Cate: Please welcome Elaine Cantrell. Elaine, will you please share a short bio with us?
Elaine: Hi, Cate. Thanks for letting me come today. You have a beautiful site. Hmm. About me. Okay, I’m a southern girl born and bred. I live in upstate South Carolina and attended Clemson University where I received a degree in secondary education. I went back later and got a Master’s Degree as well. I’m a member of Alpha Delta Kappa, an international honorary sorority for women educators. I’m also a member of Romance Writers of America and EPIC authors. My first novel A New Leaf was the 2003 winner of the Timeless Love Contest and was published in 2004 by Oak Tree Books. Right now I’m teaching high school social studies. If I ever get any free time I enjoy reading, collecting vintage Christmas ornaments, and playing with my grandchildren.
Cate: Thanks for your kind words, Elaine! Please tell us about your latest release and where it's available.
Elaine: My latest release is Return Engagement. It’s available as an ebook or in print. You can read the first chapter of Return Engagement at this link.
Beyond doubt, Return Engagement is my favorite of all my books. I worked on the book for several years before I was content with it, and I was making changes as long as my editor would allow it. I loved my characters so much I wanted to the best possible job for them. LOL. I loved them so much I’ve finished a sequel and am working on the third book in the series. My hero Richard is probably the reason for my obsession. I created him to be my fantasy man so it’s no wonder I fell for him.
Cate: Please tantalize us with a story blurb or excerpt.
Elaine: Delighted. Here’s a blurb to set the stage, and then I’ll share an excerpt.
Elizabeth Lane has heard the call of the four most seductive words in the entire English language: what might have been. Would you risk everything you hold dear to find out what might have been? That’s the choice which Elizabeth has to make.
Elizabeth is lucky, for she has it all, money, fame, a satisfying career and a devoted fiancé. Her humble beginnings are all but obscured, but she isn’t the kind of woman Senator Henry Lovinggood wants for his son, Richard. Senator Lovinggood plans to make Richard the President of the United States; he’ll need a woman from a wealthy, powerful family by his side. Ten years ago he broke Richard and Elizabeth up, but this time it won’t be so easy, for Elizabeth wants to know what might have been. This time she’ll fight back, a struggle which ultimately leads to kidnapping and attempted murder and alienates her from the man of her dreams.
This excerpt takes place after Elizabeth, my heroine, receives a note supposedly from Richard. The note invites her to a romantic rendezvous.
This time she found 2341. The numbers flaked from a small sign in front of a run-down, decrepit motel. Elizabeth shivered. She didn’t like this look of this place at all. She’d bet anything the owners had abandoned it. Just look. One of the big plate glass windows in the office had shattered and been boarded up. A few straggly shrubs were all but swallowed by weeds.
She still didn’t understand why Richard wanted to come to such a trashy looking, slightly scary place, but she trusted him. His surprise would undoubtedly make her forget all about her troubles getting here.
She turned into the front parking lot which was empty of cars and saw a faded and dusty closed sign in the office window. Wonder how many years the place had been closed? Okay, she’d try around back.
She drove around to the back side of the motel where she found a late model silver Buick and a black Jaguar parked side by side. Richard must have a Jaguar, too, thought Elizabeth. She wondered who owned the Buick and decided it probably belonged to someone helping him with her surprise.
She parked beside the two cars and looked around. Richard hadn’t mentioned a room number, but all of the doors were closed except room 205 which stood partially open. That must be the one. She hurried across the parking lot and stepped inside Room 205. It smelled musty and seemed dark to her, but the sun shone brightly today. She paused a moment to give her eyes time to adjust.
The room was bigger than she’d expected. Actually, it was a suite, not a single room at all. At one time it had probably looked very lovely, but now it just looked old and battered. Water-stained wallpaper peeled from one corner while the carpet underfoot was littered with some type of black, loamy substance, maybe dirt, maybe mildew. She didn’t see anyone, so she called, “Richard? Where are you?”
No one answered, but she saw an interior door hanging from one hinge near the back of the room and decided to check it out. She took three steps into the quiet darkness before she finally realized something was wrong. Things didn’t feel right in this room. Every nerve in her body screamed danger, and she seemed to have ice water instead of blood in her veins. She was getting out of here!
With a gasp she turned to run, but she had waited too late. A small man stood between her and the front door. He held an ugly, black gun that pointed straight at her.
“Miss Lane, how very good of you to come,” he began, his voice cultured, precise, and quiet. “This gathering would not be complete without your presence.”
