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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Twilight Thursday

Welcome Author
Leslie Parrish

Leslie Parrish

If Leslie Parrish looks familiar to you, she should. Leslie Parrish is the dark alter-ego of Author Leslie Kelly. Plus, this isn't Leslie Parrish's first visit to Moonlight, Lace and Mayhem. We had her visit last July when she promoted her Romantic Suspense, Black CATs series. I recently had the chance to read these three books and they are fantastic! While this series isn't as dark as Patricia Cornwell's Kay Scarpetta novels, it does come close. In fact, they are darker than I expected and offered the escape from the typical romances I've been reading. While the word "romance" tells you there will be a Happily Ever After for someone, and that some things will be tied into a big red bow, Parrish opted not to tie everything into a big red bow. Her deliciously complex and convoluted plots kept my wildly off-balance - which isn't an easy feat since I see patterns and usually recognize the killer from the word go - and kept me guessing! They feed the darker side of your psyche - the side that enjoys a good episode of CSI, Bones, Numb3rs, or Criminal Minds.

Cold Sight, Leslie's fourth Romantic Suspense, continues her foray into the darker worlds, but with paranormal elements woven into its core. This series offers paranormal without the vampires, werewolves and shifters but instead delves into the psychic side of life which, I feel, makes it easier for readers to immerse their brains into Parrish's world. It's not much of a stretch to believe in psychics with real-life psychic mediums like Allison Dubois - main character and focus of the TV series Medium.

While the pain in my ankle distracted me from finishing Cold Sight and I do not like to spoil a good story, I don't mind generics. Parrish definitely delves into the dark side of humanity with this one. Changing the first victim's age from young teen to young child would make it even creepier, possibly too creepy for a Romantic Suspense..., but don't take my word for it, check out The Prologue for yourself.

Before you do that, though, stick around and check out my interview with Leslie Parrish where she offers exclusive peeks into her latest novel!

ME: While there are many genres to choose from, what specifically brought you to romance? Why this genre over the others?

LESLIE: I fell into romance by accident, to be honest. I am a voracious reader, always have been. And I’ve always dabbled in writing. But about 13 years ago, when I was a stay at home mom with 3 little girls under the age of 7, I was pretty much losing my mind, and needed some kind of creative outlet. My hubby spotted an article in the paper for a romance writing class, cut it out, and basically pushed me out the door so I could get out one night a week. I loved the class, and during it, started writing a book. After the class ended, I continued to meet with my classmates and we formed a critique group. With their help, I finished that book, then sold it off the slush pile to Harlequin Temptation.

Honestly, if there had been a class on how to write a horror novel, things could be very different today. ;-)

That said, I’ve loved sticking with romance because I am, at heart, a character-based writer and romance, more than any other genre is extremely character based.

ME: Even though the popularity of the romance genre continues to grow, it’s still not always a highly respected genre. What, in your opinion, is the reason for the continued interest in the genre and for the lack of respect it receives?

LESLIE: My honest opinion is that because the genre is both written and read, primarily, by women, the genre just doesn’t get treated with respect. There’s still a tremendous amount of gender bias in this world, and this is a prime example. Obviously love is a well-respected theme in entertainment. If it weren’t true, why can men write romance novels—tack on a really bad, depressing endings—then make millions and roll in their movie deals? (Heaven forbid they include a happy ending, because, then, you’ve got :shudders: a romance novel.)

ME: A holiday we didn’t discuss above is Parents’ Day. What traits, in your opinion, make for a good parent? Have any of these traits, been inspiration for a character’s personality and actions in your stories? If so, how? Which character(s), which trait(s) and why?

LESLIE: I have worked very hard to be a good parent to my children, and the main thing I think is important is to treat them with respect, and treat my husband (their father) with respect. He has often told me that he finds it a tremendous responsibility to be the father of girls, as he has to set the bar for the kind of treatment they will demand from their future husbands…and he wants them to be treated very well. So he has never, in our marriage, raised his voice to me in front of them, or treated me with anything but the utmost courtesy.

