September 28, 2012

Suspense: A Fist Full of Ashes @rannsiracusa

Fist Full of Ashes.
Welcome to Romance Lives Forever, Ann. Tell us about your book, All for a Fist Full of Ashes.
Author: R Ann Siracusa
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Publisher: Breathless Press
Cover artist: Staci Perkins
Length (words): 97K
Heat rating: PG, sensuous with a few explicit sex scenes,
Tagline: A young tour director and a handsome spy take a fast-paced romantic romp through Italy in pursuit of a lost grave, an assassin, and a once-in-a-lifetime love.
I’m Harriet Ruby: Tour Director Extraordinaire. At least, I thought I was worthy of that title, until…
My first mistake: Agreeing to conduct a private tour of Italy. Fourteen Italian-Americans from New Jersey? All family, for three weeks, with four teenagers? What was I thinking? Fate responds to my engraved invitation by placing one of the family under surveillance as a suspect in an assassination plot, and who is assigned to the case? None other than my favorite drop-dead-gorgeous spy, Will Talbot.
My second mistake: Allowing Will to coax an invitation from the family matriarch to join the tour.
And that was just the beginning. The matriarch, searching for the unknown location of her mother's grave so she can bury her brother’s cremated ashes (which have been smuggled into Italy wrapped in Cuban cigars), and her quirky family members sweep through Italy leaving chaos, hilarity, and danger in their wake.
What are your main characters' names?
Harriet Ruby and Will Talbot
Heroine, 25; Hero, 34
Harriet is a Tour Director for Adventure Seekers Travel in Rome
Will is a Europol undercover spy and an ex-Special Forces contract operative for the US government.
Tell us about your latest book, including its genre. Does it cross over to other genres? If so, what are they?
All For A Fist Full Of Ashes is the second novel in a romantic suspense series entitled Tour Director Extraordinaire. The lead characters are the same in each book, but the romance moves to a new level in each, while the external spy story is resolved.
I'd say this is cross-genre because it is more than 50% suspense and less than 50% romance. It's also humor. I could never sell to conventional romance publishers because my work is too action/story driven.
Meet Harriet Ruby, Tour Director Extraordinaire
Dead Man's Leg
She’s an intelligent, well-balanced but over-trusting young woman whose biggest problem is that she doesn’t have any real problems. For twenty-four years, her life has been good but predictable and ordinary. In book 1(All For A Dead Man's Leg), Harriet takes a position as a tour director in Europe, but instead of being a trainee, she is responsible for a small group touring Spain and Morocco. All goes well until she and her group get lost in the medina in Tangier…and one of her tourists dies.
Will Talbot, a handsome stranger and Europol spy in disguise, offers to help her smuggle the body out of Morocco. At that moment, Harriet’s once-predictable life turns upside down and will never be the same again.
Little does she know that getting out of Morocco is only the beginning.
Meet Will Talbot, Mysterious Spy
Tall, dark and to-die-for gorgeous, this spy and ex-Special Forces contract operative for the US government has a troubled past, huge issues with trust and guilt, and a calling to rescue innocent victims.
He’s everything perfect on the outside that a principled spy should be—intelligent, intense, self-diciplined, creative and intuitive, and with a great sense of humor to boot—definitely larger than life. But vulnerable on the inside and out of touch with his emotions.
Nothing in his action-filled, dangerous existence could have prepared him for Harriet Ruby.
Water And Fire
Harriet and Will’s intense magnetic attraction to each other creates a volatile combination. Together, they experience hilarious misadventures, great sex, and life-threatening journeys in pursuit of murderers, smugglers, terrorists, and a once-in-a-lifetime love.
All For A Fist Full Of Ashes
In Book 2 Will and Harriet have been seeing each other for a year and have agreed to a no-strings attached, sexual relationship, but there’s no denying the feelings are far more than casual.
They come together on the job in Italy. Harriet is conducting a private tour of Italy for an Italian-American family (fourteen relatives, for three weeks, with four teenagers). What was she thinking? Will has one of the family members under surveillance as a suspect in an assassination plot. He convinces the family matriarch to let him travel with the tour.
The family matriarch, searching for the unknown location of her mother's grave so she can bury her brother's cremated ashes (which have been smuggled into Italy wrapped in Cuban cigars), and her quirky family members sweep through Italy leaving chaos, hilarity, and danger in their wake.
How do you come up with ideas?
