Please welcome author Diane Zhivago to The Clog Blog. Diane, tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I’m a Gemini. I’m also a Canadian. I live in Newfoundland, Canada in a quaint little seaside town with my husband, our 20-year-old daughter who’s still in college, and our 12-year-old son. I’m also stepmom to my husband’s eldest daughter and step-grandma to two beautiful little boys, 8 and 6. I’m a veterinary assistant by trade, though I’ve worked at everything from postal delivery to heavy equipment operator for Canadian National Railway. I’ve been writing stories since childhood. My mother was a lover of books and reading and passed on that love to me, so when I ran out of reading material I would sit down and make up my own stories and then read them to my family or friends. I wrote my very first manuscript when I was about 12 or 13. It’ was over 400 pages handwritten—a romance story involving a boy I had a crush on at the time and with all of my friends as characters.
How do you make time to write?
At the moment I am not working so I usually write during the day when everyone is at school or work. I carry around a notebook everywhere I go (like to my son’s football games) so that I can jot down any ideas I have for stories or scenes and conversations that might pop into my head.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
Definitely! But I find that the best cure is to just sit and read…get absorbed into a story that’s not your own making. Us writers usually start out as avid readers and reading really does kickstart your imagination so when the words aren’t flowing, I’ll usually take a break for a day and just read.
Tell us a bit about the genre you write and why you love it?
I write steamy romance. Mostly paranormal though I don’t consider myself locked into that category. I do enjoy it though! My favorite books to read are paranormal…vampires, werewolves, ghosts, witches; I love all of it! And it’s so fun to write! You can really let your imagination soar when you write paranormal. My family is of Irish descent, so I grew up with stories about shapeshifters, witches, fairies and such. I think that played a huge part in why I love to read and write paranormal romance. And who doesn’t love great sex in a romance book, right? My paranormal romance stories have it all!
How are you publishing your recent book and why?
I have five books published as an Indy author. I had submitted in the past to a publishing company but the rules and regulations of word length, descriptive language allowances, etc. just made it so hard to get my style of writing to pass all the checkmarks, though I came very close a few times. As an Indy author, I get to write MY story, MY way, and I like that. I like having the freedom of being an Indy author.
Are you an Introvert or an Extrovert? How does this affect your work?
I’m an Introvert mostly…though, being a Gemini I can’t truly lay claim to it wholeheartedly. I’m very at ease with my own self and my own thoughts. I can live happily inside my head and I don’t really long for the company of the human variety. In a crowd I’m never at the center of attention—I hate attention—and yet I can work a room if I have to but it’s an act…not the real me. I like watching people, studying them. I’m good at conversation when I have to be, but I abhor small talk.
I’m a very private person. That’s been the hardest part of being a published author. Talking about myself and my writing isn’t something I’m used to doing and I haven’t figured out a character to be when I’m doing it, so I’m still in my learning curve.
What is your favorite motivational phrase?
My Grandmother used to always tell me,
“As long as you believe in the faeries, there’s always a possibility you’ll see one someday.”
I think that’s motivated me throughout the years to always look for the wonder and joy in the world…to see the magic in every day.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Don’t give up. Don’t worry about the critics. Reviews are only opinions so take them with a grain of salt. And the most important thing…write the whole story first! Before you fix it. Before you go back and re-edit that chapter for the tenth time…finish the story! The mistakes will wait. It’s more important to get the story out of your head and onto the paper first. You can get lost in editing…write the whole story!
Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?
I’m on Facebook, www.facebook.com/dianezhivagoauthor
My web page is, www.dianezhivago.webnode.com
And you can find me on Amazon under my Author Central profile at www.amazon.com/author/dianezhivago
Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share with us?
I’d love to share a little peek of my latest release with you. Pride & Predator is the fourth book in my Therion Beast series of Paranormal romance. It’s available on Amazon. The excerpt is from Chapter 2.
Inside, the seedy Montreal bar was a welcome relief from the sleet and snow of the Eastern Canadian winter. Gregor moved through the bodies of people packed tightly together in the club, his gaze locked onto his target while his companion, Aurora, followed closely behind; her mate, Matthew, waited in the black SUV just outside in the alley behind the dive.
