Sandra Kerns: Why did you start writing and why paranormal romance? Is there a story behind it?
Annette Brownlee: I’ve written on and off all my life. However, when I turned 29 I had a mini mid-life crisis. I made a list of things that I wanted to accomplish in my life. At the top of my list was publishing a novel. It actually took me by surprise. I hadn’t thought much about writing before that. I dove in and wrote a novel. It wasn’t very good but I received enough positive feedback from agents and writing instructors to continue. I also published a short story in a national magazine which provided me with additional motivation to continue writing.
My second story was prompted by a true tale of a young boy’s death. My love for the paranormal branched from a visit by that young boy. Yep, I was visited by a ghost. I hadn’t given much thought to ghosts and the afterlife before that, but you can’t deny it when one is standing in your kitchen.
SK: The characters in your new Spirit Savers series are quite varied. Can you tell us what inspired them, their names, and the title of the series?
AB: I like writing about strong women who shoot from the hip. Many of my favorite characters are missing a filter – they say what they think without pausing to assess the potential consequences. They’re the people who say what you’re already thinking but are too polite to verbalize. Chaos is a little like that. She’s socially awkward and not concerned about making friends. As for her name…well she earned it. The characters seem to choose their own names.
The series is titled “Spirit Savers” because the group itself began as a means to help spirits cross over. They’re not traditional ghost hunters. There are many who believe that a spirit’s energy can be trapped after they die. It seems much more compelling than traditional ghost hunting and it gives the characters a purpose.
SK: What came first – the idea or fun research? Do you believe in ghosts? What kind of research did you do for such an interesting topic?
AB: The idea came first. There’s a big difference between believing in ghosts and wanting to go out and make contact with them. However, when you’re writing about ghost hunters there’s a lot to know. They use specialty equipment. They have systems and practices, and each ghost hunting group is a little different. Sure, there are a lot of television shows about ghost hunting but that’s like using CSI as your crime scene research. It’s just not a replacement for real world knowledge.
So…I signed up for a ghost hunting class. I spent a weekend at a haunted monastery. During the day we’d learn about the different technologies and how to debunk the most common claims. At night, we’d hit one or two of the buildings and hunt.
I expected the weekend to be creepy. I mean, you’re walking around in the dark in abandoned buildings looking for ghosts. That’s the kind of stuff horror movies are made of. But it wasn’t creepy at all. It was actually a bit tedious. You need to be patient and there’s very little instant gratification. In most cases you don’t know if you have any evidence until you go back and review the audio and video recordings and the photographs taken during the investigation. We did have some fun experiences that weekend and I walked away with an appreciation for paranormal investigators.
SK: If you could be any animal in the world what would you be and why?
AB: Oh, goodness. I have no idea. I guess I’d be some type of bird. I enjoy being in the sky. I spend a lot of time on mountain tops.
SK: In your opinion, what are the most important attributes to remaining sane as a writer?
AB: I grew up with a very strong mom who took good care of herself. Self care – and that means time off, exercise, and healthy food, not to mention laughter and friends – is essential not just for writers but for everyone.
SK: Why e-books?
AB: Why not? I’m a bit of a control freak and a bit impulsive. If I feel like doing something, I usually dive right in. The digital industry has taken off and it seemed like a fun thing to try. I love writing and will always write. Digital publishing provides authors the ability to take immediate control of their careers and their books.
SK: Are you athletic or a couch potato?
AB: Athletic, I guess. Not intentionally, and I certainly don’t have any particular expertise, but I love trying new things and challenging myself. I have tried just about everything including mountain biking, snowboarding, rock climbing, and fitness dance. Within the past year I was introduced to CrossFit and I’m hooked. It satisfies my need for intensity and variety. You rarely do the same workout twice. It’s so much fun.
SK: I’m looking forward to the next installment in the Spirit Saver Series. That said, do you have any other books in the works for us to look forward to? While we’re waiting for both, do you have favorite authors to recommend to us and why?
AB: I am putting the finishing touches on a book I actually wrote several years ago. It features another strong and somewhat crazy heroine, an airplane accident, a haunted watch and a seriously sexy Irish attorney. It’s the first in another series. As for favorite authors, I’m a bit varied in what I read but will buy anything by Ilona Andrews and Charlaine Harris. Ilona writes fantastic urban fantasy with a kick butt heroine. And who can resist Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse? Can you tell I’m fond of strong and quirky heroines?
SK: Yes, I think we got that. 🙂 Thanks for visiting with us and continued luck on your writing journey.
Check out Annette’s latest release, Deadly Chaos.
Trouble, death, and mayhem are attracted to her like water to the shore. When a stalker becomes deadly, Chaos defends herself, leaving another body in her wake. But this body won’t go away. He’s stalking her in death too. To get rid of her ghost, Chaos employs Dakota Santiago and the Spirit Savers, a ghost hunting group devoted to helping lost spirits find their way.
Dakota Santiago knows she’s coming. He’s been warned in his dreams. Yet nothing in his past prepares him for the trouble Chaos brings. She tests his patience, his faith, and his abilities. He may have to pull out all the stops and risk everything to save a woman called Chaos.
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If you’re a romance writer yourself, you might want to look into her writer’s craft book, 1001 Romance Story Starters and the website she hosts offering guidance to other romance authors: http://makealivingwritingromance.com/about
Give me a ghost story over that of vampires and werewolves any day! And especially one coupled with a quirky, out-spoken female lead. I can’t wait to read your paranormal stories. Better yet, I fnally have a recommendation for my twin sister that I’m pretty certain she hasn’t read yet. Thanks, Annette, and the very bestest to you in your writing journey.
Lisa, thank you so very much for your kind words! I hope you and your sister enjoy Chaos and her ghostly adventures!