Friday, August 21, 2009

Psychic Twins, Sibling Rivalry and Paranormal Mayhem, Oh My!

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)

56 comments:

Virginia said...

Is he mine today!

Nancy said...

Virginia, congrats on taking home the rooster. Have fun with him! So what do you think about the psychic twins?

Virginia said...

Hi Anna, nice to see you here and I have been hearing a lot about your book. I love, love, love the cover and it sounds like it would be a fantastic read! I would love to read about your psychic twins. I can't wait to get my little hands on this one.

Now to answer your question. I like my books to be layered to where the characters and their relationships do seem real. I want to be apart of the book I am reading if you understand what I am saying. Yes I do see my past affecting the way I am today. The past is what makes us the people we are today.

Nancy said...

Virginia, someone famous, whose name currently escapes me, said the study of history is important you have to know where you've been to know where you're going. I think that works for people, too.

Lynz Pickles said...

After reading the .pdf excerpt and the short one in the post, I'm dying to get my hands on a copy of your book, Anna. Like, now. It sounds sooooooooo good!!!

I think the past has a huge impact on our lives. I know that my own past has made me very cautious of trusting people with my heart, whether romantically or not, because I've been burned so many times before, and makes it really hard for me to forgive. I think that's part of why I like romance so much - the hero can mess up, really really mess up, but by the end of the novel I know he won't ever do it again and, because I can usually read his thoughts too, I can end the book satisfied. Real life isn't nearly as absolute, with can be scary.

When it comes to reading material, especially paranormal/fantasy, I prefer the layered approach. There are a ton of books out there with fantastic world-building, but I've found that if an author focuses on that, their characters tend to be rather isolated. Oh, they're good characters, but they don't have the support networks - friends, family, etc - that real people have, and that can bother me. I love reading about the nuances of relationships, and when an author executes them right, like you've done in your excerpt, you can put the characters in the most boring world ever and I won't even notice.

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Virginia, congratulations on the chook!

Anna, I'm sure you don't remember me but I remember you well - you coordinated a contest I finalled in way back around 2005. Was it the Susannah? Anyway, I remember with gratitude how great you were. You were only newly published then and I was so excited for you. It's been marvelous watching your career go from strength to strength. Congratulations!

I'm actually in the writing cave at the moment - book due in a week and a bit (AAAARRRRGGGGH!). But I couldn't let your visit pass without giving you a big hug all the way from Australia!

Jane said...

Congrats on the GR, Virginia.

The relationships I have with everyone in my family shape me the most and makes me the person I am. I like the layered approach in paranormals. It's the characters and their lives we care about.

Shari C said...

I definitely believe our past influences our present and future. First our family formed many of our habits, beliefs and how we looked at life. Then our friends from school, later work and who we socialized with. I believe also that where we are raised influences some of our outlook and how we reaction to different situations. We are definitely a product of our past, but it does not mean we can't change something about us if we are aware of the problem and want to change.

Definitely looking forward to Dark Legacy.

Wishing everyone a happy and safe week-end.

Anna Destefano said...

Thanks on the cover love, Virginia--and congrats on claiming the rooster for your very own ;o) I totally understand what you mean about wanting to be a part of the book, not just a bystander. I feel the same way (both when I write and when I read).

Lynz, I think you're going to love Maddie in Darl Legacy. I chose trust as her internal conflict--and I think have found a new twist on the way she has to work through her fear ;o) You'll have to let me know. And smooches for saying the magic words about the excerpts--relationships and layering. Both SOOO important to me. I'm glad even just this little bit of DL is already satisfying you!

Anna Destefano said...

Anna, you're so sweet! It's great to "see" you again, LOL! Now, back to your cave and your own FABULOUS books!

Jane and Shari--yes, family/community and layering character and relationshops into the story are what I've always focused on in my books. No matter if they're classic romance, suspense or now paranormal suspense/thrillers. The promise of love conquering all and hope getting you through are strong themes, too. Changing what your past created in you, so you can become what you're meant to be next... Sigh...

Maxine Davis said...

Anna,

Great to see you on Romance Bandits. The book cover is fantastic! Can't wait to read it. Sounds like it's a "not able to put it down" book.

Beth said...

Welcome to the lair, Anna! Dark Legacy sounds fantastic and those excerpts are awesome *g* Can't wait to read it!

What kind of research did you do for this story? What was the most fascinating piece of information you discovered?

Anna Destefano said...

