Please say hi to the totally fabulous Brenna Zinn today. Brenna, how about sharing some of your secrets with the public?
I know everyone asks this but why did you decide to write romance?
I’ve been writing romance since the 5th grade, though at the time I didn’t really understand the story was a romance. The book involved the princess of Toy Island that was captured by bad toys from a rival island. A brave Teddy bear rescued her and they lived happily ever after.
The thing is, I always have some kind of story rattling in my head and they all end up being romances – after you peel away the layers. I’ve come to think most stories have a sprinkle of romance in them one way or another. Heck, most television shows (except reality TV) has lines of romance running though them. Romance is universal and damned near inescapable.
What was the hardest thing you had to do when you started?
Learn the rules of writing romance. Oh those rules! You can’t head hop, “show” don’t “tell”, you need an internal and external conflict, try to write in third person, end with a happily ever after, yada, yada, yada. I still cringe when I remember seeing my first critique on a book I was working on. Poor thing was a bloody pulp. Even though the critiquer wrote, “You’ll get there. Don’t give up.”, it’s hard to recover from a jolt to the system like that. But I did and my writing became much better. Now the critiques I get are much easier to take. I thank each and every one of my critique partners who helped and continue to help teach me along the way.
What was the easiest thing?
Finding the story ideas. I’m not kidding when I tell you my head is absolutely filled to the brim with ideas. I’ve got more ideas than time to put all of them on paper.
How long did it take you to finish your first manuscript and where did the idea come from?
Much to my daughter’s dismay, I never finished the first manuscript I started. It’s hiding beneath my bed where it hopes to be resurrected one day. Unfortunately I’ll need to invoke some kind of gypsy hocus pocus on it to get it breathing again.
The first story I finished and had published was actually a short story I wrote for True Romance magazine. First let me confess that True Romance stories are not true. Sorry to let the cat out of the bag there. My story, titled Princess Dress, appeared in the October 2006 edition. I had a co-worker read the story. When she told me she cried at the end of it, I was hooked. I truly felt a thrill at the ability to evoke strong emotion from my work.
Tell me about your first contract.
The contract itself was no big whoop, but the feeling of pure excitement at getting it and putting my name on it was positively euphoric. Though I only made about $250 from that story, I celebrated with a bottle of champagne and a box of Godiva chocolates. I’m sure my neighbors wondered what the heck the party was all about. I can be pretty loud when I’m excited.
Do you base any of your stories on real people or places or events?
As a rule, no. But I do admit to being influenced by people. I must confess that when I meet a particularly interesting person, I try to write down as much as I can about their mannerisms, their behavior, and their looks, then use that info when I start developing characters. I once had an instructor who became the force behind a character in a story that completely stole the scene. He and the character were hoots.
What gets you in the mood to write?
When a story that’s been banging around in my head finally has all the pieces together, then I’m ready to stick my butt in the chair and get crackin’. I may not know exactly how the story is going to go from chapter to chapter, but if I don’t have a clear idea of the internal and external conflict, as well as a deep understanding of who my characters are, I cannot write. Not even a strong Sailor Jerry run and diet Coke can make my fingers do their magic if I’m not positive about those important elements. Trust me. I’ve tried.
Where do you see yourself 5 years from now? 10 years?
One goal I have for 2013 is to write my first full-length story. This has a great impact on the next 5 to 10 years. Once I get that book under my belt, I truly do see myself as a New York Times bestselling author. I don’t say lightly. I believe in positive self talk and telling the universe what I want, fully expecting the universe to deliver. I read in The Secret about this. If it works for other people, I’m going to make it work for me too.
What do you enjoy most about being an author?
Fan mail. I get the biggest kick from receiving e-mail from people who have read and enjoyed my books. I think this goes back to my first published story and my coworker crying after reading it. I want my readers to feel emotional about the stories I write and the characters I create. But I don’t know how they react to stories until they share that information. So those e-mails I receive are pure gold to me.
Okay, quick fun questions:
Favorite ice cream: I’ve become a HUGE frozen yogurt fan. The flavors at my local yogurt shop change all the time, but I they always serve vanilla. I love vanilla frozen yogurt with a strong vanilla flavor. Chocolate is a very close second.
