Here's what she had to say...
Are You Dreaming Up Characters, or Starring in Your Book?
As writers, we create not just great plots, but characters to star in those plots. We dress the characters, give them histories, anxieties, families, and dreams. But I think we sometimes insert a little more of ourselves into them than we realize. For instance, you’re eyeball deep in revisions and edits and you realize your heroine is…You. No wonder she felt so familiar. Is this writer’s therapy? Are we working out our childhood troubles and disillusions through our characters? Are we living through them, or just so enamored of ourselves that we are certain we must belong in a book? Well, I hope your life has been so exciting, but I suspect we’re just slipping into the familiar.
As I was writing the character of Bree Kirkland, heroine of Awaken the Highland Warrior, which will be released in May 2011, I realized that Bree bore some distinct traits that I either have or want to have. Bree is a quirky historian. Not boring and stuffy, but kind of Indiana Jones-ish. Okay, that’s not me, but I wish it was. She’s clumsy--that is me--and she’s always felt a little different than the other girls. Hmmm, maybe me. Of course, this is because she’s been destined to do something very unusual. She has to wake the Highland Warrior who’s been sleeping in the crypt behind her house for over a hundred fifty years, and of course he’s gorgeous. Yes! I want it to be me! But wait…there are demons to fight. Never mind. No matter how gorgeous the warrior is. I’ll write the story; let her live it.
Writing what you know and love is a good thing, but as writers we need to stretch our imaginations and enlarge our boundaries beyond our own experiences. I think that can happen in many ways; watching people, movies, reading books, playing “what if” and sometimes through dreams, which is how this story began. In this dream, my car had broken down on a secluded road, and my young son and I were forced to go to this castle for help. A man opened the door and graciously invited us in and offered us lunch while we waited for a tow truck. We were eating, and I saw this look pass between the man and woman and my heart just died. The look was so evil, so full of anticipation. I knew we weren’t just going to die. We were going to be entertainment. I can’t explain the horror of that dream, knowing I had to get my son out before the man and woman realized that I knew we were in danger. I pretended to take my son to the bathroom so we could sneak out, and of course I woke up as we were trying to escape. The dream was so disturbing I tried to go back to sleep so I could successfully escape, but no luck. That dream stuck with me for days and the story was born. It’s changed some, doesn’t have the broken-down car or my son, but I still have the castle and the evil man hiding behind a pleasant face. No, he’s not me.
The series is about a secret clan of warriors, appointed by the Michael the Archangel, sent to protect humans from demons hiding among us. The heroes are tough, powerful and delicious, and the heroines are spunky, fun and keep the heroes in line. This first story, Awaken the Highland Warrior, is the book of my heart. The characters and the plot just came alive for me, and I hope I kept a bit of me in my heroine, but not too much, because it’s her story, not mine. Using our experiences, the first-hand knowledge can be wonderful if we don’t limit our characters to our experiences. So, if you feel like your story or character is in a rut, close your eyes, and perhaps you can light them up with a dream.
A Note from the Book Boost: Geez, that dream scares me! Waaah! This book sounds amazing and thank you for joining us to share your dreams with us. Please tell us more about your book that is coming soon!
Since the beginning of time, a clan of warriors has walked the earth, appointed by Michael the Archangel, their quest is to seek and destroy the demons that live disguised among us. These Scottish protectors rely on secrecy, as do the demons they battle. Only vague references in obscure long-ago writings give mention to these mysterious beings.
Following what she believes is a map, spunky historian Bree Kirkland discovers a Scottish warrior buried in a crypt behind her house. But the warrior isn’t dead. Bree soon realizes that there was no treasure, and she’s thrown into a world fraught with danger. Demons and castles, daggers and talismans, and friends who aren’t what they appear.
When this chauvinistic Scottish Warrior awakes, he has no choice but accept the help of this modern-day woman who’s rescued him, but she’s more fearsome than the demon trying to kill him. If he’s not careful, she’ll uncover every secret his clan has bled and died to protect.
Bree’s fingers tightened around the metal disk as she ran through the graveyard. She zigzagged past leaning headstones, some nothing but weather-beaten rocks shoved into the earth as memorials to long forgotten souls. Her lantern swayed, throwing shadows on the crypt looming before her, beckoning in the moonlight, its stone walls the color of bones. Thick vines crept over it, sealing in cracks left by time, while gnarled branches from the twisted oak hovered like outstretched arms. Protecting.
An owl screeched overhead, as she scurried up the crumbling steps, wishing night hadn’t fallen, when shadows twisted into monsters and spirits came out to play. The burial vault lay open near the back of the crypt. Waiting. Blood rushed past her ears, a loud fluttering sound, like all the angels’ wings beating in unison. She moved closer and peered at the chest inside. It was ornate, made of metal and wood, with green gemstones embedded in each corner. It looked ancient, like it belonged in a museum or a pyramid, or perhaps Solomon’s Temple. The beauty of it struck her again, as it had when she’d first discovered it.
She set the lantern on the edge of the burial vault and studied the markings on the chest. Swirls and shapes like writing, shifting in the amber glow. Stretching out a finger, she touched the surface. Warm? She yanked her hand back and hit the lantern. It crashed to the floor, throwing the top of the crypt into darkness. Dropping to her knees, she scrambled for the light. A sound cut through the silence. Scraping, like fingernails against stone. She grabbed the lantern, not daring to blink, then remembered the wind outside and the claw-like branches of the old tree.
She placed the lantern securely on the vault cover she’d pushed onto the alcove, and unfolded her hand. The metal disk she held was three inches in diameter and appeared to be made from the same metal as the chest. Not silver, not gold. One side had deep grooves, the other was etched with symbols. With trembling fingers, she lined up the disk with the matching grooves on top of the chest and pushed. There was a series of clicks as the notched edges retracted, and a voice rushed through her head.
What lies within cannot be until time has passed with the key.
Bree whirled, but she was alone. Only stone walls stood watch, their secrets hidden for centuries. It was sleep deprivation. Not ghosts.
She pulled in a slow, steadying breath and tried to turn the disk. Nothing. Again, this time counter-clockwise, and it began to move under her hand. She jerked her fingers back. A loud pop sounded and colors flashed…blue, orange and green, swirling for seconds, then they were gone. Great. Hallucinations to go with the voices in her head.
Her body trembled as she gripped the lid. This was it. All her dreams held on a single pinpoint of time. If this ended up another wild goose chase, she was done. No more treasure hunts, no more mysteries, no more playing Indiana Jones. She’d settle down to a nice, ordinary, boring life. She counted…
She heaved open the chest.
Terror clawed its way to her throat, killing her scream.
Want More Anita?
Anita Clenney grew up an avid reader, devouring Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books before moving on to mysteries and romance. After working as a secretary, a Realtor, teacher’s assistant, booking agent for Aztec Fire Dancers, and a brief stint in a pickle factory (picture Lucy and Ethel--lasted half a day)…she realized she'd missed the fork in the road that led to her destiny. She backtracked and started sprinting to catch up, spilling her heart and soul onto the page.
Now her dream has become a reality and she writes Paranormal Romantic Suspense about Secret Warriors, Ancient Evil and Destined Love. The first book in the series, Awaken the Highland Warrior, will be released May 2011. Anita lives in Virginia with her hero/husband and two kids, where they are slaves to a white Boxer named Lily. You can learn more about Anita and her writing at www.anitaclenney.com.