Thursday, March 31, 2011

April's Author of the the Month - Sharon Donovan

Hello, Anne! Thanks for inviting me back to your amazing blog for an exclusive. Great to be here.

You're very welcome, Sharon. I'm honored to have you here. We're going to begin this author spotlight with Sharon's Q&A. Be sure to come back next week when I'll be posting the Q&A from Sharon's sexy butler Oliver. You're welcome to leave comments throughout the month for a chance to win one of Sharon's books.

1. Name one of your favorite books as a child.

Little Women, I absolutely adored the March sisters, and when my aunt gave me the Meg doll for my tenth birthday, I was tickled pink. My sister and I eventually got all four dolls in the collection, and spent hours acting out scene after scene in the book. We still have the dolls; sadly, they are not in mint condition by any stretch of the imagination. Grin.

2. Do you have a favorite author?

Nora Roberts. She is the hallmark of women’s fiction, showering me with a delicious array of tales from simple romance and heart-warming trilogies to her more chilling suspense books. I am totally hooked on her futuristic series, the In Death series written under her pen name of JD Robb. Rork rocks the page. I am woman hear me ROARRRRRR!

3. Out of all the books you’ve read, which one comes immediately to your mind? If there is a favorite scene you remember, please share.

Midnight Bayou by Nora Roberts, and here’s a brief synopsis.

Sitting deep in the bayou of Louisiana, Manet Hall has a secret that’s been hidden for a hundred years. The only witness to this once grand house, its new owner is Declan Fitzgerald, a man distracted by the alluring Angelina Simone, a woman who has a surprising connection to the mystery that’s been buried for a hundred years.

I love this book, it’s a truly haunting tale about reincarnation and endless love. Throughout the book, Angelina and Declan slowly come to realize they are being possessed by the couple that lived in the mansion a century ago. Barely married a year and madly in love, Angelina is murdered one night in front of her infant baby girl when her husband is away. Her murder and murderer remained an unsolved mystery; that is, until their lost souls choose Angelina and Declan to figure it out and live in a home where their endless love lingers.

4. Your favorite vacation spot (whether you have been there or not)?

Hawaii. I am happy to say going to thee exotic islands in the Pacific is one fantasy come true for me. Dark and mysterious, Diamond Head shrouds the island like an iron fortress. The color contrast on the water is truly breathtaking, ebony on true blue. With all its mystery, romance, intrigue and raw beauty, I thought it the perfect setting for Charade of Hearts, my latest romantic suspense starring Oliver.

5. Which would you rather have: A custom closet or a custom kitchen?

Definitely a custom kitchen as I love to cook and am a real gadget freak. Coffee beans need to be freshly ground for maximum flavor, veggies must be sliced with an artistic flair, and but of course, potatoes have to be peeled with my Pampered Chef’s peeler. When do I have time to write? Grin

6. It’s Saturday afternoon and you’re home alone. What are you wearing? And yes, you must have clothes on.

Depending on the season, but always casual. Winter, jeans and a sweater or sweat shirt. Summer, tank and shorts. But my most comfortable is fuzzy PJ bottoms and an Oliver t.

7. What’s your favorite dish?

Coconut shrimp…yum.

8. Other than writing, what do you enjoy doing?

Cooking and simultaneously listening to audio books relaxes me. I like adding to my wall mask collection, the thrill of choosing a new ceramic face mask from a Mardi Gras boutique in New Orleans. Among the favorites gracing my wall are a Crying Mime with jeweled tears, the Veiled Lady and Star Eyes. To unwind after writing, I enjoy spending quality time with family and friends. I belong to a dining club, where we try a new bistro, eatery or out of the ordinary restaurant every month. I am also a connoisseur of fine wines and belong to a wine tasting group. We’ve attended some really eloquent events, reminiscent of old world balls and masquerades. There was also a casual evening that stands out in my mind when we gathered at a recording studio to sample Francis Ford Coppola wines. The atmosphere was daunting, a vault-like setting in a downstairs studio, mingling with delicious strangers as Godfather films softly played in the background.

9. You’ve just landed a multi-book contract with a major publisher! Which vehicle would we be more likely to see you driving after you’ve collected your huge advance: a Hummer, RV, truck, muscle car, or BMW?

LOL Since the loss of my vision and giving up the ol’ license, hopefully, none of the above. This being said, however, shortly before the horrendous and devastating loss, I had my eye on a hot cherry red sports car. Sweet.

10. What’s your favorite television show? Movie?

Not a fan of reality shows or half the garbage they’re passing off these days. I was a huge nighttime soap junkie, hooked on Dallas, Knot’s Landing, dynasty and Flamingo Road. Bring back the good ol’ days. Movies in this order. Gone With the Wind, The Thorn Birds, Season in Purgatory, a movie made from Dominick Dunne’s book.

11. You’ve won a talent show! What act did you perform?

LOL Honestly, nothing springs to mind!

