Guest Author Kaylea Cross takes you on a Deadly Descent… Back to Blog

Happy Friday, everyone!! I hope you are all gearing up for a great weekend. And, speaking of the weekend, author Kaylea Cross is here to kick things off in style for us. She’s sharing a great guest post & offering one lucky commenter a copy of her book, DEADLY DESCENT.  Welcome, Kaylea!

All In the Name of Research

Thanks to Cynthia for having me here on her blog today!

One of the things I love best about writing military romance is the research I get to do. Having never served in the military (because I’m a wimp) or experienced combat (thank God), I have to rely on other sources for my information. Books, mostly, and some info provided by the good old Internet. But sometimes I get to do something really cool that makes my inner geek cackle with glee.

While researching Deadly Descent, I had such an experience. An old softball buddy put me in contact with an Air Force Pararescue Jumper (PJ), which is no mean feat considering there are only 300-400 of them around. This same friend also hooked me up with a National Guard Black Hawk medevac pilot. I was beside myself with excitement. One simple e-mail, and I wound up with the two contacts I desperately needed for my book.

That was the fun part. The rest…not so much.

Since I was writing a book about a Black Hawk pilot, I felt it was my duty to bite the bullet and get on a helicopter to see what it was like. Problem is, I’m freaking terrified of flying. (I know! My characters would be so ashamed of me. *hangs head*)

Ever since a girl in my high school grad class was the sole survivor of a plane crash, I’ve been traumatized about getting on an aircraft of any kind. To me it seems about as risky as Russian roulette, and every time I have to fly it’s sheer agony for me and anyone unfortunate enough to be near me the day of the flight. I’m always shocked and relieved when I land safely, but still feel like I’ve dodged a bullet. And then I’m always aware that I still have to get back on a plane to get home again. But I digress.

No self respecting author of military romantic suspense can laud the accomplishments of their military heroes and heroines book after book, yet still be afraid of boarding a freaking aircraft. Since I write about Spec Ops guys fastroping from helos, and in Deadly Descent I wrote about a Black Hawk medevac pilot heroine, I had to put on my big girl panties and face my demons. I just couldn’t look myself in the mirror otherwise.

I should add that my father got his rotary wing licence last year and flies his helicopters every chance he gets, so I had ample opportunity to go up in a helo if I wanted to. Funny enough, I was always suddenly “busy” whenever he called to invite me to go up with him.

About two chapters into Deadly Descent, I’d had enough of my cowardly ways. I went up with dad’s instructor, who gleefully took me on a flight to “mimic inserting a group of SEALs on the beach”. Yee haw. I can’t even guess how many calories I burned on that two hour long flight. My heart slammed so hard during his dives and other scary aeronautical manuevers that I could feel it rattling away against my ribs, but I didn’t want to look like a total wimp so I bore it in silence and tried to pretend I wasn’t nervous in the least. From the pilot’s evil smirk, I’d have to say I didn’t quite pull it off.

To distract myself from the fear of falling out of the sky at any moment, I asked a continual string of questions about the helo, instrumentation, the scenarios in my book and everything I’d ever wanted to know about Black Hawks. Having survived that inaugural flight, I braved several more research flights (aren’t you so proud of me for my dedication to my craft?). After that I interviewed that Black Hawk medevac pilot I mentioned earlier, clearing up all my final questions about my plot, etc. Oh, and I interviewed a Canadian Navy pilot that survived a Sea King helo crash as pilot commander.

Thankfully I interviewed him after I’d finished my flights.

I want my writing to reflect the reality of what our soldiers do in the field, and I’m happy to say the PJ that helped me actually read Deadly Descent and e-mailed to say he thought I’d done a great job of portraying what goes on in the field. I’ll take that as a compliment.

I’m giving away a digital copy of Deadly Descent today, so please leave me a comment to enter the contest. Have any of you had to face your worst fears or phobias sometime in your life? Did anything help you overcome your fear? I’m never going to enjoy flying again, but hey, at least I got the details right in the book!

Kaylea Cross

Deadly Descent

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35 responses to “Guest Author Kaylea Cross takes you on a Deadly Descent…”

  1. Elisa says:

    Kaylea – I’m impressed you pushed through your fear in the name of research! I’m terrified of heights, but don’t have the benefit of an event to justify the fear (my parents said I was afraid of falling from a very early age). Makes a person wonder if that reincarnation stuff could be true.

