Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Interview with Allison Merritt

I'm happy to have the awesome Allison Merritt on my blog today. She's a pretty rocking lady with a fabulous sense of humor.

***And she's kind enough to offer up a digital copy of her first book in the Legends & Lovers series, The Treasure Hunter's Lady to one lucky commenter. Be sure to leave your email address so you can be contacted. :)***

So we'll just jump right on in here. Can you tell the readers about yourself?

I’ve always been a serious reader, so it comes as no surprise to anyone who knows me that I wanted to be an author as well. I’m from the Ozark Mountains in Missouri where I live with my husband and our dogs. Hiking and photography are two of my passions besides writing.

Now what kicked off your writing career? What motivates or inspires you?

As a teenager I was impressed by writers like Louis L'Amour and Linda Lael Miller. Harold Bell Wright was a clencher for inspiring me to write. His novel The Shepherd of the Hills really pushed me in a writerly direction. It's funny how as youngsters we plan our futures. I intended to be a journalist—and I did get my degree in mass communications and thought I'd write novels on the side—but my adviser told me I needed to harness my creative writing and turn it toward journalism. Sad to say, that didn't work out for me (the funny part is, she writes romance novels too and she's really good at it. She has an impressive contest resume). I haven't written a news article in years. I actually stopped creative writing in 2003 after my dad died suddenly and didn't turn toward novel writing again until late 2008, early 2009. I was really depressed and I knew I had to do something to take my mind off trouble, so I started writing again and haven't found a reason to quit.

I commend you for picking up writing again. You certainly have a talent for it. So how, in this great big, giant world, did you come up with the Legends & Lovers series?

I live in a part of the country that steeped in folklore and history. I love to study local history and the more I got into that, the more I started learning myths and legends from other parts of the world. I love the weird. L&L was really inspired by The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. I love the technology in that movie and how they portrayed Tom Sawyer. I told my husband one day after we watched it for maybe the 100th time, “I'm going to write a book like that.” He thought I meant with Sean Connery in it, but that's not quite what I was getting at. The whole series was never part of the plan. I was working on a historical romance set in Australia, but while I was editing it, I decided to write the rough draft of The Treasure Hunter's Lady, which was originally set in Australia as well. It freaked the agents I queried out to think about trying to sell a book set in Oz to Americans. So after I made my first live pitch, I took on the major task of relocating the setting and had to change the whole serpent myth. But it worked out in my favor in the end because it opened up the series to more American Indian lore.

You know, that's an aspect of the Legends & Lovers series I really like, the American Indian lore. It's fun to read. What are you currently working on? What else can we expect with the Legends & Lovers series?

I finished the first draft of the third book in August. It's titled The Turncoat's Temptress. The hero is one of the minor characters from The Sky Pirate's Wife, Basil Tinwhistle. Here's the unofficial blurb: 

Basil Tinwhistle's life ended when he was nine years old and he revealed that he had a proclivity for finding the paranormal. Taken from his family and raised by a special order of men dedicated to memorizing legend and hunting monsters, he's risked life and limb to keep the United States safe from terror in the night. More than that, he left behind the only woman who ever held his heart.

Nora Frost's parents abandoned her in favor of pursuing a sideshow career in a circus. Her grandmother raised her with a strict hand to prevent history from repeating itself. Nora has never felt comfortable with herself, except for the brief summer Basil spent at her grandmother's antebellum mansion. When Basil vanished without a word, he broke her heart and she vowed never to fall in love again.

Years later on one of Nora's worst days, Basil suddenly reappears. The attraction between them is as strong as it was that long ago summer, but Basil is about to reveal a danger Nora never imagined—one that might tear them apart before they can repair the past.

Look for it next spring. I'm currently writing the fourth novel, which has taken an even stranger path than its predecessors.

Sweet! I just read about this character last night and was curious if I would be seeing him again soon. Can you share one of your favorite excerpts from your latest release, The Sky Pirate’s Wife, with the readers? And why is it your favorite?

