Please join me in welcoming Tori St. Claire to Debbie's Book Bag today. Tori's novel, Stripped is an erotic romantic suspense story that will have readers both biting their nails and looking for a fan... The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for one copy of Stripped, see details at the end of the post.
What’s It Take to be A Black Opal?
In STRIPPED, Natalya Trubachev works for the elite Black Opals, an undocumented branch of the CIA. For a quick description:
They exist only in shadow. An elite team of deadly operatives created to satisfy increasing international threats. Their world is the dark underground, where sin and pleasure dominate and lies are second nature. To those who cross them, they are professional killers. Within the CIA, they are the rare Black Opals . . .
But what’s that mean, and where’d the idea come from?
Let’s come back to the first part of that question and focus for a minute, on where the idea came from.
Given the nature of Natalya’s job, the demands she must meet and the level of espionage that she’s involved in, I was faced with the choice of either making her a ‘rogue’ operative, or legitimize her further with fellow operatives that walked the same thin line between right and wrong. A rogue would have fun, but it would have been very limiting. Even if she saved the world, she’d still be wanted for the crimes she’s committed. Which left me with the alternative of having a covert group of operatives.
A whole group of people to play with? Whoo-boy! Sign me up! I leapt on that when the idea sneaked into my head. Now I didn’t just have one operative who walked the line, but a whole bunch of characters doing these extreme deeds, a whole group of men and women who, depending on which angle you looked at, might be criminal or might be hero.
On a little more practical side of the thought process – the depth of duplicity Natalya is involved in, the extreme acts she must engage in, aren’t possible without a network of professional associates backing her. To get to where she is in Russia, to achieve the goals she holds dear, she’s got to have others supporting her.
So, justification in place, then came the problem of naming the group. If you ask many of the people who know me I can’t sum up something in a sentence. I. Love. Words. And I must have gone through dozens of thoughts trying to come up with something that appealed to me, that both conveyed what I wanted and sounded enticing.
Black Opal came about with some back-and-forth brainstorming with my critique partners. I think we were at Shadow something… and Cathy said one thing, Dyann said another, and I said “Black Opals!”
To me, “Black Opal” conveys rare elegance. Just like the physical black pearl is rare and beautiful, I wanted that class stamped on the concept of the team. “Black” carries the connotation of darker, as opposed to say a “fire opal”. I also figured that, if we’re talking official reports, government documentation – code names using “Black Opal” wouldn’t stand out so obviously.
So what would Natalya’s job-description look like?
1. Must possess the ability to lie without hesitation
2. Possesses a mastery with firearms and the ability to shoot without flinching, ask questions later
3. Must be capable of setting aside personal moral convictions to accomplish the duty at hand
4. Must be willing to be non-existent within society, outside the scope and parameter of the assigned mission
And the all-important clause:
Must never allow one’s heart to become entangled with the mission.
Just a hint from me – if you encounter a Black Opal… run. I promise, you won’t escape their clutches unscathed.
The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for one copy of Stripped by Tori St. Claire.
~ You must be a GFC follower or E-mail subscriber to participate.
~ US and Canadian addresses only.
~ The deadline to enter this giveaway is Midnight EST January 23rd.
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