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NYT Bestseller Shannon McKenna Interview + Giveaway!

Winner: Michele!

I’ve been a fan of Shannon McKenna’s novels for many years.  She is a fellow Kensington author and I’m thrilled to have her here at the blog today with a fantastic interview. Both readers and writers with enjoy Shannon’s engaging personality in this interview as much as millions have devoured her sexy romantic thrillers.

Shannon has TWO giveaways to enter today. She’s giving away a book on today’s blog (just leave a comment) and a Kindle Fire on her ONE WRONG MOVE tour (enter Rafflecopter below)!

Let’s jump right in! Welcome Shannon!!

First and foremost – tell me about this wowza new book you’ve got coming out in a couple weeks! I’m so excited for ONE WRONG MOVE! It sounds like such an intense, complex and twisted story!

Gee, thanks for that delightfully enthusiastic lead-in! I’m so glad you’re looking forward to it! Here’s a bit of a description for you . . .


 We met Alex Aaro raising hell in BLOOD AND FIRE, Bruno’s story. He tries not to attract attention, but fails utterly, every damn time. Fate has other plans for him—big plans. And now it’s his turn to face the fire.

Privacy. Solitude. To Alex Aaro, that doesn’t seem like so much to ask of life—for the world to let him keep his head down, make his money. But it can never be that simple. His crazy Aunt Tonya was dying. She’d spent more time in the nuthouse than out, but she was the sole family member he gave a damn about. Enough of a damn to blow decades of hiding from his Ukrainian mafiya clan. He would risk his life in the writhing snakepit that was the Aaro family, to say goodbye to a dying woman. It was stupid, irrational.  Suicidal, even. And he couldn’t talk himself out of it.

And now his friend Bruno calls, just as Aaro lands in New York. He wants Aaro to take a scenic detour to a hospital in Coney Island, Brooklyn, for God’s sake, to do a favor for Nina, one of Bruno’s wife’s friends. A single woman friend. A social worker, out to save the world. The type of woman he would drive hundreds of miles to avoid. Some bullshit about translating the hysterical ravings of some roughed up Ukrainian woman who had attacked Nina with a hypodermic needle. He could not even count all the things there were to hate about this scenario, but he couldn’t say no—he owed Bruno. Owed him big, in blood and skin. But no one could have warned him about Nina’s eyes, her voice, the effect that they would have on him. Violence flares like wildfire—as swift and hot as the desire they can’t seem to control.

Nina Christie has way bigger problems than the surly interpreter that her friends are siccing on her. She’d been injected with some crazy unknown drug, and it is having effects on her that scare her to death. But when the bad guys who are looking for that drug close in, only the six-foot-four rock hard slab of lean muscle and seething bad attitude called Alex Aaro stands between her and an ugly death. The guy’s an unlikely hero, and a royal pain in the ass—and he also makes her pulse race and her lungs squeeze up until they won’t take in any air.

Nina has her own good reasons for being wary about men, and Aaro embodies them all, in one lethal package. But Nina’s about to unlearn everything she thought she knew, about men, about herself, about everything. Because the two of them hold the clues to a deadly secret, and as their world goes up in flames, they must race against time together, and face their deepest fears to unveil it before it destroys them . . .

Your hero and heroine in ONE WRONG MOVE, Alex and Nina (great names, btw!), are drawn together by the threat of the Ukrainian mafia and find themselves on both a run for their lives and a race against time. In the midst of that insanity, you’re going to manage to give them amazing sex and an HEA.  How in the hell do you do that? (I’ve always wanted to ask!)

That’s a really hard question, because I just don’t know! All I know is that if I start, and don’t let myself stop, eventually the book will get written! The process of writing is still an agonizing mystery to me. The level of suffering and doubt remains constant throughout the process, although the reasons for suffering change over the course of the writing of the book. In the beginning, it’s the Terror Of The Blank Page, the fear that this time it will be a huge dud and everyone will hate my guts, and the pages that creep out are dull, stupid, boring, blah blah blah.

 This goes on tediously for months, until the deadline starts to loom. Only then does the real story start to squeeze out of me. Then, right before or even some time after the deadline, it’s like a flash flood of bubbling ideas, cross-pollination of plot points, subplots sewing themselves up as if by magic, characters coming to life and surprising me—all of that is an exciting period, and would be my favorite if it wasn’t for the price I pay on the home front. Which is to say, the dirty house, the buzzing insomnia, the burned dinner, piles of dirty laundry, the angry kids who feel abandoned, the uncomfortable feeling of not having exercised my body for months . . . yikes. But I feel like I have to do my best for the hero and the heroine. After all the hell they’ve been dragged through, they by God deserve their satisfaction.

And as for hot sex in the midst of the suspense, well . . . I don’t know how realistic it is, (nor do I care!) but I always feel as if in these situations, so fraught with peril, that people have the chance to pull resources from deep inside themselves that they never knew they had. It is an opportunity to show a deeper, braver self—and a sexier self, too. And what makes a sex scene work for me directly correlates to how much the hero and the heroine care about it.  They have to care, passionately, desperately, even if they’re trying very hard to play it cool, which they usually are. That’s crucially important, for me.  The sex scenes reveal and reflect and develop the psychological and emotional connection between the hero and heroine, suspense sharpens it, and hopefully, it all bubbles up into a heady magic potion that transforms them both.

