03 July 2011

Guest Blog: Denise A. Agnew

This week, we're welcoming romantic novelist, Denise A. Agnew, as she celebrates the release of her latest novel, BEFORE THE DAWN, available in e-book format from Samhain Publishing, Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Please leave your comment to enter and win a free copy of the novel! Here's the blurb:

A hot Irish accent mixed with high adventure may cause combustion. Beware of falling for this hunk. The heroine says he’s hers.
A fallen woman must decide to stay down, or rise and fight…

Elijah McKinnon has been found innocent of a heinous murder, but it doesn’t erase the hellish years in prison he endured. He boards the train to Pittsburgh a changed man, certain he will never feel free until he’s wreaked revenge on the brother who ruined his life.

The passenger who catches his eye is intriguing, but he’s seen her kind before. The kind who puts on airs—and looks down on Irishmen. Still, he can’t seem to stop himself from stepping between her and a pack of ruthless cads.

Mary Jane Lawson is grateful for the handsome stranger’s help, but her journey has a higher purpose: to rise above her shattered reputation and declare her independence, come flood or famine. Propriety says she should refuse Elijah’s suggestion they pose as husband and wife—for her own protection, of course. Her practical side says it won’t hurt to pretend, just this once.

Come nightfall, though, their little charade must be carried all the way to shared sleeping quarters, where their vulnerabilities become painfully clear. And when danger past and present threatens, trusting each other becomes a matter of life and death.


You enjoy writing in a wide variety of subgenres including romantic suspense, historical, paranormal, erotic, fantasy and contemporary. You also enjoy writing historicals in diverse time periods not often seen in today’s market. Why do you write all these different subgenres and time periods?

Call me a rebel. I never set out to write in all these different genres. When I first started writing with the idea of being published (way back in ’91) I followed all the so-called rules of what a romance author is supposed to do. That included sticking to one subgenre of romance and trying to brand myself as a “particular” type of author. I did that for a long time until I realized it wasn’t a good fit for me. Apparently I don’t do well with rules. Number one, if I have to write in one arena, say contemporary romance all the time, I might as well stop writing. My creativity just doesn’t flow that way. I’m a square peg and proud of it. I can’t be jammed into that round hole no matter how hard I try to make myself fit. Fortunately for me, I understand and accept that now. The only way I can personally be happy as a writer is create whatever blows my skirt up, whenever it blows my skirt up.

Before The Dawn is set in 1850 Pennsylvania and also features a different place for romance…a train trip. How did you make that work and why this time period?

One day I saw a show about Eastern State Penitentiary and the idea hit me. I would write a romance featuring a hero who’d been framed and incarcerated in one of the most notorious places in the world. I immediately started research on Eastern State, the conditions, the long history, the whole enchilada. I imagined what a man would have to endure and what type of person he could be when he left prison. A hero who could withstand five years of solitary confinement and come out sane would have to be one hell of a strong an. The heroine, of course, had to have significant issues of her own. She’s reeling from a scandal and feeling personal shame. She’s from a totally different background from the hero, so there’s natural friction. As for the trains, once I started researching them, I found it pretty fascinating.

You have an ear for accents. Many of your heroes are English, Irish and Scottish. How do you write these accents so realistically when you’re American?

I’m a good mimic, so I hear accents in my head and it’s easier for me to replicate them. I always have readers who speak with these accents read my work to make sure I’m not mucking up the accents. I was lucky enough to live in England three years, too. That helped with English accents.

The publishing world is changing rapidly. Where do you stand on all these changes?

Ebooks and self-publishing is here to stay and is a growing force in publishing. Perhaps because I’ve been epublished for over ten years, many of the massive changes we’ve seen lately don’t surprise me or disconcert me. I’m good at rolling with changes. I’ll be self-publishing some backlist and new content in the future. I plan to stay with my current epublishers on future projects as well. For my sanity I have to stick with what works for me and makes me happiest. Anything else is a killer. That’s my advice to other authors as well. What works for you? Do it and allow others to do what works for them.

Thank you, Denise. Please remember to leave your comment for a chance to win a free copy of DEFORE THE DAWN!


Karen Mercury said...

This sounds like an interesting setting--Pennsylvania!

Virginia C said...

Hello, Denise! I am a long-time fan of yours, and I am intrigued about your new historical romance release. Plus, you definitely had me at "hot Irish accent mixed with high adventure"--Whoo Hoo! Loved the excerpt!!!

