Well blow me down! Avast ye maties!
Welcome aboard The Whimsical Herald! You are all invited to join me at the Captain’s table and our most distinguished and renowned author guest Francesca Quarto to share a cup of grog as we pick her brain about her latest popular release, Love’s Prey!
Fair Warning! It’s not a tale for the faint hearted! There is plenty of action, intrigue and steamy romance packed into Francesca Quarto’s new release!
HER EXOTIC BEAUTY IS A LURE TO EVERY MALE THAT CROSSES HER PATH, BUT WHEN THE ONE MAN SHE TRUSTS THE MOST BETRAYS HER, SHE MUST RUN FOR HER LIFE, MARKED AS A MURDERER.
“I need to show you how I feel. I have to let it out, or it will consume me as it has day after day since I first saw you!”
He sounded desperate and afraid. But there was something else, something sinister in the way his hands were moving. She shifted her direction, but now the backs of her legs bumped against a low desk. Tricia looked down in desperation and saw a pair of long scissors, instinctively slipping them into her hand. She held the newfound weapon behind her back. “You-you’re scaring me. You need to stay away from me, Reverend Reed. Whatever you are feeling toward me, isn’t right. It’s not something I ever wanted.” He took a step forward and she tried to reason with him, to make him realize what he was doing by saying, “Please, your wife is a good person and you don’t want to hurt her.”
His face contorted in anger and was covered in a sheen of perspiration. The bright overhead fluorescents highlighted dark smudges under his eyes, making him look more like a demon than a man of God. He edged closer. “It isn’t her I need to hurt, it’s you! I need to end your control over me, you little whore.”
Tricia Cooley’s dream is to escape her life in the Black Hills forever and follow her love of art into the Chicago galleries, but her exotic beauty draws the attention of any man seeing her on or off the Sioux Reservation. Her fantasy becomes a nightmare when the one man she trusts turns her into a killer and escaping means running for her very life.
While Tricia tears blindly through the night, the scent of death fills the air with sweet allure to a rogue band of shapeshifters. Her clan’s powerful shaman, Shadow Stalker, knows these Hunters are in pursuit, and that their leader, Dream Slayer, finds Tricia as irresistible as his lust for power.
Jackson Wolf, a Keeper of The People, is sent to protect her from the beasts that shadow her. His growing feelings challenge his discipline, just as they are forced to battle a pack of wild shifters.
Tricia must unleash the warrior within herself if she is to survive the diabolical scheme to kidnap and turn her into a sex slave for a demonic shaman.
1. Did the exquisitely detailed world building in ‘Love’s Prey’ evolve on its own or did it require a lot of research to create?
The setting for "Love's Prey" was one I was already familiar with from my travels throughout those areas. Though this does not include visiting the Black Hills (yet) I have been fortunate to have visited several American Indian Reservations throughout the Southwest region. I did research on the Sioux and that particular Reservation setting in the Dakotas and also used information on their tribal folk lore.
2. What/who inspired you to write your very first book?
My first book, "Wolf Master of Iron Mountain" is book 1 in my "Witch of Appalachia" series. It came about after I had already written poetry, essays, article and various newsletters over the years, some of which I actually saw published! I am an avid consummer of every kind of book, in every kind of genre, but my imagination sought a different outlet for discovery!
3. How would you describe Sioux native Tricia Cooley’s personality? Was her character inspired by anyone you’ve known?
Though Tricia Cooley is not based on any one woman I know or have known, her personal story is sadly indicative to many young women seeking to better themselves in historically, male-dominated cultures. This would be true in modern day Middle Eastern countries, African nations, what are refered to as "Third World" countries and here, in our own country where the 'glass ceiing" has only a few cracks!
For my character, Tricia Cooley, though young, her intellect inspires her dreams of bettering her life and her stregth of character help direct her actions. Her suffering actually ends up strengthening her resolve to live free of all control, physical or sexual.
4.There is a lot of danger as well as intrigue in “Love’s Prey’. Aside from Tricia which characters are your favorites?
I enjoyed hearing the voice of Thomas One Tree, the wise Keeper dressed in the guise of an old Indian they meet along the road. I also found the clan's Shaman, and Jackson's grandfather, a strong, non-judgemental advocate for Tricia. Naturally, making my hero a hunk was rather fun, but then, he was a great fantasy wasn't he?
