Today we have an interview with the lovely Annette Drake, Author of upcoming paranormal romance novel, Celebration House.
Carrie Hansen spent her life caring for cardiac patients. Little did she know she would become a patient herself. After recovering from her own heart surgery, she realizes she has a special gift: the ability to see and talk with the dead.
Now, with her new heart failing, she leaves the bustle of Seattle behind and returns to Lexington, Missouri, the small town where she spent her childhood. Here, she sets out to restore an abandoned antebellum mansion and open it as a venue for celebrations.
Carrie’s work is cut out for her. The 150-year-old Greek revival house is in need of serious repair. Her sister, Melanie, bullies Carrie into returning to Seattle, predicting “her little project” is doomed to fail. Finally, Carrie’s health gives out on her, requiring emergency surgery.
But she will not give up. Carrie’s unique gift allows her to build relationships with the mansion’s original occupants, especially Major Tom Stewart, the handsome Civil War soldier who died a hundred years before Carrie was born. He encourages and comforts her, though not in the physical way they both desire.
Then there’s the builder of the house, Colonel Bartholomew Stratton. If there’s one thing this 19th century horse trader cannot abide, it’s the living trespassing on his estate. He delights in scaring these intruders away, even if they are paying guests.
Will Carrie finish restoring Celebration House or will it finish her? And how can she plan a future with a man who only has a past?
My Interview with Annette
1) I read that you recently finished your first middle grade novel and are currently working on a contemporary romance. An MG novel, a paranormal romance, and a steamy contemporary.. You certainly work across a variety of genres. What genre is your favorite to write about?
AD: I don’t have a favorite genre. For me, it’s finding out what my main character wants most and putting up obstacles for her to overcome. Of course, there have to be obstacles. And I often feel bad about all of the problems I give my main character, but therein lies the story. Also for me, villains are never strangers. No. That would be too easy. The villain is someone close to the main character - a mother, a sister, an ex-husband. No one knows where you are vulnerable as well as someone close to you.
2) Will you continue to experiment in these same genres, or maybe branch out into other areas? Maybe a little romantic suspense?
AD: My current work in progress, A Year with Geno, is a contemporary romance, and I can’t wait to get back to it full-time. I want to have fun! I want to write sex scenes. The next book, or so I think currently, is a thriller set in Anchorage, Alaska. I’m looking forward to that book because I get to kill people! After that, I want to write a cozy mystery with an over-the-road truck driver as the main character. That’s going to be a challenge for me because I don’t know much about that industry. I have all of these characters sitting in the green room of my mind, all clamoring for my attention.
3) I also read in your bio that you have several children at various ages. How supportive are they of your writing?
AD: Children supportive of writing? Huh? I’m kidding, but only a little. I’ve learned to set firm limits on my writing time, otherwise, it just doesn’t happen. I try to write in the morning before my 6-year-old rises, but he’s up at 6:30, ready to watch Phineas & Ferb. Yes. Yes, he is. I think my older children get it now that my first book will be published, but I started writing Celebration House in 2007, when my twins were 11 and my oldest daughter was 16. Back then, it was just, oh, Mom’s in her room typing. Of course I can go in and ask her a question she answered yesterday. It’s just Mom.
4) If you could describe your Paranormal Romance, Celebration House in one sentence, what would it be?
AD: Life is short; celebrate yours.
5) I love to ask this question. If you had to write a book about your life, what would you title it?
AD: “Under construction. Expect Delays.”
6) What would the cover look like?
AD: A road worker wearing an orange vest. She’s holding a yield sign in her right hand, wiping sweat off her forehead with the back of her left hand, an exasperated expression.
7) Can you recall what originally sparked your interest in becoming an author?
AD: Yes. I know exactly what happened. I was attending Ramay Junior High School in Fayetteville, Arkansas, in 1982 when I got inspired to write about a female swimmer who commits suicide. It was a dramatic tale with an unexpected dark ending, and lo and behold, the newspaper adviser decided to publish it. Suddenly, for all of one day, I was a somebody in that school. That felt amazing!
8) Do you have a favorite character from Celebration House? If so, can you tell me who it is?
AD: Violet. I’m so worried she will be misunderstood, but from page one, she believes in Carrie when nobody else does. Violet is the first specter Carrie meets at Stratton House. She shares Carrie’s vision. Violet is what all of us need in our lives – unconditional support. I love Violet. I hope readers will too.
9) Since your book has characters that span across different time periods.. If you could live in any period of time, when would you live (and where?).
AD: I would love to visit the American Civil War era for one week. That would undoubtedly be long enough. As to the where, I would like to witness the Battle of Lexington. I’ve always been a CW enthusiast. I can’t explain why. I remember at age 6, strumming on a ukulele and singing songs I made up about the CW.
10) What was your favorite part of writing Celebration House?
AD: I had a ball writing about Beth Kozera, a secondary character who comes to live with Carrie after a disastrous wedding fiasco. It was just pure fun. I also enjoyed the snobbery shown by Carrie’s mother when she bemoans the fact that Carrie’s grandmother cooked things like fried okra. I love fried okra. I planted three okra plants in my garden this year, and I’m gently coaxing them along. I don’t think okra is indigenous to eastern Washington.
11) What was the hardest part of writing Celebration House?
AD: The renovations! Ugh. Carrie restores a house that hasn’t been lived in for more than 80 years. She has to completely renovate the antebellum mansion so that it can be used as a venue for celebrations. That means new wiring, new ventilation ducts, new furnace, new everything. I never intended to write a “How to restore your antebellum mansion in 6 months or less” handbook. For me, these important chapters were just something I plodded through, like eating your peas so you can have dessert.
12) I would like to end the interview with something fun. Can you tell me something fun/random/wonky/crazy about yourself or your writing habits?
AD: My parents restored a house when I was a child. Back behind the house was an old garage that my two older brothers and I would play in. Upstairs, tucked away in moldy cardboard boxes, were prescription pads with the date 191_ printed on them. The house had thick wooden pocket doors and 12-inch molding. We misted and scraped off the wallpaper before repapering. I modeled Stratton House on this house. I’m going home in a few weeks to promote my book, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the current occupants of this house will let me come inside and visit my childhood home.