Sunday, April 18, 2010

Welcome to R. Ann Siracusa's guest blog

Welcome Ms. Siracusa to Love Romances and More, thank you for joining us.

Thank you so much for inviting me, Danny. I’m pleased to have this opportunity to chat.

Did you always want to become a writer?

Intuitively, yes, but like many authors, I got sidetracked. I’ve always liked to read and write stories, and I had a wonderful English teacher who encouraged me to write, but I never considered it as a profession. Maybe because I decided in junior high school (yes, that’s what middle school was called in the “olden days”) that I wanted to be an architect. I focused my energy toward that, earned a degree in Architecture from UC Berkeley, got married and was caught up in family and profession.

All my life I’ve been an avid fiction reader, and I did a lot of non-fiction professional writing during my career, but I didn’t follow up on my interest in fiction writing until I was in my forties. Not starting when I was young is one of my biggest regrets in life.

What is the most, and the least interesting fact about writing?

If you mean, what do I find the most interesting about writing, it’s the conscious creative process and its connection to the subconscious―the way the mind creates a problem and then solves it. The part of the writing profession I find least interesting is marketing and promotion.

How did you celebrate your first release? What was it like to see your book in a bookstore? Do you have a special ritual for celebrating a book release?

I was excited, but I don’t remember doing anything special. I don’t have any rituals to celebrate a book release, probably because there’s so much marketing to do that I don’t have time. And by the time one book comes out, I’m already emersed in the next one.

How did your family react to fact that you write romance novels? Have your family read your book?

Families, even when they’re totally supportive, they can be a writer’s worst enemy without meaning to be. Unless one of them is also a writer, they haven’t got a clue. My family is fine with my writing romance novels, but they look at it as a hobby or something to keep me busy, not as a profession or a calling.

My husband read one of the drafts of my first novel [a Mafia thriller, not a romance], but none of the others. My daughter read the Mafia book after it was published and loved it, but doesn’t read my e-books. My sons don’t read fiction and have never read anything I’ve written and would probably be bored stiff if they did.

Most authors are also avid readers. Is this the case with you? If so, who are some of your favorites? Have any influenced your writing?

I’m an avid reader and very eclectic. I read everything, but at any given time I’ll usually be reading in the same genre that I’m writing. I particularly like mysteries, science fiction, and action/adventure, and books that make me laugh out loud.

A few of my more-or-less contemporary favorites include: P.D.James, Karen Rose, Ian Fleming, Janet Evanovich, Katie MacAlister, Sue Grafton, Erlene Fowler, Tony Hillerman, Ken Follet, Dick Francis, Issac Asimov, C.J.Cherryh, Andre Norton, Carl Hiaasen, Bob Mayer, Ann McCaffrey, Helen MacInnes, Linda Howard, J.D.Robb, Daphne DuMaurier, S.L.Stebel, Thomas Harris, Rosamunde Pilcher. I like the classics, too, and favor Dante, Shakespear, and Mark Twain. And I am always finding new authors that I love to read.

And yes, other authors definitely influence my writing. If I could emulate any authors, dead or alive, I would like to be a combination of Dick Francis and Katie MacAlister (with touches of Janet Evanovich and Linda Howard for the sex scenes). Strive for the best, I always say.

Do you feel each of your characters live with you as you write? Do their lives sometimes take over a part of your life? Can you name an example? Do you have living role models for your characters?

Yes, I do live with some of my characters (not all), and ocassionally they take over. It can be scary to realize you’ve done or said something totally out of character for you, but exactly what your protagonist/antagonist would do under those circumstances. While I was writing the Mafia novel “Family Secrets,” my antagonist bought a big black New Yorker with all the luxuries, which was so not me. My next car, which I chose, was a flashy silver Fiero.

I don’t use living role models for characters, but I use events and experiences of family, friends and acquaintences, and characteristics and traits of people I know. In my mind, I sometimes cast a particular actor, actress or celebrity in the character’s role, so in that sense I have living models, but it’s more likely to be a role the person has played, rather than the individual’s personality.

What do you consider to be the key elements of a great story?