At least Leanna had the sense to take a table far enough away from the crowd of people dancing. He grimaced, wondering why such meetings had to take place in such unsavory settings. What was wrong with an elegant restaurant as the backdrop for such matters? He cast a sideways glance at Aurora who was still diligently scanning the crowds, her senses on alert for anything that might indicate a threat. Even as she perused her surroundings, though, he couldn’t help but notice how her body seemed to move to the music blaring from the extra-large speakers on either side of the DJ’s table. Aurora was young, barely into her twenties. She fit into this crowd with her leather jacket, multiple piercings, and colorful hair. He, however, was decades past his one-hundredth birthday—though still quite young for his kind—not that he actually felt young at the moment. He sighed, his thoughts needing to be put on hold as he approached the table where the middle-aged blonde woman was seated, waiting for him.
Leanna smiled as he took the seat next to her, leaning in to kiss her softly aging cheek. He introduced Aurora as his niece, though he was certain Leanna knew she was nothing of the kind. The older woman accepted the presence of the younger woman without question, as he knew she would. Leanna was—along with other things—trustworthy at the least. She refrained from asking too many questions, another reason why he had reached out to her for this particular job. There were very few humans whom Gregor trusted. But Leanna was one of them.
Her eyes sparkled as she gazed at him now. “It is so good to see you, Bastian,” she said, in her careful English, the accent of her Acadian heritage still thick on her tongue. “You have not changed one bit in the years since we last met. Unlike me.”
Gregor inclined his head. He knew that she was ribbing him in the way she normally did. She was aware that he was not human—not exactly human, at least. But that was as far as her knowledge went. She had been a young child when he’d first met her. Lost in the woods where he’d been hunting. He had carried her out, brought her to an area where the men searching could easily find her. And he’d waited, albeit hidden from their view until she’d been discovered and returned safely to her distraught mother. She had told no one that it had been he who saved her, as he’d asked. A child who was capable of keeping a secret was a special child indeed, and so Gregor had kept in contact with her, unbeknownst to her family. He had watched her grow into a beautiful woman who was still capable of keeping secrets.
“I must say, I like this…”
She reached out toward him and stroked the side of his face where the full beard he had worn for decades was now shaved, trimmed, and tightened into a well-formed, goatee that managed to make him look as though he were in his early thirties.
“You look younger, without the beard. I suspect you would barely pass for thirty without this.” She gave the hair at his chin a slight tug, her lips curving suggestively.
Gregor grasped her hand and gently kissed her fingers before placing it meaningfully on the table. Their time together was in the past. Where it should be. What affair they may have had was long over.
She smiled at him ruefully. Her gaze drifted over to Aurora. “Your uncle is a man of singular determination, no?” She chuckled to herself, not waiting for Aurora to answer. “Here is the information you were seeking. I assume I will find my bank account has been sufficiently updated?” She chuckled again.
Leanna would gladly offer her services for free; Gregor had been the one to insist on payment… especially now that they were no longer involved intimately. He did not believe in using women. Both parties should gain from the relationship. And so, when their short-lived affair ended, Gregor saw to it that Leanna was well taken care of. She would always be important to him. A dear friend. He was not a man who took that lightly.
He looked down at the large brown envelope she was sliding toward him on the table. He reached for it, extracting the 8 by 10 black and white photograph inside.
“This was taken a few weeks ago in North Sydney, Nova Scotia. The woman in the picture was going by the name of Eve Radcliff. She purchased a pass for the ferry to Argentia and was checked in as a passenger in a domestic vehicle.”
Gregor stared at the photo. In it, the woman was wearing a white baseball-style cap, her long, pure white hair was pulled through the back. She wore a matching white hoody, dark jeans, and sneakers. Dark glasses hid her eyes from view, but nothing could erase those eyes from where they had burned into his memory. Electric blue—unnatural, even without any sign of her beast. She looked young, beautiful, and human—the latter of which she was definitely not.
Leanna was looking at him. “Is she a friend of yours?”
Gregor pressed his lips together and slid the picture back into the envelope. “You will mention this to no one,” he said by way of an answer to her question.
“Of course not.” Leanna was a smart woman. A man who did not age in the forty-plus years she had known him was not a man one should defy. She accepted another kiss on her cheek then watched him as he stood. “It was wonderful to see you again, Bastian,” she said, sincerely.
“And you, Leanna. You will take care of yourself?”
She smiled, her eyes warm if a little misty. “As always, old friend.” Her gaze followed him as he moved away from her, his niece falling into step just beside him.
Aurora looked up at Gregor as they walked away, her pierced eyebrow lifted in question. “Bastian?”
Gregor gave an uncomfortable shrug. “It is my given name.” He did not like talking about himself. Ever.
