It's a wonderful day to have Ann back on the Scribbler. This is her second visit and she talks about the craft of writing. A special treat awaits you, dear reader, as she shares an excerpt from her latest work, Nightshade.
If you missed Ann's previous visit, you can read more about her and her work by going HERE!
It’s a tough call, being an artist. It’s like chasing the rabbit down the rabbit hole, into the unknown. We’re not so afraid of what we’ll find; rather we are afraid of what we might never find. We race against ourselves though we don’t always realize it. We are our own competition. How much deeper does that rabbit hole go? How close can we get to that rabbit? At any point, we could stop chasing the rabbit; turn around; change direction. But we don’t. We’re compelled. Driven. We’re driven to succeed – to create something – to catch the prize.
It works like this…
Writing demands a lot of time, commitment, energy, and an open mind. Defining your craft is not an easy task; perhaps there is no real need to define it, but only to accept it for what it is. One word at a time, one page at a time, a story is born.
As the author, there are times when I am creating the story, but there are also times when the story is creating itself and I am simply jotting the events down on the page as I see/hear them. Achieving complete emotional identification with the story and one or more characters is my ultimate goal. This allows me to immerse myself into a strong, imaginative storyline. Accomplishing this ‘triggers’ my commitment to the project.
There are characters that become an extension of you, and this is especially true about (the character of) Darion Rhys. This journey, writing this series, has been profound and empowering. Darion and I have been through a lot together. Conflict is an important subject in literature. The Rising series explores themes such as identity crisis, authority and control, rebellion, and love.
Darion was trained to be a soldier. She was raised to follow rules and to comply with those in power. She’s never had full control over her life. She is sixteen in the first book, a sensitive time in life when raging teenage hormones begin to disrupt our views and opinions about life, love, and identity. She questions not only the social order, but the intentions of those around her as well. Darion is on a wild emotional roller coaster, and it ultimately strengthens and defines her sense of self.
The series also looks at the subtleties involved around love triangles. There are three young men in Darion’s life–one she loves dearly; one who loves her dearly; and one who has and represents everything a young lady should be in love with—money, influence, power. Given her situation, does Darion have the right to fall in love?
Enjoy this sample from the newest book in the series, Nightshade. A series of events has placed Darion exactly where her family wanted her—in a position of influence. But this has also placed her in the clutches of the Rothwell family, and specifically, on the arm of the youngest heir, Johnny. After her new title was announced to the world, her rebel family moved in and rescued her from the Rothwell mansion. She can be safe now—but for how long?
Ann Knight books can be ordered by visiting: annknightfiction.com.
An excerpt. (copyright is held by the author. Used with permission)
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Dark black billows of smoke choke the sky. This is my first taste of freedom in a long time and I’m not sad that it is cutting into my honeymoon. I didn’t want to marry Johnny. I didn’t want to become Mrs. Rothwell. Sitting in the back of the helicopter, I feel both grateful and eager to be heading far away from the craziness that has held me captive for so long. My father rescued me from the Rothwell mansion right on time. He couldn’t get me out of there fast enough. I thought I was going to be doomed forever—Johnny’s wife—but his prisoner in reality.
The helicopter is flying over the mountains and I can see the destruction below us with my own eyes now. Wide pockets of fire incinerate the forest, devouring the beautiful green space that rebels call home. It won’t be long before the fire wastes it all. Soon there won’t be anything left. It breaks my heart. The helicopter veers right, making my stomach roll. The overhead thrumming of the blades is deafening. I’m sitting beside another rebel across from my father and a second rebel that I don’t recognize. My dad’s steel-blue eyes find me, and even in the dark, I can see the concern and agitation behind them. I draw in a deep breath, relieved that he came to rescue me in person. Any other man would have sent someone else to do the job, but my father would rather have died than to do that. It’s in his expression now—a dad’s determination and love.
Uncle John is flying the chopper and though he’s keeping it steady, I’m still feeling queasy. Maybe that’s because I’ve just been plucked out of my so-called life for the umpteenth time now. Hopefully this time I’ll get to stay with my family for good because it’s annoying to keep going back and forth like this. In one life I get freedom, in the other confinement. I’d rather a slice of freedom on any day.
“We’ve got company!” Uncle John shouts.
“At least we got a head start!” my father calls back.
I can see them now. The two black specs in the distance are twin Gunship Helicopters. They are used by law enforcement in combat situations and are equipped with AEP’s – Anti-Electronic Pulse magnets that can send us down pretty quick. We’re in a standard Squirrel helicopter—it’s light and acrobatic, but it has no weapon system on board.
“Find a place to land,” my father instructs, “before they shoot us down!”
