Hi Karen, welcome 🙂
If someone wrote a biography about you, what do you think the title of the book should be? Why?
Because my life is proof that people should be able to love themselves for who they are, that darkness can be escaped, and happiness found.
Would you rather…be invisible or be able to read minds? Why?
I think neither. I’d find it too painful to hear all the gossip and possible snarkiness. Plus, I hugely value privacy and wouldn’t want to invade anyone else’s.
Though if I were a superhero and needed to rescue children or dogs, then being invisible would come in handy
Let’s talk about your newest release: The Wolf Siren
If you had to summarize the book for the readers here
Someone reviewed the book at another web site and what she said resonated with me. The Wolf Siren is about a woman who was tortured and abused, and taught to hate everything special about herself. Through the course of the book, the hero – who also happens to have been the one who rescued her – teaches her not only to accept and love herself, but him. She is a survivor and as such, rises above the darkness to shine.
Please tell us about the characters in your book?
The hero Kane McGraw is a Pack Protector. It is his job to protect and save members of the Pack. When he was part of a task force that successfully infiltrated a religious cult that was experimenting on Pack members under the guise of casting out their demons, he has never forgotten the emaciated, filthy waif of a woman he saved. And when her brother calls upon him to help, since part of the cult is still at large and trying to recapture her, Kane goes willingly.
Lilly Gideon has been taught to abhor everything about her wolf nature. She lives in fear, a shadow of her potential self, and learns by accident the strange power her singing has over men.
Not only will Lilly learn to blossom in her true nature, but to defend herself. She becomes strong, and realizes she as a woman has the right to chose her own future. And find love.
As you wrote your protagonist was there anything about them that surprised you?
Yes. Actually, I had no idea of Lilly’s special power (singing) when I proposed the story. It happened by accident as I was writing.
What scene did you most enjoy writing? Why?
This scene tickled my fancy.
How about we take a stroll around the downtown square?”
Again, Lilly seemed to draw back inside herself. “Why?”
He helped her down from the bar stool. If he kept his hand on her skin a little longer than necessary, he told himself he had a valid reason.
“First off, to show you the town.” He slid his hand down her arm and took her hand. This time, she immediately curled her fingers trustingly around his. “Secondly, I want you to see other Shifters, so you can see how at home everyone is in their bodies.”
When she turned to look at him, her gaze had gone flat. “Trying to undo my conditioning?”
Surprised, he frowned. He could have hemmed and hawed, but he believed in honesty whenever possible. “Yes. You never know. It might help you.”
“Been there, done that. You forget, I was going to therapy while I was in Seattle. They took me to some church full of Shape-shifters.” She shuddered. “It was creepy. Reminded me of Sanctuary, even though they could change into wolves.”
Kane wanted to find that therapist and wring his or her neck for propagating such stupidity. “I hope Lucas didn’t waste a lot of money on that shrink,” he said instead. “Sounds like an idiot.”
This at least coaxed a reluctant smile. She nodded. “He was. And yes, Lucas realized it. He switched me to a woman after that. She was a little better.”
They’d made it to the parking lot. He stopped, enjoying the feel of her hand in his and aware he should give her a choice. “Do you want to see the rest of downtown? Or would you rather go back to Wolf Hollow?”
She gave him a long considering look before slipping her sunglasses back over her eyes. “We can take a short walk.”
The flush of happiness he felt seemed way out of place. Or did it? He’d been charged with protecting her. He’d always planned to help her become physically stronger. If he could do so for her internally as well, so much the better. It was nothing more than that.
As they turned, he kept her hand tucked into his, unwilling to release her just yet. Hand in hand they strolled, and hounds help him but he took pleasure in the knowledge that they looked like any other couple, out for an afternoon walk around the town. He felt…content. Maybe even happy, at least the most he had in a long time. Intellectually, he knew he and Lilly would never have any sort of future together, and he wasn’t deceiving himself about that. He was her bodyguard, soon to be teacher, and his goal was to make her a stronger, more centered woman who could finally accept her dual nature as something good. Once the Protectors caught up with the last stragglers from Sanctuary, he hoped Lilly could go forward with confidence and the knowledge she had a right to a long, happy life.
Other people glanced at them, but took no real notice. It had been so long since Kane had been to Leaning Tree, he wasn’t surprised he didn’t see anyone he knew. Truth be told, he was actually glad. He didn’t want his afternoon with Lilly to be interrupted.
Lilly continued to look at everything with a sort of interested delight. She constantly studied various groups of people, a slight frown creasing her creamy skin. “So all of these people are Shifters?”
He grinned. “Most of them. Do you see the auras?”
Lowering her sunglasses, she turned in a slow 360. “Yes,” she said, her voice rising in excitement. “I do.”
“Good. And the ones who have no auras, those are most likely humans. Or…” he hesitated, and then decided he might as well go all in. “They might be vampires.”
After a startled second, she laughed. “Good one.”
She shook her head, a smile still playing around her mouth. “Even if vampires did exist, it’s broad daylight. And sunny.”
“That’s a myth,” he began.
