Sunday, October 12, 2014

Shannon MacLeod's sharing spooky tales and Barmbrack!

Cate: Woot! Shannon MacLeod’s here to party Halloween style. Shannon, please tell us a little bit about yourself.
Shannon: Let’s see…I like pina coladas and getting caught in the rain…I’m a recovering D&D player, live by the ocean, love high heels, cats and movies with either talking animals or stuff blowing up. And dragons. Anything with dragons.   

Cate: What do you love most about Halloween?
Shannon: An entire month of really bad and/or really old horror movies.

Cate: lol Do you have a favorite memory of a Halloween past?
Shannon: I grew up in the very rural country. It was common for houses to be a half mile or more apart, so trick or treating was done by car. My favorite house had the oddest couple, the Waltons. They reminded me of a short, portly version of Gomez and Tish – their house was way back off the road, and crammed full of taxidermied animals, books, hanging beads and crystals. There was a concert grand harp in the living room and they always had homemade candied and caramel apples. I remember one year the lady wore a lovely tumbled stones bracelet…found out later they were gallstones.  

Cate: Interesting neighbors! :) Have you ever had an unusual experience you couldn’t explain?
Shannon: Lots – where I grew up ghosts and odd doings were more normal than not. I once lived in a house where you could hear very faint big band, WWII type music playing if you stood in one particular spot in the middle of the hallway.  

Cate: How cool! What frightens you the most?
Shannon: Spiders. I’m also claustrophobic to the point of silliness. 

Cate: Tight spaces are horrific, I  agree! Ever gone on a ghost tour? Or ghost hunting on your own?
Shannon: Not officially, I’m pretty sure my grandmother’s house was haunted. After my grandfather passed away, we all saw him pretty regularly.

Cate: How sweet - he didn't want to leave :) Any favorite Halloween recipes you’d care to share?
Shannon: One of my favorite Halloween treats is Barmbrack. This is a sweet bread with bits of fruit in it. When I was growing up, it wasn’t officially Fall until this wonderful smell coming out of my own seanmhathair’s kitchen announced its arrival. Here is a good basic recipe – I bake mine in a cast iron frying pan and cut it in wedges like cake:

2 cups all purpose flour
¾ cup sugar
1 lb dried fruit (I’m partial to sultanas, raisins, cherries, blueberries and a dash of lemon zest)
1 tsp baking powder
1 egg
1 tsp all spice
Pot of hot Irish tea

The trick to making a good Barmbrack is to soak the dried fruit in the tea overnight. Add the sugar and egg to the dry ingredients and mix. Drain, then fold in the drained fruits gently. Be careful not to work the dough too much after adding the fruit because the newly hydrated pieces will start coming apart. Pour into your pan of choice. Bake at 350°F for 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Whip up a quick glaze with 1 tablespoon of sugar and 2 tablespoons boiling water. Right before the loaf is done, brush the top liberally with glaze and pop it back in for 1-2 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.
Cate: Yum! Tell us about your latest release, and where readers can find it online.
Shannon: One of my new ones is Rogue on the Rollaway – you can find it here:

Cate: Care to share a blurb or excerpt?
“…He’s in here, Miss. I’ll be right outside the door if you need anything.” The uniformed officer escorted Colleen into the small interrogation room furnished only by two folding chairs and a gray metal table. She gave him a grateful smile when he closed the door behind her then turned her full attention to the room’s only occupant.  Faolan was looking entirely too cheerful given his current position of being seated in one of those chairs and handcuffed, his long legs stretched out before him and crossed at the ankles. “Good day, Princess,” he said with a grin. “Yer home early.”
Dropping into the seat opposite him she demanded in a low voice, “Faolan, what the hell did you do?”
“‘Twas all a simple misunderstanding, I’m thinking…” he began. “I was at the market…”
Colleen’s eyes widened and she gasped in disbelief. “Grocery store? What on earth were you doing there?”
“Shopping,” he drawled, like it should have been completely obvious. “Had ye been listening this morning instead of tearing about like a wee mad thing, ye might have remembered me mentioning we were out of--”
She waved her hand impatiently to stop him. “Wait. How did you get there?”
His smile was dazzling. “I drove yer car,” he said proudly.
Thump. She closed her eyes as her forehead hit the tabletop. “Faolan, you can’t do that,” she mumbled. “Let me guess. You learned to drive like you learned to make coffee, by watching, right?”
At the soft sound of movement she cracked open one eye to see his concerned face level with hers on the table. “Please doona do that, Princess,” he said, giving her a gentle kiss on the forehead. “It pains me to see ye so distressed over such a trifling matter as this.”
She gave him a sour look and sat upright. “Trifling matter,” she mimicked then frowned when she realized what else was wrong with his admission. “My car wouldn’t start this morning. How did you manage that? Been watching mechanic shows on A&E?”
He cocked an eyebrow, an enigmatic smile playing about his lips. “Magic, Princess. A wee incantation ‘twas all it took and--”
“Yer really going to have to not do that,” Faolan admonished, giving her a stern glare.
She sat up again, took a deep breath and plunged in. “Okay, tell me what happened.”
With a casual shrug of one shoulder he began to explain. “Och, aye. Well, being as ye were too busy this morning, I drove meself to the market and the officer was behind me in a car that had bright blue lights upon it. It made a hell of a racket too, a loud screaming sound the likes of which I doona ever wish to hear again. Does yer car make that noise?” When her lips tightened in irritation, he hurried on without waiting for an answer. “Those spinning lights came on as I was turning into the parking area. I dinna know he wanted me to stop. He approached me when I got out of the car and asked me for…something…some sort of papers. I dinna have any papers other than my list and I told him so. He insisted I come with him. I insisted he call to tell ye where I was so ye wouldna worry. He told me I couldna give him orders, and I told the clot heided buffoon if he intended on taking me anywhere he’d do as I say because I’ll not have ye worrying.” He indicated his handcuffed wrists and gave her a bright smile. “And so here’s me and here’s ye. Gaols are much cleaner now, ‘twould seem,” he observed, looking around the room, his gaze returning to rest on her. “Will ye be off the rest of the day, then? We could--”
“Focus,” Colleen hissed. She yanked opened her purse and dug around for her wallet. “I’ve got to get you out of here. There should be money left to bail you out.” She stared up at the ceiling. “How in the world--”
“Calm yerself, lass,” he soothed, “I’m going to get myself out of here and all will be well.
What I need for ye to do is keep those beautiful lips of yers closed and let me do that. And no questions until we’re home,” he added when she opened her mouth to speak. “Do ye know the papers he was asking for? Give me yers, please.”
Beautiful lips, her heart fluttered at the words. Giving herself a mental shake, Colleen steeled herself against melting into a gooey puddle at his flattery and focused on the immediate problem. “Most likely he wanted your license and registration,” she nodded. She handed both to him and sat back in the hard plastic chair, waiting to see what happened next.
With a strange glint in his eyes, Faolan leaned forward. “Ready to see a wee bit of real magic, Colleen?” he whispered.
Funny how she kept forgetting he was insane. She favored him with an indulgent smile and folded her arms across her chest. “Sure. Dazzle me...”

Cate: What inspired you to write about the theme?
Shannon: It started out as a really great dream. As soon as I woke up I started scribbling and the book details just fell into place.

Cate: Anything else you’d like to share?
Shannon: I’ve got three paranormal romances out right now plus two reference books on the Tarot. Please stop by my website for blurbs and excerpts!

Cate: Thanks for sharing in the Halloween fun, Shannon!