Today, I’m hosting USA Today bestselling author Anna J. Stewart. She’s here to talk about her latest release Guarding His Midnight Witness, a romantic suspense. Don’t forget to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway.
Anna’s favourite movies:
Oh, how much time do I have? I try to limit this answer to three, and I chose these three because I truly believed they awakened my love of storytelling and, in particular, romance. First and foremost, The Adventures of Robin Hood, the one with Errol Flynn. Classic romantic hero, spunky, determined heroine who didn’t take crap from anyone and villains out to do their dastardly deeds. Swashbuckling at its best. It’s a wonder I didn’t try my hand at historicals, but I don’t have the mindset for that. I admire historical romance writers so much because they have so much research and have to pay close attention to details. But yeah, that’s top of the list.
Second would have to be Star Wars, Episode IV: A New Hope. I was seven when it came out and it’s the first movie I saw in theaters. I can still remember sitting in that dark room when that music blasted and those words “In a galaxy far, far away…” scrolled on the screen. Chills. Again, classic storytelling of the hero’s journey with a life-changing, inspiring heroine in the form of Princess Leia. I think I was her for Halloween for years afterwards. She’s still one of my go-to heroines and parts of her sneak into every female character I write.
My third would have to be The Harvey Girls with Judy Garland and John Hodiak. It is, hands down, a romance from start to finish. I mean, for writers who examine structure, you can see the story beats in every single bit of that movie. Again, strong, spunky heroine out to change her part of the world. It’s delightful and the costumes. Just beautiful. Angela Landsbury as the “villainess” is a pure delight and that scene of hero and heroine sitting on the mountain looking at his “valley”…it melts my heart every single time (and I have watched this movie A LOT!).
What Anna enjoyed most about writing Guarding His Midnight Witness:
For GUARDING HIS MIDNIGHT WITNESS, it’s the interplay between Greta and Jack. She’s so different from any other character I’ve ever written and they’re so different together, it was refreshing to write. I also got to visit with previous characters from other books. This one picks up 2 years after the last Honor Bound book, GONE IN THE NIGHT and so much has changed except the friendship and closeness among the characters. They’ve created their own unit, their own family, and putting Greta, a woman who has spent most of her life alone, into the middle of that was both challenging and delightful. She’s seeing that group in the way readers who haven’t met them before will see them, which meant I got to see them from a different perspective.
Anna’s favourite part of the book:
Oh, I have two favorites in GUARDING HIS MIDNIGHT WITNESS. First is the aforementioned scene where Greta goes to dinner with Jack on his friends’ boat. That interplay between Greta and Jack’s “family” was just so much fun to construct (even while I tried to keep track of who was who and where they were now). Second is a scene where Greta is touring the art gallery (based on Sacramento’s Crocker Art Museum and Gallery), seeing where her exhibit is going to be displayed, and once again she sees something she’s not sure she’s seen. Playing with her, hopefully making the reader doubt whether she’s actually seeing this or if her imagination is playing tricks on her, was such a challenge but also plain fun. Even I was beginning to doubt what was going on and I was writing it!
Anna offers advice for new authors:
Write. Read. Read. Read. And write more. You don’t learn anything by reading about writing, not as much as you learn about actually doing the writing itself. Write what you want. Write what you love. If you don’t love it, how will anyone else? And don’t ever, EVER, let anyone tell you your process is wrong. It might be wrong for them, but your process is NEVER wrong for you. Try everything, take advice, give it a shot, and don’t be afraid to discard what doesn’t work for you. As many authors as there are out there writing books, that’s how many ways there are to write a book. If someone ever says “this is the only way to do…anything”, walk, no, RUN away. Find your way, but stay on the path. Read everything. And write all the words.
Anna on the how long it takes to write a book:
Let’s answer this taking 2020 out of the equation. Before this year, I was writing about six stories a year. Most are 70k words (my Harlequins), there are some 20-30k novellas thrown in there, too. On average, it was taking me about 2 months to 10 weeks to write a book. Some just flowed, others didn’t. Ideally, I think once I catch up with all my deadlines and we’re on the other side of this year, I’d like to cut that down to four to five books a year. That almost sounds like a break. But for now…I’ll do as one my mantras says and I’ll Just Keep Swimming.
Title: Guarding His Midnight Witness
Series: Honor Bound Book 4
Author: Anna J. Stewart
Genre: Romantic Suspense
She knows what she saw…
Can he believe her?
Detective Jack McTavish can’t afford another slipup. So when artist Greta Renault claims to have witnessed a murder without a shred of evidence, he’s tempted to walk. Jack’s gut propels him to pursue this case—and his attraction to Greta. Soon, not only is his job on the line, but Greta’s life is, too…and only Jack can keep her safe.
The intercom buzzed. Greta jumped, and her heart just about exploded in her chest. She stood there, blinking, barely breathing as her mind raced. To be safe, she returned to the window, leaned over just enough to peer back into Fremont’s office. Doyle Fremont was still there. The intercom buzzed again. She scrubbed her damp palms hard against her bare thighs and walked to the door. Her hands shook as she pressed the button to activate the front-door camera. She sagged against the wall, half laughing and relieved to see the detective.
