Tag Archives: Anne Barwell

World of Love—New Zealand, *Sunset at Pencarrow* by Sylvre and Barwell coming in June!

Dreamspinner World of Love Collection emblem
Co-author Anne Barwell and I are delighted with the scheduled publication date June 7, 2017 for our novella, Sunset at Pencarrow, which will represent New Zealand in the Dreamspinner Press World of Love collection. For a look at the stories already released, go here. We have had a sneak peak at our cover image, made by exceptional artist Reese Dante—stay tuned for the big reveal, most likely on May 9th. Meanwhile, how about the blurb and a couple of images that helped us with inspiration as we wrote this story of international romance.

Kiwi Nathaniel Dunn is in a fighting mood, but how does a man fight Wellington’s famous fog? In the last year, Nate’s lost his longtime lover to boredom and his ten-year job to the economy. Now he’s found a golden opportunity for employment where he can even use his artistic talent, but to get the job, he has to get to Christchurch today. Heavy fog means no flight, and the ticket agent is ignoring him to fawn over a beautiful but annoying, overly polite American man.

Rusty Beaumont can deal with a canceled flight, but the pushy Kiwi at the ticket counter is making it difficult for him to stay cool. The guy rubs him all the wrong ways despite his sexy working-man look, which Rusty notices even though he’s not looking for a man to replace the fiancé who died two years ago. Yet when they’re forced to share a table at the crowded airport café, Nate reveals the kind heart behind his grumpy façade. An earthquake, sex in the bush, and visits from Nate’s belligerent ex turn a day of sightseeing into a slippery slope that just might land them in love.

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(NZ photo one: By Phillip Capper from Wellington, New Zealand – Misty suburbs and the Orongorongos, Wellington, New Zealand, 1 July 2006, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17726972)
(NZ photo two: By Phillip Capper from Wellington, New Zealand – Pencarrow Head, Wellington, New Zealand from ‘Santa Regina’, 24 Feb. 2007, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2893263)

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Filed under authors, just a category, Lou Sylvre, M/M romance, Upcoming release

Easter Eggs: a post by Anne Barwell—*Family and Reflection* blog tour

It is my true pleasure to host Anne Barwell today, as she stops on her tour celebrating the upcoming release of Family and Reflection, book 3 of the popular Sleepless City series, available for pre-order now at the Dreamspinner Press Store. Read on to find out what the heck Easter eggs have to do with books. 🙂 (Also, the blurb, buy links, an excerpt, and a few facts of interest about Anne Barwell.)

Thanks, Lou, for hosting me today.

Something that sneaks into most, if not all of my books, is an easter egg reference. I’m not referring to the chocolate goodies associated with the Easter Bunny, but intertexual references to other books I’ve written. My stories take place in the same universe, so occasionally a character or place from another series has a cameo in the one I’m writing.

A couple of characters from The Sleepless City— a series which is a joint project with Elizabeth Noble— have turned up in other books but so far, only a couple of readers have picked up on it. Often the cameo isn’t something I planned from the outset, but sometimes it’s deliberate either because I’m setting up for something I haven’t written yet, or I need a character in a certain place or time, and I figure as I have an existing one who is there already, why create another? One character—I’m not saying who as that would give too much away—had a blink and you’d miss it cameo in my WW2 book Winter Duet, and a much bigger than I intended one in my WW1 novella, On Wings of Song. Another has turned up in my current WIP One Word, so it will be fun seeing if anyone notices her when things get that far.

On the flip side, there’s also a reference in Family and Reflection to another story I’ve written. It is a very small one, but the clue is that I don’t reuse character names. If you think, “isn’t that the same name as so-and-so in such-and-such a story?” then it probably is the same person.

That’s one cool thing about writing characters who are vampires. There’s a lot of history to play with…

Family and Reflection
Book 3 of The Sleepless City, Sequel to Electric Candle

For as long as Lucas Coate can remember, werewolves have been taught to mistrust vampires. Lucas is an exception—he has close friends who are vampires. The werewolf pack in Flint—and their leader, Jacob Coate—have made it clear that Lucas’s association with vampires is barely tolerated, and another transgression will be his last. When Lucas finds out about the plague of werewolf deaths in the area, he wants to help even though his own life may already be in danger.

Declan has been away from Flint for ten years, but he isn’t surprised to learn that the internal politics of the Supernatural Council haven’t changed for the better. When a series of burglaries hit close to home soon after he arrives, Declan—a vampire and professional thief—is their prime suspect, although for once, he isn’t responsible. With the council keeping secrets, no one is safe. Time is running out, and for Lucas and Declan, everything is about to change.


Buy links:
eBook: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6464
Paperback: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6465


Excerpt:

Declan turned the page of his book, read the first paragraph, then shook his head. He wasn’t sure why he’d bothered, as he couldn’t for the life of him remember what had happened on the previous page, let alone in the last few chapters. He closed the book with a thump, got up from the table, went over to the fridge, and opened it.

He wasn’t hungry, but if he had been, the mold-covered plate on one of the shelves would have put him off whatever else had taken his fancy. Someone really needed to have a word with Lucas about leaving his science experiments to breed. Declan lifted the plate somewhat cautiously and sniffed it, then wished he hadn’t. City coroner or not, this wasn’t… normal. Normal people cleaned out their leftovers before they got the chance to become strange new life forms.

Even if, in this case, his definition of normal was a werewolf.

But, despite his reaction, Declan couldn’t bring himself to throw the—whatever it was—away. To him it was disgusting, but to Lucas it might be some new discovery crucial to whatever he was currently working on. And Declan didn’t want to upset Lucas. In the short time they’d known each other, he’d become quite fond of Lucas, and enjoyed the time they spent together.

Declan sighed. He returned the offending thing to its previous resting place, ignoring the visions of reanimated zombie leftovers creeping up the stairs to attack him in the middle of the night, and instead got a wineglass out of the cupboard. He poured himself a decent-sized portion of his favorite red beverage and settled back down on the chair he’d recently vacated. As much as he enjoyed a good vintage wine, there were times when one had to quench one’s other thirsts. He sniffed the glass and savored the aroma before swallowing.

Hmm, not bad. It was amazing the standard of blood available to purchase through the right sources. It made it so much easier to feed than it used to be, and less messy too.

He heard the light step on the stairs and human heartbeat long before Ben reached the kitchen and stood awkwardly in the doorway.

“Hello, Ben,” Declan said. “Don’t worry, you’re not disturbing me.”

“If you’re sure?” Ben Leyton ran one hand through his thick dark hair. He looked tired. “I couldn’t sleep, so I thought I’d make a Milo and see if that helps.”

“I heard Simon having a nightmare earlier. He never did sleep well on anniversaries.” He’d known Simon Hawthorne a long time; Jonas Forge had introduced them shortly after Simon had been turned. Declan had also helped Simon through a dark part of his life, triggered by the events he suspected had prompted this particular nightmare, given the time of year. “I also don’t mind if you turn on the light.”

Although Declan didn’t need much light to see, especially with the full moon casting its glow into the room, Ben would appreciate more illumination.

“Yeah, well, they’re the worst times for most people, I guess.” Ben flicked on the light switch before walking across the kitchen. He filled the kettle and put it on to boil before reaching into the cupboard and bringing down a green can. “Do you want some? It’s a chocolate drink.”

“Thank you but no.” Declan indicated the glass in front of him.

The loud howl almost made him jump, and only years of practiced self-control stopped him. Even so, Declan’s hairs stood on end on the back of his neck, and the howl sent a shiver through him.

Lucas howled again. Frustration, anger, and loss all rolled into a sound that was pure wolf.

Declan knocked his glass over, spilling its contents. Without thinking, he moved at vampire speed, catching what was left of the blood in his palm and drinking deeply.

The glass fell to the floor, smashing into tiny pieces. He ignored it and finished the blood, then wiped the back of his hand across his mouth. A low growl escaped his lips. He knew his eyes were completely green. They tended to do that when his fangs extended.

