Today, I have fellow eXtasy Books author V.J. Allison in the interview chair. We talk about her latest release Away to Me, a contemporary, erotic romance, and also dig into her personal side. Read on and help us celebrate Ms. Allison’s second novel.
I interviewed you last time for your cover reveal for your newest release Away to Me. So I came up with a whole new batch of questions for you to answer because I’m nosy. LOL. Kidding. Here we go!
V.J. Allison on writing:
1. First, what’s your favourite scene in Away to Me? Not in regards to writing, but reading, and why?
I love the scenes where Kelsey faces her past, notably the person that hurt her the most. It gave her a lot of closure, and allowed her to move ahead with her life.
2. If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in Away to Me?
Yes, I would have focused more on the romance from the get-go instead of having to remove a lot of the passive areas.
3. Do you have any “side stories” about the characters?
Not yet, but I’m trying to write up a quick update on Kelsey and Neil, a short story. No promises, I haven’t started it yet.
4. If you could spend time with one character from your book whom would it be? And what would you do during that day?
I’m a cat person, so Kelsey’s cats. We’d probably snuggle and nap all day long.
5. Did the characters hijack the story or did you feel like you had control on Away to Me?
The dog, Punky, hijacked the book from the start. I had to tone things down a lot before I submitted it to eXtasy Books.
6. How did you come up with name for your book?
Actually, a friend of mine came up with the name. It’s a herding term, and it came from having a corgi as one of the characters. Since she has several corgis, I talked to her about their behaviors and how much they love to run and herd. It can also mean moving apart, then moving back to each other.
7. If Away to Me was made into a film, who would you like to play the leads?
Tough question. I’d probably pick George Eads to play Neil, since his looks are close to Mr. Eads’, but I never really thought about what actress looks the most like Kelsey. Mila Kunis would work, if she wore brown contacts, since Kelsey has brown eyes.
8. If Away to Me was a candle, what scent would it be and why?
It would smell like an aged, favorite book, because Neil and Kelsey both love to write.
9. If Away to Me had a theme song, what would it be and why?
The only song that comes to mind is “Nothing Else Matters” by Metallica, probably because of the line “Trust I seek, and I find in you”. Kelsey was looking for someone she could trust, and found it in Neil.
10. If Away to Me was a colour, what would it be and why?
Pale green – it’s not too sunny, but it’s still a cheerful colour in my opinion. Plus, it’s Kelsey’s favorite colour.
11. What did you edit out of the book?
It’s more like what I did *not* edit out of it! It was so loaded with passive scenes when I first tackled its cleanup in May. There were a lot of spots that were from the daughter’s POV, some from the dog’s (weird, I know), some from one of the daughter’s friends, and a lot of other junk.
There were several scenes focused on the dog’s antics, and one where the two leads talk about his breeder. All of them were cut before I did any of the other edits and revisions on the manuscript. They were glaringly passive. Only one scene featuring the animals remained at submission time, and that was removed in the first round of edits with my editor, Trish.
Away to Me started out as a 75,000-word manuscript. It is now under 55,000 words long.
12. What can we expect from you in the future?
I am currently deep into revising a manuscript I wrote in 2017 for Book 2 of the Tri-Town series, named “Play with Me”, and I’m hoping to get a short story written for this year’s Christmas stories by eXtasy Books. I’m also hoping to finish a draft I started last year, with the working title of “For Zia”, which focuses on a side character from Stricken – he’s there for maybe three lines, but I’ve come up for a story for him.
All about V.J. Allison:
1. What is something unique/quirky about you?
I do not like popcorn, or Pumpkin Spice anything. I think both are vile!
2. What? No to popcorn? I LOVE popcorn haha. But you already know that. Moving along, what are some of your pet peeves?
Bigots and racists are a huge one. So do animal, child and domestic abusers. Anyone who holds a grudge, especially an unfounded one (like being called out on their horrible behavior, etc) makes my teeth grind together. I do not appreciate it when people will not take NO for an answer (notably when I say it).
I also think the disdain shown between some Indie and Trad published authors is highly uncalled for. We’re all authors. Yes, some of us went the traditional route, and some decided they wanted to do everything themselves. The route we took to succeed in our career is our choice, and no one should spit on another for choosing a different way.
