With: Shannon McKenna
• Who would you like to meet in person? (Living or deceased)
This is very, very hard, but since I’m in the vibe of pondering romance hero types, I think I’ll settle with Federico II, Holy Roman Emperor of all of southern Europe in the 1200's. He ruled Italy, Germany, Burgundy, and had ambitions well beyond that. Fascinating man, brilliant, sexy, energetic, innovative, spoke six languages, (Latin, Sicilian, German, French, Greek and Arabic) was incredibly cultured and strong willed and classy, made Sicily a center of culture, bringing in poets and mathematicians from the Arab world. He drove popes absolutely crazy with frustration because they just could not control him, and he was excommunicated four different times, but he just blew it off and kept on doing his thing. A modern historian called him “stupor mundi,” the wonder of the world. I would just LOVE to see what that guy was like in person. But I would probably be tongue-tied and stammering, even if I did speak one of those many languages. Which I don’t, but whatever. I know how to suspend disbelief. And if I can magically travel to the twelve hundreds, I can magically speak Latin, too.
• What is your dream vacation?
Oh God, there are so many things I’d love to do that I haven’t had time for, or life hasn’t permitted for one reason or another. I don’t even know how to begin. A lot of it depends on my energy level! My sister went trekking in the Himalayas twenty years ago, and I was so jealous I could spit, but I never got it together to go myself. And there are all the other ones that involve huge physical effort, like hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. I want to go to the Andes, and see the wonders of the Incas. I want to go to the Galapagos Islands for the crazy animals, and to Antarctica, for the penguins, though I’m told the eco tourism is hurting them, which is a huge bummer and kind of takes the fun out of the idea. I have a friend who is going to see an elephant orphanage in Africa. Wow. And then there are all the fabulous works of art and architecture still to see. I still haven’t even been to the freaking Louvre museum! It’s a disgrace!
Then, with my kids, I want to see all the stunning desert panoramas of the American Southwest, like Antelope Canyon, Monument National Park, etc, etc.! Route 66, the Grand Canyon. I don't care if it's been done before.
And after having said all that, about nature and art? I am so incredibly hungry for brain candy. I would love to go to the multiplex cinema of my dreams, and just binge for three weeks on movies. Four or five of them a day, all the genres imaginable, broken up only by amazing meals and an occasional bracing walk just to get the kinks out. Heaven.
And books, too. How about a quiet cabin, deep in a pine and cedar wood, completely snowed in, but with plenty of supplies. No internet, no phone. The weather bad enough so that I don’t have to feel guilty about cuddling into a deep chair and just reading, dozens of books. Meals that magically appear. Dishes that magically wash themselves. An occasional leisurely candlight bath, still reading, of course. Books, books, books.
Wow, I had no idea that was one of my dream vacations, until you asked.
• Preference - Chocolate or mashed potatoes?
You have got to be kidding me. I cannot reduce anything so profoundly important to an either/or! Life is full of shadings and delicate tints, and everything depends on the details! After all, are the potatoes new, freshly dug, preferably pink-skinned or golden? Do they have that sweet velvety texture that only fresh potatoes do? Are they mashed with a dash of heavy cream, a hint of nutmeg, a little seasalt? Is gravy on the horizon, or failing that, maybe some melted cheese? And if you want to talk about chocolate, let’s get real, and let’s get specific. What is the hazelnut situation? Are we talking deep, dark fondente? Is it melted, and hot, over ice cream? Is it surrounding caramel, or raspberry cream? Is there some kind of tangy citrusy goo involved? Is there any possibility of, say, a nougat or toffee combo? Cinnamon? Hot red pepper? Orange peel? Alcohol? Chocolate or mashed potatoes, indeed! These diabolical binary questions are calculated to blow all my circuits! Let’s just put them both on the menu and be done with it.
IN FOR THE KILL
Book Eleven in The McCloud Series
Years ago, the McClouds and their friends rescued little Sveti Ardova from ruthless organ traffickers. Now she’s all grown up, and getting into some scorching trouble of her own . . .
The risks ex-cop Sam Petrie has taken have turned his life into a train wreck. So he has nothing to lose by doubling down as the elusive Svetlana Ardova’s unwanted bodyguard on her ill-advised trip to Italy. Her crusade against modern slavery has blazoned a bullseye on her chest, but when one of the death threats against her almost hits the mark, Sam’s protective instincts go into overdrive. Every lethal obstacle and trap they encounter ups the stakes—and the undeniable heat between them.
Now they’re spiraling in on a deadly and explosive secret—one that could either redeem them or destroy them … and the closer they get, the shorter the fuse …
About Shannon:I started writing my first romance novel in secret. I was working a temp job in Manhattan at the time, supporting my music habit (details on that secret double life here) and even if there was nothing for me to do, I still had to look busy. But I hated wasting time, and I needed to round out my singing career. Most artists choose a practical Plan B to back up their improbable Plan A. Not me. "Long Shot" is my middle name.
So I set up a Document 2 with a fierce looking spreadsheet on it. If the boss du jour walked by, I switched screens. When the coast was clear, I went back to my story. One stern fact I learned from that experience is that you need more than just stolen crumbs of time and attention to make the magic happen. I also learned that every little crumb helps. Life is full of these little contradictions.
It wasn't until I moved to southern Italy (details of that long shot here) that I was really able throw my weight behind the writing. There I was, not a word of Italian, no job, no clue, just long, quiet days alone with nothing to do and no excuses. I finally slogged my way to the end of the short category romance that I’d been dinking around with for years. Kensington accepted it, bless them, and I had my start. I wrote four more category romances for that line before I got the chance for a place in an anthology of erotic novellas for the new Brava imprint. Then came my first single title novel, Behind Closed Doors—and my writing career took off.
Years have gone by, and I still can't think of anything I'd rather do. I never knew it would be so hard... the silence, the blank screen, no one to blame. But it's worth it. I can do this work I love only because of all of you wonderful readers. So thank you.