Elizabeth McKenna is a full-time technical writer/editor for a large software company. She never read romance novels until one Christmas when her sister gave her the latest bestseller by Nora Roberts. She was hooked from page one (actually, she admits it was the first love scene).
She had always wanted to write fiction, so when a psychic told her she would write a book, Elizabeth felt obligated to give it a try. She combined her love of history, romance and a happy ending to write her first novel Cera's Place. She recently released a short story titled The Gypsy Casts a Spell.
Elizabeth lives in Wisconsin (Packers, Brewers, and Badgers - oh my!) with her understanding husband, two beautiful daughters, and sassy Labrador. When she isn't writing, working, or being a mom, she's sleeping.
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1. Have you always wanted to be a writer? How did you get started writing romance?
I have always enjoyed writing and am a technical writer by trade. Several years ago, my children were studying different careers at school. They asked me if I liked my job and I said I would rather be writing fiction. They asked why I didn’t do that then. Instead of explaining about bills and mortgages, I started writing romance in my spare time. I felt it was important to show them that it was never too late to follow your dreams.
2. Tell us about your writing process. Do you outline, or are you more of a seat of your pants type of a writer?
With my first novel, Cera’s Place, I didn’t have a formal outline. I bounced ideas off my husband and rewrote a lot. With Venice in the Moonlight, I used an outline and tried to stick to traditional story structure.
3. Are there any romance novel cliché that make you cringe when you read them?
I don’t always enjoy the virgin versus the rake. I just finished reading a story where the heroine felt a ripping sensation during their first love scene. I thought – yuck.
4. What is the hardest scene you’ve had to write, and what made it so difficult?
Definitely the first love scene that I wrote. I wasn’t sure how much detail to put in. I don’t like to read erotica, but I didn’t want to write a sweet romance. Nora Roberts was the first romance author I read, so I tried to follow what she did. The first draft came off as very clinical. Luckily, I had another writer review it so I was able to improve the scene using her feedback. In the end, she told me the rewrite was hot. It was a huge confidence booster.
5. Which of your heroines would you say is most like you, and why?
Probably Cera in Cera’s Place. Life’s knocked her around and she spends all of her time taking care of others. When Jake enters her life, she declares she doesn’t have time for men or romance. Sounds like a lot of mothers I know! I’d like to think I’m as strong as she is.
6. What are you working on now?
I’m working on another historical romance, Venice in the Moonlight, set in 1753 during Casanova’s time. It’s a story of vengeance, forgiveness, and love and should be available later this year. Here is the description:
After her husband’s death, Marietta Gatti is banished from the family’s villa by her spiteful mother-in-law. With nowhere to go, she returns to Venice and her only kin – a father she hasn’t spoken to since her forced marriage.
Hoping to make amends, she is devastated to find he has died two months earlier. When his lover insists it was under suspicious circumstances, Marietta retraces her father’s last days only to learn someone may have wanted him dead.
When the prime suspect is the father of the man she is falling in love with, Marietta faces a heart-breaking decision. Should she risk her future happiness to avenge the death of a man she has despised for the past five years?
In 1869, San Francisco saloon owner Cera Cassidy offers redemption to any woman looking for honest work. At Cera's Place, men can get a decent hot meal with a whiskey, but if they want anything more, they have to take their desires elsewhere. One summer night, a distraught Chinese girl bursts through the swinging doors with a shocking tale of murder, kidnapping, and prostitution. Outraged, Cera vows to set things right.
Jake Tanner, a scarred ex-soldier haunted by the horrors of the Civil War, is on a mission to fulfill a friend's dying wish. The trail has brought him to Cera's door. Captivated by her Irish beauty, he wants to join her fight - but will she let him?
Elizabeth McKenna's debut novel is a fast-paced adventure filled with memorable characters that will leave you wanting more. Get lost in a time gone by and fall in love today!
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