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  by Dee Gentle
Leslie Tramposch: Managing Editor - Sara Reyes: Marketing and Publicity

March 2008 Issue
 
 
I Dream of Genies
Spotlight on Magical Romance
Featuring 
 
Interviews with:
| Kimberly Adkins | Kathryne Kennedy | Ann Macela | Kathleen Nance |
 
Special Features:
 
A Tribute to Dawn Thompson
 PEARL Awards 2007
 
 Chat with Featured Authors
at PNR CHAT, monthly - 3rd Monday, 9pm Eastern
 

Ann Macela

I have been blessed with a number of careers:  public school and university teacher (three degrees in history); writer of history (the kind bristling with footnotes); sales, marketing and PR person writing everything from ads to annual reports; consultant and computer manual writer; and now romance author.  A native Texan, I spent most of my life on the Gulf Coast until my husband’s and my business took us first to Minneapolis and then to the Chicago area.  It didn’t take me long to learn how to survive in The Frozen North—just wear my entire wardrobe at one time.  All of this, some travels here and abroad, and my computer-and-accounting savvy husband have given me inspiration and details for my stories.

In Chicagoland, I finally had the time to do what I have always wanted to:  write fiction.  I write both contemporary and contemporary paranormal romance stories.  I hope my readers enjoy my magic practitioners.  We all need a little magic in our lives.

An Interview with Ann Macela

PNR: Can you tell us a little about how you started writing; was it something you have always wanted to do?

Ann M.: I’ve read books all my life and always had writing one in the back of my mind. But I had to earn a living first. When we moved to the Chicago area in 1998, I couldn’t find work writing computer manuals. There I was after unpacking, sitting around with nothing to do, knowing hardly a soul in the area, and getting slightly depressed. I had not read much romance—basically I was a mystery and sci-fi/fantasy reader. I picked up a Jayne Ann Krentz, and it was so much FUN. So, I picked up another. Before long, I was haunting the romance stacks in my library. Then I found a used book store that specialized in romance. I read romance the whole first winter we were here.

At some point, the light dawned. Here was my chance to try writing fiction—romance in particular. So I sat down and wrote “One.” I didn’t title my stories, but numbered them. I knew I had to teach myself how to write dialogue and love scenes. Writing history had taught me about a lot about telling a story, juggling plot elements, and in the case of battles, writing action and simultaneous happenings. “One” was absolutely horrible, but I expected it to be. I did get to the end of it. I started on “Two” immediately.

I took a class at the local community college in “genre writing.” That showed me that I could hold an audience. Then I found RWA and kept writing. My first book to be published, THE OLDEST KIND OF MAGIC (Medallion, 2005) was “Five.”

PNR: Are you able to write as much as you would like? Could you tell us about your writing schedule? What do you enjoy doing when not writing?

Ann M.: Despite the fact that life does intervene and take me away from writing, I basically write full time. I am a person of schedule—probably from all the school teaching and meeting deadlines I had to do in my other work. I’m best in the morning and early afternoon. If it’s not going well, then I break off around one, but if it’s really coming, then I write until it’s time to fix dinner. I don’t often write at night, but read and watch TV. Or play computer games—I’m a big fan of the role-playing kind with swords and sorcery.

When I’m not actually sitting at the computer, I’m usually thinking about my story. When I’m trying to fall asleep at night, I write and rewrite scenes in my head. Be careful if you try this. Sometimes I get so caught up in my own story that I don’t go to sleep for a long time.

When not writing, I’m active in a couple of organizations. I love traveling, and, thanks to my husband’s job, have been able to accompany him to Britain, China, and Singapore. My best vacation is lying on a beach in the Caribbean.

PNR: Who or what has been your biggest influence as a writer? Who has been your biggest support?

Ann M.: My biggest support has been my husband. He hands out bookmarks wherever he goes—I now have a reader or two in Singapore and England—and he even wears a T-shirt that says, “Make me a kept man. Buy my wife’s book.” Since he reads sci-fi and fantasy, I often work out the magic with him. He also volunteers to help with “research.”

As for my influence? I don’t think I can name just one person. As for “what” as an influence, I’d have to say becoming an historian and learning to write history. My writing career started there.

PNR: What are the greatest challenges to you as an author?

Ann M.: The greatest challenges are coaxing my muse to cooperate and dealing with the entire publishing process. I’ve also not been able to find an agent willing to take me on.

On the muse side, I’m basically a pantser, not a plotter, so sometimes I get stuck about what to do next. Usually, after the story percolates in my head for a while, it all comes together. But it can get scary when facing a deadline and the words or ideas aren’t coming.

PNR: What do you feel are the essential elements of a great story?

Ann M.: I want smart heroes and heroines I can care about. I want sensual tension and emotional, sexy love scenes. I like some humor, but only if it arises from the story. I read almost all sub-genres.

PNR: Readers are excited about the October 2007 release of DO YOU BELIEVE IN MAGIC? from Medallion Press; this is the second in your Magic series. Could you tell us what inspired this fantasy series and a little about your vision for the project? What direction will the series be taking?