When he looked up, Ben was staring at him, his eyes wide. “I’ll clean up the mess, shall I?” Ben said hurriedly, already heading for the broom.

“Don’t worry,” Declan said. “I’ll do it. Make your chocolate drink, mon ami. It’s my mess, so my responsibility, yes?”

Bio:
Anne Barwell lives in Wellington, New Zealand. She shares her home with two cats who are convinced that the house is run to suit them; this is an ongoing “discussion,” and to date it appears as though the cats may be winning.

In 2008 she completed her conjoint BA in English Literature and Music/Bachelor of Teaching. She has worked as a music teacher, a primary school teacher, and now works in a library. She is a member of the Upper Hutt Science Fiction Club and plays violin for Hutt Valley Orchestra.

She is an avid reader across a wide range of genres and a watcher of far too many TV series and movies, although it can be argued that there is no such thing as “too many.” These, of course, are best enjoyed with a decent cup of tea and further the continuing argument that the concept of “spare time” is really just a myth.

Anne’s books have twice received honorable mentions and twice reached the finals in the Rainbow Awards.

Blog: http://anne-barwell.livejournal.com/
Website: http://annebarwell.wordpress.com/
Coffee Unicorns: http://coffeeunicorns.wordpress.com/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/anne.barwell.1
Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/115084832208481414034/posts
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4862410.Anne_Barwell
Dreamspinner Press Author Page:
http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/AuthorArcade/anne-barwell

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Filed under Dreamspinner Press, featured authors, just a category, M/M romance, Upcoming release, Writers on writing

Five shinies for Anne Barwell’s On Wings of Song! (Release day review)

Five luminous stars to Anne Barwell’s On Wings of Song. This novella is not a story of hot love or love at first sight, but rather a tale of the tenacity of a first spark between souls. Here Barwell’s prose style pleases as always, but it’s her ability to ferret out the secrets of the heart that shines above all.

Many of us already know the author has a gift for finding the human truth in historical times and events, and especially for seeing past the walls that veterans of war often—of necessity—build around their hearts. In On Wings of Song, her time-travelling pen (or keyboard, perhaps) takes the reader back to one of the most remarkable verifiable events of modern warfare—the Christmas Truce of 1914. Entrenched soldiers of Germany, France, England, and Scotland (the later three allied) in a number of places along a battlefront that already foretold the later horrors of WWI came together across narrow strips of no-mans-land to celebrate together a few hours of peace.

When German soldier Jochen Weber and Englishman Aiden Foster meet that under that extraordinary circumstance, it isn’t football or cards that help them overcome the initial awkwardness of the exchange, but a mutual love of literature and Aiden’s exceptional musical voice. Before they part, they (like others) exchange uniform buttons as pocket mementos, and each hopes for a someday when in a more lasting peace they may see one another again. The remaining years of war leave both men scarred, and life after war holds new challenges and little time or place for true healing. Both men retreat into the silence in which those who survive years of the worst of human cruelty often cloak their hearts—how can anyone who wasn’t there truly understand? Yet a spark of hope lives Jochen and Aiden’s hearts, sharing space with memory of the “enemy” whom they befriended on dark Christmas on a battlefield.

Barwell’s careful, sparsely adorned prose gives the reader an inside look at the redemption of truly broken hearts when long-sheltered sparks meld into flame. The fire burns painfully until it warms and comforts. This is not a long, arduous read, rather a brief but revealing journey into the heart of these two men, Jochen and Aiden, who come to love despite time, distance, and irreparable loss.

I heartily recommend On Wings of Song to those who love men, who love men who love men, and who treasure stories that paint the darkness with light and life.

Here is the buy link: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=5869

It’s 25% off at the moment, so now is a good time to snap it up. Or if you feel lucky, Anne will be chatting at the Dreamspinner Goodreads “forum thingy” on 12/28/14 from 4-6 EST, and there will be a giveaway. Win or not, it promises to be a great conversation!

If you want a little more info, here’s the blurb:

Six years after meeting British soldier Aiden Foster during the Christmas Truce of 1914, Jochen Weber still finds himself thinking about Aiden, their shared conversation about literature, and Aiden’s beautiful singing voice. A visit to London gives Jochen the opportunity to search for Aiden, but he’s shocked at what he finds.

The uniform button Jochen gave him is the only thing Aiden has left of the past he’s lost. The war and its aftermath ripped everything away from him, including his family and his music. When Jochen reappears in his life, Aiden enjoys their growing friendship but knows he has nothing to offer. Not anymore.

And here’s Anne’s bio:

Anne Barwell lives in Wellington, New Zealand. She shares her home with two cats who are convinced that the house is run to suit them; this is an ongoing “discussion,” and to date it appears as though the cats may be winning.

In 2008 she completed her conjoint BA in English Literature and Music/Bachelor of Teaching. She has worked as a music teacher and a primary school teacher, and now works in a library. She is a member of the Upper Hutt Science Fiction Club and plays violin for Hutt Valley Orchestra.

She is an avid reader across a wide range of genres and a watcher of far too many TV series and movies, although it can be argued that there is no such thing as “too many.” These, of course, are best enjoyed with a decent cup of tea and further the continuing argument that the concept of “spare time” is really just a myth.

Visit Anne at her blog: http://anne-barwell.livejournal.com or her website: http://annebarwell.wordpress.com/. You can contact her at anne0@xtra.co.nz.

Happy reading!

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Gay Romance University 601—Once you have your scientist, keep him happy… and alive! (Course lessons drawn from Shadowboxing, first book in Anne Barwell’s Echoes series)

Please take your seats people, we want to get started…. What’s that? Boxer shorts? Certainly they’re allowed…. Yes, sir, briefs, certainly. Sure, speedos are not only allowed but encouraged. Be comfortable, but do pay attention in class.

Even though Kristopher Lehrer’s last name means ‘teacher,’ as we examine the early pages of our textbook, Anne Barwell’s novel Shadowboxing, it is Kristopher who is most in need of schooling. Oh, he is a learned man, it’s true—a physicist working on an important, possibly world-altering project. Unfortunately Very Important Projects often become the clouds where a scientist’s head is most comfortable. Kristopher’s attitude, as the novel opens, is reminiscent of the fearless forward motion of a horse with blinders.

To illustrate, consider this: Kristopher’s friend—the man that could have been his first true love if Kristopher had been honest—is Jewish, and in World War II Germany the yellow Star of David he must wear means that he is in danger every time he steps out in public. And, though David is a respected physician, he can no longer practice medicine for the same reason. Yet when Kristopher meets him for coffee he has no clue why his friend is upset, or scared. Read along in your text (or look over your neighbor’s shoulder if you haven’t yet picked up your text). We look at what happens with David challenges Kristopher’s naivety, beginning on page eight.

“Have you any idea what kind of people you are working for?” David spoke quietly, as always, but there was an underlying tone of fear in his voice that Kristopher didn’t remember hearing before. David’s emotions were always controlled; it was something that Kristopher had envied. “Have you any idea of their real agenda?”

Kristopher snatched his hand away, trying to ignore how fast his heart was beating. Why had David come to him? Surely he couldn’t have presumed to use the closeness they’d once had to further whatever agenda he had? “I’m a scientist, David, trying to make the world a better place, just as you are. We are working for the advancement of science and for the good of the Fatherland.” The last sentence came out sounding like the mantra it was. Any doubts that Kristopher had were always dealt with efficiently when he repeated those words. While he knew the potential danger of the device they were working on, the chances of anyone considering utilizing the catastrophic component of it were remote.

“You always were naïve, Lehrer.” David raked a hand through his hair and replaced his glasses, adjusting them when they slipped down his nose. “Wake up and take a look at what’s going on around you before it’s too late.” An edge of desperation and fear sharpened his voice as he lowered it to almost a whisper; it sounded as though he was talking about the end of the world.

