Welcome Suspense Bestseller: Anna DeStefano

Anna DeStefano

Remembering will save her life. But will the truth destroy their love forever?

 Shaw Cassidy’s nightmares are shredding her sanity. Her global empire, her freedom from federal prosecution for espionage, and her life are all on the line. Long-ago secrets of love and betrayal swirl like living fore through her dreams until she doesn’t know whom she can trust, or who is out to hurt her.

 Federal Marshal Cole Marino has one mission: infiltrate his former lover’s mountain retreat and force her to remember the shooting that triggered her amnesia.

 But when Shaw questions Cole’s motives, and his lies are revealed, will the connection they’ve begun to forge be torn apart, or will the soul-deep bond they once hadsave them both and crash through Shaw’s amnesia, once and for all?  Her Forgotten Betrayal.

Don’t miss this sexy, psychological thriller!

 Best-selling, award-winning author Anna DeStefano wants to you stop, look, and keep digging, until you find the soul of your own fantasies.

Her latest release, Her Forgotten Betrayal, one of the launch books for Entangled Publishing’s Dead Sexy romantic suspense line, is a psychological thriller she hopes will creep you out (she’s really playing up the Gothic imagery and spooky nightmares with this one).

But she’s also dying (heh) to inspire you with another of the happily-ever-after romance ending she’s famous for. No matter how moody the setting or impossible the dilemma, Anna’s characters and stories challenge you to hope and dream for your own exciting future, the way her strong heroines and hunky heroes do!

Read on for the answers to some of the frequently asked questions about Her Forgotten Betrayal and Anna’s unique approach to story telling. For more, follow Anna to her blog (http://www.annawrites.com/blog), which she updates several times a week on a range of topics such as The Soul of the Matter, Dream Theories, How We Write, and Things My Teenager Says.

WELCOME ANNA! Your backlist has been described as genre-bending. Do you see yourself as a writer who works “outside the box,” and is this a conscious choice you’re making for your career?

 I don’t remember making the choice to push boundaries, but I don’t think I’ve ever written a story that didn’t challenge the limits of whatever line or genre I’ve written for. I’ve won a lot of awards for my Harlequin novels. But I’ve always tended to write edgy and darker characters, often with heavy backstories, even when I wrote for the lighter Superromance “home and family” line.  I’m always searching for the emotional heart of a story, wherever that takes me.

 For example, in my very first novel, The Unknown Daughter, my heroine is terminally ill throughout the entire book. Of course she gets her happily-ever-after “cure” (this is category romance). But she’s sick the entire book…she’s so NOT your average Harlequin heroine. Oh, and that was “accidentally” my first suspense novel, too—again, in a home and family line. And it won a Gold Medal review from RT, and my first RT Reviewers Choice Award. Who knew “outside the box” was going to be my happy place from then on?

 Even my first foray into paranormal romance (my Legacy series), turned out to be more of a thriller series, and most definitely more science fiction than urban fantasy or paranormal romance. I love the science behind the metaphysics and parapsychology that Dark Legacy and Secret Legacy are based on. As I wrote, I simply couldn’t push those elements (especially the dream theory) to the background.

 So, I guess I write what inspires and motivates and challenges me, whatever genre I happen to be writing in, and hope that my readers join me for the ride.

 In Her Forgotten Betrayal, your heroine, Shaw Cassidy, battles debilitating nightmares that she has to get to the bottom of to survive. You write a lot about dreams. What fascinates you most about them?

Dreams… Where do I begin with my fascination about dreams? My agent asks every once in a while when I’m going to stop writing stories where dreams are a key theme. Not that she wants me to, really, but dreams have clearly become a running inspiration for me. My answer is usually—never ;o) I even blog most every week about dream theory. It’s been a fascination for me my entire life. That was the impetus for creating my Legacy, metaphysical fantasy world that explores the science behind dreaming.

 For my contemporary romances, my “every day” stories, dreams take on an even more powerful purpose, than in my novels where people have supernatural powers. Our everyday dreams are our minds working for us, at the subconscious level. Whether we’re sleeping or awake, our dreams talk to us about the true purpose and meaning and desires of our lives. I like to see them as the very best and worst of who we are, and I think it’s important to pay as close attention to them as we can.

