Romance Author Published in Lockdown
Updated: Oct 4
This month I am being featured in Essentials magazine! Everyone, likes a local story... but what's even better is a romance series that's set where you live. It's been a whirlwind of a month but Ana, book 1 of my fantasy/paranormal romance series, was released on the 8th September 2020 with Evernight Publishing!
I wrote my first novel aged eight on my mother’s old typewriter. The (very badly written) novel is now lost in an attic but the dream of being a writer and having a book cover took root and remained. As the years passed, I devoured novels hungrily. With the everyday demands of motherhood, work and daily life, I discovered the pleasure a good romance can bring… and, even better, the escape and passion a great paranormal/fantasy romance offers – and so I turned my hand to writing them.
For the past several years I’ve crammed in time to write around the school run and work, but lockdown (and the changes this strange year has brought) gave me the push I needed to submit my romance series to a publisher - and I was overjoyed when The Guardians’ Trust series was accepted!
As a reader of romance books, I have picked up many Celtic inspired novels (usually Scottish) and have swooned over the handsome men in kilts, loved the magic of their Druid heroines and have gone weak at the knees when the heroes utter every ‘och’ and ‘aye’… but it got me thinking about where we live and how I could use aspects of our heritage and location within a romance series.
I live in North Wales, not far from the English boarder, and The Guardians' Trust books feature many places locals will be familiar with. Book one begins at Chester Zoo and travels about an hour into Wales, not far from the city of Chester. The hall in which the family of the Trust live is loosely based upon the National Trust’s Erddig. The heroine of book one is a vet at Chester Zoo and the heroine of book three is a junior doctor at the Maelor Hospital. In fact, some of my villain’s victims are students from Chester University!
As this is a paranormal/fantasy romance series there are also places that are pure constructs of my imagination. The Guardians guard a gateway to another realm, a world of tropical jungle and a world at war. But even here I was inspired by local history and culture, drawing on Celtic myths, Pagan traditions – even Owain Glyndŵr gets a mention.
Since I signed the contract things have moved quickly: the first book in the series, Ana, has now been released and that front cover is now framed on my office wall. The second book is due out soon, to be followed by the third shortly afterwards. I was also featured in ‘Author's Corner’ as part of the University of Chester's Virtual Reunion in September.
Like all author's you can't expect publication to mean success so I've been working hard... I've learnt enough IT skills to make any IT/Business teacher proud! My website is up and running, I'm active on Twitter and Facebook (setting up a business page versus a profile is not easy!). I've also been blogging, building up my Instagram following and establishing myself as an author on different forums like Goodreads. Dare I even mention the horror of backlinks...?!
While lockdown brought the challenge of home schooling and toilet roll supply, for me it also brought opportunity. Lockdown reinforced to me how important stories are as a source of comfort or distraction. At a time when escaping into a book has never been so important, perhaps escaping into my romance series might be a way to brighten up the dark nights that insist on closing in...
Excerpt from The Guardians' Trust: Ana (book 1):
Ana’s cup hit the table, its contents sloshing onto the wood unnoticed. “Human? What, from fourteenth century history we’re now talking UFOs?”
Maddox laughed. “Not extra-terrestrials, no.” His expression sobered, his belief in his next words evident. “But Others.”
“Others?” Ana squeaked. Glancing around, she was relieved to see the kiosk worker was still there. A handful of tourists mulled around, too. She wasn’t alone—her skepticism would have done Scully proud, if not Mulder. “Look I saw the X-Files, who hasn’t? But Others? If the Trust is some sort of cult or something, I’m really not up for recruitment.”
Pryce almost smiled. “We are largely what we appear to be. A family who works in the Trust the Gatekeeper’s replacement formed centuries ago to keep our land safe.”
Ana frowned. They had both seemed so normal, and good-looking. It was such a shame. “And these Others?”
“I am an Other,” Maddox said calmly. “Or rather my parents were. I was conceived in the Other Realm and came here when still inside my mother’s womb.”
“The gateway between the two worlds is one of those secrets we spoke of,” Pryce said.
Ana stared from one to the other. How could two such respected businessmen be quietly bonkers and the world hadn’t noticed? “Next you’ll be telling me you are three hundred years old as well,” she scoffed.
Pryce shook his head, his lips twitching again. “I’m thirty-one.”
“I, on the other hand,” Maddox said, “am six hundred eighteen years old. My father’s Double was the Gatekeeper. I was born to take his place. I am the Caretaker of the Guardians’ Trust.”
“Six hundred eighteen?” Ana said faintly. She really needed to make her excuses and go.
“Given my youthful good looks,” Maddox said and smiled roguishly, “I can see why you’d doubt me, but every word we have said is true. We protect the land and the secret gateway it holds.”
Ana searched for something to say. She felt like a character in one of those novels where an impossible secret was told and the heroine was just supposed to swallow it. She glanced around warily. Perhaps she was being filmed? What was that American show called? Candid Camera? Did they even still make it?
