About the book:Tess Copeland lives a quiet life in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Thanks to the government’s witness protection program, she enjoys the freedom of never having to glance over her shoulder to see if someone is following her. Life has become safe, serene...and boring. Her heart longs for something more than just existing...until a ghost from her past shatters her serenity.
Once upon a time, Tess was caught between the FBI and the men the feds were trying to take down. Jake Coleman is the U.S. Marshal who extracted her from the jam she was in with the FBI, a man she could have fallen for...hard...if she had let herself. It’s been a year since she last saw Jake, and in all the months that have passed, he’s never tried to find her. The longer he keeps his distance, the more she wonders why his absence hurts so much.
When a stranger comes to town searching for her, all of Tess’ old fears are resurrected. Asking Jake for help with her current crisis might lure him into a dangerous trap involving murder, kidnapping, and revenge. When Jake and Tess come face-to-face with the past, they will have to use all their wits to survive.
Interview with Denise MoncriefDenise, how long have you been writing, and how did you start?
I’ve been writing off and on since I was in my late teens. That’s a lot of years ago. My first “novel” was only seventeen handwritten pages on school-ruled paper and an obvious rip-off of the last Harlequin romance I’d read. I didn’t start writing with the goal of publication until about ten or eleven years ago. I have a very active imagination, and I could imagine myself other places, with other people, living a different life. Well, as you can imagine that might not be very healthy. One day I realized I could channel all that creativity into a much healthier activity by writing instead of daydreaming.
Do you have another job outside of writing?
I graduated from LSU with a degree in accounting. This has given me some nice skills to earn a little money to support my writing habit. My so-called day job is as an accountant with a local CPA firm. Accounting is NOT my passion. Honestly, I don’t understand anyone whose passion IS accounting. If I can’t write, I might as well not breathe.
How did you create the plot for this book?
Crisis of Serenity is the second book in the two-part Crisis series. The book picks up about a year or so after Crisis of Identity leaves off. I’d left pour Tess with a lot of dangling loose ends in her life, and I felt she needed some resolution to some of the many crises she had faced in Identity. In Crisis of Identity, she rode off into the sunset with Trevor, and deep down in my heart, I knew that relationship would never work, so I had to finish her story, give her some closure, and get her with the right man.
What’s your favorite line from a book?
I love the opening line from Gone With the Wind. “Scarlett O'Hara was not beautiful, but men seldom realized it when caught by her charm as the Tarleton twins were.” It summed up her character with the first few words of the book.
How do you get to know your characters?
I live with them. No, seriously. I talk about them as if they are real. When I’m in the store, I’ll tell my daughter that is something one of my characters would wear. Or when I hear something one of them would say I comment on it. I picture them eating across the table from me. Riding in the car with me. Sometimes, they follow me to my day job. That is never a good thing. I wonder what they would do if someone said this or that to them. When one of them is in the middle of a situation and I don’t know what to do with them, I close my eyes and imagine I’m that character. Maybe it’s sort of like method acting. Would you call that method writing?
Which character did you most enjoy writing?
All of the characters I’ve ever written, I’ve enjoyed Tess the most. She says things I wouldn’t have the guts to say and does things I would never try. She has more spunk and sass than anyone I’ve ever known. I’ll never have the adventures she has had.
What song would you pick to go with your book?
There are actually two songs that resonate with me when I think about this book and Crisis of Identity, the first book in the two-part series. “Life is a Highway” by Tom Cochrane and “Against All Odds” by Phil Collins.
Who are your favorite authors?
Right now, I’m really into paranormal romantic suspense. I’m reading through Heather Graham’s Krewe Of Hunters series. I’ve become a fan very quickly. For a fast-paced, delicious romantic suspense novel, I love indie author Chantel Rhondeau, especially her Agents in Love series.
There are some writing techniques (or mistakes) that stand out to me when I read (e.g. when an author switches POV mid-scene). What’s one pet peeve you have when you read?
I’m with you on the head hopping. Nothing bugs me more, and I think it’s because one of my first rejections from a publisher mentioned my horrendous head hopping. It glitches the smooth flow of the narrative and slows the pace of the story if the reader has to figure out whose head she’s in every time the POV switches. I’ve worked hard to break that habit. So I’m very conscious of it when I find it in someone else’s writing. The hardest thing about being a writer and an editor when I read other people’s work is to avoid the impulse to edit while I read.
I totally agree. Do you have a routine for writing?
I am a certified pantser. I know where the story begins, and I know where I want it to end. I probably have the first mushy love scene in my head already, but in the middle, I usually let my characters decide where they want to go and what they want to do. I’ll write a few chapters and then go back and reread them, making revisions as I read through it again. Some writers call that procrastination and strongly discourage it, but I’ve found this method works for me. It helps me keep the characters in character and the plot line consistent, but mostly it grounds me for the next spurt of writing.