Beth, I actually worked on the bones of my Legacy series for a couple of years before my agent began to shop it around. The high concept was so unique, and I had a new (if contemporary) world to build. And that's when I discovered dream theory...

It's an amazing science. And a lot of folks take it pretty seriously. Since I've been fascinated by my own nightime visions since I was a child, it felt like coming home a little. It's a wonder, actually, that I haven't played with the concept sooner, actually.

I've discussed dream theory a lot on my own blog (www.annawrites.com/blog) and will keep the conversation running, since I'm now working on DL's sequel (Secret Legacy). And I think the most amazing thing I discovered (something I already suspected from my own life) is just how powerful our dreams can become in our waking lives--if we're brave enough to believe in the link between the two worlds ;o)

EilisFlynn said...

I love my stories layered and textured. I edit financial copy all day long, so I want something with real meat when I finally get to read something I actually want to read!

Minna said...

I definitely want my paranormal/fantasy romance novels to be layered.

Nancy said...

Lynz, I had an unfortunate early relationship that left me with trust issues, too. I definitely think "once burned, twice shy" fits me.

Nancy said...

Anna C., thanks for popping out of the cave. Good luck rolling to the end.

Nancy said...

Jane, I think it's hard for people not to be shaped by their families, even if the shaping happens via rebellion against some part of the family's creed or approach.

Nancy said...

Shari, I like your point about where we were raised. City or town or rural settings can make a difference. I grew up in a small college town where my parents literally knew almost everyone. There was a connectedness, a sense of community, that I don't have here in the city.

Nancy said...

Anna DeS., I never feel like a bystander when I read your books. You know I have a weakness for telepathy stories, but even if I didn't, I would've been drawn into Maddie's struggles.

Except for Jarred, her community, the hospital, is ready to cut her loose. That makes her tie to Jarred even more important, apart from their romantic relationship, because he's all she has.

Then there're the Watchers and the government agents in the Dream Weaver program. You did a great job of not making your threatening influences entirely bad--the old "every villain is the hero of his own story" bit.

Jeopardy and loyalty--without those neither a paranormal nor any other kind of book is going to pull me in. There has to be jeopardy that's personal to the main character, whether the threat is to the character, his/her heart, or the world, and there has to be someone who's loyal to and believes in the main character.

You nailed all that quite nicely. And with lots and lots of boom. We love boom in the lair. :-)

Nancy said...

Maxine, thanks for stopping by. I can attest that it is a "don't put it down" reading experience. :-)

Nancy said...

Anna, speaking of planning, don't you do a program on planning a book? Or am I confusing that with the one on embracing revisions?

Or am I just confused?

Nancy said...

Eilis, I'd bet stories with lots of boom are a relief from all that financial info.

Nancy said...

Minna, I think you have lots of company in the layering/texturing camp.

Nancy said...

Anna, reading the comments and thinking about them reminds me of what people used to say back when paranormals were first becoming big--that if you couldn't strip the paranormal elements out without changing the story, it wasn't publishable as a paranormal romance.

That always seemed wrong to me, maybe because I'm so rooted in fantasy and science fiction. And I think that theory explained why I often found early paranormals unsatisfying. If the paranormal elements weren't important, why were they there? Window dressing? That seemed almost like disdain for a story element I really loved and wanted to sink into.

The subgenre has evolved now, to much more of a hybrid between romance and SFF. The paranormal elements are more often integral, and I think one of the things I like here is that the sisters' psychic bond and the way Maddie's gifts evolve are critical to every aspect of the story, including the romance.

jo robertson said...

Thanks to the two Annas for bringing such a great post to the Lair. And welcome, Anna! Your series sounds very exciting. I love the idea of psychic twins, especially with one of them psychotic.

Who is publishing this series?

To answer the question, I think we never escape from our pasts. They're what made us who we are, coupled with our genetics. The best we can do is make the most of what we're given, good or bad.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hey Virginia! You got the bird for the day! Watch out for him. He's being really snarky these days. grins.

Hi Anna! Welcome to the Lair! Like the other, Bandita Anna, I've been buried deep in one of the Lair's well-equipped caves, w/ post-national requests and a looming deadline. That said, I HAD to pop up to say Hi!

Then I have to go back into solitary...sigh. It's a long way down those Lair steps, you know? We have to work on that, Nancy!

