Today I have the lovely and lively Denise A. Agnew with me. Come on in and sit a spell, while she weaves a little magic and lures you in with her wit and fun loving personality.
Moira: Let’s break the ice shall we, Denise? If you were stuck in the middle of a zombie apocalypse and you had three people to help you fight of the zombie horde, who would they be?
Denise: Been watching The Walking Dead, so I have answers. First, I’d want my husband there. Second I’d take Michonne and Daryl from The Walking Dead. Oh, they all have to be real people? Okay, my husband is one. I’d also take my friends Lena and Stacy because they’d kick some serious arse.
Moira: Love the Walking Dead. But I’ve already put in dibs on Daryl (and I believe the competition for him is pretty fierce). Tell me a little about the genre(s) you write in, and why?
Denise: I write in all genres. Okay, I haven’t written sci-fi romance or inspirational. I write in whatever genre that blows my skirt up at the moment because that’s the only way I can honestly enjoy my writing. It’s much more difficult for me to come up with a story if someone is saying, here write a vampire. Or here write about zombies. If I don’t have the inspiration to create it, it won’t be the best story it can be. I love writing stories that have paranormal and suspense elements, and I’ve also been on a historical romance kick lately. I have a trilogy coming out next year that combines historical and paranormal. Also next year (if I can manage it), I’ll have a military romance trilogy out which starts off with suspense right from the beginning.
Moira: Not big on historical romances, but throw in paranormal elements and I might be swayed. Excited to see that series come out. Do you need to be in a specific place or atmosphere before the words flow?
Denise: I don’t have to be in a specific place, but if there are phones ringing, lots of noise and interruptions that causes issues with concentration. I have “soundtrack” music for each novel I write, and that helps me tremendously with inspiration. If its actually gloomy, cloudy, and even cold I’m more likely to be inspired to write than if there’s sun in my eyes and its hot. My office shades are always closed to keep down distractions.
Moira: I love book ‘soundtracks’. What’s the strangest source of inspiration you’ve found for a story?
Denise: Oh, my! That’s a great question. Probably disasters. Yeah, I’m inspired by disasters to write romance novels. I wrote Love From The Ashes about the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire, but the core story is a romance. The historical trilogy I mentioned features dimension/time travel and the stories are set during these real major disasters during certain periods in time. I think I’m inspired by these events because they’re a great catalyst for characters to show their true colors. What do people do when they encounter these events? Who do they love, who do they fall in love with? In Blackout (which is a contemporary I’m publishing in early 2013), a huge solar flare causes issues with the power grid across the world. How do the hero and heroine survive that situation ad fall in love at the same time…what’s the conflict they have and would have without the disaster?
Moira: That’s slightly morbid, Denise. Yet I’m intrigued to this side of you that is inspired by disaster. Name one thing readers would be surprised to learn about you.
Denise: Another excellent question. You’re making me think. I like whiskey. Straight. Okay, I’m not sure that would be surprising. I’m an introvert at heart. I can go for days without speaking to another human being and that’s doesn’t bother me. I did that one time in England not long after we moved there (lived there three years) and my husband was sent to his Advanced Warrant Officer course back in the U.S. This was way before inexpensive internet, etc. Talk about getting some writing done! My English neighbors checked on me because they hadn’t seen me in four days. I’m also an Honorary Army Mountain Ranger. I could tell you how I got that, but then I’d have ta kill ya.
Moira: A whiskey girl. Loving you more with each answer. Not that I have a choice. I’d hate for you to break out your Army Mountain Ranger skills on me. So, do you have any tattoos or piercings?
Denise: I have pierced ears. Got those way back in 1976. No tattoos.
Moira: Dang. I was hoping for some in-depth story about you getting inked. Oh well. Pierced ears is cool too. I have them myself. If you won the lottery tomorrow, what would you spend the money on?
Denise: If it was enough money I’d pay off my house and car. I’d give some to certain charities. The rest I’d invest for the future.
Moira: Smart, especially in this economic climate, but we won’t discuss politics. Which household chore do you abhor and why?
Denise: Cleaning the bathroom because the cleaning product fumes bug me. My husband usually does that instead.
Moira: I detest cleaning the bathroom as well… and laundry. Both necessary evils. Do you have any guilty pleasures you feel comfortable sharing?
Denise: I once watched an entire season of Housewives of Orange County. Got sick of it. The only reality television I like are paranormal investigation programs like Ghost Hunters and The Dead FIles.
Moira: Not into reality shows. But I might need to check out the other two. Good fuel for the paranormal and urban fantasy writer within I’m sure. Which of your characters would you most/least like to invite to dinner and why?
Denise:Oh, lordy! Probably Alexandra Watson in Dark, Deadly Love. She’s an American forced to live in London during the Jack The Ripper killings of 1888. She gets caught up in that whole mess. She’s a gutsy character. I’d also like to talk to the hero and heroine in the story I’m working on now, to ask them questions on their motivations.
