When I was very small, I had an aunt who would tell me the most wonderful fairy tales - all original. I grew up, as little girls do, but the magic of story still dazzles and enthralls me. On the good days, I like to think of myself as Scheherazade's sister. On the bad days - not so much.
(read the rest of her bio here, if only to learn what are her favorite shoes).
Kim: Oh, we love Australia here at SOS Aloha! What is your favorite sights, sounds, and smell of your suburb?
Denise: There are many houses just like this in my street - including mine. I live in an older part of Brisbane, where the houses are built of weatherboard timber and are up stilts. Brisbane is a sprawling subtropical city, just north of the Gold Coast where Surfers Paradise is. I'm not sure how exciting it is as a tourist destination, but it's a wonderful place to live. I love the big old river that winds through it like a broad muddy snake. A couple of evenings a week,I walk through the riverside parks with a friend. There are always families out together, athletic types jogging and cycling, the big ferries cutting through the water and the reflections of the city lights. It's gorgeous. Every dusk, the flying foxes (fruit bats) pass over the house on their way to who knows where. Somewhere yummy I suspect! When my kids were little we used to count their batty silhouettes as they flew beneath the clouds and the moon. Later in the night, the possums clomp across the roof in what sounds like hobnailed boots. The poor dog barks death threats at the top of her voice, but they just snicker, possum style. And then go pee on my car.
In summer, the suburbs steam quietly in the midday height - the humidity is horrible. Afternoons, there's usually a downpour. I love watching the storms striding toward us across the hills, the lightning and thunder. But that's only for a few months. Right now it's winter and the days are crisp and clear, though chilly.
This is an outdoor culture. Our house has wide verandahs for lounging about on and eating and drinking good Australian wine. I adore looking out at the stunning combination of the orange/red of the poincianas (there's one in the photo) and the purple of the jacarandas, all against the pure blue of the sky. Neither of these trees are native, but they're so eye-achingly gorgeous I can't bring myself to care.
And lastly, I love that this is my town. I know where everything is - or I can navigate my way there easily enough. I was brought up here, it's safe, familiar. Everyone knows someone who knows someone who you know. Real six degrees of separation stuff. It's a small town dressed up in big city suit.
Kim: How did you break into publishing?
Denise: Long story! Ready? LOL.
I hadn’t written any fiction since high school (back in the Dark Ages), though I'd always promised myself, 'One day, I'll write a book.' But then my life took a smart 180 degree turn. Everything went wrong and I was miserable. I thought, 'What the hell, I'll write a damn book!'
So I did. (I'm perfectly okay now, BTW. It all got better.) That was in 2002 and once I finished that first book (it lives in the sock drawer)… ah, then it was a different story. I was hooked on the sheer power of creating a world and disappearing into it.
http://www.romanceaustralia.com/), which was the best thing I could have done. I entered contests, attended conferences, found critique partners and profited from the wise advice of published authors.
When ran a contest, I thought I'd give it a try to see if I could write my way past my inhibitions. Turned out I could! *grin* I didn't win, but the comments were highly encouraging. I did a ten minute pitch for an Ellora's Cave editor at the 2005 Romance Writers of Australia conference, following up with a partial at her request. Early the following year, she contracted my book, Gift of the Goddess. It had the absolute best cover in the whole world, especially for a newbie. Judge for yourself! Now I'm about to sign the contract for a fourth in this series, Guilty as Sin.
Then the same book (Gift of the Goddess) appeared in a reviewer’s top ten list for 2006, which brought it to the attention of a senior Berkley editor. A fellow author also kindly recommended me. It was a case of being in the right place at the right time as the editor was new to Berkley and looking to build her author list. This was also the period when the big New York houses were keen to jump on the erotic bandwagon. So I ended up with a fabulous agent who engineered a four book contract for me.