• Character Development (vivid characters you love and can root for or love to hate)
• Action (a plot that moves, hangs together, and something is happening all the time).
• Tension
• Grounding (the ambiance and sense of time and place fit and enhance the story).

Could you tell us a little about how you develop your characters? Who has been your favorite character to write? The most challenging?

Most of the time the plot idea comes first, and I have to find the right characters for the story. But every now and then a character pops up in my mind, and it’s a question of what would engage that character and then finding the correct story.

As I write the backstory for my own use, I begin to see more clearly the characteristics, goals, and motivations of the characters. Often, as I write, a character will reveal something I didn’t know that surprises me. I’ve learned not to change those things. Instead, I run with them, and eventually I find out there’s a good reason the character did or said something, or reacted in a certain way. Again, it’s that connection between the conscious creative mind and the subconscious.

Will Talbot is definitely the hottest hero and was my favorite character to write. I am so-oo in love with Will. He’s perfect on the outside (Strong, handsome, patient and compassionate, successsful, does what’s right, has a great sense of humor, definitely bigger than life) and vulnerable on the inside. He has a dark past, huge issues with trust and guilt, and because of post-traumatic memory loss, doesn’t know why. He’s a gorgeous hunk who has it all, who needs to be “saved.” Everything a woman loves.

When I thought about which was the most challenging, I decided they all were, but for different reasons. What’s challenging is getting inside the mind of someone else and “being” that person.

Do you feel your writing is character driven or plot driven? How do you balance these two elements?

My novels are about sixty-forty, tending toward plot driven. I find it hard to separate plot and character. For me, fiction is all about people reacting to circumstances and each affecting the other. If I put one set of characters into a given story idea, it becomes this novel. If I put different characters into the same situation, it ends up a different novel because the characters react differently. The characters’ reactions, in turn, affect the action/plot. The old chicken and egg symdrome.

Where do you get the inspirations for your books?

Everyone you see, everyone you meet, has a story. Ideas are everywhere. Newspapers, television, something that happened on the way to work, something a friend tells you about Aunt Tilly, and so on. Since I like to travel as much as I like to write, I use my travel experiences as fodder for novels, both in terms of characters, settings, and incidents. I keep my eyes and ears open and always ask, “What if?” And since I like to write mysteries and intrigue, the “What if?” is often “And what if they found a dead body?”

Do you find it difficult at times to write love scenes?

I need to be in the mood. Last year I tried to write a sex scene while bouncing along in a mini-bus on a bumpy highway in India with 30 other people. Tried, hungry, and sweating profusely in hundred degree heat, I balanced my mini-laptop on my knees and tried to get the words into the computer before the battery gave out. Needless to say, the scene turned out to be totally underwhelming. Soft music, a glass of wine, a fur rug, and bare skin can work wonders.

Do you have a problem with deadlines and have you ever suffered a writer’s block?

I believe all authors, at one time or another, have problems with deadlines and with writer’s block…one or the other, or both at the same time. And then there are computer problems. That’s what causes most of my angst. But no matter what, the professional puts his/her butt in the chair and writes. Professionals meet their deadlines. Period.

Do you prefer stand-alone books or series (As a reader or a writer)?

Having read and written series myself, I believe both readers and authors hate to say good-bye to characters they love and want to spent time with. Occasionally, a particular setting is powerful enough to engender the same feeling of wanting more. As a reader, I love a series that grabs me on some level. I’ll buy the next book because I liked the last one, and I know what to expect.

However, as both a reader and writer, I’ve found that most series have a natural life span, particularly if it involves the same main characters.

What I don’t like is reading the same information [usually backstory] over and over in every book. I also expect the characters to grow during the course of a book. That’s what the journey is all about. If the same characters show up in a second book, I expect them to be smarter or changed as the result of what happened in that first book. Too often, repeat characters haven’t changed as a result of the darkest moment, the Ah-Ha moment, the sacrifice or whatever, or they’ve changed in a way that doesn’t allow for more growth.

The author’s challenge is to be sure the characters grow and change but are still loveable and have more to learn. Making books fun and exciting and still maintaining that growth curve is what, I believe, creates the natural life span of a series. It’s like retiring from a sport. It’s best to quit while you’re the champion.