Favorite music: Alternative. I have Sirius Radio at home and in my car. It’s always on channel 36 – Alt Nation.
Favorite movie: The Quiet Man with John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara. I watch that movie at least once a year. Love the story, love Ireland, love how well the actors did in the movie. If you haven’t seen it yet, do yourself a favor and check it out. You’ll love it – promise.
Favorite time to write: When the story is about to burst from my pores. There’s no special time of day or a special place I go to write. I’ve written in busy hotel lobbies, my home office, and coffee shops.
If you could be stranded with a movie or television star who would you pick?
Steve Martin. To begin with, I’ve always had a crush on him. He’s incredibly funny, but he’s also amazingly smart and deep thinking. He’s truly a modern day Renaissance man. He acts, he’s a comedian, he plays a banjo, he writes books and plays (check out his play Picasso at the Lapin Agile.) If you haven’t read his book Pleasure of My Company, do. It’s a glimpse into his genius.
If someone played you in a movie who would it be and why?
I’ve been told I look like both Sally Field and Elizabeth McGovern. I’m not sure if that’s true or not, but having either one of these ladies play me in a movie would be a real treat.
And now about the book.
It’s 1998, and what a great year it’s been for independent yet sexually submissive, Emma Sutherland. She’s secured a great job teaching at the local university, bought a dream house in the country with its very own dungeon in the basement and found a masterful Dom who fulfills her every desire. Who could ask for more?
Chet Crosby can. Having hot, kinky sex with Emma is no longer enough. He wants to take care of her outside the dungeon and have a real relationship, which she’s not ready for. Ready or not, the horrifying and unexplainable occurrences in Emma’s home have her scared, and Chet’s more determined than ever to protect the woman he loves. Even if doing so means facing unimaginable terror.
Chet placed his arm under Emma’s bent knees, then lifted her legs. When they were high enough that he could see the familiar curves of her apple bottom, he stopped. “You have disobeyed me. This is your punishment.”
He raised his hand over his shoulder and held his position. Emma didn’t need to know exactly when his palm would strike her ass. Better to prolong the suspense. Anticipation was such a decadent tool to use with a sub. As far as she knew, she would stay in this position for hours until he delivered the blow.
A sudden movement in the kitchen distracted Chet. A shiver registered on his skin as the temperature plummeted. He flicked his gaze in the direction of the stirring, but nothing looked out of the ordinary. The bright kitchen and the white table and chairs appeared untouched. Unmoved.
Out of the corner of his eye, he detected another movement. Something black. No more than four feet in height. When Chet shifted his eyes to see what the object was, there was nothing. Only clear countertops and an empty hallway leading to the living room.
Chet mentally shook his head. When was the last time he’d had his eyes checked? Three years? Five?
Realizing he still had his hand high over his head, ready to deliver Emma’s punishment, he decided it was time. His dick was hard and he wanted to feel the tight walls of her pussy coaxing him to come.
Yet a noise, quiet but growing louder, buzzed close by. He strained to identify the sound.
He turned his head left and right, taking in every inch of the pantry and kitchen. Nothing he could see would generate such a strange hum. Not even a trapped insect trying to escape out a closed window. But the buzz was there, growing louder by the second.
He jerked back when he thought he detected mumbled words within the buzzing. A man’s voice, deep and forceful, whispered directly into his ear. At the same time a powerful mixture of anger and rage overwhelmed his senses, filling him as though he were an empty vessel.
She’s been willfully disobedient. She must be trained to obey.
Hit her hard. Hurt her. Ensure she knows you are her Master.
Chet glanced back at Emma. She gave no indication she heard anything out of the ordinary.
The woman is your slave. Your bitch. Your cunt.
Punish her. Make her writhe in pain.
Chet shook his head to rid himself of the angry voice provoking him.
NO! Chet silently shouted in his mind. I will not harm her. This is for her pleasure, not mine.
Tensing his arm, he swung down and slapped her bare ass with his hand. Though he restrained from hitting her too hard, the resulting loud smack broke the silence of the room. Chet remained unmoved as the sting of the spank traveled up his arm. The throb, heightened by the chill in the air, registered with his cock, which twitched beneath his jeans.