“Like vampires aren’t?”
Kane laughed out loud, enjoying the verbal sparring. “You have to think of it this way. If Shape-shifters-aka werewolves-are real, then why couldn’t vampires?”
Her expression stilled and grew serious. “You’re not kidding, are you?”
Silence while she pondered this. He gave her time, aware how much broader her world had just become.
They continued walking, stopping in front of store windows, lingering a while at the stained glass shop. Still holding hands, which astounded him. With anyone else, he would have considered this too long for the kind of relationship they had. They weren’t lovers, after all.
Lovers. The second the thought occurred to him, he had a mental image of her under him, naked and welcoming.
Damn. The flash of instant desire nearly had him pulling his hand away from hers. Nearly. He glanced at her, to see if he’d somehow communicated his need. Apparently not. With her fingers still intertwined with his, she appeared to be gazing across the square at the little curio shop, lost in her own thoughts.
“Vampires,” she mused. Relieved that she hadn’t noticed his insanity, he nodded.
They reached the park with its paved walking trails and a freshly painted white gazebo, surrounded by vibrant blooming rose bushes.
“How pretty,” she said, smiling up at him.
“Yeah, it’s a popular spot for weddings and photographers.”
She nodded. “I imagine.” Then, as they started back the way they’d come, she took a deep breath and squeezed his hand once, causing him to look at her.
“What else is there?” she asked, sounding slightly breathless. “I mean how much of the stories are real? Werewolves, vampires…. Are there Fairies and Elves and Zombies too?”
Somehow he managed to keep a straight face. “I’ve never seen or heard of such a thing as a Zombie.”
“Really?” Peeking at him over her large sunglasses, “Though I noticed you didn’t say anything about Fairies or Elves.”
He shrugged. “What can I say? The world is much more diverse than most people know.”
What scene was the hardest to write? Why?
The first time Lilly changed (shapeshifted) was hard. I knew she’d have to heal, but considering the deep seated loathing inside her, writing it was extremely difficult. In her point of view, she becomes a monster.
At that instant, the thing inside her made a break for freedom.
Defenses down, Lilly reacted a second too late. Alcohol had dulled her senses. She slammed her mental barrier down, but the beast had already begun reshaping her body. Painfully.
As she fell to all fours, she let out a cry of pain, an awful cross between a howl and a snarl. Dimly, she realized her clothes were tearing as her bones elongated. With her last human thought, she hoped none of the others found her. She’d learned the last time how deadly her monster was to anyone or anything that dared approach it.
Kane. As she pushed herself off the leaf-strewn, forest floor, noting the blood among the pieces of human clothing, she squashed the awful urge to use the last remnants of her human voice to call him to her.
But she couldn’t. Not only did she know she couldn’t bear him to see the horrible beast she was inside, but she would be dangerous to him. Not only to him, but to any male shifter.
Long ago, in the midst of the too-horrible-to-think-of experiments the doctors of Sanctuary had performed on her, she’d listened and learned they wanted eventually to mate her and get her with child. A super-beast, they’d called it. They’d wanted to create an army of demons eventually.
At that moment she’d vowed to do whatever was necessary to prevent that from happening. Even as they’d injected her with hormones, used specially formulated pheromones to make her irresistible to Louis, the other poor soul they’d captured, planning to put them together and perpetuate the most unholy indignity of all.
And then he’d died. Poor Louis had been tortured and experimented on as much as she. They’d said too much testosterone and steroids had made his heart give out. Jacob Gideon, the man who’d called himself her father, had not been pleased.
As she moved forward, keeping to the shadows to better hide her misshapen form, she realized with a start that her thoughts were still logical, clearly human. Not the mishmash of furious rage she’d come to associate with her other self.
Strange. Emboldened by this, she moved forward, using her powerful nose to track the presence of Kane and his brothers. Though her beast’s natural instinct was to seek them out, Lilly had enough self-control to push in the opposite direction. She would hunt, for the first time in nature since she’d been fifteen, and then make her way back to the cabin so she could regain her human form.
Hopefully, no one would be any wiser.
A small rabbit was foolish enough to cross her path. When it saw her, rather than running, it froze. She made short work of killing it, feasting on the fresh meat. Then, leaving only the fur and a few small bones, she lifted her snout and scented the wind, searching for the unique scent of mankind.
Who would you cast in the role of your characters if your book was optioned for a movie?
Kane McGraw – ian somerhalder
Lilly Gideon – Megan Fox
If you could have given your characters one piece of advice before the opening pages of the book, what would it be and why?
Trust in Yourself. (Oddly, the same title I’d give my autobiograpjy!)
What are you currently working on? What other releases so you have planned for 2014?
I’ve just turned in two books. Both are Harlequin Romantic Suspenses – one is tentatively titled All or Nothing. i don’t have a release date for that one yet. The other is a Colton’s Continuity book call The Secret Colton Baby, which will be out in October 2014.
And I’m working now on another Nocturne, as of yet untitled. It features a character who was introduced in The Wolf Siren (my current release) named Anabel Lee
Thanks for blogging at HJ!