Anyway, I love the premise of these books. They sound like they are right up my crooked street. Grins. I love complexity in a book, I love siblings and stories about them, twisted or not, and if it's got BOOM! I'm there. (As Nancy will attest.)

Again, thanks for being with us! *adding Anna DeS book to B&N buy list, along w/ Aunty Cindy's latest*

(Hey, btw everyone, I just got Tawny's newest. It's calling me...must resist....)

housemouse88 said...

Hello Anna,

First congrats on the new release. When it comes to paranormal or fantasy books, I like for them to more of this world. I understand authors creating a world for their characters, it's just not for me or at least I've not found a book I've really enjoyed. Have a great day.

joder said...

My defining relationship is the one I have with my parents. They're both very hard working, loyal, and willing to lend a helping hand. I try to be like that and hope that I'll be remembered by those qualities long after I'm gone.

Nancy said...

Jo, Dark Legacy is from Dorchester, under the Lovespell imprint.

Nancy said...

Duchesse, you got Tawny's book? It's out? Must pick up that one along with AC's this weekend. Are you still on B&N's boards?

I do think you would like this book. A lot.

I wish you luck in the cave and can't wait to read the results of all these spelunking banditas. But yes, too many steps to get in and out!

Nancy said...

Housemouse, Dark Legacy is set in our world, just with a twist. I read a lot of SFF, as you know, and I sometimes find one that's a little too far out there for me. The world doesn't engage me--or, worse, the characters don't.

Happy reading!

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Nancy asked: Are you still on B&N's boards?

Yep! I'm over there chatting away. It's fun. My host, Becke is, as you know, a frequent poster here, so it's easy to keep the conversation going with her on board.

If anyone wants to drop by, it's

http://bookclubs.barnesandnoble.com/bn/board/message?board.id=MysteryGen&thread.id=7021&jump=true

Wow, that's long...

Nancy said...

Joder, your parents sound great. I do think our parents shape us, sometimes by showing us what we want to be and sometimes by showing us what we don't. I have a couple of friends who are adult children of alcoholics, and I think their parents' drinking heavily influenced their own world views.

Anna Destefano said...

Thanks, Jo--I'm really excited about the series. Secret Legacy is going to be even more fun and intriguing than Dark Legacy, to write and hopefully to read ;o) Then I'm working on a three-book continuation, based on a whole new family with a different "secret" legacy...

LOL, Nancy. You're not confused. I teach a series of classes about writing craft. The Planning part of it acutally deals with how to plot your book by focusing on Character Arc (my very favorite thing) when you map out a story's key turning points--THEN work on the plot. I truely believe it's the best way to layer emotion and character and community into even the pastes-paced, complicated external plot. And SMOOCHES for all the wonderful feedback for Dark Legacy. I'm thrilled you had a great experience reading it ;o)

Anna Destefano said...

Jeanna, thanks for digging out of your cave and for adding me to your B&N list. I'm actually signing at the Lincoln Center B&N in NYC next Tuesday (the 25th, when DL launches). Here's hoping lots of other folks feel the way you do!

HouseMouse--I love the almost-real realities of a paranormal world that fits into our own, too. All my Legacy books will be about things that, if you could just let yourself believe, might actually be happening around you in your everyday life. Bwahahahaha. Kinda makes it spookier that way ;o)

Jo--Like Nancy said, Dark Legacy is from Dorchester's romance imprint, Love Spell. But, squeeee, they're moving me over to their more mainstream (but still romance) imprint, Leisure, with Secret Legacy. ***VBG*** Got the word about that just a few weeks ago!

Nancy said...

Anna, glad I'm not confused. This time. I confuse easily. :-/

I'm trying to plan a series now, with continuing characters, and I'm interested in this approach you mentioned because I was thinking that way, doing the relationship arc over several books, then fitting external plots and turning points to it.

I have that workshop on CD from National. I need to go find it.

Julia Smith said...

Anna - Dark Legacy sounds pretty intriguing. It actually seems like something my husband would get into.

My defining relationships? Besides my parents and sister, that would be my husband Brad and my best friend Connie (who's been my soul sister for 36 years.)

To be honest, I've always noticed that my early life has rippled outward, from my sense then of being loved, to my ease now of showing patience with others. I'm sadly amazed by how rare that is.

Paranormal/fantasy romances are best for me if there is a strong world where I can easily imagine countless other stories taking place there, besides the one I'm currently reading.

Becke Davis said...