“Who are you? Where’s Richard?” Elizabeth shrilly demanded.
“All of your questions will be answered in time, Miss Lane.” He didn’t take the gun off Elizabeth as he backed toward the outer door and shut it. “Please walk in front of me toward the next room. There’s someone in there who’s waiting for you.”
Elizabeth had no choice, so she turned around and entered the next room. Her eyes hurriedly scanned the interior. If Richard had decided to play some kind of joke on her, he was in big trouble.
Her heart almost skittered out of her chest when she saw a gagged man bound to the bed. He turned his face to her, and Elizabeth recognized Senator Lovinggood.
“Senator!” She darted across the room to remove the cloth stuffed into the Senator’s mouth, but the quiet, cultured voice prevented her.
“No, Miss Lane. Don’t remove the gag. I’ve grown weary of listening to the senator. You are, however, standing in the right place. Feel free to sit down beside Senator Lovinggood if you wish. You’ve gone a little pale, and I wouldn’t want you to faint and hurt yourself.”
Elizabeth defiantly faced the small man even though her knees felt like jelly and her arms had pimpled with goose-bumps. “You’d better let us go right now. You have no idea who you’re messing around with.”
The man chuckled. “Of course I do. I’m in no danger from either of you. Please don't bother to threaten me.”
“Who are you? What do you want?”
“Excellent questions, Miss Lane. My name is Kensington Brady, and what I want is justice.”
Cate: Wonderful! What inspired you to write about the theme?
Elaine: Oh, that’s easy. I’m a romantic at heart. My husband and I are still in love after being married for thirty seven years. He’s working out of state right now so every night we Skype each other. If you don’t know, Skype is a program where we can see each other on the computer as we talk. Romance just seemed like the natural place to begin my writing career.
Cate: Very cool. How do you develop your plots and characters?
Elaine: I generally start with the germ of an idea which usually comes to me when I get in the “what if?” mood. From that point I imagine the type of characters that might be conflicted over such an issue. I usually have a starting point, and I know where I want to end up, but the details in between are usually hazy.
Cate: Do you feel as if the characters live with you as you write? Do they haunt your dreams?
Elaine: You’d better believe it! I thought about my characters in Return Engagement for years. Once after I’d spent the evening writing I called my husband Richard the hero of Return Engagement.
Cate: What's next for you?
Elaine: Right now I’m revising the sequel to Return Engagement, and working on book 3 of the Lovinggood series. I also have a book that’s probably coming out early next year from Lachesis Publishing.
Cate: Any other published works?
Elaine: Yes. My first novel A New Leaf was the 2003 winner of the Timeless Love contest and was published by Oak Tree Press in 2004. The book is available at http://www.oaktreebooks.com
Purple Heart is available at http://www.thewildrosepress.com
The Welcome Inn at http://www.wings-press.com
The Best Selling Toy Of The Season at http://www.midnightshowcase.com
Return Engagement http://www.whiskeycreekpress.com
Grandfather’s Legacy is only available as a PDF because the publisher passed away. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Cate: Describe your writing in three words.
Elaine: Smooth, fast-paced, and, exciting.
Cate: What’s the most challenging aspect of writing? Most rewarding?
Elaine: I’m better with dialogue than with description. It’s always a challenge for me to write descriptions. The most rewarding? Creating a scene that I think is practically perfect. Of course, my editors usually don’t agree with me about that. :)
Cate: What’s the most interesting comment you have received about your books?
Elaine: The one that I liked best came from a lady who doesn’t usually read romance. She finished Grandfather’s Legacy and called me to talk about the book. She said, “Why, that could be anybody.” I like that comment because that’s what I want readers to feel. I want them to think that romance can happen to anyone, not just a character in a book.
Cate: Who are some of your favorite authors and books? What are you reading now?
Elaine: Right now I’m reading an Elizabeth Peters novel The Serpent on the Crown. She’s one of my favorite authors as is Karen White. I recently finished two of her books, The House on Tradd Street and The Girl on Legare Street.
Cate: Where can readers find you on the web?
Elaine: My web site is www.elainecantrell.com
My blog is http://www.elainepcantrell.blogspot.com
My Facebook page is http://www. http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/profile.php?id=100000153041486
Cate: Is there anything you’d like to ask our readers?
Elaine: I’d like to invite them to check out my blog and my Facebook page as well as my web site. I love to meet new people.
Cate: Thanks for being my guest, Elaine! Best of luck to you.