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Here is an excerpt of the very beginning of The Wolf Siren
“You look….” The tall, dark-haired man stared, his silver gaze intense. “A thousand times better than the last time I saw you.”
Clutching the door handle and peering out through the six inch crack, Lilly Gideon tried hard not to tremble. Belatedly, she realized she never should have opened the door. But then, she hadn’t known this man had been coming up the sidewalk.
Or had she? Something, some inner restlessness, had given her the urge to step out on to the front porch. Surely, she hadn’t been going to meet this stranger who talked as if he knew her. He had a confident air of masculine authority and the sheer strength of his muscular body overwhelmed her.
She struggled to speak, to summon up some sort of relatively normal response. She was safe, she told herself over and over like a mantra, ignoring the shiver of dread working its way up her spine. Finally safe. Her brother Lucas, his wife Blythe and her daughter Hailey were in the kitchen and would come running at the slightest sound. All she had to do was call. But staring at the handsome stranger, still she couldn’t seem to force words past her closed up throat.
“Lilly?” he asked, the deep dustiness of his voice striking a chord inside her, as if her soul recognized him. “It’s me, Kane McGraw. Don’t you remember me?”
Pushing away the panic, she struggled to simply breathe. The chiseled plains of his rugged face did seem achingly familiar, but with her tangled confusion of memories, she didn’t know if this was a good thing or bad. He wore his dark hair short, spiky, a bit longer than military style, which added to his self-confident appearance. Once again, she found him intimidating.
Despite her best effort to appear brave, she let her hand creep up to her throat and dredged up words. “I…no. I don’t remember you.”
Her twin brother Lucas must have had a second sense too. Something that told him she needed him, right now. “Lilly?” he called, appearing in the arched opening that led to the foyer. “Are you all right?”
Relief flooding her, she turned her panicked gaze toward him, imploring silently for help.
“What’s wrong?” Lucas strode toward her, putting himself in front of her even as he yanked the door all the way open.
“Kane?” Despite hearing the joy in her brother’s voice, Lilly stepped back, taking refuge in the small space between the door and the wall. She hated the way terror still consumed her, but for now, she didn’t yet have the strength to overcome it. Maybe someday, but not just yet. She only hoped that with time…
“Lucas!” The two men gave each other the quick shoulder hug used by men.
“That was fast,” Lucas said, the sun making his brown hair appear blond. He glanced at Lilly, and then back at their visitor, grinning. Lilly envied her brother’s carefree attitude. Newly married and in love, his clear blue eyes radiated happiness. She kept hoping some of it would rub off on her. So far, she hadn’t been so blessed.
Kane laughed, a throaty chuckle, drawing her attention. “As soon as you told me what you needed, I dropped everything. My vacation days were piling up, unused anyway. I think the Society of Pack Protectors was shocked that I wanted to take them.”
Though the deep rumble of this stranger’s voice chased away the chill inside her, she kept herself utterly still, hoping she wouldn’t draw any attention to herself. Of course, her brother noticed immediately.
“Lilly?” Lucas held out his hand, waiting until she’d slipped her fingers into his before continuing. “Don’t you remember Kane? He helped us rescue you.”
The reassuring sincerity in Lucas’s expression calmed her, enough to enable her to look at the other man. “I’m sorry,” she murmured. “My memories from that time are all blurry.”
Kane’s smoky gaze held hers. “That’s understandable. You’ve been through a lot.”
She nodded, although fifteen years of torture, clinging to the edge of life, had been more than a lot. She was damaged, broken, in more ways than one. Though she was eager to purge that time from her memory and heal herself so she could stride with confidence into the world, first she had to shake the paralyzing terror that dogged her every move.
Before she could run, she needed to walk. Before she could walk, she’d have to manage a crawl.
“Come on in,” Lucas said, pulling Lilly toward him so he could fully open the door. She yanked her hand free, fighting the awful tide of panic rising in her throat. Though she wanted to flee, to tear down the hall toward her room, where she could close herself in and feel safe, she kept herself still. Legs rooted in the carpet, she hated her fear and used this to find the strength to stand her ground. Her hands were clenched into fists, but despite that, she managed to lift her head and study Lucas’s friend.
“Welcome,” she said, trying to remember how to sound warm.
At her greeting, he smiled. Not just any smile, but a devastating curve of the mouth that warmed her and inexplicably sent her pulse racing. Before, she’d thought him good-looking, in a muscular, dangerous sort of way. But now, feeling the pull of his grin, she realized he was more than that. He was beautiful, like a dark angel who’d recently tumbled from heaven.
She shivered. She’d had enough of angels and prophets, thank you very much.
Karen Whiddon spun fanciful tales for her younger brothers as early as the age of eleven. Growing up in the Catskill Mountains of New York, then the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, she found enough magic in the rugged peaks to keep her imagination fueled for years.
Now making her home in North Texas, she shares her life with her hero-like husband and three doting dogs. She has published over 35 books. Currently she writes for Harlequin Romantic Suspense and Harlequin Nocturne.