Hey y’all! We have Lisa Henry on From Top to Bottom Reviews today to celebrate the release of Lights and Sirens, the second book in her Emergency Services series. And let me tell you, this is just as amazing as Two Man Station! You should definitely add it to your tbr!
We had the pleasure to sit down with Lisa for an interview to talk about her inspiration for the series, which scene she loves the most and more! Plus there will be a giveaway at the end of this post!
Paramedic Hayden Kinsella is single and the life of the party. He likes driving fast and saving lives, and he doesn’t do relationships—he does hookups. Except he wouldn’t hook up with copper Matt Deakin if he were the last guy on the planet. Hayden thinks the feeling is mutual . . . until clearing the air leads to a drunken one-night stand, which leads to something neither of them was expecting: a genuine connection.
Police officer Matt Deakin moved to Townsville to take care of his elderly grandfather. In between keeping an eye on Grandad, renovating his house, and the demands of his job, he somehow finds himself in a tentative relationship with Hayden and very slowly gets to know the damaged guy beneath the happy-go-lucky persona.
But the stressors of shift work, fatigue, and constant exposure to trauma threaten to tear Hayden and Matt apart before they’ve even found their footing together. In the high-pressure lives of emergency services workers, it turns out it’s not the getting together part that’s hard, it’s the staying together.
Hi Lisa! Thank you so much for stopping by at From Top to Bottom Reviews! Let’s jump right in, shall we?
How did you choose to write about Emergency Service workers? What inspired this series?
Readers love books about emergency services workers like cops and paramedics and firefighters, and Australia is an exotic location for a lot of readers. And I’m an Australian author who works for the police. Despite all that, it still took someone else pointing out that this would be an obvious fit for me to say “Hey, I should actually write that!” It’s almost ridiculous that it never occurred to me. I guess I just never realised that something drawn from my daily life was actually fodder for stories. Usually I write to escape that stuff!
I think that my Emergency Services books are different to most of the first responder books I’ve read too, and it’s the setting that makes them very different. In the first book, Two Man Station, I had so many notes from my editor clarifying that both the police officers were leaving town on the same day? And was that actually something that would happen in real life? And I realised that many people really don’t have any concept of how policing (or any necessary services) operate in remote communities, and that I had a unique opportunity to show a bit of that. The other night at work I was going through what we call the On Call Register to see who was where, and there was a note under one of the remote stations that the single officer was in Mount Isa overnight (which is remote in itself!) and that any callouts would have to go to the police officer at the neighbouring station–270 kilometres away. Which means a long time waiting for a police officer if you’re in an emergency, but that’s just how it is in these tiny towns in the middle of nowhere. Lights and Sirens isn’t set anywhere as remote as Two Man Station, but I hope it still shows the work of the police and the paramedics in a different way that you see in a lot of books. It also gave me the chance to focus on the day-to-day aspects of the job. My main characters, a police officer and a paramedic–or a copper and an ambo in Australian English–are more likely to attend break and enters and kitchen accidents than anything with car chases and explosions. We don’t have a lot of those here!
Is there something you especially love about writing a series set in your home country?
The lack of research has been great! And Lights and Sirens is set in my home city, which has made it even easier. Matt works where I work, and lives in my neighbourhood. Hayden lives in a block of units I drive past most days. So it was new to me to have very concrete ideas of place before I started writing. Setting the book somewhere well known to me also gives me the chance to really think about how to describe those places to readers, and how they make me feel. Red dirt was a big feature in Two Man Station. In Lights and Sirens, it’s the beach and the salt air.
Do you have picspiration or a mood board for the main characters you could share with us?
I don’t for Matt–he was just an amalgam of a few blokes I work with and who, I am sure, would be quite embarrassed to know what I did with their descriptions! But I did happen to find a picture online that I knew the moment I saw it was Hayden, with his red hair, his freckles, and his sleep deprivation. I don’t know if that’s the look the model was going for or not, but this guy needs a break:
What’s your writing process like? Do you have a detailed plan or do you “go with the flow”? Does it change for some stories?
I am very much a “go with the flow” writer. For a long time I tried to be a planner, but it just never worked for me. If I ever tried to outline, I lost all enthusiasm for the story before I even began. So now I write by the seat of my pants for that first draft, then go back and edit the hell out of it to put it all together properly. I usually have a starting point, a vague idea of some things that might happen, and an ending point, and that’s it. I used to worry a lot that I wasn’t doing it right because all the books on writing said I needed to be planning everything in detail, but then I realised it didn’t matter how I got there in the end, as long as I did. That realisation changed my entire perspective on writing, and I haven’t looked back. The only thing that matters is getting the words down.
Do you have a favourite scene in Lights and Sirens?
