I first met today’s guest at the Ottawa Romance Writers’ conference back in 2008 a month after I signed my very first contract with Samhain. Anne’s first book with Samhain Where Dreams Are Made was due out a month after the conference, so she gave me little tips about what to expect, along with lots of boosts of confidence. So I’m thrilled to have her on my blog today.
When I tell people I’m an author, they often ask me if my books are about me. I guess the answer is yes and no. Since there are strong elements of suspense in my novels, there are quite a few things I’ve written about that I’ve thankfully never experienced. I’ve never been homeless, relentlessly pursued by a sadistic killer or physically assaulted. I’ve never had a friend brutally murdered, was named guardian of three heart-broken children or had one of my kids preyed on by an Internet stalker.
That being said, I always make it a point to include some of myself in each book I write. The more I can relate to the characters, the truer the emotions I bring out in them will be. For instance, my son and daughter greatly inspired the children in Broken Angels. I’ve lived through their tantrums, have experienced their squabbles first hand, and know exactly how it feels to have a small child run off without a word of warning. I also understand that, despite their bickering, siblings have an unwavering devotion to one another. Because of that, I was able to add depth and realism to Broken Angels.
In order to put myself in the characters shoes, I also spent a few days in Boston and Cape Cod, where the story is set. By actually experiencing the places I was writing about, I was able to add texture and flavor to the descriptions. I stood on a small beach and stared out into the ocean the same way Rebecca does in the book. I gazed at the moss-covered roofs, smelled the musty, salt-laden air, and even watched a mother osprey feed her hatchlings. For some reason, this made me feel closer to my characters and helped me to better understand them.
So, although the stories I write aren’t necessarily about me, I try to experience as much as I can about my characters in order to bring them to life. And once in a while, I’ll include a little of myself in the book—my hopes, my fears, the way I view the world, or simply a funny conversation my kids had.
In fact, one scene is practically an exact replica of an argument my children had once. Can you guess which one?
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Romantic Suspense
Publication Date: August 24, 2010
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Tragedy gave them a second chance. Now they’ve got everything to lose.
Zach Ryler always prided himself on his ability to handle anything life flung at him. Nothing could have prepared him for his sister’s brutal murder, let alone being named legal guardian of her three children. Now, the only person who can help him is the one woman he vowed never to touch again. The one woman his love couldn’t fix.
Rebecca James never stopped loving Zach, even after her infertility slowly crushed her spirit and destroyed their marriage. Suddenly Fate has dropped her dream in her lap: a family. But opening her heart to them—and to Zach—is a risk she wonders if she’s ready to take.
As Zach and Rebecca struggle to help the children deal with their grief, they slowly begin to rediscover the passion they thought they’d lost. Just as they believe that this time, they can get it right, shadows from the past close in, tearing at the fragile bonds they’ve forged. And a lethal predator is waiting and watching, one who will stop at nothing to protect his secrets…even murder.
The harbor shivered, and from its depths a figure sprang. She walked toward him, bathed in starlight, her body glistening, her hair streaming wet and wild down her back.
Zach’s next breath snagged in his throat.
A siren, he thought. A mythical creature rising from the sea to seduce him.
His lungs felt crushed, deprived of air. The walls of his throat narrowed as an electrical charge pulsed across his nerve endings.
Then he realized the siren was Becca. She’d gone for an evening swim. She loved swimming at night because the water was always warmer then. Shadows played along her curves, making her hips rounder, her stomach flatter, her breasts fuller. Her hair was a deep bronze, her skin a translucent ivory in the pale light of the moon.
His body instantly responded to the sight of her, hardening, aching, until he couldn’t remember why he’d vowed to keep his hands off her. None of it seemed to matter anymore.
She grabbed a towel from the porch railing and swathed it around her figure, and it took all of his self-control to bite back the protest that scratched at his throat.
“I was wondering where you disappeared to,” he muttered instead. His voice sounded gruff.
“After I tucked Noah and Kristen in, I decided to go for a swim. You were busy with Will, and I can always use the exercise.” She lowered her body next to his, smelling of the sun and the sea. Water dripped from her hair. Rivulets trickled over her shoulders and slid down her arms.
