Today we are interviewing Donna Fletcher, historical and paranormal romance author and USA Today best selling author!
Alexis: Hi Donna, thank you for visiting Happily Ever After Thoughts :-) You write both historical and paranormal romances. How do you decide which genre to write next?
Donna: Hi Alexis, Thanks for having me. I’m thrilled to be here. I don’t decide which book I’ll write next, my characters do. Whoever has the strongest and most persistent voice in my head is the book that gets the most attention. Eric of Shanekill, the hero in The Irish Devil was like that. He would not leave me alone and the more I learned about him the more fascinating he became.
Alexis: I love that your characters control what you write. Now that is exciting. I noticed that The Irish Devil was released in ebook format last year. Is this a trend for you?
Donna: Yes, many of my fans had been asking me when my older books would be available in ebook format so I was thrilled when I was finally able to make them available. And now I’m going to be releasing original books in ebook format as well. One of things that frustrated not only me but my fans was that my books were spaced too far apart. And I’m sure every reader can relate to the frustration of waiting for the next book in a series that they’re dying to read. I certainly have. I want to be able to offer my fans more than one book a year. I can do that with original ebooks.
Alexis: Of course readers would be happier not having to wait as long. That makes a lot of sense. So, could you tell us what The Irish Devil is about?
Donna: The Irish Devil naturally takes place in Ireland in 1171. Eric of Shanekill, a notorious warrior is about to pick a bride from one of three sisters. But there is a fourth sister no one mentions. She’s a beauty but she also bears a scar from a vicious attack. Once Eric sees Faith, he’ll have no other and so they wed. But secrets lurk around every corner and once Eric discovers Faith’s secret it almost destroys the love growing between them, but not the attraction. He cannot keep his hands off her and he cannot keep his heart from loving her. When Faith’s life is threatened by someone from the past, the infamous Irish Devil proves just how much he loves his wife.
Alexis: I've fallen in love with this book already. Where did you get the idea for this story?
Donna: Characters bring me ideas. I was actually taking a walk in the woods one day and Eric of Shanekill popped right into my head. He began telling me about himself and I began wondering what type of woman would be good for him and the next thing I knew Faith introduced herself. And I knew the two were destined for each other. Besides I fell in love with her dog Rook who loved berries and had me laughing when I envisioned a scene of a berry-loving dog.
Alexis: Oh wow, my old dog Trevor used to eat blackberries right off the bush! I guess I'll have to see how Rook does it :-) What are your favorite character traits of Faith and Eric?
Donna: Faith is kind and caring even though she wasn’t treated kindly. And she’s a fighter, though The Irish Devil can intimidate her at times she stands her ground, often on trembling legs. Eric may put the fear of God in people but he’s a good man and a fair one. And his love for Faith knows no bounds.
Alexis: They sound perfect for each other. What can we expect next from you? Do you have any new releases coming out?
Donna: The third book in my Warrior King series, A Warrior’s Promise (Avon books) will be available at the end of April and the last book in the series To Wed A Highlander Warrior will be in stores at the end of December. I’m presently working on a Highlander trilogy which will be original e-books and should be available by the end of the year. One more thing I forgot to mention about The Irish Devil, the book Irish Hope follows it. It’s Colin’s story and you also get to visit with Faith and Eric once again and see how they’re doing.
Alexis: These all sound wonderful and they are coming soon. Your readers are so lucky that you are this prolific! Thank you so much for sharing your books with us. It's a pleasure having you visit.
Donna: Thanks so much for having me, Alexis. It was great visiting with you.
Alexis: For a chance to win a $10 Amazon Gift Card be sure to leave a comment for Donna. If I have contact information, I will let you know when you win, otherwise, check the side column for your name on Wednesday under WINNERS :-)
Alexis: Check out this excerpt from The Irish Devil!
Cork, Ireland, 1171
“The Irish devil rides in with the storm, his army following directly behind. He takes the lead, fearless he is, knowing his evil lord will protect him. He carries but one weapon, a sword specially forged for him. No one but the devil possesses the strength to wield it, the blade heavy with the souls and cries of those lives felled by it.
“In his wake he leaves destruction. Whole villages burned, men slaughtered and women ravished. The devil tastes his fill taking a dozen women or more—”
“Enough nonsense, Nora, I will hear no more,” Lady Terra scolded harshly, entering the small sewing room to the surprise of the three young women who sat huddled around the table.