My favourite scene is probably the one where Matt and Hayden realise their entire mutual dislike is based on a dumb misunderstanding, but that’s a bit of a spoiler so I won’t share it here! Any scene with Matt’s Grandad, basically. He’s a menace!
Grandad was sitting at the kitchen table, reading the newspaper. A cup of tea steamed away in front of him. He was Matt in fifty-odd years. His once-dark hair was grey nowadays, and thin and tufty. He was pretty much bald on top, though Matt took what consolation he could in knowing that hadn’t started to happen until Grandad was in his fifties. So some hope there.
Grandad peered at Matt, and then took his glasses off and peered at him again. “You look like shit warmed up.”
“Feel like it too,” Matt said, opening the fridge and grabbing the juice.
Grandad laughed, his jowls shaking. His skin was wrinkled and sagging; the crows’ feet at the corners of his eyes were deep furrows. His ears had outgrown his skull. It sometimes surprised Matt to look at him and realise how old and frail he’d gotten. Not that Matt would dare tell him that.
Charlie, lying on the floor beside Grandad’s feet, lifted his massive head long enough to see what the fuss was about, and then thumped his tail a few times against the floor and started to snore. Charlie was a Bull Arab; mostly dirty white with tan patches and spots, and one blue ear.
Matt poured himself a juice, blinking out through the wooden louvers into the back yard. As he watched, the chooks swept across the grass in some sort of complicated formation, before diving into the ferns to forage.
“Is that yesterday’s paper?” He put the juice back in the fridge and then sat down at the table with his glass.
Grandad shook it, and then set it down on the table. “You could pick me up today’s, if you’re heading out at all?”
Matt checked the clock over the fridge. It was nine; way later than he’d intended on sleeping. Nine was practically lunchtime for Grandpa. “Yeah. I’m going to go to Bunnings and grab what I need to fix the cabinets.”
They both looked over to where the doors of the kitchen cabinets were hanging open. The catches on most of them had busted years ago and, thanks mostly to Charlie’s inquisitive nose, they didn’t stay closed for long. And Grandad was in no position to repair them. He’d had been slowing down long before his hip replacement surgery anyway. When Matt had got the transfer to Townsville from Ingham, moving in with Grandad had seemed like the best solution for both of them.
“Make sure you get a receipt,” Grandad said, a warning tone creeping into his voice.
He was keeping careful tabs on what Matt spent around the house, so that, as he put it, when he fell off the perch and the house was sold Matt could get his money back. Given that he was only paying nominal rent, Matt had told him not to bother, but Grandad was equal measures proud and stubborn.
Grandad scrubbed his stubby fingers through his wispy hair. “Thought you said last night was going to be an early one.”
“That was the plan, yeah.”
“Wasn’t early when you got in.”
Matt sipped his juice and shrugged.
“Did you get lucky?” Grandad asked, waggling his eyebrows.
“Oh, Jesus.” Matt drank the rest of his juice and then set the cup down. “I am not talking about my sex life with you, Grandad.”
“Why not?” Grandad demanded. “When you get to my age, you have to live vicariously!”
Matt snorted, and then stood and put his cup in the sink. “I’m pretty sure you don’t want to know all the details.”
“Well, you can leave out the stuff about penises, and I’ll just close my eyes and think of Julie Christie.”
“I don’t know who that is,” Matt said, running water in his cup.
“Bloody philistine,” Grandad said. “So, did you get lucky or not?”
Matt sighed and turned around to lean back against the counter. “I’m not talking about this with you!”
Charlie woke up long enough to lift his head and to wag his tail enthusiastically, then collapsed in a huff. He was big, and old and lazy, and spent most of his days sleeping.
“So anyway,” Matt said, shaking his head. “We are never going to mention this conversation again. Ever.”
“Sure, Matty,” Grandad said, lifting his mug and taking a sip of his tea. “Whatever you say.”
Last question, or rather a request: Rec us a romance you loved recently!
At the moment I’m reading Looking for Trouble, by Misha Horne, and I’m loving it! It’s a low-angst historical western with some kinky cowboys. I can’t recommend it enough!
Lisa likes to tell stories, mostly with hot guys and happily ever afters.
Lisa lives in tropical North Queensland, Australia. She doesn’t know why, because she hates the heat, but she suspects she’s too lazy to move. She spends half her time slaving away as a government minion, and the other half plotting her escape.
She attended university at sixteen, not because she was a child prodigy or anything, but because of a mix-up between international school systems early in life. She studied History and English, neither of them very thoroughly.
She shares her house with too many cats, a green tree frog that swims in the toilet, and as many possums as can break in every night. This is not how she imagined life as a grown-up.
Lisa graciously offered to give away 1 e-book of any of her titles, winner’s choice! To enter simply leave a comment on this post (and please leave your email address so we can reach you!)
Winners will be chosen on Sunday, September 16th, 12pm CET!
This giveaway is open internationally!