You’re leaving your country for a year. What’s the last meal (or food) you would want to have before leaving?
Tex-Mex without a doubt. I could eat it three times a day, seven days a week, but of course I cannot. Too many carbs for a diabetic, not to mention the amount of pounds I’d put on. I’ve found that even when I travel in the United States, no other place does Tex-Mex quite like we do here at home. I’d miss my favorite local Tex-Mex restaurant. When I returned, that would be the first place I went.
You’re given the day off, and you can do anything but write. What would you do?
I love to go shopping in Dallas with my daughter. Not so much for the buying but for the time we spend together. It’s something we both like to do and it gives us some mother-daughter time. One of the best experiences I’ve had lately was shopping with her for her wedding gown. I know we won’t get as many chances to do things like this once she’s married, so I’m treasuring every single moment of it now.
What’s your favorite candy bar? And don’t tell me you don’t have one!
Who doesn’t have a favorite candy bar? I can’t decide between Snickers and Baby Ruth. In fact, one of the characters in my Haunted Hearts series is so fond of Baby Ruth bars that she’ll trade information for a King Size bar.
That's hilarious. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Colorado. My mom used to show me picture albums of a trip she and my father took before I was born. We went through those pictures a lot, dreaming of taking a trip to the mountains. When our family finally did take a road trip to Colorado, the Rockies did not let me down. I’ve been back many, many times since I’ve grown up. I’d move right now if my husband and I weren’t tied to our jobs here. I love it so much I set my Colorado series in southwestern Colorado.
What are you working on now?
I’m working on the second book in my paranormal romantic suspense series, Haunted Hearts. Victoria House is set in the same fictional county in Arkansas as the first book in the series, Laurel Heights. And of course, there is a ghost, a cop, and a woman who wants the ghost in her house to settle down and let her live in peace...with the cop.
Excerpt from Crisis of SerenityThe late afternoon sun warmed my face as I trudged down the street toward the trolley stop. The atmosphere held the pleasant promise of fall and color. I arrived in Tennessee last year just as the trees were turning gold, crimson, orange, and yellow, a gorgeous autumn. I hadn’t yet had the chance to indulge in a trip into the mountains, something I longed to do, but I didn’t own a car. That’s why I had to bum a ride to work every morning. The trolley didn’t start running until eight, sometimes ten, depending on what time of year it was.
Autumn had turned to a hard winter last year. The necessities of settling into a new life had consumed my waking moments until the first hard freeze. The ground had frozen and so had my heart. That’s when my thoughts had turned toward Trevor again. Snowbound landscapes always reminded me of him. His memory heated my core, and I wished with all my heart he hadn’t left me cold.
I missed him, missed him like crazy. As good as I was at running, he was even better at leaving. The last time was more than I could take, and I’d asked my handler to move me out of Arizona. No, more like begged him to send me somewhere else—anywhere Trevor would have a hard time finding me.
We were no good for each other.
I’d had too many men in my life tell me they cared only to take what they wanted and then leave me with nothing but loneliness and pain. My relationship with Trevor had developed so fast, and I had assumed he was no different than any other man.
I was wrong.
He was different, but his differences were not enough to keep him by my side when he had the urge to indulge in adventure wherever he could find it. He was a private investigator, a bounty hunter, and a solver of mysteries, and he couldn’t be tied to one spot too long. When I first went into witness protection, he stayed three months with me in Tucson and then one night he left without saying goodbye. I ranted and raved, then settled down into being a single, pseudo-mother for Joyce, my sister’s child. When Trevor had showed up at my front door four months later, I let him in, hoping he was back to stay.
I was wrong again.
I pulled my mind back to the present. With the advent of spring, my heart had thawed a bit. Then right before tourist season kicked in, I took the job at Sadie’s. Summer kept me hopping from one Hiker’s Breakfast Plate to the next with no time to dwell on what pained me. Autumn had made an appearance after the last cold snap. My favorite season. This year, the expectation of crisp days and cold nights failed to cheer me. All the vibrancy drained from me when I recalled the police officer at the stoplight and the icy cold stare as his eyes met mine across the roadway.
What was Iverson doing here? How had he gotten another job in law enforcement?
I glanced over my shoulder. No one trailed me down the street. At least, I didn’t think so. Was that man staring at me? Did that car slow as it passed? Was there a hint of malice in the air?
About the author:
Accounting is a skill she has learned to earn a little money to support her writing habit. She wrote her first story when she was a teen, seventeen handwritten pages on school-ruled paper and an obvious rip-off of the last romance novel she had read. She's been writing off and on ever since, and with more than a few full-length manuscripts already completed, she has no desire to slow down.
Connect with Denise:
Website | Facebook | Twitter
Buy the book:
Amazon | Amazon author page