Today I have Allison Merritt on the blog telling us all about herself and her latest novel. Sit back, grab some popcorn, and enjoy.
1. Tell us a little about yourself.
I grew up in the Ozark Mountain region of southwest Missouri. I think that was a major influence on my writing. Harold Bell Wright's The Shepherd of the Hills is set in the Branson area and it was really the first book that attracted me to writing. I think I was about eleven or twelve when I read it. There's no other place in the world I'd rather be than at home in the hills. Walking and hiking is another passion of mine and we have plenty of places to do it, plus a Civil War national battlefield. I love history and you can almost feel it come to life around here.
My husband is a home-grown boy, but he's from the next county over. We both love the area, although he'd high-tail it to the Rockies if I'd let him. We live in the same house I grew up in with our bratty, kid-like dogs.
2. What genre do you write?
My most recent interest is steampunk. Of course, I have to put romance in there because I don't if I've ever written a story without romantic elements. My first love is historical novels and I have two unfinished manuscripts, but since I learned about steampunk, I don't know if I'll go back to them. I've also written a couple of short contemporary stories and I like that genre too.
3. Please tell us about your latest release The Treasure Hunter's Lady and how you came up with the idea.
The Treasure Hunter's Lady is set in 1884 between Boston and what was then Dakota Territory.
Romy Farrington seems to have the perfect life—a world-famous archeologist father, a pretty dowry and an upcoming marriage to a wealthy businessman. But to Romy, her new life among the elitists is like a punishment.
For years, she traveled the world at her father's side, exploring new lands and uncovering ancient secrets. It was everything she ever wanted, until a near-fatal encounter with hostile natives forced her and her father into a life of retirement in Boston and an undesired advance into proper society.
Everything changes again when she's saved from an accident by a brash Texan in a back alley. Abel Courte may act like a care-free cowboy, but he's harboring a secret—he's searching for the Diamond of Uktena, a legendary jewel that can cure any disease known to man. He needs information Romy's father has in order to get to the jewel. When he traces the origin of the Diamond to Dakota Territory, he sets off to claim the treasure, only to find the archaeologist's fiery redheaded daughter stuck to him like a bug in sap.
In a race against time, Romy and Abel must learn to trust each other as they undertake a cross-country journey that will expose them to lands uncharted by white men, a deadly battle against the fearsome creature in possession of the Diamond and a fight to return to civilization where they might make the greatest discovery of all—love.
The Treasure Hunter's Lady has kind of a crazy story behind it. A few years ago after a long break, I decided to start writing again and I was researching a historical romance set in Australia. I fell in love with everything I learned about that country (unfortunately, I've never been) and around the same time I was re-watched The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. I thought, wow, I would love to write a story with crazy paranormal elements and cool technology set in Australia. So the first draft, which is way shorter than the finished MS is set in Australia. When I started pitching and trying to get an agent, they all seemed repulsed by the idea of setting it out of the country and I ended up writing a version set in America.
4. Is it part of a series?
Yes. I'm planning three novels set in this steampunk world. I'm about three quarters of the way through the second one and have a few thousand words done on the third.
5. A must have snack while you write.
Lately I'm into popcorn. I like light butter because popcorn has a sweet taste of its own that I don't like to drown with salt and butter.
6. A fact that someone might not know about you.
This is kind of embarrassing, but I didn't learn how to ride a bike until I was 14. I had a really bad accident on one when I was 7 and I thought, nope, that's not for me. I'm really glad I learned though and I think it's a lesson that while you might have a goal and really want to accomplish something, sometimes you have to do more learning before you reach it.
7. Advice to writers who have yet to be published.
Find a critique group, either local or online. There's nothing better than getting together with people who share a similiar interest and experiencing the support they can give you and all the things they can teach you.
8. Is there a genre you haven’t written yet that you want to?
I'd love to write westerns, but I don't think I could ever reach the Louis L'Amour level. And they'd all have romance in them, so I might as well just write historical western romances.
9. What type of hero do you enjoy writing about?
I like my heroes to be funny. They have to have some alpha traits, because I'm just not a beta fan, but I feel like readers can understand them better if they have a sense of humor.
10. What are you currently working on?
Right now I'm working on The Sky Pirate's Wife. It's about the airship captain from The Treasure Hunter's Lady and the airship heiress he tricks into marriage. It's also got a paranomal element to it. I'm really into Native American mythology right now and so far it's been pretty exciting. I 'm hoping to release it this fall.
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