5. What makes you laugh and cry?
I enjoy reading books with lots of edgy humor, like any mystery by the late, great Robert Parker.
I cry at movies all the time, especially if I've paid twelve bucks and the movie stinks like boiled cabbage! I do cry at sad movies as I tend to get totally wrapped up in whatever my head's into at the time.
6 .Can you tell us about some of your most popular works? Which ones would you recommend to a reader that is new to your novels?
My series the "Witch of Appalacia" would appeal to anyone in the family who enjoyed the magic themes in Harry Potter and Twilight I think. My stories are all independent mysteries and the reader can start anywhere in the series and not miss out on the story line. If readers enjoy mysteries and magic, I've got you covered!
7. The American Indian culture is a big part of ‘Love’s Prey’. What drew you to this theme?
After an extensive trip I took throughout the South-West, I became aware of the social and econimic challenges facing the American Indians. I witnessed what I called "grinding poverty" on many of the Reservations, even through my lens of a visitor, skirting the large, geographic areas. I wanted to see something more hopeful and Tricia would provide that.
8. What actress in your mind could do justice to the role of Tricia Cooley?
If I could choose, it would have to be a American Indian Actress and I can't name one..can you?
9. If you had to select one scene in this book to read aloud to an audience, which scene would it be ?
Though the sexual abuse Tricia suffers at the hands of the Hunters is germane to the developement the story, I would read the chapter where Jackson Wolf has to fight the three Hunters at the diner near the bus station. This sets up his sworn duty as a Protector, to keep Tricia from falling into the hands of the Hunter's Shaman, Dream Stalker, who lusts for her, body and soul.
Chocolate or Vanilla?
Always CHOCOLATE! Everything else is just something cold sitting in the dish!
Rock or Jazz or Classical?
All of them! On a quiet island, Yo Yo Mah!
Tea or coffee?
Coffee, dark roast with cream please!
Any that finds me alive and writing!
My favorite actor to play Tricia Cooley? I would love to see both the male and female protagonists played by American Indian actors to be authentic in characterization. (I'll have to research who would fill that bill and get back with you.)
Cats or Dogs?
Love both, but DOGS rock!
10. Please tell us about the future projects you have planned and what you are working on right now!
As we speak, I am working on Book 5 of the "Witch of Appalachia" series. I'll have the first draft finished by week's end and then let it percolate for a few days, before I begin the task my editor most loves...re-writes! I will let this consume me and my time until satisfied and then start thinking about, "Celtic Fires" Book 6 in the same series.
I really want to begin a new Paranormal Romance, but will use mystery along with romance which is mysterious enough if you ask me! I am thinking of a setting in the deep south as I keenly remember a trip to Mississippi, where the cemeteries were far more inviting than the cities.
Well me hearties, the time has come to bid a fond farewell to our fascinating Author Francesca Quarto. We have enjoyed visiting with her and look forward to new literary booty from her fertile creative mind!
Keep a weather eye open-Old Man Winter still has his icy fingers in us yet. Stay warm and dry until next we haul into port to bring you more literary treasure from the briny deep.
Your servant as always.
Mistress of Madness, The Whimsical Herald
Ahoy me hearties!
Oh how the March winds doth blow! We of The Whimsical Herald are grateful they are at our backs as we head downwind to meet with author Lauren Giddings, aka Nancy Gideon, to discuss her fabulous release of ‘Sweet Tempest’, a Regency romance. We anticipate plenty of action in this finely crafted tale of love, betrayal, secrets and intrigue.
A debt she is forced to repay for her family’s sake plunges Tempest into the desperate life of a robber. She has no idea that being taken down by a bullet would open the door to a different world, and an unexpected chance at love.
Shutting her eyes, she feigned sleep as she heard the approach of two sets of boot steps.
"I'll own she's a fair piece, but what are you going to do with her, Conn?"
The sound of a heavy sigh and a low, pleasant voice that played soft upon her memory. "Can't say I know, George." He gave a laugh. "The possibilities are intriguing though."