    My great accomplishment over my fear was watching out the windows of the freaky glass elevators at the Marriott Marquis hotel in NYC while at conference. It’s not the most impressive, but it’s a start. Also, I’ve ridden on rides like the Mallaboomer at Disney’s California Adventure, which scare the crap outta me but I hate letting my fear win. Maybe someday, I’ll beat the fear totally.

    So my burning question for you is this: was the pilot with the evil smile hot? 🙂 (I get that he could’ve been older, but that’s not the image I had in my head.)

    what_ever_for (at) cox (dot) net

  2. Cynthia Eden says:

    Thanks for guest blogging, Kaylea!! And congrats on your release–can’t wait to read it!

  3. Jacquie Biggar says:

    My greatest fear is claustrophobia, I freak out totally when anything comes to close to my face. I have to close my eyes when my husband comes close or I cringe away. I’ve tried to overcome it but so far no good. I also don’t do well in enclosed spaces. It sucks!

  4. Judi L says:

    Don’t enter me in the giveaway as I started Deadly Descent yesterday and am loving it. Wow Kaylea good on you for facing your fears. I just wanted to stop in and say how much I am enjoying your latest release.

  5. May P. says:

    Public Speaking… ever since grade school… Needless to say, high school english presentations were a nightmare for me….

    Thank goodness it’s over…

  6. donnas says:

    Luckily I have only faced some of them. It did not help me get over them but it did teach me I can deal with them and function if I have too.

  7. kaylea cross says:

    Hi, Elisa! I’m not a huge fan of heights either. My hubby is just as afraid of flying as I am, yet he’s a theme park junkie and will go on any ride in the park. How in the heck does that work? I give you credit for going on the Mallaboomer. I totally skipped that one.

    Um, the pilot was cute in a grandfatherly way, but the Pararescue Jumper I got in contact with to help me with research questions was HOT. So. Freaking. Hot. *melt*

    • Elisa says:

      I knew someone had to have been hot, should’ve figured it was the PJ.

      As to the theme park rides, I’m actually similar to your husband. For whatever reason, if I’m sufficiently strapped in (e.g. more than a lap bar) I’m game for most rides. I might do okay w/ repelling because you’re strapped into a harness, etc. (but maybe not). I actually hope to get up the courage for a skydive sometime, but that time is definitely not now. 🙂

  8. kaylea cross says:

    Cynthia, thanks so much again for having me. You always make me feel so welcome. Maybe it’s that Southern hospitality thing? Maybe Katie’s told you that I’m a wannabe Southerner. She said I could be an honorary one when I come to visit 🙂

  9. kaylea cross says:

    Jacquie, I hear ya. Confined spaces…ick. I’ll never forget a scene in the Ashley Judd movie Double Jeopardy when she wakes up inside a closed coffin–with a dead body next to her. *shudder* That creeped me out completely!

  10. kaylea cross says:

    Judi, thanks for coming by and letting me know! I love Cam…

  11. kaylea cross says:

    May, I don’t think many people like public speaking when they’re in school, especially. One of my teachers always said we should imagine the audience naked, but that would either have icked me out, or left me standing there wide-eyed, lol.

    Donna, good for you! I wish there was a magic spell that could take the fear away. Unless you have a phobia you can’t understand just how frightened you become when you have to face your fear.

  12. You are so totally brave. I have a fear of flying, but have managed to get on airplanes. A helo? NEVER. Good luck on the new release. It looks great.

  13. AprilR says:

    What a great post. I can hardly wait to read this. As you are a new author to me. But I enjoy romance with hot pilots,military romance,yeah.I think we all have fears at one point or another. I have never flown but would love to,I think. But to jump out Don’t think so. How brave of you to push pass your fears. As a child I was scared of things that might be under my bed,so I would never hang my feet off the bed at night,but can’t stand to have my feet covered up..Deadly Decent sounds exciting,intriging and full of suspense.Good luck and please,please pick me to win…

    • kaylea cross says:

      I always had an active imagination as a child too (shocking, since I turned out to be a writer), so I remember being scared to put my feet on the floor in the middle of the night.

  14. Colleen says:

    I have a big fear of falling from high places… I have trouble climbing more than 3 steps on a ladder… no problem with rollercoasters, but I really do not like the ferris wheel… I have climbed to the roof when I was younger to help my dad with stuff, but still take forever getting down clinging for dear life the whole way… I deal with it, but I have to take baby steps and as long as I need…

    • kaylea cross says:

      I think you nailed it. It’s not a fear of heights most people have, it’s a fear of FALLING from those heights. *shudder*

      And hey, baby steps are still steps. Good on you!

