Today we’ve got Dawn Brown with her book, Living Lies, here to share with you some facts about herself, as well as an excerpt for her book. You can buy it here!
1. How did you get started with your writing?
When I look back, writing for me started with storytelling. When I was about ten I would tell ghost stories to the kids in my neighborhood. As I grew older, and the stories more complex, I began writing them down. From the time I was twelve and onward I always wrote, but it wasn’t until my son was born that I decided to get serious and try to make it a career.
2. What/who is your biggest muse?
While I like the idea of a muse, I don’t have one. For me, inspiration comes from a story that intrigues me and characters I feel a connection with. That said, I write better on bleak rainy days. Can weather be a muse?
3. Is there a character in one of your books you connect with the most?
On some level, I connect with all my characters. I wouldn’t be able to sit down and write about them day after day if I didn’t. If I couldn’t sympathise with them, I’m not sure a reader could either.
4. What do you like to do in your free time other than write?
I read…a lot. Spend time with family and friends. I’m not really a hobby person, though.
5. What are some of your favorite books? Any genre or author.
I could fill pages with this question, but I’ll just give you my top five instead. In no particular order: Acid Row by Minette Walters (though, I love all her books), The Stand by Stephen King, Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, Vanish With the Rose by Barbara Michaels, (love most of hers, too) and The Reef by Nora Roberts.
As you can see, I’ll pretty much read any genre, but my favorite kind of story will have a great mystery, some romance and if there’s a ghost too, all the better.
6. Where is your writing sanctuary?
I have a room in the attic where I write. I think half the reason I bought the house I’m in now was for that room. It’s actually a perfect place for writing. The space is away from the rest of the house so it’s nice and quiet. I can just close the door and lose myself in the story.
7. How did you celebrate “selling” your first book?
I received the contract offer on a Tuesday at ten o’clock at night, so there wasn’t a whole lot to do. My husband and I wound up celebrating with a glass of wine. When Living Lies was released, though, he threw a big surprise party for me with all our friends and family. It was a lot of fun.
8. What is your favorite thing about Samhain?
There’s just a terrific energy about Samhain. They produce excellent books, the cover art is fantastic and they provide great opportunities for writers and readers to interact. It’s a wonderful publisher to write for.
9. Is there something you would like to see more of in RomanceLandia?
Truthfully, I don’t spend a whole lot of time in RomanceLandia besides reading a few blogs and articles to keep informed about the industry. There’s so much information available, it’s a great thing for writers.
10. Tell us about your editor.
Well, clearly she has excellent taste in fiction!
Haley leaned against the doorframe and looked down at the small, withered husk of a woman passed out on the floor.
“Good morning, Mom,” she murmured, but her mother remained sprawled across the pale rose carpet. The frayed edge of her nightgown bunched high on her thighs, exposing dark varicose veins spidering down skinny, white legs.
As Haley stepped into the room, her heart rate accelerated and a shiver slid down her spine. She hated this room—Michelle’s room—though she hadn’t thought of it that way in a long time. For more than a decade it had simply been The Shrine. A pretty pink bedroom kept as perfect as a museum exhibit, all in memory of a sister who was gone and never coming back.
She knelt, hooked her hands under her mother’s arms, and half dragged her down the hall. The putrid stink of alcohol oozed from her skin. Haley swallowed hard to keep from gagging. God, she hated that smell.
With her hip, she nudged her mother’s bedroom door open and rolled her onto the bed. Haley stood there for a moment, her throat tight and her chest sore, while pity battled revulsion. Who was this creature, with sallow skin and hollowed eyes? Surely she couldn’t be the same woman who had raised her for her first fifteen years. Her mother had been warm, quick to laugh and full of life. Unlike the creature wheezing before her, this doppelganger who had assumed her mother’s life the day Michelle disappeared twelve years ago.
Haley left the room, wiping at the tears pricking the corners of her eyes. She showered and dressed, dry swallowing two Tylenols in an effort to combat the steady throb behind her eyes and the ache in her shoulders, the results of yet another sleepless night.
In the kitchen, she took the coffee from the pantry and started her morning ritual. As she filled the pot with water, she spotted a note in her brother’s handwriting propped against the wall behind the faucet.
Coward. She set the coffeepot down and lifted the torn scrap of paper.
Had a breakfast meeting this morning and didn’t want
to wake you. Finally spoke to Paige, she’ll be here
later today. I’ll see you tonight.
Anger surged within her as she crumpled the paper into a tight ball, tossing it into the garbage. What her brother wouldn’t do to avoid both her and their mother.
And now Paige was coming, as if things weren’t bad enough.
According to the clock on the wall, she still had a little over an hour before she needed to open the store. And spending that time in the silent kitchen, with only her dark thoughts for company held all the appeal of a sharp stick in the eye.
The walls felt like they were closing in on her and the air too hot to breathe. She flicked off the coffee machine and snatched up her coat. She had to get out of there.
