It gives me great pleasure to have Ann Duran with me today. Ann has released two novels, Phoenix Rising and Raven’s Nest, which are as different as any two novels can be. Thank you for stopping by Happily Ever After Thoughts. It’s wonderful to have you here.
Marie: I have to know, Ann, when did you know you wanted to be a writer?
Ann: As a child of the 50’s and 60’s, my burning ambition was to be a reporter ala Brenda Starr. My life, however, zagged when it should have zigged and I never followed that career path. Instead, I married and had children. Now, fast forward to the late 1990’s. I was a huge fan of The X-files and enjoyed reading the fan fiction of the show. Some of it was excellent and some of it not so much. However, it ignited in me a flame of desire to tell my own stories. I hesitated due to a lack of confidence, but after 9/11 my youngest daughter said to me, “if not now, Mom, when?” Thus an author was born.
Marie: Tell us a little bit about Phoenix Rising and Raven’s Nest.
Rising is my first book. It’s a product of the old saying “write what you know.” The setting is a fictionalized Mafia-owned brokerage firm in Phoenix . Many things in the story are drawn from life. Not the murder/arson/mayhem (thankfully) but my life as a stock broker presented me with a rich banquet of experiences to draw upon. It’s the story of Jack Herrell, an undercover agent for the Arizona Attorney General’s office, who wants to find his wife's killer and make him pay, because even though ten years have passed, he's determined to solve the murder. Little does Jack know he isn't merely waging battle with a murderer; he's in the middle of a bigger battle, one between Satan and Michael the Phoenix, Arizona Archangel. For his soul. Angels and demons take an active part in the lives of the characters. Available at Amazon as well as B&N
Raven’s Nest is a time travel/fantasy adventure with romantic elements. Eric Morgan, a time traveler and shape shifter living nearly 300 years in the future finds out how complicated love can be when he travels to 1718
to rescue Celeste Beckett from the clutches of ruthless Blackheart the Pirate. When Eric receives a call from Celeste's father, Nathaniel Beckett, also a time traveler, begging him to save his beloved daughter, Eric can't resist another journey to the past. Little does he know his trip will not only bring him face to face with his old nemesis, but also a new, more dangerous one. Eric's actions cause a cascade of events that will tear apart one family and force another to test the bonds of forgiveness and love. Available at Amazon and B & N Camden Maine
Marie: What were your inspirations to write such different stories?
Ann: I’m a free spirit when it comes to writing, drawn to paranormal, fantasy, time travel and romance. Thus, when a reader chooses an Ann Duran book, the subject matter will vary. The tagline for my website is “take a journey to the unexpected” and that’s what I hope my fans feel they receive.
Marie: I’ve been in on Raven’s Nest since the beginning. What made you choose a time travel/shape-shifting fantasy?
Ann: I was on a summer vacation to
a few years ago with my Significant Other. We drove to Maine Camden from and sitting back from the road in a belt of trees, I saw the most glorious three story Queen Anne style house that reminded me of a fairy tale castle with turrets and verandahs. I’d had a dream several weeks prior to that about a “creatures” in a house that assumed different forms such as furniture. I combined the kernel of inspiration from the dream with the house and started asking “what if…?” Portland
Marie: You’re an avid reader so which authors inspire you?
Ann: My love of reading was inspired by authors such as Alexandre Dumas, Mark Twain, Louisa May Alcott, and Jane Austen. I could lose myself by the hour in their books. I was drawn by their lyrical use of language and vivid characters. I was fascinated by Dumas’s exploration of revenge in the Count of Monte Cristo, while Mark Twain’s humor drew me like a magnet to his writing.
Marie: Everyone has their own writing process…how they come up with ideas, how they name their characters, how they choose the setting. Can you describe your writing process?
Ann: Sometimes my ideas are the result of vivid dreams, other times they are the result of wondering “what if…?” Phoenix Rising and Raven’s Nest both embodied a “seat of the pants” process that involved sitting at the computer and letting my characters surprise me with where they wanted to take the story. This necessitated quite a bit of reworking for continuity, pacing etc. I found it quite time consuming. I’ve decided with my next book, Waking the Dead, to do a substantial amount of plotting and outlining to see if that’s any faster for me. So far…not so much. I think I’m just a slow writer by nature and need to make my peace with that fact.
As to naming my characters, once I’ve decided the time frame, setting, and genre I try to pick names that express a facet of the story. In Waking the Dead, for instance, my heroine’s name is Anastasia, which means “resurrection”. Most appropriate for the storyline. Supporting characters get names to reflect certain character traits or flaws and are period appropriate.
I typically write at night and on weekends since I still have my day job as a stock broker. One thing I do like to do is occasionally write in long hand on good old fashioned paper. That truly does release creativity, at least for me. It also imparts a greater appreciation for the classical authors mentioned above who had no access to a “delete” key.
Marie: Fill us in, Ann, as with other writers, you’re constantly working on new ideas so what are you working on now?
Ann: I’m working on a story involving the ghost of a Union officer in the Civil War, Stephen Austin, who is fated to relive a fateful battle nightly on the property of a local school teacher in
. There is only one way for the ghost to end his horrifying reenactment and free his spirit to heaven and that is to save a life. How can a ghost save someone’s life? We shall find out. There are several twists and turns to the story that I believe will make it quite compelling. Tupelo, Mississippi
Marie: I thoroughly enjoyed both Phoenix Rising and Raven’s Nest and I’m so glad you could be here with us, Ann. I’m looking forward to seeing what you come up with next.
Ann: It was a pleasure to be here with you today. Thank you for inviting me.
For a chance to win a copy of Raven’s Nest, be sure to leave a comment for her. And don’t forget to include contact info in your comment in case you win.
