Are there questions
    you are just dying
        to ask the authors?

Maybe someone else has already asked... 

Read below to see answers to questions readers have posed to Sharon and B.K.


 

 

What was the genesis (pardon the pun) of the idea for the plot?

Sharon: All mysteries for me start with “what ifs?” Obviously, I was closely watching the beginning of the Iraq War back in 2003. When it came out that the Iraq Museum and the museum in Mosul had been robbed simultaneously, by pros who knew exactly what they wanted, the questions were immediate. Who did it? What did they want? Why? How did they have access? How did they know when? Why were there no guards? How powerful were the men who made it possible for this robbery to take place? Powerful enough to make sure the museums were unguarded? Powerful enough to start a war?

Also, for centuries, humankind has told stories about, and been intrigued by, the idea of Eden, which was undoubtedly located in Mesopotamia—perhaps in the Iraq/Iran/Kuwait Gulf area. I love subjects, where the more you research, the more intriguing the material becomes.

Eden aside, suddenly the evening news was filled with images of the Tigris and Euphrates, talking about Ur and Babylon and Nineveh. Wow. These places are real—and we’re there.

Finally, of course, B.K. was over there and I wanted to know, in some small portion, what it was like when she seemingly disappeared behind what felt like a veil of white smoke. Again, questions.

Dagger of Ur

How accurate are the places described in the book?

Sharon: We did our best to ensure the descriptions were accurate as of the date of the story. Of course, we chose many locations specifically because we had someone on the ground who had been (or was currently) there. That included larger locales such as Tallil and Baghdad Airport, but also unusual ones such as Satis’s bombed out palace. With others, we came as close as we could through interviews, maps and photos.

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How do the two of you work together? How is that complicated by Chaplain Sherer’s deployments?

B.K.: We brainstorm well. One gets an idea. The other adds on, and it gets rolling until you can’t really identify where anything originated. Ultimately, though, Sharon is the one who normally writes it down. I am the kinetic expression who likes to act out the motion and action of the scene. Then she can take those pictures and present them in a clear, exciting, verbal way.

Sharon: As far as working during B.K.’s deployments, of course it’s easiest to spitball together in person. But it’s bizarre how, in this day of the internet, it almost doesn’t matter where B.K. is. During her first deployment to Iraq, during the very first days of the war, I was lucky to get a handwritten letter, no stamp of course, turn up in the mailbox when I least expected it. By the time she went back, there was internet and phone, and except for the time difference, she really could have been anywhere. I’m sure she appreciated coming back from a long day of facing the human cost of war to have me bugging her about going over a new scene from book 2!

B.K.: Actually, I didn’t feel “bugged” at all. In fact, working on the book helped me relax during my second Iraq deployment. Some people play video games to let off steam, others work out. I would return to my hooch in the evening and escape into the world of Jaime and Yani for a short while. 

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You have been friends since the sixth grade. As kids did you make up stories together? Were any of these adventure or mystery stories?

Sharon: We met in Mrs. Conard’s sixth grade class in Eugene Field Elementary School in Springfield, Missouri. We’d both moved there from other places: my family from the Chicago area, and hers from New York State. At first, I was ticked off with her because she was irritatingly smart and competitive and she’d purposely catch up to me and surpass me in the color-coded SRA reading folders. Drove me nuts.

B.K.: And I was absolutely amazed at the number of guys Sharon could date simultaneously. Wait…no…that was later, in high school.

Sharon: But at some point we realized that if we joined forces, we’d be both dangerous and unstoppable. That was probably shortly after I discovered she was not only very smart, she was also wacky. Our collaborations began immediately.

The first was a play for the sixth grade talent show, about the French Underground, which was to both of us the epitome of standing up in the face of tyranny, although I don’t think we verbalized it that way at the time. But we also made movies together, and wrote a full length theatrical comedy called “A (K)Night in Ruthin Castle.” We started a company when we were in junior high called Imagining Things Enterprises. We had film festivals, and started a magazine. We used to write interviews with each other, and make up quotes if we needed to, then hand the copy to the other one and say, “here, read this out loud.” So then she really would have said it.

B.K.: Hey, Sharon, stop giving away our secrets. Now they’re going to know how we answered these questions!

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How is Chaplain Jaime Richards like Chaplain B.K. Sherer? In what ways are they different?

Sharon: Well, they both have the same first name (Chaplain).

B.K.: (ha ha)

Sharon: Truthfully, I know that’s a natural question, but a hard one to answer. Bottom line: every character in the book contains parts of B.K., parts of me, and parts of other people we know or have heard about.

As a writer, I know a character has a life of her own when she or he starts speaking naturally in my head—when I recognize the voice, the cadence, the thought processes, the sense of humor, or lack thereof. We’ve joked that Jaime is the perfect woman—the best parts of each of us. But then Jaime leapt to life and became her own person.

I will say that Jaime does have a lot of B.K.’s qualities, the courage, the fierce loyalty, the vulnerability, the importance of faith in her life and the ability to be there with people. On the other hand, Jaime has my height and hair color and is limited by my vocabulary and emotional intelligence.

But Jaime really is her own person, with her own life and her own journey that’s very different from either of ours. Were Jaime real, she’d undoubtedly know B.K., since they’ve been in such proximity so many times.

And of course, Chaplain Sherer would never swear under any circumstances…

(Answer had to end as Sharon was laughing so hard she couldn’t continue.)

B.K.: And of course, we were both predestined to be Presbyterians!

Sharon: Hang on. I happen to be American Baptist, and I know how easily Jaime could have chosen to go a different way!

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Do you ever argue?

B.K.  Never.

Sharon: Constantly.

B.K.: Define argue.

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When did Sharon Linnea write her first novel? What other books has she written?

Sharon: Funny you should ask. I wrote my first novel in 7th grade. It was titled What Are the Odds? It was an international spy caper featuring B.K. and myself as the protagonists. We joined forces with the twin brother I’m sure Kurt Russell never knew he had.

            I’ve known I wanted to be a storyteller since I was about nine years old, and I’ve been very blessed to be able to make a living as a writer and editor since before I graduated from college. Some of my books have been biographies of heroes of mine, such as Princess Ka’iulani and Raoul Wallenberg. Please see my website (SharonLinnea.com) for a (much) lengthier answer to that question.   

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Since Chaplain Sherer is still active duty, did she have to get approval for this book?

Sharon: Absolutely. We have great respect for the military and have done our best to play by the rules, which are there for good reason. The manuscripts are always cleared by the Department of the Army so that we don’t give away anything vital to national security. And I adore the disclaimer they had us put in the factual notes. Seriously. It’s one of my favorite sentences in the book.

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When does the next Jaime Richards thriller come out?

Sharon: It comes out in October 2007, so if it’s November 2007 or after, you should be ordering now and finish reading this later. Thank you.

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What do you hope people get from the Eden thrillers?

Sharon: A ripping good read. The chance to ponder interesting questions. But mostly hope. Hope that in a world in which it so often seems that greed and violence hold sway and might makes right, that there is a conspiracy of the good—of the humble, the loving, the peacemakers—which has been since time began, and in which everyone’s invited to participate.

Also that being humble and loving doesn’t mean you can’t kick butt should the need arise.

B.K.: When ordinary people face extraordinary circumstances, they often discover strength they never knew they had. That strength comes from many sources, provided by the God who never lets us face our troubles alone. I see examples of this every day, and hope the readers will be encouraged to recognize the experience of this in their own lives.

 

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