I was always a reader—read the most books in my class almost every year. When I picked up a copy of the newly-released The White Dragon by Anne McCaffrey and read it, I was enthralled. And I made the decision right there and then that I would be an author one day.
What is the best gift you have been given?
For my 50th birthday, my husband took me to Orlando for a week and we stayed at a resort on site at Universal. I visited both parks daily, even went to Sea World one day, but the best part was riding the Minions ride (many times) and attacking their gift shop. (I am a HUGE Minions fan.)
If you could go back in time, what year would you travel to?
I’m going to say 1975. Back when things were simpler, there was still innocence and values, and none of the insanity of the past couple years.
What’s your favorite family tradition?
Christmas Eve, we exchange one present, eat a dinner of cheeses and other snacks, and then we watch The Muppet Christmas Carol.
If you had a warning label, what would yours say?
Warning—I really am a redhead!
About In Darkness:Vampire
Souls shrouded in darkness…
Stuck working as a barmaid for her demanding father, Anna dreams of adventure. When mysterious strangers enter the bar, she overhears they seek Zancrela, an ancient fortress filled with treasure and a magical library. Taking her chance, she offers to guide them. The conditions: deliver Zancrela or die.
As they journey through the wilderness, she discovers their secret: they are vampires. And most view her as food. One takes interest in her and her heart dares to hope, but it might not be enough to change her fate. Will Anna find Zancrela or become a vampire morsel?
I must say I had no idea I would love this book as much as I did. I also didn’t expect to devour it in two days, but I did! Everything from the plot to the characters to the world it takes place works to reel in the reader. I was enthralled.
Anna comes across as a sweet, innocent girl, working hard to follow her dreams. Her craving for knowledge and a life out from under her father’s reign drives her motivations. She is also the key to finding Zancrela, a location Victor and his clan have been searching for for months now. Not knowing what she’ll get herself into, she offers to guide the group if they’ll allow her access to Zancrela’s library upon their arrival. During their journey, she shows more strength and bravery than any of her companions would expect of a mere human. She may be a gentle soul, but she shall not break under pressure. She’s got way too much to lose should she fail.
I absolutely love Anna’s character. She was really well written. Her curiosities, fears and strengths mixed together create a strong protagonist, who you wish the very best for. I triumphed in her victories and joys and needed her to be safe.
Victor needs to keep Anna safe! Not only because she can lead them to Zancrela, despite most of his clan doubting her, but also because there’s something about her that draws him in like no other woman has in his long life. Keeping his clan at bay and trusting a human’s directions is not easy to do when they hunger for her blood.
Tell us a little about the book. How did you come up with the idea for In Darkness: The Vampire?
Almost every story I write originated from a dream. In this case, the castle and big battle at the end came from a very vivid dream. I wrote it down and soon crafted a story around Anna and her quest to find that place.
Do you have a favorite scene/quote from the book, something you’re the most proud of? What is it?
One? Too difficult! I am proud of the scene where Anna first discovers they are vampires. It’s very creepy. I also like the tender moment when Victore offers her a warm and dry place to sleep.
If you could choose to be in Anna’s shoes, is there anything you would do differently than she did?
Her decision in the end. I couldn’t do it.
The reader doesn’t truly get to know everyone in the clan. Looking back, is there anyone you wished to have given a bigger role to play?
I wish there’d been more room to expand on the one couple in the story, Cyprian and his healer wife, Damiana. They were nicer to Anna than some of the others. I also liked Maxium who shared Victor’s confidences and resided as second in command. He was tough but fair.
What is one of the most interesting things you have researched while writing a book?
I needed to know the duties of a junior coach for a women’s college basketball team for the fifth book in my The Circle of Friends series. I actually corresponded with the head coach (at the time) at Clemson, where the story takes place. She was so nice to fill me in on the details.
Researching early 90’s Australia was interesting, too. An Australian author helped me with some fun slang! (That’s In Darkness: The Shark.)
What were your expectations for writing and publishing your first book? Have they changed since then?
Oh my goodness! Like most first authors, I was so naïve. That helped to some degree because I had no fear and marketed like a maniac. My expectations are much more realistic now. I just want to connect with the readers who enjoy what I write and the genre.
What are you currently working on?
The fourth in this series, In Darkness: The Alien. It’s finished and I’m going through a second round of edits. I’ll also be marketing this book, final revisions on The Shark for its release, and preparing for The Werewolf’s review copies to go out. In short, I will be very busy.
