Our guest is Anna Destefano, come on in and take a journey with her!
Best-selling, award-winning author Anna DeStefano wants to you stop, look, and keep digging, until you find the soul of your own fantasies. Her latest release, Her Forgotten Betrayal (available digitally and in print on June 15th), one of the launch books for Entangled Publishing’s Dead Sexy romantic suspense line, the Nina Bruhns Collection, is a psychological thriller she hopes will creep you out (she’s really playing up the Gothic imagery and spooky nightmares with this one). But she’s also dying (heh) to inspire you with another of the happily-ever-after romance ending she’s famous for. No matter how moody the setting or impossible the dilemma, Anna’s characters and stories challenge you to hope and dream for your own exciting future, the way her strong heroines and hunky heroes do!
Read on for the answers to some of the frequently asked questions about Her Forgotten Betrayal and Anna’s unique approach to story telling. For more, follow Anna to her blog (http://www.annawrites.com/blog), which she updates several times a week on a range of topics such as The Soul of the Matter, Dream Theories, How We Write, and Things My Teenager Says.
Your backlist has been described as genre-bending. Do you see yourself as a writer who works “outside the box,” and is this a conscious choice you’re making for your career?
I don’t remember making the choice to push boundaries, but I don’t think I’ve ever written a story that didn’t challenge the limits of whatever line or genre I’ve written for. I’ve won a lot of awards for my Harlequin novels. But I’ve always tended to write edgy and darker characters, often with heavy backstories, even when I wrote for the lighter Superromance “home and family” line. I’m always searching for the emotional heart of a story, wherever that takes me.
For example, in my very first novel, The Unknown Daughter, my heroine is terminally ill throughout the entire book. Of course she gets her happily-ever-after “cure” (this is category romance). But she’s sick the entire book…she’s so NOT your average Harlequin heroine. Oh, and that was “accidentally” my first suspense novel, too—again, in a home and family line. And it won a Gold Medal review from RT, and my first RT Reviewers Choice Award. Who knew “outside the box” was going to be my happy place from then on?
Even my first foray into paranormal romance (my Legacy series), turned out to be more of a thriller series, and most definitely more science fiction than urban fantasy or paranormal romance. I love the science behind the metaphysics and parapsychology that Dark Legacy and Secret Legacy are based on. As I wrote, I simply couldn’t push those elements (especially the dream theory) to the background.
So, I guess I write what inspires and motivates and challenges me, whatever genre I happen to be writing in, and hope that my readers join me for the ride.
In Her Forgotten Betrayal, your heroine, Shaw Cassidy, battles debilitating nightmares that she has to get to the bottom of to survive. You write a lot about dreams. What fascinates you most about them?
Dreams… Where do I begin with my fascination about dreams? My agent asks every once in a while when I’m going to stop writing stories where dreams are a key theme. Not that she wants me to, really, but dreams have clearly become a running inspiration for me. My answer is usually—never ;o) I even blog most every week about dream theory. It’s been a fascination for me my entire life. That was the impetus for creating my Legacy, metaphysical fantasy world that explores the science behind dreaming.
For my contemporary romances, my “every day” stories, dreams take on an even more powerful purpose, than in my novels where people have supernatural powers. Our everyday dreams are our minds working for us, at the subconscious level. Whether we’re sleeping or awake, our dreams talk to us about the true purpose and meaning and desires of our lives. I like to see them as the very best and worst of who we are, and I think it’s important to pay as close attention to them as we can.
To me, honoring our dreams is another way to slow down and look deeply and really see our reality. Focusing on dreams (or any small moment of our lives), helps us process and choose. We then get to move forward a bit more deliberately. In Shaw Cassidy’s case in Her Forgotten Betrayal, her dreams are telling her exactly who her villain really is, and just how important her forgotten childhood lover (our hero, Cole Marinos) can be to not only her survival, but also the thriving, loving, magnificent future waiting for her, is she can grow and make the difficult emotional choices she’s been running from her entire life. See. Aren’t dreams lovely?
Your heroine has amnesia through most of this novel. Is this the first of your heroines to suffer from forgetting who and what she is?
Actually, in To Protect the Child (part of my Atlanta Heroes series for Harlequin Superromance), my deep cover operative heroine wakes with amnesia and no recollection of what she was doing on her latest mission and how important it is for her to return to it, before a little girl’s life is destroyed.
