Irene Hannon: All in the Family
“I couldn’t read the books fast enough,” Irene says. “The concept of a capable, intelligent heroine, along with a touch of romance, was—and still is!—a perfect combination as far as I’m concerned.”
Perhaps Nancy Drew inspired Hannon more than she realized. At the tender age of 10, right around the same time she began reading the series, she received her first publishing credit when she was an honoree in a complete-the-story contest put on by Jack and Jill magazine. “I still have the very faded certificate in a cabinet in my office.”
Romantic suspense has always been Irene’s first love, thanks in part to Ms. Drew and later Emilie Loring, but without the law enforcement background to add depth to her stories, she felt she couldn’t do justice to that type of novel. Instead she became successful writing contemporary romance, winning the RITA (the most prestigious award for romance writers).
However, after reading Dee Henderson’s The Guardian Irene knew she had to give romantic suspense another try. She wrote all three books in her Heroes of Quantico series on spec, eventually drawing a glowing endorsement from Henderson herself.
Now Irene is set to hit the publishing world by storm once again with her new series, Guardians of Justice. Starting with Fatal Judgment, the series is about three siblings—all in justice-related professions. “There’s a family dynamic going on in these books that wasn’t in my first series,” Irene says. “One brother is a U.S. marshal, the other a police detective, and their sister is a children’s service worker with Social Services.”
Writing isn’t Irene’s only creative outlet, however. A veteran of the stage, she’s played the leading roles in many musical theater productions, including Oklahoma, Brigadoon, South Pacific and The King and I. “I think I was born with greasepaint in my blood,” she says. “My maternal grandparents were both wonderful singers and performed in many local musical productions. As far back as I can remember, I’ve loved stage work. As a kid, I used to write, produce and direct neighborhood shows. I studied ballet and tap for many years. In college I began taking voice lessons and trying out for community theater musicals. I put in my time in the chorus.”
It’s challenging to make time for both, but Irene feels her work onstage complements her writing by helping her pace her stories, create realistic dialogue, and get into the mindset of a variety of characters. She’ll never turn down a great part, but writing comes first.
“This is my job, not a hobby,” Irene says. “I hit my page count goal every day— even if that means I’m at my computer until midnight because I played hooky during the day.”
But Hannon’s top
priority is creating
stories of hope.
“Every book I write
is infused with
hope,” she says. “I
always want to
leave people with a
belief that no
matter how tough
life gets, a happy
ending is always
possible. And I also
want people to close
the last page with a
for the tremendous power of love to