At the time of writing, I’m completing the last novel in the series, The Dark Rose, but I have also written three novellas, two for Berkley and one for Avon Red. For many years, I wrote a free (remarkably silly) serial for my monthly newsletter. The stories, The Amorous Adventures of Alice and Rackety Kate and the Pirates, are available free on my website - http://www.deniserossetti.com/stories.html And of course, I still enjoy writing for Ellora’s Cave.
I set myself a challenge in every book I write and in The Lone Warrior, it was the character of Mehcredi. She may well be the most unusual, and probably the most engaging, heroine I’ve ever written. For a start, she’s an apprentice assassin, though she’s hopeless at it. She’s not actually autistic - I felt I could never understand enough about the reality of the condition to do it justice – but she was abandoned at birth and grew up as a kind of ‘wild child’, bereft of any kind of affection. As a result, she has no concept of relationships, no empathy and therefore no tact! She has tremendous difficulty reading faces, let alone understanding the inflections of speech that allow humans to communicate subtle emotional changes. But despite these handicaps, she retains an essential shining innocence.
So who better for Mehcredi’s hero than a man who is so self-contained, so cold and deadly, that everyone holds their breath when he enters the room? Walker, the earth shaman, first appeared in Thief of Light.Here's our first glimpse of him, through the eyes of Prue. Mehcredi is the unknown assassin he’s hunting.
Prue shivered. In all the years she’d known Walker, she’d never seen him smile, though he was unfailingly patient with the courtesans he trained in The Garden’s fighting salle. His reserve was so deep a pool of silence surrounded him, his step so quiet it seemed he had no footfall. She had no idea how old he was. Though silver threaded the sable of his hair, he moved with the supple grace of a man in his prime.
If she hadn’t been so wild with rage and terror, she might have pitied the unknown assassin. As it was… Breathing hard, she watched Walker turn without another word and glide through the press of bodies to the door. People made way for him without seeming to realize they did so.
Unfortunately for Walker, Mehcredi has no reserve, no fears, and she boldly walks through his barriers as if they were mist. Poor man! Add in Walker’s pain as the last of his people, his grim desire for vengeance and the machinations of an evil necromancer and there’s enough angst and adventure to stop your heart. Oh, and I mustn’t forget the rascally dog, he was a lot of fun!
Needless to say, Walker catches up with our hapless assassin…
She opened her mouth to shriek, to plead, but long-fingered hands fastened around her throat. As he slowly increased the pressure, digging painfully into the soft flesh under her jaw, the man smiled, lips pulling back from white teeth. The expression gave him an eerie, chilling beauty. He could have been an avenging angel or a handsome demon. Either way, those elegant brutal hands were the sure instruments of her death.
Her fists flailed, punching. When that failed, she raked at his forearms with her nails, but he didn’t even flinch. Mehcredi knew she was strong, stronger than any woman she’d ever met, but it made no difference. Black spots formed in her vision, her lungs labored and cramped.
“No,” she tried to rasp. “No, please.”
From far off, as if down a long tunnel, came the sound of hysterical barking.
The man thrust his face into hers. “Now you pay,” he snarled as he sent her down into the dark. “Assassin.”
After a start like that, things can only get better surely? *evil cackle*
You can read the whole of the first chapter here. Also on my website, you'll find free reads, including The Amorous Adventures of Alice and Rackety Kate and the Pirates.
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Books One and Two in the Four Sided Pentacle SeriesMahalo, Denise, for joining us today at SOS Aloha! Denise is giving away a copy of THE LONE WARRIOR to one randomly selected commenter. To enter the giveaway,
1. Leave a comment about a warrior you admire (real or fictional, historical or present).
2. The giveaway is open to US residents only but I welcome comments from our international readers.
3. Comments are open through Saturday. I'll post the winner on Sunday.
Kim in Dayton
I admire Army amputee Greg Gadson who inspired the NY Giants to win the SuperBowl in 2008 - here's a link to his story. My children met him at a neighbors' house and observed that he was "just a normal guy" who walked with his hands.