Vanessa Kier spends way too much time thinking up ways she can torture her characters. A worst-case scenario thinker, she's been creating stories in her head since childhood. Now she channels her persistently dark what-if questions into writing romantic thrillers that combine intense emotion with action-packed plots. The author of The Surgical Strike Unit series about a privately run special operations group, she has set her new series WAR in West Africa, where she lived for a time.

When she’s not writing, listening to music, or playing puzzle games on her mobile device, Vanessa helps writers learn Scrivener and takes long hikes in the nearby hills.

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How long have you been writing?

Okay, I admit it. I'm one of those writers who's been making up stories since I was a girl. Sometimes I shared them, more often the stories stayed inside my head. But then I grew up and the stories became more complex. Finally it got to the point where my head was so full, I had to get the stories out on paper. I've been jotting down notes and writing stories since the early 1990's. However, I've been writing with the intent of publication since I joined RWA in 2004.

Why romantic thrillers?

I could say that it's a natural evolution. Studying international political science in college gave me a taste for government-sponsored intrigue. Travelling abroad, including two years living in West Africa, gave me an appreciation of exotic locations.

But really, I'm afraid it's something much more basic. I'm a worst-case-scenario thinker. Put me in a situation and I immediately think of everything that could go wrong. I think my friends and family are getting a little sick of me pointing out that an event has the potential for complete disaster, then joyfully proclaiming, "I could put that in a book!"

Just to try something different, I started to write a straight romance a few years ago. A simple boy-meets-girl story. No international criminals. No life-threatening drama. I figured it would be novella length. Or even shorter. I wrote down a few scenes. Started to do an outline. And suddenly there's a military cover-up, deadly accidents, and a brother who's being held hostage.

My imagination was clearly trying to tell me something!

Then Niko and Jenna, the main characters in Vengeance, stormed into my head. They pushed out that no-longer-simple romance, and stole my heart in the process.

So here I am. Writing my characters into all kinds of deadly places and loving it.

Don't worry. My characters fight back. They love to head off on the most unexpected, difficult paths, forcing me to spend hours fixing the story just because they…

Ahem. Never mind.

Writers. Yeah, we really are as crazy as people say. But I love writing, love my characters, and wouldn't have it any other way.

When the characters in your head are not fighting for attention what do you do to relax?

Wait! My characters are supposed to leave me alone? Seriously, they're never far from my mind and they have a tendency to pop up at the oddest times. When I can get them to leave me alone, I like to read, hike, travel, and dance. I also have a business providing tech support, coaching, and online classes for writers.


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