The chopper veers sharply and I grab onto the side cable until we straighten out again. I don’t know how we’re going to land in this mess. We’re cutting through swells of thick black smoke and it’s wafting into the back of the chopper, choking us. My father reaches over and pulls the front of my sweater up over my mouth and nose.
“Brace yourselves!” Uncle John yells, taking us into a momentary nosedive. The landing is harsh but it isn’t technically a crash. Uncle John has flown just about everything and he’s a pro with emergency landings. Our chopper plummets towards the ground and swooshes upwards at the last minute. The maneuver catches an updraft and we hover for a few seconds before we ‘fall’ into park like a toy drone in the hands of an expert tech. As soon as the landing skids hit the ground, everyone bails. My father takes my arm and we jump out after everyone else, meeting Uncle John around the side.
“They’re here!” Uncle John shouts over the slowing rotors. The two Gunships have us in sight. We run in the direction of the trees as the helicopters come down to land next to ours. The tree branches whip me in the face. I readjust the hoodie on my sweater, losing my balance as my foot sinks into a patch of softer ground. My sandal snags an exposed root and I trip, falling face-first on the ground. Pulling my legs into my chest, I grab my foot and bite down on my lower lip as pain shoots up my leg.
“Darion,” my father’s hands are on my shoulders.
“I’m good,” I strain, getting to my feet. My hands are sticky. I realize that my foot is bleeding but it’s too dark to make out the wound. My father wraps his strong arms around me and picks me up. “Dad, I’m fine!” I protest, but it does no good. He must sense that something is wrong. He keeps moving with me in his arms and I lay my head on his shoulder. I’m slowing him down but he doesn’t care. Rustling footsteps up ahead quicken their pace. We’re following the sounds made by those ahead of us because it’s too dark to make out much more than shadows. At least we’re heading in the opposite direction of the forest fire, though I can still smell the smoke. My father weaves us around scrubs and bushes so easily. He knows this landscape like the back of his hand.
“Michael?” Uncle John calls. “Mike!”
“Over here!” my dad calls back.
They catch up and the two other rebels stand next to me as they adjust their gear. “Can you hear the waterfall?” Uncle John asks, adding, “The safe house is just over the next ridge.”
“I hear it.” I nod.
“Michael, we only have a day before that fire reaches us. Judging by the wind—”
“I know,” my father cuts him off. “Let’s just get there.” He sets me down and we start climbing. “Can you walk?”
“Yes,” I answer.
“Detectives have combed these woods for at least four months now. They’ve dug holes and set traps. Many rebels have already been caught. I want you to be careful.” He nudges me ahead of him and I grope my way around in the dark, pulling myself up the sloping hillside using every available branch and root. My foot is stinging. My toes are caked with mud and grass and I can barely move them.
My father climbs ahead of me, grabs the back of my sweater, and hauls me up on top of the ridge. We are about halfway up the mountain. The moon is full and the sky is like a black chalkboard—completely starless. Swelling clouds of smoke are slowly drifting towards the moon, reminding us that the fire is spreading and that we have to move if we want to survive.
“Do you see that space between the canopy layers over there?” he asks, pointing to the area in the distance.
“I see it.”
“It’s a small lake where all the streams converge. It’s the only lake this high up into the mountain. The safe house is just beyond it.”
We start down the other side of the ridge. My father is completely adept in this environment but I’m totally exhausted, and by the time we reach level ground I stumble and fall to my knees.
“I got you,” my father says, scooping me off the ground.
“Give her to me,” my uncle tells him. “Hand her over.”
I feel like a puppet as they pass me around. My uncle puts me over his shoulder. We start moving and my eyelids get heavy. It’s the lack of food, I think to myself as I give in and my eyes shut out the world.
She’s drained Michael.” I hear my uncle say. It takes a minute for my vision to adjust after I open my eyes. It’s dawn. The forest is dull and dim, but I can tell that it’s the start of a new day because orange beams of light are spearing through the canopy of leaves over my head.
“She needs to eat something,” my father says. “We have to get her inside.”
Inside. I turn my head towards a man-made cave opening. Camouflage netting is draped around the mouth in the rock. The cover is so good it would be impossible to see from overhead.
“We’re here Darion.” My uncle’s expression is tight, and I can tell that he’s worried. “You’re finally home.”
I sit up, rubbing my head. “Smells like something’s… burning?”
My father’s lips tug down into a frown. “The fire will reach us in a day or two, depending on the wind.”
A sense of foreboding overtakes me. Something feels wrong. I take a quick glance down at my arms and then pull my jeans up to inspect my legs. I have no puncture wound, no reason to suspect that I’ve been injected with a trace.
“What is it?” my uncle asks.
“They can’t just let me go—it can’t be this easy.”
“Easy?” He makes a face. “Glad you thought that was easy.”
What a terrific beginning Ann. This is a story I look forward to reading. Thank you being our guest and sharing the excerpt with us