“Too late? Too late for what?” His earlier fears of being used vanished at David’s tone. Kristopher’s voice rose in pitch, all attempts of hiding his conflicting emotions lost as he tried to desperately work through his rapidly escalating confusion.

David shook his head, unwilling to say more, his eyes darting nervously around the small Kaffeehaus before his gaze settled on the man who had entered several minutes earlier. “I have to go. I’ve said too much already.”

“Wait!” David was already halfway out the door before the word was out of Kristopher’s mouth. He pushed his chair back, ready to follow his friend, then hesitated, suddenly unsure as to what had just happened.

A week later, dining at home with his sister Clara (whom he loves and depends on) and his father (with whom he has a strained relationship), he is shocked to hear that David has disappeared, and clueless as to why such a thing had happened. What’s more, he is just as dumbfounded when Clara says (on page 11)…

“Poor Kristopher.” Clara rolled her eyes. “You’re so involved in your work that you haven’t noticed what’s going on around you.” There was no teasing in her voice now. Whatever this was about, it was something very serious. “It’s because he’s Jewish, of course.”

… as he is when his father says…

“They are Jewish, Kristopher. What other reason is needed? Better that they are rounded up and sent somewhere more suited for their place in the scheme of things. We must not lose sight of the fact that the Jews are nothing more than parasites interested in taking control of the economy for themselves.”

We, the readers can take our first lesson from this, and the downhill spiral of father-son relations that follow. Please take this down in your notebooks. It will be on the test:German_Experimental_Pile_-_Haigerloch_-_April_1945

The longer you keep your head stuck in the clouds of denial (about anything, really), the more it hurts to pull it out.

Our next unit of study follows Kristopher as he goes about his work the next day. The clouds around his head have been disturbed, but not quite dislodged. Feeling cranky and a little wooly due to a poor night’s sleep, he enters his boss’s office when the boss is out, and rather clumsily knocks a pile of papers on the floor, and reads this sentence on one of them:

Cue ominous music.

We look forward to putting these plans into reality. Such a device will ensure the continued success of the Fatherland during this war against our enemies.

Kristopher’s head falls from the clouds with a mighty thud, which hurts and can’t be ignored even by a dreamy physicist.

Gott im himmel, as my very German mother would have said. Here Kristopher had been, believing he was working on nuclear fission for peaceful purposes, and suddenly he realized he’d been living in a lollipop world.

For a number of minutes, our scientist is unable to think straight. He knows what he saw, but he’s unsure of what he might do about it, or even how to keep from getting in trouble for standing in his boss’s office with his pants down (figuratively of course, because that would be far too weird).

But a guard comes along, Obergefreiter (Sargent) Schmitz, and helps him organize his brain and move his body, thank goodness. Of course, at first, Kristoffer is afraid that Schmitz will actually contribute to his danger, but he soon realizes he was lucky the Obergefrieter came along. He leaves the office that day still waffling about what to do. Like most ordinary Germans of the day, he loves his country and has some significant blind spots about it—a phenomenon not unknown at any age of the world in just about any country, including all of those where readers of this blog might be living today. But you don’t become a leading physicist if you are slow-witted. Once Kristopher’s sight is forcibly cleared, he cannot escape the truth about the leaders of the Nazi regime and what their intentions are.

After much soul-searching, presumably some hand-wringing, and a few horrid nightmares, Kristopher Lehrer confronts his boss… and is told in no uncertain way to mind his own business. The encounter goes from bad to worse. (You can read about this in home study, chapter three of the text.) When he is discovered in the room with his dead boss by the same Obergefreiter Schmitz, he figures his number is up.

Thank heaven for pleasant surprises, large and small. When Schmitz asks Kristopher if, as smart as he is, he can come up with no better plan than to threaten the guard with broken glass, here’s what happens (at the beginning of chapter four).

“My plan? […] I don’t have a plan. […] Do you honestly think I would be standing here waving a piece of broken glass if I had a plan.”

“Good point,” Schmitz admitted.

[Text elided by blogger… er, I mean university professor Lou Sylvre. Kristopher says:]

“Have you come to hand me over to the Nazis?” Whatever happened he didn’t intend to go easily.

The corner of Schmitz’s mouth turned up in a half smile before he shook his head. “I’m here to help you, Herr Dr. Lehrer.”

“You expect me to believe you?” Kristopher wished the desk behind him would disappear into thin air, although it still wouldn’t be of much help as Schmitz was blocking the path to the only door. “I know you’ve followed me for the past week.” He noticed the slight look of surprise on Schmitz’s face with a degree of satisfaction.

“You need to trust me, Dr. Lehrer.”

You may guess that Kristopher isn’t so sure that’s the best course of action, but like people everywhere when they’re in danger and want to trust someone, he looks for a way to do so.

“Give me one good reason.”

“The Nazis will be here in, Schmitz said, consulting his watch, approximately ten minutes. Either you trust me, or you tell them what you’ve just told me. I doubt they will believe your story.”

His voice softened. “I do.”

Now, students, you may have guessed that the Obergefreiter isn’t really the Obergefreiter. His real name is Michel, and he’s not even German. And his interest in Kristopher, like Kristopher’s trust of Michel, soon weaves into a whole new feeling. After negotiating much hell and highwater together, Michel soothes a startled, overwhelmed Kristopher in his own native tongue.

“A l’aise, Kit. Je suis ici… Ssh, tout est bien.”

Yes, Michel is there and all is well for the moment. There’s a whole lot more trouble to face, more evil to evade, more heroes to meet—all kinds, German, foreign, soldiers, everyday people. But Michel does whatever he needs to do to keep Kristopher alive. And since this is Gay Romance University, it isn’t giving away secrets to let you know, that once Michel has WinterDuetLGseen to the matter of Kristopher’s continued existence, he gets the opportunity to use a little French term of endearment.

“It’s all right, mon cher. I love you. I’m not letting you go.”

That is the end of our lesson, today. If you are interested in learning more on the subject, click the cover image above for a link to the blurb and purchase links. (And while you’re there, check out the continuation of this beautiful story in book two of the Echoes of War series, Winter Duet.

I thank Anne Barwell, Kristopher, and Michel for the privilege of treating the serious story of one of the world’s most painful times with a bit of irreverence. Truthfully, the heroes in this story are a reflection of all the real life heroes on every side of that war and every other, especially the quiet ones not lauded in headlines. They all deserve our gratitude, and I take no such service or sacrifice lightly.

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Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment!

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Anne Barwell Interview: The many facets of her romance rainbow

Hello! Today I’m happy to share with you my recent interview with author Anne Barwell. One of the things I most enjoy about Anne’s writing is it’s diversity—she writes series, but they’re all quite different. I made her talk about that sneaky little habit! You can ask her disturbing questions too, if you like, in comments. 🙂
Note: Click any cover for a buy link to that book. For Anne’s bio (and other good stuff), visit her blog

Here’s the interview:

Q: You have, if I’m not mistaken, four different series in process. Please tell us a little bit about each one.
A: Five if you include The Harp and the Sea, which is our joint project… [LS—I’m so pleased to be working on this project with Anne!]

I’m still not sure how I ended up with so many series in progress. I blame demanding characters. Seriously though, one advantage I find with having more than one series in progress is that I have a hardcopy in front of me for the previous book while I’m writing the next one, which is so much easier when hunting for continuity details.

Hidden Places [series] is a contemporary fantasy which crosses through a portal into another world called Naearu. The main characters are Tomas, a writer, and Cathal, who is from Naearu. Part of the action takes place in the English village of Oakwood, part in Naearu. So far I’ve written two books in this series Cat’s Quill and Magic’s Muse. I have two more planned: One Word is Ethan and Donovan’s story and is a side story to Cat’s Quill. Dragon’s Price finishes the series and takes the characters back to Naearu.

