August 5, 2022

Elizabeth Goddard Talks About Critical Alliance

Elizabeth Goddard

Critical Alliance is the last installment of my Rocky Mountain Courage series, so I’d already put a lot of elements in place. My series is set in a fictional county in southwest Montana. I chose Montana because the state would make a stunning backdrop for my action-adventure stories, and well, setting inspires me. Southwest Montana is the west gate of Yellowstone National Park, one of my favorite places in the world. My Uncommon Justice series was set in the Jackson Hole region near Grand Teton National Park, which is close to Yellowstone in Wyoming. Okay, I’ll admit—I kind of wanted to stay in the area with my Rocky Mountain Courage series because I love it so much!

My husband is from Montana and my love of the region is all his fault! I dedicated Critical Alliance to him.

For the characters, many of them were already in place from the previous books, but I still needed to flesh out my Diplomatic Security Services special agent Alex Knight. Alex was a character from the first two books who would become the hero in Critical Alliance. Of course, then I had to add his romantic interest—Mackenzie Hanson—and I didn’t know her.

For the proposal to my publisher, I created a blurb for the story. I usually have ideas for storylines and characters floating around in my head along with random plots points. I pull from that and start the creative process. The short summary I send to my publisher will change quite a bit during the writing process. In Critical Alliance, my characters’ names changed along with a lot of the details, but the main plot of the story remained the same regarding the high-tech company in Montana, a mysterious death, and a cyber security expert. My character, Mackenzie Hanson, was hiding information and she needed to hack into the company’s system.

I started figuring out the story by pairing my DS special agent with a cyber security specialist. The Diplomatic Security Services is a largely unknown federal agency under the State Department. Agents are responsible for protecting diplomats and embassies around the world, but they also combat visa and passport fraud, investigate counterterrorism, counterintelligence, cybersecurity. . . well, you get the idea. Because of Alex’s background I decided to increase the stakes by making Mackenzie a former illegal hacker. I had to dig deep into the cybercriminal world, and I worked with a cyber-security expert to learn what Mackenzie could do and what crimes were possible for a hacker to commit. The information I learned was somewhat terrifying, but I had an arsenal available to throw at my characters—which I did!

Once the setting and the characters were in place along with a general plot, then I needed to discover what kinds of things could happen to them in Montana. This is where the setting really plays a big role and can become a character too. I love adventure stories, but I try to pull in larger issues to create a high-stakes plot. I loved the characters, the setting and writing Critical Alliance. I’m going to miss Montana, but at least in my new series set in Alaska, I’ll get to spend time with one of my characters from Critical Alliance.

Elizabeth Goddard is the USA Today bestselling and award-winning author of more than fifty novels, including Present Danger and the Uncommon Justice series. Her books have sold over
one million copies. She is a Carol Award winner and a Daphne du Maurier Award finalist. When she's not writing, she loves spending time with her family, traveling to find inspiration for her next book, and serving with her husband in ministry. For more information about her books. visit her website at


  1. Melissa HendersonJuly 5, 2022 at 6:50 PM

    I have read Critical Alliance and it is a great story! :-)

  2. Elizabeth writes great stories. Looking forward to her new series.

  3. I started Critical Alliance last night, and could not put it down! I finally made myself stop reading at 1 a.m. I'm almost finished. Love it!!