  15. Julie Newberry says:

    Hi, I have a complete fear of heights, anything over house height, so I feel for you, Although I overcame my fear so I could go on honeymoon to Mexico, it was so bad, going up in the plane, we had to change planes in Toronto too, going up and down in the plane was the worst experience of my life, so much so that I have never done it again, our honeymoon was in 1997, so our holidays are stuck here in the UK, with awful weather, I should probably try again, it would be good for the children to experience the rest of the world x x

    • kaylea cross says:

      I can totally relate. We’ve passed up so many trips, holidays, etc, simply because of the flights. (My hubby doesn’t like flying any more than I do.) But now that we’ve got kids, it’s terrible for them to miss out on opportunities just because they’re parents are traumatized 🙂

    • kaylea cross says:

      Julie, congratulations, you’re the winner of the copy of Deadly Descent! Please e-mail me at, so I can send you the book. Hope you enjoy it!

  16. Viki says:

    First, I commend you on facing your fear of flying. I don’t have that fear but know many people who do.

    This will sound stupid but I had a real fear of being put under for surgery. When I was little my uncle told me that they were killing you and slowly bringing you back to life. Well it stuck with me. I was okay with two C-sections because I was awake but when I got breast cancer I was scared silly. I really wasn’t afraid of the cancer, figured God would be there. But as soon as I went for surgery the old line came back to me. Well needless to say I survived 2 surgeries but still have that fear.

    • kaylea cross says:

      I don’t think that’s a “silly” fear at all. Going under isn’t very much fun. The last surgery I had was on my knee, and I totally fought it when they put me under. It felt like my head was being squeezed in a vise and I remember trying to move, escape from what was happening. Only I was paralyzed and couldn’t move. Ick! Sounds like a horror movie!

      I hope all is well with your health now. Breast cancer is so prevalent and so scary.

  17. Diane Sadler says:

    You are braver than I. Heights are a very big problem for me and the thought of thinking of a helicopter gives me the willies.

  18. Na says:

    My fear may be an odd one but it’s always been there. Balloons! I hate the sound of them popping and don’t want them anywhere near me. I wouldn’t say I have conquered them but I do “tolerate” them. By the way I’m really happy to discover a Canadian author =)

    • kaylea cross says:

      Hi, Na! *waves from Vancouver, which is really beautiful despite the 6.4 earthquake we just had*

      I’ve never heard of that phobia before, but there you go. Phobia’s aren’t logical, are they? I wonder if someone scared you with a popped balloon when you were small and that’s what started it?

  19. Michele says:

    Hi Kaylea 🙂

    Great interview, insight on what an author will do is amazing 🙂 Your book sounds amazing, definitely being added to my TBR list. I recently started reading military books and loving them.

    Phobia for me is spiders. Yes they are small, but I just freak out if I come up on one. Just a big baby about them 🙂

    Thanks for stopping by and talking about DEADLY DESCENT 🙂

  20. kaylea cross says:

    Ew, spiders! They really are creepy, especially the way they move. Do you suck them up with the vacuum? Or make someone else get rid of them? I try to transfer the ones I find outside, unless they’re really big. Then they get the atomic flush ;).

  21. teresa says:

    Lucky you! Seriously…flew in a helicopter once and was surprised that I wasn’t terrified. On planes a lot ( or I guess in is better ) but the helicopter I thought would be scary , but not ! Love your books , already have Deadly Decent .

  22. kaylea cross says:

    Hi, Teresa, thanks for coming by. I think part of my problem is that I’m a control freak, and being strapped into the back of an airplane 30,000 feet in the air takes any illusion of control away.

    Glad you braved a helo flight!

  23. Cathy MacDonald says:

    Well, I’ve always been afraid of heights, but decided for my 30th birthday to go for broke and take a tandem skydiving jump. The most frightening thing I ever did, and wow what a rush. Didn’t get over my fear, but faced them for one memorable day.

  24. Stephenia says:

    I don’t do heights well. In the Navy I had to evacuate a patient off the ship in a motor whale boat (think giant row boat) that was hanging from a few cables topside. I had to take the giant leap of faith up and over the side of the ship (about five stories up) to get in the swaying boat. Then stand up with my feet on either side of the patient’s torso, holding my rope steady while three of us helped guide the boat down to the water. It seemed like the longest descent ever, I had a life jacket on and can swim, so it wasn’t the fear of dropping in the water. But rather the sensation of hanging in the air while standing in the swinging boat. Yikes!

  25. Colleen says:

    Cynthia I was curious about the winners for the guest posts from before your release party…

  26. Fantastic article! I’ll subscribe correct now wth my feedreader software application and my seotons!