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Facebook: Anna DeStefano
Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get started writing?
I’ve pretty much been writing my whole life. Always dreaming and making up stories and talking to characters that weren’t there. No. Not in the “she needs to be locked up for her own good” way. I wrote down the conversations in a journal, so that pretty much covered my ass until I got older and really started thinking seriously about writing for a living. I wanted to look at things and see them my own way and show the world what I saw and make them feel the things I was feeling while I saw them…
Turned out, though, I was just as good at math and computers as writing, and I got a little sidetracked with the whole making a living in corporate America thing for about ten years. But my hero, my husband, knew what my dreams were—and he said one day, “Why don’t you write that book you’ve always dreamed of writing.” That was roughly nineteen novels ago, and he’s been my first reader and editor ever since.
No matter what sub-genre’s on the spine, I write deeply emotional, dramatic stories about life and how living affects our soul, our hearts and our dreams.
Complete this sentence: I write romance because…
I write romance, because I believe that hope is the strongest motivator and necessity in life—no matter how tough the journey, if you have hope and faith and the grit to cling to both, you’ll get to your happily-ever-after ending, too, and you’ll never have to travel that road alone.
You’re here to promote your new novel from Entangled Publishing, Her Forgotten Betrayal. Tell us a little bit about it. Why are you excited about it, and what makes it a “must read” for us all?
Well, here’s the official cover copy…
Shaw Cassidy’s nightmares are shredding her sanity. Her global empire, her freedom from federal prosecution for espionage, and her life are all on the line. Long-ago secrets of love and betrayal swirl like living fire through her dreams until she doesn't know whom she can trust, or who is out to hurt her.
Federal Marshal Cole Marino has one mission: infiltrate his former lover's mountain retreat and force her to remember the shooting that triggered her amnesia. But when Shaw questions Cole's motives, and his lies are revealed, will the connection they've begun to forge be torn apart, or will the soul-deep bond they once had save them both and crash through Shaw's amnesia, once and for all?
As for why it’s a must read—these characters will knock your socks off. They’re some of the deepest, most flawed characters I’ve ever written, yet you’ll be cheering for them from the start. And the way Shaw comes to her memories of their past, and the way Cole continues to fight for her—for them—no matter how unlikely it is that he’ll ever win Shaw back, is nothing short of amazing. I LOVE my job!
This book is being billed as a “contemporary gothic.” Tell me a little about this. I still think of gothics as the spooky historical romances I read way “back in the day.”
Gothic can mean a lot of things to a lot of people, but my favorite gothics are some of the classics I read as a child, like Rebecca. What I wanted to bring into a contemporary suspense is the feeling of, yes, a dark and stormy night (most of Her Forgotten Betrayal takes place at night). But also that the setting of the book takes on a life of its own.
HFB happens at the top of a North Georgia Mountain, in an ancient Victorian mansion. Shaw Cassidy is isolated (at least she thinks she is), and every bump and creek in the night is terrifying—sounding like the person who’s already hurt her coming back to finish what he started. Or is it her imagination? Or is the house itself coming after her, with every accident and unexpected obstacle and danger that throws itself in her path? Is she hearing voices? Is she losing her mind? Even when she runs into her mysterious neighbor and begins to remember their past together, she can’t be sure if he’s not the one she should be most afraid of.
There’s a lot of theme and symbol in each scene. It’s fun to watch it all play out during the novel. But it’s the shadows and the double meanings and the fact that you’re never really certain what’s happening that I love best about what I was able to do. You know, on top of the sexy romance and thrilling suspense ;o)
I hope readers enjoy the wild ride just as much as I did!
Will you give us a sneak peek inside Her Forgotten Betrayal, perhaps a short snippet to whet our appetites?
Well I think I “snippeted” a bit already in my previous answer
Basically, Shaw Cassidy is in danger from both federal prosecution (for espionage) and a faceless stalker no one really believes is still after her. And she’s alone in this creepy old mountain house, except for the deep-cover FBI agent playing her neighbor, who turns out also to be her long-lost lover from when they were teenagers. Only she can’t remember him, like she can’t remember anything else. Not even the nightmares that are trying to show her the truth about the shooting that landed her in the mess she’s in.
This is a brief excerpt from the opening—Shaw walking through her grandmother’s home trying not to believe that every bump and creek and shadow is out to get her…
A crash beyond the kitchen's door jolted Shaw from her thoughts. The wooden spoon rattled from her fingers to the stovetop. She whirled toward the dining room.
“Esme?” She raised a hand to cover her heart.
She was scaring herself senseless for nothing. She was going stir crazy, that was all. She’d simply been alone for too long. The unexplained rattles and noises and sometimes even voices she kept thinking she heard were symptoms of cabin fever.
The house answered her with silence, except for the soft hum of the refrigerator. She took an uncertain step forward, determined to conquer her fear. There was no one there, she told herself firmly. No one was ever there. There was no threat, except from her own panic. All she had to do was turn on the dining room lights, and there’d be no one lurking around the next corner, waiting to attack her.
She reached for the door.
“Sorry, Shaw,” the faceless, scratchy-voiced man whispered from her nightmare.
She clenched her hands into fists, her nails digging into her palms.
