Monday Morning Highland Fling

Update: Our two randomly drawn winners of Anita Clenney’s Awaken the Highland Warrior are Stacie DM and Jacqueline Lane. If you didn’t win, please pop over to my contest for another chance at some freebies–a whole box of beach reads! And be sure to drop by next Monday when my guest blogger will be the talented Regency author Vanessa Kelly!

My blog guest today is fellow Sourcebooks author Anita Clenney! She writes wonderful paranormals about yummy Highlanders and I know you’re going to love her. We sat down for a cyber-chat lately. Here’s your chance to listen in:

Mia: After looking at your bio I’ve got to say it was gratifying to find someone who’s had as checkered a past as me! LOL. Which of your pre-writing careers do you think helped prepare you to be a storyteller?

Anita: I think they all did. I think everything a writer does in life fuels either the creative or the editing side.

Mia: I hear you went to Martha’s Vineyard recently. What was your favorite thing about the area?

Anita: I loved The Cleaveland House in West Tisbury, the bed and breakfast where we stayed. It’s the home of mystery writer Cynthia Riggs who writes the Martha’s Vineyard mysteries starring 92 year old sleuth Victoria Trumbull. The house was built in 1750 and has been in Cynthia’s family for eight generations. It’s full of history and Cynthia is an amazing woman. She didn’t start writing until she was 69 when she went back to school and got her creative writing degree. You can imagine a bunch of writers, their agent, a whacky aunt and a couple of husbands all thrown into this house. It was truly like something out of a book. We laughed until we cried, tripped over each other as we cooked in the kitchen, worked in the garden, and toured the area.

Other than The Cleaveland House, my favorite part of Martha’s Vineyard would have to be Edgartown. It was so beautiful. I just loved it. And I found a killer bracelet there. And I saved a crow that had gotten trapped in a trashcan at the airport. Cutting the plastic from the crow’s claw and watching it sail away was a special moment. Ironically, my brother and I had pet crows as kids, after our father rescued them as babies.

Mia: Sounds like you had quite an adventure! Your work is a unique mix of paranormal with a historical flare since your heroes are extremely long-lived. Can you tell us about what inspired your Highland warrior clan?

Anita: It started with a dream about my son and I being stranded and having to take refuge in a castle where the man wasn’t what he appeared. It was very scary and that became the foundation for the “demons in disguise” aspect of the book. Around the same time, I had been considering a story about a heroine finding a buried warrior who wasn’t dead. I combined the two and the story was born.

The basic idea is that Michael the Archangel has a secret group of warriors who protect humans from evil. Faelan is the most powerful warrior of his time, a Highlander, but when he’s sent to America to capture the demon responsible for stirring up the strife and hatred that will culminate in the American Civil War, he’s betrayed and locked in the time vault he’d brought for the demon. The vault won’t open for 150 years. In 2011, Civil War historian Bree Kirkland, who feels more like Indiana Jones, finds a treasure map in the house she’s inherited. The map leads to the crypt behind her house, but what she finds is far more shocking than hidden treasure.

Mia: What will we love about your hero?

Anita: Faelan is sexy, dangerous, and tormented. After waking to find out everything he knew is gone; family, friends, his world, he’s carrying around a lot of grief and he doesn’t know who Bree is, if he can trust her, or if she’s working for the demon who trapped him. He can’t fathom a female being so bold and rash. The woman attracts danger like a bloody magnet. After he decides she isn’t evil, he’s determined to protect her, but she’s as hardheaded as a goat. If he could drive that bloody thing she called a car, he’d toss her over his shoulder and get her away from her house before the demon who locked him up comes looking for him.

Mia: Sexy, dangerous, tormented… what’s not to love? What’s next for you?

Anita: The second book, Embrace the Highland Warrior will be released November 2011. I’m currently working on book three in the series, Unleash the Highland Warrior, which will be out Fall 2012. I’m also writing a mystery series.

Mia: Wonderful, Anita. Sounds like you’re juggling plenty of writing balls. Where can readers learn more about you and your books?

Anita: www.anitaclenney.com.  I’m also on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Redroom.  I love hearing from readers. Please check out my website, sign up for my newsletter, and feel free to ask any questions.

Mia: And now for a treat! An excerpt from Awaken the Highland Warrior!

Bree’s fingers tightened around the metal disk as she ran through the graveyard, zigzagging past leaning headstones. Her lantern swayed, throwing shadows on the crypt looming before her, its stone walls the color of bones. Thick vines crept over it, sealing in cracks left by time, while gnarled branches from the twisted oak hovered like outstretched arms. Protecting… or threatening?

