Super Awesome Special Guest: SHANNON MCKENNA!

Uh… so you can tell I’m kinda excited about this, yes? I had the chance to meet Shannon this past June in NYC and it was definitely a highlight of my trip. When I found out she was going to be there, and Joy had her on our schedule, and then found out I’d be arriving later and would miss her I sent Joy numerous emails in all caps with lots of punctuation asking for a re-schedule. Which actually didn’t work out either because of the hotel+NYPD fiasco… but everything else and goodness prevailed because we got to hang out with her twice. Whee!

On Blood and Fire

Hello, and thank you so much, Lime, for inviting me onto your site to hold forth about my book!

I’m so excited about this one. It’s very dear to my heart, since it was a book that took me completely by surprise. Bruno just sprang out of nowhere in the first chapter of Fade to Midnight. At first, I didn’t consider him as a hero. He didn’t behave like a classic McKenna hero. He talked too much, he was too bouncy, he was a clown, he was hot tempered, on a hair- trigger, etc. etc. The kind of guy who would be a good foil for a studly and stoic McKenna hero. Like, say, Kev.

But when I was done with Kev’s book, and everything was all sewed up, Bruno swaggered on up, and cockily demanded his own story. He was cute enough for hero material, he assured me. He had the muscles, the dimples, the brains, the charisma, the sexual ability. He could kick ass as well as any flipping McCloud. Hell, he was a direct descendant of one of the biggest Italian mafia crime clans on the eastern seaboard, even though he was raised by tight-assed old Uncle Tony, who went straight decades before. Bruno wanted to flatten his own bad guys, damn it. He wanted to prove himself. He wanted his own sexy heroine, his own happily ever after.

Give it to me now. That’s what he said. He made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. And Blood and Fire came into being.

I’m only half kidding. I am grateful to be bullied by my characters about all the gritty details, the timelines, the plot points. It’s that much less agonizing decision making that I have to engage in! Bruno made the hard decisions before I even started writing. All I had to do was take what he gave me, and build a book with it.

The heart of the story is a memory of Bruno’s recounted in Fade to Midnight. Bruno is in the hospital, staring down at Kev’s unconscious body. He remembers when he was twelve, right after he’d come to live with gruff old Uncle Tony at the diner in Portland, right after his mother’s violent death at the hands of her boyfriend Rudy, the ruthless mafia goon. Rudy and two of his thugs had come to the diner while Bruno was there with Kev, ostensibly to kidnap and silence Bruno before he could testify at Rudy’s trial. But when Bruno is attacked, the speechless and brain damaged and apparently harmless Kev suddenly transformed into a crazy fighting machine. He flattens the three bad guys in seconds, whap, bam, saving Bruno’s life, and earning his devotion forever. And then there was that bit about Rudy ripping Bruno’s mother’s gold necklace, his last keepsake of her, off his throat. What was that about? I didn’t have a clue. I just wrote the thing. Whatever.

I almost cut that scene, because I was so shockingly over word count at the time for Fade to Midnight. It was fully twice as long as the manuscript was supposed to be. I was madly cutting everything that did not obviously advance the plot. And this did not. It revealed character, of course, but not a principle character. It was advancing the plot of another book! Bruno’s book!

That was the seed that took root and grew into Bruno’s story. It went all these crazy places that I never expected before it was through. To the end of writing it, I continued to be surprised as  hell by the things that were happening. It was fun. When it wasn’t hell on earth. Oh, shut up, Shannon. I promised myself I would not whine about how hard and scary writing is. Nobody wants to hear it. Besides, I did this to myself, by deciding not to become a librarian or a computer programmer or a teacher. I made my bed, now I’ll just type in it.

Another good thing about Blood and Fire is that it gave me an opportunity to finish something important that I had begun in Fade to Midnight–the reunion of Kev with is long-lost brothers. A scene fraught with danger. All that pent up emotion, grief and anger and guilt. A minefield, and in FADE TO MIDNIGHT, there was no time or space to either let the bombs explode or carefully defuse them, one by one. The characters were too busy getting blown up and shot at and torched and shot up with needles full of junk or assailed by mind-controlling zombie masters. Stuff like that. No down time for involved, emotionally charged conversations, explanations, ‘issues.’ It was very painful, leaving those beloved McCloud boys like that, all in limbo with each other, still as tense and confused as hell and tied in knots by their unresolved feelings. I considered writing the scene that would resolve it, and then I abandoned the idea. Too easy, I thought. Too soon. Not those guys. They’re not like that. They’re armored with titanium, emotionally speaking. They’re rigidly controlled, they’re tragically, terminally macho. I make no apologies for them. They’re just plain difficult. Ask any of their heroines. Raised and homeschooled in the deep wilderness by a paranoid schizophrenic nutcase survivalist sniper whose mottos were “lack of vigilance will get you killed” and “do the hard thing.” That big tender moment was just going to have to wait. I wouldn’t write it until I felt it. Because I know these guys.

