Caroline: Where did you grow up?
Vonnie: I’ve spent most of my life in New Zealand, and we came to the Gold Coast of Australia only nine years ago. My husband and I (I sound like the Queen) have two adult sons, both married, and they followed us to Australia where we all live within a short distance of each other. Our sons married very interesting girls – one is Japanese and the other Ukrainian! We came to Australia for the more tropical weather and laid-back lifestyle.
Caroline: My husband and I have always wanted to travel to Australia. What’s your favorite way to relax and recharge? Hobbies?
Vonnie: The dog and I jog/walk together most mornings. We trot alongside the little marina or along the Broadwater under the trees. When nobody’s looking I do a few lunges or sideslips. That sort of thing relaxes me. I also go to the gym twice a week, but that does not relax me! This trying to keep fit and slim thing is a real bugbear. (I’m short). My other main hobby is reading and reading and reading. I’m also involved on the periphery of animal rescue, and I help out with the Romance Writers of Australia assisting with preparation for next year’s conference and judging and also proof-reading for their monthly magazine. I guess that’s umm…relaxing?
Caroline: Sounds pretty busy to me. Do you have a favorite quote that sums up how you feel about life?
Vonnie: “Do as you would be done by.”
Caroline: What do you hope your writing brings to readers?.
Vonnie: Pleasure and the memory of an intriguing story.
Caroline: What advice would you give to unpublished authors?
Vonnie: Keep trying. Never, never give up. Sometimes success comes at the oddest times. And remember, it all depends what you mean by ‘success.’ If you want to be on the NY best selling list, fine. If you want to write YA novellas for iPads, fine. You just do your thing.
Caroline: Good advice. What is something interesting you discovered while researching this book?
Vonnie: I am actually talking about two books at once, since both came out on the same day. One is a Regency and the other a Romantic Suspense. I found the research for the Romantic Suspense – LETHAL REFUGE from the Wild Rose Press – to be just as hard to track down as my Regency research. For the Regency, I used my favorite collection of 19th century references such as WELLINGTON’S PENINSULAR WAR, SOLDIER OF THE 71ST, and THE AGE OF ELEGANCE for information regarding the particular regiments that fought in various skirmishes and battles. Even though my hero spends only nine months there, it is essential to get the facts right. With regard to the contemporary Romantic Suspense that is set in New Zealand, my home country, I researched the police hierarchy online. Their police force is set up similar to the British one so sometimes I cross-referenced. It is a question of getting attitudes, practises and titles correct. Nothing worse than a police procedural set in the southern hemisphere that sounds like a Mickey Spillane novel.
Caroline: That would be odd. Tell us about your latest releases.
Regency: THE SECOND SON
THE SECOND SON is how Lord John Trewbridge inherits a marquessate for all the wrong reasons, and how Marguerite Ninian, a disabled woman, teaches John to forgive himself.
When he came upon the scene of the accident, his heart caught in his throat. The farmhands had set flares around the over-turned phaeton, and in the blackness it looked like a scene from Hell as men heaved and tugged, trying to free Spencer who was trapped beneath the cross-struts.
It was a bad situation. Had Spencer been caught beneath a wheel, they could have lifted the high-perch phaeton off him. But he was caught fast beneath the centre structure. No wonder he screamed when they tried to shift him.
John swallowed hard and dismounted. He crouched down beside the phaeton.
“Spence? It’s me. John.”
“Knew you’d come. Guilty conscience wouldn’t let you stay away.” Spencer’s voice was slurred and fading, but there was an echo of the old vindictiveness still there.
“Guilty conscience?” John asked, wondering if his brother’s mind was wandering.
“Oh, yes. I’ve always known you wanted to be me.” Spencer paused and fisted his hand for a moment. His other arm was trapped beneath the phaeton.
The pain must be excruciating. John tugged off his glove and held tight to Spencer’s free hand. “No, Spence. I envied you Trewbridge, not the title. Oh, and sometimes I envied your famous way with the ladies. But I didn’t want to be you.” He noticed he was talking in the past tense and reined himself in. How callous could he be? “No. I’m too dull to enjoy racing around, trying to keep ahead of my conscience.”
Spencer ignored the last comment. “Dull,” he rasped. “I told her that would singe your whiskers.”
“For a time it did,” John murmured. “But I’ve found someone who needs me and doesn’t think I’m dull. And I have an estate that will not give me sleepless nights like the responsibility of Trewbridge would.”
There was a long silence and John felt the world shrink down to just the two of them, in the dark, with the sounds of rescue far away. Then Spencer’s cracked voice whispered, “But you will have it all now, while I dance with demons.”
“I don’t think so. We’ll get you out of here. More men are coming. We will lift this damned phaeton off you and—-”
“No!” Spencer’s voice rose again. “I do not want to be saved.” He gave a slight huff that might have been a laugh. “Never did.”
The erratic pulse fluttering against John’s fingers slowed, and in the fitful torchlight, John saw his brother slide away. Spencer’s last breath exhaled on a sigh and his face gradually slackened into pain-free oblivion. His cold hand lay flaccid in John’s warm one.
John bent his head and prayed for Spencer’s soul. He had never, never imagined that one day he would kneel on the edge of a roadway in the peaceful English countryside beside his dying brother. He choked back a sob. “A wasted life,” he whispered.
Romantic Suspense: LETHAL REFUGE
Abused and abandoned as a child, Célie Francis knows better than to trust anyone. But after she witnesses a murder, she's placed in the Unit—New Zealand’s witness protection program—where she’s expected to trust strangers with her life.
Inching along the wall, Célie reached the window. She held on to the door jamb, a little island of security in a sea of fear. Then she stretched across and peered out.
A featureless face stared back at her.
She screamed and jumped back, bashing her elbow on the laundry tub.
Peaches lumbered to his feet, shaky and confused.
The face was still there. No eyes. No mouth. No nose.
Peaches staggered over to the door and snuffled.
Mesmerised, Célie kept staring at that distorted face as she backed into a corner.
Then the face moved and a hand spread across the glass. The forefinger and thumb rubbed together.
Flashes of memory seared her mind. She gasped, remembering that fearful morning when she’d discovered poor Occy’s disemboweled body. Stunned, struggling not to vomit, she’d been hovering over what was left of Occy when she sensed she was being watched. For a few precious seconds she had stared back at the creepy figure silhouetted in the early morning gloom watching her—just watching her.
Then he’d rubbed his thumb and forefinger together covetously, as if he were contemplating the best way to eat her alive.
And she’d bolted. And done her best to bury those memories.
Whoever that monster had been, he was outside the window right now.
Caroline: Wow, that certainly piqued my interest! Where can readers find your books?
Vonnie: Either by clicking on the buttons on my site at www.vonniehughes.com or going to my amazon.com page which is http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=Vonnie+Hughes&x=18&y=20
Caroline: How can readers learn more about you?
Vonnie: As well as the above website, there is also http://vonniehughes.blogspot.com
Thanks, Vonnie, for being a guest today and sharing your new releases with us. Books make wonderful gifts, don't they?
I'll be back on Friday to share a Christmas story with you.