Donnell Gets Lost Talking about Joe
Celebrating the debut of her first book, new romatic suspense author Donnell Ann Bell flew to Texas and suffered through our heat wave (see us both sweating below) just so I could have a face-to-face interview.
Okay, she was actually here planning her son’s wedding and I was fortunate that she had time to visit with me. I wish everyone could have seen her face light up when she saw her son. Her love was evident in her expression and I’m a witness that the same light shown in her eyes when she spoke about the characters in THE PAST CAME HUNTING.
ANGI: So Donnell, what do you want to tell the world?
DONNELL: Well, first off, I want to tell the world that my eyes lit up when I saw the fabulous, generous talented Angi Morgan who picked me up at the airport. Talk about flattered. She probably didn’t see my eyes light up because of the sunglasses. We debut authors wear them all the time now LOL ;)
But what do I want to tell the world about THE PAST CAME HUNTING is that old hats in this business tell us don’t invest too much time in the book of your heart because writing is a business. On one hand, that’s smart, profound advice. But in my case I’m so glad I didn’t give up on this book. Too many people have said, “Can’t wait to read the rest of this story.” I couldn’t let them down.
ANGI: Did you like the publishing process?
DONNELL: I was really impressed with my editor, Pat Van Wie. However, when I read her revision letter, I wondered why she had bought the book. She didn’t like my hero. With her suggestions to tone him down, I was still able to keep him alpha, but he was a lot more human. I fell in love with Joe all over again, and, trust me, I loved him LOTS already ;)
ANGI: So what about Joe? How is he more human?
DONNELL: Because I had completed the Citizens Academy and volunteered as a victims’ advocate, I was obsessed with procedure and getting them right. But by doing that I made Joe a by-the-book, one-dimensional character. He was “such” a cop. When I allowed love and family to flow into the process, he transformed on the pages.
ANGI: You said when it comes to your writing, “I finish songs.” At first I thought you meant actually singing them. (LOL) But I later got the impression it was something else. So what do you actually mean?
DONNELL: Oh, I sing them, Angi ;) Don’t get me started. But when I hear a song, particularly a country song, I’m drawn into the words and they won’t let go. Country music writers are the best storytellers out there in my opinion. But, darn, if they don’t leave us hanging when that three minutes ends.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t take all my stories from music. If I hear a news broadcast and I can’t find out the conclusion, my muse can’t stand it. For example: I wrote my first book because I heard a story about a lawyer being gunned down on the Santa Fe, NM capitol steps. I was on my lunch hour, and that tragedy just hit me as if I’d been there to witness it in person. I couldn’t think straight for the rest of the day. I’m from New Mexico, and happenings like this our extraordinary--e.g. they don’t happen. I went home, read papers, watched the news, but not another word was said. So I had no choice; I wrote an entire book based on a breaking news blurb.
ANGI: You said you didn’t think THE PAST CAME HUNTING was a regular romance. What makes it different?
DONNELL: It’s not the quintessential romance because I break too many rules. Oh, my hero and heroine meet in a timely fashion, but Joe and Melanie’s first priorities are their children and their careers. I go into the POV of Melanie’s son. I felt it was instrumental to let readers know how this kid was feeling. Melanie must fight her own battle when it comes to facing Drake Maxwell. Agents wanted me to keep Joe and Melanie together when the ultimate crisis happens. That just felt wrong to me. Joe plays a huge part in this book, but it’s Melanie’s story.
ANGI: What’s your favorite scene?
DONNELL: Oh gosh, there’s so many, and not necessarily with Melanie and Joe. One is when Melanie--thanks of course, to Joe’s blunt persuasion--has to tell Luke about her past, which is a heartbreaking revelation for a mom to tell her son. Imagine, having to tell your child you’re not the person he’s thought you were all these years, and he’s fifteen years old. THE PAST CAME HUNTING crosses genres. It’s romantic suspense, women’s fiction and even has glimpses of young adult.
The scene after that heart-wrenching scene is also a favorite. Melanie lets Joe know she took his advice--he was very happy with her, and that was a pretty special scene, too. ;)
ANGI: You’ve told us that THE PAST CAME HUNTING is Melanie’s story. So why did you originally call it WALK AWAY JOE?
DONNELL: Because for the purpose of this book “Walk Away” is a prison term, and readers will learn that Melanie is an ex-con. It’s a terrible conflict to throw at a police lieutenant who learns she’s his new neighbor, and really awful because he finds her attractive.
Who’s your walk away? is a question asked by the guards and the convicts in prison--at least in THE PAST CAME HUNTING. A “walk away” means a woman’s been duped by a man and SHE let it happen. When Melanie hears Joe’s a walk away, that’s simply a devastating blow to her ego.
ANGI: Name a couple of things that broke the normal publishing rules?
DONNELL: There are four POVs in the story, each one critical, in my opinion. I’ve often heard you should keep a tight rein on your POV, and I did a fair job of respecting these “rules.” But as I mentioned above, I just felt it was absolutely necessary to show Melanie’s son’s perspective. Without Luke’s POV I feel the book would have lacked a certain richness.
I am so excited that you had time to visit with me, Donnell. I’ve been waiting years to see your book on the shelf ! Congratulations, Friend!
Angi, Ditto, Girlfriend! I’ll never ever forget your kindness in picking me up at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport and this wonderful little chat. My eyes are lighting up (and tearing up) all over again… Now where did I put my tissues and sunglasses?
Readers, I’ve also got a surprise for you -- I’ve linked a never-seen chapter to my web page. It’s a special scene to me, and if you can tell me something about it, you’ll be entered in a drawing to win THE PAST CAME HUNTING. Just go to www.donnellannbell.com and click on the link that says EXCERPT. (I hope you enjoy ;)
You can also find Donnell at the following places:
Twitter Facebook Blogging: Five Scribes or Get Lost
FAN QUESTION for today
What’s the most outrageous rule you’ve ever broken (either on purpose or accidentally)?
DON’T FORGET to FOLLOW us on Twitter (#GetLostStories) or LIKE us on Facebook to keep up with all our guest authors and their prizes. Join us for the rest of this week as we celebrate Donnell’s debut release. Remember to check back daily to GET LOST in your favorite stories! ~Angi
USA Today Bestseller Angi Morgan is an 11th generation Texan who plots ways to engage her readers with complex story lines, in actual Texas locations. She shares her research and photos on her daily blog: A Picture A Day.
I love to chat with readers. Join Angi's friends through my Fan Page.