12. Would you rather have the power to be invisible or be able to fly, and why?

Both. When I pass from this earth, I would love to be sent back down as one of God’s Guardian Angels to keep vigil on my loved ones, watching over them and keeping them safe from harm’s way. Anyone who knows me or follows my blog knows that family and family traditions are near and dear to my heart. The Irish believe that butterflies are angels, and that when touched by a pair of gossamer wings, you are being touched by an angel.

13. What was one of the most surprising things you learned during your journey to publication?

How incredibly dedicated one must be from conception to fruition. As authors, we deal with writer’s block, deadlines, rejection and competition on a daily basis, which can be grueling and quite cumbersome. Then when we finally land a contract, countless edits, galleys and proof reading go back and forth between author and editor until you’re sick to death of the book. But when at long last, close to a year after the contract is signed, the book comes out in print. Believe me, nothing can compare to the sweet feeling of holding your creation in your hot little hands, making all those late night edits burning the midnight oil worth it. Except when an author is fortunate enough to get a glowing review from a reviewer that just gets it

14. What was the most interesting research you did for a book?

Attending psychology classes for Mask of the Betrayer, a psychological thriller. The mind has always fascinated me. It can bend. It can break. It can snap. Michael is my most complex character I’ve created to date, a twisted sociopath cloned into his uncle’s likeness and programmed to kill from the age of twelve. As disturbing as this research was, research for The Claddagh Ring was peaceful and serene. Standing on the rugged cliffs overlooking the crashing Atlantic Breakers, I was inspired to write a whimsical tale about the legend of the claddagh, said to be blessed by St. Patrick for those who believe in the magic of love. But the most chilling research was for Echo of a Raven, a woman’s twenty year battle with diabetic retinopathy leading to her blindness because it’s my life story.

15. Where do you go when you need to get inspired to write?

Back in time to when I could see the bold and striking beauty of God’s creation, the vivid colors of flowers after a spring rain, the dusky pink of a fading rose of summer, the amber leaves of autumn in the blazing sun, crimson, burnt orange and gold, giving the illusion of wildfire. Dialogue brings the story to life, but for me, descriptive language is an art, keeping color alive and vivid in my mind’s eye.

16. Do you have any writing quirks?

I’m Irish and highly superstitious and have a whole slue of writing quirks. Not that I’d admit to having a compulsive disorder, but I will admit to walking a thin line in that I am a neat freak about organization. A place for everything and everything in its place. Routine keeps me balanced and rituals set the stage for the course of each day, beginning with two cups of strong, freshly ground gourmet coffee with just a smidgen of Irish cream, a coddled egg on whole wheat toast slathered with melted sharp cheese, and a crisp and crunchy red delicious apple. After a steaming hot shower, I lather myself silly with Evelyn Rose body lotion. Sitting at my desk shrouded by animated Mardi Gras ceramic face masks to inspire me, I turn on my computer, check my email, calendar and get cracking. But not before one of my whimsical musical fairies perform a Venetian symphony for me.

17. What do you think makes a good story?

Research what you write and don’t try and fake it with a grain of knowledge. Although the story is fiction, the storyline for the most part is very real. A real pet peeve for me, Dear Oliver, is when an author’s main character is a diabetic. Unless you are very educated on the disease, or like me, have first hand knowledge as a long suffering type 1 diabetic, you have no right spouting off and putting false medical information in print. I can’t tell you how many times I read a book where an author will proclaim, “Stop eating all that candy or you’ll get diabetes!” Or “If you take insulin, you can eat whatever you like.” or the best one, “Only fat people get diabetes!”

None of the above are true; in fact they are so off the mark don’t even get me started! Although the exact cause of type 1 diabetes remains a mystery, research indicates it points to a gene in which heredity factors play a part. Latest research shows that obesity, especially in teens who indulge in a steady diet of junk food and far too little exercise, is contributing to the development of type 2 at an alarming rate.

My point being, no matter what you write, be cautious about the information you put in print. Research what you write!

18. What are you working on now?

A Christmas submission starring Detective Oliver, as well as Vendetta, the sequel to Mask of the Betrayer.

19. What's one of the more interesting experiences you've had with one of your readers?

Smile, one of my biggest fans knows that masks are a passion of mine and are featured in the majority of my books. Sweet thing that she is and wanting to cheer me up last summer after my near fatal heart attack, she got me a gorgeous gift from a Mardi Gras boutique in New Orleans, a pirate feather mask. She spied it while window shopping and thought I’d like it. I was deeply touched and quite moved by this gesture of kindness. Thank you, Julie!

20. Complete this scene: It was raining. The man came out of nowhere, and before I knew it....

We were having a drink in a jazz bar. Like strangers in the night, we danced, gliding across the dance floor cheek to cheek, our hearts beating as one. Our eyes met and our lips touched and we kissed. It was the kind of kiss dreams are made of.

Sharon hugs Anne. Thank you for the interview, Anne. You ask some really wild questions that made me put on my thinking cap!

