"New Worlds Are Our Oyster."
January 2001 Issue
By Candleglow ~ The Heralded Return of Gothic Romance!
NEW! PNR Poll: We Want More............Gothic Romances!
Colleen Shannon graduated cum laude from the University of Texas at Austin with a B.A. in Archaeology. Her combined love of history and science led her from a summer dig at an Ice Age site in Lubbock back to graduate Journalism school to work on her Masters. But, as so often happens, love, marriage and a first child intervened in her career plans. She took a semester break, eyeing the computer her talented engineer husband had built from Texas Instruments scrap. Why let it go unused?
Since the age of eight, when she began writing short stories, Colleen had always wanted to be a storyteller. Then, as now, she was a firm proponent of the old Texas truism: "Can't never could." Using the scrap computer, she wrote her first historical romance, sold it herself in less than a year, and at the age of 26 began a new career and never looked back. The strength of her first book led to her nomination by Romantic Times as Best New Historical Author. She went on to win and/or be nominated for numerous other awards, including a Kiss Award for all three heroes of her recent Fairy Tale trilogy.
Her thirteen single title releases have appeared on numerous chain store and on line bestseller lists. Her contemporary fairy tale romance, Heaven's Rogue, was recently chosen by Stephanie Hargreaves, Amazon romance editor, as a favorite fairy tale pick. Her newest book, The Wolf of Haskell Hall, January 2001, is a debut launch title for Dorchester's new gothic Candleglow line with major publisher promotion.
Colleen participates in two critique groups. Her latest interests include mainstream thrillers and screenplays. She's completed five scripts, and has had them requested and reviewed by some well-known Hollywood production companies, some requesting more scripts, and is presently at work on her sixth. However, she truly enjoys exploring the myriad possibilities between men and women, and she expects to celebrate her love of romance with many more novels.
PNR: The Wolf of Haskell Hall is one of two launch titles for the new Candleglow gothic line. Gothic romances have often been contain paranormal elements, a vision, a dream, perhaps a spirit. Your novel takes this concept a little further. The plot actually centers around a paranormal phenomena, correct?
Colleen S: Yes. The hero is a werewolf. Not one of the tortured, decent beings, but a real cursed soul whose destiny it is to kill the heroine, an American heiress. I loosely based my story on the classic Arthur Conan Doyle story The Hound of the Baskervilles. It was quite a delicate balancing act making him sexy, sympathetic and believable all at the same time, but feedback so far seems to indicate I succeeded.
PNR: You've written a number of historicals, however you are not a stranger to paranormal romance writing by any means. Among your works are a fairy tale trilogy, two renaissance related time travels driven by an angel. What inspired you to include these elements in your writing?
S: While I believe strongly in the power of
reason, I also believe passionately in the power of dreams and that
there truly are more things in heaven and earth,(to paraphrase a famous
editorial) than we dream of. I wanted to stretch my story telling skills
with something unusual that I'd never seen or done before, which is
how I came up with my Michelangelo's David coming to life story in Heaven's
Rogue. I also wanted to try my hand at a contemporary. My editor--bless
her, she's the best--also let me get away with a spiritual edge to the
tale that I think added a great deal of emotional
PNR: I think it's safe to say that The Wolf of Haskell Hall is darker than your previous paranormals, what influenced you to try your hand at gothic romance?
Colleen S: I cut my reading teeth on Victoria Holt, Mary Stewart and Jane Aiken Hodge. Those stories of moors, bogs and moonless nights made an indelible impression on me and I wanted to share my fascination with my readers. Though even then, the helpless, hand-wringing heroine was not for me. Anyone who reads The Wolf of Haskell Hall will, I think, agree that my heroine is anything but helpless. She couldn't be to single-handedly face down two werewolves, one good, one evil, and defeat a centuries old curse in the process.
PNR: Now that you've let the cat out of the bag regarding the werewolves, your application is not the new style romance variety i.e. a separate race of beings misunderstood and persecuted out of fear. Your characters suffer from Lycanthropy, a heinous progressive infliction which robs the victim of control eventually leading to execution or madness, correct?
Colleen S: Yes. I even researched it on the web to try to get the legend right, such as using silver leaves and cinders to ward them off.
PNR: This variety of werewolves have inspired horror novels but had been considered a bit too unsympathetic for the romance sub-genre. How do you make these beings sympathetic? Or do you? Do you think this concept will appeal to a wider range of readers?
Colleen S: Anyone with a love of dogs, such as myself, knows that they truly are man's best friend--with a streak of wildness if cornered or threatened enough. I have an English mastiff, and it wasn't so difficult to make the leap (pun intended since there's a key scene where the hero, in werewolf form, leaps from a tower) and imagine him as a strong, magnetic male. My hero is a Griffith, the heiress a Haskell, and, as in the original story, those of Haskell blood are cursed to die by canine attack. My heroine doesn't realize it when she arrives from Colorado to the even more dangerous wilds of the moors, but the one man she's destined to love is also the one man who's cursed with the need to kill her when the moon is full. I'm not really spoiling anything by telling this, I don't think, because this is pretty apparent early in the story. The conflict and tension come from the dynamics of this complex relationship. She both loves him and fears him, but it's only when her love proves stronger that she breaks the curse.
As to why it's still a sympathetic way to tell a romance...Lycanthropy isn't, after all, such a different demon to the equally consuming passions and addictions we face today. It's still only love that is powerful enough to break these bonds. As to how many of my readers my gothic will appeal to, well, hopefully, many. But I'm not an author who writes the same book over and over. I've done dark books before, such as Surrender the Night and parts of Gentle Beast, along with those that are lighter in tone, like Prince of Kisses.