Outside, the cold air stung her cheeks and made her eyes water, a relief from the overwhelming stuffiness inside. Deep blues and purples streaked the eastern sky, barely lighter than the star-dotted black in the west. She jammed her bare hands into her coat pockets and started down the sidewalk, bending her head against the icy wind.
As she walked, the pounding in her skull eased some. Whether from the Tylenol or simply being away from her mother’s house she couldn’t say for certain.
She turned onto Main Street and wondered absently why every small town in North America had a Main Street. Plastic garland, twinkle lights, tinsel and wreaths decorated the storefronts. The kind of tackiness only Christmas could inspire. Even the lampposts were adorned with green and red lights in the shape of candles.
Most of the store windows were dark, except for the Java Joint. Warm light spilled from the small coffee shop’s window onto the pavement outside. With time to kill before she opened Hareton Furniture Restoration, Haley decided to stop. Maybe flip through the newspaper and get lost in the functioning world for a while.
A chime overhead announced her arrival as she pushed the door open. The warm air smelled of rich coffee and freshly baked goods. Chairs at the small, wrought iron tables stood empty, and the only other customer sat hunched over his newspaper at the counter that ran the length of the front window. He glanced up at the sound of the bell, then turned back to his paper.
Karen Murphy, the shop’s owner, stood behind a counter at the rear of the store, placing cookies neatly on a platter. She smiled as Haley approached. “Coffee?”
Haley nodded, shrugging out of her coat before sliding onto a stool.
“I wondered if you would stay home today.” Karen set an oversized cup down before her.
“Why?” Haley asked.
“I heard they identified the body. That it was Michelle.”
God, word traveled fast in this town. “We only found out Friday. How did you hear already?”
“There was an article in the paper.” Karen pointed to the folded newspaper at the end of the counter. Haley reached for it and spread the out pages.
The words “Body Found” screamed in one-inch bold letters, then in slightly smaller print, “Remains identified as local girl missing twelve years”. Haley pushed the paper away.
“I shouldn’t be surprised. This is probably the most exciting story the Gazette’s published since Michelle went missing.” She added three heaping spoonfuls of sugar to her coffee before taking a sip.
“Are you okay?”
“I’m fine.” Haley waved her hand as if swatting away a fly, ignoring the ache in her throat. “I’ve believed for a long time Michelle was dead. When they found the skeleton I knew it would be her.”
Karen put her hands on her bony hips. “Liar. Who do I look like? That idiot brother of yours? I’ve known you far too long for you to sit there and tell me that you’re fine and dandy.”
“I didn’t say I was dandy.” Karen was a good friend, but sometimes all her touchy feely let’s-talk-about-our-emotions crap got on Haley’s nerves. Still, she knew from experience, if she wanted to drink her coffee in peace, she would have to throw her something. “I admit, going from twelve years with Michelle just being gone to having her body found and identified inside of three weeks has been hard.”
“And it has to be kind of freaky that she was buried in your grandmother’s basement.”
“It was.” And terrifying and horrifying.
“That’s so weird. Your family kept the house all that time after your grandmother died, and then, almost the minute it sold, Michelle is found.”
“Yeah. Strange.” Haley took another drink from her cup and wished Karen would shut up. She hated thinking of the years spent waiting and wondering, when all along Michelle had been buried under the dirt floor practically beneath their feet. Stop being morbid, she told herself, trying to push the image from her mind.
“How’s your mom?”
“The usual.” No need to bore Karen with tales of her mother’s drunken tirades or sobbing fits.
“Has Garret been any help?”
“He’s dealing with the police and that kind of thing, but other than that, he’s avoiding me. He did leave me a note this morning.”
“A note?” Karen’s eyebrows, nearly as blonde as her straight, cropped hair, drew together in a frown.
“Yeah, nice, huh? I wonder how early he had to sneak in to do that.”
Karen chuckled. “What did it say?”
“Just that he finally spoke to Paige, and she’ll be gracing us with her illustrious presence sometime today.”
“Have you spoken to your sister at all since—”
“No,” Haley interrupted. “Not in four years. Anyway, I feel like I’ve been eating and breathing all of this forever. Let’s talk about something else. Anything that’s unrelated to Michelle or my lunatic family.”
“Change of subject coming up.” Karen lowered her voice to a conspiratorial whisper. “Check out tall, dark and brooding over there.”
Haley turned toward the man at the counter. His back was to her, but his face reflected on the glass, translucent against the brightening background like the image of a ghost. His head bent, he stared at the newspaper in front of him, and Haley couldn’t get a good look at his features. Still, there was something familiar about him.
“I’ve seen him before,” Haley whispered, turning back to Karen.
“Me too, but I’m damned if I can remember where.”
He stood suddenly, his chair scraping the tile floor, and left the shop without a backward glance.
Karen’s cheeks turned pink and a giggle escaped her lips. “Oops. Do you think he heard us?”
Haley shrugged and drank her coffee.