After giving you teasers of the stories included in the Shades of Pink Charity Anthology in September, this month I'll tell you a little more about the authors involved. I interviewed them with questions about their contributions, their writing life, their works in progress...
Today, Laura Hunsaker
Kallysten - First, thank you again for taking the time out of your schedule to write a story for this project. The characters clearly belong to a wider ‘Time Ops’ universe. Can you tell us more about where ‘Highland Eclipse’ fits in that universe?
Laura Hunsaker - Hi! Thanks for having me. This is a cross-over between my Magic of the Highlands series and it will be the first in a new series called Eclipse Agents. This is a more practical side to the time travel romances—as in, what happens when our hero or heroine goes back in time? Well, Declan happens. He’s a time cop, more specifically he’s one of the elite Eclipse Agents, so named after the eclipse that occurred during the first time jump. But the problem is, what happens when your best agent jumps back in time, and finds a reason to stay?
K - The pink element you chose to incorporate in your story is the pink sark of the heroine, which, correct me if I’m wrong, is a shift-like undergarment. It is alluded that the color is unusual. Do you have a story at the back of your mind as to how she came to have a pink sark?
LH - No you’re absolutely right! It’s a chemise that goes on beneath the corset and gowns. Usually they are white or ivory, but I wanted her to stand out a bit with pink. Her father has handled her with kid gloves her whole life, so I thought the pink showed how Fiona still feels like a young girl in her father’s eyes. Seeing as Pink was the running theme, I think it worked out perfectly.
K - I’ll admit I haven’t read stories with a Scottish dialect before, so I had a quick ‘huh?’ moment when we first dialogue lines came up, but I was surprised how easily you made me slip into seeing that way of speaking as entirely natural. What is your process for writing the dialog? Do you think in ‘modern English’ and transcribe to dialect, or do the characters speak Scottish in your mind?
LH - Thank you! My characters speak to me, and they always sound Scottish in my head. Not to sound like a crazy person, but I just write what they tell me to. I listen to Scottish television on youtube while I write, just to keep the accent fresh in my head. In fact by now, it’s second-nature and I can just write how it sounds without making the accent so thick you have to decipher it.
K - What is the main difference for you between being traditionally published and indie? Do you enjoy the freedom that comes with being self-published or do you miss the support of a ‘publishing army’ around you?
LH - I think the main difference between the two is that I just have so much more control over the book when I self publish. I love being a part of the cover art, which is something I previously only had minimal input on. I do miss having someone else have to do all the formatting and uploading though. I’m so not computer savvy, so it’s much harder than I thought it would be. Although I think I’ll hire someone to format my next work.
K - Can you tell us about your current writing project or next release?
LH - Yes, absolutely. I’m working on 2 things at the moment. I’m trying to get my next Nightkind short story out before the end of the year, and this one is called The Broken Highlander. It’s sort of a prequel to my award winning short story Highlander Reborn. My next 2 full-length novels are Highland Betrayal and the follow-up to my story in this anthology, Highland Eclipse.
K - Would you care to share an excerpt from it?
Marley soaked in the warm water for what felt like hours. Liam, my God she finally had a name for him, had left her to bathe. From the sounds in the hallway, she had a feeling he hadn’t gone far. Figuring she ought to hurry, Marley dunked her head and tried to rinse out the primitive shampoo she’d been given. It was weird and didn’t lather, and she knew her hair would tangle but it wasn’t like she could run out to the drug store and pick up some shampoo, right? Marley groaned, did that mean she was buying into this? There’s no way she could have time travelled as Liam had implied. Time travel didn’t exist. That went squarely in Marley’s black and white list: Magic, no. Time travel, that was a definite no. Hunky dream men…no? Marley groaned again, louder this time, and Liam opened the door.
“Marley, are you hurting, lass?”
Great, she’d brought in the cavalry. Men like him didn’t exist. Not in fairy tales (wasn’t it always an angelic knight in shining armor? He was no angel, and he didn’t have any armor, just a dirty kilt). And men like him definitely didn’t exist in real life. She sighed, and sat up in the tub, her back to him. “No, I’m fine.” Dammit, when would her voice go back to normal? She sounded like a pack-a-day smoker.
“Are you sure, Marley?” His teasing tone was back, Marley could hear the smile in his voice. “I wouldna mind the task of scrubbing the places you canna reach?” Marley snorted at that line. It quickly became an actual laugh.
“Ah, I’d hoped to make you laugh. ‘Tis been a rough night, has it no’?”
“Yeah,” Marley said softly, but the door had closed, so she didn’t know if he’d heard her or not.
Liam’s hands on her back startled her. She sat bolt upright in the tub, sloshing water over the rim. He’d picked up a soft rag and was washing her back before she’d gathered her wits about her, and she sat with her knees drawn up to her chest, and her back to Liam as he silently soaped her up. Slowly, so slowly, Marley gradually relaxed her stiff body. She kept her back to him, hugging her knees, but she didn’t protest.
After a few moments of silence, Liam’s soft brogue tickled her ear, “Do you ken aught about that ring you’ve got, Marley?”
He’d mentioned the ring before. What was it about this ring? Trust didn’t come easily to Marley, but she knew she could trust Liam. Whether he was right about how she’d gotten there or not, she knew she could trust him. “My Aunt died recently, and I inherited this ring.” Marley twisted it around and around on her finger. It warmed up beneath her touch again. “Do you know anything about this ring?”
Liam paused in soaping her back, and said, very slowly, “Aye, lass, that I do. It was my mother’s.”
Marley twisted around until she was facing Liam, with her arms folded across her breasts. “Your mother’s? Does that mean we’re related?” Because eww. Just eww. Marley had had sex dreams about this man. Lots of them. If they were related that just squicked her out.
His soft chuckle teased her senses, “Och, now lass, that would be a shame, now wouldna it? Nay I doona believe we are related. Connected, aye. No’ related.”
“But the ring? And the bed…” Marley trailed off.
“The bed? My bed? What about it?”
“I have the same bed.”
Liam stroked his chin, “Ah, you do, now. That is interesting, now isna it?”
Marley couldn’t take her eyes off his hand. She kept imagining those fingers on her skin. That was the problem with this man-she felt like she knew his touch.
She saw the exact second he recognized what she was thinking, she felt the air change, saw his nostrils flare, as if he could scent her. The charge in the air tingled across her skin. She didn’t need her gift to know what he was feeling. She felt it too.
His gaze dropped down to her modest cleavage, covered only by her hands. “Marley, you’ll have to stop looking at me like that.” His voice sounded rough, lower, and it touched all the right places.
“Like what?” her smoke-roughened voice lent a husky quality she’d never heard from herself before. Marley wasn’t a virgin, but she wasn’t experienced, either, so while this was new territory for her, everything with Liam felt familiar. It was an interesting dichotomy of emotion.
“You ken.” If possible, his voice had deepened more, his brogue had thickened.
Marley shivered. A man who could make her break out in chills with two words? Dear God, that man was a danger to women everywhere.
K - Thank you again for being a part of Shades of Pink. Any last word before I let you go back to your writing?
LH - No, Kallysten, thank you for doing all the work! I’m so proud to be a part of this anthology, and I can’t wait for everyone to read this.