Clandestine, Book 1
Imprint: Dead Sexy
Remembering will save her life. But will the truth destroy their love forever?
His mission orders: Infiltrate an FBI suspect’s mountain retreat and obtain evidence of her guilt.
Her doctor’s orders: Recuperate from a vicious shooting, and end her waking nightmares.
What he doesn’t know: Is she guilty, innocent, or crazy? Can she ever forgive his past betrayal?
What she doesn’t know: Anything about herself or her life before the attack…or if she can even trust the man with whom she is falling in love.
“Esme?” She raised a hand to cover her heart.
She was scaring herself senseless for nothing. She was going stir crazy, that was all. She’d simply been alone for too long. The unexplained rattles and noises and sometimes even voices she kept thinking she heard were symptoms of cabin fever. Right?
The house answered her with silence, except for the soft hum of the refrigerator. She took an uncertain step forward, determined to conquer her fear. There was no one there, she told herself firmly. No one was ever there. There was no threat, except from her own panic. All she had to do was turn on the dining room lights, and there’d be no one lurking around the next corner, waiting to attack her.
She reached for the door.
“Sorry, Shaw,” the faceless, scratchy-voiced man whispered from her nightmare. She clenched her hands into fists, her nails digging into her palms.
“Don't be such a baby,” she said out loud. “Stop this.”
Fear and the amnesia it fed had stolen everything from her. She had no recollection of the four high-tech research centers she was said to oversee. Or how she’d come to be the sole living heir to an estate that included not only this mountain house near the North Carolina border, once used by her family as a summer retreat, but also a loft in Atlanta and homes on several other continents. And to add insult to injury, no one had yet been allowed to tell her more. Doctors orders.
She wanted her life back, damn it. She smoothed her hand against the dining room door, and braced herself to push it open. She could do this. She had to.
Sudden darkness swallowed the kitchen.
Her thoughts were immediately swamped with the panicked claustrophobia of being trapped in a closet, waiting to be discovered.
“No.” She blinked, willing the lights to come back on. Her imagination was merely playing tricks on her, anticipating the worst.
But regardless of how many times she tried to force the room into focus, there was nothing to see. Someone had killed the power for real. Her nightmare was coming true. It was waiting for her in the very next room.
She backed away.
Fell over one of the kitchen chairs.
Landed hard on her backside.
“There's no one there,” she insisted. “The electricity's gone out. That's all.”
Something else crashed in the dining room, followed by the distinct sound of a man's footsteps, inching closer. She covered her mouth with her hand. She scrambled backwards on the floor, her nightgown and robe twisting around her legs. Disjointed dream memories swirled through her mind. She lurched to her feet. She felt her way along the wall, blindly heading for the storage room and its back door to the outside world. She was a fool, a weak, clueless fool. But she couldn't stop herself from panicking.
“Kill the bitch...” the night whispered.
She clawed at the back door's stubborn deadbolt. A glimmer of sanity kept her from running into the freezing, moonlit darkness. If she really was in danger, heaven only knew what waited for her outside the mansion’s protection. And there was suddenly nothing but silence behind her, no movement whatsoever.
She tried to believe this was just like all the other times when she’d freaked herself out and then realized how ridiculous she’d been. She was running from ghosts. She tensed to turn back, to confront her paranoia. And heard footsteps again. Closer than before. Behind her. Coming for her. And there she stood like a paralyzed idiot, trapped between the shadows beyond her family's home and the nightmare crowding closer within.
A hand clenched in her hair. A gun pressed into her skin. When it fired, the sound of the blast shattered her reality all over again.
Anna: There are so many, how much time do you have?
My absolute favorites in contemporary romance have to be Linda Howard and Suzanne Brockmann—both their earlier series work for Harlequin and their mainstream novels. Both rock characters like nobody’s business—I’m a character-driven writer and reader, and these women draw you in with the very first scene. I’ve heard both teach. I’ve read and re-read everything they’ve ever written. I’ve even had the chance to talk with them both in person, and they’re brilliant women I’d love to get to know better—in a totally non-stalkerish way.
Ali: If you could co-write with another author who would it be and why?
Anna: I wouldn’t, actually. I’ve heard too many horror stories from authors who’ve liked each other and respected each other’s work and who’ve decided to try writing together, only to have their professional and personal relationships permanently damaged by the experience. I totally believe in the power of a good critique group and skilled editing, but co-writing/collaborating is a totally different kind of hell.
Honestly, each writer’s mind works in its own unique way. It makes my brain hurt trying to figure out how I write sometimes. I can’t imagine how difficult it would be to navigate someone else’s creative process, make a place for your own in the middle of his/her neuroses, and then find the time to investigate traceless methods for offing your writing partner when the pressure’s on and you simply can’t hear another word from him/her without needing to do violence! Eh hem.
Ali: The world is under attack and you are forced to run for your life. You only have room for one book in your survival kit, what book do you take?
Anna: Wuthering Heights. I read it at least once a year. Don’t ask me why. I’m a dark and stormy girl, and there’s something about not just the language, but the idea of love being so powerful and magnificent and all-consuming it can drive someone to madness and transcend even death. It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy every time I dive in.
