Today we welcome bestselling author Anna DeStefano in her first visit to the Lair. Anna's Harlequin Superromances have garnered numerous awards, including two RT Award Winner nods, most recently for her Atlanta Heroes series, as well as many, many finalist nominations. Anna joins us today to celebrate the release of her first paranormal suspense novel, Dark Legacy. She's not only giving away copies here today but has a running contest on her own blog with great prizes (details below). I have read and loved this book, which has gritty, engrossing use of telepathy in both the sibling and the romantic relationships and lots and lots of that Lair favorite, "boom" (action, for those joining us for the first time). So here's Anna.
So, the thing about writing family dramas... Families and community and relationships happen everywhere. To everyone. Guess that makes me a lucky girl, since that's what I like to write about. A lot. You know, the things that go right and wrong in every day life because we don't live in a vacuum, and we can't control what others do or say, or what they feel about what we do and say...
So, the beginning of my writing career was full of emotional, angsty stories about the drama that goes on in every family, though I did seem to enjoy writing about the dysfunctional households more than the functional ones ;o) And then I discovered the beauty of layering suspense and danger on top of the drama, and before I knew it I had this wild idea about psychic twins (one who's a doctor and the other who's psychotic but, thankfully, in a coma, or so her sister thinks...) and their less-than nurturing mother. A troubled family indeed, since they're surrounded by the intrigue of their centuries-old legacy of magical powers and a host of government scientists trying to manipulate their legacy and a secret league of "watchers" who will do anything—ANYTHING—to keep their abilities from being controlled by powers of evil... Just your typical, every day family drama, right?
So, by now, you might have guessed that I’m branching out into paranormal suspense with my new "Legacy" series. Actually, some reviewers are calling Dark Legacy a thriller. One even labeled it urban fantasy. Cool! I guess that means the dream theory I've layered into the story's contemporary world is coming through loud and clear. And so is the struggle between my twins. Maddie's Dark Legacy's heroine. Her psychotic sister, Sarah, gets her own book next year with Secret Legacy. These stories are the funnest things I've every written. Fast moving and chilling and sexy (did I mention Maddie's hunky psychiatrist, Jarred, and how they get to hook up and work through their issues both in reality and in their dreams??? for an excerpt featuring Maddie and Jarred, which will open as a .pdf, click here.). But my Legacy novels are also, at their core, the same type of stories that have always moved me as a writer.
How do you overcome shadows from the past? How do you forgive those you love who've disappointed you, but they're also your blood and they're your future and you can't walk away from them? How do you learn to see the light in someone who's as imperfect as you are, and maybe that's why you can't forgive her? And how do you believe in the strength inside them that calls to the strength inside you, that might just become something amazing if you could get your world back on track?
I've been asking these questions in my books for years. Now, I get to ask them in the midst of a spooky, exciting thrill-ride of a love story ;o) I think I'm going to like writing paranormals... I hope you love the result, too. Check out the quick excerpt I brought with me (and the other excerpts up on www.annawrites.com/blog ), and let me know what you think. Today's excerpt shows you "the love" and a taste of Maddie and her twin, too. Hope you enjoy!
An muffled whimper stalled Maddie's rant. It was a weak play for sympathy. A familiar combination of tears and self pity coming from behind her. Spinning, Maddie found the door she'd just entered closed and secured with a wicked-looking padlock. A six-year-old version of her twin sat huddled on the floor in front of it. Sarah had wrapped her arms around her middle. Her head was buried against skinny knees that were bruised and bleeding. She looked as scarped up as Maddie felt, as if Sarah had just run through a vengeful, unforgiving forest. "Don't start with the pity party." Maddie's warning emerged too soft and young to be her own voice.
She looked down to discover that she, too, was her childhood self. Complete with wearing a duplicate of her twin's pink and yellow sundress—one of the matching outfits their mother had hand sewn when they were six. More sniffling filled the playhouse. Sarah's body shook, then she began bawling. Maddie dropped to her knees beside her sister.
"Stop it!" she scolded in her little-girl voice. "It's not going to work. I won't feel sorry for you, no matter how far back you take us. It doesn't change what you've done. What you've destroyed. What you've let these people do to me. You've taken away my life. Again!"
Sarah's next hiccuping sob halted mid-whimper. Her head jerked up, her expression a pitiful mixture of lost innocence and hatred.
"You?" little-girl Sarah screamed. She exploded into motion and tackled Maddie with an adult's rage. "It always has to be about you, doesn't it. This isn't my fault, you freak. You're the weak one. You're the cry baby who couldn't keep this to yourself. You just had to tell that doctor. You just had to fall in love and drag him into this. Why do you always ruin everything!"
"Get off me!" Six-year-old tactics returned in a rush. Maddie grabbed hair and pulled. Her legs kicked for all she was worth, trying to dislodge her sneaky sister before Sarah could do any real damage. "Perfect Maddie," Sarah mocked. She pushed Maddie to her back, sank a knee to the grimy ground on either side of Maddie's legs, and proceeded to pummel the shit out of her. "Maddie never messes up. Maddie always gets straight A’s in school. And she's still perfect, while she whines all over the damn place because she got to have her make-believe life for ten years before it started to fall apart. Poor, pitiful, perfect baby..."
And, since I brought 2 Dark Legacy ARCs to share, let me leave you with a few questions. Answer one or all of them in the comments section to be in the running for a signed copy. Also, check out the great August and September giveaways on my blog (www.annawrites.com/blog )—including Dream Flutters Jewelry, an XOXO Butterfly Purse, and a Grand Prize COACH Butterfly Purse!
1) What are the defining relationships in your life? I mean the ones that show you who you are and who you want to be (or maybe who you don't want to be).
2) As an adult, how do you see your past affecting your world—who you love, HOW you love, and how you feel that love being showered on you (this is one of the key questions Dark Legacy's Maddie has to face, before she can believe in the future she and Jarred are fighting for).
3) How do you like your paranormal/fantasy romance novels? Do you want them to the point and focused on world building adventure? Or do you like a more layered approach, with the kinds of relationships and characters that somehow make even the most unbelievable realities seem, well, real? This question's all for me, Bandits. I'm working on Secret Legacy now and want to make sure I've got the mixture right ;o)