Hi friends! I’m very excited to welcome back Shannon McKenna. She’s written some of my favorite romantic suspense books (I know! It’s not even a genre I generally read but her McCloud books – man. Davy 😻. Anyway) Please give her a warm welcome! Shannon very generously offered to be participate, and chose to do a “Guest Author & A Giveaway” post, so here are her Blogiversary questions and answers!
What was your favorite book as a child? And what is your favorite book now?
I was an Anne Of Green Gables freak. I just adored that book and all the rest of the Anne series as well. I related to her so completely. Not only how imaginative and lost in her head that she was, but how hungry she was for love and acceptance. But there is Jane Eyre, too, which I was introduced to as a Classics Illustrated comic way back in the long-ago time when I thought that the whole Mr. Rochester story was dumb and boring and the only interesting part was Jane’s time at the awful Lowell School with Helen Burns and the evil Mr. Brocklehurst. That book is the breeding ground of a million incredibly compelling romance tropes that still have me in their vise-grip today. The lure of the trash-talking bad boy, My Love Will Save Him, etc, etc. But the great thing about Jane Eyre is, she knows how to say ‘no.’ Even when it tears her to pieces, she maintains her own integrity as a person, over and over again. And then, thank God, the story rewards her for it with a happy ending. WHICH IS AS IT FREAKING SHOULD BE. ALWAYS. Oh dear now I’m getting worked up about random things that have nothing to do with anything. I will stop now.
Favorite book now…I am in a terrible state of not having enough time to read, and having not had it for such a long time that I have gotten out of the habit of reading. Awful, for a writer. The last book I read was the Jack Reacher thriller Blue Moon, and I enjoyed the hell out of it. I have lots of thoughts and strong opinions about Jack Reacher and his issues, (I wish he would get therapy, how fun would that be? Don’t you want to read that chapter?) but enough about that. I would say, the last book I had time to read that absolutely blew my mind was All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. Incandescently beautiful writing. Just huge. And the latest romance I had time to read was Robin Covington’s latest, Taking On The Billionaire, a Harlequin Desire, which was heart-felt, red-hot, crackling fun that I would recommend to everyone. Continue reading →
Hi friends!! I’m super excited to share an (as you see) exclusive excerpt from Shannon McKenna here today! She’s been a guest at ALBTALBS a few times, and is a total sweetheart. And if you haven’t read her books before oh my gosh you definitely need to!!! … Shannon was kind enough to send quite the scene from In My Skinso I hope you enjoy it! 😀
Welcome to the secret world of the Obsidian Files! Book after book, the stakes keep getting higher for my genetically and biotech-modified heroes and heroines.
Luke has plenty of his own inner demons to fight, to say nothing of the long deadly shadows of his past, and the constant looming threat of his former captors and mortal enemies, The Obsidian Group.
The last thing he needs is to get broadsided by a feisty, gorgeous, indomitable woman. The stupidest thing he can do is give in to temptation.
But Dani makes him burn … and he just can’t resist the heat.
More than human …
Years ago, a group of stray teenagers were swept up into a top-secret experimental research program funded by The Obsidian Group, a shadowy cabal of super-rich global moguls. Brain stimulation, nanotech, gene modification and cybernetic implants were used to mold the runaways into lethal supersoldiers … and expand the boundaries of being human.
Obsidian’s attempts were spectacularly successful—if not quite in the way the researchers had intended. Their captive test subjects rebelled, burned the Midlands Research Facility to the ground, and vanished.
Now, years later, this band of rebels live under deep cover and keep their incredible abilities secret, trusting only those in their own tight-knit group.
But the shadow of the past keeps getting longer. The Obsidian Group hasn’t forgotten them—and they will never give up the chase.
The Obsidian Files are their stories …
Come back to me…
Luke remembers a few things. Just not his last name, or anyone he ever knew. He knows that he’s a supersoldier, genetically enhanced and loaded up with brain implants. He just escaped from a year-long hell of captivity, and to protect his family and friends from his tormentors, he blocked his memories. Now he needs those memories back, fast…or he and those he loves will die agonizing deaths.