“Bastian Gregor. That’s your name?” He heard Aurora give a low whistle. “You can live with someone all these years and not know a single thing about them.” She shook her head.
“Gregor Savage, is my name.” It was his badge of honor as well. Captain of the Alpha guard, bodyguard to the Alpha. His name signified his exalted rank within the clan, something he was proud of.
“Wait.” Aurora’s eyes were narrowing as her brain was busily dissecting this new information. Gregor had to resist rolling his eyes at her, the young pup was exasperating at times. Had she not been one of his best assassins and a damn good guard, he’d have probably strung her up by her ears long ago. “Nicolai’s middle name is Sebastian, is he—”
Gregor sighed heavily, knowing she would not stop until she had her answers. “I am his godfather; his second name was given to honor that.” There. Now she knew. His connection to the Alaskan Alpha was deeper than mere rank. Which was why failing Nikolai, as he had, was not something he could live with. The intense need to find the woman in the photograph, Eve Radcliff, was more than a deep sense of duty…it was a matter of deep pride for Gregor. As long as she was free, the knowledge that he had failed his Alpha would eat him up alive.
They left the bar and headed out into the blustery Montreal night, turning onto the street and making their way toward Matthew and in the black Chevy Tahoe.
“What now?” Aurora wanted to know, pulling the hood of her jacket up to warm her ears.
“Now you go back to Raven Falls,” he told her, “and I go to Newfoundland.”
He could hear the doubt in her voice. “You are needed in Raven Falls, Aurora. This has nothing to do with you.”
“But you might need me!” She stopped walking, forcing him to stop as well and turn to her. He was aware of Matthew’s gaze watching them from inside the SUV. Her sielos draugus mate was rightfully protective of her, though, being only a half-blood Therion, he was strongly outmatched against any of his own kind. That fact never seemed to enter Matthew’s mind, however, especially when defending Aurora was on the table and, even without an ability to change, he had been proving his inner beast—though unable to manifest—was a powerful one.
“I get it, Gregor,” she was saying to him now, “I understand you think you somehow let Niko down by letting Eve get away. I feel the same way. I met her first, remember?” She was shaking her head, her moonlight blue gaze beseeching him. “We—none of us—had any idea what she was at the time. For all we knew, she was an innocent prisoner, like so many of our kind. We had no idea of what she was capable of… what she’d done…”
Gregor found he couldn’t meet her gaze. What she was saying might have been true for her, but… “She told me she was the one they sent to lure us in… the one they sent to destroy us when they were done…” even now, saying the words out loud, his stomach twisted with his deep sense of failure. He had been given an opportunity to stop Eve, and he’d let her slip from his grasp… mesmerized by her beauty, even his beast had been unable to do what was necessary.
“We were in the middle of a war!” Aurora exclaimed. She held a hand up to stave off Matthew when he would have gotten out of the SUV. “You were in fight-mode, Gregor. Defending your life and the Alpha. She was nothing more than a prisoner trying to escape. How were any of us to know that she was one of Radcliff’s experiments? That she’d been born and raised in captivity like an animal?”
“She is an abomination! I should have destroyed her when I had the chance!”
Aurora’s eyes widened at his angry outburst and he felt ashamed at his loss of control. He was a creature who prided himself on control. “And what of Matthew?” Aurora was asking now, the hurt his word had caused evident in her soft voice. “He was an experiment of Radcliff’s—while not raised in captivity, he was created there… experimented on all those years without his knowledge or consent. Is he an abomination too?”
He couldn’t bring himself to respond. He felt Aurora’s small hand in his and looked down at her. She was the smallest in their clan in stature only; her bravery and personality seemed too much for such a tiny creature. Her eyes searched his, probing and earnest. “We are Therion, Gregor. One blood, one race, whether we are all or some, as the sielos draugus whom we cherish and protect… you taught me that, old man. Perhaps now is the time for you to listen to your teachings—old, wise, and ancient one.”
Gregor couldn’t help the twitch in his lips that threatened to turn into a smirk as he listened to Aurora’s little speech. But she was right, of course. Eve was Therion, no matter what Radcliff had managed to do to her. But it was still his responsibility to find her and bring her in. Therion Law was absolute. Her crimes against her own kind were punishable by death. At the very least, the Dominai sought to learn from Eve… to find out exactly what it was that Radcliff had done to her. They expected her capture. Planned to glean as much information they possibly could from her. And then she would be destroyed—her dept for her crimes would be paid with her life.