Sharon Donovan
Romantic Suspense with a Twist of Faith

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Gail Pallotta said...

Hi Sharon,
I'm Irish too. No one would ever think that with a name like Pallotta, but it's my married name.
Wish I liked to cook as much as you. I do enjoy it when I have time and don't feel rushed. Your books sound wonderful, and I wish you much success with them.

Miss Mae said...

Sharon, have you ever considered writing about a blind heroine?

I can't remember the movie, but years ago, maybe in the 1960's Mia Farrow played a blind character where some madman is after her to kill her, can't recall the reason why. But anyway, you would definitely write her realistically, and I think it would be an incredible book!

And I must say, that though I have an Irish background on Mom's side, I don't enjoy cooking, and I'm not superstitious at all. LOL

BTW, you were beautiful in that video of the local television coverage. You're a celebrity, girl! :)

Love ya, and wishing you major success!


Hywela Lyn said...

Hi Anne and Sharon

What an interesting and inspiring interview, I just loved the questions.

I can't wait for Oliver's new story,and the sequel to 'Mask' dear friend.

Readers, if you've read any of Sharon's wonderful stories, you'll know exactly what she means when she talks about 'keeping colour alive with descriptive language'.

Sharon truly does 'paint' with words and one can 'see' each scene just as she must envisage it in her own mind.

'Echo of a Raven' is a wonderful book and I learnt a great deal about what people who lose their sight have to cope with. It's also, despite the seriousness of its subject matter, a highly entertaining and compelling book.

Sharon, you are an amazing woman, and I love you.

Anne Patrick said...

Hi ladies! There sure is a lot of Irish running around here. LOL.

Miss Mae, I think I remember the movie you're talking about. It was called See No Evil or something along that line.

Thank you, ladies, for dropping by in support of Sharon.

Mary Ricksen said...

You blow me away Sharon. I loved Dynasty too, I had to be home to see it!
Miss Mae has a great idea!
the Oliver T shirt and undies is no one is home!!

Diane Craver said...

Sounds like you had a great childhood - enjoyed reading about your love of Little Women and acting out the scenes with your dolls.

I'm glad you mentioned that wrong information is given by characters in so many books about diabetes. People need to get the facts straight.

Great interview, Sharon and Anne!

Sharon Donovan said...

Thank you for the warm hospitality, Anne. Great to be here with you all month, such a wonderful opportunity.

Sharon Donovan said...

Ladies, thank you for your inspiring comments. I dunno Gale, your first name sounds pretty Irish, and a fine one at that!

Sharon Donovan said...

Love you too, MM. I do recall that movie and always thought Mia to be a great actress. Shivers, no, writing in a blind woman's pov would keep me in the frightening unknown entombing me. The SOLE reason that I write is to escape in my mind to a time rich in color and the beauty of God's creation.

Writing Echo of a Raven tore me up emotionally, not a time in my life I enjoyed reliving. But it was my mission to write a narrative non fiction about devastating complications of diabetes, with proceeds to benefit JDRF

Sharon Donovan said...

Lyn, my lovely, thank you for your sweet and encouraging words about my books. Coming from you, this is high praise as you write so beautifully. Echo has a definite message. It was and is my hope to aid in the fight for a cure.

Love you, darling girl.

Sharon Donovan said...

Mary, sweet soul sister. You always make me smile with your quick wit and open heart. Love you sweetie.

Sharon Donovan said...

Diane, thanks for dropping in to chat. My childhood memories of my Little Women dolls and the book and movie are right up there in my favorite memories.

Anne Patrick said...

Oh I was a huge Dynasty fan! I loved it when Joan Collins and Linda Evans had their cat fights. Now that was entertainment!

Rachel Rossano said...

Great interview, ladies. I loved reading it.

I am Irish too, a quarter. It is a good heritage to have. :)

Destiny Booze, Novelist said...

I loved that interview, Sharon! I have your book in my tbr pile!

P.L. Parker said...

Hi Sharon - loved the post, and as you said, great questions and wonderful answers. I don't remember dolls like that - I must have been a deprived child :)

Sharon Donovan said...

Oh, MG, Anne, how funny was that Dynasty episode when Linda and Joan duked it out! I loved that show and think television was soooo better then.

Sharon Donovan said...

Hi Rachel, thanks for popping in to chat. Lots of Irish in the house, good stuff!

Sharon Donovan said...

Destiny, thank you so much for visiting. So happy you enjoyed the interview!

Sharon Donovan said...

Patsy, thank you for stopping in. Little Women dolls were collector dolls, meant to sit pretty on the shelf. My sister and I couldn't see any fun in that. As far as we were concerned, dolls were made to be played with, not admired from afar! Boy did we get in trouble.

marcusdweston said...

Sharon's books sounds like they're right up my alley.

Love your new look, Anne!

Sharon Donovan said...

Marcusdweston! Thanks for popping in to chat. Isn’t our Anne something! I just love her blog. I’m so glad that you like the sound of my books. I love hearing that. You made my day~!