Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Q & A with author Allison Merritt

Welcome to February 29th! Leap Year, yeah!  And on this day, I have in the hot seat author Allison Merritt.  I've got interview questions lined up and ready to go. So, let's begin! 

First off, tell me about yourself, and your writing.
I grew up and still live in Southwestern Missouri. The Ozarks, specifically, which is steeped in tradition and superstition and beautiful scenery which makes it an inspiriting place to live. I have a husband, three goofy dogs and I'm the vice president and webmistress for my local writing group, Ozarks Romance Authors, a fantastic group of mostly women who encourage me to get better and better at writing and they never look at me funny when I bring weird stories to critique.
How long have you been writing? How many published books do you have, and what genres?
I've been writing since I was old enough to know my letters. I majored in print journalism in college, but news isn't really my thing. I had a five-year hiatus from writing, but in 2009 I couldn't deny the voices in my head any longer. I started writing a historical romance, because those have always been my favorite, but I became enamored with steampunk, so that's my chosen genre for now and I have a lot more planned for another series.
I have a couple contemporary short stories and a novella that are e-published and a western short story with a romance thread running through it in addition to my debut novel, which was of course, steampunk romance.
Do you write in multiple genres or just one? If just one, do you ever consider straying outside your genre?
It's probably just me, but I think breaking from a chosen genre to explore another one is a great idea to break up boredom. I've love dhistory for a long time and I feel cheated if I read a book or see a movie without even a tiny bit of romance in it, so I want to write those two together. I love speculative fiction as well, so steampunk was rught up my alley, but I would LOVE to write a contempory western romance sometime.
Are you a plotter or do you write from the seat of your pants?
100% pantser. I might have an idea of where I want a scene or a conversation to go, but mostly I just make it up as I go along and end up adding details later.
What is a typical writing day like for you?
There tends to be a lot of staring at the screen, the walls, flipping through channels or my mp3 player. Once in a while inspiration strikes or the characters decide to get off their butts and interact. This is the downside of being a panster. I've tried to convert, really.
Who do you love to read? Favorite authors, favorite books?
Linda Lael Miller is my all-time favorite romance author. The Stone Creek series, which is historical romances and now she's branching into contemporaries with it. Love those because she has a whole family tree going. I'm also a sucker for Dean Koontz and his Odd Thomas series. So funny and poignant at the same time.
What is something you'd like to accomplish in your writing career next year?
I think the biggest thing right now is working on brand and name recognition. Being a new author is tough, being an indie author is tougher. One that would just kill though, is if someone recognized me and timidly approached my table at a restuartant to ask if I'm the lady who writes the posts at Have Novel, Will Edit. Big dreams. *wink, wink* Also, I'm crossing my fingers that somehow Jerry Bruckheimer will discover my book and think it's the next Pirates of the Caribbean.
If you could have one paranormal ability, what would it be?
Make things appear out of thin air by mooshing atoms together. That would be amazing. Or maybe melt fat with my brain.
If you could keep a mythical/ paranormal creature as a pet, what would you have?
I do a lot of research on mythical and paranormal creatures. You know, I find that most of them have negative qualities and are generally mean-spirited. They probably aren't really, but people are afraid of them, thereby giving them bad reputations. I'm sure they just misunderstood. I always think about skunk apes and wonder what we could possibly do to help them get rid of the stink. Tomato bathes? Maybe they just need an introduction to soap? I think a skunk ape could be really useful for getting into those hard to reach places in your house and for heavy lifting.
Tell us a little about your latest release.
The Treasure Hunter's Lady is my first steampunk romance. I like to call it a cross between The Mummy and Quigley Down Under. It's about an adventurer's daughter who finds herself stuck in a life she hates, a seemingly care-free cowboy who acutally has lives depending on his quest and a powerful, ancient evil that can only be defeated if the two of them work together. Writing this book was a trip. I actually completed the first draft in a little under a week, but the revisions and plumping up the story took much, much longer.
What is something that you absolutely can't live without? (Other than family members)
Sweets, but it really comes down between lemon meringue pie and cheesecake. I reference either or both at least once a week. If I'm not talking about them, I'm certainly thinking about them.
Could you ever co author a book with someone? If so, who would you choose, and what would you write?
Oh, there are so many great authors to choose from, but you know, I'd be so intimidated by someone who's really well known. I'd have to stick with a critique partner or someone I knew.
If you could spend a day with anyone from history, dead or alive, who would it be, and what would you do? What would you ask them?
This is easy. Jesse James. He's been examined and speculated on. Some people say he was killed in 1883, others say he assumed a different name and had an entirely different life. I want to know what in the world happened because I watched a documentary on the History Channel speculating he lived and then my husband read a book about it. Some of the evidence they bring up makes it seem entirely like he might have faked his death.
What are some of your other hobbies outside of writing?
In the spring, summer and fall, I walk nature trails. It's good time to help me think and it gets me in shape, allows me to take photos for my blog and gets me out of the house. Definitely one of my favorite hobbies. I also love movies, we rent a lot or go see them.
If you were on the staff to have a book adapted to movie, what would you pick?
Man, it seems like all the best sellers I've read lately are already heading that way. But I was thinking that Tina Fey's Bossy Pants would make a hilarious comedy. Seriously one of the best autobiographies I've ever read, which is saying a lot because I almost never read them, but she hooked me from the start.
What is a talent you wish you had, but don't?
Doing math inside my head. My husband makes fun of me all the time because I'll try to do a math problem and I get the wrong answer. Sometimes I'm even close to the right one, but he still gives me grief about it.
Favorite color?
Weather: Hot or cold?
Hot! I'm already looking forward to summer.
Favorite place to read?
Curled up in my broken-down chair in my livingroom.
Favorite meal
Chicken breasts in a lemon butter sauce with macaroni and cheese and a side salad with oil and vingear and a slice of lemon meringue pie for dessert.
Favorite non-alcoholic drink.
Dr. Pepper. It's flavorful, mysterious (what ARE the 23 flavors? I can guess one or two: cherry, grape and... wow, I hope it's not prunes), it's the perfect ice cold beverage.
If you could travel anywhere and do anything, no limits or money holding you back, where would you go?
I've been enamored with Bora Bora since watching Triple X starring Vin Diesel. I'd go there in a heartbeat. I want one of those little huts suspended above the ocean with the little steps that go right down to it. That would be perfection.

