I'm thrilled to start my once a month series of debut author interviews with my friend, USA Today best-seller, Anita Clenney.
I met Anita in one of Margie Lawson's grueling yet worthwhile workshops. For any writer serious about getting published in fiction, I highly recommend one of Margie's workshops. You will not be sorry.
Last year, when I met Anita I asked her to come on my blog once her paranormal romance series was published. Not only did she graciously agree, but she's also giving away a copy to one lucky commenter in the US or Canada. Thanks Anita!!
AC: I’m thrilled to be here. I love connecting with readers.
IR: In 50 words or less, how would you describe Awaken the Highland Warrior?
IR: What inspired you to write this particular book?
AC: A dream. A really bad dream. I paired it with an idea I’d been tossing around about an undead buried warrior and came up with the story. I love this story. It’s the story of my heart.
IR: How many agents did you query for this book before receiving an offer of representation? And how did you deal with rejection/criticism?
AC: Not many. I got my agent fairly quickly. I think I queried a handful before her, and got rejected. Now I’m glad the others rejected me. She’s awesome. As far as rejection, it hurts, but you move on. It doesn’t mean your story is bad, just that it isn’t for them.
IR: How long was the book on submission with editors before you received an offer? And how did you maintain your sanity while waiting?
AC: The editor was actually on vacation when we submitted. She made an offer a couple of weeks after she returned.
IR: What makes this time-travel novel different from others?
AC: Usually with time travel, the heroine goes back in time. In this case, the hero, a big, strapping, chauvinistic warrior has been sleeping for 150 years, so he has to deal with the modern world he’s awakened in, and also modern women, which are a huge shock. It’s quite funny watching him adjust. The book has a lot of humor along with the mystery and adventure.
IR: Did you have any difficulty making Faelan’s (the hero) experience in the modern day world feel believable since he’s a highland warrior from 150 yrs in the past?
AC: I had to get inside his head and think like he would, which required some research to see what things were like in his time.
IR: Bree is a fun, feisty heroine. I was intrigued by her powers, but wanted to know more. Will readers see Bree again in future books?
AC: Yes, we will see Bree again. She plays a large role in book two and in the series. Her story has much more to be told. Everyone had questions about Bree. I had hoped to leave a little mystery to be solved in book two, but I’ve had such a noticeable reaction that I wish I had cleared things up a little more. Bree is in for a big shock in book two.
IR: Do you use critique partners and/or beta readers?
AC: Yes to both. I have one critique partner, Dana Rodgers. I don’t know what I would do without her. She knows how to keep me in check when I’m going too far, and how to push me when I need to make the story bigger. And I do have a few beta readers. By the time the story is done, both Dana and I have seen it so many times there are things we are bound to miss.
IR: What type of environment do you like to write in: office, surrounded by nature, on a sofa listening to music? And what are essential must have items while you work?
AC: Basically, I like quiet when I’m working. No music, nothing. I do love nature. Sometimes I go out on my deck where I’m surrounded by trees and squirrels. And I love candles, especially beautiful candle holders and lanterns, so sometimes I write by candlelight. The only essential items would be my computer or laptop and something to drink. Oh, and pens and scratch pads for notes.
IR: When is your next book coming out? And what are you currently working on?
AC: Embrace the Highland Warrior comes out November 1!
When the demon who left Shay for dead discovers her empty grave, he comes looking for vengeance, believing she possesses an ancient book he has sought for centuries. But the vampires also want the book. Shay knows she can’t fight this evil alone, so she’s forced to return to her clan and the Scottish Warrior who betrayed her…the only man she’s ever loved, where she discovers that betrayal isn’t always what it seems. Sometimes it’s far worse.
In the meantime, I’m working on the third book.
IR: Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
AC: Learn what you can from other writers, but don’t get locked into someone else’s journey. This is not a one size fits all business. Also, learn the rules of writing, but more importantly, focus on telling a great story.
IR: Okay, two final, fun questions. If money wasn’t a factor, what would be your dream vacation?
AC: First, we’d go to Scotland, and then we’d tour some of the great castles and old buildings in Europe. Hubby and I are fascinated by old architecture. Then, we’d go skiing somewhere fun, maybe Switzerland. I’d mostly sit by the fire reading and drinking hot chocolate while hubby and kids skied. Then we’d cruise to an exotic island where I’d sit on a beach of white sand and turquoise water, with tons of books and read. Hey, you said money was no object.
IR: What is one daring thing you’ve done in your life or something about you that readers would be surprised to learn (if you don’t mind sharing)?
AC: Several years ago, I traveled with a group of Aztec dancers. I booked shows for them; I didn’t dance. Now that would have really been daring. The dance was powerful, mesmerizing, but I would not want to stick my toes in fire.
Thank you so much Anita for the interview and for taking the time to say hi to commenters!
Don't forget, ONE COMMENTER WILL WIN A COPY. For more on Anita's debut novel, see below.
Excerpt from Awaken the Highland Warrior:
She started from the kitchen, when a crash sounded from her bedroom. Gripping the tray, she ran down the hall, coming to a halt in the doorway.
He was naked, sprawled face down, feet sticking off the bed, as bare as the day he was born. The lamp was overturned, his clothes piled on the floor next to his dagger and boots. He’d tried to turn the covers back, but now they were trapped underneath him. Bree set the tray on the table beside the bed.
He wasn’t the first naked man she’d seen, but he might as well have been. Taut skin covered muscle so defined it made her want to weep at the raw beauty. Several faint lines ran across his back and shoulders and a couple along the side of his hip. Scars.
Bree gave one lingering look from thick, dark hair to sexy feet, then averted her gaze and poked his shoulder with her fingertip. “Faelan, wake up.”
He didn’t move. She took one more look, leaned down, and shook him again.
He grunted and flipped over, pulling her flat against him. He rolled again, and the air whooshed from her lungs as he slammed her into the mattress, his forearm braced against her windpipe. “Druan,” he said, looking through her, “stop the war.”
She lay still, trying not to panic. “Faelan. Let me go,” she wheezed. When he didn’t, she tried to put her knee into his groin, but with her legs pinned under his it proved as ineffective as it had in the crypt,. He groaned and moved his arm from her throat. She was so busy sucking in air she didn’t notice his fingers threading through her hair until she calmed enough to realize he was still on top of her, stomach to stomach, where her shirt had ridden up. Her legs, bared by shorts, were tangled with his. His skin felt hotter. He had a fever. And that wasn’t his dagger rubbing against her thigh.
His head lowered, damp hair brushing her cheek as he whispered strange words that made every cell in her body sizzle. Gaelic? His look was more alarming than before, as if she were water to his thirst. This was a look she could die in, a look that made her want to trash logic for a slim chance at bliss. His lips touched hers.
She was too stunned to stop the kiss and too captivated by the feel of his mouth on hers to pull away. The soft nibble, a mere testing of flesh against flesh, deepened to lips parting and a flick of his tongue. Just when she thought she’d lift off into space, he raised his head and blinked at her, then rolled off so fast she grabbed fistfuls of the quilt to keep from falling off the bed. She sat up, too dazed to move, and tried not to gape.
She’d thought the back view was good…