DANGEROUS DUPLICITY, released January 2017, is Sherry Joyce’s long-awaited second romantic suspense novel, based in El Dorado Hills, California (where she resides), Tribeca, New York, St.-Paul-de-Vence and Nice, France.
Nearly Drowning and Facing the Terrors of Scuba Diving While Getting Certified in Hawaii Inspired Sherry Joyce’s Newest Romantic Suspense Novel
How did you come up with the theme for your second novel?
It was challenging to come up with a theme and plot line for my second romantic suspense. My first novel, The Dordogne Deception, garnered press and media attention because while I was writing postcards in a rented castle in the Dordogne region of France the castle was struck by lightning. I was in the turret tower at the time and received quite an electrical jolt, followed by a violent storm that evening, setting the stage for a murder/mystery. Although lightning can strike twice, it wasn’t something I wanted to experience a second time and needed to come up with a new, thrilling plot.
Do you intend to write a series?
Unlike many authors who write a series, I prefer to write stand-alone novels. I had put my characters (in The Dordogne Deception) through so much in my first novel, out of the kindness of my heart, I wanted to let them live out their lives in peace in the Cotswolds and not have the characters involved with solving yet another murder.
What inspired you to write part of the story located in St. Paul-de-Vence?
While walking through my home in El Dorado Hills, I noticed a painting on the wall of our family room, purchased during a vacation to St.Paul-de-Vence, France and immediately knew where the setting would be for this new novel. However, I had no idea what the plot would be.
They say, “Write what you know”. Are you a scuba diver? What about sailing?
I was certified in Hawaii some years ago and enjoyed the ease of traveling underwater, completely able to breathe without snorkel water making me gasp for air. I explored the waters of Hawaii, the Channel Islands, and Cozumel, where I did a 90’ dive. At the time, I was not afraid. Now when I think about it, I have no idea why I was not completely terrified. At 90’ you cannot come up quickly for air without getting the bends or worse. I drew upon those fears in this novel. Also, I nearly drowned as a child swimming out to a raft and back in Wisconsin while running out of strength. A cousin saved me and pulled me back to shore. I used that experience in the novel as well. My husband’s brother, Frank, is an avid, very accomplished diver and sailor. We spent a wild vacation aboard the Mistral, sailing to the Channel Islands. That vacation is another story waiting be told. However, sailing and ocean travel are my favorite—nothing like holding the wheel and having the sailboat crashing through the waves with a sunset shining on dolphins and whales following you.
What inspired you to write this novel?
I drew on the trauma and grief my husband and I experienced when his little sister, Mary, died unexpectedly at age 12 from Cystic Fibrosis. I felt compelled to craft a story about family, siblings and the difficulty of overcoming an enormous loss, the challenges of caring for someone who is ill, and the complexities of falling in love when you least expect to do so, especially when you think you are already in love with someone else. I also like writing psychological suspense where characters are flawed, but human.
Can you summarize the plot?
Evan Wentworth, a cop from El Dorado Hills, California, is unable to overcome a traumatic tragedy he thinks he should have prevented. Bereft, he changes careers, attends New York’s Parsons School of Design and becomes a highly successful Jackson Pollock-like artist who falls in love with Aurora Banfield, his mentor and owner of an elite Tribeca art gallery. Prior to taking his final exams, Evan vacations in St. Paul on a tip about his sister’s case and instead becomes embroiled in solving the murder of the controller of one of the largest charter yachting companies in Nice. Could this murder be linked to his sister’s death? He meets Danielle DuBois, a captivating young teacher from a large family, who helps him overcome the guilt he carries. Her father’s partner at Gaspard Yachting, Ryan Coltrane, becomes a prime suspect in the controller’s murder and Evan’s investigation unwittingly puts his life and her family in danger. Through lavender fields, to the ancient ramparts of St.-Paul to multi-million dollar yachts on the Côte d’Azur, this contemporary romantic suspense novel reminds us why solving a murder is both dangerous and multi-faceted. Secrets families withhold to protect one another may not always be kept with the best of intentions—sometimes creating dire consequences.
You don’t have children of your own, so how did you write a family story?
I enjoyed creating Danielle’s large family—her sisters, Chloe, a nurse, and Lena, a young adult struggling to find life’s purpose, Marie the matriarch of the family, and Gaspard, the patriarch and owner of Gaspard Yachting in Nice. Lucas DuBois, the oldest brother, runs the family’s lavender business. But most of all, I relished creating young children in the family, Valentin who struggles with dyslexia, Josh who wants to be an oceanographer, Amber, a sweet, sensitive child, and Juliette, full of life, creative and strong-willed. This was a major departure for me from my first novel, where the main characters were all adults. I also drew on inspiration from my nieces and nephews and their children.
What themes are most important in your novels?