I guess a key difference between that story and Her Forgotten Betrayal, is that my Dead Sexy launch is a psychological thriller. I’ve written fast-paced procedurals before, and loved those novcels. But I wanted to do a gothic, creepy, isolated-on-the-top-of-a-winter-mountain-at-night kind of contemporary romance this time. Shaw Cassidy has been injured, but she doesn’t remember anything (except the faceless man in her dreams). Her first memories begin to return when a dangerous stranger shows up, and she has to decide whether he’s the faceless man, or a hero from her past who can help her. Her Forgotten Betrayal is just as fast-paced as my procedurals, but Shaw’s battles are mostly in her mind, and in her relationship with Cole Marinos, her hero. She’s not battling the villain himself until the very end—and it takes her the entire story to fight her nightmares and psychological demons so that she’s ready to beat the bad guy that’s been messing with her mind, at his own game. Bwahahahaha…
Your stories tend to span short periods of time, particularly your thrillers. Is this to enhance the pacing of the plot?
I think the one running theme through all my novels has been the drive to stop and look at the world and a character as closely as I can. As a commercial fiction writer, I’m also hoping the reader is entertained and finding the story impossible to put down. But I want to take our romance journey together to a deeper level. In the midst of the action of each of my novels, I’m doing my best to deliver characters with complex backstories and multi-layered motivation. I want my readers to have a flawed but admirable heroine and hero to journey with. I want you to feel what my characters feel in each scene, as if you were living through that moment with them
I love making that happen by writing novels with short time spans. Not only for the pacing—though, you certainly have to keep your plotting tight in order to pull something like Her Forgotten Betrayal off, where I was working with less than a 48 hour window for the heroine to believably realize she’s being stalked, have nightmares that will either drive her insane or help her regain her memory, meet the hero, wonder if this stranger is her “bad guy,” learn to trust him, fall in love with him, remember their tragic past, of COURSE then think he’s betrayed her (see, it’s a romance, really it is ;o), only to have to face the villain with him at the end, in the story’s black moment and resolution.
Which sounds like a lot to accomplish in sixty-thousand words and less than two days of on-page time. But actually, limiting the time frame gives me the chance to slow moments down, those important relationship moments as well as the ones where Shaw must grow as a character or she’ll never succeed, so that the reader really lives them with the heroine. If I were trying to cover the passage of more time with the number of pages allotted to me, I’d have to move on more quickly, more externally, and I think some of the richness of this type of story would be missed.
You write a lot of “returning home” stories, as well as second chances at love. What about these themes drives your imagination?
My first title (and I never get to keep my titles), actually the novel that won the Golden Heart and was later re-titled for Harlequin Superromance, was Forever Ago. It’s a play on words that resonates with me even today. I’ll write a book with that title one day. I’m determined.
What this and my “coming home” and “second chance” stories say to me is that you have to go back and work through the things in your past that you’ve shoved down or shouldered aside. At some point, if you want to move forward and really live the rest of your life, instead of merely fighting and existing and getting through one day at a time, you have to conquer the things you weren’t able to face when you were younger.
My characters tend to get their happily-ever-after forever, because they finally take on the conflicts of long ago, and conquer what still needs to be resolved. It’s the same with second chances at love. I’m mesmerized by stories where couples who didn’t make it with their soul mate in the past, find the courage to face one another and their combined issues once more, stronger and with newer insight, and find a way to finally make their dreams a reality together. What could be better than that? Sigh… You’re going to DIE for Shaw and Cole’s amazing ending!
Imagery and setting seem like an important part of Her Forgotten Betrayal. What led you to choose a gothic backdrop for your latest suspense novel?
I’ve fallen in love with Gothic imagery, since long before I wrote my first Legacy book. I’m more of a Bronte girl, than an Austen girl ;o) Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights… These are novels that read and re-read every year.
With Her Forgotten Betrayal, I not only got to explore this fascination within the context of a contemporary romance, but I LOVED how I was able to incorporate Shaw Cassidy’s creepy mansion and the winter weather and the darkness of the surrounding woods and so forth, as another character in the book. All of it becomes a very real threat to our heroine. Is Shaw imagining what’s happening to her? Is her mind becoming unhinged by her nightmares, so she’s seeing and hearing things that aren’t there? Is someone after her, or is she actually hurting herself in her isolated mansion? How can she possibly know the difference? That is until our hero shows up. But is he part of the spooky landscape that she can’t trust, or is he really there to help her???! Dun-dun-dunnnn! LOL!
Playing with symbol and imagery has become one of my favorite things in novel writing. I’m even now pinning images from my stories and my personal journeys up on Pinterst. Just look for Anna DeStefano (http://pinterest.com/annadestefano) ;o) Check out Her Forgotten Betrayal’s board, where she’ll be posting blog tour updates and other surprises.
Anna is also awesome enough to be doing a free giveaway!
“Free Digital Download: Her Forgotten Betrayal (available on novel launch date—June, 2012)”
Just leave a comment below and you may be the lucky randomly selected partier. Thanks for coming out!Tweet