Colleen Collins is a PI by day (so she knows of what she writes!) and is also an award-winning author who’s written 20 novels and anthologies for Harlequin (including a romantic paranormal thriller for Dorchester, writing as Cassandra Collins). Her books have placed first in the Colorado Gold, Romancing the Rockies, and Top of the Peak contests, and placed in the finals for the Holt Medallion, Coeur de Bois Readers Choice, Award of Excellence, More than Magic, and Romance Writers of America RITA contests.
After graduating from the University of California Santa Barbara, Colleen worked as a film production assistant, improv comic, telecommunications manager at the RAND Corporation, technical writer/editor, speech writer, and private investigator. All these experiences play into her writing.
Along with sending me a copy of her book (e-book) she even answered a few questions for my readers!
SBR: How similar is what Rick experiences as a PI to what you do as a PI?
Well, we don’t stumble across dead bodies in our work, fortunately! However, we have conducted investigations in homicide cases, and for those we follow steps similar to Rick’s: conducting background investigations on witnesses, conducting witness interviews, revisiting/analyzing/documenting the crime scene, reviewing existing discovery, examining forensic evidence.
SBR: What inspired you to start writing?
I’ve always loved reading and writing, but around 1989, I told myself that if I ever wanted to get published I had get serious. I committed to writing every single day until I completed a novel…and I did just that. I’ll be honest, that first novel sucked, but I completed it! After that, I joined writing organizations and critique groups and continued writing…in 1996, I finally sold my first novel, a romantic comedy, to Harlequin.
SBR: Who are some of your favorite authors and what books are on your nightstand?
I have a slew of favorites — from Dean Koontz to Susan Isaacs to Ed McBain. I’m currently a judge for the Private Eye Writers of America’s annual Shamus contest, so there’s a huge stack of private eye novels on my nightstand right now. The one I’m currently reading is The Cut by George Pelecanos.
SBR: Who do you envision playing Rick and Laura?
Great question. I’d want both to have wonderful senses of humor, so I’d pick Ryan Reynolds and Scarlett Johansson if they wouldn’t mind acting together post-divorce My husband, the inspiration for Rick, said he should be played by Matthew McConaughey.
Just as washed-up criminal defense attorney, life-long Deadhead (nickname “The Zen Man”), and current PI Rick Levine decides to get relicensed as a lawyer, he’s charged with killing one and ends up in the slammer with a half-mil bail.
Released on bond, Rick and his girlfriend Laura have 30 days to find the real killer. In the course of their investigations, they dig for dirt among Denver’s shady legal backrooms to its tony corporate centers. Dodging bullets, a kidnapping, trumped-up charges and the FBI’s unwanted intervention, Rick and Laura continue tracking key suspects who have motive…eventually learning that true redemption begins at home.
It has been awhile since I read a book with a male protagonist. Lately I have been reading romance books or cozy mysteries where the main character is a woman. This was definitely a nice switch. I’ll say right off the bat that I did figure out “whodoneit”. Now it is not because it was obvious..in fact, I was never 100% sure that it was who I thought because of the many red herrings tossed into the mix. But it was just something in my gut that said X was the killer. (thought I was going to spoil it didn’t you?!) There was a great mix of characters and side story lines that just added to the history of Rick and how he got to be who he became in this story. The story has a good mix of mystery and suspense and even a little humor. There are many clues that might help you figure it out before the end of the book…depends on if you can decipher them!
All in all I give this story 2 thumbs up and 4 stars.
Colleen has been kind enough to offer an e-book copy of her novel. You can get it in a format for the Kindle or the Nook. No e-reader? No problem. You can read The Zen Man on your computer, iPhone, iPad and other devices — you can even read it in your Web browser!
She will also send the winner a t-shirt (L or XL).
So sign up today! This will close on Sunday, March 18th.