Echoes is an historical series set in occupied Europe during WWII. Kristopher Lehrer is a scientist working on a top secret project in Germany. When his illusions are shattered and he discovers what the Nazis plan to do with his work, it isn’t long before he is on the run with both the Gestapo and the Allies after the plans he carries. Shadowboxing is the first book in the series and is set in Berlin in 1943. Winter Duet (which I’ve just submitted to Dreamspinner Press) is set in Germany in early 1944. The last book, Comes a Horseman, is set in France in mid 1944

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Dragons of Astria is a fantasy series set in Astria, a land where dragons are real and magic exists, although it has been outlawed for generations. Aric and Denys are from two very different backgrounds, but their destinies are intertwined in more ways than one. A quest for a magical sword will affect not only their life together, but the future of the kingdom. A Knight to Remember is the first in this series, and there will be two more books: A Mage to Forget and A Sword to Rule.

The Sleepless City is an urban fantasy series which is a joint project with Elizabeth Noble. The first four books are set in the re-imagined city of Flint, Ohio, and the characters are vampires, werewolves, ghosts—and human. I’ve written the first book, Shades of Sepia, and book 2, Electric Candle, by Elizabeth is coming out on April 4th.

Q: Of your series, do you have one that is easier for you to write? One that is your favorite? If so, please explain your choice?
AEchoes, being an historical series, requires a lot more research than the others, but I was surprised how fast Winter Duet wrote once I got going with it. It’s difficult to pick a favourite, it’s like choosing a favourite child. My favourite tends to be the one I’m working on at the moment and yes I know that’s not helpful. Each of them have aspects I really enjoy, and I love all my guys but it is easier writing fantasy especially as I can build worlds and ‘make stuff up’ rather than worry about whether I’ve got the details of a time and/or place just right. Ben from The Sleepless City, as a Kiwi character, is very easy to write, but the US setting means a bit of research as it’s the little things that I really don’t know. I’m definitely setting my next contemporary series in New Zealand. But not just for that reason as I think there needs to be more M/M set locally.

Q: How do you balance your writing time between the different series? Do you find that your style differs from one to the next? If so, how do you get in the right mind set for the particular series you’re working on?
A: I didn’t intend to have four series on the go at once. My original plan was to have two and alternate them, and once I’ve caught up with finishing what I’ve started that’s what I’ll be doing with maybe a one shot—and yes I know they always turn into series—or two in between. Meantime I’m trying to write in a circle: Hidden Places book 3, </em.Dragons of Astria book 2, Echoes book 3 etc. That way I’m not leaving readers of those readers hanging around too long, or at least that’s the plan. There aren’t enough hours in the day with working full time [outside of writing] so a couple of novels a year is about as much as I can manage.

With the series being different genres, my style does differ between them. No too much so but more in what is needed for the characters and plot. The series tend to have a different feel to them, especially in the narrative/dialogue between historical/contemporary and high fantasy. Aric’s speech in Dragons of Astria is going to be more formal, and have no modern idioms compared to Tomas in Hidden Places, while Cathal from that series being between two worlds in a sense has a mix of both. It also depends on what story a particular book is telling. Magic’s Muse was slower paced but it was filling in a lot of gaps and building relationships which need to be in place for the final book in that series Dragon’s Price which will more of an action/drama.

I get in the mind set when I switch projects by firstly writing an outline, printing it out and scribbling over it, and writing a blurb. Usually I’m thinking through and researching/discussing ideas a couple of projects ahead of what I’m writing so I do tend to multitask a bit I guess especially if I’m working on more than one project at a time like I am now with Echoes and The Harp and the Sea.

Q: Your most recent release is Shades of Sepia, book one in a shared world series, The Sleepless City. How did you and your series partner, Elizabeth Noble, develop this concept? Any hints you can give us about what’s yet to come?
A: Elizabeth and I were chatting on IM one day and found we both had vampire characters we wanted to do something more with. One thing led to another and The Sleepless City was born. The mythos or ‘series bible’ is the product of hours of discussion, which is still ongoing.

The first four books in the series are an ‘arc’ and tell a complete story, and then we’re each writing books set within the universe. An arc seemed to be a good way to start the series and establish it and the characters. Shades of Sepia is Simon and Ben’s story, Electric Candle by Elizabeth which comes out in April is Forge’s. [LS—this book is now available for pre-order on Dreamspinner’s site.] I’m writing Family and Reflection later this year which is Lucas’s, and then Elizabeth will tie up the arc with the last book Checkmate. One thing I’m looking forward to in Family and Reflection, as there’s got to be some fun in amongst all the seriousness of the case they’re working, is that Ben’s friend Ange visits from New Zealand. She doesn’t know who or rather what they all are, so they’re going to try to keep it from her. Good luck with that one.

Q: What can you tell readers in advance about the two main characters in Shades of Sepia, Ben and Simon? (Make us curious, or make them irresistible!)
A: Ben’s a local guy – well local for me – as he comes from Wellington where I live. He’s very laid back but at the same time speaks his mind and doesn’t take any shit. He’s also a bit of a geek and collects comics/graphic novels. His passion is photography and that’s the really ironic thing about his and Simon’s relationship. The one person Ben really wants to photograph he can’t because vampires not show up on film. Well, not usually, there is a way around it but he’ll have to convince Simon first – and you’ll have to read the book to find out what I’m referring to 😉

Simon’s is very different to Ben, it’s one of the reasons they complement each other so well. Simon’s more serious, and carefully considers his actions before he takes them where Ben’s more likely to just decide and do it. Simon’s also got an old fashioned streak a mile high, which isn’t just because he was born in the late nineteenth century. He’s also got a dark side, not unexpected as he’s a vampire! But like Ben he’s fiercely protective of the people he cares about and won’t hesitate to put himself in the line of fire to do just that. As Lucas says, “You can argue over which one of you is going to play protective over the other one’s ass on a given day. Promise me I can watch?”

Q: What’s coming next from Anne Barwell? Anything slated for release in the upcoming months? (Please elaborate!) Also, what’s on the burner for the next year or so?
A: I’m putting the final touches to Winter Duet, which is the sequel to Shadowboxing and the next book in the Echoes series.

Here’s the blurb:

Germany, 1944. With Kristopher finally fit enough to travel, he and Michel begin their journey across Germany toward Switzerland and safety.
Separated in the middle of a warzone, after helping an injured RAF pilot, Kristopher is determined to find Michel again. But how far can he trust the man travelling with him? Whoever he is, he is definitely not the German soldier he appears to be.

Meanwhile Michel mounts a rescue mission. Time is running out. Loyalties are tested and betrayed as the Gestapo close in. Can he reach one of their own before information is revealed that could compromise not only his and Kristopher’s safety, but that of the remaining members of the Allied team?
Or is it already too late for all of them?

And an excerpt:

Kristopher dropped to his knees, and examined the boy. His eyes were glazed over and he flinched when Kristopher touched him. “He must have hit his head when he fell,” Kristopher said. He brought his hand away from the boy’s temple. It was covered in blood. “He needs help, but I can’t do much for him here, just try and stop the bleeding.” He quickly opened his satchel and pulled out a short length of bandage, bundled it into a wad and held it against the wound. It probably wouldn’t be enough to stop it, but it was better than doing nothing. Head wounds tended to bleed, didn’t they? It didn’t mean it was something serious, but it could be.

He let out a quick breath. Damn it. He wished he’d paid more attention when he’d watched Clara at work. Why had he agreed to disguise himself a medic? In this situation when that was exactly what was needed, he was next to useless.

“We can’t stay here,” Michel said. “Can you tie something around the bandage so it keeps the pressure on it when we move him?”

“Keep pressure on the wound while I look.” Kristopher searched around in his bag, ripped some more of the bandaging material, and tied it quickly. His hands were shaking, but at least there didn’t seem to be any blood seeping through the original cloth he’d put over the wound. “I think that should hold it for now.”

Michel handed Kristopher the flashlight and then lifted the boy into his arms. “What’s your name?” he asked softly when the boy opened his eyes and looked up at him.