The two silent women focused wide, frightened eyes on Nora, their hands trembling and their capped heads bobbing as she persisted in continuing her tale.
“But ‘tis true, m’lady. The Irish devil is known for his cruelty. He plunders and massacres for pleasure and profit. He cares naught for human lives, only his evil pleasures.”
“Mind your ignorant tongue, Nora,” Lady Terra snapped. “The Irish devil is but a mere man, exceptional at what he does, but nonetheless a man, not a myth or a legend. A man, need I remind you, who will be here within a month’s time to choose one of my daughters for a wife. I will not tolerate such willful lies and I will not have my daughters upset by idle servant gossip.”
“Yes, m’lady,” Nora said obediently, her head bowed respectfully and her fingers returning to her stitching.
The other two women immediately lowered their heads and focused on their own work.
“If one stitch is out of line, you will all go without the evening meal,” Lady Terra said and slowly circled the table, her tall, slim body rigid, her thin hands resting on crossed arms and her dark eyes scrutinizing their work.
With breaths suspended and bodies tense, the young women waited. Lady Terra was not known for her understanding and charm. She was known for her shrewish tongue and sharp hand. Not one of the house staff had escaped her anger; some even bore permanent proof of her cruelty.
The sharp slap resonated through the confined quarters, startling all of them. The other two women jumped, their stitching needles accidentally pricking their fingers, yet they remained silent for fear Lady Terra would deliver the same to them.
“Bridget,” Lady Terra shouted at the young woman whose cheek instantly welted with her hand print. “That line is crooked. You will rip out the entire seam and begin again.”
She completed another full circle around the table, her eyes intent on their work, before walking to the door. She stopped and turned. A cruel smile spread across her thin face, emphasizing the many deep lines and wrinkles that marked her for a woman much older than her four and seven years. “You both may thank Bridget for missing supper this eve.” She cast a look of disgust at Nora. “But then you, Nora, could lose a few pounds. Your abundant girth must certainly interfere with your duties. I will inform cook that you are rationed to one meal daily until I am satisfied with your weight loss. And make certain those dresses are finished on time for my daughters to have new gowns to properly welcome the Irish —” she stopped herself and sent a scathing look to Nora—” to welcome Lord Eric of Shanekill.”
“Lord of hell is more like it,” Nora murmured after Lady Terra disappeared out the door.
Tears trickled from Bridget’s soft green eyes. “I am so sorry.”
Ellie offered a consoling pat to the girl’s thin shoulder. “Do not worry yourself. You are the best seamstress in all of Cork. You could not sew a crooked seam if you tried.”
“The Irish devil will put the likes of that one in her place,” Nora said, nodding toward the door.
Bridget lowered her voice to a mere whisper. “Are the tales true?”
Nora cast a cautious glance to the open door and leaned over the table, the two women moving closer to hear. “I heard the guards in the keep talking. Their voices trembled when they spoke of him almost as though they feared he would appear out of thin air and silence them with his mighty sword. They crossed themselves when they mentioned that he rode for any king who would fatten his purse the most, each king attempting to outbid the other and win the devil’s favor and services. I heard them say he holds no allegiance to Ireland, being he is a barbarian.”
“Barbarian?” Bridget repeated.
Nora gave another hasty glance around the room and at the door before she answered. “His Irish blood mixes with the blood of the barbaric Vikings and that is where they say his evil dwells. He cannot help but plunder and kill, it is part of him. He even considered betraying Ireland’s kings.”
“How?” Ellie asked, engrossed with the tale.
“He intended to supply, for a price, information to King Henry II regarding the Irish kings and their intentions. The kings offered to fatten his coffer substantially if he held his tongue. They offered him a lucrative marriage contract and vast land holdings, and bestowed on him a fancy title—lord—when he is nothing more than a barbarian. Lord William of Donnegan was ordered by the king of Cork, Dermot MacCathy, to offer one of his daughters to the devil while the king of Limerick, Donal Mor O’Brien, pledged a small castle and land in Limerick, him being no fool. The devil will protect what is his and Donal Mor O’Brien and his holdings along with it.”
Bridget’s skillful fingers finished off the last of the shoulder seam stitches of the soft moss-green wool gown she worked on. “I hope he chooses Lady Margaret to wed. She is as shrewish and mean as her mother and she resembles her as well, tall and thin with no shape to her, just that pointed nose and those thin lips that always frown, and she is the oldest at two score. The devil and she deserve each other.”