Hi Anna! I already pre-ordered your book when you were visiting with Michelle Buonfiglio the other day. I can hardly wait to read it!

And I just realized I need to change my profile picture back again.

catslady said...

I agree with the layered approach - the more info the more I enjoy a book. As far as the past - my most common quote is you never get over your childhood. The good as well as the bad.

Anna Destefano said...

Julia--Dark Legacy actually written with a mainstreap thriller plot in mind. Don't get me wrong, there's lots of romance to go around. But the pacing and the way the relationship is woven into the plot is meant to be more of a cross-genre thing. You'll have to let me know how I've done, if you get (or your husband gets) the chance to read it.

Hey Becke!!! Thanks for stopping by AND for the pre-order ;o)

Misty Wright said...

The past effects us all, even if we don't want to think about it at times. I have to say that after losing a husband and picking up the pieces to move on. I've learned that life is too short because we don't know what tomorrow will bring. I have to live life to its fullest, which is one thing he taught me.

Now, happily married again, with a total of five kids in the house. I know that everything happens for a reason, even if we don't know why until we get home.

We learn from our mistakes, pick up the pieces with things are bad, and keep moving forward one step at a time.

Can't wait to read this book, Anna!!

Nancy said...

Julia, there's lots of romance in Dark Legacy. One of the things I like about it is that the romance and the thriller/suspense plot are so well integrated. They feed off each other.

Nancy said...

Hi, Becke--

That's a fun picture, the one with this post. Nice to "see" you.

Nancy said...

Catslady, I so agree with not getting over your childhood, whichever kind it was. I still have defense mechanisms I developed in adolescence. I'm just more conscious of them now and can make a decision as to whether or not to go with them on a given occasion. :-)

Nancy said...

Misty, I love that book case behind you in the photo. I'm so glad you found another love and have such a terrific family. I subscribe to the theory that a window will open if a door closes--it sometimes just takes quite a while.

Misty Wright said...

Thanks, Nancy! You are right, and the windows open when we aren't looking for them. :)

Pat Cochran said...

Hi, Anna & Nancy,

Just stopped in long enough to
greet you both, I'll zip back later
and read the discussion. I'm looking
forward to release day on the 25th!

Pat Cochran

Nancy said...

Hi, Pat--Catch you on the return trip. :-)

Helen said...

Congrats Virginia have fun with him

Love the excerpt this books sounds exciting and thrilling WOW. I haven't been reading paranormals for very long and I have loved the ones that I have read so this one will be added to my must get list I hope it will be released here in Australia Anna.

As to the questions
I have had a fantstic relationship with my Hubby for over 30 years and we work really well together getting strength from each other.

I think my past is always there and I draw on things that have happened to me over the years always.

I love the world building and also layered with the different aspects of the characters in the stories.

Thanks Nancy for inviting Anna along today. Great post

Have Fun
Helen

Anna Destefano said...

Helen, I'm assured Dark Legacy available in Australia. Several booksellers my publisher's sent advanced copies and promo packets to have contacted me to say they're pre-selling it. I'm not sure if the release date is the same there, but something tells me it is. Hope you enjoy ;o)

Waving at Pat><><><><>< See you when you head back our way!

Nancy said...

Hi, Helen--

Glad you enjoyed Anna's post. I think you'll enjoy the book, too.

Pat Cochran said...

I'm baaack, but it is so late! I'm
up in The Woodlands, just north of
Houston, babysitting while DS2 & DIL have driven granddaughter Ashley to Richmond,Indiana where she will be attending Earlham College.

I am so anxious to read the entirety of Dark Legacy! I've read several excerpts and followed on Anna's web site blog as she brought together this marvelous
tale!

Pat Cochran

Lori T said...

The relationships with my family are the things that help to define me. I see myself reflected in my children and the people they are, in the way that my family interacts with me, and I find that these are the relationships that I base so much on. Dark Legacy sounds very very interesting.

Melissa said...

My relationship with my daughter helps define and set goals for what I want the future to hold...my past romantic relationships have helped shape me into the woman I am today, and helped define certain things I need and want out of a relationship with a man...and made me leery of others. So my past and my present have helped shaped my future, in so many more ways than I've mentioned, but in some of the biggest impact ways there are.

susan said...

Morning Anna, Have no idea how I missed your blog yesterday but still want to add my comment and tell you how I love your books and you are doing my style of writing. I am sorry I couldn't get in to be entered in your contest but some how the blog slipped by me. susan L.