 To me, honoring our dreams is another way to slow down and look deeply and really see our reality. Focusing on dreams (or any small moment of our lives), helps us process and choose. We then get to move forward a bit more deliberately. In Shaw Cassidy’s case in Her Forgotten Betrayal, her dreams are telling her exactly who her villain really is, and just how important her forgotten childhood lover (our hero, Cole Marinos) can be to not only her survival, but also the thriving, loving, magnificent future waiting for her, is she can grow and make the difficult emotional choices she’s been running from her entire life. See. Aren’t dreams lovely?

 Your heroine has amnesia through most of this novel. Is this the first of your heroines to suffer from forgetting who and what she is?

 Actually, in To Protect the Child (part of my Atlanta Heroes series for Harlequin Superromance), my deep cover operative heroine wakes with amnesia and no recollection of what she was doing on her latest mission and how important it is for her to return to it, before a little girl’s life is destroyed.

 I guess a key difference between that story and Her Forgotten Betrayal, is that my Dead Sexy launch is a psychological thriller. I’ve written fast-paced procedurals before, and loved those novels. But I wanted to do a gothic, creepy, isolated-on-the-top-of-a-winter-mountain-at-night kind of contemporary romance this time. Shaw Cassidy has been injured, but she doesn’t remember anything (except the faceless man in her dreams). Her first memories begin to return when a dangerous stranger shows up, and she has to decide whether he’s the faceless man, or a hero from her past who can help her. Her Forgotten Betrayal is just as fast-paced as my procedurals, but Shaw’s battles are mostly in her mind, and in her relationship with Cole Marinos, her hero. She’s not battling the villain himself until the very end—and it takes her the entire story to fight her nightmares and psychological demons so that she’s ready to beat the bad guy that’s been messing with her mind, at his own game. Bwahahahaha

 Your stories tend to span short periods of time, particularly your thrillers. Is this to enhance the pacing of the plot?

 I think the one running theme through all my novels has been the drive to stop and look at the world and a character as closely as I can. As a commercial fiction writer, I’m also hoping the reader is entertained and finding the story impossible to put down. But I want to take our romance journey together to a deeper level. In the midst of the action of each of my novels, I’m doing my best to deliver characters with complex backstories and multi-layered motivation. I want my readers to have a flawed but admirable heroine and hero to journey with. I want you to feel what my characters feel in each scene, as if you were living through that moment with them

 I love making that happen by writing novels with short time spans. Not only for the pacing—though, you certainly have to keep your plotting tight in order to pull something like Her Forgotten Betrayal off, where I was working with less than a 48 hour window for the heroine to believably realize she’s being stalked, have nightmares that will either drive her insane or help her regain her memory, meet the hero, wonder if this stranger is her “bad guy,” learn to trust him, fall in love with him, remember their tragic past, of COURSE then think he’s betrayed her (see, it’s a romance, really it is ;o), only to have to face the villain with him at the end, in the story’s black moment and resolution.

 Which sounds like a lot to accomplish in sixty-thousand words and less than two days of on-page time. But actually, limiting the time frame gives me the chance to slow moments down, those important relationship moments as well as the ones where Shaw must grow as a character or she’ll never succeed, so that the reader really lives them with the heroine. If I were trying to cover the passage of more time with the number of pages allotted to me, I’d have to move on more quickly, more externally, and I think some of the richness of this type of story would be missed.

 You write a lot of “returning home” stories, as well as second chances at love. What about these themes drives your imagination?

 My first title (and I never get to keep my titles), actually the novel that won the Golden Heart and was later re-titled for Harlequin Superromance, was Forever Ago. It’s a play on words that resonates with me even today. I’ll write a book with that title one day. I’m determined.

 What this and my “coming home” and “second chance” stories say to me is that you have to go back and work through the things in your past that you’ve shoved down or shouldered aside. At some point, if you want to move forward and really live the rest of your life, instead of merely fighting and existing and getting through one day at a time, you have to conquer the things you weren’t able to face when you were younger.

 My characters tend to get their happily-ever-after forever, because they finally take on the conflicts of long ago, and conquer what still needs to be resolved. It’s the same with second chances at love. I’m mesmerized by stories where couples who didn’t make it with their soul mate in the past, find the courage to face one another and their combined issues once more, stronger and with newer insight, and find a way to finally make their dreams a reality together. What could be better than that? Sigh… You’re going to DIE for Shaw and Cole’s amazing ending!

 Imagery and setting seem like an important part of Her Forgotten Betrayal. What led you to choose a gothic backdrop for your latest suspense novel?

