Interview with Gwenan Haines

I’m lucky enough to have author Gwenan Haines blogging with me today.  Please leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of her book.

1.How did you get started writing?

I’ve always read and I’ve written for a long time, too. I started out writing stories as a kid and can’t really remember a time when I didn’t want to become a writer. I used to read Nancy Drew a lot and wrote a bunch of detective stories. I also had a strange obsession with gypsy orphans and wrote some pieces featuring fortune-telling heroines. But then life happened and for many years I found myself so busy it was next-to-impossible to squeeze writing in. I’m still outlandishly overscheduled but I’ve finally prioritized it. Writing comes third now, right after my daughter and my Siberian husky.

2.    What genre(s) do you write in and why?

I write urban fantasy, paranormal romance and historical romance. Okay, revise that. I’ve also got a romantic suspense novel under consideration at a publisher. And just this week I got an idea for a contemporary romance—so I guess I’m all over the place when it comes to genre. I’ve even got a scattering of horror stories I’m thinking about self-publishing. Last but not least, I write poetry and publish it under a different name.

3.    Tell us about your current series.

Risking Eternity is the first in my Timeshifters paranormal romance trilogy. The novella centers on the relationship between Valentin Grigorievich, who is a vampire bent on revenge, and Hayden Farrell, a Boston homicide detective trying to catch a serial killer. Valentin is tracking another vampire whose murders are markedly similar to Jack the Ripper’s. He has his own reasons for wanting to catch the killer but he needs Hayden’s help for his plan to succeed. Hayden is highly skeptical of Valentin, in part because she was raised by a mother who made a living by giving “psychic readings” in a dingy New Orleans apartment. What Hayden doesn’t know yet is that her mother was not quite as much of a con-artist as she seemed. What does realize is that Valentin is incredibly hot!

4.   What movie best describes your life?  Why?

Baby Boom. Anybody remember that one? It’s one of those 80s movies about a career woman (Diane Keaton) who falls in love with a baby she “inherits.” After a botched attempt to pursue the corporate track while raising her new daughter, she trades city life for a rambling house in Vermont. Eventually, she starts her own baby-food company and finds a way to succeed without sacrificing her role as a mother. And she hooks up with the cute local veterinarian. That doesn’t describe my life, but it does a pretty good job of capturing what I hope it might eventually look like. After I graduated from college I headed straight to Washington, D.C. and got a job working on U.S.-Russian relations for a foreign policy think-thank. Through a bizarre series of events I ended up traveling A LOT—once I didn’t even return to the States for three months—and I loved it. I visited Russia five times, traveled throughout Europe and even spent time in Pakistan. One night I found myself riding in a beat-up car in the Himalayas with a member of the Afghan mujahidin and we broke down. We were in this tiny village and everyone was gathered round, sort of shocked by my presence. Further off, you could see the scattered lights of other villages, and up above the stars were brighter than any I had ever seen. It was scary, yet beautiful. During that trip I also got a marriage proposal from another man – well, actually he was a 16-year-old boy—who wasn’t that into me but was wild about moving to America. Eventually, I decided I wanted something different. Right now I live with my daughter and a Siberian husky in a small town in New England. Life is still pretty crazy, but in a totally different way. I am very new to self-publishing but the fantasy is that someday I might be able to support myself by writing. Oh, and I’m still waiting for some hunky vet to seduce me.

5.    What inspired your latest book?

This is going to sound strange, but I’ve always been interested in serial killers. When I’m not reading romance I read authors like Thomas Harris. I also read nonfiction accounts of killers, including John Douglas’s Mindhunter (Douglas is the model for Clarisse Starling’s boss in Silence of the Lambs). and Douglas Preston’s The Monster of Florence (who is a model for Hannibal Lechter). Pretty grisly stuff. Somewhere along the line I got obsessed with the case of Jack the Ripper. I started researching it and at some point had the idea of turning it into a story. As for the vampire angle—well, I’ve always been a sucker for vampires (bad pun intended).

6.    What is your favorite part of writing?

I love doing the research for stories and I love the actual writing. I also really enjoy hearing from readers. So I guess I like all of it, but I haven’t developed the thick skin you must have to publish. I still feel pretty vulnerable to criticism, even though I know I need it to grow as a writer.

7.    What is your least favorite part of writing?

The editing, I guess. I don’t mind it, but it can’t compare to the “high” of writing the first draft of a novel.

8    What is your next project and when will it be released?

I’m working now on the first full-length novel in the Timeshifters series. I’m also waiting to hear back from a publisher on the full-length romantic suspense novel. Those will be released, one way or another, in 2012. I’m also starting a longer romance novella set in England in the nineteenth century.

9.    What is your typical day like?

There is no typical day. I teach part-time at a community college, so there are always lectures to plan and the inevitable stack of essays to grade. I drive my daughter to dance class and softball and the movies. I walk my husky miles and miles, until I’m exhausted and he’s ready to play. At night I read and write and do piles of laundry and drink endless pots of coffee.