“Fritz,” the boy replied, his voice wavering. He put his arms around Michel’s neck and clung to him. Thankfully he seemed more alert than he had a few moments before.

“Hello, Fritz. I’m Michel and this is Paul,” Michel said. “We’re going to keep you safe, I promise.”

“You promise?” Fritz’s earlier confidence was gone. “I didn’t think it was so dark. I know this place. I shouldn’t have tripped.” He glared at the ground. “Stupid thing. Stupid stupid. Everything looks different.” He sniffled loudly, and wiped one dirty hand over his face.

“Do you remember the way to the bunker, Fritz?” Kristopher asked. Michel was watching Fritz carefully, holding the boy close to him. His grip had tightened at the first sign of Fritz’s distress.

“I don’t need to put you down,” Michel reassured Fritz. “You can still guide us while I’m holding you.”

“I don’t want to walk.” Fritz bit his lip. He looked around and then pointed to a street to their left. “If we go down there it’s only about ten minutes away.” They’d never reach the bunker in time before it closed.

“There isn’t one closer?” Michel asked.
“It’s the one I know about,” Fritz said somewhat defensively. “Mutter told me if something happened I should go to it.”

“Where’s your mother now?” Kristopher asked. The light from the flashlight was dying quickly. They had to hurry.

“I don’t know. She went to get my baby sister but she never came downstairs.” Fritz stuck his chin out. “I waited like she said, even when I heard the loud noises and people crying.”

“You live around here?” Kristopher hoped Fritz’s family had survived this. They’d have to try and reunite them or at least find someone who could look after him before they left Stuttgart.

Fritz nodded. Whatever his wound, it seemed as though it was definitely superficial or he wouldn’t be talking as much as he was. “I went looking for her, and I couldn’t find her.”

“You sound much better, Fritz. Do you think you could walk?” Michel asked.

“I don’t want to lose you and Paul too,” Fritz said. He let Michel put him down and then put one small hand into Michel’s.

“You won’t lose us,” Michel promised. “Keep holding my hand and Paul will look after the flashlight. We can work together.”

“Michel’s very good at working together,” Kristopher told Fritz. He shone the flashlight around. The further out into the street they got, the more rubble there was. It wasn’t safe to move too quickly and at this speed they’d never reach the shelter before daylight. He glanced up at the sky. Most of the flashes of light seemed to now be focused toward the city centre. “I’m wondering if it’s safer to stay here, but get as far away from the buildings as we can, and wait for daylight.”

“We don’t know how long this raid is going to last,” Michel said, “but we need to make a decision.” Something creaked and groaned to the side of them. “Move!” Michel yelled. He picked up Fritz and ran back the way they’d come. Kristopher didn’t stop to see what was going on behind him. He followed.

Moments later, more rubble hit the street where they’d just been standing. If they’d stayed there they would have been buried in it.

Kristopher shone the flashlight on it and shivered. “I think finding the shelter is the least of our problems,” he said. “We need to get out into the open. It’s not just more bombings that could kill us, but the buildings that are already damaged.”

“I know a place,” Fritz said after Michel put him down. “I’ll show you.” He took hold of Michel’s hand again. “You and Paul are soldiers.” He pointed to the Red Cross on Kristopher’s arm. “You’ll stay and help look after all the hurt people, won’t you? Vater is a soldier too. He’s fighting at the front. Mutter says he’s very brave.”

“Yes, we’ll stay and help,” Michel said before Kristopher could say anything. He squeezed Fitz’s hand. “We’ll also help you find your mother, or at least someone who can look after you.” He looked over at Kristopher and gave him a questioning look.

“Of course we will,” Kristopher said, wondering why Michel felt he’d even had to ask.

My next project is On Wings of Song which is a WW1 novella which begins in France in 1914. I’ve had the idea for a while, and as this year is the centenary of the beginning of the war, it felt like the right time to write it. And of course The Harp and The Sea.

After that, and book 3 of The Sleepless City, I’m focusing on working on/finishing the series I already have in progress.

Q: To wrap up, please describe for me the single most satisfying thing about being an author. When and how does it happen?
A Seeing my ideas and characters take shape as I write, and having others enjoy my stories. It’s a scary thing putting a bit of myself out there, but even if each book just touches one person it’s worth it. I write the stories I want to read, or otherwise what’s the point?

LS—Your writing has certainly touched me, and I know I’m not alone, so thanks for taking the chance! And thank you, Anne, for being my guest today! Come back soon.

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Shades of Sepia: Lou’s review of Anne Barwell’s paranormal M/M page turner


Anne Barwell’s latest novel Shades of Sepia is out from Dreamspinner Press, and I got a rare opportunity to do a release day review. Here it is, followed by the blurb and Anne’s bio. As usual on sylvre.com, the cover photo is a buy link–just click. Enjoy!

5 unrestrained sexy stars for Shades of Sepia! Anne Barwell’s vampires, werewolves, and yes, even humans live vividly in the pages of this novel, and on the streets of a thoroughly reimagined Flint, Ohio. Bonded souls, bloodlust, and murder wreak havoc on the lives of Ben Leyton—a rather happy-go-lucky guy transplanted from New Zealand—and serious, soulful vampire Simon Hawthorne. Attraction is too soft a word for what happens between them when they meet, but little does either of them know that the more they court each other, the more they court danger.

In a world where not all vampires are cold, loveless creatures of the night, it might still be challenging for a human to accept the love he needs from a man who fears his own capacity for violence—even if he vows to use it for your protection. On the other hand, oh-my-god sex might make that a little easier. Author Anne Barwell has written some sexy nuggets before, but she’s given us over the top heat here, both of the slow burn variety and the kind of sex that explodes off the page. In the mix: a park bench, a mirror, some fangs, and a little dominance. That’s all I’m going to say; if you want more—and believe me, you do—read the book.

But sex isn’t the whole story, by far. The romance between these two souls is about as haunting—and haunted—as it gets, and though it’s “sweet as” (read the book to interpret that phrase), barriers arise out of both past and present that may never be overcome. As for the suspense? Well, to illustrate, at one point I got so anxious that I slapped my e-reader down and shouted, “Oh my god, Ben! Forget the *&#$ tea!” So yeah, edge of my seat, really. Usually, in a review I like to touch on anything I found held the book back from being the best it could be. In this case, I can’t really put my finger on anything like that—it’s simply a very well-written book with a plot that kept me turning pages.

I can’t say much more without venturing into spoiler territory, but here’s my recommendation for readers. If you enjoy characters that come alive, paranormal M/M romance that’s hot and sexy, emotional, a little angsty, a little funny, and full of suspense, you will certainly love this book. I did, and I plan to love it again, soon.

(Note: Authors Anne Barwell and Elizabeth Noble have imagined this world, called The Sleepless City together, and plan to write alternating novels set here. I’m looking forward to the next!)

The Blurb:
A serial killer stalks the streets of Flint, Ohio. The victims are always found in pairs, one human and one vampire.

Simon Hawthorne has been a vampire for nearly a hundred years, and he has never seen anything like it. Neither have the other supernaturals he works with to keep the streets safe for both their kind and the humans.

One meeting with Simon finds Ben Leyton falling for a man he knows is keeping secrets, but he can’t ignore the growing attraction between them. A recent arrival in Flint, Ben finds it very different from his native New Zealand, but something about Simon makes Ben feel as though he’s found a new home.

After a close friend falls victim to the killer, Simon is torn between revealing his true nature to Ben, and walking away to avoid the reaction he fears. But with the body count rising and the murders becoming more frequent, either, or both of them, could be the killer’s next target.

About Anne Barwell
Anne Barwell lives in Wellington, New Zealand. She shares her home with two cats who are convinced that the house is run to suit them; this is an ongoing “discussion,” and to date it appears as though the cats may be winning.

In 2008 she completed her conjoint BA in English Literature and Music/Bachelor of Teaching. She has worked as a music teacher and a primary school teacher, and now works in a library. She is a member of the Upper Hutt Science Fiction Club and plays violin for Hutt Valley Orchestra.

