacation to spy camp.

Torq, the hero, is an adventurer. He’s one of the instructors at the spy camp and the farthest thing from cautious and shy.

They don't seem to be natural allies. How do they clash at spy camp?

No, they aren’t. At first, Torq just shakes his head at Jenna’s cautious nature and na├»ve ineptitude during the spy training exercises. He really pushes her to the limits.

Jenna’s actually a little afraid of Torq and his confidence and sex appeal, while at the same time, longing to be more like him.

What draws them together?

Raw animal magnetism! But seriously, at heart, they’re both adventurers. Jenna just needs to realize it.

Here's an excerpt:

Making sure I had his full attention, I slowly unzipped the jumpsuit. Down to the tops of my fake breasts. Pause.

His pen stilled.

Zip. Over the girls, past the hips, down to the crotch. I gave one shoulder a shimmy shake sending the silicone girls bouncing as I stripped the jumpsuit off one shoulder. Then the next. I’d watched Logan’s strip aerobics DVD a time or two and it was coming in handy now as I worked up to the grand finale.

I gave my bottom a healthy wiggle as I scooched the overalls past my hips and stepped out of them, one elongated leg at a time.

His gaze was glued to my crop top. When I looked down, I realized it was plastered with sweat against my body in much the same way as a wet T-shirt clings. I kicked the coveralls into the corner and stepped directly in front of him, feigning trying to get a glimpse of my chart. In reality, I was just giving him a better look down my blouse.

“Hey, you were a real trooper.” His tongue was thick on his words. He was looking down at me. I was looking up at him, standing way too far into his personal space. “Five times isn’t bad. Great big, brave policemen don’t do any better.”

Our gazes locked.


He cleared his throat. “You probably better send the next CT in.”

“You’re probably right.” I reluctantly stepped back and turned to leave. I paused at the door to call to him. “Bet no one else is as good as me.” I winked and raced out, giving him a wave over my back, being careful not to turn and let him see the big, fat grin on my face. Let him figure me out.

Tell us about your road to publication.

I waited twelve years for the call. Nearly exactly. I made my first submission in late August of 1995 and got the call on October 4, 2007. During those twelve years I received hundreds of rejections. Along the way, I made every mistake known to writerdom. I started out writing Western historical romance. Just as I began to submit, the bottom fell out of that market. I beat my head against that door for awhile before I gave up and switched to contemporary, then chicklit and that market died. As you can tell, I had great market timing . Finally I wrote romantic suspense.

Back in 1995, there was no internet, not for the general populace, anyway. But as soon as I made that first submission, I just knew New York would be calling me, or maybe even faxing me. Faxing was big back then. Important things were faxed. So even though money was tight, my wonderfully supportive husband bought me a fax machine. I put it on my writing desk...and waited. It was lovely. Very high tech for the times. I liked staring at it and dreaming of the fax that would be coming any day. I started with anticipation whenever it roared to life or the phone rang. Sadly, the only faxes I ever got were a few junk ones and messages from my family and friends. Eventually that first rejection came in the mail, followed by many, many more.

Fast forward twelve years, much jaded cynicism and many close calls later. The fax machine is now in the garage, awaiting antique status. My agent called me on October 3rd. That conversation went something like this:

She said something to the effect of, “Great news! We have interest in the book.”

Me, “Interest?”

Her, “Yes. We have an editor who wants to buy the book. He just has to take it to the editorial committee.”

Me, *heavy internal sigh* I’m thinking to myself, yeah, we’ve been here too many times before. Call me when something interesting happens. Aloud to her, without much enthusiasm, “That’s great.”

Her, sensing my lack of enthusiasm. “You don’t understand. This time the Editor In Chief wants to buy.”

Me, still skeptical, not wanting to hope. “When do you think we’ll hear for sure?”

Her, “A week or two.”

Me, thinking to myself, “That’s agent-speak for months. We’ll be lucky if we hear by the end of the year.”