If you could change places with one character from your book, who would it be and why?

Harriet Ruby in the Tour Director Extraordinaire series. She’s young, smart, good looking, and fun. Her man is so hot he could melt butter in the dead of winter at the South Pole, and he’s devoted to her. The sex is terrific. She gets to travel the world, experience exciting adventures, and always comes out on top (a little banged up and bruised, but still the victor). Oh, yeah. She’d be the one I’d change places with.

What is your favorite book from the books that you have written so far? Who are your favorite hero and heroine, and why?

My favorite novel is the Mafia thriller “Family Secrets: A Vengeance of Tears” which is set in Sicily immediately after WWII. Why? Because Sicily has a fascinating culture with an incredible history, and the novel captures a slice of Sicily that exists now only in the memories of those individuals who grew up in that era. Also, the book incorporates many Siracusa family “events” and stories given to me by my husband’s relatives, and it encapsulates the culture my husband grew up in.

I’ve already explained why Will Talbot is my favorite hero. My favorite heroine is Harriet Ruby, Tour Director Extraordinaire. She’s strong, sexy and lovable because of her off-beat humor and attitude and the way she handles whatever life throws at her with good sense and humor, although she’s seems to attract major and minor disasters. She’s fun and smart, and I love spending time with her.

Would you like to give another genre a try?

I’ve been an avid science fiction fan for years but have never had the confidence to write it. I’d love to try that. I write cross-genre, which has been a problem for getting a career going, but I get bored with the same genre all the time.

Which book was the hardest to write and which the easiest?

Family Secrets: A Vengeance of Tears” was the hardest because it was my first novel, the longest, and it’s an historical set in a different country and culture than my own, which required intensive research including several trips to Sicily and interviews in Italian and Sicilian.

The easiest was “All For A Dead Man’s Leg.” Even thought it was my first attempt at humor, writing in first person, and writing without a tight outline, the characters and story fit perfectly. They took over and wrote it for me. All I had to do was type.

The most fun to write was “All For A Fist Full Of Ashes.” There’s a whole story behind that one.

If you could choose one of your books for a movie, which one would it be and who would you as the cast?

“Family Secrets: A Vengeance of Tears.” It’s dramatic and very visual. At the time I wrote it, I did have certain actors (Nicholas Cage, for one) and an actress in mind, but they would no longer fit the roles. Today, I can’t say who would be best suited to play the parts.

What do you feel is the most important aspect a new author should remember when writing/creating their own stories? Any advice for aspiring authors?

In judging contests, I find that new authors invariably start with pages and pages back story. My advice to the new author: First, learn the craft of writing a novel. Second, just tell the story you want to tell. Third, kill the back story. Readers are interested in what is happening now. Feed them back story in small pieces and only what they need to know at that point in time to keep from pulling out of the story. Now, not later or before. Nothing more than what is needed, nothing less.

In general, my advice to aspiring authors: Run away from home! Actually, that’s the best piece of advice I can give, but since that may not be possible, here are some practical ideas which nearly every author advocates in one form or another.

▪ Start today. Don’t put it off. The “right time” never comes.

▪ Set aside and schedule a time to write, even if its only fifteen minutes a day, and stick with it. Don’t allow interruptions.

▪ Learn the craft of writing (plotting, structure, character development, etc.) and practice by writing and writing. There is no substitute for craft.

▪ Network with people who know the craft and the business: other writers, editor, agents, booksellers.

▪ Learn to take criticism and learn the difference between useful and hurtful criticism.

▪ Be persistent and never get discouraged, but be honest with your expectations.

▪ Read. Lots. Variety. But also read books in the genre you want to write in. Do your homework.

▪ Don’t expect writing to be easy. It’s hard work but worth it.

▪ Learn all you can about your computer and programs you intend to use. Otherwise, you will go nuts.

▪ Learn to write anywhere and use whatever time is available to write.

▪ Learn to “write by the rules” first, then break them as a conscious choice, not from ignorance.

▪ Finish the book. Don’t get stuck rewriting the first couple of chapters over and over.

▪ Send your work out (it will never get published if you don’t), but do your homework. Follow the rules. Editors and agents have lots to choose from and are looking for reasons to turn you down.