There are so many parts of The Sky Pirate's Wife that I love. It's hard to pick one. But this one is right after Sophie and Alwin are married and he's brought her aboard his ship, Bright Hope. She really didn't expect him to try to seduce her while they were in front of crew and just hours after what was practically a shotgun marriage.

Excerpt: Sophie looked at the book in his hands. No one held the wheel but her. “You let go!"

He grinned. “You're doing fine, zoete. Keep her steady, she's climbing on her own.”

It wasn't the idea of being the only thing that stood between them and another flaming airship wreck that made her tremble. It was his smile. The kind that all women yearned to receive from a handsome man. “You should really take the wheel.”

“My hands are full.” He waved the logbook at her, but replaced it and remained standing beside her. “You're doing very well.”

“Are you certain?” The wind blew her hair and snagged her skirt. The horizon filled her line of sight and she suddenly understood the thrill of piloting a ship. It was like having the same freedom as a bird. She could point the ship in any direction and go wherever she pleased. Nothing had ever made her feel so alive. Except kissing Van Buren. Her head turned his direction like it was on a spring. She covered the sudden movement with a laugh. “I think I'm in love with your ship.”

His eyes darkened from icy gray to the shade of wet concrete. He lowered his mouth to her ear again and put his hand on her back. “Flying is a great deal like making love, Sophie.”

She nearly melted at her name on his lips. “W-why do you say that?”

“It's instinctual. The mind and body work together, creating a moment of beauty. The first time is a little frightening, but once you find the rhythm, the proper technique, you have something very enjoyable on your hands. Something that you feel deep within your soul. Something that you never want to give up. With the right person, the kind of relationship you'd die to protect.”

So, am I a weirdo to be lusting after Alwin or is that completely acceptable? Now, is it true you actually have a model of a sky pirate ship? If so, where can I get my own? And will it come with my very own Alwin action figure? I'm not going to lie, it would be kind of sweet.

It's true, all right. I had a booth at a literary festival and I knew an airship would be quite the decoration, so I planned on making one out of paper mache. My husband was like, no, we can do better than that. We scoured craft stores, appalled at even the lack of pirate ships, but we finally found one at Michael's craft store. I had to punch all the pieces out of this sheet of wood and it's not like they number them, so putting it together was quite the feat. If it had been me alone, I'd never have finished it, but my husband is pretty handy with things like that. Attaching the balloon was the tricky part because obviously it came with sails instead of a balloon. The trick, my friends, is super glue. Never underestimate the power of super glue. Unfortunately, there aren't (as of yet) any Alwin action figures. I wish I was handier with clay, because I'd resolve that problem. Action figures of the L&L characters would rock!

I'm going to agree with you there. I feel like I need my very own Alwin at the helm of the Bright Hope or something. Food for thought, just saying. :) You seem to have a penchant for writing such swoon worthy heroes, in my opinion. How do you do that, woman?

Maybe it's because I've read romance novels since I was a teenager. I definitely have a thing for bad boys. The heroes in the L&L series so far have a dangerous side—they have secrets, they have fears, and they don't want the heroines to find out. I love watching them grow and change and face whatever I throw at them because they're men who don't back down, particularly when it comes to the people they love.

You said it, sister! I'm sold on your heroes. I have to ask. You wouldn’t happen to be an Indiana Jones lover, would you?

We're not counting Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, right? I mean it had potential, but it failed in so many areas. Temple of Doom is my favorite, but I do love me some Indy.

The Crystal-whaty-what? Ha, just kidding. I know that one, but I was definitely going with more of the Temple of Doom-ish type Indy. :) So which of your characters do you feel the largest affinity with? And why?

It's so  hard for me to choose between Abel and Alwin. On one hand, Alwin is so gruff and wants to prove himself, but he's often unintentionally funny and he has his soft, squishy side. But Abel is the hero who no matter what happens to him always finds a smile. He's modeled after my dad that way because my dad was a very funny man who knew that you could get through anything if you could find a way to laugh.