Less than twenty-four hours later, my agent called me back with an offer. I was so stunned, I could barely speak. My reaction was so understated, she had to ask me if I was happy. You know how we always wonder about ourselves and how we’d react in certain situations? I used to ask myself the eternal question, “If I was on a game show, would I be one of those bouncy, jump-up-and-downers? A crier, maybe?” Now I knew--I was a deer-in-the-headlights. After I hung up, then I started screaming and punching the air in victory with tears of joy flowing down my cheeks. I’m just sorry my agent didn’t get to see all that. Fortunately, I got a chance to tell her later how happy I really was.

That's a wonderful testament to the value of persistence. What's next for you?

My second book, another humorous romantic suspense, will be a December 2009 release from Kensington. Right now, we’re still searching for the perfect title for it. It’s another spy camp story set at a different camp with a completely new cast of characters.

Gina will be be signing books at the Southcenter Borders in Tukwila, WA on Saturday, November 15th from 1PM to 3PM. For more information about Gina and her work, visit her website,

What do you like about spy novels? What's your favorite? Have you ever wanted to try your hand at the spy trade, just for a little while? Gina's giving away a copy of Spy Candy to one commenter chosen at random today.


Helen said...

Is coming to OZ

Have Fun

jo robertson said...

Great interview, Nancy and Gina, and welcome to the Lair, Gina. I love, love, love the title SPY CANDY. Was that the original one?

Can you tell us something more about your Dec 09 release?

Helen, yay you! Have fun with the chook in Oz!

Helen said...

The GR and I are going to have a quiet night in reading and probably eating Tim Tams

Great interview Gina and Nancy this books sounds really good congrats on the release Gina persistance paid off way to go I love the call story.

I love spy stories I have read a lot of Regency ones and they get me in from the start I really enjoy a book that has suspense and lots of romance and intrigue I can't seem to put them down and I have read a lot of contempary romantic suspense over the past year and have really enjoyed them this is another book I will be adding to my must get list.

Congrats on the release

Have Fun

Minna said...

Great interview!

Miljoonasade: Marraskuu (November):

Natalie Hatch said...

I love spy stuff. Actually my favourite spy/assassin is John Rain the character in Barry Eislers' books RainFall etc etc.
There's just something interesting about a guy who can sneak into a place do what he has to do and then disappear.

flchen1 said...

Ooh, how very fun! Thanks for taking the time for the interview, Gina, and congrats on Spy Candy! Hooray for you hanging in there until the Call! :)

I haven't read any good spy stuff recently, but always thought Alias was such a fun show to watch--the costume-wearing, high-kicking dramatics! (Probably nothing at all like real-life spy life, but still entertaining ;)) And Chuck makes me giggle, too...

Congrats on the GR, Helen! He always heads straight for the Tim Tams and books! :)

Jane said...

Welcome Gina,
Congrats on the release of your debut novel. I love spy stories. Although I never read Ian Fleming's Bond novels, I love the movie adaptations. My favorite spy stories include Stephanie Laurens' Bastion Club series, Andrea Pickens' Merlin trilogy and Jenna Petersen's Lady Spies series.

Congrats on the GR, Helen.

Minna said...

Have you ever wanted to try your hand at the spy trade, just for a little while?

Robbie Williams:Millennium

Minna said...

But I do love reading about spies.

limecello said...

Great interview, ladies! You know, I don't think I've read many spy novels - which is interesting. I LOVE Bond - and isn't he the quintessential spy?
I think it'd be really fun to play a spy in a movie ;) then you'd get all the glitz and glamor with very little of the real danger. [I seem rather cowardly, don't I?]
Playing with the idea is nice, though, isn't it :P

PJ said...

Welcome, Gina and congrats on the release of SPY CANDY! One more book to add to my already sky-high pile of November releases to buy.

I saw my first James Bond movie when I was 9 years old and have been fascinated with spies ever since. Most of the spy romances I read are historical so I'm looking forward to taking a walk on the contemp side with yours!

Maureen said...

I do like spy novels and I think it's because spys are by nature untrustworthy and I would imagine that they look at the world a bit cynically. This makes it a pleasure to see them fall in love and have to learn to trust another person. I have several favorite stories but I think my favorite is Winter Garden by Adele Ashworth.