She is an avid reader across a wide range of genres and a watcher of far too many TV series and movies, although it can be argued that there is no such thing as “too many.” These, of course, are best enjoyed with a decent cup of tea and further the continuing argument that the concept of “spare time” is really just a myth.

Visit Anne at her blog: http://anne-barwell.livejournal.com or her website: http://www.annebarwell.wordpress.com. You can contact her at anne0(at)xtra(dot)co(dot)nz.

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New Release: A Knight to Remember, by Anne Barwell, from Dreamspinner Press 6/28/13

“The last of your line will be in the embrace of a dragon.”
Aric, Crown Prince of Astria, has been brought up to believe that all dragons are evil. But when he speaks with one, he finds himself questioning those beliefs. The dragon tells him to find a sword in Sherwin Forest to save not only his kingdom but also his sister, Georgia, who must otherwise wed the prince of a neighboring kingdom.

At the start of his quest, Aric dons a disguise and meets Denys, an archer and herbalist who lives alone at the edge of the forest. Denys agrees to guide Aric into the forest, but then Georgia appears, revealing Aric’s true identity.

However Aric learns he is not the only one keeping secrets. Denys has a few of his own that could change both of their lives forever.

Anne’s bio:

Anne Barwell lives in Wellington, New Zealand. She shares her home with two cats who are convinced that the house is run to suit them; this is an ongoing “discussion,” and to date it appears as though the cats may be winning.

In 2008 she completed her conjoint BA in English Literature and Music/Bachelor of Teaching. She has worked as a music teacher, a primary school teacher, and now works in a library. She is a member of the Upper Hutt Science Fiction Club and plays violin for Hutt Valley Orchestra.

She is an avid reader across a wide range of genres and a watcher of far too many TV series and movies, although it can be argued that there is no such thing as “too many.” These, of course, are best enjoyed with a decent cup of tea and further the continuing argument that the concept of “spare time” is really just a myth.

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A Knight to Remember–Anne Barwell’s latest fantasy (Read an excerpt here!)

Knight to Remember-Barwell_headerbanner

“You said you had something to tell me.” Aric cleared his throat, not wishing to reminiscence about such things, at least not now. He was losing his mind, he must be. This was a dream, it had to be. Yet why did it feel so real? “And my name is not Brandric. It’s Aric. Brandric is what my father calls me.”

“Aric, then.” The dragon inclined its head again, lowering its voice. “Your sister is to marry the prince of a neighboring kingdom. This must not be allowed to happen. It will not unite your kingdoms, but is merely a ploy to gain your father’s trust.”

“I already know that.” Aric had heard two of King Malachite’s men talking. Once the marriage had taken place, King Malachite planned to invade Astria and claim it in the name of Logan, his own kingdom. “He… they talked about using magic.” Aric had told his father about what he’d overheard, but he hadn’t been believed. King Malachite, King Brandr assured his son, would not attempt to betray Astria by using the evil that was magic. Nor would he use their children’s marriage to gain control over Astria. He was an honorable man who had stood by Astria and its people many times, their armies united against a common foe. Together they had triumphed over those who might use magic against them, and worked to rid both their lands of the threat of dragons.

Aric had never trusted King Malachite. There was something about the man that made his skin crawl, but if asked to explain, he couldn’t. Only two people had ever believed him: Georgia and Aunt Hannah.

“The only way to fight magic is with magic.” The dragon looked around, then cocked its head to the side as though listening to something Aric could not hear. “You must seek the Sword of Sherwin, Aric. The quest will not only save your kingdom, but also your sister.”

“I….” Aric stared at the dragon. He’d heard of the sword, of course he had. It was an old tale told to him by both his aunt and his mother. The sword was a thing of power. “It doesn’t exist. It’s just a story. Or if it did, it was lost generations ago.” He shook his head. Surely the dragon couldn’t be serious?

“Then it is time it was found again, isn’t it?”

“You make it sound simple. It’s not.” Aric looked up at the dragon. Its eyes were the same color as its scales. They seemed to bore into his own, searching his heart, and his soul. There was something ageless about it, powerful yet lonely. He shivered, and averted his gaze.

“You see what others don’t, young Aric.” The dragon opened its wings. Aric gasped. They were the length of several men, black cobwebs of fine leather and scale. “Follow your heart, and trust your instincts.”

“But I don’t know where to look.” Aric wanted to believe the dragon, he truly did. Georgia couldn’t be allowed to marry Prince Thorold, and Aric could not stand by and let his kingdom fall. Killing dragons had only been part of the oath he’d taken. He might not intend to keep that part of it, but he certainly would keep the other.

The dragon had already begun to flap its wings. It was preparing to leave, and Aric knew once it took flight he’d never be able to stop it. “Follow your heart, Aric. Do what is right.”

Aric stumbled back, his sword falling to the ground. He couldn’t kill the dragon, but more than that, he didn’t want to. “I don’t know where to look,” he yelled after it. The dragon did not reply but instead took to the air, gliding, hovering above him, its movement graceful, majestic. Something about it called to him, touched him.

He wiped at his eyes. They were wet.

When he looked up again, the dragon was gone.

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Anne Barwell on writing mythic places and magic men, and a sweet excerpt from *Magic’s Muse*

Click on the cover image for the buy link at Dreamspinner Press store

Sequel to Cat’s Quill
Hidden Places: Book Two

Tomas and Cathal have escaped from Naearu, Cathal’s mystical homeworld, but happily ever after is never as straightforward in real life as it is in books. Then again, most people don’t deal with the complication of a lover who’s magically bound to a tree or have an interfering cat for a cousin.

With Naearu’s police force, the Falcons, still after Cathal, he can’t go home. Now that he and Tomas have consummated their relationship, Cathal’s abilities are evolving and changing to the point that Tomas can sense them. And until the oak portal closes, Cathal—and his new life with Tomas—are in limbo, as Cathal can’t expect Tomas to stay with someone who can never venture past the property line. Will he and Tomas ever get to follow through on their engagement?

Anne Barwell lives in Wellington, New Zealand, sharing her home with her twin daughters, at least during the holidays, when one of them isn’t away at university. Her son has left home and started his own family, although she claims she is too young to be a grandmother already. Her three cats are convinced that the house is run to suit them; this is an ongoing “discussion,” and to date it appears as though the cats may be winning.

In 2008 she completed her conjoint BA in English Literature and Music/Bachelor of Teaching and has worked as a music teacher, a primary school teacher, and a librarian. She is a member of the Upper Hutt Science Fiction club and plays piano for her local church and violin for a local orchestra.

She is an avid reader across a wide range of genres and a watcher of far too many TV series and movies, although it can be argued that there is no such thing as “too many.” These, of course, are best enjoyed with a decent cup of tea and further the continuing argument that the concept of “spare time” is really just a myth.

Links:

The Interview

Q: How important are character names, to you, and how do you go about naming them? What about titles?
A: I need a title to start writing, and planning a story. The same with characters, although some of them change until they feel ‘right’, while others just turn up and that’s who they are. It’s the same with titles; some stories just come complete with a title, others I have to hunt for them until I know I have the right one. For the characters who aren’t so cooperative, I use name sites, and often the meaning behind the name is the final decider.

Q: In what locale is your most recent book set? How compelling was it to set a story there? Do you choose location the same way every time? How?
A: Magic’s Muse is set in a small English village called Oakwood which is on the outskirts of London. It doesn’t exist, although it draws inspiration from similar places. When I had the idea for Cat’s Quill, I knew it had to be an English village because of the feel of it, and the history. Setting it here wouldn’t have worked, we don’t have the mythology and history I needed – which is expanded upon more in Magic’s Muse. The fun part of this series is going to be in the last book when they return to Cathal’s home world of Naearu, a land which has embraced magic rather than science.