My biggest pet peeve is when a wannabe author with no sales or someone who hasn’t written anything thinks I have to listen to them, and not to the ones at my publisher, or someone else in the industry – and takes a tantrum when I listen to the ones who know the industry. That’s happened numerous times over the years. If anyone starts doing that now, they’re cut off post-haste. I’m slowly learning the industry thanks to everyone at eXtasy Books, so I’m able to see that kind of behavior a lot faster.
3. How do you find time to write with a chronic illness and family?
I write when my husband and son are gone – Hubby works a few day shifts during the week, so I can write during the school year. Although, I’ve been writing a bit on and off while my son is around during summer vacation. I had a lot of work to do in Away to Me this year, so I was working on revisions in that or writing up new scenes for Book 2 of my series.
As for the chronic illnesses (I have several), I work when they’re not acting up, and sometimes even if they do. I am on pain management for some, and a strict regime for others, to keep them at a minimum. It’s not an easy thing to do, but I’m still here. Sometimes using the pain as fuel is a boon, I’ve written some of my best work while the pain from various conditions were way up on the pain scale.
4. Describe yourself in 5 words or less!
Geeky, introverted, metal-chick, and short.
5. What is your favourite social media site? You can only choose one.
I have to go with Facebook. I know, I’m bad.
V.J. Allison on reading:
1. What book do you think everyone should read?
That’s a tough question. I can’t pinpoint one book, but I suggest everyone reads at least one horror novel by Stephen King. His books are masterpieces in my opinion.
2. What do you think about the current publishing market?
It’s extremely competitive, but at the same time, so many authors help each other. We’re always there for support, to help with brainstorming or any other problem related to writing or publishing. To be noticed, you have to stand out somehow, but at the same time, you have to follow protocol and stay away from things that would make even the most open-minded people cringe.
Overall, I think it’s a lot easier to promote yourself as an author now than it was even ten years ago. So many publishers are encouraging networking with authors at the same house, as well as authors from other houses, and Indies as well.
3. If you could have been the author of any of your fave books that you’ve read, which book would you choose and why?
I have to go with The Handmaid’s Tale. That is one of my favorite books of all time, Ms. Atwood is a genius. It was such a breakthrough story, shocking, but at the same time, reflective of what “can” happen if things blow in a certain direction.
4. I agree. Ms. Atwood for sure is a great Canadian icon. How about sharing your favourite character from a book that you’ve read, and why they are your fave.
I liked Offred from The Handmaid’s Tale. She’s tough enough to bury her feelings about being forced into sexual/reproductive slavery, but at the same time, keeps enough of her heart open that she can sympathize with others, and become to care for a man other than her lost husband.
5. On average, how much do you read every week?
Definitely not enough! I was supposed to take the summer off from work, and read at least two books, but that got waylaid when I signed the contract for Away to Me. I wound up revising that, and start getting Book 2 ready in between things. I hope to catch up now that we’re in the final stages of prepping Away to Me for publication.
Title: Away to Me
Series: Tri-Town #1
Author: V.J. Allison
Word Count: 53,695
Publication Date: September 20, 2019
Heat Level: 3
Genre(s): Erotic, Contemporary Romance
Sometimes you have to go back to move forward.
Blurb: What would you do if you found out your late spouse wasn’t the biological parent of your stepchild as they had led you to believe? Would you let it go, in hopes the child wouldn’t go looking for their birth family, or would you help them in their search?
This is the dilemma Neil Falcon faces when he first discovers his late wife, Rita, wasn’t the biological mother of his teenage stepdaughter, Rikki.
His decision to look for her roots puts them on a path that leads them to a part of Neil’s past, one he thought was locked away forever.
Kelsey Wagner is shocked to see the man she once adored appear on her doorstep with claims that Rikki may be her biological child. After finding out her daughter wants her to be a part of her life, she agrees.
Amidst the confusion of raising a teenage daughter, the old feelings resurface. They know their daughter wants them to become a family, but can they make it work?
August, Montreal, Quebec, Kelsey’s apartment
Kelsey Wagner stared at the papers she was holding in shock. Tears filled her eyes, which blurred the words, making them run together like ink under water.
DNA can show it was someone else.
“Kelsey? Are you okay?” Neil Falcon’s question brought her back to the present.
She glanced up at him, a former counsellor from her time in a house for runaway teens, then moved her gaze back to the documents in her hand.
“I’m fine, give me a minute,” Kelsey mumbled distractedly, trying to discern what had led Neil and Rikki in her direction. She was barely a high school graduate, but she knew how easily one could be led away from the truth.
