Relationship gurus Shanon and Jay Lovejoy’s marriage is already on the rocks when Jay’s mistress turns up dead in their hotel room in Billingsley’s A Little Bit of Karma (Gallery, Sept.).
This is your first romantic suspense novel. Tell me about what drew you to the genre.
I kind of wanted to go outside the box. I do generally stick to more family, mainstream stories. And I don’t get to travel as much as I would love to, so I wanted to do something that encompassed that, where I could just let my imagination, along with some romance and suspense, take me away.
Your novels are typically faith-based. Would you say that faith still plays a role in A Little Bit of Karma?
I am a Christian who writes fiction, but I also write reality. Faith is going to resonate in anything that I write. It’s always going to be there, underlying my characters. One of the things I wanted to do with this one was show what happens when there’s a lack of faith: Shannon does not have faith in her relationship, in her marriage. So, while faith may not be as prominent as it is in my other books, it’s there under the surface.
Why did you choose to turn a spotlight on infidelity?
I don’t think that any one person is all good or all bad. And we are not as bad as our worst mistake. That’s really what I wanted to focus on. I never justify infidelity, but I also wanted to take a look at the roles that we as individuals play in the disintegration of our own relationships. It’s so complex and multilayered, and I wanted to show that it’s not as easy as somebody waking up one day and deciding to cheat.
What inspired you to focus on a celebrity couple?
It just bugs me to no end to see couples—their marriages, and their relationships—play out in the public eye. But it’s par for the course and one of the things that comes with being a celebrity. And so many people covet the lifestyles of celebrities. They’ll say, “They look like they have the perfect relationship,” and then judge their own relationship based on that. But really, everything is not always as it seems.
How did you approach all the twists and turns the story takes?
I do not like predictability. So one of the things I challenge myself to do as a writer is to make sure that if the reader feels like this story is about to take a right turn, then I want to go big bang. I want to take the reader on a ride, and if they know they have a smooth-coasting straight shot to their destination, then I’m failing them, because I’m challenging myself to make their adventure exciting.