Welcome, Jo.What are you working on now?
Jo: Book Two of the Lost Colony Series, of course! This one will feature Jane Mannering, the huntress. An Amazon of a woman, she is fond of adventure and blunt honesty and is prone to striding around in her late father’s leather hat and boots. She can shoot as well as any man and is not above puffing an occasional pipe. Keep in mind that back in her day, the use of tobacco was believed to have medicinal value.
Alexis:Why did you choose this sub-genre of romance?
Jo: I passionately love everything about Elizabethan, Colonial and Native American history. It was as natural as breathing to write a novel within this sub-genre.
Alexis: What has been the most memorable fan comment you ever had?
Jo: Just received a text from a neighbor earlier today. “Oh my gosh, Jo. I have laundry to do and errands to run, but nothing’s getting done till I finishs Breaking Ties. I can’t put it down.” That’s the ultimate compliment – a reading experience that pulls you in so deep, that nothing else matters besides turning the page to see what happens next.
Alexis: I agree. Can you tell us your story of getting the call to be a writer?
Jo: I think I was born a writer. LOL Every writer out there knows what I’m talking about. Images of characters and scenes as well as entire conversations form in my head, and they don’t go away until I write them down. Sometimes these visions continue on my dreams, and voila! I awake with the concept of the next scene or chapter or book already developed. Believe me, it’s both a gift and a curse at times.
Alexis: What was your first writer’s conference?
Jo: The RT Booklovers Convention in Kansas City, MO in May, 2013. It’s a magical meeting place for both readers and writers. I still have stars dripping from my eyes over all the free and signed books I received - including a pre-release copy of Brandon Sanderson’s newest series. Topping the list, however, was the Pitch-A-Palooza Event where I was able to give three-minute pitches to real agents and editors. This turned into my first book contract several weeks later with Astraea Press. I highly recommend the RT Convention!
Alexis: Check out these excerpts from BREAKING TIES
Sometimes murder isn’t as messy, up-close, and personal as many people imagine it to be. Sometimes it is distant and impersonal – as simple as crossing a line through a name on a sheet of paper. Or one hundred and fifteen names in our case.
Portsmouth, England, April 26, 1587
“Yer bum’s hanging out the window!” My brother banged his empty mug on the inn table. He ran both hands through his hair, as red as my own, standing each flaming lock on end.
My lips turned up despite the heaviness in my chest. It felt good to hear him lapse into the Gaelic brogue of our childhood. “Och, Donnen!” I reached across the table to clasp his large hands and grimaced at the stench of salmon and sweat hanging in the air. “I dinna bring ye here to quarrel. ‘Tis my first job offer in weeks.”
I dared not share my other reason for leaving.
“Nay, ye can stay with me till ye find a different job. Crossing the Atlantic unwed is bad enough, but these—” He shook my upraised palms, “are ink stains. Blast it all! Ye’re a clerk, not a sailor.”
“Indeed?” Saints alive, he acted as if I was still twelve instead of nineteen. “Well, good news. I shall be accompanied by other women – whole families of people, for that matter – and ‘tis a clerk they need.”
“Only because—“ Donnen glanced around the room and lowered his voice. “The last one left in a frightful hurry along with half the crew all in the same night.” His glare was fierce. “Rumor has it the entire fleet is bound straight for Jonah’s watery vault. I don’t suppose that came up during the bloomin’ interview?”
"You want my help." 'Twas an accusation.
His eyes darkened. "I save your life. I give gifts. I offer marriage." He closed the remaining distance between us, his eyes burning into mine.
I stumbled back.
"You give nothing in return," he snarled. "You only ask for more."
"I would had I something to offer," I whispered. "But I have nothing. I am nothing."
"Then what use are you to me?" He wheeled away.
I sagged against the door, eyes stinging. I blinked rapidly and pressed a hand to my stomach. Nausea rolled at the thought of informing the others of my failure.