 I’ve fallen in love with Gothic imagery, since long before I wrote my first Legacy book. I’m more of a Bronte girl, than an Austen girl ;o) Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights… These are novels that read and re-read every year.

 With Her Forgotten Betrayal, I not only got to explore this fascination within the context of a contemporary romance, but I LOVED how I was able to incorporate Shaw Cassidy’s creepy mansion and the winter weather and the darkness of the surrounding woods and so forth, as another character in the book. All of it becomes a very real threat to our heroine. Is Shaw imagining what’s happening to her? Is her mind becoming unhinged by her nightmares, so she’s seeing and hearing things that aren’t there? Is someone after her, or is she actually hurting herself in her isolated mansion? How can she possibly know the difference? That is until our hero shows up. But is he part of the spooky landscape that she can’t trust, or is he really there to help her???! Dun-dun-dunnnn! LOL!

 Playing with symbol and imagery has become one of my favorite things in novel writing. I’m even now pinning images from my stories and my personal journeys up on Pinterest. Just look for Anna DeStefano (http://pinterest.com/annadestefano/) ;o) Check out Her Forgotten Betrayal’s board, where she’ll be posting blog tour updates and other surprises.

 Thank you for being here today, Anna! Check out Anna’s other recent titles when you have a chance, including the July 1st Harlequin Heartwarming, A Sweetbrook Family, and  October Montlake release (the first in her women’s fiction/contemporary romance series) Christmas on Mimosa Lane.

From Anna: I’d love to hear your thoughts and questions, your dreams and what you love best about suspense or any other type of romance you read. Sound off in the comments for your chance to win a free digital copy of Her Forgotten Betrayal!

About Sarah Andre

Romantic Suspense That Keeps You Up All Night! I live in sunny FL, love daydreaming, reading and chocolate. I write in the wee hours of the morning before my helpless hubby and 2 male Pomeranian pups awaken with their demands. :) My debut LOCKED, LOADED and LYING is available now.

Posted on July 17, 2012, in Author Interview, Author Spotlight, Sarah Andre and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 31 Comments.

  1. Welcome to Kiss and Thrill, Anna!
    I’m all about the symbolic meanings of dreams and that deja vue (sp) sense that you’ve experienced this moment before. (And as a teen my passion was astrology signs defining characteristics of people.)

    Was it difficult to write an amnesia character all the way through? I hit so many brick walls in my story that my character has a miraculous recovery in Chapter 2 so my plot wouldn’t sink like the Titanic!

  2. Welcome, Anna! I love gothic romances and still re-read Victoria Holt and Mary Stewart. And I can’t wait to find out how you wove together elements of thrillers and gothics. Congratulations on your newest release!

  3. Anna: I was interested to see that you’ve written a terminally ill heroine. I’ve had an idea for one floating around in my head for a while, but I’m not sure how to handle it without making the happy ending seem too contrived.

    I think what I love about suspense is the heightened sense of stakes that brings the couple together. Gothic romances just push that to the limit.

    Thanks for being with us today!

  4. I love romantic suspense. The nail biting, hold your breath, cant put it down book is perfect when you add romance to it. I love a HEA, but want excitement to go along with it. When I was just starting to read romance books i was IN LOVE with gothic themes. So dark and kinda creepy. I will definately check out your back list. But I would love to win a copy of your book. I have read another book in the Dead Sexy series by Entangled Publishing and I liked it. Will definately keep checking out what they issue. Thanks for the giveaway.

  5. Hi Anna,
    I love the “beating the odds and/or the bad guys” part of suspense. Your latest book sounds like a great read–in the dead of summer, with all the lights on and my husband beside me!:) I like suspense and thrillers, but the whole “Gothic,” aspect sounds like it would give ME nightmares:) Congratulations on the release and great, in-depth interview.

    • Welcome and thanks for commenting PM!

      I’m OK reading thrillers and Gothic themed novels…it’s scary TV and movies that give me nightmares.

  6. Great interview. Anna is a new author for me. I love to read and always looking for new authors. This book looks great. Thanks for the great giveaway.

  7. Hey everyone!

    Jumping online and thrilled to see everyone’s comments ;o)

    Sarah–it can be difficult to write an amnesiac heroine, but I’ve done it twice now and loved every bit of the challenge. To Save A Child (one of my Superromances) is actually the closest to a thriller that I’ve written in contemporary romance. I think the key is in the puzzle–how do you show what you need to to the reader, while keeping the heroine in the dark… Like I said, fun! For me it was a matter of only telling back story when it’s absolutely needed, and then filtering that in through secondary characters by finding organic ways to reveal without “telling” what’s happened and what’s going on.

