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!