Caren Crane said...

Gina, welcome to the Lair! (And Helen, congrats on bringing the chook home with you *g*)

Gina, your book sounds wonderful and your call story really gives me hope. You are not alone in the close calls and near-misses, believe me! I'm so glad someone finally decided to take a chance on your fabulous novel. I can't wait to pick it up!

As to why I love spy stories, I think it's the mystery. I am the least mysterious person in the universe. What you see is absolutely what you get with me. I also have no capacity for figuring out mysteries and, if I could, I wouldn't, because it would spoil the fun. I enjoy being surprised and pleased at how clever the spies and sleuths are in spy novels. All the intrigue (which is totally beyond me) is fascinating.

I always admire writer with this talent, because I SO can't do it. Kudos to you and your smart brain!

Caren Crane said...

Hey, Minna, I'm a closet Robbie Williams fan, too! At least, I was back in the day. His latest stuff is a pile of pants!

Buffie said...

Holy smokes!!! This sounds like MY kind of book!!!

Needless to say, Gina, I am really looking forward to this one! Congrats on your release.

Gillian Layne said...

Irresistible by Karen Robards is my favorite spy romance. I am still head over heels with the hero.

Your excerpt is fabulous! It feeds into all my "I'm not just a boring wife and mother" fantasies. ;) I'll definitely have to grab it.

Joan said...

Helen, keep an eye on our boy....he's probably incognito on a spy mission.

Welcome Gina! SPY CANDY sounds great.

Spies fit well into any story. My hero in THE PATRICIAN'S FORTUNE, Damon is a spy for a Roman Senator. What appeals to me is the constant edge of danger, the chamelion abilities a spy employs to get the information they need. The sacrifices they often make.

Modern spies? Daniel Craig as 007. Talk about candy! :-)

Terry Odell said...

In "When Danger Calls" I have a hero who works for a covert ops team, and although they specialize in things like hostage rescue, the job does require that step into pretending to be someone you're not. I have great fun with it, but I'm not sure I could handle it. I can't lie!

Louisa Cornell said...

Congrats, Helen! He is loving the weather in Oz, no doubt! And the Tim Tams, of course!

Terrific interview Gina and Nancy!

I love your call story. I completely understand that deer in the headlights feeling. I got that feeling when they called about the Golden Heart. Twelve years! Good grief!

The book sounds like a lot of fun! I LOVED the excerpt!

I'm a Regency girl, so The Bastion Club is one of my favorite spy series. Andrea Pickens lady spy series set in the Regency is fabulous too! A spy school for young ladies, hunky heroes, intrigue and lots of the good hot stuff!

I wouldn't mind trying my hand at the spy stuff. I'm always up for a little intrigue and I kind of have that "I'll try anything once!" tendency!

Gina Robinson said...

Morning, Everyone! I'm on the west coast. So even though it's early here, it looks like I'm a little late showing up.

Jo--Thanks! I'm glad you like the title. No, it's not the original title. My working title was simply, "Spy Camp Book" or something equally creative. Then my agent and I brainstormed and renamed it Love and Let Spy. But my editor didn't love the title, so we brainstormed again. He on his end, and me on mine. I sent him a list of title ideas and he picked Spy Candy from my list. I was thrilled since that was my favorite.

Gina Robinson said...

Jo--My December 09 release is another spy camp book, but this time it's set in Seattle at an Urban Ops camp. I've set up a fictional corporation, Fantasy Spy Camps, that runs camps all over the country. Book 2, (still working on the title), has a completely new cast of characters. The heroine, Reilly, named in my own mind after Reilly, Ace of Spies, is running from a crazed, stalking ex-boyfriend. She goes to camp to learn some self-defense techniques and runs into a pile of trouble when she falls for a fellow camper, her ex comes after her, and she inadvertently steps into some real intrigue.

Gina Robinson said...

Helen--One of my daughter's best friends is an Ozzy. My daughter loves Tim Tams. Oh, and one of the characters in Spy Candy is from Oz.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Yeah Helen! You lured the GR down under!

