All About Heroes Interview With Joan Curtis

I'd like to welcome fellow author, Joan Curtis, to Suspense, She Writes. Joan has just released a new mystery titled The Clock Strikes Midnight.

Available for Pre-Sale at Amazon

Janie Knox wants nothing more than to live her life quietly in Savannah, Georgia and never return to her hometown of Atlanta. At age 17, a week after a jury convicted her stepfather of killing her mother, she packed all her worldly possessions in a single duffle bag, hopped on a bus, and vowed never to return. But, when she learns that she’s got three months to live, she journeys back home to finish what she couldn’t do when she left--kill her stepfather.

As the clock ticks away, Janie’s uses the last days of her life to right the wrongs that have haunted her for 20 years. She faces more than she bargained for when she discovers her sister’s life in shambles. Meanwhile her stepfather, recently released from prison, blackmails the sisters and plots to extract millions from the state in retribution.

The Clock Strikes Midnight is a race against time in a quest for revenge and atonement. This is a story about unleashing the hidden truths that haunt a quiet Southern family.

Joan is hosting a launch party for The Clock Strikes Midnight on November 25th from 3pm to 5pm EST on Facebook.


Welcome, Joan. First, tell us a little about yourself.

I’m a native of the South, having been born in North Carolina and lived most of my life in Georgia. The Clock Strikes Midnight is set in one of my favorite small cities, which is part of metro-Atlanta.

More about me, I am a communications consultant who loves people and loves to write about them. I’ve published four business books, which I use in my workshops. I began writing fiction a number of years ago and loved the freedom to create stories and characters.

I’m married to a psychiatrist who has taught me so much about human behavior. Subconsciously, I’m sure that comes out in my fiction. I have four cats (one lives outside and won’t let me touch him) and one dog. I’m a very involved step-mom and I love to travel, especially to Italy (my father was Italian).

Finally I’m a voracious reader. I cannot be without a book. I learned that from my mom who at 95 still reads everything she can get her hands on and is still my best source for good fiction. BTW, don’t give away her age. :) 

As writers, we often become emotionally attached to our characters. Who is your favorite hero you’ve ever written?

I don’t have “heroes” in my books. So, I’ll try and answer this as best I can. I’d say my favorite character is Marlene because she is troubled and tormented, but she’s a fighter.

Have you ever fallen in love with or had a crush on one of your heroes? Tell us about him.

Marlene’s husband, Peter, is a very likeable man. He’s warm and loves her very much even though she’s made his life difficult. He has maple-colored hair that flops in his eyes and dark, midnight blue eyes.

How do you develop your heroes? Do you imagine their personality or their physical appearance first? Do they grow as personalities as you write or do you do a character sketch before you type the first word?

I’ll answer this in terms of character development vs. heroes, ok?  My characters develop as the story goes. In fact, some characters appear as I’m writing. The more I write, the more the character forms. I visualize him/her in my mind and that visualization eventually comes on the page with certain characteristics. When I have a fully formed character developed in my mind, I create a character sketch so I can know everything about that person, including his/her background. (Sometimes flashbacks in a first draft—later removed—help me develop the character’s past.)

I like to give my heroes a personality quirk, just so they aren’t too perfect. Have you ever written a quirk for one of your heroes and what was it?

Most of my characters have quirks. One of my characters twirled her hair all the time. Some have physical characteristics that aren’t quite perfect. One of my main characters is very attractive, but she’s got a rather large nose. In the Clock Strikes Midnight, Janie has unruly curly hair and she’s much too thin. She also stares too intently at people.

How do you name your hero?

Names come naturally and evolve with the character. When I named Marlene, I thought I’d made up that name. I wanted an atypical Southern name. Now, I know other people named Marlene. So, go figure? In another of my books, I had a British character. I wanted a typical British name. After some thought and going through several options, I came up with Quentin. Usually the characters’ names come easily—no struggles, and they seem to fit.

Who is your favorite hero in books, movies, or television?

Colin Firth (hands down!) So, I guess in books, that has to be Mr. Darcy :)

Who is your hero in real life?

My husband

You know, a heroine can have all the characteristics of a hero, gender being the only difference in the definition. Many of my "heroes" are the wonderful women in my life who have influenced me. Thanks for joining me today on Suspense, She Writes, Joan, and for telling us how you develop your heroines.

And now readers here is an excerpt from the book. Enjoy!


Dr. Mills cleared his throat and wiped the line of sweat that dotted his upper lip. “It’s a fast growing tumor, Miss Knox,” he told Janie. “Hard to detect early, I’m afraid.”
His words--chemotherapy, death, prognosis--collided in her head and buzzed around as if lost

She had done some wicked things in her life. It serves me right to die young. A chill ran up her back.

“How much time do I have?” She swallowed the heaviness in her throat. Stay focused. Don’t panic.

He fiddled with the stethoscope around his neck. “That’s hard to say.”

How they must hate telling people they’re going to die.
“Listen, doctor, I need to know. I’ve got things to do.”
“Unfortunately I can’t be too precise. We do have counselors who can help you put things in order, if that’s what you mean.” He reached for the prescription pad.

“Can’t you give me some idea?”

“These things are hard to predict,” he continued. “Some people live as few as three months; others make it longer, maybe even a year.”

She stared at the wall behind him where he had hung his diploma, illegible from her vantage point. Her life with Sue Anne had been too good. This was God’s punishment for all the bad things. Three months. “And there’s nothing you can do?”

“We could operate, but to be honest--and you asked me to be honest--it might just add a few more months, maybe guarantee you a year. Or, there is the risk of dying in surgery.” He paused and shook his head. “Personally, I wouldn’t recommend chemo, not at this stage. I’m sorry. You can always get a second opinion, though. I’d be glad to make a referral.”

“That won’t be necessary.”

He scrawled something on his pad. “Is there anyone you’d like me to call?”

She got up, surprised her legs held her. “No, thanks.”

He handed her the prescription. “This will help with the pain.”

She left the doctor’s office and drove directly to the drug store on the corner. While she waited for the prescription, her mind played out what she had to do. Go home. Pack. She couldn’t face Sue Anne, who would insist on knowing everything, and Janie had things to take care of. Things she had put off for too long. Three months, the voice in the back of her head said. My God! I need more time. She took the bag of meds from the faceless pharmacist and raced home.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Denise, Thanks so much for hosting me today on your blog!


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