It doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you
Just Because You’re Paranoid is book nine in the Operation Quickline series, featuring Lisa Wycherly and Sid Hackbirn as a pair of spies trying to live normal lives. The book runs about 300 pages, and is available as a paperback at $15.99 or ebook at $3.99 at the fine retailers below.
Synopsis for Just Because You’re Paranoid
Lisa Wycherly and Sid Hackbirn find themselves up against a relentless enemy and about to get the shock of their lives in book nine of the Operation Quickline series. First, there’s the wedding. Not Sid and Lisa’s, but her cousin Maggie’s, where Sid and his son, Nick, raise all sorts of eyebrows.
Then there’s the attempt on Sid’s life. Then Sid and Lisa’s good friends are recruited into their top secret organization. Then there’s Lisa’s sister being jealous, and a new house getting close to being ready, and Sid and Lisa’s own wedding to work on, and Nick bringing home every bug there is at his new school and sharing it with his parents.
Being highly-trained top secret counter-intelligence agents will only help so far as the circles of family complications ripple outward. Sid and Lisa try to cope with the multiple surprises as they train their two friends and track down a ruthless killer determined to take both of them out.
Check out the series page
Read the first chapter
How I wrote it
I have to say that Just Because You’re Paranoid is one of my favorites in the Quickline series. One is the coincidence that drives a lot of the action. Believe it or not, I set that one up in the very first Quickline book, That Old Cloak and Dagger Routine. I’m not sure why I did, to be honest, but it seemed like a fun idea.
And, if I am honest, there is a part of me that loves doing exactly what people tell me I can’t do. Typically, you do not want to base a plot on coincidence. It does strain believability. But some writer I knew once talked about it as if coincidence was the kiss of death. It’s not. Weird coincidences happen in real life all the time. The trick, as another writer pointed out, is to acknowledge that this is one weird coincidence. Or, as Lisa writes in the first sentence of Just Because You’re Paranoid, “one that was so bizarre and improbable that it could only have happened in real life.”
Which is fun because I’m not writing real life. I’m writing fiction.
Writing real life
Which is also ironic, because the other thing that I love about this book is that it is also about real life. In the vast majority of books, the characters don’t get colds or the flu. But I had Sid pick up a bug in That Old Cloak and Dagger Routine because that’s how it happens in real life. And in Just Because You’re Paranoid, Sid and Lisa have a new kid in the household, who’s going to a new school. If you’re a parent, you know what this means. Bugs, and I’m not talking insects. So, everyone takes turns getting sick.
The AIDS subplot
And speaking of… Sid’s AIDS status is still part of the plot. It’s been over six months since his last contact, so you’ve probably figured out that he doesn’t have it, even if he hasn’t in the book. Well, they really didn’t know how long it took for HIV to show up in the bloodstream at that time. But I didn’t want Sid to have it. It would be series over. So, why have it in there if he’s not going to have it? There are two reasons.
One is that someone who played around as much as Sid did in the earlier books would have been very much at risk, even if it was still unlikely. Not dealing with that risk would not have made sense. The other reason is a little… Okay. I wanted Lisa to make it to the wedding a virgin. The problem is, she wouldn’t cooperate.
Lisa has always been a very open-minded character, even as a church-goer. She’d have to have been to have moved into Sid’s house in the first place. In Sad Lisa, when Father John points out that it isn’t her religious beliefs that are keeping her out of Sid’s bed, it propels her into facing the real reason she’s holding out – Sid’s fidelity. Once that’s resolved, then it only made sense to let things happen.
Except that I didn’t want to do it that way, and I did need to deal with the reality of AIDS, so…
Finally, I really love the title. It was one of my favorite bumper stickers/posters/tshirts back in the day.