My inspiration is world travel. My initial interest in traveling came about because, being an architect, I was interested in how earlier cultures expressed their values, ideas, religion, and social customs in the buildings they built. I never expected travel and writing to come together, but they did. Now, when I travel, I look for unique things about the location or culture and try to imagine what might happen under those circumstances that wouldn't happen elsewhere.
When I read a book, I want to go places I haven’t been and do things I’ve never done. I want to be someone else. When I write, I want to share with readers the incredible wealth of culture and tradition, of architecture and scenery, from other countries that I’ve been fortunate enough experience. So most of my stories take place in other parts of the world where I’ve traveled.
Where do you start when writing? Research, plotting, outline, or...?
Usually something I see, hear, or read sparks an idea. For example, when I took a hot air balloon flight over northern San Diego County, we were drifting silently over huge and expensive residential estates. Very remote. Suddenly we came over the tops of some trees and startled several people on the ground below us who never heard us coming. They were so close I could read the expressions of surprise on their faces. And I thought, what would happen if a person was taking their first solo hot-air-balloon flight and came upon someone burying a body? (That’s one I’m going to write someday.)
Once I have an idea how the novel begins and a general idea of the ending, I think about what kinds of characters would be engaged by these circumstances, and come up with my lead characters.
I write four or five pages of back story, delving into the circumstances which lead up to the inciting incident. This is when I might do some initial research regarding real incidents I want to use. Some of the back story it is the characters' background, but not like the character profiles some writers use. Sometime pieces of the back story show up in the actual novel, most of it doesn't. It is information I need to write the story, but the reader doesn't.
After that, I prepare a one page outline that looks like a calendar – one box for each chapter, one sentence about what happens in each of the scenes in the chapter. Like a Story Board. Only the essential actions needed to move the story forward. "Joe kills Marcia." I identify the plot points in the chapter boxes. Many authors use 3x5 cards instead, so the chapters/scenes can be rearranged at will to try out other ways to play out the story.
Then, I actually start writing. Things change along the way, and sometimes they change enough that I have to change the story board. Most of the time, it's figuring out how Joe is going to kill Marcia and what happens when he does.
If you could give the younger version of yourself advice what would it be?
You mean, besides telling myself, “You’re nuts!”? Well, it would be very hard to limit my advice to one or two things, since I have a long list. And, truth be known, I probably wouldn’t have listened. I’m sure I heard these words of wisdom from others along the way.
First, I’d convince myself that my calling was to be a writer and not to put it off but start writing right away, which would include learning the craft, writing every day, and networking with other writers.
Second, my advice would be “Run away from home!” Advice which wouldn’t have been practical or possible but might have prepared me for the difficult task of juggling even more plates in the air than I already had. The important thing is to set aside the time to write and stick with it, in spite of your family and your job. Don’t allow interruptions, even if it’s only fifteen minutes a day.
Third, learn to write anywhere. Always have something with you and use whatever time is available to write.
Fourth, learn to “write by the rules” first. When you master them, then you can break the rules by making conscious choices. Bottom line: Most of us have to pay our dues.
Fifth, learn to take and use criticism, don’t get discouraged, and be persistent.
Sixth, prepare a career plan.
Are your stories driven by plot or character?
My novels are about 60% plot and 40% character driven. I find it hard to separate plot and character. To me, fiction is all about people reacting to circumstances and each affecting the other. If I put one set of characters into a given situation or story idea, it becomes this novel. But if I put different characters into the same situation, it will end up a different novel because they react differently. The characters’ reactions, in turn, affect the action/plot. Chicken and egg.
Family Secrets
What do you hope readers take with them after reading your work?
In my romantic suspense series, I want the reader to be transported to an interesting place in the world with exciting characters doing things and having experiences the readers wouldn't have in their own real lives. In that process, I hope they'll have fun and a good laugh or two and, at the same time, learn something about other countries and cultures. I want them to feel like they've been there. Nothing deep or profound, just fun, fast-paced, and sexy. An escape from the real world.
