Badurday – February 5, 2011- Debora Ryan/Michele Zurlo

JILLIAN:  A fellow Siren-BookStrand author is our guest today. She writes both erotica and Mainstream. As Michele Zurlo, she owns the blog called The Steam Room where I  have been a guest in the past. She also is hosting an awesome event for Valentine’s week.  She has a lot of other authors discussing romance and other Valentine’s Day topics. She’ll attach a list of those writers to the end of this interview along with her discussion of the event. 

As Debora Ryan, she write mainstream novels for Book Strand Publishers.  She’s here today in an interview for her new book to be released in the next four to six weeks or so. It’s called Crimes of the Heart.  Please welcome her to the blog today.


When Leah is caught embezzling, will blackmail lead her to love or destruction?

Ever since an accident killed her parents and left her older sister with life-altering injuries, Leah Keenan’s life hasn’t been her own.  The insurmountable medical bills force her to desperate action.  The company she works for is large.  Nobody would notice if she skimmed a few thousand here and there to pay outstanding bills.

The complications Will Dannaker brings are more than Leah needs in her life.  Posing as a management intern, he is placed in her care.  He isn’t an intern; he’s a fraud specialist working undercover at his father’s company.  When Will’s charm fails to penetrate Leah’s shields, he resorts to blackmail to make her go out with him.

As things grow serious between them, the embezzling spirals out of control.  Six million dollars are missing—far more than Leah took—and all the evidence Will gathered points to Leah.  Everything blows up when she is arrested, and Will is forced to fight his family to prove his love to Leah.

Jillian: Your book, Crimes of the Heart, seems to be a romantic suspense. Is this your first in this genre or do you have others?

Debora: Funny, I never thought of it as romantic suspense. I thought of it more as crime fiction, but there are definitely elements of suspense throughout. Tomorrow Cries could also be considered romantic suspense. I like complex, layered stories where the conflicts are both internal and external.

Jillian: Your heroine, Leah, is in a bad situation. Can you tell us a little about it?

Debora: Leah is operating on a lingering sense of survivor’s guilt stemming from a tragic accident that took her parents and left her sister unable to care for herself. Her fatal flaw is that she tries to shoulder this responsibility alone. She confides in nobody, not even her best friend who would be more than willing to help her. Leah probably thinks of her situation as penance.

Jillian: Writing a heroine that commits a crime is scary. Do you think Leah’s criminal behavior will cause readers to not like her? If not, tell us why.

Debora: I sat on this story forever because I wasn’t sure how to approach building her relationship with Will. Love is messy and imperfect, and so are my heroines. Leah’s situation is very delicate because taking her relationship with Will too far would cause him to commit an unforgivable crime. Both of my characters commit crimes. Leah embezzles to pay for her sister’s expensive medical care. Will blackmails Leah because he really wants to go out with her. The difficult part for me was in walking that line between making the characters interesting and sympathetic while showcasing their faults and the ways in which those faults nearly ruin their relationship.

Jillian:  Your hero, Will, is working undercover. What’s his back story?

Debora: Will is a fraud investigator. He left home and turned his back on the family business to prove he could be something other than the man his father wanted him to be. At his mother’s request, he returns home to find out who embezzled six million dollars from the company. Hint: There are multiple embezzlers working for Will’s father.

Jillian: When does this book come out and where can we be looking for it?.

Debora: This will be available from BookStrand most likely in late February/early March. You can check my website at for updates

JIllian: My theme for Saturdays here on the Southern Sizzle blog is Bad Boys. Who is your favorite bad boy of film or television?

Debora: Captain Jack Harkness from Torchwood (played by the handsome John Barrowman). I like that he’s a bad boy fighting for the side of good, and he never passes up the chance to flirt with anyone, male or female. He has no shame and he doesn’t know the meaning of fear.

Jillian:  I adore him as well. He’s amazing and hot!!! And oh, so bad! 

Jillian: You write also under the name of Michele Zurlo- Tell us about The Steam Room and your Valentines event.

Debora: The Steam Room is my website where I feature a new author each week. I research each person that I interview to tailor the interviews to them. I’ve come to know a great many interesting people this way. The week before Valentine’s Day, I’m changing things up a bit. I’ll be posting a new blog entry every day that features different authors and readers telling us about love and romance. Here is the blurb and the schedule for that week:

Cynics refer to Valentine’s Day as a Hallmark Holliday, something created to market cards, candy and flowers.  Romantics don’t care where it came from or why it’s become such an important holiday, we’re just happy there’s a universal day set aside to celebrate and honor romance.  Those of us in the romance industry—whether we’re writers or readers—find a way to stretch this sentiment so that it touches our everyday lives. 

For some of us, reading romance provides an escape from our daily stressors.  For others, it lets us enjoy romantic encounters and relationships that will never be our reality.  We love our Significant Others, but real relationships are seldom about the romance.  Between work and family demands, we often have little energy left for even small romantic gestures. Romance is a habit. Once we fall out of that habit, it’s difficult to pick up again. Even so, that doesn’t mean the love dies. Romance novels fill a need we don’t often have time to fill for ourselves.

Still, Valentine’s Day is our day.  While we bring love and romance into our everyday lives, we still want to celebrate the actual holiday.  This year, I will be doing nothing special.  Monday is swim practice for my kids. After work, I’ll pick them up, feed them dinner, help with homework, take them to practice, and fall into my bed seconds after I kiss them goodnight. I’m pinning my hopes on the weekend before.

Romantic Monday, February 7: Jenika Snow, Tonya Ramagos, CR Moss, Berengaria Brown

Happy Endings Tuesday, February 8: Stephanie Cage, Julia Rachel Barrett, D. Renee Bagby, Jami Davenport, Michele Zurlo

Love is…Wednesday, February 9: ZA Maxfield, Karenna Colcroft, Tina Donahue, Lynne Roberts

Rediscover Life Thursday, February 10: Missy Martine, Jillian Chantal

Magical Journeys Friday, February 11: Melissa Bradley, Laura Tolomei, KR Beiley, Debora Ryan

The Lighter Side of Love Saturday, February 12: Daisy Harris, Rachel Clark

The Poetry of Love Sunday, February 13: Erin M. Leaf, Larion Wills, Frances Pauli

Please stop by each day and share your thoughts.

Wishing you lots of steam!

Michele Zurlo

AND here is Michele/Debora’s bad boy!


8 Responses

  1. […] Original post: Badurday – February 5, 2011- Debora Ryan/Michele Zurlo « Southern … […]

  2. I like your bad boy. I’ve visited the Steam Room it’s a great blog too. Your writing sounds intriguing I will definitely be checking it out.

  3. What an unusual approach and story, Michelle/Debora! It definitely sounds like something I would enjoy!

    Thanks for sharing with us today. I found the Steam Room blog interesting enough I’ll be dropping by regularly!

  4. Darlene- Thanks. My DVR is set to always catch Torchwood. I hope he gets another show soon.
    Runere and Darlene- I’m glad you like my blog. I’ve very excited about this upcoming event.

  5. Writing a main character, especially a heroine, who is committing criminal acts must have been a fine line to write! I love story lines like that 🙂

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