TBG: Today’s Honorary Blogger Girl is no other than the amazing Heidi Cullinan! Yay! We are excited to have her because we just adore her to pieces. As the release date for her novel, Double Blind, is next week (March 4th), she’s going to talk a little about her adventures in writing about Las Vegas. Enjoy!
Writing Las Vegas
by Heidi Cullinan
In 2011, I was interviewed for an article in Canada’s Globe and Mail, and one of the first questions was, “How long have you lived in Las Vegas?” It took a full five minutes to get the reporter to believe me when I said I’ve barely been there.
Sad as that statement is, it’s very true. I’ve been to Las Vegas exactly twice. Once in 1980 on a family trip to California. We drove through the Strip, and then my mother and sister got violently ill and we had to stop at a stranger’s house to get help. The other time was in 2009 on the way home from our California trip. We arrived at 10PM, checked into our room, rode to the top of the Stratosphere, took a cab ride down the Strip, went to bed, went to the buffet for breakfast and got back on the road home.
In two trips I haven’t managed a full day there collectively, and I think I have at best seven hours of consciousness in the city to this day. Despite this deficiency, I’ve written two novels and a novella set in the city.
When I set out to write Double Blind, my first novel set there, it was September 2009. I tried like crazy to get there in person, conniving in every conceivable way to take even a weekend trip. It was impossible on so many levels—health, family, money. Dan, who is always very game to let me ride the crazy to an objective, said, “Heidi, it’s just not going to happen.” Yet I still had to write this novel, which means I had to learn Las Vegas. (I had to learn poker too, but that’s another blog post entirely.)
As I intended to write the novel as a NaNoWriMo novel, I couldn’t start until November 1, and so I used the time before my start to research like crazy. I think I’ve watched every movie ever set in Las Vegas. I’ve watched probably forty hours of documentary footage about the city, read many, many books. If there was a video of it on YouTube, I watched it. I took virtual tours of the town on Google Maps, looked at real estate listings for houses. If you dropped me in that city, I think I could reasonably get around, I know it so well.
Hands down, though, my favorite bit of research for Double Blind was the documentary called Vegas: The City the Mob Made. Dan found it in a bargain bin at Walmart, and we watched it together over the course of the week. Four times as long as it has a right to be, it’s possibly the best argument for an editor I’ve ever seen in my life. We still joke around the house about “the lucrative skim,” a phrase they repeated so often if you watched this as a drinking game you’d be completely hammered before you left episode one. (There are ten. Ten episodes!) We still speak fondly of it, in fact, and talk about watching it again just to laugh. I did learn a lot from the series, but man.
Tough Love features Vegas heavily once again, with about half the novel set there, but this time I didn’t even attempt to visit. I keep thinking I want to go there someday, though. Maybe someday we’ll all go together for a convention or even just because Vegas sounds like fun.
Sadly, I have to warn you—I’m not half as good at poker as Randy, because I’m as risk-averse with money as Sam, and holy crapmonkeys, just thinking about the top of the Stratosphere makes me weak in the knees. But if somebody finds out Herod’s really exists? I’m there. I’m so there.
Heidi Cullinan has always loved a good love story, provided it has a happy ending. She enjoys writing across many genres but loves above all to write happy, romantic endings for LGBT characters because there just aren’t enough of those stories out there. When Heidi isn’t writing, she enjoys cooking, reading, knitting, listening to music, and watching television with her husband and ten-year-old daughter. Heidi is a vocal advocate for LGBT rights and is proud to be from the first Midwestern state with full marriage equality. Find out more about Heidi, including her social networks, at www.heidicullinan.com.
Book Two in the Special Delivery Series
Know when to show your hand…and when to hedge your bets.
Randy Jensen can’t stand to just sit by and watch as a mysterious man throws money away on the roulette wheel, especially since Randy’s got his own bet going as to the reason this guy is making every play like it’s his last day on earth. The man’s dark desperation hits Randy right in the gut. Half of him warns that getting involved is a sucker’s bet, and the other half scrambles for a reason—any reason—to save the man’s soul.
Ethan Ellison has no idea what he’s going to do with himself once his last dollar is gone—until Randy whirls into his life with a heart-stealing smile and a poker player’s gaze that sees too much. Randy draws Ethan into a series of wagers that leads to a scorching kiss by midnight, but he isn’t the only one with an interest in Ethan’s vulnerability. Soon they’re both taking risks that not only play fast and loose with the law, but with the biggest prize of all: their hearts.
Warning: This story contains high-stakes poker, gangsters with a weakness for kittens, foursomes, and kinky consensual sex.
Available March 4, 2014 from Samhain Publishing and wherever books are sold. This book has been previously published and has been revised from its original release.
Buy links: Samhain, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads
Excerpt on Heidi’s website
In honor of Heidi’s re-release, she’s graciously offered to give away one eBook copy of Double Blind! The giveaway starts now and will end next Sunday, March 2nd, 2014, at 11:59 pm EST. After which the lucky winner will be randomly picked.
All you have to do to enter is leave a comment below with your email address and you’re in!
Make sure to follow the blog for the winner’s announcement post or check back next Monday, March 3rd, 2014, to see if you’ve won!
Check out Nikyta’s reminisce review of Double Blind to see what she thought of Randy and Ethan!