Well, that was fun! I love interviewing authors...You never know what you're going to learn :)

Now, I have a blurb and excerpt here for Allison's book, The Treasure Hunter's Lady.

BLURB:  For years, Romy Farrington traveled the world at her father's side, exploring new lands and uncovering ancient secrets. It was everything she ever wanted, until a near-fatal encounter with hostile natives forced her and her father into a life of retirement in Boston and an undesired advance into proper society.

Everything changes again when she's saved from an accident by a brash Texan in a back alley. Abel Courte may act like a care-free cowboy, but he's harboring a secret—he's searching for the Diamond of Uktena, a legendary jewel that can cure any disease known to man. He needs information Romy's father has in order to get to the jewel. When he traces the origin of the Diamond to Dakota Territory, he sets off to claim the treasure, only to find the archeologist's fiery redheaded daughter stuck to him like a bug in sap.

In a race against time, Romy and Abel must learn to trust each other as they undertake a cross-country journey that will expose them to lands uncharted by white men, a deadly battle against the fearsome creature in possession of the Diamond and a fight to return to civilization where they might make the greatest discovery of all—love. 


Romy’s eyes locked on Abel's necklace. “What's that around your neck? A fossil of some sort?”
His hand flew to the pendant and stuffed it back down his collar. “Nothing.”
“As someone who's seen a lot of nothing, I can tell you without a doubt it's something. Full of secrets, aren't we, Abel?”
Blue eyes widened then narrowed, as she looked between him and the maps he'd lifted out of the drawer. Her coyness fell away like leaves in the fall. “You're a treasure hunter. You found out that Papa is going to search for the Diamond of Uktena, but you plan to steal it first.”
“Why would I want to steal a—” He gave up the pretense. “First of all, it isn't stealing if it isn't in anyone's possession. Second, I'm not a treasure hunter.”
“It is stealing if you're going to sell a priceless artifact to the highest bidder on the black market.”
Abel frowned. “I don't need a lecture from some little chit whose daddy is the biggest treasure hunter in the world.”
Romy poked a finger into his chest. “Take it back. He's an archeologist and an adventurer. When he finds valuables he turns them over to the proper authorities.”
He pushed her finger away. “I'll bet you a thousand dollars he's not going to do it this time.”
Her eyes narrowed into slits, half-hidden behind a thick fringe of lashes. “You're wrong.”
“It would be the biggest discovery of our time. Of any time. It's no mere gem, no ornament to put on a shelf.”
“I have some knowledge of the Diamond,” she defended.
The admission was too nonchalant. Had mere curiosity led her to follow him?
He patted the fang inside his shirt. “I doubt anyone could put a price on its worth, but there are those willing to try.”
She stared at him dubiously. “Because it's supposed to come from a mythical serpent?”
He debated telling her. It wouldn't benefit Romy to know what he was doing. After tonight it was unlikely he'd see her again.
“Ask your father. He might know more than I do. I have to leave now. I'd appreciate it if you kept our little rendezvous quiet.”
He snatched up the papers, flashed a grin and started for the door. The rustle of skirts alerted him that she was right behind him, but he didn't slow down. Not until a cold metal barrel pressed against the center of his neck.
“Stay where you are.”
Romy's voice was hard and all business. Abel raised his hands. She drew the gun back and came around to face him. The pistol was no little thing, not the type a dainty female would carry for protection. Romy was a woman of many facets, like the fabled Diamond.
“I can't give you the fang.”
“I have the feeling it's an intricate detail in your mission, Mr. Courte.”
He sighed. “I don't know for certain.”
“Tell me what you do know.”
“The fang is solid proof that Uktena exists.”
She frowned. “And who is Uktena exactly?”
“Uktena isn't your typical serpent. Rumor has it that this sparkly rock stuck in its forehead can bring power and riches to whoever wields it. Better still, the Diamond cures illnesses. Any disease you can think of.”

I hope you all enjoyed today's post. I sure did! Allison, congratulations on your release, and I wish you many sales! I think I'm going to have to head over to Amazon for a copy of the book....the excerpt sure pulled me in!


Until next time,

Storm Goddess


  1. Thanks for having me! It was a fun interview!

  2. Love that blurb...really caught attention. And your excerpt was wonderful.

    Congrats on your book and your success Allison~

  3. LOL, loved the interview--and love Allison Merritt. And I LOVED Treasure Hunter's Lady.
    I'm just loving everything today!

  4. What a great interview, ladies! Treasure Hunter's Lady sounds amazing:)

  5. Nice interview! I'm a fellow Missourian:)

    The Treasure Hunter's Lady sounds very interesting, I love romantic suspense and this sounds like it's right up my ally.

  6. LOL, a skunk ape? Okay! Why not . The blurb you shared made my mouth water for more. You're a fantastic writer. Best wishes for your continued success.

  7. Glad you guys enjoyed the interview. She had some great questions.

    Sheri, I just feel bad for the stinky skunk apes. I can't help it. :)