  8. Terrific interview! Heading to Amazon now to do some downloading.

  9. Gwen and Sharon–the gothic is so cool, isn’t it? And you’re right, a terminally ill heroine ups the stakes like nothing else can. I LOVE stories that take us down to the very base of human nature and shows a bit of reality in the midst of our happily ever after escapes. Of course, since it’s a romance we know that all’s going to be well in the end, but having that difficult journey to navigate makes the experience so much more satisfying, IMHO!

  10. Trish and PM–yep, it’s the “things that go bump in the night” that made Her Forgotten Betrayal such a joy to write. I scared myself a few times, and that hasn’t happened since I finished my last sci-fi/fantasy title. I LOVE IT when that happens!

  11. Chris and Lark–thanks for letting me know you enjoyed the interview ;o) Hope you get a chance to fall in love with HFB, too.

    If you do, everyone please let me know what you think either through email, social media or by leaving a review. I love to hear from readers, as I write into my next projects!

  12. Anna and Sarah, great interview!

    Anna I was wondering how you write an amnesia character without it getting too cliche — something I know you’ve managed very well here. What is your secret to dealing with these kind of tricky tropes?

  13. Petula Winmill

    Great interview. I prefer the darker romances .I also believe everybody has at least one demon to battle in their life. That demon can come in many different forms ,illness ,death of loved ones or the more direct ones like violence. Once we have battled that demon and
    come out the other side
    We are stronger than ever.

    • I agree, Petula, although I call it an addiction. Most of us are addicted to something that’s not healthy for us physically, mentally or spiritually.

  14. Hi, Anna. This sounds like an amazing read. I love different and unusual elements added to romantic suspense, and this sounds like it fits that. Can’t wait to read.

  15. I (thankfully) have pretty standard dreams about everyday stuff (chiefly lab)… though I do wish I had dreams where my doctoral dissertation wrote itself! That’d be legend– especially if I woke up to those dreams having come true :).

    I’m all about romantic suspense… I love the HEA, but the more torturous/windy the route to get to it, the better! Nothing keeps me turning pages faster than wondering what’s going to happen next!

  16. Hi Anna, are you using symbols in your dream sequences to give the readers clues while keeping the heroine in the dark? One of my favorite parts of RS stories is the resourcefulness and resilience of the protagonists–even when all seems lost. Thanks for spending time with us today!

  17. Hi Anna! Thank you so much for joining us today! I have no idea why I love a dark story, but I truly do! Like Sarah, I can’t handle a scary a movie, so it’s a puzzle! Congrats on the new release and thank you again for being here.

    Awesome job, Sarah!

  18. Diana–

    I think the cliche would happen if all you focus on with amnesia is that someone’s forgotten “things,” you know? With Shaw in Her Forgotten Betrayal, she’s forgotten her life and the people she knew (only she’s discovering she din’t really have a life and not so much with the people, either). So she ends up “remembering” what she wanted her life to be, before the actual details of what’s happened to her and so forth come back.

    And how she remembers is key–by connecting with someone from her distant past (before she lost her connection with “living”). Nothing else has jarred her memories free. Nothing from the here and now. I wonder why???

    See–not so cliche. Make it about the people and their goals and how they interact with each othe and the core conflicts of the characters, and even amnesia can be new again ;o)

  19. Rachel and Petula… I think you’ve just described me as a writer ;o) Different and Dark. Bwahahahaha!!!

  20. Krista, there are TONS of symbols in all my dream books. More so in my sci-fi/fantasy “Legacy” series. Even the images on the covers of those books are dream symbols ;o)

    But in Her Forgotten Betrayal, be on the look out for fire and the faceless man and shadows and color and the theme of running… All important stuff to Show Shaw what she needs most to see!

  21. Sarah and Carey– I don’t like scary movies either. And I’m a pretty upbeat and funny person, you know, in person. But when I sit down to write, for some reasong this is what comes out. Go figure…

    Hope you get a chance to enjoy HFB’s darkness a bit. If you do, be sure to let me know what you think!

  22. Very nice interview. I like the happily every after. The book sounds good.

  23. Thank you so much for being here, Anna! We enjoyed getting to know you and look forward to hosting you again.

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