That has carried over when I’m working on my books, because you will find that same respectful core in every hero that I’ve written. While there may be shades of alpha, you’re just not going to find a hero in one of my books treating the hero disrespectfully.

ME: For a writer, inspiration can be found everywhere and in almost anyone, but sometimes specific people, places and events can inspire certain characters, personality traits, events or situations that happen in our stories. In your current story that we’re promoting here today, COLD SIGHT, did any one particular person, place or event inspire you? If so who/what was it (were they), how did it/they inspire you and how is this inspiration reflected in your story?

LESLIE: Actually, no…lol…sorry! I was inspired by my own desire to meld a dark romantic suspense novel with a paranormal romance novel. I didn’t want to write vampires or werewolves or demons, but I do love anything psychic or ghostly, and really enjoyed getting to instill that element into one of my dark, Black CATs type novels.

ME: Without giving away anything pertinent to the story, tell us about the hero and heroine (s) of your story. What do they look like? How do they meet (or “did” if this is not the first book with these same characters)? What are their personalities – Are they comical cut-ups, are they serious or are they a mix of the two? Please give us a little bit of dialogue from the story that can illustrate this. (Not much, but just a few lines and from a different section than the main excerpt – Thanks!)

LESLIE: It’s funny, I sold this book on synopsis and when I wrote that synopsis, I had said the heroine would be a reporter. Then I went to write the book, and remembered that I HATE reporter heroines! Lol! It really is a pet peeve of mine, and I called one of my Plotmonkey buddies and wailed, “Why did you let me do this?!?” She, hating reporter heroines, too, assured me I could make it work, and challenged me to write a heroine she and I would both like.

And believe it or not, I did! I have heard from reviewers and readers who share my disdain for reporter heroines, and they have all absolutely loved Lexie. She’s a wonderful character—pretty but not beautiful, strong and stubborn, determined and honest. But she also has a big heart and what’s driving her in this book isn’t her ambition to “get the scoop” but her need to save this one missing girl whose story has captured her heart.

Aidan is dark and mysterious, with jet-black hair, amazing grey-blue eyes, and a propensity to wear black. (As the heroine finds out, though, it isn’t for any deep, dark reason, but because he’s just lousy at matching colors…lol!) Aidan has been in seclusion for a year when the book starts, buried by guilt over a case gone wrong, which ended in the death of a child.

The thing is, lurking beneath that mysterious, gruff exterior is a really nice guy who is gradually revealed through every interaction with this witty reporter who rings all his bells.

Here’s a snippet from their first conversation, when Lexie has shown up at Aidan’s door, asking for his help on a missing person’s case:

“Lexie,” she automatically murmured.
“Lexie?” He swept an assessing stare at her, top to bottom, with those piercing, knowing eyes. “I don’t like it. That’s a little girl’s name; it doesn’t suit you.”
“Gee, thanks. Why don’t you go ahead and read my mind this time and see how appreciative I am that you pointed that out?”
Ignoring her sarcasm, he crossed his arms, leaning one hip against the over-laden desk that looked like it could double as a two-person life raft. “You misunderstood.”
Didn’t seem like there was much to misunderstand about him saying her name was stupid.
“I don’t read minds at all.”
She should have known he wasn’t apologizing for the name crack.
“Now, as I was saying, Ms. Nolan, I know Vonnie Jackson worked at Ranger Joe’s because she waited on me when I ate there with some friends a few weeks ago.”
Huh. The abrasive, snarly guy, who’d just insulted her nickname—which her father had bestowed on her when she had been, okay, a little girl—actually went out in public on occasion. With other people. Guess anything was possible.
“Yes, even shut-ins get out to a restaurant once in a while,” he said dryly, again as if he could look into her head and see her thoughts.
She shrugged, then, always blunt, couldn’t help adding, “Frankly, I was thinking how strange it is that you actually have friends.”