For more information on Ann’s stories, go to www.annduran.com, follow Ann on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Ann_Duran11 and Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Ann.Duran11
Marie: For a chance to win a copy of Raven's Nest, be sure to leave a comment for Ann. And don’t forget to include contact info in your comment in case you win. Winner will be announced and contacted on Wednesday. Now, check out this excerpt from Raven’s Nest:
“Damn you, harlot’s spawn!” Blackheart the Pirate spat the words through a haze of blood and pain. A sharp kick to his groin caused him to bite his lip, drawing blood that trickled into his beard. Taking Celeste Beckett hostage was more trouble than he had bargained for. Not one of those shy, spiritless maidens populating polite drawing rooms, she forcibly reminded him of her mother, Moriah, whose charms he remembered well. The finely sculpted dark eyebrows above those startling blue eyes, the sneering mouth, the rounded breasts and curvaceous hips, and, finally, those golden curls, brought memories to the fore of more pleasant times and activities.
As badly as he itched to teach her a lesson, he hadn’t the time for such luxuries. He launched himself upon her body and clapped his fingers over her mouth, careful to avoid a repeat encounter with her eager-to-kick legs. He held his finely honed dagger to her slender white throat and pushed aside the ruby pendant hanging like a bloody teardrop.
“You are in my power now, Celeste. Make a single cry or utter one whisper of a sound and you will die on the spot. Have I made myself clear?” The furious drumbeat of her heart throbbed against his arm. She nodded and he noted with satisfaction a sheen of moisture cloud her magnificent eyes. “Moriah and Nathaniel will pay dearly for their betrayal. You, my dear, are the coin I will use to satisfy their debt.” With that, he bound and gagged Celeste, hoisted her over his massive shoulders, and climbed out of the window whistling a jaunty tune.
Great interview!!! I'm so glad you posted this, Marie, and Ann, GREAT JOB! May you have a ton of sales with fantastic reviews! :)ReplyDelete
Thanks, Markee. It's always a pleasure hearing from you. Hope you have a Happy Easter!ReplyDelete
You, too!!! :) Thank you!Delete
Great interview. I'm glad you took your daughter's advice and became the author you always knew you could be.ReplyDelete
Thanks for stopping by Cindy! I'm glad I took her advice, too. It's brought a lot of happiness to my life. Now...if she would just take all my advice...LOL!Delete
Great Interview!!! I loved your books. Can't wait to read 'Waking the Dead.'ReplyDelete
Hi, Cyn! I can't wait to FINISH Waking the Dead--maybe with Scrivener I can make some progress. Hope you have a Happy Easter!Delete
I'm so glad you could join us, Ann! Loved the excerpt.ReplyDelete
Thank you for inviting me, Marie. Happy Easter! I always love introducing Blackheart. LOL!Delete
Hi, Ann! Wow, they are both very different but very interesting. Love the play on words when it comes to Phoenix Rising. Great title. Happy Easter! :)ReplyDelete
Thanks, Carol! I wanted the city of Phoenix to be not only the setting of the story but almost a character as well. I hope I've achieved that goal. Happy Easter to you and yours!Delete
Hi Ann, what a great interview! I'm so thrilled to hear there is another Louisa May Alcott fan out there. I adore all her stories. I bet when I ask have you read the Little Women trilogy, you know what I mean, right?ReplyDelete
I do know exactly what you mean, Alexis! Little Men and Jo's Boys. I loved all of them. I was a particular fan of Jo. I also loved Eight Cousin's and it's sequels. Happy Easter!ReplyDelete
Yippee! Finally someone who knows! And you know I still own them. Can't bear to part with them :-) I think it was Dan in Jo's Boys that first captured my heart for romanceDelete
Books like those become more than paper and ink, Alexis. They're friends. Best friends. :)Delete
Wonderful interview Ann and Marie. I love your book covers, they are very striking. Do you design them yourself? Wishing you success with your true career as an author!ReplyDelete
Thank you, Gemma! I have my covers professionally designed. Phoenix Rising's cover was my own idea, but the artist implemented it. For Raven's Nest, the artist illustrated a scene from the book. This is the website of my cover artist: http://www.graphiczxdesigns.zenfolio.com/Delete
Happy Easter! I enjoyed the interview.ReplyDelete
bn100candg at hotmail dot com
Happy Easter to you too!Delete
Nice to meet you, Ann. Great excerpt and I really enjoyed reading about your process. You mention that you sometimes have dreams that spur your creativity. Do you keep a pencil and tablet by the bed so you can write them down when you awaken, or do you have the ability to remember it later? Congrats on the books. The Civil War book sounds great, too.ReplyDelete
Hi Lyndee! Nice to have you here. I used to keep a pencil and paper near--but the more vivid dreams I remember. Strangely enough, anytime I dream about babies (having them or caring for them) my creativity level and output increases.ReplyDelete
Ann, I wish I'd seen this yesterday -- what a fun break from Easter festivities! And it's amazing how different each of your books is...I'm especially looking forward to the Civil War one, because my husband is a HUGE Civil War fan. He isn't a big romance reader, but yours will be a nice exception. :)ReplyDelete
So nice of you to pop in for a visit!
They say there's a lot of money to be made with series books. Unfortunately, my brain doesn't work that way. At least not yet. Thus, my readers will have the Forrest Gump/box of chocolates experience. :)
Loved your use of adjectives in the prologue-very intriguing.
You mentioned that you also get a lot of ideas from your experience as a stock broker; is it from clients or your processes? Sounds interesting how you can relate your profession to fantasy!
The ideas are an amalgamation of experiences from clients, brokers, and processes. The processes are the foundation of what should happen (rules & regs) and the chaos/pops up through the characters experiences which (in some cases) were based in reality. :) I've had readers tell me that some dialogue "wasn't realistic" and yet it was 100% drawn from life. LOL!