December 6, 2011

Spotlight On...Vonnie Davis

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.

I'm definitely my worst critic. Tell us about Storm’s Interlude and where we can find it.

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 fiancĂ©e. 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

For Amazon

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?


Sarah Grimm said...


So happy to have you as my guest today! Ironically, I prefer books that make me laugh over books that make me cry, however I can't write funny. Not only that, but my last book was very emotional and heart wrenching and made a lot of people cry, including myself!

Amy said...

I write funny and enjoy reading the same, but like to stretch myself and read all over. I just finished Storm's Interlude. Vonnie, you made that scene look effortless. The entire book did. Awesome job. And to those of you out there who haven't read it, go get it now. Amazing story, fun and exciting, but best of all is Storm. He's yummy with substance--a hero through and through.

Barbara Edwards said...

what a powerful scene. I'm so glad I have Storm's Interlude on my list to read.

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Sarah, thanks for having me. You asked some interesting questions. Calvin and are going to our writing haunts today to write and drink mass quantities of coffee. We do love our cafes.

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Awe, Sarah, thank you for those lovely words. Writing the book was so easy, it was scary. Why? What if I can't write another? I delved right into the process and wrote something different--romantic suspense. But I worry I might not have another "Storm" character in me. He was a giant in many ways.

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Hi Barbara, thanks for coming by. I hope you enjoy the book when you read it. Writing Storm and Rachel's story was so much fun...well, except for the closet scene.

Na said...

Second chance and reunion stories always tug at my heartstrings which is why I love reading about them. Sometimes secret babies can be nice too if it suits the story because it raises the emotional stakes.


LaVerne Clark said...

I love to read a bit of both, but a story that can make me laugh edges out one that can make me cry - just. Probably because I'm not so good being funny, and I appreciate it when an author makes it sound so natural and sincere.

Storm's Interlude is a winner on both counts for me. So very, very good! Go and get a copy if you don't already :)

Mackenzie Crowne said...

I like those stories that make me smile or laugh, but when those same stories suddenly knock me upside the head with a scene that makes me cry, I'm a gonner. Hello, Storm's Interlude! While reading your story, I forgot all about the fact that I've interacted with you online. I stopped thinking of you as one of the roses, and simply enjoyed.

Sue Palmer Fineman said...

Vonnie, you're one of my favorite authors! This scene is so realistic, it's as if it's happening in this room, at this moment.

Sue Palmer Fineman said...

Vonnie, you're one of my favorite authors! This scene is so realistic, it's as if it's happening in this room, at this moment.

Rolynn Anderson said...

What a great interview, Vonnie. Thanks for your candid responses to Sarah's great questions. Rolynn

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Na, thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. I enjoy reunion stories, too, the rekindling of young, tender emotions into something mature and lasting.

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

LaVerne, thanks for your kind words. If a writer can make me laugh and cry, I read eveything that author writes. I have to tell you I'm reading "One for the Road" right now. Lynne writes a scene where the hero sips at some sour lemonade. She has such a sly, gentle way of writing that zings in the comedy where you least expect it. Who would think drinking lemonade would be comical, but I laughed until I cried. Calvin asked me if I was ok.

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Mackenzie with the beautiful smile, I'm glad you enjoyed my book.

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Thanks, Sue. I cried when I wrote this scene. I cried today, too, while writing a reunion scene between my hero and his long-lost sister. Calvin and I were in a restaurant at the time. The waitress, seeing my tears, shot Calvin a dirty look and asked if I was okay. "Yes," I replied. "I'm just writing a touching scene." I have no clue if it'll make anyone else teary-eyed, but it made me a blubbering idiot! ;-)

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Rolynn, hello, nice to see you. Sarah asked some great questions, didn't she? Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

christine warner said...

Hi Vonnie! Loved that excerpt...very powerful. Great to read and learn more about you.

Much success with your book and your writing!

Calisa Rhose said...

What an emotional scene Vonnie! I had to stop myself from reading all of it so I can enjoy the full impact of your book when I read it. I'm thinking no Kindle for Storm's Interlude; this will be a paper read for me. :)

Jennifer Jakes said...

Hi ladies -
Great interview! And Vonnie, you know how much I loved Storm's Interlude. ((After seeing that smokin' hot pic of Storm, I may have to go re-read)) LOL
I love a book that makes me laugh but a book that has scenes that make me laugh and later that's my favorite b/c it means the author has touched a full range of emotions.
Happy holidays, ladies!

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Christine, I rewrote that scene several times to get it to feel right. Chosing the right words to convey shock and fear. I wanted the reader's heart to pound as she read it.

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Oh, Calisa, I hope you enjoy reading it. If you love a man who loves horses, dogs and little kids, you'll love Storm.

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Jennifer, I so agree. I want a book to wring many emotions from me. Who likes a ho-hum book? Not I.

Nancy Jardine Author said...

Hi ladies! The answer to your question, Vonnie, depends on the mood. An emotional one won't do it if I'm tired. Yet if it still has that tag 'escapism' it's likely to make me first of all feel a bit sad... and then happy... because it's not me who's had the trauma!