Today I have the wonderful pleasure of having new author Anita Clenney of Awaken the Highland Warrior joining me for an interview! You can catch my review of Awaken the Highland Warrior *here*
Welcome Anita, thank you so much for stopping by!
Thanks for having me.
Can you start off by telling us a little something about yourself, please?
I write paranormal romantic suspense and mysteries. I’ve always been a reader but it never occurred to me that I could write until about five and a half years ago. I had no clue what I was doing, but through practice, I found out that I had a knack for telling stories. I love romance and mysteries, so it’s only natural that I combine them in my stories.
Your debut novel, Awaken the Highland Warrior, was released in May; can you tell us about it and the Connor Clan series?
Scottish warrior, Faelan Connor is part of a secret clan charged by Michael the Archangel with protecting the earth from evil. Because of his prowess at destroying demons, Faelan is sent to America to capture the demon responsible for stirring up the strife and hatred that will culminate in the Civil War. But Faelan is betrayed and locked in a time vault that was created to stop time, imprisoning a demon until Judgment. With Faelan’s failure, hundreds of thousands die as his distraught clan searches for the missing key that will open the time vault. But the key is nowhere to be found, and eventually everyone who knows Faelan’s story dies, leaving him nothing more than a myth. For 150 years Faelan sleeps.
Bree Kirkland is no ordinary historian. Her specialty is the Civil War, but her peers accuse her of being more like Indiana Jones, obsessed with lost treasure, myths and legends. Haunted by longings she can’t describe, she immerses herself in history, seeking hidden treasure, both written and real, but after a lifetime of disappointments and mishaps, she determines to settle down to an ordinary, boring life. When she finds a treasure map in her great, great grandmother’s attic, Bree promises herself one more treasure hunt, and then she’ll stop. The map leads to the graveyard behind her house, where she finds an elaborate chest hidden inside the old crypt that she’d been so drawn to as a child. She opens the chest and discovers something far more compelling than hidden treasure, and there’s no returning to her normal life.
How did you celebrate its release, did you do anything special?
I launched the book with a booksigning at Turn the Page Bookstore, which belongs to Nora Roberts’ husband. There were several wonderful authors signing that day, including Nora, Sherrilyn Kenyon, and Kristan Higgins. It was such a great experience, made even better when I sold out, something that surprised even Nora. It was the best first booksigning I could have imagined.
Awaken the Highland Warrior focuses on the characters of Faelan and Bree, and their romance; what draws them together and makes them perfect for each other? Why do you think readers will fall in love with this couple?
The attraction between Faelan and Bree is instantaneous, and for a good reason, but so is the frustration, because they’re from vastly different cultures. Faelan can’t fathom a female being so bold and rash. The woman attracts danger like a bloody magnet. And she won’t let him protect her; he, a renowned warrior since before she was born. 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.
Bree feels something for Faelan that goes way beyond attraction, frighteningly so, but on the other hand she’s ready to stick him back in the time vault if he doesn’t stop with this over protective nonsense. It’s not the 19th century, for God’s sake, and he’s treating her like a child. Women are tough and independent. But after she finds out what has this big, bad warrior so worried, she’s glad to have all that muscle close by. And she’d give her pinkie toe to get her hands on that talisman hanging around his neck.
There are a few intense battle scenes in this novel; did you do any kind of research for those or the weapons used?
I did a little research, but after watching so many movies and reading stories with action, it gave me a feel for the battle scenes.
Is there a specific scene that stood out for you or was emotional for you to write? I know there were a few scenes that had me tearing up while reading!
I really felt Faelan’s pain in the graveyard scene in Scotland, when he discovers his family’s graves. I started to take it a little bit of a different direction and have Bree go to him, but I felt the next scene wouldn’t have been as strong if she had.
Awaken the Highland Warrior features many paranormal creatures, including ancient warriors with powerful talismans, angels, demons and more. What inspired this fantastical world?
It came from many directions; a dream, Biblical knowledge, folklore. The demons in disguise part of the story came from a dream. My young son and I were trapped in a castle with a man who was pretending to be kind and good, but was in fact a monster. I knew he was going to kill us, and I had to get my son out of there before the man realized I knew what he really was. I woke up as we were trying to escape. The dream was so disturbing, I couldn’t get away from it. Then I played on my knowledge of demons and angels and combined it all. I love paranormal because you can create such a wonderful world and intertwine it with normal things. In this case, the book is set on earth, upstate New York and Scotland, but things aren’t always what they seem. I love mysteries, adventure, and romance, and it was a joy to combine all three in this book.
Is there any part of the writing process that you absolutely love or a part that you don’t? Why?
Brainstorming is my favorite. I write big plots. I love creating characters and worlds then pulling all the pieces of the puzzle together.
Editing makes me crazy. I can get stuck on a paragraph for days. But it’s great to see a rough manuscript after it’s finally polished like a diamond. It’s like giving birth. It’s messy and painful, but it’s so worth it.
What are a few must read authors for you?
Diana Gabaldon, Kristan Higgins, Janet Evanovich, Elizabeth Peters. Very different authors, but I love them all.
Can you give us just a few tidbits of what we can expect from the second book in this series, Embrace the Highland Warrior, releasing this November? Is there anything that you are working on now that you can share with us?
Book two, Embrace the Highland Warrior, is filled with betrayal, lost love, and hidden secrets, and of course those hot Scottish warriors from book one. The hero and heroine sizzle. I’m working on book three in the series, Unleash the Highland Warrior, and I’m also working on a mystery series. Here are blurbs for book two and book three in the warrior series.
EMBRACE THE HIGHLAND WARRIOR
When the powerful demon that left Shay for dead discovers her empty grave, he comes seeking retribution, believing she possesses an ancient book he has sought for centuries. Knowing she can’t fight the demon alone, Shay returns 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.
UNLEASH THE HIGHLAND WARRIOR
A talisman belonging to Tavis Connor’s brother is the only weapon powerful enough to kill the demon hell-bent on stealing the clan’s Book of Battles so he can destroy the world. But the talisman has been locked in a time vault with Tavis’s brother and won’t open for 150 years. In desperation, the Scottish warrior breaks the clan’s sacred rules and uses another time vault to travel forward so he can protect the book and rescue his brother, or if he’s dead, finish his quest. But when Tavis finally wakes in modern-day New York, he discovers he’s the one in need of help. Anna MacKinley has been searching for her clan’s Book of Battles which has been missing for 150 years, but instead she finds a warrior with no memories who claims he’s come to save the world.
Thank you again, Anita, for stopping by; it has been a pleasure!
Thank you for having me. Readers can find me at www.anitaclenney.com. I’m also on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.
Anita has also provided a special excerpt, check it out!
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.
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.
Anita is offering one copy of Awaken the Highland Warrior, sent directly from her publisher, to one lucky reader and I will also add this gorgeous matching book thong from my Etsy store, Dalla Luna, to the giveaway as well! So one winner will win the book and matching book thong to go with it, they'll just be shipped separately. J
To enter, just leave a meaningful comment or question for Anita! Don't forget to leave an email address in your comment so that I can contact you if you're a winner!
Giveaway is open to residents of US and Canada. The giveaway will close at 11:59pm on July 21st when one winner will then be chosen at random and contacted via email. Good luck!