But I cannot even tell you how much flak I caught for that decision! Most of the readers who reviewed or wrote me were just perplexed and disappointed that I left those big issues unresolved, but many others were genuinely angry and felt cheated. I felt bad that they felt bad, but I also chose to take the intensity as a kind of back-handed compliment (might as well, don’t you think?) If a reader cares enough to actually get mad at me for not doing right by a character that she cares about, a character who she believes deserves better, then I am definitely doing something right. Not everything, maybe . . . but something!

But I will announce to you right now that in Blood and Fire, they get their moment! And it is so quintessentially McCloud. Right down to the pouring rain, the open grave, the mud, the ice, the moldering skeletons . . . and I’ll stop it right now. Don’t want to spoil.

So to all of you who were left feeling unsatisfied, it was not for lack of caring about the characters on my part! Far from it. It’s because I care too much to railroad them into something important before it could happen naturally, in a way that I could believe in.

I really get excited when the story jerks me around and has its way with me—is that kinky? Should I worry? Oh, never mind. Forget I asked.

Anyhow, I’m blathering on, because Lime indulgently did not impose a word count, which is a dangerous thing to do with me! So I’ll close this with another resounding “thank you” to Lime for sharing space on her lovely blog for my rambling discourse, and to any of you who are kind enough to read this. I hope you enjoy Blood and Fire if it finds its way into your hands.

Happy reading to all this fall—I hope everyone gets lucky with lots of delicious books, and I wish you all scads of the endless enjoyments and riches that only books can bring.

Because Shannon lives overseas, shipping would be a nightmare – but don’t you worry! I’ve coordinated with the terrific Kensington offices, and we’re going to have three lucky winners! Up for grabs are two copies of Fade to Midnight and one lucky person will get the upcoming release Blood and Fire. Let me tell you, I’m crazy jealous. I didn’t get a Blood and Fire ARC in NYC. And I didn’t bother hunting one down because I only read digitally now, but if I had gotten on there I could have gotten it signed! By Shannon! Ahhh. Anyway, Blood and Fire will be out and about on September 27, 2011. You needed to know that. [Oh and yes I know other than the first two the book covers aren’t at all in order of publication. But that’s how I wanted them.]

0 thoughts on “Super Awesome Special Guest: SHANNON MCKENNA!

  1. Mary G

    Hi Lime & Shannon
    Shannon, you’re one of my faves. I have all your books on my keeper shelf.
    Keep rambling, I’m listening/reading.

  2. TrishJ

    Love these books. I love it when a characther just takes over and demands his voice be heard. I cant wait for the new book. 🙂

  3. ClaudiaGC

    Hi Lime and Shannon! Thanks for the lovely interview! Shannon, I adore your books. I can’t get enough of your heroes. Can’t you find some more McCloud brothers? 😉

  4. Cathy M

    This was a delightful interview Shannon. I am a huge fan of the McCloud brother’s and actually really loved Kev’s story. I can’t wait to have the boys pop back in in Blood & Fire. It really would be fun to find out how they are all getting along.

    caity_mack at yahoo dot com

  5. Cathie

    I so love these McClouds! I so remember when I read the first story of Shannon’s in a Bad Boys Anthology and so couldn’t wait for the single titles and gosh, that debut BEHIND CLOSED DOORS was awesome. There’s so many favorites in this series that I’ve read so far and that would be Connor in STANDING IN THE SHADOWS! I love your tease of BLOOD AND FIRE. I so can’t wait! Maybe they have more ex-FBI friends that need their stories? 😀 I so wouldn’t want this series to end! Good to read your post Shannon & Lime.

    cathiecaffey @

  6. Diane Sallans

    I haven’t read any of Shannon’s books yet but they sound great. I’d love to meet those McCloud boys.

    sallans d at yahoo dot com

  7. Bella @ BeguileThySorrow

    “I really get excited when the story jerks me around and has its way with me—is that kinky? Should I worry? Oh, never mind. Forget I asked.”

    LOL! I like how magical and fun you make the writing process seem:)
    though I know it’s gotta be hard work to not only put yourself like that out there but also on a deadline

  8. Booklover1335

    I’m crazy jealous that you actually got to meet and hang out with Shannon! The McCloud brothers hold a special place in my heart, and I’ve been anxiously awaiting Blood and Fire ever since I first learned about it. Thank you so much for sharing the story behind the story. I really enjoyed it!