10.    How much time do you spend promoting your books?  What works best for you?

This is my first guest blog. I only published Rescued by a Rake, a novelette, in mid-October. I published Risking Eternity, which is about 100 pages, on Thanksgiving day. I’ve scheduled a few more blogs and I recently signed up for Twitter and Facebook. I’ve joined some great indie loops and am learning a lot from them. But this is all very new to me, so I’m not sure what works or doesn’t. If I’ve noticed anything, it’s that reviews by bloggers seem to have a lot of influence.

11.  How has your experience with self-publishing been?

It’s been great—and rather shocking. In October I sold 66 copies of Rescued by a Rake. That shot up to several hundred in November, and since the beginning of December I’ve sold more than 2000 copies of that book. As I mentioned, I haven’t done much to promote it and it’s quite short so I’m floored by the sales. And very grateful. Risking Eternity has not been selling nearly as well, but one thing I’ve learned about self-publishing is that books can start slow and take off later, usually once they start to pick up some reviews. I’ve had a couple of readers email me wanting to know when the next book with Hayden and Valentin will be out, so I’m hopeful that the Timeshifters series will begin to sell more over time.

I’ve also been surprised to discover how supportive the indie community is. I thought self-publishing meant “going it alone” but it hasn’t turned out that way at all. Indie writers help each other in ways I never imagined. That has been wonderful. I’ve also had good experiences with reviewers. One reviewer emailed me about Risking Eternity, stating that she felt there were a few things I hadn’t explained. She was right – I was so close to the story I didn’t catch the omissions. Not only did she point this out, she even offered to up her rating once I filled in the gaps, which I’m in the process of doing now. She has already offered to review the next book in the series, something I was surprised by. I thought I’d have to do more on that front. But again, I’m new to all this so I’m not sure I can make any general statements.

The one downside to the indie publishing is that when you publish traditionally you can feel your work has some type of “backing.” The other day somebody didn’t like—okay, she HATED—Rescued by a Rake and I felt like drowning myself in wine. I also think traditional publishing does have a lot to offer, so I’m still pursuing that option as well. I’m not sure if I’ll reach a point where I change my mind about that.

12.  Where do you get the ideas for your stories?

From all kinds of places. Sometimes I use things from my past—I’d love to set a novel in Russia—or sometimes little incidents will spark an idea. I also get lots of ideas from reading. Rescued by a Rake sprang from obsession with the Bronte sisters. I’d read so much about the moors and about their lives that I found myself wanting to transform some of my ideas into stories. That’s how I came up with the idea for the Rakes & Rogues series.

13.  What advice do you have for other authors wanting to self-publish?

Don’t wait. Take a chance and get your stuff out there. Edit your stuff thoroughly. Pay for a good cover. When I first published Rescued by a Rake, I used an amateurish cover I made myself. Within two days, the novella plummeted to the 60,000s. Based on the advice I got from fellow indie writers, I went to Jimmy Thomas’s site and paid 50 bucks for a new version. Sales shot up almost immediately and as of this morning Rescued by a Rake is # 21 on Amazon’s historical romance bestseller list. If I hadn’t made that change, I’m not sure what would have happened.

Amazon link:



A moment earlier, when Valentin had handed her his card Hayden had felt his hatred in an almost pure form as it passed from his hand to the card to her fingertips. The small square of paper had burned as she took it. She had forced herself not to let go of the card, felt the pain travel up the length of her arm, all the way to her chest. For a moment she’d felt as if she couldn’t breathe, as if her lungs were filled with fire instead of air. Now she wasn’t quite so sure. Yes, there was the animosity. But there was also a trace of a smile in his voice, though his expression remained frozen.

Hayden steadied herself before she spoke, wondering what could possibly drive her to defy Valentin when she sensed—knew—he was the most dangerous man she had ever met. “I’m not coming, you know,” she said, taking a step toward him. “You can fool yourself about yourself if you want, but please don’t indulge your illusions when it comes to me.”

Valentin said nothing at first, then bowed ever so slightly. His face was only inches away from hers and Hayden didn’t need to read his thoughts to know her noncompliance truly frightened him. “You must come,” he stated simply, after a short pause. “Everything depends upon it.”

Yes, it was there. She was sure of it now. The fear and the emotion. Whatever its source, it was the key to his vulnerability. Hayden pressed her advantage. “I’m sorry to disappoint you, but I’ve got a case to solve.”


“I can’t waste my time chasing—”

“Vampires?” he finished for her and let the word ring out across the twilight as if it were a source of immense amusement for him.

“Or whatever it is you’re trying to pass yourself off as,” Hayden shot back, forcing a note of cruelty into her voice. She was really laughing at him now and she wanted him to know it. She focused her mind on the vulnerability she had felt as if she were standing in full sunlight holding glass over a piece of paper. Otherwise she would have no chance against him.

It didn’t work.