Tempest forced herself to breathe evenly as she felt a presence grow near. She choked down a gasp as fingertips lightly grazed her cheek. Feeling trapped and helpless, she lay still as a cornered hare, hoping the charade would fool them. Surely, they could hear the panicked race of her heart.
"You can't think to keep her here?"
Knowing his friend well, George Morley shouldn’t have been surprised by the arrogant reply. "And why not? I must say, I've never been so taken with a woman to my recall."
"Loretta's quite out of countenance over this lark, so be warned lest she take off your head."
Connor gave an indifferent shrug. "That doesn't signify. She's grown tiresome of late. Now this little miss, I'll wager she's no boring work."
George groaned at the speculative look on his friend's face. Connor's impulsive moods could prove hazardous. "More likely she'll slit your throat than thank you."
"It may be worth the risk," he mused, touching the pale cheek a second time.
A Fetching Robber, An Unscrupulous Rogue and A Daring Risk . . . to Die For
By Nancy Gideon w/a Lauren Giddings
A crafty scheme that doesn't exactly go as planned . . .
A Thief of hearts . . .
A female of Tempest Swift's brains and beauty should be fending off suitors, not hiding in the shadows boldly robbing coaches. But lean times leave her with a family to provide for . . . until shot from her horse while making her escape. Waking as the pampered prisoner of a sinfully handsome gentleman has her pulse pounding for all the wrong reasons. His suggestion she be his mistress is shocking enough, but he has more on his clever mind . . .
A Desperate noble . . .
Cut from a longed for inheritance due to hell-bent living, a foiled robbery provides Connor Amberson with an daring solution, passing off a ragamuffin thief as his long-lost cousin to win back his grandfather's favor. But producing the supposed sole survivor of a tragic accident stirs dangerous troubles, both from those hungry to inherit and within Connor's jaded heart, as his true reward becomes something he never expected . . . until about to lose it.
1.Welcome aboard The Whimsical Herald! What attracted you to begin writing historical romance and Regency Romance specifically?
I LOVE history - enough to take it for my minor in college. I get lost in textures of the past-the dialect, the daily rituals, the food and entertainment, the travel and clothes. I adore research - funny coming from someone who did most of their historical researching BEFORE the internet by taking handwritten notes in the reference section of the library. I've found a single historical fact evocative enough to inspire an entire book! History is cyclic, repeating itself, so there's always something to learn about the way we live now. In high school, I went through an unforgettable Georgette Heyer period with my best friend. We'd speak to each other in Regency slang! When Regency-set romances expanded beyond the traditional lines and finally opened the bedroom door to include S-E-X between those proper parties, I was one of the first onboard. I never set out to write a proper Regency, but rather a historical in Regency garb.
2.How much do you research before you begin writing? And what are some of the strangest historical trivia facts you’ve discovered in your research?
I research until I'm immersed in the time period, to the extent of pointing my fork at my two young sons at the table and telling them to "eat them there peas!" while writing my Texas historical series. It's the little details that bring history alive, so I always start with daily life books from the time period as well as the actual time line of events. Maps, floor plans, even patterns to show how period clothing goes together adds realism (and sometimes great plot points!) to any story. Bathroom, undergarment and intimacy research always yields the most interesting factoids and are too numerous and incredible to name. I'm really loving the new TV series "The Alienist" for it's fantastic attention to period accuracy.
3. Would you ever want to live in the Regency era?
With those narrow skirts? Heck no! I'd probably be the one cleaning the chamber pots, not the one going to the cotillions! A Regency Cinderella.
4.Have you traveled to any of the places you write about?
I've never been "across the pond" to Europe and I'd written a dozen or more Western historicals before ever crossing the Mississippi (beyond Iowa). Readers would ask how long I'd lived in Texas or the Dakotas and I'd have to tell them I'd never been to the places I wrote about. But the first time I saw the mountains in Arizona, it was true love - just the way I pictured it in my books! Many of my contemporary novels are set in places I've visited, including Ixtapa, Mexico and the Caribbean. I'd go to national conferences and conventions all over the country, skip out for a day and rent a car with writer pals to get "the lay of the land", seeing the sights, visiting bookstores to pick up local publications, tourism and history books, and sample the cuisine-getting the feel of location with all my senses. New Orleans and Lake Tahoe are two of my favorites so it's no wonder they host a number of my books.