PNR: You have a reputation for creating wonderful heroes, each of the heroes in you fairy tale trilogy won KISS awards. Dom of Heaven's Rogue was the inspiration for Michaelangelo's David. What makes your new hero, Ian Griffith, worthy of love in spite of his affliction?
Colleen S: When we meet Ian, he's just returned from wandering the ends of the earth to avoid the fate of his father, and his father's father. But the love of his homeland and the moors that gave him birth prove stronger. He finally returns home, only to be faced with the worst temptation of his life--a petite blond virago, not only a Haskell who makes his blood burn when the moon is full, but a sensual woman who makes his male urges burn even when the moon's not out. To further complicate matters, she's his boss. The delicate dance of desire and torment between them, with my own Sherlockian character and a truly evil werewolf thrown in, offered enough story dynamics to allow me to turn my tortured beta hero into an alpha male fiercely defending his mate. It was both a challenge and a true joy, speaking purely from a story-telling viewpoint, to write this complex story and hopefully that shows.
PNR: If I could draw a parallel between the heroes of your most recent lighter paranormals, Heaven's Rogue and Heaven's Hero, and Ian of your new gothic release it would be that they are all good men, who through circumstance have lost faith in themselves, in their worthiness, and ability to inspire love. They don't believe they deserve to be happy. I see the hero's redemption as being a major theme in these works, would you agree?
Colleen S: Absolutely, very perceptive of you. Redemption stories are some of my absolute favorites because they get to the very core of the differences between men and women and why we're so drawn to one another. I'm sure I'll explore this theme many times in future books.
PNR: The Lycanthropy is just one result of a gypsy curse. The curse not only involves the hero, Ian's family, but also the family of the heroine Delilah Haskell Trent. It is this curse which brings the American woman to Corwall. What is the connection between the two families? How does the curse bind them?
Colleen S: As in Doyle's story, Haskells are cursed to die by canine attack. My curse was also inspired by a gypsy, but in this case, she loved a Haskell and bore his bastard son a century before. He's adopted by the Griffith estate manager. But as she died in child birth, my gypsy ancestress suffered so much emotional and mental torment that she wanted to insure no blood of hers ever commingled with Haskell blood again. So she cast the curse. Delilah has to solve the riddle on her headstone to figure out how to break it. You actually meet the gypsy in a flashback scene, and any woman who's experienced child birth, I think, would have to sympathize with herdespite the fact that her pain led to so much misery and death.
PNR: Tell us a bit about Delilah? She must be very courageous to face her legacy.
Colleen S: She's the daughter of a proper English lady of Haskell birth and a penniless Scotsman who swept her off her feet to the gold fields of Colorado. They got wealthy beyond their wildest dreams but were, of course, never good enough for the Denver elite. So Delilah has become both fiercely independent and contemptuous of haughty snobbery. Even when her own estate manager is rude to her, when she sees how well he runs her estates and the respect the villagers hold for him, even when she learns he could one day threaten her very life, she won't fire him. And she won't run back to America. If she does, the Haskell estates will be broken up and parceled off, the miners and many farmers left homeless. So she stays, facing her deepest fears in hope they'll fulfill her fondest dreams. As, ultimately, they do. But again, it's not so much her strength, and certainly not her money, that make her equal to being the one to break this terrible curse. It's her love for Ian, and his love for her, that prevail.
PNR: Naturally Delilah must be able to get past her hero's affliction, which means there must be another factor threatening their happiness, the villain.
Colleen S: As already mentioned, yes, another character who starts as the alpha male but is ultimately dominated by Ian.
PNR: Do you have plans to write addition gothic novels, more paranormals? What is next for Colleen Shannon?
Colleen S: I have a spin off with my female Sherlock Holmes character--now a werewolf--on my editor's desk. This one is a different twist on the same family theme. In this case, the hero deliberately becomes a vampire to stop the centuries old vampire who's killed all his family. He's sort of an Angel of Death valiant vampire who, if he ever drinks of human blood, will be overcome by the affliction he hates. And of course, he's most compelled to drink of human blood when he meets the one woman he can love. He has no idea, nor does she, that she's half vampire herself and that she can be his ruin. But the evil vampire knows....and my Shelly Holmes character will be the heroine's mentor and will help stop the villain.
I also have a straight historical trilogy set against the Battle of New Orleans that is close to my heart. I plan to make them very sensual books, and all three heroes are best friends and appear in each book. I'm also actively working on screenplays and mainstream, as time allows. But I truly love writing romance and hope to continue for many more years.
Featured in this Issue:
A house and a proud people in need of the love and loyalty Delilah has always longed to give, yet never found a worthy outlet for.
But her greatest legacy is one she'll first long to escape and then learn to embrace. Ian Griffith, her estate manager, is also the last blood heir to a proud lineage. The moment she meets him, Delilah feels a visceral attraction that has nothing to do with logic and all to do with the mysterious bond of blood between the Haskell women and the Griffith men. A bond begun a hundred years ago with a full moon and a Gypsy curse. Every heiress to the estate will die, it is foretold, ripped apart by wolves. But Delilah is no shrinking English rose--she knows how to shoot a pistol, run an empire and reason like a man. But in this greatest challenge of her life, she'll find that the skills she needs most are those of a woman.
Is Ian Griffith truly the Wolf of Haskell Hall? Or merely a wild, powerful man as lost to their mutual fascination as she is? Delilah will risk everything to answer that question. Her lands. Her reputation. Her friends. Ultimately, she'll either live or die by the courage of her convictions: only one force in the universe is powerful enough to overcome centuries of evil.
Other Paranormal Titles
Out of Print Titles