Getting to know author Laurel Wanrow who...
...loves misty mornings, the smell of freshly dug earth, petting long-haired guinea pigs and staring at the stars. She sees magic in nature and loves to photograph it.
Before kids, she studied and worked as a naturalist--someone who leads wildflower and other nature walks. During a stint of homeschooling, she turned her writing skills to fiction to share her love of the land, magical characters, and fantastical settings.
When not living in her fantasy worlds, Laurel camps, hunts fossils and argues with her husband and two new adult kids over whose turn it is to clean house. Though they live on the East Coast, a cherished family cabin the the Colorado Rockies holds Laurel's heart.
In 1868 England, the competition to control agriculture is fierce...and nobody says not to Derby’s industrial magnate.
Except Annmar Masterson. The nineteen-year-old rejects his improper advances and instead takes an advertising position on a farm. She discovers the isolated valley is home to gifted species—including animal and plant shifters—who hide their lives from the rest of England. The blue threads only she sees on their clockwork machinery prove her heritage is rooted with theirs, but their world is so different that Annmar doesn't know if she'll ever belong.
Shapeshifter Daeryn Darkcoat blames himself for the death of his mate and swears he won’t be responsible for another pack. But when the farm he loves falls victim to an endless run of strange pests eating the crops, he joins the hunt, taking charge of an unruly team of predator shifters. In the midst of the battle, Annmar stirs feelings he can’t resist.
As Annmar becomes entangled in the fight against the pests, and with Daeryn, she discovers her magic might help...if she can learn to use it properly. If not, she’ll be forced to leave the people she has come to care for anc become what she fears most: nothing more than another cog in the magnate’s gears.
Here's a teaser:
Several wagons pulled by steam tractors had arrived. Two boys and a woman—all dressed in trousers and their shirtsleeves, with only waistcoats topping their homespun shirts—unloaded bushel baskets onto a dumbwaiter platform. It hung by chains from a dormer extension where several more farmworkers waited beside a barrel-like engine.
Annmar’s gaze shot to the gears on one end. Chains wrapped around a sprocket led up to a cogged pulley at the peak of the dormer roof. Beside the machine, an older, dark-skinned man called down and everyone backed away. He threw a lever. The engine chugged to life and the chains jerked stiff. They crept over the grinding gears and the platform rose.
“Oh, my,” Annmar exhaled. “The mechanized windlass in use.”
Mistress Gere raised a brow at her. “You recognize the machine? It’s among the latest in farm improvements.”
“I, uh…” Annmar stared at the churning apparatus. She could leave Mr. Shearing out of this. “The shop I worked at produced its advertisements.” Ones she had drawn.
“Ah. Yes. Shall we?” Mistress Gere gestured to the wide wooden stair leading to the second floor.
They ascended and the platform kept pace, its crates filled with squash and tomatoes. The clinking chain made conversation impossible. By the time they reached the top, the idling windlass hissed quietly. The gray-haired man held the platform steady while men and a few girls grabbed the crates and swung them into the space beyond. One of the young men sported a rather unruly haircut. While his dark brown hair lay short around his ears, most on the top swept long across his brow, something never seen on the streets of Derby. He turned and met her gaze.
Annmar caught her breath. His brown eyes were like none she’d seen, wide and slanted, the rich chocolate color making a strong focus in his paler brown-sugar skin. Face on, his rounded ears were prominent, nearly animal-like, and cute.
Oh, to capture this strange, no, exotic look… Her finger slid along the side of the sketchbook and found the pencil splitting its pages.
He grinned, the smile open, friendly and playful all at once.
Before realizing she’d done it, Annmar smiled back. He was gorgeous. And her age. Much more suitable than Mr. Shearing would ever…oh, my! Her chest and neck heated.
Something hit her foot and clattered away with a familiar sound. She ducked toward the windlass to pick up her pencil. Straightening, her gaze caught the gold-edged, green lettering emblazoned across the machine’s water tank: Shearing Enterprises.
The flutter of excitement died. So there would be reminders, even here.
The Nitty Gritty Q & A:
Vicki: I’m a huge handbag girl. What is your favorite accessory? Laurel: Oh, dear, I’m more of a t-shirt and jeans kind of girl. The bag I carry most is my purple sling pack that my laptop just barely fits in. It’s no longer a thing of beauty, but—good heavens—I will never find pockets like this baby has. I *know* my flash drive is safely zipped away.
Vicki: How often to you get lost in a story? Laurel: It seems like once a year I find one I can’t let go of. This last year the world I fell in love with is The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.
Vicki: What’s your favorite movie of all time? Laurel: Ok, this labels me geek and old: Hello Dolly! The Barbra Streisand version released in 1969, and to little elementary-school-me, that opening sepia photo of the old-time city street peeling into motion and color was magical. And of course every little kid wants to believe they can sing like Barbara!
Vicki: Who’s your favorite villain? Laurel: LOL! Cruella de Vil. She has the best villain theme song! (Can you tell I’m still a kid at heart?) No really, I love animals and I still think she’s terribly wicked for wanting to turn the dalmatians into coats. Vicki: Cruella is a good villain pick. Glenn Close in the movie version really captured her.
Vicki: What is your biggest vice? Laurel: Um, chocolate, maybe? My current favorite is Chocolove’s Peppermint in Dark Chocolate, hands, down one of the best peppermint chocolates available. Vicki: send me some!
Vicki: What would you say is your most interesting quirk? Laurel: I collect rocks. I have all my life, and love that I still have many—um, most?—of them. I was thrilled to find a miniature quartz crystal on the beach last year, and my geologist husband brings me specimens from his travels, like a split crystalized ammonite from Morocco. However, my absolute favorites as a grown-up are Zuni fetish carvings. This may not be what most readers of romance novels are thinking—Fetishes in this case refer to stone animals depicting the spirit animals that traditionally guided these Native Americans. Entirely PG!The carvings are sold as art objects these days, made from beautiful stones, fossils and glass. Bears, birds, mountain lions.
Vicki: What three things are, at this moment, in your heroine’s purse, satchel, reticule, weapons belt or amulet bag (whatever she carries)? Laurel: I have to answer this, since you love handbags, Vicki! My heroine, Annmar, carries a leather satchel, not too fashionable for a proper Victorian girl, but she’s an artist and must always have her sketchbook and pencils with her. Plus, right now (in Volume 2, which I am completing edits on!) her satchel also holds a rock…yes, really. It has blue and yellow crystals in stripes, very pretty and very special. ;) My quirks do transfer to my characters.
While at Gettysburg National Battlefield—which is the correct time period for The Unraveling, albeit American—I found they type of satchel, or ‘haversack’ I imagined she’d have. Soft leather, dark gray. However, those glass museum cases are pretty unforgiving for photographs. It’s the one on the lower left.
And because you like bags, Vicki, here’s another from the Civil War, tarred to be waterproof and inscribed.
UP NEXT: The Unraveling is the first of three parts in a serialized novel—the complete story is called The Luminated Threads. Volume Two, The Twisting, releases this fall. Sign up for Laurel's Newsletter to be notified of the releases.
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What is your favorite chocolate indulgence? And I want specifics, the particular brand or desert you go for! And if it’s not chocolate, tell me that, too. My fallback is licorice.