Often when I get an idea for a story, the location comes with it. The Echoes series was dictated by history as it’s set in WW2, and when I wrote Slow Dreaming I knew it would be set locally, and the Petone foreshore was perfect for the beach scenes.

Q: How much power do you give your characters in steering the story line?
A: *laughs* That sounds like I get a choice in the matter. I like to outline my stories, but have found out the hard way that it’s best just to ‘signpost’ those, as things always change I start writing as the characters run with it, and often in the opposite direction. When I was writing Shadowboxing I had a particular idea as to how a certain scene was going to go. Kit disagreed, and the writing stopped flowing until I backed down and gave him what he wanted. Still, outlines are nice, and I like a few illusions

Q: What is the most satisfying element for you in writing gay relationships, and why?
a: I like exploring relationships, and how various situations impact on people and those they care about. In writing gay relationships, I don’t have to worry about gender stereotypes, and can focus on the characters without any of that stuff. Also, they are the characters who turn up and want their story written, so I just go with the flow. I write what I want to read, and it’s great to able to add to a genre I enjoy reading.

Q: Are readers involved in making your fiction—do they suggest stories or say what they’d like to read?
A: It makes my day when readers want to discuss what I’ve written and I know they’ve enjoyed and got involved with my characters and storyline. I do work some ideas from readers into my stories. My current story about dragons came about because of a comment TJ Klune made in a chat, asking what fairy story I’d like to re-write. It’s kind of a George and the dragon story except that Georgia is the prince’s sister, and the dragon―well that would be telling.

The next installment of Hidden Places is called One Word, and came about in part because a friend at work read Cat’s Quill and wanted to make sure I was going to give Donovan his own happy ending. This is his and Ethan’s story.

Q: Describe the ideal relationship between author and readers.
A: An open relationship, where the author is free to be true to what she/he wants to write, and where readers feel free to give honest constructive reviews. Emphasis on constructive. It saddens me that as writers, if a reader reviews a story (which often sounds nothing like what we’ve actually written) an author often doesn’t feel as though she/he can reply to it. Tactful honesty should be a two way street. As a reader I love to be able to chat to authors about what they’ve written, and the same is true in reverse.

Q: What do you find useful about reviews?
A: I take a lot from a well thought out constructive review. While it’s impossible to write something that is going to please everyone, knowing that my characters have got under someone’s skin is a great feeling even if they don’t always agree with what the characters have done. It means I’ve succeeded. It’s also a good heads up for ‘okay that didn’t work’ so I’ll keep that in mind for next time.

Q: I’m well known for demanding to know an author’s opinion about which of their characters is the sexiest, and I’m making no exception for this group. Who, how, and why?
A: You expect me to choose? That’s something that is going to change the more I write, and depends whom I’m writing at the moment. I do admit, however, for having a soft spot for Michel in Shadowboxing. He has a lot of depth to his character, is very self-aware, and ready to take risks to protect the people he cares about. Plus he’s very easy on the eyes, which doesn’t hurt. Simon in The Sleepless City is coming very close though, and then there’s Aric and Denys who―stopping now while I’m ahead as I’m getting glared at by several SOs.

Q: What are the fifty hottest words (approximate the word count) you’ve ever written, in your opinion. (Be sure to include citation).
A: From Slow Dreaming:

Moments in time,” Sean sang softly, letting his breath brush over Jason’s skin. Was that what the two of them were? Moments in time, overlapping for just a few days? Unable to resist, he followed the outline of the tattoo with the tip of his tongue.

Jason groaned loudly. “Make love to me, Sean,” he whispered. “Take me, please.” He reached behind him, searching for Sean’s hand, linking their fingers together. “I want to be able to see you, though. I want to be able to remember this, to remember you like this.”

Q: What are you doing now, what do plan to write next?
A: My current WIP is A Knight to Remember, a fantasy story complete with dragons, and a quest for a sword. I’m hoping to have it finished by the end of the year. Next year I’m planning to work on Winter Duet which is the sequel to Shadowboxing, and a couple of projects with other Dreamspinner authors. The Sleepless City is an urban fantasy series―with vampires, werewolves, ghosts and more―but with a few twists, I’m writing with Elizabeth Noble. We’re aiming to have the first two books finished at the same time (we’re writing one each), to start the series with a good-sized introduction for readers. I’m also co-writing The Harp and the Sea, a historical story, with magic, set in Scotland, with Lou Sylvre. (LS—Yeah! *claps hands*

I seriously need more hours in the day…

Excerpt from Magic’s Muse

Cathal smiled. He removed the pencil from behind Tomas’s ear and placed it on the desk. He’d chewed the end of it again. “What I’ve read of it so far is very good, and I’m not just saying that because I love you.”

Cathal smiled. He removed the pencil from behind Tomas’s ear and placed it on the desk. He’d chewed the end of it again. “What I’ve read of it so far is very good, and I’m not just saying that because I love you.”

“That’s good to know.” Tomas threaded his fingers through Cathal’s hair, playing with it. Cathal had suggested shortening the length, as it was longer than what he’d observed to be the norm in this world, but Tomas would have none of it. He liked it the way it was, so unless it was something Cathal really wanted to do, there was no need for it to be cut. Apparently there was a wider variety now in what was considered fashionable than there was the previous time he’d visited. He’d worn it longer then too, and no one had commented, although he’d noticed the sideways looks he and Christian had received because of their dress and manner of speech.

“Can I read what you’ve written today?” Cathal was keen to see how the story was progressing. It was very different being able to read something as it was written, rather than having to wait until it was finished. It reminded him of when he was a child and his mother would tell them a story by the fire each night, careful to leave it in such a place so they’d want more.

“Of course.” Tomas leaned over and tapped several keys on his laptop. A whirring sound filled the room, and the printer began to spit out pieces of paper covered in writing. He’d shown Cathal how the machine worked earlier that morning. With every visit to this world, it seemed as though the devices they used became smaller and could do so much more. There were still so many new things to learn about and discover. Even the technology with which he thought he was familiar had changed, although he hadn’t had the opportunity to ask as many questions as he’d like. Taking things apart to find out more had gotten him into trouble ninety years ago, and he wasn’t about to test the theory that it might again.

Cathal got up from Tomas’s lap and retrieved the papers once the machine had done its work. He flopped down on the bed, already beginning to read what was written on them and losing himself in the words. “Oh, you’ve written the kiss!” This was what he and Tomas had role played, and the last time he’d seen it had been as handwritten notes in Tomas’s journal. Now Tomas was “taking dictation again”, he’d reverted to using his laptop instead of writing longhand, as he said it was faster and easier to edit later.

“And more.” Tomas didn’t move from his chair but instead watched Cathal read, chuckling at the way in which he devoured the new material.

“Deimos isn’t as good at keeping secrets as he thinks, is he?” It was very apparent, the more Cathal read, that Deimos was not of this world. His speech slipped into more of an old-fashioned pattern on several occasions. He also seemed unaware of some of the things of which Mark spoke, but that was understandable, as Cathal hadn’t heard of some of them either. What was 3D, and who was Harry Potter? How could so much have happened in this world in such a short time?

“Neither were you, my love.” Tomas stretched his arms out and took another sip of coffee. “I didn’t realize just how much at the time, but as they say, hindsight is twenty-twenty.”

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Sci-fi/Fantasy: Anne Barwell talks about “What-ifs” and “whumping” (and shares a excerpt from *Slow Dreaming*!)

I’ve loved exploring ‘what ifs’ for as long as I remember. I blame my father, in a good way, for my fascination for science fiction, as he introduced it to me, being a fan of the genre himself. My own interest has since expanded to include fantasy, there being a fine line between the two, and often what I read, and write, has an interesting mix of both.

All fiction has an element of ‘what if’ to it, but science fiction and fantasy allows me, as a writer, to push the boundaries further, and to explore new worlds. One aspect I enjoy about doing this is discovering how my characters will react when thrown into a situation complicated by elements that are not the norm. It gives me an opportunity to explore this in ways I couldn’t if writing something set in another genre. I’m also a great fan of the ‘fish out of water’ scenario, and people finding themselves out of their depth, often needing to search within themselves for strength and abilities they didn’t know they possessed.