  9. Shannon McKenna

    Hi from Shannon McKenna, everybody! I’m so delighted at all the lovely comments and tickled to death. Thanks so much for all the love! And yeah, I am not quite ready to say goodbye yet . . . in fact I am writing Alex Aaro’s story as we speak. He’s a hard one to wrestle down! I’m not ready to say goodbye to the McCloud universe, and Kensington wants three more books in it. Though there are no brothers left, I’ll keep the stories loosely linked, like, say, Nick in EXTREME DANGER or Tam in ULTIMATE WEAPON. So until this threebook contract is satisfied, I’m staying in the world of the McClouds.
    I’ll go get the blurb for Aaro’s book and insert it here, just for fun, though it will be a LOOONNNNGGG time before it sees the light of day . . .
    Thanks again for being so super nice to me, everyone. I’m so pleased you enjoy the McCloud boys, and I hope like the dickens that the book satisfies everyone’s expections!

    And thanks to you again, Lime, for having me on your fabulous site! (by the way, my covers look so great against the gorgeous flowers. . .

  10. Shannon McKenna

    So, for anybody interested in what’s coming next . . .

    Here’s the blurb for Alex’s book, tentatively titled SECRET HEAT, but who knows? I’ve never yet chosen a title that was used by the publishers.

    It’s morphed into something even sort of (gasp) paranormal, though that doesn’t really come through in the blurb. But I can’t talk too much about it because it’s only half written. A superstitious thing.

    Thanks again, everybody!

    SECRET HEAT – BLURB By Shannon McKenna

    We met Alex Aaro, raising hell in BLOOD AND FIRE, Bruno’s story. He tries not to attract attention, but always fails, since Fate has other plans for him—big plans. And now it’s his turn to face the fire.

    Privacy. Solitude. To Alex Aaro, that doesn’t seem like so much to ask of life—for the world to let him mind his business, keep his head down, make his money. But it can never be that simple. Not since he learned that his crazy Aunt Tonya was dying. She’d spent more time in the nuthouse than out, but even so, she was the sole family member he gave a damn about. Enough to blow decades of carefully burying his tracks, hiding out from his Ukrainian mafiya clan. Enough to risk his life in the writhing snakepit that was the Aaro family. All to say goodbye to a dying woman. It was stupid, irrational. Suicidal, even. And he couldn’t talk himself out of it. Which mortally pissed him off.

    And now his friend Bruno calls, just as Aaro lands in New York. He wants Aaro to take a scenic detour to Park Slope, to a battered woman’s shelter, for God’s sake, to do a favor for Nina, one of Bruno’s wife’s friends. A single woman friend. A social worker, no less. A bleeding heart, out to save the world. The type of woman he would drive hundreds of miles to avoid. Some trumped up bullshit about translating the hysterical ravings of some roughed up Ukrainian prostitute. Like he needed to hear another hard luck story. He could not even count all the things there were to hate about this scenario. But he couldn’t say no—he owed Bruno. Owed him big, in blood and skin.

    But no one could have warned him about Nina’s eyes, her skin, her voice, the effect that they would have on him, and he wouldn’t have believed it if someone had. Violence flares around them like wildfire as soon as they meet—as swift and hot as the desire they can’t seem to control. To say nothing of the other feelings. The ones he can’t even name. And absolutely does not want to deal with.

    Nina Moro has way bigger problems than the surly interpreter that her friends are siccing on her. She’s worried about the terrified Ukrainian girl she’s hiding, afraid she’ll get her killed if she makes a wrong move. But when the girl’s attackers turn on Nina, by some crazy chance, only that six-foot-four rock hard slab of lean muscle and seething bad attitude called Alex Aaro stands between her and an ugly death. The guy’s an unlikely hero, and a royal pain in the ass. And he also makes her pulse race and her lungs squeeze up tight until they won’t take in any air.

    Nina has her own very good reasons for being wary about men. Aaro embodies them all, in one lethal package. But Nina’s about to unlearn everything she thought she knew, about men, about herself, about everything. Because the two of them hold the clues to a deadly secret, and as their world goes up in flames, they must race against time together, and face their deepest fears to unveil it before it destroys them . . .

  11. Chelsea B.

    I enjoyed reading this post– blathering for the WIN! 😉 — and I am really looking forward to reading a Shannon McKenna book!

  12. Maureen

    I think Shannon did the right thing by not rushing her characters to resolve important issues. I don’t like it when I feel that a tough situation was too easily resolved.