An owl screeched overhead as she scurried up the crumbling steps, wishing night hadn’t fallen, when shadows twisted into monsters and spirits came out to play. The burial vault lay open near the back of the crypt, waiting. Blood rushed past her ears, a sound like all the angels’ wings beating in unison. She moved closer and peered at the chest inside. It was ornate, made of metal and wood, with green gemstones embedded in each corner. It looked ancient, like it belonged in a museum or a pyramid, or perhaps Solomon’s Temple. The beauty of it struck her again, as it had when she’d first discovered it.

She set the lantern on the edge of the burial vault and studied the markings on the chest. Swirls and shapes like writing shifted in the amber glow. Stretching out a finger, she touched the surface. Warm? She yanked her hand back and hit the lantern. It crashed to the floor, throwing the top of the crypt into darkness. Dropping to her knees, she scrambled for the light. A sound cut through the silence, scraping, like fingernails against stone. She grabbed the lantern, not daring to blink, then remembered the wind outside and the claw-like branches of the old tree.

She placed the lantern securely on the vault cover she’d pushed onto the alcove and unfolded her hand. The metal disk she held was three inches in diameter and appeared to be made from the same metal as the chest, not silver, not gold. One side had deep grooves; the other was etched with symbols. With trembling fingers, she lined up the disk with the matching grooves on top of the chest and pushed. There was a series of clicks as the notched edges retracted.

A voice rushed through her head. What lies within cannot be, until time has passed with the key.

Bree whirled, but she was alone. Only stone walls stood watch, their secrets hidden for centuries. It was sleep deprivation, not ghosts.

She pulled in a slow, steadying breath and tried to turn the disk. Nothing. Again, this time counterclockwise, and it began to move under her hand. She jerked her fingers back. A loud pop sounded and colors flashed… blue, orange, and green, swirling for seconds, and then they were gone. Great, hallucinations to go with the voices in her head.

Her body trembled as she gripped the lid. This was it. All her dreams held on a single pinpoint of time. If this ended up another wild goose chase, she was done. No more treasure hunts, no more mysteries, no more playing Indiana Jones. She’d settle down to a nice, ordinary, boring life. She counted.

One.

Two.

Three.

She heaved open the chest.

Terror clawed its way to her throat, killing her scream.

The man inhaled one harsh breath and his eyes flew open, locking on Bree. A battle cry worthy of Braveheart echoed off the walls. Bree jumped back as metal flashed and a rush of air kissed her face. Petrified, she watched him crawl out of the burial vault, a wicked-looking dagger in his hand. Her scream tore loose as she turned and fled.

Fingers grazed her shoulder, and she glanced back. The last thing she saw before her feet tangled with the shovel was the dead man reaching for her.

Mia: Wow! I’m hooked! Thanks, Anita.

Bio: Anita Clenney grew up an avid reader, devouring Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books before moving on to mysteries and romance. After working as a secretary, a Realtor, teacher’s assistant, booking agent for Aztec Fire Dancers, and a brief stint in a pickle factory (picture Lucy and Ethel–lasted half a day)…she realized she’d missed the fork in the road that led to her destiny. Now she spends her days writing mysteries and paranormal romantic suspense  about Secret Warriors, Ancient Evil and Destined Love. Anita lives in suburban Virginia, outside Washington DC, with her husband and two kids. You can learn more about her writing at www.anitaclenney.com.

Mia: Anita is giving away a copy of Awaken the Highland Warrior to 2 lucky commenters today! Be sure to leave a comment or question for her to enter in the random drawing.

PS. I’m blogging at  Brava Authors today, talking about House Hunters International, Victorian Homes and whatever else you’d like to visit about! Hope to see you there.

32 thoughts on “Monday Morning Highland Fling

  1. Viki S. says:

    Love it! How can one not love a Highlander? Thanks.

  2. Julie says:

    Ancient medieval warrior meets modern woman is one of my absolute favorite storylines. :D Thanks for the fun interview!

  3. I’m one of the lucky writers who got to spend the weekend at The Cleaveland House and it was fantastic getting to meet Anita and the rest of the group. I got to start reading Awaken the Highland Warrior–even reading it on the beach!–and it’s been great. :)

  4. HOLY CRAP! This book sounds WICKED AWESOME! What a great story!!! Fingers crossed for this one!!! thanks for the incredible interview and the incredible chance to win!~!!

  5. Chelsea B. says:

    I cannot wait to read your book, Anita! It sounds fabulous! Though I’m an easy sell– I adore romance with Highlanders :-)

  6. Linda says:

    The thing that got me most about this post was the comment about the pickle factory! *laughs*
    Must be the farthest one can get from romantic!

    I would just love a copy of the book!