Besides, there’s more scope for hurt/comfort AKA whumping in these kinds of scenarios. My imagination is the limit, although I do sit down and work out the parameters of the world in which the science or magic operates. People and places need to be governed by rules, whether it be nature or something else, or there’s no challenge in the story. Where’s the fun of building up a cliffhanger if all the character has to do is snap their fingers and the threat is gone?

Obviously it’s not going to be as simple as that, but for every decision made, there’s a consequence. This theme is one which repeats often in both science fiction and fantasy. There are checks and balances in place, there has to be or everything would fall apart. In the same way if I give a character an ability, there has to be a limit to what he can do or there’s no ‘fun’ in it. Absolute power corrupts absolutely and I prefer to write characters with flaws, who aren’t always sure of themselves, rather than someone for whom everything comes easily.

Throwing my ‘hero’ into a world which isn’t his own works well in keeping him just a little off balance. What if there are worlds out there where its inhabitants follow different rules than we do? Where the scientific advancements in our world did not happen, but instead, magic is a valuable commodity, and those who possess the abilities to wield different aspects of it are the ones in power.

There are two aspects to the genre I enjoy reading and writing in particular. The first is psi powers, or a variation on that theme. It not only ups the ante, but allows the characters to explore a part of themselves they might not otherwise. It also complicates a plot somewhat if the bad ‘guy’ finds out that if they hurt one character, his partner is going to feel that pain, literally. Or if someone is keeping a secret, and he falls for someone who is a touch telepath, but his perspective partner is someone who cannot learn the truth. Makes things more than a little complicated, doesn’t it?

As does a character who can move objects with the power of his mind, but hasn’t got the control over his powers he’d like, so he spends a lot of time trying to hide his ability rather use it because subtle really isn’t an option.

And then of course, there’s the shadowy organisation just out of sight, watching him, who has other ideas of what that ability could be used for.

But I digress with spoilers for upcoming stories…and yes I have written/am working on stories containing the elements I’ve just mentioned.

The other aspect I love exploring is that of time travel. Occasionally I like to combine the two. Time travel combines the fish out of water scenario, and the idea of checks and balances. History has already happened so it can’t be changed, right? All the research in the world cannot prepare someone for the reality of the up close and personal. It’s the little things that are going to trap a time traveller, the details that don’t always make the history books, like having no clue about common pop culture references. Or when a file with a faded photograph in the future becomes a real person in the past, someone the time traveller realises he has to save, no matter what, because that assignment is now all about the person he’s fallen in love with and who he wants to be his future.

The story possibilities and potential for exploring relationships within these scenarios are endless. People still fall in love and have to work together to triumph above adversity – with plenty of angst, romance, and whumping along the way – wherever or whenever they find themselves. These stories are still about people, and to me that’s what makes the decision as to whether I want to read or write: characters I care about and want to spend time with.

This way I get to meet new and old friends, and explore new and interesting worlds and ideas with them. After all, it’s not every day that a guy finds out that his partner is a dragon, is it?

To finish I’d like to share the blurb and an excerpt from Slow Dreaming a short novella which will be available from Dreamspinner Press from 1st June as part of their time travel theme daily doses ‘Time is Eternity’ and also as a separate release.
Anne Barwell Slow Dreaming Dreamspinner Press The Blurb: As an agent for the Tempus Institute, Jason Adams’s task is to observe the past, not change it. But when he’s sent to 21st-century Wellington, New Zealand, during the last week of aspiring songwriter Sean Henderson’s life, Jason finds he can’t just watch from a distance. He and Sean quickly become friends and then lovers, and when the song that’s haunted Jason for years connects them in a way he never anticipated, he’ll risk changing history for the chance of sharing a future with Sean.

Jason smiled, trying to put Sean at ease. “Thanks for the compliment, by the way. It’s been a while since anyone’s made the effort or shown any interest.” No one since Rex, but that was history in every sense of the word. They hadn’t spoken to each other since they’d broken up three years ago, and the last he’d heard Rex was on assignment in the mid-1940s. Very hush hush.

“I’m usually a little more subtle.” Sean sighed. “For all the good it does me.”

“I’m surprised.” Jason leaned over and placed a hand on Sean’s arm. It was warm, fine dark hairs smooth under his fingers. He thanked the powers that be that it was warmer today so that Sean’s shirtsleeves were rolled up above his elbows. “You’re a good-looking guy.” More than good-looking. Jason made a point of looking Sean up and down. “I’d even go as far as to say hot.”

“Really?” Jason could almost see the steam coming out of Sean’s ears at the idea. Sean shook his head in disbelief. “Me?” He shook his head again. “Hell no. Now you….” His voice trailed off. “Um, can we change the subject onto something else? Are you from around here? I hadn’t seen you before the other day.”

“I’m from… overseas.” Jason nodded, running through what was left of his cover story in his mind. “I’m a journalist, travel, mostly. This looked like an interesting place, so I thought I’d look around for a few days, take notes, that kind of thing.”

“Where overseas?” Sean settled back into his chair, relaxing as the conversation moved onto a safer topic. “I’ve been to Aussie once, but apart from that I haven’t been out of New Zealand. It’s on my list of things I’d like to do one day.” He laughed, but there was a self-deprecating air to it. “Perhaps once I’m rich and famous. Can’t see it happening otherwise.”

Jason thought quickly, latching onto the first country that came to mind. “Canada.” He hoped Sean wouldn’t ask for anything more specific than that. Giving the truth wasn’t an option. He couldn’t very well explain that although he was a local, the Wellington he was used to was very different from how it was now. It was better this way; there was less chance of slipping up and referring to something that didn’t exist yet.

“It’s on the list.” Sean sipped his coffee, thoughtful. “I’m a mainlander myself. Christchurch. My parents are still down there, don’t want to leave. They reckon they’ve spent their whole life there, and it’s going to take more than a few earthquakes to make that change.” He shrugged. “They’re one of the lucky ones. Their house is still relatively intact.”

“Have you been to see them recently?” Jason hoped Sean had. Closure was important. He’d seen too many families who’d missed out on that. They couldn’t be there at the end, but at least having had some contact beforehand had helped.

“Yeah. I went down as soon as I could after the first big one and spent some time.” Sean wrapped his fingers around his cup, long fingers, slender. “I offered to move back, but they wouldn’t have anything of it. My life is here now, has been for a few years. I’ve got my music, and I work in the cafe part time. Never going to be rich, but it works for me.”

“You’re a musician?” A familiar not-quite tune whispered to him. He ignored it.

“Yeah, although more of a songwriter than a performer.” Sean shrugged. “I doubt you’ve heard of me, although a couple of local bands are willing to play my stuff. I play keyboards for them on the occasional gig, too, when the usual guy is off sick or whatever.” He glanced toward his pile of papers, his mouth twisting into a half grimace, half-shy smile. “I’m working on a new one but having trouble getting it quite right. That happens sometimes, then when it’s the right time, it all falls into place. It drives me crazy until it does, though. I swear I eat, drink, and sleep the thing.”

“I’d love to hear what you’ve got so far.” Jason could have kicked himself for not taking the time to listen to the sound files attached to Sean’s dossier. However, it was Sean’s role at the cafe that was the focus of the assignment, not his music.

“That settles it.” Sean grinned. “I knew you were crazy with all your talk of hotness. Now you want to hear music composed by a guy you’ve only just met.” He schooled his face into a solemn expression. “I think that’s about the fourth sign of madness isn’t it? After all, for all you know my music could be really bad. How do you know you won’t lose your hearing and good taste for the rest of eternity?”

“And here I was thinking the fourth sign was being a true believer of the sanctity and healing properties of coffee,” Jason deadpanned.

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