Do you have any tips to share for starting writers?
No matter what you attempt, there is always practice. No one is born a Major League Baseball player or a drummer in a popular band. There is A LOT of practice. Same with writing. Take a few years to learn the craft, learn how publishing works, and write those first million words. Put in the time first. I can tell you from experience—there is a huge difference between my first book and this one.
You’re living in a magical world full of any kind of creature you could imagine. What mythical being would you be and what type of skills would you possess?
I’d pick a flying horse like Pegasus. I would LOVE the ability to fly. (Which is probably why I love roller coasters.) Not just any horse though. I’d want to be a big draft like a Shire. Power, strength, and the ability to fly—perfect!
About the author
Tell us your story? What made you start writing?
Long story short – I wasn’t getting enough sex in my marriage, so I wrote my husband a guide in the form of a romance novel. It didn’t improve my sex life, but I found I really enjoyed writing.
If you’re looking for a bit more: I’ve always been an avid reader. I wrote a terrible novel in high school (USA); my Dad and teachers were brutally honest about it. I was in the special education program because of dyslexia and a hearing impairment, so writing wasn’t easy for me. I put the concept out of my mind and focused on more attainable goals. Fast forward twenty years, I’m now a displaced classical clarinetist living in England – away from my family, my friends, and the orchestra (Symphonic Anime Orchestra) that I founded and wrote a ridiculous amount of music for every year.
I’d gone from a career-oriented woman with big goals to basically a decorator wife. It was fun for a bit, but wow, not having my creative outlet got really old, really fast. Which also messed with my marriage. In a fit of rage, I just barfed all my issues into a story and gave it to a friend, who was really encouraging. That led to another book, not about my issues, which led to my first trilogy. Writing words lights up the same happy creativity that music notes did in my brain.
I’m still married, my husband is super supportive, and yes, he read the original book.
What’s your favorite family tradition?
Playing Catchphrase with my family. We have no shame and are very competitive. It’s men against women. Winner takes all!
If you had a warning label, what would yours say?
Parental advisory, explicit lyrics, best ingested with liquor.
What do you remember most about your first job?
My first job was on a dude ranch when I was fourteen. I woke up my first morning with a horse eating the bed I’d made for myself in the barn. I cried I was so happy. It was a dream come true. I’d spent so much of my life wanting to work with horses. By the end of the summer, when I woke up with a horse eating my bed, I still cried, but for a different reason. I was about to spend the next three hours walking a fence line trying to figure out where the too-smart for-their-own-good bastards busted out. I worked that job every summer for six years. Love it.
About The Thorns of Charbon Institute trilogy:
I knew nothing but the touch of my master until the Magical Authorities killed him and set my world on fire.
Now, I’m a prisoner at an institute stressing students beyond their limits.
I’m a sorceress who can’t access her magic and wanted by wickedly handsome mages who all have their own agenda.
I spent my life following directions. Now I can make my own decisions, I don’t know the right ones. Why is saying ‘no’ so hard?
With the administration judging every action I take and weighing them on their uneven scales of morality, I must come to terms with my darkness to survive and, if I’m lucky, even gain my freedom.
Self studies is a fast burn, reverse harem, dark bully romance with M/M/F and M/F themes. The trilogy is a college-age academy setting, 18+. All three books are written and complete the story. Please be aware there may be triggers, see inside of book for the list.
Tell us a little about the book. How did you come up with the idea for the books?
This is an answer in two parts:
I’d written a different trilogy and been submitting it to publishers. Book one of Kinnia’s trilogy got turned down for not having enough sex in it. So, I decided I wanted to see if I could write a book with a lot of sex in it, that still included the depth of plot and characters I enjoyed.
I wrote Aphrodite’s story during the pandemic. I live in England, but my family spreads over six US states with radically different political views. Knowing what the ‘right’ thing to do was and is impossible in the eyes of so much diversity. I channeled my frustration into my writing. The books have nothing to do with the pandemic, but I think Aphrodite’s journey reflects what a lot of us feel. From little decisions to the big, is there truly a right answer?
I know it is hard to pick, especially in this case, but out of all the men in Aphrodite’s life, who is your favorite and why?