▪ Learn to take rejection without losing confidence. Learn how to extract useful feedback.

▪ If you are serious, you must approach writing as a business.

▪ Enjoy the journey.

Have you ever been nervous over reader reaction when a new book comes out? How much does reader response mean to you over your books? What do you hope readers get from your books after they read them?

I don’t get nervous about reader reaction, but about sales. I want as many people as possible to read my books, to enjoy them, and to feel as though they have traveled with the characters to these places. I want them to laugh, have fun, and learn something they didn’t know. And, hopefully, to want more.

What season is your favorite and why?

Whatever season is coming next. I like them all, for a period of time, but after a while, I get tired of being too cold or too hot, or wishing for rain or sunny days. I suppose I like the mild weather seasons best (Spring and Autum) because those are the most pleasant times to travel.

What would we find on your bookcase if we looked? What is one of your favorite authors?

You really don’t want me to itemize that, do you? I don’t think so. I counted twenty shelves of books in my office (forget the rest of the house), half of which hold paperbacks that are double stacked with one row to the back, a second to the front. In addition, there are two 18” x 18” x 18” boxes of favorite books under my desk which I use constantly for reference. Plus my own books, manuscripts, and reference books above my computer. And seven large cartons of books in the garage. Oh, I forgot the big bag of books I brought from the last RWA conference and, of course, those that are on my e-book reader. And you expect me to know who my favorite author is?

What was the last book you read (e or print) and did you like it?

The last book I read was “Death Angel” by Linda Howard, and yes, I liked it. She is one of my many favorites…and she is a super nice and super fun person, too…and I was reminded once again that when you have a name and a strong readership, you can break all the “rules.”

What makes a good book to you?

Not being able to put it down. Being engaged by the characters, setting, and plot. Rooting for the characters, in spite of their flaws. The action is at least as important as characters. The book takes me to places I’ve never been (or have been and liked), gives me new experiences (or old ones that evoke strong feelings), lets me be anyone and everyone, and teaches me things I don’t know (or know and need to be reminded). Finally, a good book challenges me as a reader and doesn’t make everything too easy.

How does reader feedback matter to you?

Reader feedback is very important to me. First, because readers buy books. Second, an author wants to sell books, so what readers want and enjoy does matter in deciding what the author writes. Third, it’s nice to get a pat on the back once in a while.

Are you ever nervous when a new book comes out?

No. By then it’s a done deal and nothing can change it. I do get nervous about the task of marketing. Once the book is released, my marketing can make or break it.

If you could travel through time to visit a special time period or famous person, what or who would it be and why?

I would like to be present when human kind discovers other sentient beings in the universe. Unfortunately, I don’t know what that special time period would be or who I’d be with. If you mean, in the past, then I would have to think about it. There are so many interesting places, events and people.

What character out of all your books is the closest to your personality?

Probably Delane in “Aftershocks” (an unpublished romance novel), although I’m sure many of my characters have bits and pieces of me. Some of them are what I would like to have been, but wasn’t. I feel most comfortable with the Harriet Ruby character. A lot of her mental snarkiness is mine. While I also had a normal “good but predictable” childhood without any really big problems, Harriet’s upbringing was her own and produced a different person. While we share some characteristics, she is not me, and I am certainly not her. (I wish.)

What is your favorite movie of all time? The one where you can watch it and still get affected at the same spots each and every time?

I’m not a big movie goer, but I have a lot of “favorites” that I like to see over and over. I don’t think I could single one out as my “all time favorite” because there are certain aspects of each that stand out. I like movies that have surprise endings, like “Sixth Sense.” “Psycho” and “The Godfather” are others I’ve seen over and over and loved. “The Passion of the Christ” probably moves me most.

If you were stranded on a deserted island, what 5 things would you have with you?

Do you mean, what are the five things that I would choose to bring or things that I always have with me no matter what the circumstance? If I didn’t know where I was going but that’s where I ended up, I’d have my watch, maybe my cell phone with the battery run down, my glasses (although sometimes those disappear when I just had them on a few seconds ago), a book to read, and an extra pair of panties.