Or toward it.
Take a deep breath and look at why he thinks you’re the biological mother of his adopted daughter.
She read the birth date.
That’s the same.
So was the time of birth, and the hospital in Shelburne, where her daughter was born.
There was a photocopy of the card for her bassinet in the hospital, and Kelsey’s heart skipped a beat as she recognized the handwriting. Baby Girl. The last name was scratched out.
The data showed that Rikki Falcon, Neil’s adoptive child, was her biological daughter, the one Kelsey had given up for adoption when she was only sixteen years old.
This can’t be real. Neil has his facts mixed up. Rikki isn’t mine. She belongs to someone else. My child is in another province, far away from Nova Scotia.
She whispered tearfully, “How sure are you? Everything lines up, but there’s still a chance she may not be mine.”
“C’mon, Kelsey, you know I wouldn’t have come to Montreal if I wasn’t sure.”
She nodded as she remembered how Neil wasn’t one to jump to conclusions—he’d prefer to have concrete proof before he did something that could hurt his adopted child.
It’s a thirteen-hour drive from Bridgewater, Nova Scotia. No one drives that far unless they are on vacation or have pressing business to tend to.
“I know,” she whispered.
He awkwardly shifted and stared down at her with concern. “If you don’t want to know, I understand, but think of Rikki. When she found out she was adopted, she wanted to know who her real parents were. When things started pointing in your direction, she was over the moon.”
Kelsey shook her head, still unable to believe it. “I’m not the only teenager who gave birth to a girl that day,” she reminded him. There had been two others, but one girl was only fourteen, and the other was eighteen. She had been the only sixteen-year-old in the maternity ward that week.
“I double-checked in case I was wrong. You’re the same age, and you gave birth at the right time on her birthday. Everything else lines up for it to be you,” he shot back.
Kelsey’s gut was telling her that although the records could have been mixed up in his search, Neil’s findings were correct, and his stepdaughter was her biological child.
She straightened to her full height and met his deep brown-eyed gaze. “When and where do you want me to take the test?”
Neil visibly relaxed at her question. “The lab said you can drop by at any time today, and we’ll know within twenty-four to thirty-six hours. Rikki has already given them her sample. All they have to do is compare it to yours.”
“And if she is my daughter? What happens then?” she asked.
“Don’t think about it right now. We’ll deal with it after the results come back, okay?” His fingers brushed her cheek.
The soothing gesture stirred up so many memories. “One step at a time.” She shook her head in amazement and smiled sadly.
He chuckled and returned the smile. “Are you going to be okay?”
“I think so. We don’t know for sure, so there’s no point in getting excited or upset until it’s proven one way or another.”
“Right.” He glanced at his watch and sighed. “I’d better get back to the hotel before Rikki starts wondering where I am.”
At her door, Neil stared down at her for a moment. “Call me if you need me, or if you just need to talk, okay?”
She nodded, and they exchanged a sad smile before he left.
Kelsey slumped against the wall and stared at the door for a long time after his departure, the disbelief, her past, and the future colliding in a supernova.
He hasn’t changed at all. He’s still the leader, the rock for anyone who needs one. He let me lean on him more times than I can remember.
Neil had pulled Kelsey out of the darkness and showed she wasn’t white trash, just a lost soul in need of guidance. If she hadn’t met him, she would have died on the streets on her path of self-destruction, another anonymous statistic.
Neil Falcon had saved her life.
Because of that, she developed a hero-worship for him that had deepened into something else.
I fell for him, hard.
V.J. Allison was born and raised in southern Nova Scotia, Canada, and her work reflects her strong Maritime roots. She is a stay at home mother to a son on the autism spectrum, married to the love of her life, and “mama” to a rescued Maine Coon cat named Marnie.
She has been writing various stories of novel length and short stories since her school days, and sees writing as a vital component to her life.
When she isn’t writing, she loves to read romance and science fiction novels (notably Star Wars); listen to music (heavy metal, rock, alternative); watch various crime and forensic dramas; watch science fiction television shows and movies; and spend time with her large family and many friends.
This self proclaimed geeky rocker chick is a warrior and advocate for various chronic illnesses including Occipital Neuralgia, Trigeminal Neuralgia, Diabetes, Migraines, and Glossopharyngeal Neuralgia. She is also an advocate for the prevention of animal cruelty and is a voice for Autism Awareness.