ME: The main characters are usually great, but sometimes, secondary and tertiary characters are known to steal the scenes, even if the author did not intend this to happen. Who are the secondary/tertiary characters in your story and what do they look like? What’s unique about them? What is their relationship to the hero/heroine? Have any of these characters gone on to become scene-stealers? If so, who and how did they do it? Is there the possibility for them to get their own story? (Again, please give us a small bit of dialogue to illustrate this – thanks!)

LESLIE: It’s interesting, several reviewers and readers have pointed out the strength of one particular secondary character in this book. Vonnie Jackson is an 18 year old girl from the wrong side of the tracks, who has worked her butt off to get out of the slums and away from her druggie/drunk mother and her lousy life. She’s brilliant, and has recently transferred to the “good” school in town, braving sneers from her old neighborhood and the disdain of the rich kids with whom she just doesn’t fit. When the book opens, this amazing, vibrant young woman is being held prisoner in the basement of a psychopath’s house, and he’s reading her corrupt, vile fairy tales. She knows he means to kill her, and she’s using her wits, determined to stay alive. The entire prologue is available on my website.

Vonnie was one of the best characters I have ever written, and yes, I would love to bring her back in another story sometime. She needs to grow up a little, obviously, but I can see her showing up in a later eXtrasensory Agents story.

Here’s a scene in Vonnie’s point of view:

“Do you know what the witch did to Rapunzel to keep her from calling for help from up inside her tower?”
That singsong voice. Another damn story. That told her his mood wasn’t as bloody as it had been since she’d screamed for help. So maybe he wasn’t here to kill her after all. Whether that was a good thing, or a bad one, she just didn’t know. Part of her desperately wanted release, even if that release came because she’d lived her last moment.
Another part, the hard, determined core of her that had taken on so much, fought so hard, was suddenly desperate to stay alive, if only to keep him from winning. Funny, she didn’t mind so much losing—dying. But oh, she did not want him to win.
She answered with a small shake of her head, not wanting to do anything to antagonize him.
“The witch chopped out the ungrateful girl’s tongue and fed it to her dog. Do you think I should do that to you?”
Is the dog as hungry as I am?
That answer came from the old Vonnie’s brain. The sassy Vonnie. Not this beaten, broken one.
She replied with another negative head shake, pleading at him with her eyes. Finally, he came closer, the white king mask emerging out of a dark corner into her line of sight like a pale skull out of a crypt. The plastic smile was as insane as the person behind it.
He was holding two things. In one hand, a big plastic cup with a lid and a bendable straw. In the other, a small knife. The knife wasn’t so small it couldn’t be used to slit her throat, but Vonnie suspected he hadn’t come here for that. For some reason, he wanted to keep her alive.
She wished she knew more about his other victims—how long they’d stayed down here, how long he’d kept them imprisoned, telling his sick stories. But there was no way to know. None of them had carved any last words into the wall or hidden any journal of their tortured, final days. At least as far as she could tell.
“I’ll show mercy,” he said, “because I like you.”
He liked her. She’d hate to see how he treated those he didn’t like.
“You remind me of myself, you see, the way I reacted to being down here in the dark. The others were so stupid. So weak. But not you. You’re so smart—always thinking. You don’t cry, you don’t plead. You play along and don’t do anything until you think you have a chance, like when you screamed yesterday. Very naughty, but a good effort.”
Now that his anger had faded, he sounded almost approving, admiring even. Like he’d been glad she’d bided her time and done nothing, waited until she had an actual chance of rescue before crying out.
The truth washed over her. She had been involved in a game of wits with the man from the very start. He had no pity, so all the others who might have pleaded for help had earned nothing but his disdain. Because she hadn’t, because she’d been smart enough to know that would never work, she was still alive.

ME: Want to read more? Check out the excerpt and below:

Cold SightBLURB: After being made a scapegoat in a botched investigation that led to a child’s death, Aidan McConnell became a recluse. Still, as a favor to an old friend, Aidan will help on the occasional XI case. But under his handsome, rugged fa├žade, he keeps his emotions in check—for fear of being burned again.

