Beneath the Covers Past

Cindy Dees's Interview
Review of Behind Enemy Lines


An Interview with Cindy Dees
By Suzie Housley
October 2002

Cindy Dees grew up on a horse farm in Michigan and attended the University of Michigan, where she earned a degree in Russian and East European Studies. She then became a pilot in the United States Air Force and flew supersonic jets, VIP airlift, and the world's largest cargo airplane. She writes military romances, and won a 2001 Golden Heart award for her first book, Behind Enemy Lines. That book was a September 2002 Silhouette Intimate Moments release. She's at work now on her sixth military romance for Silhouette.

Suzie Housley: First of all, welcome to Beneath the Covers.  I am thrilled that you took a moment out of your busy shedule to stop by and discuss what is going on in your writing career.  Let us begin by asking how you started out writing.

Cindy Dees: I started writing books on a bet from my mother, who's a writing professor. She bet me one dollar I couldn't write a complete book. After I did that, we went double or nothing on the bet that I could get a book published. My two dollars hang on the wall in my office, and they're the hardest two bucks I'll ever earn!

I've been writing about ten years, however for a good chunk of that time, I couldn't publish due to a security clearance I had in the military. Had to wait seven years to try to sell any books. This was probably just as well,  because it prevented me from submitting to publishers any of my early stuff that was dreadful. 

Suzie Housley: What was your source of inspiration and what gave you the idea for BEHIND ENEMY LINES? How long did you work on it? 

Cindy Dees:  I have a friend who was an Army Ranger.  He was rappelling out of a helicopter, the pilot forgot he was there, and my buddy was dragged through a forest and badly injured.  After 30 broken bones and 18 months of rehab he was medically retired from the Army.  I started thinking about what my friend might have said to the pilot if they'd ever have met, and the book took off from there. That was the real-life inspiration for BETWEEN ENEMY LINE'S opening.

I wrote BETWEEN ENEMY LINE'S to save my sanity.  I honestly never expected to sell it -- I just wrote something I'd want to read. My daughter was born with a vision problem that required months of intensive physical therapy to fix.  I hired a babysitter three days a week for a few hours and I'd lock myself in my office and write to escape it all.  The book took six months to write, almost exactly the amount of time it took to restore my daughter's eyesight.

Suzie Housley: I found your background was an excellent source in providing a very realistic fast paced novel. Could you tell us more about your fascinating military experience as a pilot?

Cindy Dees: Oh boy.  I could talk about this one for hours.  I'll probably write about it for years.  To me one of the most interesting aspects of my career was being the first woman in most of the squadrons and planes I flew in.  I got a first-hand look at an all male world that I think has really helped me write about military men and how they think, talk, and act. 

I also spent a fair bit of time flying on Russian aircraft as an escort pilot.  I've logged over 700 hours in various Russian planes. Only a handful of American pilots get the chance to do that, and it's given me fodder for books for years to come! 

Then, of course, there's the travel to exotic places.  As a cargo pilot, I went all over the darn place in my career -- forty-two countries on five continents.  Now, if only Silhouette will let me set books in some of the weird places I've seen!  If you want actual war stories from me, catch me sometime at a conference and I'll be glad to share one - or ten!

Suzie Housley: Is there any one author who has inspired you to become a writer? If so, which one.

Cindy Dees: <laughing>  Well, there was the spy novel by a very famous author, who shall remain nameless, that I read once on a flight home to visit my folks.  It was just terrible. I got off the plane and told my mom, who's a writing professor, that even I could write something better.  She bet me a dollar that I couldn't and the rest is history. In point of fact, I probably owe my entire writing career to that author.

As for my favorite authors whom I aspire to write like someday, Robert Ludlum and Elizabeth Lowell would have to top the list.  But there are dozens of others I admire greatly.  And of course, I owe a huge debt of gratitude to the other military romance authors who've created the genre I now work in.

Suzie Housley: What road led you to be published by Silhouette? Were there other publishers you had considered?

Cindy Dees: Honestly, I ended up at Silhouette by chance and by luck.  Merline Lovelace contacted me for some advice on how to crash an airliner (for a book she was writing!), and in thanks for my suggestions, she asked her editor to look at something I'd written.  The only current thing I had was BEL, so I sent it in.  I knew it broke too many rules and would never sell, but the editor could at least see my voice and style.  Nobody was more shocked than I was when Silhouette bought the book!

Suzie Housley: What do you see for the future of your Special Operations military books? Do you think there is a growing interest in this type of romance?

Cindy Dees: Hopefully, the future holds  a whole bunch more Charlie Squad books! They're a blast to write.  I'd also like to put some women on Charlie Squad, especially more women pilots.  To Silhouette's credit, I just got the green light to do both of those things. In fact, I'm plotting the next Charlie Squad series right now. It has to do with the Russian Mafia and oil pipelines, but that's all I'll say.  For what it's worth, my college degree is in Russian Studies, I worked a bunch with the KGB during my Air Force career, and I worked for the CEO of an oil company a few years back. Suffice it to say the next Charlie Squad books will be wild!

As for the growth of this genre, I think it's a logical extension of the last year's tragic events.  We're all looking for heroes (male and female) right now who can face down and defeat our greatest fears. I'm not thrilled about capitalizing on 9/11, but it's a fact of life that terrorists and bad guys like them are likely to be our greatest enemies for some years to come. And, as long as that's true, I expect military novels and related spy thrillers are here to stay.