She buzzed him in and stood waiting behind the closed door until she heard the stair door creak open. Only then did she open her own door, but only by a crack. She tried not to notice how the blue of his shirt made his eyes glint, or how just the sight of him made her feel better. But she did notice. Both. She also noticed he was more than slightly out of breath, despite trying to hide the fact. “Detective.”
“Are you trying to get yourself killed?”
His words sliced straight through her. “Excuse me?”
“What were you thinking spying on him like that?” He braced his hands on either side of the frame and glared at her. “You may as well be holding up a sign that says Here I am. Come and get me.”
Whatever gentleness and understanding had been in his voice the last time they’d spoken had completely evaporated with the steam coming out of his ears. Anger sparked in his blue eyes, like tiny orange flames erupting in the ocean. Fascination tempered her offense as her fingers itched for her brush, a pencil, her notepad. “I beg your pardon.”
“Don’t. Just don’t, Greta.” She caught a glimmer beneath the anger, beneath the irritation. Was it…concern? Was he worried about her? Something odd and light fluttered in her chest. “You need to stay out of this from here on. You need to stay away from Doyle Fremont.”
“Why?” Her chin inched up, her fingers tightening around the edge of the door.
“Don’t do that, either.”
“Do what?” She frowned.
“Hold that door between us like it’s some kind of shield. I’m not going to hurt you.”
She gave him a smile that made her cheeks ache. “Maybe I’m trying to protect you from the kook who lives here.” Snark wasn’t her forte, but the flash of embarrassment that crossed over his handsome features boosted her confidence. “That is what your partner called me, isn’t it? Kooky?”
“He did.” That he didn’t try to deny it earned him points, but the confirmation struck hard, nonetheless. He rubbed a hand against his chest. “I apologize for that. Bowie’s experience with the more eccentric residents of our city needs to be expanded. And better tolerated. He could probably also do with a new thesaurus.”
Her lips twitched at the unexpected joke. “Do you agree with him?”
“That you’re kooky? I wouldn’t say so, although spying on a man you’re convinced killed someone doesn’t seem like the safest of moves. How about I reserve judgment?”
A man you’re convinced… She could have stepped into the verbal trap he’d set, a trap he’d baited with a dimple-revealing smile that had her stomach doing somersaults. But rather than taking that step forward, she took one back. And opened the door wider. “How about we have this discussion over a cup of tea.”
He blinked. As expected, she’d caught him off guard. “I’m sorry?
“Tea,” she said slowly. “It looks like you could use some. I’m sorry, I don’t have any coffee. I know you prefer it.”
“How do you know?” He straightened, but hesitated, appeared a bit unsure of what to do next.
“Because you were slugging it down the other night when you were here. Don’t get me wrong, I love the smell of strong brewed espresso, but the caffeine wreaks havoc on your nerves, and I don’t need shaky hands. So let’s do tea.” When he came forward, she stopped him with a hand on his chest. Her fingers immediately warmed as they pressed into him. A blood-zinging buzz hummed through her as she curled her fingers under and into the soft fabric of his shirt. She couldn’t have let go of him if she’d wanted to. And she didn’t want to.
“I thought you were going to let me in.”
She lifted her chin, looked into his eyes that drew her in like breath. She wanted to draw him. She wanted to just look at him and let her mind fly. But now, more than anything, more than she should, she wanted something completely wrong, something she’d never wanted before in her life. She wanted…
She stepped forward, slipped her hand up and around to his neck and drew him to her, covered his mouth with hers. She could feel his surprise, taste it on her lips as she moved her mouth, angled her head and deepened the kiss. A surge of energy flashed through her as she felt his hand skim down her side to rest on the swell of her hip. She barely had time to process the skin-tingling sensation before he moved in, pulling her tight against him. Whatever control she thought she had slipped away as he took over, his tongue sweeping through her mouth, tangling with hers, painting an image in her mind of what their bodies could do together. That thought was enough to prompt reason to return. She broke off the kiss but didn’t stop touching him, couldn’t stop herself from tangling her fingers in his hair. “I can’t believe I just did that.” Every nerve ending in her body was sparking like a downed electrical wire.
“That makes two of us.
USA Today and national bestselling author Anna J Stewart can’t remember a time she didn’t have a book in her hands or a story in her head. Early obsessions with Star Wars, Star Trek, and Wonder Woman set her on the path to creating sweet to sexy pulse-pounding romances for her independent heroines. Anna lives in Northern California where she deals with a serious Supernatural addiction and an overly affectionate cat named Snickers.
$15 Amazon Gift Card – 1 winner
Digital sets of the original Honor Bound Trilogy (MORE THAN A LAWMAN, REUNITED WITH THE PI, GONE IN THE NIGHT- 3 winners, their choice of ePub or Mobi)
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