Manteo circled the cabin like a hawk stalking its prey. 'Twas a fine room with ornately carved shelves lining one wall. Bunks were built into the next wall. A generous desk jutted from the third, overflowing with maps and navigational devices. I recognized the compass and hourglass but could not identify the other instruments. I jerked in surprise when Manteo swooped down upon me.
"I know our location." His arms shot out and slapped the wall on either side of me, hemming me to the door. "I could swim ashore from here."
"Then why do ye stay if ye can leave and save yourself?"
"Governor White gave his word to deliver me home."
"We are going to starve, Manteo. 'Tis only a matter of days now."
"Nay. You alone starve. The others eat."
"I have no appetite."
"You act as one already dead."
I straightened my back. "I accept what I cannot change."
"And I change what I cannot accept." He shifted his weight to the wall, one arm propped over my head. He drew his fingertips down the side of my face in a feather-light caress.
I closed my eyes against the rush of unbearable sweetness. He made me long for things forbidden. "'Tis within your power to help us. I am begging you."
My eyes flew open. "Ye will do this for us."
"For you." His voice was silken, his features as hard as granite.
I smiled tremulously. "I thank thee, Manteo. Chief Manteo, that is." The new title felt strange on my lips. I beheld him with a mixture of awe and pride.
"I have yet to name my price."
I stared, confused.
He grunted in disgust. "You refuse me as both husband and lover, so you are left with the hiring of my services."
I worried my lower lip between my teeth. At least he was willing to negotiate. His eyes flashed with lust as he followed my movements.
"I will entreat the Dares for payment."
"Nay. You are the one in my debt."
I raised and dropped my hands helplessly.
"You serve this company, no? You can serve my people, too."
"Ye would hire me as clerk?" Hope leaped in my chest at the possibilities. I would not have to part from him so soon.
"My people have no clerks." His eyes narrowed. "We have slaves."
My breath hitched. "Ye wish to punish me, humiliate me?"
"Nay, I only wish to marry you."
I briefly closed my eyes against the pain. He already knew the reason for my refusal.
"Say no more. I will do it. 'Twill be punishment enough to see you so often and—“ I clamped my lips.
Exultation flickered briefly across his face. "You would give up your freedom to save your friends?"
"Swear it," he said grimly.
"I swear it."
His eyes flared with emotion. He bent slowly 'til his breath stirred my lips. My eyelids fluttered closed. Heaven help me, for I had no will left to resist him.
"Now you will eat," Manteo commanded hoarsely. He stepped back, surveying me from head to feet.
"I have no slaves so thin and weak. Go. Collect your rations." He turned from me and bent to pore over a map on the table.
I reached for the door handle, disbelieving at the curt dismissal.
"And send for Anthony. I have need of him."
I glared at his back. Faith, should I press my face to the floor as well? "Aye, master." I bit the words out and fled.
(To be continued...)
About Jo Grafford:
Jo Grafford is from St. Louis, Missouri. An award-winning author at Astraea Press, Jo writes historical fiction to spotlight unsung heroes and unsolved mysteries. She published her first poem in junior high, edited her high school newspaper while typesetting for a local news journal, and has been writing ever since. She holds an M.B.A. and has served as a banker, a junior college finance instructor, and a high school business teacher. She is a PRO member of Romance Writers of America and From the Heart Romance Writers RWA Chapter. The mother of three children and the wife of a soldier, she serves as a literacy volunteer for elementary school students.
Jo Grafford, is pleased to announce “A Thanksgiving Wish” campaign. Each copy of Breaking Ties sold in November will help fund an archeological dig of what is hoped to be the Lost Colony fort site at Scotch Hall Preserve in Windsor, NC. Jo is also hosting a Rafflecopter contest to reward her guests and readers with the opportunity to win $50, $25, and $15 gift cards to Amazon.com or BarnesandNoble.com. All winners will be announced Thanksgiving Day at www.JoGrafford.com.