Aww, that makes me love that even more about Abel's character now. Now, if you could sit down with any person in history and share a conversation at length, who would you choose?

I've recently been on a Nikola Tesla kick. I can't get enough of the guy. He has a role in the movie The Prestige with Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale, powering all those light bulbs with just the earth. He was a ghost in Dean Koontz's latest Odd Thomas novel, where he built a time machine, and he had some really awesome ideas about power and all kinds of inventions. Plus he was good friends with Mark Twain. He even convinced Mr. Twain that getting shocked by this machine he built was good for you, which makes me laugh because I can just see them shocking each other and having a hell of a time doing it. I think they enjoyed it because I'm pretty sure it actually shocked the shit out of anyone who used it. Poor Tesla was ruined by Thomas Edison because Edison was going to pay him to harness electricity in a different way than we do it now (don't ask me the specifics, science isn't really my thing), then bailed on the deal when Tesla did it. He died destitute and took his ideas and inventions to the grave and no one has been able to replicate his experiments. Gee, thanks, Edison.

Ha, I remember that about The Prestige. David Bowie. :D Since we are talking fiction after all. Let’s say you woke up tomorrow as the captain of your very own airship. What would a normal day for you include? Would you be smuggling goods or transporting passengers? Or sailing the high skies in search of evil flying creatures?

Sadly, I'm afraid of heights, but for the sake of fiction, we'll pretend I'm not. I honestly think I'd love to smuggle goods in boxes marked as legitimate cargo, getting paid under the table while trying to maintain an untarnished reputation. There's something about the thrill of knowing you're doing naughty business that secretly makes me feel awesome. Of course, you always have to worry about the Board of Air Traffic and Safety finding out about it. I'm sure it would just end with some leisurely time in jail, right? Or, how cool would it be to guide tours where paying customers can get up close and personal with evil flying creatures? Provided they didn't blow up your ship. There'd have to be a big sign right on the gangway that said NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR ACCIDENTS.

Hmm, not sure I'd want to get up too close and personal with your flying creatures. I'm thinking a person might draw back a nub. Ha, had to say that, sorry. My mom's said it for years, and at times, I find myself looking for opportunities to say silly things. For my final question, If you had the opportunity to explore and treasure hunt any place in the world, where would you go? And what would you be hunting?

Funny you should ask that. Way back before the Civil War there were brothers by the last name of Yokum (or Yoakum, or Yocum, or Joachum, or … well, I could go on, it's spelled dozens of ways) who settled in the Ozarks and married in with the local Delaware Indian tribe. James Yokum minted his own silver coins for trade because there was no official legal tender in Missouri at the time since it was still a territory.

Yokum silver dollars are extremely rare, I don't think I've ever seen one, but I'm descended from the Yokums on my mom's side. Supposedly, the mine was pretty rich with silver and the Yokum offspring wouldn't reveal its location, but one of them drew a map that a local man still has. I've been to that guy's house and he's pack rat and half, but he has some seriously cool historical documents and maps I'd love to get my hands on.

That is pretty neat actually. I love checking out older historical documents such as land grants, deeds, etc. Ha, go figure! You're a treasure hunter, Allison! And your husband makes sky pirate models. So you two could form your own league. You know, Treasure Hunter Lady and the Sky Pirate Model Kid. Okay, well maybe not.

I really want to thank you for stopping by and having such great answers. You are an interesting lady to say the least. In the meantime, I'll anxiously be awaiting the next book in the Legends & Lovers series. And you are more than welcome back here any time, madam.

Legends & Lovers: Book 1

Blurb: For years, Romy Farrinton traveled at her world-famous archeologist father's side, exploring new lands and uncovering ancient secrets. It was everything she ever wanted, until a near-fatal encounter with hostile natives forced her and her father into a life of retirement in Boston and an undesired advance into proper society.