  13. Monikarw

    I adore Shannon and anything she writes! And I love the blurb for Alex’s book! I can’t wait!:P
    I’d like to win a copy of Fade to Midnight since I lost it on my last vacation, while I was re-reading it!=/ (stupid me!) LOL 😉
    I already pre-order Blood and Fire! Can’t wait for it to get to me! I LOVE the McCloud’s! I want to read ‘their moment’ thanks, Shannon! And Lime, of course!=)

  14. Monikarw

    OH, and Shannon.. I wanted to ask if in those 3 books Kensington wants (I’m with them ’cause I’m not ready to say goodbye to the McCloud Universe either!) LOL!;) ..have u thought about a story between Sveti and Becca’s brother(can’t recall his name, right now)?!8-) ’cause everytime I read that book (a lot, btw) I just want to know more about them and I’d love to see them get their own book!:) (NO Pressure, though;)) just curious!:)

  15. Shannon McKenna

    Monika, I have been considering a book about Sveti, but I don’t think that Josh would be her hero. I don’t really think he’s good enough for her. I have an idea for her, but I can’t tell you about it until you read BLOOD AND FIRE. Then you can tell me what you think!
    Happy reading,

  16. Monikarw

    OMG! I just had a TOTAL fan girl, *SQUEE* included, moment!o.o ..was that Shannon actually answering my question?8-) LOL!:)
    oh, Shannon! I think you’re right Josh doesn’t seem good enough for her! Poor thing, after all she’s been through she HAS to get a GREAT hero!;) ..and now u got me all intrigued and more desperate to read BLOOD AND FIRE!:P ..thanks again!=) I do love your books so much!!!=)

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  18. Limecello Post author

    SHANNON!!! Hehehe now I’m free to squee. I have to say – you’re probably one of the few (only?) authors I’d get all fan-girly over. It was so awesome meeting you – and I’m super jazzed about this new book. I can’t wait until I can get my hot little hands on it.
    I have to say, I’m a tiny bit mixed about the delay. I think it would have helped the reaction if people knew it was coming? I get the what? Cliff-hanger? Loose ends? Noooooo response. But forcing it or writing it when it doesn’t feel right would make it pat – and wouldn’t be fair to the McCloud boys. Nor would it fit.
    So I’m so glad they get their moment in Blood and Fire. I also love the way you describe Bruno – you make it so adorable!
    And yes, hey – it’s always better to have a strong reaction to a book than feel lukewarm towards it.

    I do want to know, what are you working on now, Shannon? What else can we look forward to?

    Thanks so much for guesting and visiting with us, and please come back any time! <3

  19. Monikarw

    OMG! *SQUEE* The book depo emailed today saying they shipped BLOOD AND FIRE!!!!!!:D now it’s on it’s way to me!!!!!:P
    Just wanted to share my excitment with someone! LOL;D
    can’t wait to read it!=)
    Lime, thank u so much, again, for this interview and the giveaways!:)
    and I think Shannon said she’s working on Alex’s story now!;)

  20. Clawi09

    I started reading one of your books when I was sick in bed and I stole one of my sisters books and it happened to be yours! I fell madly in love with Connor and read the whole series quickly before sister realized I’d stolen the books! LOL 😉
    I am waiting eagerly for Blood and fire it would be the first one of your books I’d actually own!: )

    Lime, thank u for this post it’s truly fantastic!=) already pre-ordered but I’d love to have Fade to Midnight!=P ..if I’m lucky enough to win!

  21. librarypat

    Sorry I haven’t read any of these books. I have obviously missed some excitement. I will have to get this series and start it from the beginning. Thanks for the post. Most enlightening.
    Limecello, thanks for hosting.

    [email protected]

    1. Limecello Post author

      Hi Pat – I don’t know if you read in order… (I don’t always – shhh – heh) but my favorites in the series so far are Out of Control, and Standing in the Shadows. Looove those two! The McCloud brothers are intense and awesome heroes. You’ll have to let me know what you think!

  22. Shannon McKenna

    Hey, everyone again, just checking in to see who commented again. You guys were such a lovely bunch. Clawi09, so glad that you’ve happened across my books! Monika, I’m thrilled the book is on its way to you! Lime, you’re not alone in feeling that way about FTM . . . but there you go, I hope you are satisfied with how it all comes down in BAF! And check out the looooonnnggg entry above where I pasted in the blurb for the WIP, SECRET HEAT, for a teaser for Alex Aaro’s story . . .
    Thanks again so much for having me. It was such a pleasure!
    Big hugs to all,

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  24. Eva P.

    Awesome author, I have a couple of your books on my TBR list, that list just keep growing and growing, I’ll get to them sometime soon I hope 🙂


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