  7. Mary Anne. That’s a great question. I know several authors have asked lately, what’s so sexy about kilts? I don’t honestly know the answer. In reality, the highland warriors may have been quite unattractive. Actually, they were probably like all other males, some attractive, some not so much, but we’ve built this romantic image in our minds about highlanders. I think in part it’s because they were fierce, loyal, and known as having a wild streak. All those ingredients make for a good romance hero. I think there’s something about the kilt that adds to the “strong, independent, I’m man enough to wear a skirt” that really compels us. Other than that, I can’t explain it.

    1. Mia Marlowe says:

      I think there may be a bit of rooting for the underdog at work here too. The Scots were always under the thumbs of English kings and despite being outnumbered and poorly armed, they fought back.

  8. Hi Heather, thanks for commenting. Hope you get a chance to read the book.

  9. Thank you for this interview, Anita and Mia. “Awaken the Highland Warrior” sounds like a fun read. A lively, imaginative action romance with a female Indiana Jones as the heroine is right up my alley!

    Got a question for you, Mia, and anyone else who wants to chime in. Why are Scottish highland warriors so popular? It seems to me that romance heroes can come out of any historical/geographic/cultural context. But in fact, only a few such contexts turn up frequently in romance fiction. One is in this novel. Any thoughts on this matter?

    Good luck with your new and upcoming releases, Anita. Keep up the good work!

    1. Mia Marlowe says:

      Kilts aside, I think it’s the accent. There’s nothing like the warm burr of a Scots baritone washing over you. When I read a well written Highlander I hear Adrian Paul or Sean Connery in my head. Who doesn’t love that?

  10. Heather F says:

    This book has been on my TBR list since I read the first excerpt. I can’t wait to read it!

  11. Hi Jaquelyn, thanks for stopping by. Good luck!

  12. Hi Ashlyn, it was the greatest feeling saving that bird. When I threw it into the air and it flew away, it was a greater feeling than a successful booksigning. I’m blogging about the trip on the 12th at Casablanca.

  13. Hi Tracy. Maybe I need a highland warrior myself. I have bickering kids for sure.

  14. Thanks for stopping by Jennifer. Hope you like the story.

  15. Jennifer L says:

    I love the excerpt, Anita, and look forward to reading your book!

  16. Tracy Brogan says:

    What’s not to love about a Highland warrior! I could use one to protect me from the evil (such as my children bickering in the backseat?)
    Great interview!

  17. Ashlyn Chase says:

    Oh, Anita! Good for you for saving those birds! I always cut up the plastic rings that come around a six pack of soda. It takes a second and can save a bird’s life.

    Your book sounds tremendous! How great that it came from a dream!

  18. Jacquelyn Lane says:

    Great giveaway. The book sounds great. I would be honored to be entered in it.

  19. Liz, you are the best. I can’t wait until your book, Liver Let Die comes out.

  20. Thanks Marilyn! I figured it was time to get an updated photo. :)

  21. I never get tired of reading your excerpts, Anita. I can’t wait to get into the entire book. (Don’t include me in the freebie since I was one of your pre-orders.) Having read a smidgeon of your series, I knew it was an auto-buy.

  22. Marilyn says:

    Love your writing style, Anita–also love the headshot!

    M

  23. Barbara, how wonderful. Thank you. I love good openings. It’s funny, we always hear that new writers should just cut off the first chapter because they’ve usually started the story too soon. Well, after I got my agent, she said, “Cut out Chapter One,” which left me with the opening you see. She was right!

  24. Stacy, we had a wonderful time on Martha’s Vineyard. We were joking that someone should write a book about it. It was the perfect set up for a mystery plot: a bunch of writers in an old house and Cynthia knows a lot about poisonious plants. Even the leaves of some vegetables she grows in her garden are deadly.

  25. Thanks for adding it to your list Sarah.

  26. Barbara Britton says:

    Wow, Anita,
    What an opening! I was at the WisRWA Write Touch Conference this weekend where Brenda Novak was reading great openings. Yours is one of them.

  27. Hi Kim. Sexy and tormented can be really good in a hero!Thanks for the good wishes.

  28. StacieDM says:

    Hello Anita!
    I’ve never been to New England much less Martha’s Vineyard but it sounds lovely. I can’t imagine having so many people living on top of each other in one house. It must have been something to see.

    Congratulations on the release of Awaken the Highland Warrior. I’ve read several excerpts and it sounds like a great story. I’m so glad that the sequel will be released this year also. I’m pretty impatient with waiting for books in a series. LOL. Good luck with the new release!

  29. sarah says:

    Loving the sound of thi book is defo on my TO READ list.

  30. You had me at sexy and tormented :) This book looks so good! Congrats on all of your success, Anita.

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