Everything changes again when she's saved from an accident by a brash Texan in a back alley. Abel Courte may act like a care-free cowboy, but he's harboring a secret—he's searching for the Diamond of Uktena, a legendary jewel that can cure any disease known to man. He needs information Romy's father has in order to get to the jewel. When he traces the origin of the Diamond to Dakota Territory, he sets off to claim the treasure, only to find the archaeologist's fiery redheaded daughter stuck to him like a bug in sap.

In a race against time, Romy and Abel must learn to trust each other as they undertake a cross-country journey that will expose them to lands uncharted by white men, a deadly battle against the fearsome creature in possession of the Diamond and a fight to return to civilization where they might make the greatest discovery of all—love.


Review: So I kept seeing this beautiful cover when I would stop by to read Ms. Merritt's blog, which I find quite humorous. The temptation became too much. I had to check it out. 

And I'll just say.. What in the world took me so long?

From the start, it captured my attention. Immediately, we are introduced to Abel Courte who is the epitome of an Old West cowboy, or atleast we think that. He's a character of many facets, our Mr. Courte. Nonetheless, he's quite an honorable hero that always has a ready smile to brandish. In addition, he's a loyal, protective hero who can turn the charm on thickly when he wants. You can't help but love this guy.

At once, we start off with a bit of mystery that links Mr. Courte together with the heroine, Romy. The sparks between these two fly from the first initial meeting and never seem to fizzle out throughout the entire story. I enjoyed their exchanges and the adventurous path to love that they traveled. 

There are many things to love about the book. The writing, flow and characters are all well-developed. But, the three aspects that I absolutely loved the most about the book had to be the blend of Native American folklore, which is quite interesting to read. It will definitely hold your attention. In addition, it's quite an adventurous read. So that automatically hooks me and keeps me turning the pages, anxious to learn what this pair's next course of action would be. And lastly, in my opinion, I thought the hero and heroine were fantastic characters. They seemed to embody every quality and characteristic that I appreciate in my heroes and heroines. They're both kind, protective, and fearless when it comes to protecting their loved ones. Perhaps, I'm sappy, but I love that. We all have our things we love and that just happens to be mine. 

If you are looking for absorbing adventure romance with likeable characters, inventive weaponry and sky travel vessels then this is the book for you. 

Available for purchase at: Amazon 

Legends & Lovers: Book

Blurb: After a tragic airship wreck, Captain Alwin van Buren makes a drastic decision to obtain a wealthy bride in order to save his flagging business. He meets his match in Sophie Banes, heiress to an airship empire. After he seduces her and ensures their marriage—igniting a rivalry with her godfather—he learns the green-eyed beauty is as headstrong as he is.

Sophie knows Van Buren's reputation based on a series of dime novels written about his adventures. Determined to be more than an end to a means, she despises him for luring her into marriage. In fiction, he's a no-nonsense captain on the verge of piracy, but the flesh-and-blood man wins her heart by proving she's worth more to him than her money.

Their love is threatened when Sophie learns Van Buren's airship accident was a result of mythical creatures. Winged predators that appear to have a grudge against him, a fact he deliberately hid by accusing her godfather of sabotage. If she can forgive him for that, they still have to face the danger when they're cornered and at the mercy of beasts and the evil that controls them. The real test comes when Van Buren is asked to make a sacrifice that could destroy them both.


ReviewNow it was a given I was going to read book two in the series. You all should have expected that. I have to admit I was totally anticipating this book once I read The Treasure Hunter's Lady. In book one, we were introduced to Captain Alwin van Buren, a sky pirate. Yep, you can swoon now because I sure did. 

As with book one in the series, I was sucked in from the start. We meet up with the gruff giant Captain who I seemed to form a soft spot for in the first book. The adventure starts from the very beginning on the deck of Alwin's airship. 