Welcome to the Lair Gina! It's great to have another Kensy author here as well. It's been great these last few days, A fellow WRWer in Robin and now another Kensy gal in you!

Spy Candy sounds fabulous. I'd love to go to spy school. Grins. Hey, everyone, if you come to National next year you have to go to the Spy Museum in DC. Really amazing! Gina, you'd love it!

I love the spy stories from Bond to Reilly to The Saint to all our modern spies as well. Whoohoo! And the idea you've come up with is just marvelous. :> Can't wait to read it.

Gina Robinson said...

I'm glad to see so many spy story fans here, today. I, of course, have always loved a good spy story. One of my favorite classic spy love stories is The Scarlett Pimpernel. Who couldn't love the foppish Sir Percy?

Did you all see that the new Bond movie comes out soon? I can't wait for it!

Christie Kelley said...

Gina, Welcome to the Lair! Congratulations on your books. I keep hearing about Spy Candy and will put it on my list for the next trip to B&N.

Gerri Russell said...


Great interview! Congratulations on your debut of Spy Candy. Can't wait to pick up a copy. I really think you hit on something with the fantasy spy camp idea. Who hasn't wanted at one time or another to be James Bond?

Enjoy the relase of your first book!


Suzanne Welsh said...

Hey everyone!

Great interview Nancy. Welcome to the lair, Gina! I love spy stories. For years I was a devoute Robert Ludlum fan. Since his death I've been at a loss for new stories in the genre, but have discovered Steve Berry's books which are like Ludlum with a historical twist!

The only problem I have with them is the romances in the stories are very "and they had sex" then move on to the external plot again. I'd love to read more spy stories with good romance/sex thrown in.

I'll be looking for your book when it comes out, for sure!

Gina Robinson said...

Jeanne--Hi fellow K author! I have a copy of Dark and Dangerous. Fantastic. Very suspenseful!

I definitely want to check out the Spy Museum. It sounds like great fun. I actually have one of their books, Handbook of Practical Spying, that I used in my research.

Joan--A Roman spy! That sounds wonderful.

Gina Robinson said...

Minna--No, I've never wanted to be a real spy, either. I'm too much of a coward.

Terry--I relate. I so can't lie. I'm just bad at it.

Limecello--Well, I just said I was a coward, too. I think you sound perfectly sensible.

Suzanne--Yeah, some guys don't write romance well. I always liked Tom Clancy stories. I related to his hero, Jack Ryan. I remember a powerful scene where the reader sees that an assassin is stalking Jack's wife while she's driving with her kids in the car. Jack finds out about it and is trying to stop him. I thought that scene was romantic in the way Jack was trying to save his family.

Pat Cochran said...

Love the title, Spy Candy! Interesting concept and story.

Congratulations on finally getting
"the call."

Pat Cochran

EilisFlynn said...

Great interview, Gina and Nancy! I've always enjoyed a cloak & dagger tale, but always knew it would be a big pain in the kazoo in real life -- the constantly looking over your shoulder, never trusting anyone or anything would get old really, really quickly. (Come to think of it, that would be politics too, wouldn't it?!) Good luck!

Nancy said...

Helen, congrats on snagging the rooster! I love your new picture. Wish I could be there to enjoy the Tim Tams.

Jo, glad you like the interview. Isn't that a great title?

I love spies, too. I have the Alias box sets for the first two seasons. We're looking forward to Quantum of Solace.

Maureen makes a great point about the cynicism of spies, a handy trait in a hero who needs to be won over.

Limecello, I'd also like to try the spy thing in a movie. I don't think I'd like to be where bullets are flying for real!

Gina, urban ops camp sounds great. I think you've hit on something here.

The Scarlet Pimpernel--love him! The Leslie Howard/Merle Oberon version, which is hard to find, is great.

I'm at a reunion with the women of my college class, one of whom has graciously let me use her laptop. I brought Spy Candy with me and am enjoying it tremendously. I'll try to check back later

Tori Lennox said...

