Monday, November 14, 2016

Interview with romantic suspense novelist Vella Munn

Romantic suspense author Vella Munn is kicking off a new week talking with me about Death Chant, which has paranormal elements. This is the first day of her tour, too.

During her virtual book tour, Vella will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble (winner’s choice) gift card to a lucky randomly drawn winner. To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below. To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit her other tour stops and enter there, too.

Vella Munn freely admits to being a dedicated and sometimes demented fiction writer. She has always been drawn to nature and those who feel at home in it. A career writer, she has had way over 60 books published, most of them romances both past and present. As far as personal statistics go, she has one husband, two sons, four grandchildren, and is owned by two rescue dogs. Home is southern Oregon within a two-hour drive of Crater Lake. She frequently visits Montana in her mind and heart.

Please share a little bit about your current release.
Death Chant takes place in what might be the most amazing place I’ve ever visited, Washington State’s Olympic Forest. This dense and isolated rain forest grabbed me by the throat the moment I entered it. I knew I’d found the perfect setting for a story about a woman looking for her heritage and the answer to the question of who murdered her mentor, the man she calls Doc. Death Chant is part romance, part mystery, part suspense, and part paranormal. Winter Barstow is an anthropologist and Jay Raven is a Native American forest ranger who resented Doc’s presence in the forest. Much as she’s drawn to Jay, Winter doesn’t dare entirely trust him. She suspects several people, including her boss at the university where she works, the regional director, the park librarian, and Jay’s brother. However, the threats they represent come second to trying to make sense of the wolf that might or might not be real.

What inspired you to write this book?
I’ve been wanting to write a story about Winter Barstow ever since she introduced herself to me. She was given that name by the people who found the toddler wandering around Barstow, California in the winter. She has Native American features but that’s all she knows about her heritage. She tries to convince herself that it doesn’t matter but it does. Also, I’ve written a number of books with wolves in them and the one featured in Death Chant insisted on a role. Jay, who must find a balance between his career and his tribe, asked me to help him with his journey. In other words, I was along for the ride.

Excerpt from Death Chant:
She went into the kitchen for a knife and then cut through the layers of tape. Inside the
package sat a reinforced cardboard box. She untangled the flaps to reveal a small mountain of wadded newspaper.
A crawling sensation stopped her from removing the newspaper. Suddenly, she wished she could walk out of the room. And yet, at the same time, anticipation made her pulse race. She pressed her hand against her chest then tossed the paper aside. Closed her eyes and reached in. She touched wood.
Wood. Smooth, with intricately carved curves and angles. She opened her eyes, carefully freed the object from its cocoon, and lifted it with numb fingers. Her heart rate kicked up even more as she placed it on the table. Then she stepped back to study what her mentor, a man who’d given her life focus, had sent.
A large, intricately decorated mask.
Of a wolf.
Painted red, black and white, and with pointed ears, abalone eyes, long snout and sharp teeth—teeth capable of tearing and killing.
            “How…” Childhood memories washed over her and her legs grew weak. Unlike the predator that had once been a vivid part of her dreams, the mask didn’t look alive. Yet it took her back to when her dream wolf had been the one good thing about her world. Either Sitka spruce or western hemlock had been used to form the base shape. Dried but intact hide stretched over the bridge of the nose, and tufts of brittle hair formed a dark halo. The teeth were bone fragments that had been glued or drilled into the jaws.
“Wolf symbolism,” she managed, her hand now at her throat. Native American
ceremonial. Surely stolen. “My God, Doc, what have you done?” Doc was a university anthropology professor, currently on a grant-supported field project. A professional like him didn’t remove artifacts from national parks. He didn’t break the law.
And yet he had.
She pulled her gaze away from the mask and stared at the road beyond her living room window, as if to assure herself that no one could see what she’d just unveiled. Fortunately, living in a small rental in the desert east of San Diego gave her elbow room and relatively few neighbors.
The mask was real. But why would Doc violate the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act getting it to her? The mask wasn’t worth a one hundred thousand dollar fine and a year in prison.
She circled the table, studying the mask from all angles. There was something compelling about the cold, lifeless eyes, as well as the challenge shown in the flared nostrils and fierce open mouth. A master carver had created it, as evidenced by the lack of tool marks. Her educated guess was that it had come from either the Makah or Quileute tribes living along the Washington coast. Then she noted the black accenting the eyes. No. This was more likely Hoh. Turning from the mask, she dug through the wrapping for a note, but she found nothing.
Suddenly weary, she pulled her cell phone out of the backpack that served as her purse and sank into her recliner. She had a message.
It had better be from the man who’d given her equal parts encouragement and lectures about doing something with her life. According to the automated voice, he’d called this morning.
“Where are you?” Doc started. “Winter, this has to be between the two of us. You’re the only one I can trust.”
Trust? What was this about? She shivered.
“I need you up here as soon as possible. There’s—I can barely bring myself to speak the words. I’m on to something beyond incredible. Something I believe is worth the risk I took. The danger.”

What exciting story are you working on next?
Thanks for using the word exciting because that’s how I feel about the romantic suspense series I’m doing that draws on my loathing of animal abusers. Punish, the first book in the series, just came out and I’m working on the others. There’s violence in Punish, but I hope readers agree with me that this is a subject that can’t be soft-peddled. Each book focuses on a different couple as they come to grips with the reality of several large dogs that exact their code of revenge on animal abusers.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
LOL. I can’t remember when I didn’t think of myself as a writer. I was raised in a remote mining/logging town where my mother was the only teacher at a one-room school. There was no such thing as TV, even radio reception but we had books. My first creative creation was a comic book with the Lone Ranger’s horse Silver. My younger sister wisely praised it so my career is all her fault.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
Writing has been my career for so long I no longer have any other marketable skills. That said, I don’t write all the time. I’ve found that my brain is good for about 3,000 words a day. I was responsible for my mother up until her death this spring. My husband is disabled and our son who lives with us has had four back surgeries so I balance writing and everything that goes with the title with Life 101.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Hmm. Good question. I love having Pandora radio on. Even if I’m not actively listening to it, the songs take me out of myself and into my fictional world. I write barefoot in summer, in slippers come winter.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
My sister and I were going to raise and train thoroughbred horses.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Just that setting is an important element in most of my writing. I’m a country hick. I don’t write about city settings because I can’t connect with something I’ve had very little experience with. Also, I’d rather dust than go shopping and I can put of dusting for forever.

Website | Facebook | Facebook Author Page | Amazon

Thank you for being a guest on my blog!
No, thank you for having me!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thanks for hosting!

Vella Munn said...

Wow, Lisa, what a great promo. I always feel a little strange tooting my own horn. You've done a spectacular job of it. BTW my one and only niece's name is Lisa so of course I love you even more. :)

JC Jones said...

Love finding new books.
great post.

Rita Wray said...

I enjoyed the excerpt, thank you.

Unknown said...

Congrats on the tour and thanks for the chance to win :)

Cali W. said...

Thanks for the giveaway; I like the excerpt. :)

Vella Munn said...

As I close things down and wait for the super moon to show up on the west coast, I want to again thank Lisa and everyone who responded. Reward time for all those solitary hours with the 'people' rattling around in my head.

Victoria Alexander said...

This sounds like a really amazing book, thanks for sharing :)