Reporter Lexie Nolan has a nose for news—and she believes a serial killer has been targeting teen girls around Savannah. But no one believes her. So she turns to the new paranormal detective agency and the sexy, mysterious Aidan for help.

But just as the two begin forging a relationship, the case turns eerily personal for Lexie—and Aiden discovers that maybe he hasn’t lost the ability to feel after all…

EXCERPT: Here’s a scene from the second time Lexie goes to Aidan’s house, when she’s finally gotten him to agree to consider helping out in this missing person’s case. They get to know each other a little, and we see how Lexie begins to work her way around Aidan’s defenses.

Stepping back, he gestured her into the house. “Coffee’s ready.”
“It was no trouble. I never start the day without brewing a gallon,” he said as he turned to lead her toward what she assumed was the kitchen. “I don’t sleep well at night.”
“Maybe because you drink a gallon of coffee during the day?”
He was walking ahead of her, so she couldn’t be sure, but she’d swear by the slight movement of his broad shoulders that he laughed.
The short hallway opened into a huge, modern kitchen that had obviously been recently renovated. Judging by the top-of-the-line appliances, marble countertops, and walnut cabinetry, the man obviously had a little money put by. Whatever he hadn’t updated about the rest of the house, he’d made up for with this fabulous room. “Wow. Very nice. You could cook an entire flock of Thanksgiving turkeys in that oven.”
“I can live with creaky floors, but not with forty-year-old appliances.”
Lexie leaned against a cabinet, watching as he poured her a cup of coffee, his movements smooth and easy. He seemed comfortable today, definitely less on guard, the handsome face not set in a permanent frown and those amazing eyes more blue than gray. Even the all-black ensemble didn’t seem so much dour as super-mysterious now.
By God, the man was something.
He pushed the cup across the countertop. “So I’ve lived up to my end of the bargain?”
Inhaling the strong, heady scent coming off the steaming cup, she could only nod in appreciation. She loved good coffee. The stuff at the office was about one step up from brown water. Helping herself to the cream and sugar he’d already put out, she replied, “More than.”
He held out his hand. “Okay. Have the CD?”
Grabbing it from her purse, she handed the disc to him. “I took thorough notes for the transcripts.”
“I don’t doubt it. I just want to hear the voices, the tones. Catch the nuance.”
“That a psychic thing?”
He shook his head. “A cop thing.”
Her jaw fell open. Fortunately, she hadn’t just taken a sip of coffee; otherwise it would be all over her front. “You were a cop?”
“Well, not officially. I majored in criminology in college, then went through the police academy in Little Rock, but never put on a badge.”
She definitely hadn’t turned up that tidbit in her research, having spent much of her time reading about his recent cases. Ever blunt, she asked, “Why? Just couldn’t cut it?”
“Thanks for the vote of confidence,” he said, his brow rising in amusement. “Actually, I was at the top of my class. I wasn’t interested. Did it for the experience but never wanted to wear the uniform.”
“Bet the police in Little Rock aren’t too fond of you.”
He grinned, that quick, sexy grin he’d flashed once or twice yesterday. “Not as un-fond as the ones in Savannah.”
She only hoped he soon became the bane of the local police force, too. Because right now, it was her and Walter against the rest of the town. They could use some reinforcements. Especially reinforcements with investigative backgrounds and psychic powers—if such things really existed. Now that she’d heard Aidan had studied criminology, she had to wonder if his successful record was more a product of really good investigative skills and excellent intuition rather than any supernatural know-how. Either way, the man’s involvement could be important.
Though she wanted to savor the excellent coffee, and also wanted to pick the brain of her host to see what he thought about everything he’d read so far, she knew better than to push. If he wanted to tell her, he’d have told her. She had only met him yesterday, but she already knew that. So she didn’t take her time, or even finish the coffee, before pushing the cup away.
“I’ve got to run. I’m heading over to Vonnie Jackson’s mother’s place.”
He crossed his arms over his big chest. “In the Boro?”
“Maybe I should go with you.”
She chuckled, amused by his sudden worry for her. Yesterday he’d seemed ready to toss her off a high building. “I’ll be fine. I live in Granville and have been south of Woodsboro Avenue plenty of times. Heck, my favorite bakery is down there! You just stay here, read, and listen.” Flashing him a flirty grin, she added, “Maybe I’ll bring you back a peach pie. Theirs is amazing.”
“I don’t do sweets.”
She lifted a hand to her chest and gasped. “No!”
“’Fraid it’s true.”
“You just lost a lot of points, mister. There’s something wrong with a person who doesn’t like dessert.”
One of those sexy grins tilted the corners of his mouth up. “But you have to admit, I do make good coffee. Doesn’t that earn me a couple of brownie points?”
“Do you like brownies?”
He shook his head, appearing rueful.
She blew out a disgusted breath. “Well, then, no points for you. But you do make excellent coffee,” she conceded. “So I guess I’ll let you slide. Now go read.”
He held up the CD. “I want to listen first. I have a feeling there’s something important on here. Something I caught in the transcripts but can’t quite nail down.”
Following him to the door, she said, “I hope you’re right. Because that clock keeps on ticking.” Three and a half days since Vonnie had been taken. The thought made all humor slide right out of her.
“I’ll be in touch,” he said, opening the door and stepping back out of the way.
She’d noticed that before, of course, that he was careful not to get too close. Now, however, she wondered whether it affected every aspect of his life. Whether he ever allowed himself to touch anyone.
Any woman.
Sex had to be something he was very careful about. And if he never had it, well, that was just a crime against half of humanity. Not only incredibly hot, the man was also charming, intelligent, and had a good sense of humor lurking behind all that sternness.
So, no, an abstinent Aidan McConnell was unacceptable. It would be a complete travesty.
The very idea was also something she, personally, didn’t want to contemplate any longer.
Because combining Aidan McConnell and sex in the same thought was way too dangerous for her peace of mind.