Ohh, this is really hard. RH is all about why choose. For Aphrodite, I think Ashe forced her to grow the most. Though they all grew together, Ashe had freedoms the others didn’t and could look beyond his situation and grow with her. I’m a big fan of tough love. Professor Garnet was the embodiment of that, but he didn’t get the opportunity to explore with her. I’m very excited to see how the group does when the roles are reversed. The follow-up trilogy will be in Colorado, outside of the rules and microcosm of the Institute. It will be an exciting swap of power.
Do you have a favorite scene or quote from the books? What is it?
The scene I can still picture when I close my eyes is the opening to the shower in Group Studies, where Ashe has just learned about Beryl’s existence. Ashe has his powerful arms resting above the door frame as he eyes Beryl, trying to figure out the correct action. For me, this moment is a culmination of the growth he and Aphy are going through. Regardless of Ashe’s job, emotions, or heart, he can’t see the object of his affections (Aphrodite) hidden in the steam. He only sees Beryl. A mage below him whose been making Aphrodite cry because she misses him so much. This mage could be his rival or his friend. What is the right thing to do? Go against everything he’s been taught? Or open himself up to a future he’s never even considered.
Given a chance to choose, what colour rims would your eyes have and what type of power would that signify?
Hands down blue for me. Blue is internal. My magic would only affect me. I am probably one of the least feminine women you will ever meet. I’ve been powerlifting since I was 19. One of my life goals is to bench my husband. Blue rims = husband in the air.
If you were to attend the ‘school’ yourself, who’d you befriend with? Would you try to keep a low profile and strive to pass of your aptitudes or enjoy your time being ‘locked up’ and find ways to break the rules?
I really badly want to say I would break the rules. But, honestly, unless I found something worth breaking them for, I would keep my head down and do my best to enjoy my time ‘locked up.’ I probably wouldn’t reach out to others. I think not interacting is the only true way not to offend anyone. Which is terrible, I know. I’m so lame. It’s why I write about women like Aphrodite!! I want to have her strength.
Are you a plotter or a pantser and what are your writing habits?
Pantser. I write personalities, put them in a world with rules, and see what happens. I only write when I feel like it. Interestingly I get big creative spirts a few days before I menstruate and write until I fall asleep, then wake up and keep writing until the ideas are on paper. Obviously, I write in-between as well, but if I’m stuck, I just reread, knowing hormones will help me out soon enough.
I strongly believe in peer review and crave (especially negative) feedback from beta readers to help me streamline my ideas into something more universally understood.
Do you do a lot of research when writing? What’s the most interesting thing you’ve earth while writing a book?
Yes. Wow, the amount of research is unreal. My search history is terrifying. When writing Aphrodite’s story, FaceBook started customizing my ads for online counseling and victims’ abuse hotlines.
I don’t know if I have a most interesting thing, outside of some sexual positions I didn’t realize the human body was capable of and am still questioning if they are hot or not. I spent a lot of time going down rabbit holes of information which usually end in videos of cats.
What are you currently working on?
There is a planned follow-up for Aphrodite, going further into her past, Tanwyn’s magic, and some unexpected family connections between the guys. I’m very excited to see what type of trouble Beryl gets into in the outside world and how his relationship, especially with our resident MA officer, Ashe copes. I also plan on writing a series of short stories about her years at the Institute between Class Studies and the new trilogy.
I didn’t start writing any of that because I honestly wasn’t sure if anyone would read my books! I have massive imposter syndrome as I’m not a trained writer, so I struggle with confidence.
While I wallow in indecision about Aphrodite, I’m tinkering with an urban fantasy duet tentatively titled: “Dragons Taste Like Chocolate.” It has a more streamlined plot and is ‘light-hearted’ (ha, as much as I can write that). Book one is with a few beta readers right now, and assuming they like it. I’ll write book two and start going through the massive rounds of edits needed.
Just another question:
You are creating your own harem. Who do you pick to join and why?
Ah, you are trying to get me in trouble with my husband on this one. Although I gave Aphrodite a larger harem, 3-4 is my sweet spot.
Jason Momoa – because every girl needs a muscle-bound teddy bear.
Henry Cavill – he’s king of the nerds, and we need someone to run our Dungeons & Dragons game.
Ryan Reynolds – because I’m way too serious of a person, someone’s got to make me laugh.
Chris Hemsworth can be our trainer and occasionally join us for board games, but he needs to prove he’s all in before he can join our group.