On the other hand, the five things I would take with me if I knew I was going to a deserted island include water, a hat, a cell phone that’s fully charge or some other form of communication, a mirror (great signaling device), and Will Talbot. Well, if I had Will, I’d probably switch out the mirror for a bottle of Bailey’s Irish Cream or Gran Marnier.

What is your favorite way to relax after a hard day working and writing?

Read, write, or quilt. These are the things that relax me and take me to other places, they challenge me to learn more and to aspire to greater things in life, and provide constant learning experiences.

Do you listen to music while you are writing and if so what music is it?

I like all kinds of music, and what I listen to depends a lot on the mood I’m in, what I’m doing, and who else is in the house or with me at the time.

I’m partial to Mozart, Chopin, and Rachmaninoff because I studied piano for over ten years and loved playing music by those composers. [I actually played the piano fairly well.] I also studied the violin for several years and did NOT play that very well. I enjoy Italian popular music from the sixties because that’s when I lived in Italy, fell in love, and got married. Those songs bring back a lot of sentimental memories.

When I’m writing, I don’t usually listen to music, but I’m trying to get my act together to download music appropriate to the kind of scene I’m writing because I do believe it has impact and gets the writer in the mood.

Big congrats to your latest release ALL FOR A FIST FULL OF ASHES. Can you please tell us something about the book?

All For A Fist Full Of Ashes” (released by Sapphire Blue Publishing at the end of October, 2009) is the second book in a humorous romantic suspense series featuring a young tour director, Harriet Ruby, and a handsome Europol spy, Will Talbot, with a troubled past. In book one, “All For A Dead Man’s Leg,” Harriet, conducting her first solo tour, meets Will in Morocco when one of her tourists dies.

The second book,“All For A Fist Full Of Ashes,” brings Harriet and Will, who have been seeing each other for a year, to Italy where their work assignments again overlap. Harriet is conducting a custom tour for fourteen members of an Italian-American family from New Jersey. The family matriarch is on a quest to find the unknown location of her mother's grave so she can bury her brother's cremated ashes. Will has one of the family members under surveillance as a suspect in an assassination plot.

Will charms the matriarch and coaxes an invitation from her to join the tour. The quirky family members, including four unruly teenagers and a pet green tree python, sweep through Italy searching for relatives and a lost grave and leave danger, chaos and hilarity in their wake.

Will and Harriet, on their own personal journey, find that traveling together for twenty-four hours a day threatens their budding relationship, which is fraught trust issues. Harriet wants to be involved in everything and Will wont tell her anything. Harriets intervention leads her to intuit the time, place and victim of the assassination attempt. Unable to reach Will, she puts herself in danger to thwart the assassination.

Each of the four books in the series, and possibly a fifth, takes the reader on a fast-paced romantic romp through exotic foreign lands with in hot pursuit of murderers, smugglers, international terrorists, and a healing and once-in-a-life-time love.