I’ve noticed the common use of family in your novels, Shannon. I very much enjoy the added complication and emotion this element adds to your stories. Is that the reason you use/involve family members often or do you have another underlying theme or interest in including families in your novels?

I didn’t think it through, it just happened. But I was happy that it did, because I like to see the hero and heroine relating to their families as well as to their love interest. It makes things more interesting, but also more complicated. There were times in some of the McCloud books where it seemed that the family issues were taking precedence over the romance, and that was difficult to control, because I had to do right by all of those relationships. So many readers, for instance, were furious with me at the end of FADE TO MIDNIGHT, because according to them, the reunion of the long lost and presumed dead Kev McCloud with his brothers was not satisfying enough, and that I didn’t devote enough time or pages to working out all of their complicated feelings about getting their brother back.

Damn, I was two hundred pages over word count at that point, and I couldn’t just give them a group hug and move on. So I let it ride, let it wait to the next book. Which meant people had to wait another year to see those guys talk it out! Oh, the grief I got for that decision. But I didn’t want to short-change those guys by rushing it. The McCloud guys are ultra-macho. Talking about emotion does not come easily to them in the best of circumstances. They are better by far at kicking ass. So, the short answer is, yeah, I like the messy complication of families, with all the difficulty that it entails. Both in real life and in my books!

Shannon, you are known for your steaming sexy suspense novels, but you’ve also written contemporary in the past.  Can you speak a little to your writing preferences?

The steamy thing came about by pure chance. I certainly did not set out to write steamy. I was willing to try anything to get in the door—comedy, chick lit, whatever. The first category romances I wrote were written with Silhouette Desire and Harlequin Temptation in mind, but they were having none of me. I was fortunate enough to get picked up by Hilary Sares, who was editing the Precious Gem line of romances, which were marketed directly to Walmart. Five books later, that line folded, and I got a break to write a steamy novella in an erotic romance anthology at Kensington. I had no idea if I could pull it off, but Hilary advised me to let the sexual relationship be the vehicle by which the plot advanced and by which character was revealed. I took her advice, and it opened up a whole new world for me. I realized that I liked love scenes like that; long, winding, with many parts, many moods, many purposes. I’ve got a taste for it now. I can hardly imagine writing without having the element of eroticism! But in terms of other genres, I’d like to play around, with fantasy, maybe historical someday. For now, the romantic suspense is working for me, so I’m not going to mess with my good thing.

The publishing industry is changing so quickly, yet in so many ways it’s staying the same. It’s a complex, sometimes confusing and often scary place to be for those of us who don’t have your experience and hindsight. For both readers and authors, can you give us your version of how you see the changes in the industry affecting us in the near future?  And can you tell us what is in your future—say a one year, five year and a ten year plan?

Hey, it’s scary for me, too! I’m in a total lather of fear and uncertainty about what to do, where to turn, what the smart thing to do might be with all the new information battering me every day. So much conflicting information, so many dazzling self-publishing success stories, so many dire warnings about the difficulties and dangers and time sinks and pitfalls! The one thing that I am sure about is that now, there are more options for us all, and that can only be a positive thing. New authors have a lot more possibilities for beginning their careers, what with self-publishing, blogging, etc, and people can build platforms on their own. Established authors no longer need to dread that their careers can be tanked by one poor decision on the part of their publishing house, because now, there are other ways to rebuild, even if sales numbers go down, for whatever reason. Lots of people who had terrible experiences with big publishing houses have been able to completely reboot their careers with these new options, and this is great, great, great. So I think, all in all, that the new developments are positive. As to what I will be doing in one year, five or ten—God, I don’t know! I don’t plan that far ahead. All I know is that I have to finish Miles’s story, and then write Sveti’s. But I know that I will still be writing, as long as I can hold a pen or bang at a keyboard. That’s for damn sure.

Thanks so much for having me, Joan! It’s been great posting on your blog!

Wow, what a fabulous interview! I’m beyond impressed…but then, I’m not surprised. If you’ve read Shannon’s work, you’ll know she’s an impressive author! 🙂

Shannon is giving away TWO prizes, a copy of one of her books at each blog stop on her tour AND a grand prize giveaway of a Kindle Touch!!! There are several copies of One Wrong Move, Blood and Fire, Ultimate Weapon, and Fade to Midnight up for grabs! Enter below!

Shannon McKenna is the NYT bestselling author of over ten action packed, turbocharged romantic thrillers, among which are the stories of the wildly popular McCloud series. She loves tough and heroic alpha males, heroines with the brains and guts to match them, villains who challenge them to their utmost, adventure, scorching sensuality, and most of all, the redemptive power of true love. Since she was small she has loved abandoning herself to the magic of a good book, and her fond childhood fantasy was that writing would be just like that, but with the added benefit of being able to take credit for the story at the end. Alas, the alchemy of writing turned out to be messier than she’d ever dreamed. But what the hell, she loves it anyway, and hopes that readers enjoy the results of her alchemical experiments.

You can find Shannon here: Shannon’s website | Shannon on Facebook | Shannon on Twitter | Kensington | Amazon

1)    To win a book: leave a comment on this blog post to be entered to win a book. Be sure to leave your email address in the comments so we can contact you if you’re the lucky winner. This giveaway ends five days after the post goes live.

2)    To win a Kindle Touch: Enter the Rafflecopter widget below!

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