Today’s guest is sister Wild Rose Press author Vonnie Davis.
Thanks, Vonnie, for being with us today. First, would you tell us a bit about yourself? What area of the country do you live in, do you have a family, pets, etc. Are you a coffee fiend, or do you have another “addiction” you must have on your desk at all times? What’s your education, if it’s relevant to your writing, and how does that education help you/or do you find that you can write well even without the diploma others might think they must have?
I’m thrilled to be here, talking and sharing, so let me thank you for having me as one of your guests. I’m retired and live in south-central Virginia with my husband, who is also an author. We met on match dot com about eleven years ago. Two old fogies looking for love online. Can you dig it?
Thanks to him, I am a coffee addict. My Calvin makes a fabulous cup of coffee, grinding his special blend of beans just so.
I have a bachelor’s degree in English and worked as a technical writer. So, while I knew how to craft a sentence, what I didn’t know was the craft of writing—point of view, character development, pacing and GMC (isn’t that a truck?). Needless to say, the last four years have been a huge learning curve.
Tell us about your most recent publication.
MONA LISA’S ROOM was released last Friday from The Wild Rose Press. It is book one of The Red Hand Conspiracy, a romantic suspense series featuring a different romantic couple in each book, yet with the same band of terrorists doing horrible acts in all three.
What inspired you to write this story? What interesting thing did you learn or research to write it that you didn’t know before?
Calvin took me to Paris five years ago for a couple weeks. We had a grand time walking the streets and seeing the sights. Many years ago, long before we met, Calvin took a sabbatical from teaching and lived in the City of Light for a year, absorbing French culture and writing at sidewalk cafés. He wanted to show me all of his old haunts on the Left Bank.
We walked narrow, cobblestoned streets, or rues, late at night. I was a little nervous. Calvin, on the other hand, was right at home. There were narrow, dimly-lit cafés, doors hanging open with sweet smelling smoke wafting out onto the sidewalks. Jazz clubs were in basements, once catacombs under the city. All the women, it seemed, wore high heels, their feet tattooing a staccato beat on the sidewalk as they hurried by. All these sights, smells and sounds I catalogued, never thinking I’d write about them eventually.
As we made our nightly treks through the narrow streets, some still bearing grooves from chariot wheels, we listened to ghosts whisper off ancient buildings of times and peoples gone by. Yet, even my romantic mind sometimes snagged on the dangers of the present—terrorists. What if…
What if an American came to Paris and somehow became entangled in a terrorist attack of some kind? Slowly my mind started churning and Mona Lisa’s Room took shape. As I’ve mentioned, this is book one of a trilogy. Mona takes place in Paris and a seaside community along the Normandy coast. Book two, Rain is a Love Song, is set in Paris and Budapest. The final book, the one I’m still writing, takes place in Paris, Syria and Berlin and is titled Jazzbeat of Surrender.
How would you best describe your books?
The slogan on my blog and website says “Adventurous…Humorous…Amorous.”
What is your favorite genre to write? To read?
If it’s a romantic story, I’ll read it…or write it, if the characters are talking to me.
What would you write if you could write anything you wanted to write?
A best-seller??? Hey, you have to have a dream. Right?
What do you love most about writing and what do you not like?
I love writing and creating until I know the characters well enough that they take over, leaving me to take dictation. What don’t I like? Going over my manuscript after my agent does her deep editing of it. **slaps forehead** She can find more holes. Why does she act this way? I’m surprised he didn’t do such-and-so. Rephrase so this paragraph makes more sense. She’s pointed out my tendency to use the same words or phrases over and over. And she allows me six said tags per book, making my dialogue more vital. I love her, don’t get me wrong, but doing edits with her is a painful process.
Is there any special music you like to listen to while writing? How does it inspire you?
No, I prefer silence.
Tell us a little about your path to publication. How many books have you published? How many books did you write before selling one?
Like most writers, the first book I wrote will never see the light of day. Sadly, the second one won’t either. It was my third book that caught the attention of an agent. After she edited the said tags, over-used words, and plot holes out of Storm’s Interlude, she started shopping it out. We’d collaborated on a list of publishers to query, including The Wild Rose Press. At the end of two weeks, I had two contract offers. One was the publisher I wanted. I have four stories published and two more under contract.
What’s your favorite thing about the book featured here today? Any special memories you have in the creation of it?
MONA LISA’S ROOM was my chance to mentally go back to a city I’d come to love. Paris changes something in you. It caresses your soul with her essence of history, of beauty, of granting you the freedom of being yourself.What are you writing now?
I’m writing the final book of The Red Hand Conspiracy—Jazzbeat of Surrender.In this book, I’ll have to reveal who the head of the terrorist group is. I hope I do an entertaining and effective job.What would you like to tell readers?
All of us have secret dreams. Mine was to become a published author. A series of short stories I wrote between fifth and sixth grades, sparked the dream. Self-doubt snuffed it out. I just didn’t think I was good enough. It took me fifty years, ladies. Fifty years to work up the courage to go after that dream. Don’t keep yours hidden. Drag that dream out to the light of day so it can grow and bloom. Whatever that dream is, go for it. Don’t deny yourself the benefit of your dreams.
You won’t believe this email. I’m sitting in a French safe house, eating caviar and drinking champagne with a handsome government agent, Niko Reynard. He’s wearing nothing but silk pajama bottoms and mega doses of sex appeal. I’m in big trouble, little sister. He’s kissed me several times and given me a foot massage that nearly caused spontaneous combustion. I’m feeling strangely virginal compared to the sexual prowess this thirty-year-old man exudes.