I can do deep, profound, and emotion-wrenching novels, but those aren't romances.
List two authors we would find you reading when taking a break from your own writing.
Dick Francis and Katie MacAlister. I aspire to write like a combination of those two authors. LOL
A biography has been written about you. What do you think the title would be in six words or less?
It's The Journey That Counts
If money were not an object, where would you most like to live?
Half the time where I live now (in San Diego) and half the time in Rome. Rome is still my favorite city. I know that's, in part, because I fell in love and got married there, but it's also a great place to live.
What song would best describe your life?
I'm not sure the whole song describes my life, but the title does.
I Wouldn't Have Missed It For The World.
As a child, what was your favorite thing about school?
Chasing the boys at recess (that was in grammar school).
Tell us an embarrassing story that has to do with a pet. If you have no pets, a story about a significant other will do.
This is a story about someone else's pet and my husband. Jerry, a friend of my two sons who lived about a block away, had a dog named Lady. Lady defied every effort to keep her locked in the back yard, and she really loved chasing things. She followed Jerry everywhere.
One Sunday morning my husband was out watering the front lawn and along came a neighbor riding her bicycle. And in her wake, nipping at her ankles and barking, came Lady.
My husband squirted water at the dog (and of course hit the woman, too) and yells, "Hey, Lady. Why don't you go home?"
Of course, the woman thought he meant her, not the dog. For years afterward, until we moved away, every time she and her husband drove past our house, she would point at it. You could tell by the way her mouth moved and her expression that she was saying unkind things about my husband's rude behavior.
If you came with a warning label, what would it say?
Caution: Hazardous to your health.
If I was a first time reader of your books, which one would you recommend I start with and why?
You could start either with Family Secrets: A Vengeance of Tears, which is a stand-alone historical (WWII) Mafia thriller. Or, if someone wants to read the Tour Director Extraordinaire series (romantic suspense) it's better to start with Book 1 – All For A Dead Man's Leg.
Please Fill in the Blanks
I love pizza with pepperoni.
I'm always ready for bed. It used to be because of the sex, now it's because I'm old and tired. How life changes!
When I'm alone, I write, quilt, or read…well, sometimes I try to catch up on housework.
You'd never be able to tell, but I enjoy opera and classical music as much as I enjoy today's rock music and riding a quad in the desert.
If I had a halo, it would be pretty lopsided.
If I could make the best seller list, I'd drop dead of shock (and delight).
I can never know if there are planets in other galaxies with intelligent life because I'm not likely to live that long.
My Booklist
All For A Dead Man's Leg – Book 1 in the romantic suspense series Tour Director Extraordinaire
First Date – Short Story 1 in the romantic suspense series Tour Director Extraordinaire
All For A Fist Full Of Ashes – Book 2 in the romantic suspense series Tour Director Extraordinaire
Family Secrets: A Vengeance of Tears
Books Coming Soon
Halloween in the Catacombs – Short Story 2 in the Tour Director Extraordinaire Series
A free read coming in October
Destruction of the Great Wall – Book 3 in the Tour Director Extraordinaire Series
Coming in November
All In The Game
Sci Fi Romance – Coming in November
R Ann Siracusa
First Christmas Follies – Short Story 3 in the Tour Director Extraordinaire Series
A free read coming in December
All For Spilled Blood – Book 4 in the Tour Director Extraordinaire Series
Coming in February 2013
I'll be having a contest in relation to my two releases in November. It will be a drawing for a B&N or Amazon gift certificate and some other prizes including ebooks. Details to be announced.
Find Me Here


  1. What a wonderful interview Ann! And all your books sound like exactly the kind of thing I love to read (and write). It's also nice to find someone else who loves opera--what's your favorite? Mine is Rigoletto. Meredith

  2. Your personality shines through your interview. Good job.

  3. I enjoyed this interview -- I've known you a long time and learned lots of new things. Thanks for being here today.

  4. As always, great interview. I love the story about your hubby and "Lady." I also learned things about you I hadn't known before. I like classical music, too but seldom listen to it. Good luck with all the new releases.

  5. Yes, what a wonderful interview Ann! I was able to know you more and you have something I did Chasing the boys at recess that remind me some souvenir
    You have very good books and I wish you great success for all those. I want to thank also
    Romance Lives Forever for having you

  6. Great interview! I look forward to reading these! Congratulations!


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