Please welcome a good friend of mine, Paisley Kirkpatrick. Paisley, please tell us about yourself.
My husband of 43 years and I raised two daughters. Now that he's retired I am working at my chosen profession of author. It's great that he supports my love of writing and lends a comment every now and then. He's a great help with plotting. We have been fortunate enough to travel -- his favorite place is Germany and mine is Scotland. I have been a member and on the board of the Sacramento Valley Rose Chapter of RWA for 13 years, and online chapters From the Heart, Hearts Through History, and Celtic Hearts.
Q: Please tell us about your new release, Paradise Pines Series: The Night Angel.
A: Sassy Amalie Renard, a poker-playing saloon singer, shakes up Paradise Pines, a former gold-rush mountain community by turning the saloon’s bar into her stage. Her amazing voice stirs the passions of the hotel owner, a man who anonymously travels tunnels at night providing help to the downtrodden as the mysterious Night Angel. Declan Grainger agrees to subsidize the building of a music hall to fulfill Amalie's dream, but a bounty for her arrest could spoil his plans. Distrust and jealousy stir flames of malice and revenge threatening to destroy their town. Drawing from past experiences, Declan and Amalie turn to each other to find a way to save the community.
Q: Sounds amazing! How did your story’s setting impact your plot or characters?
A: My setting is an integral part of my story. I use the 1849 Gold Rush town of Placerville, California, as my model for Paradise Pines. The abandoned tunnels zigzagging under the town provide my hero a way to anonymously give food and supplies to the impoverished townsfolk.
Q: How do you choose names for your characters?
A: My Mother left me a great legacy. She spent the last ten years of her life assembling our genealogy. I search through the family trees until I find a perfect name for each character. I have to admit that a couple of the names I've tweaked to make them a better fit for my characters. The heroine in this story uses the stage name Lily Fox, which is very close to the name my great grandmother used when she performed at the Tivoli Theatre in San Francisco. Since my heroine has a lot of my grandmother's traits, the name was a perfect fit.
Q: That's fantastic you've used your ancestors' names and especially your grandmother's. Did you choose the title of your book and if so how did you do it?
A: I did choose this title with a little help from a New York best-selling author who judged one of my contest entries. One of the notes she sent me on my submission was to consider Night Angel as the title instead of the non-descript HERS TO TRUST. She was right. I've never regretted taking her advice.
Q: Very cool title! Where is your favorite place in the world?
A: J Scotland stole my heart. I want to return and search for it as soon as I can. My Mother's family migrated here from the Loch Lomond and Aberdeen areas. I knew when I burst into tears on a boat ride across Loch Ness that I'd come home.
Q: I understand completely how you feel about Scotland. The country stole my heart too! Please tell us about your favorite character in your book.
A: My Scottish hero, Declan Grainger, wrapped his charm around my heart from the beginning. He is a charismatic hotel owner who lives by a high moral standing, fulfilling his dream of giving to others as his foster parents gave to him. His sparkling green eyes are evidence of a great sense of humor. He loves music and delights us throughout the story with his violin.
Q: I can't wait to read all about him. Can you share with us “the call” story?
A: I didn't actually get 'the call' by phone, but by email. I always thought when I got an offer I'd scream, cry, and do the happy dance, but I didn't do any of those things. I couldn't move, could barely breathe - I just sat staring at the monitor saying ”WOW” over and over. At first I was disappointed the email came so late. It was Christmas Eve at about 10:30 pm. My hubby was asleep (we never wake the sleeping bear) and my critique partners live in Florida. I just couldn't wake them either. Now that I think back on it, the joy was mine alone until morning. I couldn't sleep, of course. I couldn't stop smiling.
Q: Wow! What a wonderful Christmas gift! Do you have any advice for unpublished authors?
A: Yes, NEVER give up. I wrote for 22 years before I got my first publishing contract. My friends say I am stubborn, but I prefer to say persevering. It never entered my mind to quit. What would I do with all my spare time if I wasn't putting words into my computer? Surround yourself with great teachers, learn all you can from classes and reading books, attend conferences, and make contacts. Authors are the best kind of friends to have.
Fantastic advice! Everyone, please check out Paisley's wonderful excerpt from The Night Angel.
The mirror on one of the closet doors was too short to see her reflection full length, but Amalie knew she looked good. She retrieved her hatbox from under the bed and lifted the false bottom. The black onyx necklace with matching earrings would enhance the comeliness of her costume.
