posted by Nancy
Silhouette author Bonnie Vanak makes her first visit to the Lair today. Bonnie broke into publishing with romances set in ancient Egypt and has since written vampires, werewolves, and demons. We'll chat about her latest releases. Welcome, Bonnie!
Please tell us about yourself and how you got into writing.
My writing career began when I authored adventure stories starring Kissy, my pet kissing gourami. Critics at Shongum Elementary School in New Jersey gave these tomes rave reviews, noting, “Your spelling has improved.” Although they never made the NY Times bestselling list, the short stories were featured on my mother’s very busy refrigerator door.
And then I found my mother’s stash of romance novels, including Dorothy Eden and Victoria Holt. I was in heaven!
More than ten years ago, I started writing romance novels to balance the emotional strains of constantly seeing poverty and suffering. I work as a writer for a large international charity and travel to poor countries. In fact, I’ve just returned from Haiti and covering the cholera epidemic. Then, in 2001, I won a romance contest and that historical became The Falcon and the Dove, my first published novel.
What draws you to paranormal romance?
I enjoy the possibilities and the adventure of creating my own world. It’s a very freeing sensation when you write paranormal, so different from when I wrote historical romances. I wanted to write werewolves because I like pack loyalty and the challenges it creates. But I also wanted my werewolves to be different, so I gave them unique abilities, from being a healer to being an immortal like Raphael in Immortal Wolf.
You have two releases this month. Courage of the Wolf, a Nocturne Bite ebook, launches the Immortal Justice Guardians. Who are they?
The Justice Guardians are paranormal beings who die and are reborn to immortality. They’re called Phoenixes because of the death and rebirth cycle. They patrol the earth, doling out justice and destroying predators of paranormal creatures. Tristan, one of the most powerful Justice Guardians, first appears in this Bite and he also is in The Shadow Wolf, my September 2011 Nocturne.
What’s the biggest conflict between the hero and heroine of Courage of the Wolf, Michael and Sabrina?
Michael knows he can’t have Sabrina. He must maintain this professional distance, even though he’s sworn to guard her and watch over her. Think of a guardian angel who can’t emotionally become involved with his charge. Sabrina has always had feelings for Michael, who now has enormous responsibilities and is far more powerful than when they first met. She knows he could break her heart if she falls in love with him.
Here's an excerpt (copyright 2010 by Bonnie Vanak)
Just another day in a tropical paradise filled with demons. Right. If only it was just a typical day and not the very one he’d been dreading.
Ambling backwards on the roadside, Michael Anderson scanned Florida’s Alligator Alley for a silver Lexus. As always, Sabrina Kelly was late. The Draicon werewolf would be late for her own funeral. The thought sobered him.
Minutes later, Michael pushed a hand through his long, ragged hair as Sabrina’s car pulled off the road. He breathed in her scent of fresh lavender as the Draicon werewolf hurried toward him. Dressed in a pink sweater set and a floral skirt, she looked like spring. Cut razor straight, her black hair swung just below her jawline. Wide, sea-green eyes shone with intelligence.
When she threw herself into his arms, he hugged back, feeling a lump rise in his throat. The vision came to him again. Blood. Death. Sorrow.
Michael set her back down on her feet. As much as he wanted to use his powers as an Immortal Justice Guardian to direct destiny, he could not. Punishment would be severe if he broke Guardian laws. He’d already broken a big one to buy Sabrina time.
Years ago, when he was still a Draicon werewolf, he’d made a promise to keep her safe. The burning need to protect her had never stopped. It wasn’t love, but a fierce admiration of her strong spirit and honoring the deep friendship they’d shared in the past.
“Why did you want me to pick you up on this road? Forget how to dematerialize?” she asked.
He shrugged. “I like walking. And I thought it would be nice to ride with you in the Lexus to your grandparents’ anniversary party.”
“You knew I was taking the Lexus and not the Expedition? Oh, of course, you know everything.” She shook her head. “Even what type of underwear I have on.”
“I don’t know everything.”