When I came to Paris for a bit of adventure, I never imagined I’d foil a bombing attempt, karate-kick two men, and run from terrorists while wearing a new pair of stilettos. I’ve met a German musician, a gay poet from Australia, and the most delightful older French woman.
Don’t worry. I’m safe–the jury’s still out on yummy Niko, though. The more champagne I drink, the less reserved I feel. What an unforgettable fortieth birthday!
“What is it?” Alyson peered up and down the street.
“Don’t look. Smile at me. Talk and act normal.” He wrapped his arm around her waist and nudged her up the street.
“But…” Did he see someone? Did he see Dembri?
“I’m going to kiss you so I have an excuse to look behind us.”
“Oh no. No, I don’t think so. Look, I’ve put up with your constant touching, but I’ll not be kissed on a public street.”
“Don’t be self-conscious. In Paris, we kiss in public. It’s the Parisian way.”
“For heaven’s sake! Make it quick then.” She shook her arms to relax them because she was anything but relaxed. She was about to be kissed for the first time in years. Did she remember how? Stop being silly. Kissing is simple. Two pair of lips touch. Kiss done. With her head tilted back, she whispered, “Okay, I’m ready.”
A smile tugged at the corners of Niko’s lips. He encircled her in his arms and stepped in so their thighs touched. Her stomach fluttered. Her breathing hitched. He lowered his head. “Hang on, Aly.” With his dark brown eyes open, he placed his lips on hers and pulled her body against his. She kept her eyes open, too, figuring it would lessen the kiss’ effects.
Niko kissed her, gentle sips at first, soft and sensual. Someone made a moaning noise, and she feared it might have been her. My God what a pair of lips! Her toes curled in her new Pradas. Her hands curled around the lapels of his jacket.She wrapped her hands around the lapels of his jacket. Then his lips locked on hers and with his tongue invading her mouth, he turned her to look over her shoulder, all the while wreaking havoc on her system.
This was the first time she’d been in a man’s arms in years. The first time she had tongue from a guy since college and said guy was more interested in looking behind her for some hoodlum than in the kiss. Just her damn luck.
When Niko ended the mind-blowing kiss, he pulled her closer, if that were possible, and whispered in her ear. “We’re being followed. Hold my hand and run.”
Run? Melting came to mind, but running? How could she run when he kissed her until the bones in her legs turned to jelly? Plus, she was wearing new high heels, for heaven’s sake. His arms squeezed her for an instant. “Now.”
He grabbed her hand, and they took off. They dodged throngs of pedestrians and at one point, Niko hurtled over a poodle, its protective owner shouting in French outrage, calling him a fool. “Fou! Fou! Mon chien, mon chien!”
Alyson had done her fair share of running, especially after her break up with Chaz, the stranger she was married to all those years. Running was a stress reliever; so were the StairMaster and martial arts. Still, those activities were done in sneakers or barefooted, not high heels. Stilettos, no less. Oh, and the thong. Let’s not forget the damn thong chafing her in places she didn’t want to think about. She’d kill Gwen when she got home.
“You put me in three-inch heels and expect me to run fast? You bossy Frenchman with a foot fetish.” She stumbled, and he caught her.
“Typical woman. Kiss her once and she figures she has the right to bitch at you.” Niko’s head turned, evidently scanning the area as they ran.
She tried jerking her arm free of his ironclad grasp. “So help me, God, if that terrorist doesn’t kill you, I will.”
He pulled her around two uniformed nannies pushing toddlers in strollers. “Promises. Promises.”
“Yeah, well look how nice my hips sway now, nutso, running in these damned heels.”
Niko quickly glanced up and down the wide tree-lined street and evidently seeing a slight break in traffic, ordered, “To the other side. Now.” They bolted across the four-lane boulevard and its well-manicured median. Two motorbikes rumbled past, nearly hitting them. Horns blared as several Renaults and Smart Cars barreled down the street. Niko shoved her out of the way and she fell, her hands and knees scraping on the asphalt. Brakes screeched and there was a dull thud behind her. She glanced back over her shoulder just as Niko rolled across the hood of a silver car. He never broke stride. “Run, dammit!”
She struggled to get up, her heel caught in the hem of her skirt. Niko set her on her feet again. A delivery truck swerved toward them as if to run them down. In a blur of movement, Niko drew his weapon. He dove and rolled clear of the truck’s path, shooting the driver between the eyes. Glass shattered. Passersby screamed. The truck jumped the curb, striking a tree. Sounds of metal crunching and a tree branch cracking obliterated, for a few horrible seconds, the pedestrians’ reactions.
Still on the move, Niko barked orders at the observers. A man nodded and reached for his cell phone. “Quick. In here. While we’re hidden by the truck.” Niko wrapped his hand around her arm and tugged.
Alyson trembled, the back of her hand covering her mouth and her eyes glued to the man slumped over the steering wheel of the truck not five feet away. Blood flowed from his forehead. Her stomach twisted. She was going to be sick. Niko’s grip on her arm tightened. “Move it, Aly. We’re still being followed.”
THE WILD ROSE PRESS (digital) — http://bit.ly/MonaLisaDigital
THE WILD ROSE PRESS (paperback) — http://bit.ly/MonaLisasRoom
AMAZON (paperback) — http://amzn.to/QQZGyD
AMAZON (eBook) — http://bit.ly/MonaLisasRoomeBook
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