She draped her black velvet cape around her shoulders, picked up her beaded bag and left her room. Now that she knew Patrick's offer to perform at his place might be a sham, Amalie acting as Lily Fox lifted her chin and set out for combat.
Declan let out a low whistle as she sauntered up to the counter. "Patrick's in trouble, isn't he?"
She nodded curtly at him. "I'd say more than a little. If you'd be so kind, I'd appreciate directions to his saloon."
"If you can wait a moment, I'd be most pleased to escort you, my lady. Let me find George to man the counter and then we can leave." Declan returned a moment later with his black overcoat and hat.
She slipped her arm through the crook of his as they strode into the brisk evening air. Her high-heeled boots hit a slick section of ice on the boardwalk. Declan caught and held her against his broad chest before she spilled backwards. Their gazes locked for a long moment. He straightened and took a slight step back, but she saw the flicker of desire before he glanced away. This was not good. A man didn't fit into her plans unless she could use him to get what she wanted.
He rubbed his hand across his beard and squared his shoulders. "Shall we continue?"
"Yes, thank you."
A merry piano tune and garrulous laughter carried down the boardwalk as they neared Trick's. A burly man stumbled outside the saloon and nearly collided with them. The miner ripped off his weathered hat and bowed before her. "Evening, pretty lady." He grabbed the handle and swung open the door, giving her a deep bow in the process.
Amalie brushed past him. A gasp escaped her lips, then a smile. Patrick's place wasn't as abysmal as she anticipated. Dusty bearded men in miner's boots and faded shirts mingled with gamblers in fancy vests and frock coats. She moved further into the crowded room reeking of smoke and stale whiskey. The familiarity of being surrounded by the rowdiness of a saloon again tugged at her heart.
A fast-clipped tune resounded from a piano tucked in the back corner. A tawdry woman with a glass of ale in her hand lingered next to the upright. Amalie stopped cold at hearing a bawdy song burst out of her bright red lips. Declan hadn't exaggerated. The painted hussy stood on a wooden box.
Amalie scanned the expanse of card players for Patrick. She should have known better than to deal with that lying scoundrel. Betrayal surged through her. She would not put up with his tomfoolery. The man needed to be taught a thing or two -- the first lesson, not tangling with Lily Fox.
Different colored bottles of whiskey and beer reflected in the mirrors along the wall behind the long wooden bar. Perfect. That's where she'd start her evening.
She slipped off her cape and handed it to Declan. His appreciative gasp brought a smile to her lips. Having men ogle her appearance was hardly new. She'd learned early to use her looks to her advantage. The way Declan's eyes heated with appreciation when he cast a glance at the deep cut of her décolletage reminded her how good it felt to be a woman.
"Now you'll see who I really am."
Declan grabbed her arm. "Don't let them forget you're a lady, Amalie."
She cast him a wicked smile. "The name's Lily Fox. Believe me, honey, Lily's no lady."
She approached a couple of gamblers and leaned over slightly to give them full effect of her daring dress. "Would you mind helping me, gents? I have need of your table for a moment."
The men jumped to their feet in unison, their cards forgotten. Amalie took the nearest man's outstretched palm, stepped onto a chair, over their cards and up onto the long wooden plank bar.
"Good evening, boys." She strutted along the length of wood, avoiding whiskey glasses and kicking away eager hands.
The saloon girl stopped caterwauling. The room went still. She had everyone's attention, just the way Lily liked it.
"Get down, young woman. This ain't no place for you to prance about," the barkeep snarled in outrage.
Ignoring the scowling face with the handlebar mustache, she kicked up her heels. Adding a dance step, she pranced back and forth the length of the makeshift stage. Lily reveled in the whistles and disregarded the uncouth remarks. She was in her element. "My name is Lily Fox and I'm here to entertain you tonight."
With the flick of her hand, she caught the attention of the stunned piano player. "Play something quick and lively, will you, honey?" She glanced around the room of excited faces and turned on her brightest smile.
Please visit Paisley online:
Sweethearts of the West http://sweetheartsofthewest.blogspot.com/
Scandalous Victorians http://slipintosomethingvictorian.wordpress.com/
Voices from the Heart http://voicesftheart.blogspot.com/
Thanks so much for being our special guest today, Paisley!