Chapter One

Nothing had happened―yet―but I knew in my bones that accepting this tour was a terrible mistake.
And it was all Will Talbot’s fault.
Guiding any private tour is questionable, but directing a jaunt around Italy with fourteen Italian-Americans from New Jersey? All family, for three weeks, with four teenagers?
What was I thinking? This was worse than tempting Fate. It was sending an engraved invitation.
Even though my name is Harriet Ruby, I’m part Italian myself. Believe me, I know what these family trips are like. My father, the non-Italian half of my heritage, likens any event involving my mother’s relatives to a train wreck. Actually, he’s part Italian too, but he would prefer gargling with razor blades before admitting it to anyone.
Even though I’d intended to turn down the assignment, there I sat outside the customs area at Malpensa Airport in Milan, Italy, holding a sign with Vita Spinella and Family printed on it. Without warning, a cold shiver skittered along my spine. My skin puckered like bubble wrap and all the fine hairs on my body stood at attention.
Within sixty seconds, the airport speaker system emitted a burst of static.
“Signorina Boobie. Would Miss Harriet Boobie please report to the Drogana―to the Customs area?”
Jeez, couldn’t anyone pronounce the name Ruby? I gathered my things together and hurried up to the policeman in full regalia, guns and all, by the Customs’ exit.
“I’m Miss Ruby,” I told him in Italian, enunciating the precise sound of my last name. “They called me over the speaker just now.”
“Go in, please.”
I jogged down the hallway ramp. Rounding the corner at the bottom, I skidded to a stop to avoid colliding with a nondescript man wearing an Italian Customs uniform, his face pinched with displeasure and his eyes radiating panic.
“Are you from Adventure Seekers Travel?” he asked in a loud agitated voice.
Oh, boy. I knew it. “Yes. What’s happened?”
No need to ask. Shouting in English and Italian drew my attention to a group people gathered around a nearby Customs station. Most of them waving their hands and yelling.
Two white-haired old ladies dressed in black and four teenagers stood to one side. A girl with long bleach-blond hair watched the fracas with heavily made up eyes and a pouty-lipped smile. A pretty brunette talked on her cell phone while she took a bottle of water from her backpack. The two boys―one with a wool beanie pulled down to his eyes, the other with spiky green hair―had iPods plugged into their ears and didn’t appear to notice anything amiss.
Beside them, the women watched in grim silence. The one scrunched in a wheelchair, appearing as withered and brittle as an old branch, held a heavy wooden cane across her bony knees. Vita Spinella and family.
On a high counter, three suitcases sat open and a large pile of luggage waited to be examined. Beside it, a well-dressed woman in her forties struggled with one of the Italian Customs officials.
“Give me those!” She gripped his upper arm and swiped at his face with her free hand.
Then I saw she grappled for the small box the man held out of her reach. A fat, red-tipped cigar hung from his lips. Yuck. No wonder the place stunk.
When another official reached for the woman from behind, a short stocky man in a suit pushed him back. “No, you don’t, pal.” He looked like a bulldog, and his deep and gravelly voice sounded mean.
“Take your hands off me!”
“They’re ours. Give them back,” another woman yelled.
The man who had met me on the way into Customs grabbed my sleeve. “Do something.”
“Why are you yelling at me?” I pulled away from him. “Who are these people?”
“They’re your tour group. You must stop this at once.”
Who me? “I’m supposed to break this up? I don’t even know them. Why don’t the police stop it?”
Before he could answer, the fragile old lady leaped out of her wheelchair, sidled between the other members of her family, and gave the man holding the box a horrendous blow across the ribs with her cane. I swear I heard the bones crack.
“Aiii!” he cried in pain, spewing the cigar out of his mouth. The box flew out of his hand and sailed through the air.
With a triumphant cry, the tiny woman, who could only be Vita Spinella, tossed aside the cane, sprang for the flying object, snatching it out of the air like a wide receiver and hit the ground running―as agile as one of the NFL’s finest.
“Stop her!” the man beside me shouted.
A police officer standing two or three feet away, shook off the amazement that had frozen him into immobility and grasped the old lady’s arm as she whizzed by. She screeched and whacked him with the box. The policeman raised his arm to protect his face and hit the box as it came down a second time. The lid flipped open, scattering a couple dozen brown cylinders across the floor.
I stared at the now-empty container.
Cuban cigars? Oh, boy.
Wailing with distress, the other old woman threw herself on her knees and began scooping cigars into her hands. The stocky man joined her and both of them scrambled about the floor, picking up the pieces.
Other policemen rushed forward to pull them away and trampled the Cubans underfoot. Tobacco leaves, residue, and little dark-colored chunks were scattered everywhere.
At that point, all the adults either shouted, swore, or wept.
In case you didn’t know, we Italians don’t have much in the way of volume control.
The bored-looking teenagers lounged against the counter and ignored the scene. Now, both girls were talking on their cell phones.
I’d been so intent on watching the show I paid no attention to anything else until I smelled something burning. I shifted my gaze to tendrils of smoke rising out of one of the open suitcases on the counter where, apparently, the official’s lit cigar had landed. At the same time someone hollered, “Get a fire extinguisher!”
A general cry went up. While the airport staff scurried, the brunette, without a twinge of expression or any hurry to her pace, clicked off her phone, sauntered up to the counter, and emptied the contents of her water bottle into the smoldering suitcase.
Sizzle. Pop.
As if by magic, the oldest boy in the beanie came out of his trance. His eyes widened and his mouth tightened into a thin line of anger as a final burst of steam hissed out of the open luggage.
“What’d you do that for, bitch?” He dashed to where the brunette stood and punched her in the shoulder.
“Hey, stop it!” She dropped the backpack she held by its strap and threw the empty plastic bottle at him.
The kid deflected it with his arm, and it bounced away into oblivion. “I had my PSP in there, dammit.”
“Oh, shut up, asshole.”
As the girl leaned over to pick up her bag, the youth pushed her. She stumbled backward into the man still crouched over and moaning from Vita’s blow. His hand splayed on the floor for balance, and she stepped on it―hard.
“Ahi, managia!” As he jerked his hand away, his fingers snagged onto the strap of her backpack.
She tottered, then pulled back, jerking the bag with her. “Get your hands off me, you dirty old man. Mm-other, Tony’s hitting me again!”
Without realizing I spoke out loud, I said to the policeman, “Please, shoot them. Now! You’ll be doing us all a favor.”
He grinned and gave me a thumbs-up.