Moira: Okay I lied on the historical bit. That one you totally had me at Jack the Ripper (Guess I’m a little morbid too). One author, dead or alive, and you get to sit down and have a one on one with them. Who would it be and why?
Denise: Dean Koontz. He writes the most amazing stories that transcend genre, and he’s been very true to himself from everything I can tell. He’s also a funny man. Some of the podcasts and interviews I’ve heard with him are hysterical. I admire that he’s made a career out of writing what blows his skirt up. He writes strong female characters, too. Some male authors are all about plot…Dean’s got the plot down and the characters that make you care whether they make it through whatever mess they’ve gotten into.
Moira: Look we have more in common! I love Dean Koontz. He’s made of total awesome. One of my favorite books by him was Velocity. Loved it so much I unknowingly bought it twice. Name one scene you go back and re-read often because you like it so much.
Denise: That’s an easy one. There’s more than one scene like that. One I call the alley scene in Dangerous Intentions. The hero and heroine are antagonistic toward each other and both of them are mouthy and the sexual tension is off the charts. In Treacherous Wishes the first sex scene between the hero and heroine is hot as hell. They’re at a breaking point where they can’t keep their hands off each other. Also in Treacherous Wishes the bad guy is one of my worst villains ever. I have a scene where he’s in his house obsessively watching tapes he’s made of women he’s killed…not killing them but regular video of the woman living their lives. He feels guilty for doing it and he goes into the kitchen and…well, the whole scene was damned creepy. I even gave myself the creeps writing it. I love it when I do that.
Moira: If you could have one talent besides writing, what would it be?
Denise: Being an archaeologist. I’ve been a member of amateur archaeology groups since the ’80s.
Moira: A woman of many skills and talents I see. Any deep, dark, and/or dirty secrets you’d like to share?
Denise: I’m closet lover of spinach and chicken liver. But not at the same time.
Moira: You lost me at chicken liver. But since you are a whiskey lover and enjoy spinach, and we have that shared Dean Koontz love, I think our friendship will survive. In closing, tell us a bit about your latest release (& share an excerpt for those who aren’t yet familiar with your work)
Denise: My latest release is the Asylum Trilogy, three connected books all centered on an evil insane asylum. The first book (Shadows Wait) starts in 1908, the second (Shadows Rise) is set in 1918, and the last one (Shadows Fall) is set in modern times. Readers can pick up the books individually or as a three book ebook bundle. I was inspired to write the stories after seeing a show about an insane asylum and the rumor of a little girl ghost that haunts the property. Bang, I knew I had to write a trilogy about a haunted asylum. They’re all romances, of course.
Asylum I: Shadows Wait
(Paranormal Historical Romance)
1908, Simple, Colorado
Lilly Luna’s mother gave birth to her in an asylum for the mad. Growing up in an insane asylum exposed her to horrors few could imagine, and yet her compassion and ability to heal frightens the broken and the healthy alike. The town fears her. The sane shun her. Morgan Healy’s father runs the creepy and rumor-maligned asylum. Morgan’s lineage is filled with insanity. Morgan holds together his crumbling family, hoping to escape his father’s legacy and the terrible secret it holds. When Lilly is hired as companion for Morgan’s sister, Morgan and Lilly form a reluctant alliance to corral the evil that seeps from Tranquil View and threatens not only the town, but also their growing love.
Someone was screaming. At first Lilly thought it was Patricia, but immediately realized her own raw voice crying out, high-pitched with terrible fear. And the crushing knowledge her dear friend was dead.
A few seconds later, her doorknob rattled and held. “Lilly!” She stayed frozen to the spot. Pounding rattled the door. “Lilly! Lilly open this door!”
Morgan. She raced to the door without thinking, unlocked it, and flung it open. Bare-chested, barefooted and wearing only trousers, he looked like a wild man. His hair was mussed as if he’d just crawled from bed. His chest heaved up and down.
He stepped into the room, forcing her backward. “What the hell is going on? Are you all right?” She tried to speak, but nothing came out. He reached for her, his eyebrows drawn together in concern. He cupped her shoulders. “Lilly.”
“I have to leave. I have to go to the asylum.”
“It’s Nurse Franklin. Something terrible has happened to her. I had a vision.”
His nose wrinkled up. “A vision.”
He wouldn’t believe her, and she should have kept silent. “She was just here. Her head was ….” She swallowed hard and through a blur of tears, she said, “Oleta Franklin is dead. She was here in the room with me. I saw the blood —”
She stopped, aware that her hands splayed across his broad chest, her fingers feeling the heat, the hair on his chest, the solidness of muscle. His stomach muscles, delineated and strong, rippled slightly when he moved. He was power and prowess, a strong male. She’d never seen a chest like this before in all her days, and it struck her dumb for one second.