When she turned, he flicked his fingers. A microburst of air sent the fabric swirling upward. “White lace,” he noted with a grin. “Very nice.”
“Michael!” she scolded him with a smile.
A faint blush raced across her cheeks. It was like watching the sun chase away the night. Enchanted, he watched her moisten her pink lips. What would her petal-soft mouth feel like beneath his as he took her, hard and fast? He swallowed hard at the startling, sexual thought. Sabrina was off-limits.
He was a Phoenix, an Immortal Justice Guardian who’d died and been reborn to his powers. Michael patrolled the earth, doling out justice and destroying predators of paranormal creatures. He’d succeeded at his job until a year ago, when the Hellfire demon Ambrosis slaughtered Sabrina’s parents and five siblings as Sabrina tried to save them. Her family had been heading to visit her grandparents when the demon attacked them as they took a brief respite from driving.
If he could, he’d die to keep her safe. But he couldn’t die again. Sabrina had to face her own demon. Guardian laws demanded he must not interfere.
“Let’s go,” he muttered. The sun sinking toward the horizon warned they were running out of time.
Inside the car, his senses drank in her scent as if he were still a Draicon werewolf. Trees, palms and scrub brush passed in a blur as the car sped toward Florida’s west coast.
“Michael, you’re the only friend who still bothers with me. Thank you,” Sabrina told him.
“I’m not just your friend, Brie. I’ve watched over you since I became a Justice Guardian. You’ve shut yourself off from the world.”
She blinked hard. “If not for you, I’d never have done this. I can’t bear the memories.” White showed on her knuckles as her fingers tightened on the steering wheel. “All I can recall is fighting. Pain, and then nothing. Nothing except waking up to see my family was dead.”
“You still don’t remember what happened to you?”
“It’s a blur, except I have the scar to remind me. I have nightmares about Ambrosis, and this voice keeps telling me I must have the courage to face him again. But ever since I lost my family, I’m terrified of something else happening.”
Michael looked away. “You should pay attention to your dreams. Often, they contain messages.”
She inhaled deeply. “Dreams are just dreams. Let’s not talk about it. It’s hard enough for me to drive on this road again. I haven’t been this way since Ambrosis killed my family.”
A fist of guilt slammed into his guts. He stared out the passenger’s side window. I’m sorry, Brie, but I must do this. It’s my duty as a Justice Guardian.
Familiar landmarks appeared on the roadside. Sabrina’s hands shook. “This is the place. If I’d never insisted on Dad stopping so we could hunt in the swamp, they’d still be alive. I’m going to speed up .…”
“Pull over,” he told her.
I love that! You also have a story,”Unwrapped,” in the Christmas With a Vampire anthology (with that seriously cute guy on the cover). What’s that story about?
Think Romeo and Juliet with fangs and sharp claws! Adrian, the vampire, and Sarah, the Draicon werewolf, must team together to defeat the evil creatures who want Sarah dead. There’s a surprising twist at the end of the story.
Do the hero and heroine have a history?
Yes, in "Unwrapped," Adrian and Sarah were friends who secretly cared about each other.
When you aren’t writing, what do you like to do?
In my spare time, my husband and I bike ride and take hikes, and we just finished decorating the whole house for Christmas. He’s into trains, so instead of one train beneath the tree, we have three! It’s great fun at the holidays for our friends and their children.
What’s next for you?
The Shadow Wolf is my next mass market Nocturne book, out in September 2011. And I just contracted to write three novellas for Nocturne in a sexy new series I’m calling The Ancients. It’s about three sisters who are half demon, half angel. They are coming into their powers and must be stopped before they turn fully demonic. Three Ancients, a werewolf, a vampire and a shapeshifting jaguar, are assigned to sexually bond with them to tame their dark side, or destroy them if the bonding fails.
For more on Bonnie and her work, visit her website. Bonnie is giving away a copy of her first Nocturne, The Empath (now out of print), to one commenter today. So answer one of these questions to be eligible. What's your favorite kind of paranormal romance? Your favorite Christmas romance? Your favorite romance hero and heroine who battle forces of darkness?