Luke’s dangerous plan to reconnect with his past—and stay alive in the present—has drawn his enemies’ attention to the tough and sexy Dani LaSalle. He’s duty bound to protect the luscious beauty from the evil pursuing them, but he can’t control the scorching desire she awakens in him.
Dani’s strict routine has been trashed by Luke’s explosive arrival. This rock-hard slab of valiant, smoldering manhood appears out of nowhere, saves her life, spirits her away to his mountain lair and bewilders her with tales of sadistic researchers, enhanced assassins. Is this gorgeous, problematic sex god just plain crazy—or is she? But Luke can do things with his mind that are just as wild as what he can do with that body…and she can’t say no.
And there’s no time to wonder. As their passion burns hotter, Obsidian moves closer…and Luke and Dani must place their lives and their hearts on the line just to survive…
You! GUYS!!!! As you can see today we have the lovely and wonderful Shannon McKenna guesting with us! Whee!!! I mean, does she really need an introduction? (I say no, but if yes…) She writes romantic suspense – and Out of Control and Meltdown are two of my most favorite romances ever! Shannon is also a total sweetheart and I’m super excited to welcome her back to ALBTALBS!!!
Hello, and thank you so much, Lime, for inviting me onto your site! I’m so very excited to be guest posting on the birthday of this lovely blog! And thank you, as always, for the very fun and unique questions. You have a marvelously twisted mind. Please take that as a compliment. One twisted mind to another.Continue reading →
You guys! I cannot believe it’s already December! I can’t think about it. It’s also 2:23 AM and I kinda feel like I want to die but I have to get this done because it’s ShannonMcKenna!!! Meltdown and Out of Control are like two of my most favorite romances ever. If you’ve never read them, you must. Must. But anyway, I got Shannon to visit with us today, and she’s our special author of the month, and can you believe it – the last one of 2013!! Eep! But way to end on a high note, right? 😉 I had the chance to meet Shannon a few years ago and she is delightful.
Ms. McKenna opted for an “Author Interview” so … here we go! (I hope you enjoy – one of them made me cackle snort. :X)
Hi, Lime! Thanks so much for inviting me to be on your delightful blog! I’m so pleased to be here! And hello to all of you reading!
What’s the most interesting thing you’ve ever done for research? what’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned while doing research? In general, or for this book?
Well, gee. I have been playing around with this mind control trope for several books now, because it fascinates me, and it’s a metaphor for the way I fear we are already being controlled, in subtle and not so subtle ways, by the media, by our addiction to our devices and our social media, etc. I have been unnerved by the ways we are expanding our mental function with devices, and I doubt it will stop there. My fantasies about neuroscience allowing people ever deeper into each other’s heads, challenging the very basic premise of what it is to be a human being, are becoming more possible every day. A couple months ago, I found this article.
I was so horrified! We as humans are just not ready to go where this research will inevitably take us (if it hasn’t already gone there, long ago!) No matter how many innocent applications this research might have, I am sure that greedy, opportunistic people are rubbing their hands together and thinking “ka-ching.” I call myself a “lazy conspiracy theorist,” which is to say, plenty paranoid, but I don’t really have the time to do the research to be a proper conspiracy theorist, having book deadlines and small children. So mostly, I’m left with just the sense of creeping menace, but no hard facts to back it up. So what do I do? I make up crazy stories about my worst nightmares, and then create heroes and heroines to defeat them utterly and rescue us all. Works for me.
Hostile alien invasion, or zombie apocalypse? Which one do you think is more likely to happen? Which one is scarier?
Alien invasion, no contest! I do not stay awake nights worrying about either one, because I believe we are doing an admirable job of destroying our world and ourselves without any help at all from zombies or aliens, but I think that it is almost a certainty that there are other beings out there. The only reason I don’t say “an absolute certainty” is because I have not seen them with my own eyes. But the universe is so huge. It makes no sense, that we would be the only ones—but they must be so different from us, their agenda so unfathomable and unknowable. And they would probably also have the same personality ranges, from saintly good to twisted evil that we have here on Earth—why wouldn’t they? I believe there is always roughly the same percentages of people in any given place who are either doing their best to be kind and decent, or else just looking out for number one. With a handful on the far ends of the spectrum, a few noble righteous heroes, a sprinkling of hideous monsters. Can you tell I love sci fi? Heh.