5.How long have you been writing and what advice would you have given yourself as a start up author?
I've been writing since I could construe a sentence but I'd always write snatches of a story and never tie them together. It wasn't until I was a stay-at-home mom that I was challenged to start from page one and continue all the way through to page end. I sent in my first manuscript totally ignorant of the industry so it was no surprise that it came winging back. I wrote three more complete novels before I had the courage to send the best of the three in. Two sold! And I've been selling continually since then in genres from historical to series contemporary suspense, paranormal and even horror. Counting the reissues of older titles, I'm somewhere around 70+ different editions! My advice - Stick to what you start all the way through to the bitter end and then make it better. And then make it your best.
6.Which of the many compelling characters in ‘Sweet Tempest’ came to you first?
I had vague impressions of the hero and heroine, but from the very first page, I just adored the hero's best friend, George Morley, who provides a pivot point of reason for both characters. He's kind of the lynch pin that holds their relationship together with his common sense and affection for both of them.
7. Are you an avid reader? What genres do you enjoy?
I grew up toting library books home as a child and my love of a good novel has only increased with the years, but unfortunately, not so the time in which to read as much as I'd like. My favorite books all have an extra-ordinary element in them, like suspense or the paranormal. I love to be kept guessing and on the edge of my seat. My favorite go-to author is Dean Koontz because he teases both those things together into an irresistible read. But I'm always open to a good story, regardless of the genre-since I've also written in most of them.
8. Most regency writers focus on the nobility but Tempest’s background gives her an interesting edge. In your mind what challenges does she face besides her lowborn background?
Pride and survival. Those two things are always at odds with her. She needs to protect her family but she also has a high standard of what is right - perhaps because her parents insisted she work to better herself instead of accepting her lot in society. I like a scraper. The dangers of daily living gives her a tough realism that makes her equal to the task of taming the nobility.
9. What passage would you choose to read from ‘Sweet Tempest’ in an author reading? Tell us why you are drawn to it.
I cannot stand the sound of my voice reading aloud! But if I were whispering to myself, it would probably be an early scene when my hero, the roguish Connor Amberson, is discussing options with the lovely thief Tempest Swift, who he shot while she was robbing his coach, and now has recovering in his home as his "guest". It involves his suggestion that she become his mistress. He just can't understand why she might have any objections to the good fortune he offers. The spirited dialogue between them really sets the tone of the book.
10. What projects are you working on currently? Can you tell us anything about your next release?
I'm finishing the fourth and final book in my "House of Terriot" dark paranormal shapeshifter series, which is a spin-off from the long ongoing "By Moonlight" series written under my own name, Nancy Gideon. The series focuses on four of the 12 Terriot princes, half-brothers vying for control of the isolated warrior clan who are forced to reach beyond their own protected boundaries when an outside threat brings all the enemy clans together to save their kind. And, of course, each of these yummy princes is brought to heal by an unexpected heroine. The first three books, PRINCE OF HONOR, PRINCE OF POWER and PRINCE OF FOOLS are available in print and e-book. I plan to have PRINCE OF DREAMS ready to read by late summer. I also have another Lauren Giddings Regency, BARTERED BRIDE that I'll be whipping into shape for reissue with Tell-Tale Publishing. Then I'd love to start bringing back my Western historicals written under the name Dana Ransom. Busy, busy, busy!
click here for more about Nancy Gideon!
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It is with fondness that we bid farewell to our guest prolific writer Lauren Giddings aka Nancy Gideon. We look forward to spotlighting more of her enthralling tales in the near future and encourage readers to dive into ‘Sweet Tempest’, a fast-paced romantic adventure that will keep you reading past your bedtime!
As always, your faithful servant and Captain of The Whimsical Herald,
Patricia Mattern, Mistress of Madness
Mistress of Madness
Well, do you have any idea why a raven is like a writing desk?
Lewis Carroll, in 1897, proposed this answer, "Because it can produce a few notes, though they are very flat; and it is 'never' put with the wrong end in front!" (raven, spelled backward, is nevar aka never...or as we like to say here at TT...never more!)