Valentin had already adjusted his tactics, steeling himself so that she might as well have been beating her fists against his chest, like a child having a tantrum. Hayden felt him pushing back against her mind and for a second she was overwhelmed by it. As much as she wanted to break the connection, to be free of him for good, there was an infuriating part of her that wanted it to continue or even to deepen. The link, or whatever it was that joined them, was strong but it broke off at a certain point. Hayden guessed that it would be possible to go further into his mind and for a split second she wanted the completion more than she had ever wanted anything in her life.

He stood gazing down at her, then lifted a hand and traced the outline of her cheek with his fingertip. Behind him, the row of skyscrapers that dotted the horizon had turned from crimson to the palest of pinks. “I shall expect you tomorrow night at 10 p.m.,” he said as if he hadn’t heard what she had told him.

Hayden said nothing and the distance between them spun out. If the lightening sky concerned him, he gave no sign of it.

After it became clear she had no intention of responding, he cupped her chin in his palm and leaned his face toward hers. The touch of his lips was hot to the point of burning. As she responded to the sensation, meeting his kisses with an ardor that was almost painful, Hayden tried not to think about what was happening between them. She didn’t want to think at all, wanted only the dark, brutal melody of his tongue twining itself with hers, the crush of his full lips pressing against her own. Hayden barely registered that his hands were in her hair, caressing her shoulders, running down her back. She was no longer a woman but something utterly different, a being without a body, pure sensation.

At the exact moment when Hayden thought she would die of the exquisite fire of his touch, Valentin broke off the kiss and stepped away from her. “I nearly forgot,” he said, removing the Glock from his coat and placing it into her open palm. “I believe you’ll be needing this. It wouldn’t do, to let down your guard.”

24 thoughts on “Interview with Gwenan Haines

  1. Wow! What an exciting life you’ve had so far, Gwenan! I loved reading about the experiences you had (as opposed to my boring mid-western life). And it’s nice to know that I’m not the only one obsessed with serial killers. *snicker* Although it hasn’t seeped into my books yet, I’m sure one day it will. Also, thank you for sharing your Indie experience thus far. I’ve found that we’re all mainly on the same page there, and (like you) I feel fortunate to be a part of such a supportive Indie community. On the book front, Risking Eternity sounds wonderful, and I wish you all the best in your success. 🙂

  2. I love an author who knows her priorities. Long walks for the Husky first. Ha. I myself have priorities set by the animals in my life. The book sounds like a cool blend of genres. Wishing you all the best and happy holidays.

  3. Hi Jolyn,

    Thanks! As for my exciting life, it’s not exactly the stuff of thrillers these days. My daughter came home from school last week and said, “Mom, I told my social studies teacher how you used to be interesting.” 🙂

    I’m also happy to hear you’re obsessed with serial killers. To be honest, it was tough to find the right balance between murder and romance in Risking Eternity. I felt like it kept getting too dark.

  4. Hi P.R.,

    Ha! If my husky doesn’t get his miles in he has no qualms about destroying whatever happens to be nearby. Lately it’s been linoleum tiles….my brother recently bought me a copy of Cesar Milan’s book.

    Thanks for your comments about Risking Eternity. I’ve got a copy of Entanglements and am hoping to get to it over the break. The quantum physics idea it’s based on sounds pretty cool.

  5. Gwenan,
    I’m very happy to have you. It’s a nice Christmas present for me. Hope you enjoy the day and have a very Merry Christmas tomorrow.

  6. Well done and congratulations on your first interview. I have Rescued by a Rake on my TBR pile and your new one looks like it will join it. I love Jack the Ripper stories! Will you be writing any stories incorporating your travels to Russia and Pakistan?

    • I forgot to mention that though I haven’t written anything based on my travels yet, I did name my vampire after a real-life Valentin I used to know. He was Russian and very cute – and rather mysterious, actually.

  7. Hi Linda,

    Thanks for picking up Rescued by a Rake. And I’m glad you like Jack the Ripper stories, too!

    I haven’t written anything based on my travels yet. I’d definitely like to though. Maybe that will happen sometime in the future…I do have lots of ideas.

  8. Thanks Carol, Donna & Jennifer –

    Hope you enjoy the novella. And thanks for your comments about the cover. It’s also by Jimmy Thomas – he is great – and very fast. If you’re ever looking for a cover design, his site is wonderful.

  9. CONGRATS on your Indie publishing success!

    I too have been pleasantly surprised at all the supportive Indie authors out here in cyber-space. It’s a great feeling to know you have others who ‘get it’ and are there with great advice.

    Happy Holidays!

    • Thanks. I think as the word gets out about the potential of self-publishing, the indie community will continue to grow. Someday maybe I’ll actually meet some of you in person. 🙂

      Now I’m off to wrap my daughter’s presents (before I fall asleep).

      Happy Holidays!

  10. The winner of the blog comment contest or Gwenan’s book is Jennifer Jakes. Congratulations Jennifer. Thanks to all of you for commenting and a big thank you to Gwenan for blogging with me.

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