Ellie smiled, her brown eyes dancing with mischief. “I think he deserves Lady Teresa.”
Nora and Bridget giggled.
“I do not think the devil will choose a woman who smells like a horse for a wife,” Nora said.
Bridget defended the woman, though she continued to giggle. “She may smell like the animals she enjoys tending but at least she is pleasant to the servants. And she does have good, wide birthing hips.”
The two bobbed their heads in agreement.
“How about Lady Claire?” Bridget asked.
“Perhaps,” Nora said. “She cares naught for anyone but herself, forever worried over her appearance, and she is the most attractive sister though she is only six and ten.”
“Old enough to be taking a husband,” Ellie said. “I wed John at five and ten.”
“And will birth your first babe within the month,” Bridget said with delight. “Are you fearful over the birth?”
Ellie spoke with confidence, “Not with Lady Faith to help birth me.”
Complete silence filled the small room and a sudden draft drifted in from the open door, sending the shivers through the three women.
“You do not think Lord William will offer Lady Faith to the devil, do you?” Nora asked, her voice trembling.
“The devil would not want her,” Ellie answered with conviction. “She is too sweet.”
“The devil preys on the innocent,” Bridget reminded.
“Lord have mercy on her,” Ellie whispered, holding back her tears. “She is no longer innocent, and she is left with the scar to prove her sins.”
Bridget snapped angrily at her friend. “No finer young woman lives. And it is the evil wagging tongues that claimed her innocence. She fought her attacker and won but no one will believe the truth.”
“Truth or not, I would rather die than live with disgrace,” Nora whispered.
“Aye, so would I,” Ellie agreed.
“Courage and strength saw her through her ordeal,” Bridget argued. “And you, Ellie, would not be here had Lady Faith not fought for her life that night.”
Ellie wiped the tears from her cheeks. “True enough, Bridget. She has turned into a fine healer and her skill saved me from dying of the fever. But who will have her now? No man of her station will accept her in marriage and she is already twenty and five. She keeps herself locked away with her plants, potions and drawings. She wants no one to see her and the scar she carries as a reminder. What life is that for her?”
“She spends time in the forest collecting her plants and in her garden,” Bridget defended.
Ellie frowned. “By herself, always by herself.”
“Rook goes with her,” Bridget argued.
“That monster dog of hers lets no one near her,” Nora said. “Her father saw to that after the incident. He wanted her guarded and not by a man.”
Ellie shook her head. “Speak the truth, Nora, her father blames her for the attack. He was ashamed of her the night it happened, as he is ashamed of her now.”
“Good,” Nora said defiantly. “Then he will not offer her to the devil since he thinks her spoiled goods.”
“And with that awful scar to always remind her, bless her soul,” Bridget said, crossing herself and murmuring a prayer.
Ellie and Nora joined in with prayers of their own.
“Does anyone know who attacked her?” Ellie asked, not having been in Lord William’s service when the incident had occurred eight years previously.
“Her stepmother ordered her silence,” Bridget said, and shivered. “I helped to tend her after the attack. She lay bleeding badly, the bedcovers soaked through with her blood. Lady Terra warned her to keep her lies to herself and not speak the name of the man she tempted or she would forever burn in hell. Lady Terra ordered a priest to her bedside for confession.”
Nora interrupted. “I was the one she ordered to summon the priest.” She shivered, rubbing her ample arms. “Calm and in control she was, not her usual self, she frightened me she did when she instructed me to hurry and bring the priest insisting that poor Lady Faith had met an evil end.”
Bridget shook her head. “Lady Terra cares naught for Lady Faith. She wanted no shame of a mortal sin on her dying stepdaughter’s soul. No one knows if she confessed the name, but I heard her plead as they rushed me from the room, ‘God, save me from the devil.’ Some believe she spoke about the devil in herself, but I think she fought the devil that night and God saved her life.”
Silence reigned for several minutes and cheeks were patted dry.
A rumble of thunder sounded outside in the distance and three sets of eyes rounded in fear.
“The Irish devil rides in with the storm,” Ellie whispered and the three young women crossed themselves.
Alexis: Don't forget, for a chance to with this wonderful romance, leave a comment for Donna :-)