By overcoming life’s obstacles, we gain strength. The mere desire to find love and be loved is not sufficient—trust and truth are essential components of love, helping us to overcome loss and find new meaning in life. In Dangerous Duplicity we discover that life constantly throws us curve balls we didn’t expect. Decisions made under stress with the best intentions can damage relationships. We all make mistakes when we are vulnerable and hurting. Genuine love requires honest self-appraisal, trust and integrity. These themes were constant in my first novel, and continue to be important in my writing.
What do you read for inspiration?
I laugh when asked what I read. I freely admit I’m reading differently now. I read all the time but now find myself analyzing characters, plot and dialogue differently than when I used to read for pleasure. I still enjoy many authors’ works and it’s wonderful to become so engrossed in a book that I’m not thinking about how it’s written. This past year I’ve enjoyed Ordinary Grace (William Kent Krueger), The Japanese Lover (Isabelle Allende), The Nightengale (Kristen Hannah), The President’s Club (Nancy Gibbs) and When Breath Becomes Air (Paul Kalanithi). I’m still a Louise Penny fan, and enjoy numerous authors who write murder mysteries and romantic suspense. (Paula Hawkins), Girl On The Train, kept me up at night! I love to read a book I can’t put down. Early on I started reading Robert Ludlum and John Grisham books and I was hooked on suspense and legal thrillers as well. I try to write stories that keep people up at night reading a book they can’t put down.
What are you involved with when you are not writing novels?
Working as a Grief Minister for our church, Holy Trinity in El Dorado Hills for five years, I felt privileged to be part of the path of acceptance and growth of those who have suffered such unbearable loss. In the process of helping others, I’ve learned a greater compassion and connectedness.
My other interests include travel, attendance at the seasonal Sacramento Music Theatre, playing impossible, frustrating golf, participating in two book clubs, a writing critique group and various writing organizations as well as being a Board Director for the El Dorado Arts Council in Placerville. As an artist, I’m passionate about the importance of art in schools. I enjoy spoiling my husband, Jim and our adopted, cherished West Highland Terriers, Abby and Effie.
Tell us a little what Dangerous Duplicity is about.
Book Excerpt: “Evan Wentworth never expected the day to end the way it started. He had the window on the driver’s side partly down, enjoying the warm summer breeze and the bright red crepe myrtle trees as he drove to Starbucks. Evan’s arms were precariously cradled to his chest, balancing scones, a Latte for himself tucked under his chin, and a juice for Ashley slouched in her car seat. He fumbled for his keys while struggling to hold the paper bags and drinks with his other hand. Focused on the car door and keys, he could not comprehend the cracking, popping sounds. Shots rang out from across the street at the bank. Evan quickly turned and dropped the carton of scones, juice and coffee, the contents now splattered on the ground. Two men with ski masks ran out of the bank. One man yelled out, while the other man ran backwards and fired shots into the bank. People screamed and ran in terror. Evan had split seconds to think. He got in the car and started the engine. “Get down,” he yelled at Ashley while he released her car seat clips. “I don’t want to,” she cried, unaware of what was going on. “Ashley, just do it now,” he bellowed at her in a tone that frightened her into submission. She crouched down on the front seat, tucking her doll under her arm. Evan called in a 211PC robbery in progress. One gunman was running toward the far end of a large open field across from the bank. Evan opened the car door, drew his gun from his holster and took a crouched stance on the ground and yelled, “Stop where you are!”
What inspired you to write The Dordogne Deception? While writing postcards in our rented castle in the Dordogne region of France, the turret tower where I sat was struck by lightning. Jolts of charged energy surged through my body. Terrified and unable to sleep that night, a romantic suspense was born, The Dordogne Deception.
Please summarize your book
In The Dordogne Deception, an attractive female executive escapes from San Francisco to a castle in Southwestern France to heal the wounds from her unforeseen divorce. A cunning guest charms the new owner of the castle, luring her toward a deadly deception. A retired detective residing in the English Cotswolds investigates an improbable accidental death leading him to the French castle where he prevents a murder and discovers love in the outcome.
What is the overall theme of The Dordogne Deception?
By overcoming life’s obstacles, we gain strength. The mere desire to find love and be loved is not sufficient—trust and truth are essential components of love, helping us to overcome loss and deception.
Where does this book take place?
The Dordogne, in the Southwestern Perigord region of France.
Who are the main characters and why are they important to the story?
Attractive, honey-haired Cherise Eden, hurting from her painful divorce, escapes to the Dordogne in France. We follow her journey as she purchases a historic castle and begins a new life as the owner of the bed & breakfast Chateau Roufillay. The reader cheers and embraces Cherise as she faces the challenge to find love and empowerment.
François Delacroix, is motivated solely by money and has no moral compass. His past actions motivate his strategy to make Cherise his unwitting next target. He uses his good looks and savoir-faire to ensnare his victims.