He shook her lightly. “Damn it, Lilly. What foolishness is this? I heard you scream like you were being murdered.”
“What the devil is going on?” Dr. Healy’s voice came from the other side of the landing as he left his bedroom in a dressing gown and his wife followed behind him.
Morgan released Lilly. “Lilly had a nightmare.”
“No it wasn’t a nightmare.”
Patricia came up the stairs, her eyes filled with teasing and guile. “I thought I heard a scream. What’s going on? Is Morgan trying to break into Lilly’s room?”
“Don’t be ridiculous.” Morgan planted his hands on his hips and stepped away. His glance remained on Lilly, burning her deep.
“Morgan, must you be so harsh?” Constance said as she came to stand by her husband. “Are you all right Lilly?”
Tears still hovered in her eyes, but she swallowed them with effort and lifted her chin. “I am fine. I’m sorry to have disturbed you all.”
Dr. Healy’s dubious expression said he didn’t believe her. “I thought I heard you say something about Oleta Franklin.”
Dr. Healy walked toward Lilly and Morgan with a stern expression. Lilly’s apprehension heightened. She sensed the older man’s disapproval, and knew consequences would come.
“She just had a bad dream,” Morgan said again. Lilly wanted to yell at them all that she’d been wide awake.
“A dream?” Dr. Healy’s disgust sounded in is voice and his face. “About Oleta? What was it about?”
It seemed a strange question, but she answered it. “She was ….” Lilly glanced at Morgan, then at Patricia and Constance. They all waited patiently, but she could hardly get the words passed her lips. “Oleta was in a terrible accident and she’s dead.”
“Oh, my goodness.” Constance put a hand to her mouth. “How awful.”
Lilly glanced at Dr. Healy and thought she saw a flicker of discomfort. His mouth tightened.
“Distasteful.” Patricia’s voice seeped with sugar and lemon.
“Patricia, must you be so contrary?” her mother asked.
Dr. Healy found his voice. “This is all poppycock. Anyone with an ounce of sense knows dreams are balderdash.”
“Freud didn’t think so,” Patricia said as she twirled in a circle. Her filmy nightgown whirled out from her body in a frothy cloud.
Dr. Healy glared at his daughter, but then turned on his heel and stalked back to his room. He slammed the door.
“My dear,” Constance said just as her husband slammed his bedroom door. “Are you certain you’re fine?”
Lilly didn’t want any more prying questions. She couldn’t answer honestly. “Yes.” She gave a weak smile. “Yes.”
“Then let us go back to our rooms and prepare for the day, shall we?” Constance’s smile was brittle, a vein of disapproval heavy in her voice. “And Morgan, do put a shirt on.”
Constance returned to her bedroom and closed the door much more softly than Dr. Healy had.
Patricia watched them with a half smile. “Were you in Lilly’s room, brother?”
Morgan made a scoffing noise. “Of course not. Go back to bed Patricia or do whatever you do in the morning.”
“I was reading in the library. I couldn’t sleep.” The young woman’s cocky smile widened, but she didn’t argue as she went back down the stairs in her dressing gown.
That left Lilly standing in the hallway with a half-naked Morgan. She licked her lips when she scanned across his powerful form once more. His biceps rippled as he crossed his arms.
Before he could register the same disapproval the other’s had, she jumped ahead. “Do you think it was a bad dream?”
“What else would it be?”
“I need to go to the asylum this morning.” Tears returned with a vengeance, and this time she couldn’t stop them. She wiped at them with her fingers as the ache in her throat wound tight. “I need to make certain Oleta is safe.”
“Lilly.” He moved forward, and before she knew it, his body cradled hers. “I’m sorry.”
Shocked, she stiffened in his arms. But his grip tightened, one hand smoothing over her back, the other cupping the back of her head. She found her head pressed to his shoulder. Thought she wasn’t petite, he was over six feet tall. His arms enveloped her in warmth and protection and a comfort she’d never expected. Her palms moved over his chest and rasped over his nipples. He sucked in a breath.
She looked up and those deep eyes captured hers and held. Fire bloomed there and transferred straight to every untutored and tender part of her body. Something feral and amazing grew between them until it pulsed between her legs and in her belly. It felt primitive—as untamed as a lion in the wild. She wanted to seize the feeling and embrace it until it enclosed her in an everlasting sweetness. He smelled like leather and musk. Her senses whirled. What could she do but enjoy his touch, the comfort he offered, no matter how inappropriate? No, if she didn’t escape his unseemly embrace now and his father or mother saw them, who knew what would happen. The danger in this didn’t elude her, and she pushed gently at his chest. With obvious reluctance he released her. Her tears had dried the moment she realized their compromising position.
Moira: Thank you so much for stopping by Denise. Everytime I get a chance to talk with you, I love you a little more. For those of you who’d like to get your hot little hands on this book, you can find it here:
And learn more about Denise here:
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