I love spy stories! James Bond rocks. He's not really a spy but I've also had a long-time love affair with the Saint by Leslie Charteris. Not sure I'm cut out for the spying life myself though. :)

Minna said...

Hey, Minna, I'm a closet Robbie Williams fan, too!

Caren, he does have some good songs! =) And I thought this video would fit the todays theme. I seem to recall that he would have wanted to play James Bond...

Leningrad Cowboys & Russian Red Army Choir

Anna Campbell said...

Helen, Tim Tams for the chook! And LOVE your new avatar. Hey, guys, that's Helen and Annie West and me at the Guildford Library a week or so ago. Cool, huh?

Gina, what a great story! Laughed at your fax machine tale. Congratulations on the publication of Spy Candy. Sounds fantastic - I love bookish heroines thrown out of their comfort zones.

Suzanne Welsh said...

Gina, That scene with the spy chasing Jack's family was from Patriot Games! Another favorite book and movie. Yes the movie had Harrison in it, but it also had one of my favorites, Sean Bean as the Irish terrorist! Yummo!

Heather Hiestand said...

Congratulations, Gina! I can't wait to read it!

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hey Gina! Thanks for liking Dark and Dangerous! What a nice compliment. I ran by my local B&N to try and get Spy Candy but they were out. I ordered it. :>

Gina Robinson said...

Suzanne--Patriot Games! Of course. I forgot which book it was from. My favorite book of Clancy's is The Hunt for Red October.

Jeanne--Thanks for ordering the book!

Anna--Yeah, that old fax machine. It's amazing I still have it. But once in a great while, I have to drag it out and actually fax something. It's been out of ink for years so I can fax, but not receive.

Margay said...

Hi, Gina, just wanted to stop by and tell you how thrilled I am that your book is published. I knew the first time I read about your book that it should be in print - I guess my instincts were right! Best of luck.

Nancy said...

Eilis, I love the political analogy! Speaking of Charteris and the Saint, wasn't Roger Moore in a TV show about the Saint?

Suz, I loved Sean Bean as Boromir.

Tori, I'm sure I'm not cut out for the spying life. Isn't it fun to read about, though?

Beth said...

Welcome to the lair, Gina! Spy Candy sounds wonderful *g*

I don't read very many spy books but I do love the idea of person going undercover or even pretending to be someone/something they're not :-)

Thanks again for being here and for giving us a delicious taste of Spy Candy ;-)

Shari C said...

Welcome, Gina.

I enjoy the excitement and suspense of spy stories. I like wondering what is going to happen next and all the intrigue.

Jacquie Rogers said...

I'm really looking forward to reading SPY CANDY.

Your story about buying the fax machine made me laugh. Ah, the things we do, all in 100% seriousness. LOL


Caffey said...

Hi Gina! Its nice meeting you!! Usually I have all the debut books down to get but some recent upcoming ones I didn't see that they were coming out and this is one of them. I'm so glad I visited here to find out about this one!

I didn't want to miss any of the great questions.

What do you like about spy novels?
***I've read spy stories in contemp and historicals. I think the danger of being found out and too the dangers of being caught really had me on my edge of my seat!
What's your favorite?
***I'm thinking of some historicals right now with a spy theme, one was WINTER GARDEN by Adele Ashworth (Heroine was the spy here) and a contemp, Linda Howard's MacKenzie books, like Chance in A GAME OF CHANCE.
Have you ever wanted to try your hand at the spy trade, just for a little while?
***Oh this is another fun question! If I did, it would probably be one being with my hero cuz I wouldn't want to be alone doing this (and I can always point my finger and say 'it was him doing it, not me!' LOL

Annette said...

Congratulations on your debut release, Gina. I can't wait to pick up my copy of Spy Candy!

Gina Robinson said...

Thanks so much to all the Romance Bandits, and especially Nancy, for hosting me yesterday! I had a great time and enjoyed meeting all of you.

Now, drum roll please! The winner of a copy of Spy Candy is....

Louisa Cornell!!

Louisa, if you'll shoot me an email with the address you'd like the book mailed to to I'll get it out to you.

Thanks again, everyone!