Unable to stop himself, he captured one of the drops with the back of his index finger. It was cool against her warm skin, silky. Their gazes locked, and awareness sizzled between them.
“Did Will go to sleep okay?” Her question pierced the cloud of lust enveloping him.
“Yeah.” He let his hand fall away before he was tempted to explore more of her. “He was exhausted after all that crying.”
“Not to mention all that fun in the sun.” A hazy smile ghosted across her lips. “We had a pretty full day. The kids were really excited, weren’t they?” The tenderness on her face shook him. It was the same look Lindsay always used to get whenever she spoke of the kids.
He eyed her steadily. An image of her playing in the waves with the pack earlier today flashed through his mind. “You’re really something with them.” He couldn’t suppress the note of wonder in his voice. “I never expected it.”
She gave a self-deprecating chuckle. “Half the time—correction, most of the time—I feel like I’m in way over my head.” Bolt ambled onto the porch to sit beside her, and she stroked him absently. Zach’s gaze was drawn to the gentle rhythm of her fingers as she threaded them through the dog’s lustrous coat. He remembered how those hands had felt on his body when she’d massaged him last night, the way they’d twined in his hair and chased the tension from his limbs.
“But I understand them. Understand how they feel,” she added, oblivious to the dangerous path his thoughts were taking. “I get Noah’s anger, Kristen’s totally delusional hope, Will’s tantrums.”
Zach made a sound that was half laugh, half snort. “At least one of us does.”
“You’re being too hard on yourself as usual. You’re great with them. I can see how much they look up to you.”
“That’s because I’m tall.”
Her heartfelt laughter filled the night. God, he’d missed hearing her laugh. The sound of it made a strange energy pulsate in his pores and burrow deep within the marrow of his bones. It took all his self-control not to reach out and touch her again. Instead, he clasped his hands together and let them hang between his knees.
“Can you answer a question for me?” He stared at his joined fingers, unable to look her in the eyes for fear of what he would see there.
“When I suggested adoption, why did you refuse? I thought maybe you believed you couldn’t love a child that wasn’t biologically ours. But now that I see you with these kids I can’t help but wonder—”
“You thought I couldn’t love a child I didn’t give birth to?” She sounded offended.
He ventured a glance in her direction. Even in the dark he couldn’t miss the indignation that flamed in her cheeks.
“I didn’t know what to think,” he answered honestly. “You were so set against it.”
“Because I was angry. Because if I couldn’t have what I wanted, then I wanted nothing at all. It was the injustice of it, the unfairness. Why should I be deprived the joy of feeling my child grow inside me when it came so naturally to everyone else? Adoption felt like acceptance, like throwing in the towel.”
“Would that have been so bad?”
“At the time, yes.”
She hesitated. The light breeze lifted her wet curls from her shoulders, sent them rioting around her face. “It doesn’t really matter anymore,” she whispered. “The choice is no longer mine to make.” He barely heard her past the whoosh of the waves.
“That sounds oddly like acceptance.”
“Maybe it is. Even I have to give up sometime.” Her inflection held a hint of amusement, but he wasn’t buying the flippancy.
“Is that what this feels like to you, giving up?”
She was quiet for a long time. The waxing moon haloed her head and made her eyes sparkle like liquid gold.
“No,” she answered with more conviction than he’d expected. “It feels like family.”
Vulnerability sparkled in her eyes, more potent than her glistening skin, her clingy swimsuit, the small towel wrapped around her breasts and hips. Zach lost the battle and extended his hand to cup her face. Her skin was soft, an odd blend of velvet and satin. It tickled his palm as a strange current traveled up his arm and thrummed along his flesh.
He never should have allowed himself to touch her. Now the need to kiss her blinded him. It was a physical ache, sharp and insistent. She turned her cheek into his palm, moved closer…
You can find out more about Anne and her books at her website: www.annehope.com or friend her over on Facebook or her Facebook fan page: You can follow her on Twitter or MySpace, or join her Yahoo group to receive her newsletter.
So tell me if you’ve ever read a book where you’ve wondered if a scene or a snippet of a scene might have been drawn from the author’s life — I’m giving away a copy of Anne’s Broken Angels to a commenter. (the contest will close next Monday night — August 30th at 9 p.m. Eastern time)