Suzie Housley: Which character is the next Special Operations hero we have the privilege of seeing? Could you give us a sneak peak of what we have to look forward to in the coming months?

Cindy Dees: Tex's book is in the final stages of being bought by Silhouette.  He's paired with Kimberly Stanton, an anti-military lobbyist on Capitol Hill who's out to shut down Charlie Squad. Suffice it to say the sparks fly thick and fast between them!  Mac's book is on deck after that, and I'm making the final tweaks to it as we speak.  Dutch, Doc, and Howdy's books are planned and their proposals done.  I hope to finish writing them all in the next  six months or so.  Then it'll be up to Silhouette to determine how fast they come out.

Suzie Housley: Your biography said you left your military career to raise a family. Could you tell us about them?

My husband is a pilot with American Airlines, and I'm still trying to convince him to pose for the cover of one of my books.  He's a lot like the men I write about - intelligent, honorable, gorgeous, and sexy as heck. He also is a completely diabolical thinker.  Whenever I get stuck on how to do something outrageous in a plot, he always has a suggestion on how to make it work.

Our daughter is three, red-headed, too cute for her own good, and a little tornado.  She's a talented gymnast and figure skates when she's not running me ragged. I'm so glad I never tried to write about a parent before I became one, because I'd have gotten it all wrong.  She's the light of our lives.We also have three dogs, a fish, and an ant farm just to keep things lively around here.

Suzie Housley: How do you feel when fans are comparing your books to authors such as Brockmann and McKenna? 

Cindy Dees: After I get done choking, I'm incredibly honored to even be put in the same sentence with either of them. Both of them have created amazing bodies of work that I can only hope to match someday. As I mentioned earlier, I owe a huge debt of gratitude to them and all the other authors who built the military romance genre.

Suzie Housley: What do you want your readers to come away with once they finish one of your novels?

Cindy Dees: I want them to be hungry and tired because they didn't put my book down to eat or sleep!  I also hope they were sucked into a good story, surprised a time or two, and highly entertained. If you twist my arm, I'll admit to tucking serious themes into each of my books.  Some of them have to do with the enduring power of love, and some of them have to do with the reality of putting your life on the line for what you believe in.  If a reader comes away from one of my books with a little better understanding of what it takes to serve one's country and renewed faith in true love, then I've done my job.

Suzie Housley:  Of all the things associated with being a writer, which one gives you the most pleasure?

Cindy Dees: The thing I like most about writing is coming up with the story. I adore planning plots that will surprise readers and keep them turning the page. My goal in plotting a book is to dare the reader to put the book down to go cook supper.

Suzie Housley: There is much advice an author has to share with a fan. What advice would you give to an aspiring writer on the one mistake you made they can learn from?

Cindy Dees: Great question!  I've made a whole lot of mistakes, but two biggies jump to mind.  First, I wasted a LOT of time in my early writing days.  I didn't write on a disciplined schedule as if I was already published and working to deadline.  I look back now on how much I could've gotten done sooner and I shake my head. The second mistake was that I didn't keep submitting steadily.  I was too casual about getting my work in front of editors.  There's no way they're going to buy you if they don't have a book from you. I expect I could've sold quite a bit sooner if I'd been more aggressive about submitting.

Suzie Housley: How can fans contact you?

Cindy Dees: My website, has a guestbook that's very handy for e-mailing me.  Or, they can snail mail me at P.O. Box 210, Azle, TX 76020 And then, of course, you catch me on the eHarlequin bulletin boards or at  And for what it's worth, I really get a kick out of hearing from fans!  Breaks up the solitude of staring at my computer.


Silhouette Intimate Moment, No. 1776
by Cindy Dees
Silhouette- September 2002

ISBN: 0373272464 - Paperback
 - $4.75 US 
Category Romance

Reviewed by: Suzie Housley, MyShelf.Com
Buy a Copy

She had a life and death decision to make . . .

 Air Force Captain Annie O’Donnell found herself involved in a dangerous military mission that required her to fly into a war zone to retrieve an elite group of Special Operations personnel.  She is unprepared when a warning signal suddenly goes off signaling that the enemy below had engaged missile lock on her aircraft.  To stay put and allow the last team member enough time to access the helicopter would mean certain death for all  members involved.  She makes the painful decision to put the aircraft into motion and sacrifice the life of the lone soldier who was helplessly suspended underneath her helicopter.  Racked with guilt and indecision, she silently prays for his death to be quick and painless.  Grimly one of the special operations leaders provides a name to the faceless individual –Major Thomas Folly.

Her touch made him want to continue living . . . 

 Major Thomas Folly was a prisoner in a dark mass that had consumed his body.  The only sensation he was acutely aware of feeling was agonizing pain.  Somewhere far away, a soothing voice willed him to live.  He knew the soothing hand that caressed his brow must surely belong to an angel.  If he willed his eyes to open, would he find that he had died and gone to Heaven?

 Watch out SuzAnne Brockmann, be warned Lindsey McKenna, newcomer Cindy Dees is on the block and is already commanding attention. It has been years since I felt such a strong sensation about a new voice in the romance industry.  With Cindy Dees military background, she has all the ammunition to write one explosive novel.  This new author is not to be missed, I predict she will take the romance genre by a tremendous storm!

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