This was ridiculous!
With deliberate care, Ana pushed her cup away. “I’m not sure what’s going on, or if someone put you up to this, but I think your joke is over.” She started to rise. “I thank you for the coffee, but I have work to do.”
“Tell me,” Maddox said as she climbed to her feet, “do you ever dream of a jungle?”
Ana froze, one leg mid-air over the picnic bench she’d been sitting on. “What did you say?”
“Do you ever dream of a jungle?”
Slowly, Ana lowered herself back down to the bench. “That’s impossible,” she said. “I never told anyone about my dream.”
“And yet I know,” Maddox said, his expression one of infinite patience. “The jungle in your dreams is dense and green but not flat. It coats cliffs and mountains of jagged peaks and deep ravines. There are terracotta cliffs and yellow stone rises. There is a pool of turquoise water at the base of a waterfall. I wonder, in your dreams, did you ever see an old woman kneeling at the water’s edge washing her clothing?”
“She wasn’t old.” The admission puffed through her stunned lips. “She was young and beautiful, with hair like spun sunshine.”
“Yes, that’s her.” Maddox smiled, enigmatically.
Ana blinked. “But how can you know? I have seen this place since I was a small girl. It is real to me, so very real, but I have searched and searched and it does not exist. It only lives within my mind.”
Maddox shook his head. “In my mind, too. It is the place where I was conceived. It is my true home. The Other Realm.”
“Then how do I know it?” Ana asked. “If you are going to tell me I am one of these Others, I won’t believe you. I already think you half mad.”
“Other? No. You are as human as they come, Dr. Siana Jones,” Maddox said. “But you are a Double.”
Before she could ask, Pryce told her, “Throughout history there have been people born on either side of the gateway with the same face. Usually female, one is human and one is Other. Although different people, these Doubles are identical. At two points in history, the creator has asked them to cross and switch places.”
“The creator? You’re bringing God into this?” Ana asked, appalled.
“The Mother we speak of is the ancient one. The bringer of life. Mother Nature. She created a trinity of worlds that form a whole. Usually, these worlds coexist separately, neatly, but there have been periods of unrest where the exchange of these Doubles has redressed an imbalance. The exchange, marriage, and mating of these Doubles has lessened growing evil.”
“Evil?” Ana felt cold. From vet to parrot in one bizarre conversation.
...“Wait,” Ana said, almost desperately. “Are you saying it is time for this Exchange again? That women need to swap places? That these identical Doubles, as you called them, are wandering around doing goodness knows what?”
“Not wandering around, no. More like sitting, drinking Americano, and wondering if she’s lost her mind because she’s believing an impossible story when she knows she shouldn’t.”
Ana’s brown eyes had to be as wide as saucers. Her gaze swept from Pryce to Maddox and back again. “In the words of John McEnroe, ‘you cannot be serious!’”
Pryce’s lips lifted in what seemed to be an apology…
Ana’s head sank into her hands. “This is just so unbelievable. I’m a scientist. A vet. I like rational order, data, and proof. I don’t believe in prophetic dreams, or visions, or Other Realms, come to that.”
“Tell me. Did you see a man in your visions?” Pryce asked.
Ana’s head snapped up. “A man? No. I saw a jungle and cats: panthers, leopards, jaguars…” Her voice faded and her eyes narrowed. “Wait. You said marriage and mating. I’m supposed to marry someone over there? Like an arranged marriage?”
…Ana jerked as she thought of something else. “Hang on a second, didn’t you say there was some sort of civil war going on there? You want me to cross and marry a stranger and live in a war zone?”
Maddox calmly took another sip of his tea. “I never said that accepting the fate you were born for would be easy, Dr. Jones.
Ana, book 1 of The Guardians' Trust series is available to purchase at Amazon Kindle, Evernight Publishing, Barns & Noble, Smashwords, Bookstrand, iBooks and Kobo. The book is also available for print on demand from Evernight.
Blurb for The Guardians' Trust: Ana (book 1)
Some women are born identical - one in the human world, one in the jungle of the Other Realm. It is their fate to change places. In The Guardians’ Trust series Doubles embrace their fate with the men born for them…
WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF YOU LEARNT THERE WERE TWO OF YOU?
Dr Ana Jones learns it is her destiny to leave the human world and cross into an Amazonian realm to join the Resistance who are fighting for survival – a fate that is akin to stepping back in time... A Double, she must pass through the gateway and marry a stranger.
HE WAS BORN FOR HER
A warrior, leading the Resistance is Brenin’s life but Ana is his fate. Brenin embraces his marriage, and the shapeshifting gift his mating brings, but will her love be enough to help both man and panther survive the war?
To find out about The Guardians’ Trust series click here and visit my books page where you can find the blurb for the first three books.