Brett Maxfield is a beguiling hero. A retired Scotland Yard detective, Brett’s humble and humorous character serves as a counterpoint to the insincere imposter, Francois Delacroix. Brett carries pain and loss within and Cherise is attracted to his candor, sense of humor and authenticity.
Why do you think that this book will appeal to readers?
The Dordogne Deception will satisfy the reader’s taste for a good romantic suspense. All the elements are there—elegant European settings, an appealing heroine, a villainous scoundrel, deception, murder and a gratifying “happily-ever-after” conclusion.
How is your book relevant in today’s society?
With its contemporary setting in 2006, The Dordogne Deception reflects the reality that even powerful executive women make mistakes when it comes to love and romance. With perseverance and introspective honesty both men and women can find true love in their lives.
Is there any subject currently trending in the news that relates to your book?
In today’s ‘Sex and The City” appearance-focused mindset of young professional women, The Dordogne Deception provides a reminder that character goes much deeper than a man’s good looks and appearance of financial wealth.
What makes The Dordogne Deception different from other books like it?
Unlike a gothic romance, booklovers will recognize the contemporary problems and challenges that face the characters. Readers of The DordogneDeception will be transported to elegant, exotic and familiar locations—San Francisco, England, Switzerland and France and vicariously share Cherise’s joy of owning a castle. Following her journey of false relationships, suspense for her survival and discovery of authentic love at last provides a satisfying conclusion.
What do you want readers to take away from The Dordogne Deception?
In TheDordogne Deception we discover that decisions made during a time of vulnerability can be lethal. We all make mistakes and we are all vulnerable when we are hurting. Genuine love requires honest self-appraisal, trust and integrity.
How did you learn about the topic?
The Dordogne Deception was inspired by extensive travel over many years throughout France, England and Switzerland as well as the familiarity of living in the San Francisco Bay Area. Experiencing a fantasy week in a castle (while the owner handed us the keys and traveled to visit her children) and becoming part of life in quaint French hamlets and villages was a dream vacation.
What would you do differently next time?
I’m blessed to have an editor I adore and can work with collaboratively. Not being able to find an editor in the beginning (one did not show up for a coffee appointment!) was frustrating and I did not want to work with an editor long-distance. I work best side-by-side with an editor who understands me and my writing voice, works to improve that voice, but lets me be myself. Now that I have a strong grasp of the manuscript-to-publication process, writing the second and third books will be much easier because I no longer wake in the middle of the night wondering, “Why am I doing this? Is anyone ever going to read my book?”
What genres-authors do you like to read?
I find that, as an author, I am reading differently now. I read all the time but now find myself analyzing characters, plot and dialogue differently than when I used to read for pleasure. I still enjoy many authors’ works and it’s wonderful to become so engrossed in a book that I’m not thinking about how it’s written. My favorites this past year have been Kate Morton’s The DistantHours, Lauren Hildebrand’s Unbroken, Lisa See’s Shanghai Girls, Tan Twan Eng’s, The Gift of Rain, Alice Hoffman’s The Dovekeepers, and William Landy’s nail-biter, Defending Jacob. I read everything from romance genre to memoirs (Steve Jobs and Andre Agassi) and I particularly enjoy reading historical biographies (Catherine the Great and Cleopatra), murder/suspense thrillers ( (Ludlum and Grisham). I confess that Nicholas Sparks’ books make me weepy as I am a hopeless romantic myself.
What other interests, causes or passions do you have? Writing and interior design commissions could easily fill every hour. I’m passionate about life. Each day is a gift and I give thanks for my supportive husband, Jim and my cherished and spoiled senior Westie dogs. We appreciate our many friends in El Dorado Hills and enjoy all that friendship has to offer...dinners, book clubs, and golf outings. As a member of Holy Trinity Church in El Dorado County, one of my greatest satisfactions has been my volunteer work as a bereavement counselor. Serving as a co-facilitator, I learn more than I give during the weighty sessions and I feel privileged to be part of the path of acceptance and growth of those who have suffered such loss. In the process of helping others, I’ve learned a greater compassion and connectedness.
Travel is a shared joy and passion and my husband and I are planning a special trip throughout the United States to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary. I’ve discovered that, living life to the fullest and remaining open to the next experience that beckons---you never know where the next idea for a novel will come from! Read an except from The Dordogne Deception (Prologue) “Flipping the wiper switch on so he could see through the mist that had accumulated on the windshield, the car crept along without lights down the long, winding gravel road. Despite his anxiety, he was confident he had orchestrated a flawless crime. It would look like a terrible accident where an old man had lost control of his wheelchair, falling to his tragic death. A death that would benefit him for a long, long time. This was not the first crime he had committed. Money was an addictive, powerful motive and murder was a convenient way of getting it without having to work for a living. As he drove out of the entrance gate, he did not notice the elderly gardener in a dark gray cap and wool coat, standing behind the tall laurel hedges, watching the car depart. The gardener wondered why someone would be driving without headlights in the dark and leaving the grounds at such a late hour.”