Ann M.: My whole magic world started with a few “what if” statements. What if you had people in the world who could use magic to do their everyday jobs? What if one of them couldn’t cast a spell on any person or any object except herself? What if there was an ancient force that brought these people together as soul mates, whether they were ready or not?

I called my people who could do magic by the term “practitioner,” because they must practice their magic. It doesn’t just come to them. And their powers are limited.

I thought I could then follow the various combinations of soul mates through a series. In the first one, she is a “magic practitioner,” and he isn’t. In the second, it’s the reverse. In the third, they both are but are on totally opposite sides of magic spell casting. Those three stories involve one family of practitioners in Texas.

With the next three, we move to the Chicago area. And we meet the Swords and Defenders who destroy evil magic items. The Swords also can throw fireballs and lightning bolts. The fourth involves a female practitioner and a man who doesn’t know he has magic abilities—a “wild talent” in practitioner jargon. The fifth has both hero and heroine who have lost their soul mates—but can they have another? The sixth—ah, the sixth. That’s the one where we save the world!

PNR: Readers are captivated by the fantasy world you have created. Tell us about the challenges you face in world building and making it work with the ideas you have in mind for the progression of your characters and the series? Do you write your characters to fit the world you have created or vice versa?

Ann M.: My world grew from the first book and continues to grow. It started getting complicated with the very first book—so complicated that I started writing everything down. Anybody interested can go to my website and under articles find “A Theory Of Magic.” This is a work in progress and I’m continually adding to it.

There are enough rules to my world now that it’s impossible to have a character act against them without doing harm to the world or to the logic behind it. Let me point out, my magic is limited by a number of factors. Practitioners are not gods. Their magic energy is finite.

At the same time, the rules make some things easier. When I’m trying to figure out how a character should act in a magic situation, it’s pretty easy to follow the rules logically. Or one idea leads to another, and their talents and abilities grow “naturally” from what went before.

I might note that my system and world have developed over a number of years. They didn’t have to be fully developed in the first book. Thank goodness. The magic has gotten more complicated, but the story still revolves around getting the soul mates together and the evolution of the magic, not the mystery or suspense or whatever else might be going on.

In WILD MAGIC, the fourth book, I had to figure out how my practitioners actually cast spells so they could teach the hero. That was fun. If anybody tries the method and makes it work, tell me!

On the question of writing characters to fit the world or vice versa, I don’t think I approached it that way. I start with the character in the world, with certain talents/abilities/powers, but most importantly certain personal goals, motives, and conflicts and go from there.

PNR: Do you feel your writing is character driven or plot driven? How do you balance these two elements?

Ann M.: I think I’m basically character driven. I start with people and put them in a situation. I usually have an idea of the overall story arc and character arcs, the beginning and the end. The middle can be a big mystery until I actually get into it. Interestingly enough, in the third book, where I had much more structure to the plot, I had the most trouble actually writing it. I still don’t know why.

I pay close attention to the plot/character balance. Or lack thereof at times. I try very hard to keep both moving at the same pace. I hope I’m successful, but I know some readers must want me to get on with whatever side they like.

PNR: Could you tell us a little about how you develop your characters? Who has been your favorite character to write? The most challenging?

Ann M.: Sometimes my characters just come to me whole. Others require more construction. Either way, to concentrate my thoughts and ideas, I start off with some charts from Emily McKay and Robyn Ratliff. They gave a workshop at an RWA National that work for me. They concentrate especially on the GMC and make me think. I’ve used Tami Cowden’s archetypes and usually end up combining types. I’ve adapted the character charts from some other authors as well, but I don’t fill out pages. Then I get to know the characters as I write them.

My favorite? Oh, dear. It is like children, as so many authors have said. I had great fun with the major characters in YOUR MAGIC OR MINE?, the third in the Magic Series, and in WINDSWEPT, a contemporary (no magic) story with a historical twist.

The most challenging are always the men, especially Marcus in YOUR MAGIC OR MINE?

Villains have been a great deal of fun, but you really have to watch out. They’ll take over the book if you let them.

PNR: How would you describe the sensuality level of your books; do you find it challenging to write love/sex scenes?

Ann M.: I write extremely warm, and some have called the scenes hot. This is so much an individual preference that I don’t try to describe them beyond that. But I doubt any of my scenes would fit the “erotic romance” label.

I’m not very explicit about body parts, since love making is all about the emotions to me, not the mechanics.

The love scenes in the Magic Series can really be a challenge, in that the bonding that must take place between soul mates has to be spectacular. And just a little bit different each time. I’m beginning to worry that I’m running out of magic effects.

PNR: Tales of djinn, sorcerers and other wielders of magic have been with us since the oral tradition of storytelling. Why do you feel that magic is such a popular theme in storytelling? In the paranormal romance genre?

Ann M.: I think we all wish we could cast a spell to do something or other. Also, good and evil seem to be magnified when magic is involved. An author can investigate a theme or a concept or human nature in ways impossible with plain, ordinary humans.

