I'm so excited to have the fabulous Vonnie Davis with me at the keyboard today. Vonnie not only shares with us an emotional excerpt from her book Storm's Interlude, but she's agreed to give a copy of the book to one lucky commenter.
Welcome, Vonnie! What surprised you the most when you became a published author?
The reviews. When I received my first one, my heart beat so hard and heat infused my body like a super hot flash. My eyes quickly skimmed over it, looking for words like junk, boring, inept, horrible. But the reviewer liked it, and I was thrilled. The second positive review was an even bigger shock, and so on. I guess I didn’t expect anyone to enjoy what I’d written. Aren’t we usually our own worst critics? I know I am.
Nurse Rachel Dennison comes to Texas determined to prepare her new patient for a second round of chemo. What she isn’t counting on is her patient’s twin brother, Storm Masterson.
Despite her initial attraction, Storm has two things Rachel can’t abide: a domineering personality and a fiancée. Half Native American, with the ability to have "vision dreams," Storm dreams about Rachel for three nights before her arrival. Both are unprepared for the firestorm of emotions their first encounter ignites.
Ultimately, it is Rachel’s past—and abusive, maniacal ex-boyfriend—that threatens to keep them apart…and Storm’s dreams that bring them together again.
Buy Links for The Wild Rose Press
What is the most emotional scene you had to write in this piece?
The scene I refer to as “the closet scene.” Rachel opens her closet to find her maniacal ex-boyfriend standing there. Writing violence is not my thing, but I forced myself to do it. I had to, Sarah.
In doing my research about domestic violence I noticed only six states have a felony statute on strangulation, a terrifying crime that research has shown affects about one of every five battered women. SIX states! Can you believe it?
Only six? That's heartbreaking.
Not only that, but many emergency room personnel and first responders don’t recognize red eyes as a sign of strangulation. They often figure the woman has red eyes from crying. Strangulation forces blood into the white of the eyes and also damages the wind pipe and vocal chords, altering the victim’s voice for months.
It infuriates me that legislators don’t see non-lethal strangulation assaults as one of the “red flags” of deadly family violence. The more I read about this, the angrier I got. So, for all the victims of such abuse I had to incorporated strangulation and its long-lasting effects into my story—and I cried as I pulled all those emotions from my soul to write that scene. I had to avenge battered women, you see. Had to.
When Bonnie Tyler’s “Holding out for a Hero” floated from her stereo speakers, Rachel turned up the volume to enjoy the effects of the drums in the song. Pretending she was pounding the drums with imaginary drumsticks, she turned to open the closet door to choose something to wear to dinner —and gasped a silent scream.
Phillip stood before her.
Her mind tried to accept what her eyes saw—and couldn’t. She wanted to scream, but fear, cruel and strong, jumped up and grabbed her by the throat, squeezing and blocking air to her lungs. A squeak escaped, but before it morphed into a scream, Phillip had one hand over her mouth and the other viced her windpipe. She hit, scratched and kicked; futile attempts for he easily overpowered her. “Surprised to see me, bitch?” he hissed in her ear. “Didn’t I tell you I’d come for you?”
In the midst of their struggles, they fell to the floor. She rolled over in an attempt to escape. “Storm!” Damn those drums! No one could hear her over them. Phillip grabbed her ankle and twisted it. Pain ripped up her leg like a buzz saw. He was going to dislocate her knee. She rolled over, easing the pain. He struck her face. Another scream escaped seconds before he covered her mouth again. He punched her stomach, momentarily knocking the air from her.
With one hand over her mouth and his other clamped around her arm, he yanked her from the floor and tossed her onto the bed, where he held her down with brute force. She tried to break free, but his hold was too strong. Could anyone hear their grappling over Bonnie Tyler singing and all those pounding drums? If only she hadn’t turned up the volume.
She struggled to escape, struggled to live. He sat on top of her, his eyes full of maniacal rage. She pushed and hit. “You’ve become a fighter, I see. I wasn’t expecting that. I’ll show you what happens when a woman fights back.” He circled his iron-like fingers around her throat and slowly began to choke her. He reached into his back pocket for a roll of electrical tape, bit off a strip and pressed it to her mouth. She’d seen this expression of madness before and knew what was coming.
How would anyone hear the beating she was about to receive over the volume of the music? Why hadn’t she played Brahms or Mozart? His hold over her windpipe tightened. He punched her in the eye, and she saw a shooting shower of stars. His second blow landed on her jaw. Her lip split. Blood trickled down her chin. Through his beating, her mind raced, trying to come to grips with the shock of finding him in her closet. How had he gotten inside the ranch house? Didn’t anyone search her room?
Wow, what a powerful scene, Vonnie. I can see why that would be difficult for you to write. Whew, I hope that bas...ahem, Phillip...get's his in the end.
Cast the movie. Who would you choose to play your hero and heroine?
I don’t know. I’m so out of touch with young actors. I do have pictures I used as visuals as I wrote.
I LOVE visuals. And holy cow what a visual! Helllooooo, Storm!
And this beauty must be Rachel.
Very nice, Vonnie. Thanks for sharing.
What comes first, plot or characters?
I get a germ of an idea for a plot and then ask myself what kind of characters would bring it to life. I tend to create my characters from the inside out. I ask myself what my character’s points of pain are. We all have them: Past experiences that push our buttons. Using myself as an example, don’t treat me as if I’m stupid. Why? I stuttered as a child and was regarded by many as being non-intelligent. I had to work extra hard to get stellar grades to show my teachers I was not mentally-challenged…just tongue-challenged. **grins** Storm’s point of pain is his mother abandoning him when he was younger. Rachel’s points of pain are her past abuse with an ex-boyfriend. Once I get those things nailed down, I decide on education levels, how they earn their living and finally how they look.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
If I’m not writing, I’m reading. Why life revolves around words.
What’s one thing readers would be surprised to learn about you?
I used to write plays for a non-profit theatre group and I’m also a trained draftsman, or would that be draftswoman?
That's so cool! What’s next for you?
I have a short story under contract with The Wild Rose Press for their Honky Tonk Hearts series—Those Violet Eyes. I’m expecting edits soon for Mona Lisa’s Room, the first book in a trilogy. I’m frantically writing the trilogy’s second book, Rain is a Love Song. This is requiring great effort on my part, because I have two short stories bouncing around in my head, getting louder and demanding my time. I want to stop this project and work on the short stories for a couple days. But since my agent has Rain on her reading schedule for the week of December 19th, I must keep writing it. She does a strict edit of my books. Just when I think I’m getting stronger as a writer, she sends me back a manuscript marked up with a gazillion edits…sigh…so much for my ego.
Where can we find you on the web?
Is there anything you’d like to ask our readers?
Yes, lots, but I’ll try to control myself. What types of stories pull at your heartstrings? Which do you enjoy more? A book that makes you laugh or one that makes you cry?