No matter what their station in life may be, everyone has a story to tell. I am a voice and accent person. I am drawn to certain types of voices and pronunciations. For most of the past decade, I was a call-center customer service representative. I spoke with people from all over the world, and it was interesting to hear all the different vocal tones and turns of phrase. Many times, I wondered what their lives might be like. Have you ever watched a movie in which the most interesting and compelling character was not one of the leads, but one of the supporting players? It may be that the character is extremely well-written, but it may also be due to the skill of the actor. The actor may have a look, a presence, a voice, and a manner which all together convey much more than the limitations of the character’s life circumstances. A writer’s skill as a storyteller can bring such a character to life through words. Although those ”who don’t have” will always be fascinated by those “who do have”, life is much more flavorful when you dine from the smorgasbord rather than just the most select items on the menu : )

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Barbara E. said...

Before the Dawn sounds like an interesting story and the setting is intriguing. I'd love to read the story of the wronged hero who has endured years of punishment he didn't deserve and the independent, determined heroine. I can't wait to see how it all turns out.

Barbed1951 at aol dot com

ClaudiaGC said...

I love the idea that the story is taking place in a train. I think train rides are very romantic. They probably weren't for the people back then but thinking about riding in an old steam engine is quite fascinating to me. Everything goes a bit slower and not as hectic as in our days.
Good luck with Before The Dawn!

Jen B. said...

I was reading about the history of trains recently and I agree that it is fascinating. It really changed society. I don't know much about the peniteniary system in American in 1850. I can only imagine it was not like it is today. Thanks for the giveaway. I love reading historical romance.

StacieDM said...

Hello Denise!
I enjoyed the excerpt. I can imagine being accused of a crime you didn't commit would make you single-minded in your plot for revenge. I like that he might get a little distracted by the heroine. It's funny how that happens. LOL

I have traveled from London to Paris and from Rome to Venice on trains. It was a fun way to travel. I can see how a person could have a romantic interlude on a train. I'm a sucker for an Irish accent so I may have to fight the heroine for him.

Congratulations and good luck with the new release!

user1123 AT comcast DOT net

Denise A. Agnew said...

Hi Karen, thanks for stopping by. Pennsylvania is a pretty different setting!

Denise A. Agnew said...

Hi Virginia,
Thanks so much for stopping by. And thank you for your kind comments about the excerpt. :) I'm totally an accent person and like to mimic accents. And you're totally right that sometime the more distinctive secondary character is the one who stands out whether it is an accent or another characteristic about them. :)

Maria said...

Great post Lisa and Denise! I have this book so please don't count me in for the contest. I think it's great that you write in all different sort of genre's and I'm thrilled to hear that you will be doing some self publishing on your backlist! Yay!

Denise A. Agnew said...

Hi Barbara! Thanks so much for stopping by today! I think the hero has a very interesting and unique situation in Before The Dawn.

Denise A. Agnew said...

Hi Claudia,
And there is definitely some adventure off the train, too. :)

Thanks much for stopping by.

Denise A. Agnew said...

The penitentiary system was originally designed by the Americans with Benjamin Franklin and the Quakers wanting to reform the jail system as it was before then. Little did they know they made the situation as bad or worse...

Denise A. Agnew said...

Thanks so much for stopping by! I hope you enjoy the story. And yes, that hero is definitely distracted by the heroine. :)

Denise A. Agnew said...

Thank you for taking the time to stop by Maria! And thank you for already getting a copy of Before The Dawn. That is awesome!

Na said...

You had me at "Irish accent". I like the historical setting in Pennsylvania. For osme reason, it has always felt like a dark and brooding city and it sounds like a great setting for a tormented hero. Such a hero often make for emotional reads and I really connect with them.

Stunnig cover for Before the Dawn :)


Denise A. Agnew said...

Hi Na! And thanks for stopping by to say howdy! Irish accent certainly gets a lot of ladies interested in the story. :)

Denise A. Agnew said...

Hey everyone...very sorry to take so long to get back with you all tonight. The winner of a copy of BEFORE THE DAWN is Virginia! I'll email you. And thank you to everyone for stopping by to say hello and chat. A mega thank you again to Unusual Historicals for having me at the blog this week! You guys rock!

Virginia C said...

Thank you so much, Denise! I look forward to a terrific read...and spending time with that Irishman!

Chelsea B. said...

Great interview-- your new book sounds fabulous!