Are you working on anything right now, and can you tell us a teaser about these projects?

There are two more books to the “Harriet Ruby, Tour Director Extraordinaire” series. The third, which should be released later this year, takes place in China. The fourth is set in Russia. The fifth book, currently being written, takes place in southern Africa. Each of the books takes the reader on a fast-paced romantic romp in some exotic location in hot pursuit of murderers, smugglers, international terrorists, and a healing and once-in-a-life-time love.

Also related to the series, SBP released a short Christmas story, “First Christmas Follies,” featuring Harriet and Will’s first Christmas together, and on April 19 SBP will release another short story about their “First Date.”

Excerpt from FIRST DATE

“That was absolutely the most embarrassing moment of my entire life.” I stomped into my hotel room and threw my backpack on the bed. My face burned, hands shaking as I tried to fasten the only button remaining on my blouse.
Will Talbot closed the door, slipped on the night chain, and watched my fumbling fingers with his arms crossed over his broad chest. “You’ve never been thrown out of a French restaurant before?”
Oo-kay, Harriet, you can forget about making a good first impression.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s not like Will and I haven’t been together before―you know, that way, too―but this was different.
It was our first real date.
I spun around with my fists planted on my hips in attack mode and got in his face. Well, his chest, anyway. I may be short, but I make up for it in determination. Maybe it’s more like lunacy.
“No! I’ve never been thrown out of any restaurant―in France or anywhere else.” I hesitated, fluttering a hand. “We-ll, I was asked to keep down the noise a few times―when I attended MIT―but that’s not the same as being told to leave.”
Chewing at my lower lip, I pressed closer to him and sheepishly sifted my fingers through his spiky, longer-than-military dark hair. I couldn’t sustain a state of high indignation when his nearness set me alight. Not when I wanted to kiss along his jaw line and nibble on his ear, sure that he would taste as good as he smelled. Yum.
His gaze dipped to my exposed cleavage and turned molten. His hands grasped my waist, pulling me into him, molding my soft curves against the hard muscled planes of his to-die-for body.
“Mmm. But you’ve never been asked to leave because you started undressing in public?” His husky voice made me shiver. “I didn’t see that one coming.” He shook his head as though still reeling with amazement.
“I’m sorry, Will. I don’t know what came over me at the restaurant.” My arms snaked around him, my hard tight nipples pushing through layers of fabric into his chest. “Hmm, actually…when you kissed me…you know I can’t keep my hands off you. Everything got kind of misty, and I forgot where we were.” I stopped to see if I was drooling on his shirt. “I never behaved like this before I met you…”

Thank you so much for having me today, Danny. It’s been a real pleasure. I’ve enjoyed meeting everyone, and hope I’ll have the opportunituy to come back in the future.


Katie Reus said...

Great interview and advice to new authors :) I love Linda Howard too, she's one of my all time faves!

MaryG said...

Great interview, Ann. I loved reading the excerpts from your books.

Toni Noel said...

Ann, I love it that you fell in love with your hero. I've read of other authors who cried when they finished the book because they hated not having their characters come to visit with them each day, kinda like when your grown children leave home.