A twisted fairy offers you perfect health. You’ll never be sick or get a migraine again. The catch is you’ll break a bone every three years until your 70th birthday. Nothing crippling, but still a break. (Anything from a femur to your pinky toe.) Do you take the offer?
Hell, no! I’ll take my chances with colds and flu and whatever else happens! And what about after I’m seventy? I hope to live to be a hundred! That’s a long time that I wouldn’t be covered! A whole generation! (I had a great aunt that lived to be 104. My great grandmother died at the age of ninety-four after having eighteen children. Who knows if I inherited their tough Ukrainian sinews or not? Only time will tell.
What five dead authors would you invite to a dinner party if you could?
Charlotte Bronte, Emily Dickinson, Dorothy Parker, Louisa May Alcott and Sappho. Big hen party. Wow, what a mix.
Do you have any writing rituals or superstitions? Either for before you begin a book, while you’re writing it, or around the time the book is released?
Not a lot of them, but I am very nervous about talking about a book to anyone before I have at least finished a first draft, as if the energy of another person’s attention could derail that delicate point of contact between my subconscious mind and the blank page. It’s so important to be able to write bad, stupid horrible shit without being judged for it—the minute someone looks at the writing, they start to have opinions that need to be fended off. It’s a mysterious thing.
Assume reincarnation. You have the power to bring Hitler back as any animal/creature you want for his next ten lives. What do you pick? (Or would you switch it up? And if so, what?)
Wow, that’s tough! Ten lives? That would hardly be enough to work out the karma that guy took onto himself! But it’s a complicated question, because he was totally insane. My first thought is that he should definitely be reborn into lives in which he has to experience just what he dished out, but that is problematic, since it requires envisioning more concentrated cruelty. My mind boggles at the task. Maybe I’d just take him back to animal form. Let him be an ox, pulling a heavy plow for a hundred lives or so, and then a sheep chewing on the grass a few hundred more. Just let him take a big, loooonnnggg time out, and chill the hell out before he tries again with human form.
What is one question you always wish as an author people would ask but nobody ever does?
I don’t believe in having expectations, insofar as it is humanly possible. (This is my ideal, zen-calm self! I realized, as soon as I wrote that, that I have all kinds of expectations; about toilet seats being put down, and undies getting into the laundry, and homework getting done on time, and violins getting practiced, and people obeying traffic signals, but hey. I try) Longing for validation from people is just setting myself up for suffering and pissiness, and dissatisfaction in general. I’m just happy that people read my books. They don’t need to have any curiosity about me or my process at all, as long as they enjoy the end result!
If you were a serial killer, who would be your target? And what would be your modus operandi? [What would be your “calling card,” and what memento from each victim would you take?] (Is your target = old men, young men, school children, college aged women, etc.)
Um. Blinking, stupidly. I just can’t go there! I tried to watch Dexter, because I think that actor is brillaint, but I just couldn’t bond with a guy that would do that. And I do plenty of blood and guts in my stories, too! This is a tough one, because I have really internalized the concept that curses come home to roost tenfold, so you better watch out what you put out there into the universe. I’m such a wuss! I don’t want to take any chances!
Another issue is, if I create a character, I have to be able to love him or her, probably because s/he is just another facet of myself. I can’t imagine an instance in which I could love a serial killer. My imagination just won’t stretch that far! It thwacks right back in my face, like a rubber band! (ouch!)
Tell us two truths and a lie. (The catch is you’ll have to tell us what the truth is eventually in the comments. :D)
Let’s see . . . My favorite kid’s book is Anne of Green Gables. I love sexy high-heeled shoes. And I grew up in a in a hippie enclave, in a fragrant cloud of smoke.
Who/what is your favorite cartoon character of all time? Why?