Missed that first blog by Leslie Parrish? Want to check out the Black CATs series? Click Here.

Want to learn more about Leslie Parrish and her other books? Click Here.

7 Moonbeams (comments):

Paula R said...

Hey Carrie, how are you doing? It's been a while since I've played in the Moonlight. I am glad I came here today. Les, thanks for the link.

I love this interview you had with Les today. I am still waiting on my copy of Cold Sight, so it was great to get another little taste of what's to come. Nope, I didn't read all the little excerpts here because I didn't want to "ruin" it for myself. I can't wait to read this one. I hate Amazon sometimes...ugh. I LOVED Les' Black CATs series, and I am still hoping for more. I might have to hold my breath now...extreme measures are necessary. RS is Les' world, and I can't wait to see what else she comes up with as her alter. I do hope to continue seeing Leslie Kelly books too because she kicks some majore @$$ at those too.

Peace and love,
Paula R.

Jane said...

I actually like reporter heroines, so I'm sure I like Lexie as much as Aidan.

Leslie Parrish said...

Thanks so much Paula & Jane! I appreciate you slogging through this long-winded interview. ;-) (What can I say, I get a little carried away when talking about stuff I really writing! lol!)

Paula R said...

Hey Les, it was no trouble at all. I really enjoyed the interview, and I learned a couple of things. It was very hard to not read the little excerpts.

I don't mind reporter heroines, btw. I really don't care about theri professions as long as I can relate with them somehow.

Peace and love,
Paula R.

Bella@BeguileThySorrow said...

glad i stopped by! what u call long-winded was actually good reading to me :) plus, I'd hadn't yet seen the book trailer either!
this will be my first romantic suspense/thriller i read. so far ive only read paranormals and a few contemporary ones. Im excited!

Anonymous said...

Great interview! Great excerpts, too!


Carrie said...

Thanks to everyone who stopped by for Leslie's interview!

Sorry I couldn't stick around, but my ankle (high-grade sprain) has been causing me some major issues and I haven't been online until today.

Thanks so much to Leslie for joining us! I'm totally enjoying my copy of Cold Sight! lol!