Tuesday, 31 October 2017 04:27

Smid completes Daring Height series with sixth book

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The sixth and final book in an action adventure series by Saskatchewan author Madelon Smid will be launched worldwide on Nov. 3.


The full-time writer, who lives near Swift Current, published the first book in the Daring Heights series in 2012. After five years she feels a little sad to see the completion of the last book, Sky High, but at the same time she is already busy with a new trilogy.
“I’m quite involved with that,” she said. “So I guess that’s the life of a writer – you create them and then you move on.”
Sky High is a high stakes action adventure that takes place against the background of negotiations between two countries to conclude a new shipping deal. The discussions do not go according to plan when there are assassination attempts on the life of Anna Winje, the chief Norwegian negotiator. She has to rely on the protection of high profile Hong Kong industrialist Anton Zhang, who is trying to uncover the mysterious plot while feeling increasingly attracted to his Norwegian guest.
As is the case in the previous books in the series, the main female character in the final book is strong and successful.
“That’s very personal to me,” Smid said. “Women are so capable and efficient and effective, and I want to show that with my characters. My female can always stand alone, chooses not to, but could.”
At the same time the main male character in each book is a perfect counter for a strong female role.
“I always write an alpha male because I have an alpha female and a beta male would never be able to stand up to an alpha female,” she explained. “I write from the men’s point of view almost 50 per cent of the book because I’m really interested in reading about what men are thinking while they’re interacting with the female protagonist or the other characters in the book.”
Her male characters are strong-willed and influential, but she also shows their sensitive side while events unfold.
“I like to show the goodness in men and the strength in their ability to be compassionate,” she said. “I think the more alpha you are and the more confident you are in your own strength as a male, the more capable you are of giving to other. You’re there to protect people, not to put them down.”
Smid feels the time spent on creating the characters for each of the six books in the Daring Heights series helped her to refine her writing skills.
“I’ve definitely become a better writer because as in all things, practice makes you better,” she said. “I have learned a lot about editing and clarity in writing, and I guess I have in a sense learned what works for me in plotting a story and what I really enjoy to do in that, which before was more exploratory. … I see my stories very clearly and I know I have a very strong instinct about where I want to go with them and what I know won’t work for me with them.”
Formulaic writing can become an issue for writers in any genre and regardless of their level of experience, but she avoided that pitfall with the Daring Height series through the introduction of different characters and settings in each book.
“Each story is totally new characters and a totally new villain and a totally new situation,” she said. “So it can’t be the same and if it was, it would bore me as a writer. I would just let it go. I wouldn’t write it.”
The fourth book in the series, Reaching High, is her personal favourite because it solves the mystery around the character of R.G. Gribbs, a former special forces soldier and CEO of an international security firm that provides protection to high profile clients.
“In that book the characters from the last two books are introduced, or you know them by then, and you already know the characters from the first three books,” she said. “R.G. is the pin wheel character on which the other ones revolve. So he was definitely my favourite story to write.”
High Ground, the second in the series is her least favourite book, even though it received the best and the most reviews.
“My male protagonist writes software that is spyware for all of the government alphabet agencies,” she noted. “I started it quite technical in the beginning and I think lost a few readers because of that. If you got past the first chapter, then it was a really, really good book, but I wished I started it in a different place.”
All the books in the Daring Heights series are published by a United States publisher, Wild Rose Press. The books were initially categorized under the genre for romantic suspense, but the final two books in the series are published under the action adventure genre.
According to Smid, the change was a result of the strong emphasis on adventure and plot in all six books.
“I’m definitely a plot driven writer and I put so much emphasis on the action in the book that it overrides the romance by a long shot,” she said.
“My readers really like that, because I like to write about really strong, active females who are at the height of their career and making quite a difference in the world.”
This change in the genre category might attract more readers to her books who previously did not consider her titles because it was categorized under romantic suspense.
“The story is always going to have love in it, because I think that’s an important part of life, but I do know on a very practical level that I reduce my audience if it says romance in there,” she said. “There is a negative feeling towards contemporary romance or romantic fiction, and it’s seen to be lesser and not have the value of a literary work. Some people who would really enjoy an action adventure book and who read all of the top writers in that area, would see romance in mine and then not go in that direction. So I’m happy to have it re-designated as action adventure.”
She is already working on a new action adventure series. It will be a trilogy and is called Sisters in Peril. An elderly woman discovers her son's secret after his death, when she realizes he fathered three children with different women.
“She has these three granddaughters and she sends a different man out to find these granddaughters,” she explained. “There is danger in the situation, whether it comes from the granddaughter’s life or the man’s life who is going out to find her.”
The first book in the new trilogy is already completed and it will probably be published in late February or early March. The second one is with her editor and she is now working on the third book. These stories are set at three locations in the United States, but her next series will be located in Canada.
“I have the next trilogy already in my head,” she said. “I have the scene, what holds the three stories together, and I know it’s going to take place in Canada, because I really want to write about our country, only on three different parts of it. One will be Newfoundland, one will be B.C., and one will be Alberta, and it’s all about rocks. So it has to be around mountains and caving and climbing.”
She enjoys using the trilogy format for her books, because it gives her an opportunity to explore secondary characters in the second and third books.
“If you write one book and it has secondary characters, I’m interested in finding out what happens to the secondary characters,” she said. “So then they may become the main character in the next book. I think that’s just a little problem I have with not wanting to let go of characters.”
Sky High, the final book in the Daring Heights series will be available at Amazon.com on Nov. 3. Copies of the book will also be available in Swift Current at Pharmasave.

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Matthew Liebenberg

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