“Don't be such a baby,” she said out loud. “Stop this.”
Fear and the amnesia it fed had stolen everything from her. She had no recollection of the four high-tech research centers she was said to oversee. Or how she’d come to be the sole living heir to an estate that included not only this mountain house near the North Carolina border, once used by her family as a summer retreat, but also a loft in Atlanta and homes on several other continents. And to add insult to injury, no one had yet been allowed to tell her more. Doctors orders.
She wanted her life back, damn it. She smoothed her hand against the dining room door, and braced herself to push it open. She could do this. She had to.
Sudden darkness swallowed the kitchen.
Her thoughts were immediately swamped with the panicked claustrophobia of being trapped in a closet, waiting to be discovered.
“No.” She blinked, willing the lights to come back on. Her imagination was merely playing tricks on her, anticipating the worst.
But regardless of how many times she tried to force the room into focus, there was nothing to see. Someone had killed the power for real. Her nightmare was coming true. It was waiting for her in the very next room.
She backed away.
Fell over one of the kitchen chairs.
Landed hard on her backside.
“There's no one there,” she insisted. “The electricity's gone out. That's all.”
Something else crashed in the dining room, followed by the distinct sound of a man's footsteps, inching closer. She covered her mouth with her hand. She scrambled backwards on the floor, her nightgown and robe twisting around her legs. Disjointed dream memories swirled through her mind. She lurched to her feet. She felt her way along the wall, blindly heading for the storage room and its back door to the outside world.
She was a fool, a weak, clueless fool. But she couldn't stop herself from panicking.
“Kill the bitch...” the night whispered...
What motivated you to write this story, and what do you hope readers will take away with us having read it?
I wanted to write an epic love story—one that began a long time ago, ended seemingly forever but for all the wrong reasons, and now there’s a second chance. Except love is messy and life gets in the way, and people shut down and don’t always untangle their hearts just because they’re given another opportunity to break them. Then what happens if you take all of that away and wipe the slate clean—and just go back to the energy that riots between two people who were meant to be together, binding them to one another because they’ll never be complete alone?
Take out all the spooky, gothic elements and the thrilling race to find a stalker and the danger to the heroine who thinks she can’t trust anyone, and at its heart Her Forgotten Betrayal is an amnesia story—and the only thing Shaw Cassidy has left to believe in, the only thing that will really save her in the end, is her dreams. THAT’S the story I’d like to write for all of us.
Well, it’s HOT. OMG!, I think, was my immediate reaction when I saw it ;o) It’s my first passion cover, but it’s exactly what I asked for, too.
Because that moment in the story when Cole and Shaw come together, when they leave themselves bare to one another (emotionally as well as physically), is the turning point when they commit to love. It’s instinctive and soul-deep and untainted. Just as pure and innocent as their teenage love was, no matter the secrets and shadows that still remain between them. It’s the image I had in my mind from the very beginning as I wrote the story: what real love looks like—perfection—even when there’s so much in life trying to tear it apart.
And did I mention it’s HOT!!!
This story is part of Entangled Publishing’s Dead Sexy imprint. Tell us a little bit about this line and where this story fits in.
Dead Sexy and Entangled are exciting to publish with. What they wanted for this suspense line was good writers and good stories and thrilling reads—beyond that, they placed very few limitations on what we could create. Being part of the launch has been a blast. I’ve written category romance since the start of my career, and I’ve never had so much freedom to explore a story and make it the best it could be.
I think readers will LOVE the variety and depth of the Dead Sexy line-up. Nina contracted two books from me, and she chose the gothic to be part of the launch because it was so different from the other books. Amazing! I’ll be forever grateful for this chance to join in the fun ;o)
Along with being a multi-published author, you teach workshops on the craft and business of writing and on communication. Tell me a little bit about this. What motivates you to share your talents with aspiring authors?
Well, I’ve been a freelance editor and writing coach for several years, too. And now I’m an Entangled editor for the Dead Sexy line—I worked with Mallory Kane and Cynthia Cooke on their launch books, as well as writing my own.
I love to teach and work with writers. I was a senior technical writer in a former life, so I have a background in breaking down process and explaining it to others, as well as editing other writers’ work. Working with authors on the fiction side of things is a pleasure. I’ve taught anywhere from large conferences to smaller writing groups, and have done weekend retreats at the college level well as for groups as small as ten people. It’s all gravy to me.
Seeing story come to life and writers dig deeper for the characters and lives and emotions they want to share with the world is what motivates me—whether that writer is me or someone else. I feel privileged to be a part of each and every story I help find its way into a reader’s hands and heart. What could be better than that?
Tell us about your upcoming work. What’s next?
I have another Entangled Dead Sexy novel to write, and I can’t wait to dive back in!
In the mean time, I have a Harlequin Special Release out in July, A Sweetbrook Family—a family drama. So is my Christmas on Mimosa Lane, out in October from Amazon Montlake, which is the first book in a new women’s fiction/contemporary romance series I’m thrilled to be writing. I’m also working on a three-book continuation to my sci-fi/fantasy Legacy series, and have an indie series I’m working on and want to publish on my own.
So, I’m keeping busy…
Any last words for us?
Thanks for this amazing opportunity! You have such a fun site. It’s been a blast visiting