We are once again thrown into a world were mythical creatures from Native American lore exist and are bent on Alwin's destruction. At a particularly vulnerable point, he meets the heroine, Sophie, and things kick off from there. The couple soon finds themselves dealing with consequences that result in a rushed marriage. 

Personally, I loved this book. I'm "Team van Buren" all the way. In my opinion, Alwin is such a stellar hero. He's such a gruff, large man whose usual countenance is a scowl, but he's quite a bit of a charmer when he wants to be, especially with his little Sophie. In addition, he has such a protective, gentle nature when he's dealing with Sophie. Gotta love that about a hero. Not to mention, when a hero is ready to risk life and limb for his lady love, I'm sold. 

Something else that really stood out for me in this book was the heroine. She's a bit more feminine and refined, but she's never whiney, shallow or insipid. Sophie was quite a memorable heroine for me. She really was such a sweetheart and would do anything for Alwin, despite the circumstances that bound them together. But it was nice to see she didn't allow him run all over her. In fact, she held her own with Alwin quite well. The pair were well suited and deserved each other. 

Ms. Merritt has once again delivered an engrossing romantic adventure with a fantastic hero and heroine and lots of sky travel and winged creatures from myth. So, I suppose I'll be anxiously awaiting the next book in the series since I'm hooked now. 

   Available for purchase at: Amazon

Please be sure to visit the author at: Website

***Be sure to leave a comment with your email in order to be entered for a chance to win a digital copy of The Treasure Hunter's Lady.***

15 comments:

  1. Great interview, Ladies! Love the reviews. Both books sound fabulous!

    I have to say, I'm an Indy fan as well. It's been ages since I've watched them. The high temp here is supposed to be in the low 40s this weekend. Maybe time to watch them again...or read one of these book!

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    1. Ha, I know the feeling, Stacey. I might have an "Indy" weekend. :) Thanks for stopping by, chicklette.

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  2. Wonderful interview..enjoyed it! So wonderful to learn more about you Allison and your books. I have The Treasure Hunter's Lady...just hoping to find the time to read it because it sounds so fun.

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    1. I really think you'll enjoy it, Christine. Thanks you for dropping by. :)

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  3. Thanks for having me, Melissa! I loved your questions, they were tons of fun. And I'm so happy you loved the first two books in the L&L series. I can't wait to share the third!

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    1. Well thanks for joining me! It was a pleasure. And I enjoyed getting to know you better. I'm most definitely hooks on the series now, so I can't wait for Basil's book. :)

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  4. First, love the interview. You two work well together.
    I LOVED Treasure Hunter's Lady--one of my fav books of 2011/12.
    When I read Sky Pirate's Wife I quickly added it to my best of 2012 reads. I love V.B.
    I'm anxiously awaiting T.T.T. I can already tell Basil is going to be one of my fav characters.

    Bravo, Allison. Bravo!

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    1. I am anxiously awaiting it too, Brenda. And it was so much fun interviewing Allison. She had such wonderful answers. Thank you for stopping by today. :)

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  5. Great interview, ladies. I, too, loved both stories and can't wait to read the third. Nice reviews, Melissa.

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    1. Thank you, Kary. I appreciate that. So glad you dropped by today. :D

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  6. Lovely interview, ladies. And I'm sure that Sean Connery book is just around the corner...LOL!Congrats on all your success, Allison!

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    1. Thanks for stopping in, Rosanna! I know you're a busy lady lately. :)

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  7. You two work well together with interviews. That was a fun read!
    And before I forget: sherifredricks @charter .net

    The way you describe where you live, Allison - I want to visit and look around. Best wishes on your books. I can't wait to read your latest.

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    1. Thanks, Sheri. Allison had great answers. And I really think you'll enjoy the series very much. Thank for dropping by, chickie. :)

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  8. Wonderful interview, ladies! Congrats, Allison. Wishing you much continued success! :)

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