Ali: Who are your favorite literary characters? (Yours or someone else's)
Anna: Well, damn. No pressure… I thought you said this was going to be simple interview.
Ali: If your friends were asked to describe you in one word what would it be?
Ali: Where do you do your best work?
Anna: Wherever I feel energy flowing. I’m a nomadic writer. Sometimes in my house, but never in the same room two days in a row—though I always do detailed revision work in my office using my huge monitor. Sometimes in a library or even a busy mall foodcourt, when having the steady hum of others around revs me up. Sometimes in the mountains at a favorite bed and breakfast that I love, near waterfalls and nature that I can hike in all day if I need exhaustion to settle me down so I can focus.
Long car rides are a favorite. My husband loves to drive, and I’ve planned, drafted and edited some of my favorite novels riding shotgun and creating all day with absolutely nothing to distract me.
Ali: Do you find it harder to write a full-length novel or novellas?
Anna: I actually follow the same process for both. Planning the characters first, exploring how I’ll arc them through the story’s turning points. Then fleshing out the high-level external arc of the story. Drafting the entire thing. Then rewriting like a maniac. I tend to be a longer writer, so I’ve published more full-length novels. But I love all the stories I’ve created.
Novellas are just shorter—which can make the plotting a little trickier and force you to write tighter if you want to give the reader a complex, juicy read. But the narrowed focus also makes planning and rewriting more fun. It’s like a puzzle, where you have to figure out how to fit in all the pieces, and I’m a girl who likes herself a challenge.
Ali: When did you fall in love...with writing?
Anna:Fifth grade. I’d been reading a book a week for like my entire life and had already fallen in love with story as a living, breathing thing in my life.
We had to divide up into groups to do social studies projects and decide how we were going to present our research paper to the class. My group decided we were going to perform a play, and I volunteered to write it. I wrote the thing in an afternoon and then rewrote it a dozen times over the next week, driving everyone crazy with new versions of the script every day.
I think I still have a copy of the thing around here somewhere. I’m certain it could use a final polish.
Ali: Are you a plotter or fly by the seat of your pants writer?
Anna: I’m a draft writer. I plan as much as I can ahead of time (again, focusing more on character development initially than external plot, though I have a bare bones idea of how I’m going to get everybody from Point A to Point B). Then I draft the full novel from beginning to end, dirty and ugly with all its naked flaws dangling all over the place. Then I come back and do anywhere between 5 to 10 revision passes through the manuscript, working on different things each pass, before I turn the “first” draft over to an editor.
For me, drafting is part of my discovery process. But I’m not a full-on pantser. I have a plan before I begin to write, though I never really know how I’m going to get my characters in and out of the things I have in mind for them, until I actually begin to craft their scenes. Then all bets are off, I have to trust my instincts and character research, and know that I can come back and revise the heck out of anything.
Ali: What is your favorite thing to do outside of writing?
Anna: Heh. Now, I’m a southern girl and my mama told me it wasn’t polite to talk about things like that in public.
Favorite food: Dark, DarkER, DARKEST Chocolate
Boots or heels: Boots with killer heels ;o)
eReader or Print: Yes
Social Media: Love it or Hate? LOVE
Beer, Liquor or Wine: Wine, as long as there’s some Grey Goose in the freezer for deadlines.
Favorite place to get it on besides the bedroom: Outdoors, on an interior hike miles away from anyone and anything, in the middle of a world so beautiful you can’t help but get busy. Preferably near a waterfall. Not that I’ve ever done that sort of thing.
Favorite TV Show: Currently? Gossip Girl. Don’t hate me.
Favorite Book series (besides your own): Of all times? Mary Stewart’s Merlin Trilogy: The Crystal Cave, The Hollow Hills, and The Last Enchantment.
Pj’s or Lingerie: Yes.
Vampires vs. Shifters: Vamps. Things with fur and feathers and scales are meant to be trusty companions, not lovers.
Favorite Genre: Fiction.
Entangled Publishing has graciously offered an ecopy of HER FORGOTTEN BETRAYAL by Anna DeStefano to one lucky commenter!!
We're turning the tables on the Simply Ali readers today :)
Anna is going to be around answering questions throughout the day and she wants to know what the Simply Ali reader's answers would be to some of our signature interview questions. She is excited to hear what everyone has to say and to answer any questions you may have for her.
Every reader that answers two questions from the list below is automatically entered in today's giveaway for a copy of HER FORGOTTEN BETRAYAL! Those of you who also ask a super cool question of your own will receive an extra entry into the Simply Ali Reader Love Monthly Giveaway! YAY!
Here are your questions to pick from... *The world is under attack and you are forced to run for your life. You only have room for one book in your survival kit, what book do you take?
*If your friends were asked to describe you in one word what would it be?
*Favorite place to get it on besides the bedroom:
*Favorite TV Show
Contest Open Internationally Contest closes @ Midnight on June 30th
Also Dead Sexy Books is giving away a Nook Simple Touch to celebrate the launch of their new line!!