Letterman, from The Electric Company! Who’s faster than a rolling O, more powerful than silent E, and able to leap capital T in a single bound? God, I loved that show when I was little. It taught me to read early, which influenced my destiny!
You have to listen to only one genre of music for the rest of your life. What do you pick?
Classic sixties and seventies rock. I just love the stuff. Gimme that old time rock and roll—that kinda music just soothes the soul!
You have the opportunity to be part of any TV show for one episode. (One that is on or off the air.) Which one do you pick, and what is your role?
I want to be in Prison Break . . . I want to be rescued by dreamboat Michael, mmmmm, and then break him out of prison with my intrepid brilliance, and go live with him on a desert island forever. Hell with Sarah. She was such a sad sack, always moping around. Kick her to the curb. Recast it, with me, me, me! Ahem. (cough)
What’s the most unique/strange silly skill your possess?
I can make a seriously awesome pancake man with chocolate chip eyes for my kids. Or a pancake teddy bear, too, when put to it. I have even been known to make pancake aliens, to return to the alien theme. I guess I have an affinity for aliens.
What’s the most embarrassing thing to ever happen to you at school? What about at a conference?
I haven’t been to enough conferences to have embarrassments to recount, sadly, but how about the time I was caught reading a very erotic spoof of the Lord Of The Rings that I’d picked up from home, on my playground during recess, in the second grade. I believe the playground monitor caught me reading a very spicy interlude between Dildo Baggins and the seductive Queen of the Elves. They called my parents. Very bad scene. It was pretty embarrassing for my mother, but I think I weathered it all right. And just look how I turned out in the end! (cackling)
Which fairy tale would you most like to be in? least? Why? Which character would you want to be?
I’m really fascinated these days by the tale of the Frog Prince. I recently read this essay about zen meditation that talked about the trope of “finding the golden ball,” which requires the collaboration of some unattractive or scary or icky creature from the watery depths, like the frog, or the scary witch, or whatever; it depends on the culture, and the version of the tale. The essay asserts that around the age of eight or so, we lose that “golden ball” which represents the wonder and innocence of our childhood, and then we spend the rest of our adulthood trying to recuperate the mature version of that marvel and wonder. But in order to do so, we must make peace with the deep, scary, wild, unattractive aspects of ourselves which come from the barren wilderness or the cold watery depths. We have to kiss the frog, so to speak. So I’m just here to state, to everyone concerned, that I’m fully ready to kiss any and all frogs who come along. I want that golden ball. I really, really want it. It’s why I’m a writer. It’s why I love this crazy stuff so much. Not only do I want my own golden ball—I want my stories to help everyone else find their golden balls, too. Golden balls for everyone!
Thanks for the wacky and wonderful questions, Lime! I wish everyone many wonderful books and magical golden balls charged with wonder and mystery (Christmas balls, too!) for the holiday season to come!
Thanks so much for being such a good sport, Shannon! Now, I want to know – have any of you read Shannon McKenna’s books before? Do you like romantic suspense? And books with a lot of heat? (Sexytimes of omg yes.)
Lara Kirk lives in a shadowy world where reality and fantasy are one. Her captors have poisoned her body with concoctions that enhance psychic abilities – and they seem to be working. To escape, Lara has formed a deep attachment with a man whose virile, sensual presence in her mind is her only comfort. She’s not even sure if he’s real – until the six-foot-five-inch powerhouse bursts in to rescue her…Once freed, Lara has no choice but to trust Miles with her life as they run from enemies too twisted to imagine. But they’re also fighting a dangerous attraction that could kill – or save – them both. Either way, it’s going to be a hell of a ride…
And pssst One Wrong Move is on sale right now for just $1.99! Amazon tells me that’s 75% off! Come on – I saw you ogling that cover. Admit it. 😛
You know the drill – ask Shannon any question you like. Be it about her books, writing, or you know, try to top one of the crazy ones I asked her. 😉 I like being entertained. And someone will win a copy of Fatal Strike! Yay! And so you know what you might be getting…
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.]