Despite the strike to her rear end, Emma made no further sound.
You’re no Dom, the voice admonished.
Once again the odd noise buzzed in Chet’s ear, but the intense feelings of anger and hatred melted from him. A streak of darkness on the edge of his peripheral vision pulled his gaze over his shoulder. He studied the limited view of the hallway from his place on the stairs.
He ran his fingers through his hair. Between the weird voice and the crazy tricks his eyes were playing on him, he was losing his fucking mind.
Concentrate, damn it. Don’t let Emma down. She’s depending on you to take this scene to completion.
Out of guilt or for good measure, he wasn’t sure which, he struck Emma’s ass again. She absorbed the pain, uttering not a word, moving not a muscle.
Satisfied he’d punished her sufficiently, Chet lowered his arm, allowing her legs to rest back on the steps leading down to the dungeon. He repositioned himself, then slid his hand up her thigh to remove her panties.
A crash, as though something heavy and breakable had been thrown to the floor, sounded from one of the rooms on the second floor.
Emma jerked upright and turned. Alarm filled her hazel eyes. “Did you hear that?”
“Yes.” Heart racing with a jolt of adrenaline, Chet grabbed the railing and pulled himself up. He stepped past Emma into the kitchen, fully prepared to kick ass and ask questions later if he had to. “Any idea what that was?”
“No.” She reached for her clothes. Without bothering to put on her top, she held the blouse like a flimsy shield in front of her chest while fumbling to put on her shorts. “It sounded like it came from my bedroom.”
Chet rushed to a counter and pulled a large knife from a butcher-block knife stand. The sharpened edge of the blade glinted in the last remaining rays from the setting sun. “I know how you feel about me roaming around your place outside of the dungeon, but you said you saw something in your room last night. I need to check this out.”
As he turned to leave, she stood and caught his arm. Lines of worry creased her forehead. A shadow of unease covered her expression like a dark mask. “I’m sure it’s nothing. Just something that fell by accident. I probably didn’t set something on my nightstand properly and it rolled off.”
“Whatever that was couldn’t have been sitting on your nightstand. It sounded huge.” He tried to pull away from her grasp, but she tightened her grip. “What? Why don’t you want me to go upstairs?”
She frowned and shook her head. “You don’t understand. I need a place I can go that’s all my own. A private place that’s just for me.”
So you don’t have to get too close to me. That’s what you really mean.
Impatience mixed with the adrenaline already pumping into his blood and muscles. “I do understand, but your safety is more important to me than your privacy. Let me go.”
“Okay.” Emma sighed as she removed her hold. She tugged on her blouse. “But I’m going with you.”
Unwilling to waste any more time, Chet nodded and ran down the short hallway. Emma followed closely behind. After reaching the bottom of the stairs, he used his long legs to his advantage, taking two steps at a time. He stopped at the second-story landing to catch his bearings. Never having been on this floor before, he wasn’t sure which door lead to her bedroom.
“This way.” Emma edged past him, taking a sharp turn to the left.
With his free hand, Chet grabbed the back of her shorts and stopped her in her tracks. “Me first. I’m the one with the knife in my hand. Remember?”
Taking the lead, he grabbed the door handle and took a deep breath to calm his nerves. He swung the door open, holding the knife high in the air, ready to strike.
Near a bank of windows a cardboard box lay on its side, its top flaps up and open. The contents of the box, mostly picture frames and knickknacks, littered the carpeted floor. The force of the fall had scattered pieces of broken glass all the way to the foot of Emma’s neatly made bed. Other boxes stood precariously stacked against the wall.
“See. No big deal. One of my boxes fell.” Emma knelt and picked up a large shard of glass.
The short hairs on the back of his neck rose as Chet entered the room and glanced around. When he saw the back wall, his blood ran cold. His grip tightened on the kitchen knife. Unable to utter a word, he tapped Emma’s back.
When she looked up, her gaze darted from his face to the wall. A full heartbeat passed before she caught her breath and let out a horrified scream.
Buy the book at Ellora’s Cave, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other digital bookstores.
Be sure to visit www.brennaziin.com and find her on FB and Twitter