PNR: What is it about the paranormal romance genre that captures your imagination? Is there a genre you haven’t written but would like to try?

Ann M.: I have always liked sci-fi/fantasy and paranormal stories, even before I started reading romance. The different worlds, the clash of cultures, the chance to do things in a story that are impossible in the real world. One of my absolute favorite authors is Lois McMaster Bujold.

I’m thinking about writing something futuristic next. I know I will probably never write vampires or shapeshifters. I like to read their stories, but writing them doesn’t appeal somehow. I have a couple of contemporary romance stories in the back of my mind too.

I read lots of historicals, but won’t write them either.

One of the best things about paranormal is: My world, my rules. I can make anything I want to happen in my world. I don’t have to fit into someone else’s vision of the world.

PNR: Congratulations on your February 2008 release of WINDSWEPT from Medallion Press. The story sounds intriguingly gothic; could you tell us about it? A sneak peek perhaps?

Ann M.: Thank you. I’m very pleased with this book.

Warning: a blurb was published on several sites that does not reflect the reality of the book. The blurb said something about a decaying plantation house and magic, none of which even exist in the book. And most of the story takes place in an ultra-contemporary home in Houston.

The gist of the story is as follows. Barrett, a young history professor, makes a deal with Davis, the owner of the records of the Windswept Plantation, to inventory the records and use what she finds in them to publish research papers and books. A crazy cousin of Davis claims the papers contain a “terrible secret” that will ruin the family name, and he tries to get or destroy the papers.
Interspersed in the contemporary romance story are entries from the journal of the antebellum mistress of the Louisiana plantation. Mary Maude starts out as a blushing bride of eighteen years. As the romance between Barrett and Davis gets better and better, Mary Maude’s situation gets more and more serious. The reader finds out what the terrible secret is at the same time as Barrett.
Then Davis must decide if he will let the secret come to life or lose Barrett trying to keep it secret.

This book is proof that my degrees in Southern history were not taken in vain.

I’d like to mention the wonderful job Medallion has done with the covers for my books. Each one seems to get better and better, more and more gorgeous. The cover on WINDSWEPT takes after the journal. On the Magic Series, they’ve worked off a heart image that also relates to the different magic in each book. The artist for all of them, Jim Tampa, is absolutely wonderful.

PNR: Could you tell us about your current projects, what can readers expect to see in the coming months?

Ann M.: YOUR MAGIC OR MINE? comes out in October of this year. WILD MAGIC is set for October 2009.

I’m working at the moment on “Magic5,” but I don’t have a title for it yet. I’ll be submitting it to Medallion soon and hope for a 2010 release. Then, on to “Magic6,” which features three tremendously powerful magic items, the Pinnacle of Heaven, the Depths of Hell, and the Veil of Serenity.

After that? I have some ideas percolating in my brain. We’ll see which one starts beating on the back of my forehead to get out.

PNR: Thank you, Ann, for taking time out to talk to us. Where can readers find out what’s new and how can they contact you?

Ann M.: The best place is my website, http://www.annmacela.com. You can always reach me at ann@annmacela.com. I really do want to hear from my readers—about both the good and the bad.

Thanks, PNR, for the opportunity to discuss my plans and stories.

Ann Macela
 
 
Website

Books

 

Buy it Now!

Medallion Press
October 28, 2007
ISBN #1933836164
EAN #9781933836164
380 pages
Paperback

 


Magic: Book 2

Do You Believe In Magic?

According to lore, an ancient force called the soulmate imperative brings together magic practitioners and their mates. They always nearly fall into each other’s arms at first sight. Always…or so the story goes.

But what happens if they don’t? What happens when one mate rejects the other—in fact won’t have anything to do with him? Who doesn’t even believe in magic to begin with?

Computer wizard Clay Morgan is in just such a position. Francie Stevens has been badly hurt by a charming and good looking man and has decided to avoid any further involvements. Although the hacker plaguing her company’s system forces her into an investigation led by the handsome practitioner, she vows to keep her distance from Clay.

The imperative has other ideas, however, and so does Clay. He must convince Francie that magic exists and he can wield it. It’s a prickly problem. Especially when Francie uses the imperative itself against him in ways neither it, nor Clay, ever anticipated.

 

Buy it Now!

Medallion Press
October 1, 2005
ISBN #1932815430
EAN #9781932815436
300 pages
Paperback

 


Magic: Book 1

Daria Morgan is a magic practitioner who uses magic and spells to do her everyday job as a management consultant. John "Bent" Benthausen is a CEO who, despite improvements in production, can't make a profit. He needs her help. With her special gifts, Daria gets right to the heart of Bent's problem—crooked employees. Crooked, vicious, employees who are now out to get Daria. Those are just Problems One and Two. Problem Three: An ancient force, an irresistible compulsion, called the soulmate imperative brings together magic-users and their mates in a lifelong bond. And it won't be happy until they surrender to the inevitable . . the Oldest Kind of Magic . . .

 
 

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