UFI welcomes R. Ann Siracusa Author of A Timeless Melody. Thanks for Joining us!!
What can you tell my readers about yourself that they might not know from looking on your bio or reading in another interview?
Who is Author R. Ann Siracusa? That’s my real name, but you’ll have to guess what the initial R stands for.
The Conventional Bio
I am retired from a 37-year career as an architect and urban planner, which makes me older than dirt. My husband and I live in San Diego, with no pets, but we do have a wild rabbit that lives under the workbench in the garage. We also have three grown children and eight grandchildren, all living in normal houses and not under anyone’s workbench.
My debut novel was a WWII Mafia thriller published in 2008, and since then Breathless Press has published a five-book romantic suspense series, a sci-fi romance, three short stories, and the time travel novella being released this month. I have been a member of Romance Writers of America since 1985.
The more interesting version
Ann ziplining in Mexico 2012
In June, oh, so many years ago, with my Bachelor of Architecture degree from UC Berkeley tucked in my suitcase, I toodled off to Rome, Italy, to take a doctorate in Urban Planning at the University of Rome. Instead, the first day there, I sat down next to a handsome Italian at the Fountain of Love in Piazza Esedra…and the rest is history.
(My choice of seat was not an accident, by the way.) I didn’t speak much Italian, he didn’t speak much English, and a month later I had to look up the word fidanzata in the English-Italian dictionary to find out I was “engaged.”
Scary, isn’t it? Not the brightest bulb on the tree.
I refused to go but promised my mother if I didn’t have a job by the end of the year, I would come home. She left me with a plane ticket back to California. I immediately cashed in the ticket, borrowed a hundred dollars from my ex-boyfriend―Ronnie, if you’re out there somewhere, I want to pay you back with interest ―and Luciano and I got married in a civil ceremony at Christmas time.
Now, here’s naïveté for you. I had this plan that if I didn’t get a job, I would go back to California, work for six months, save up some money, and convince my parents I hadn’t turned into a raving lunatic, then go back to Italy and live HEA. He was going to “wait” for me.
Yeah, right! This would never get past an editor. “It’s too unbelievable. The heroine is TSTL.” Fortunately, a week before I was scheduled to return to the US, I got a job as an architect with an Italian land development firm. Lucky for me, because I was already pregnant.
Fifty years, three children and eight grandchildren later, we're still married. It hasn’t always been fun, but it’s never been dull. Maybe I wasn’t so stupid after all.
P.S. I've never told anyone this, but the most unusual place I ever made love was on the steps of Palazzo della Civiltá Italiana in the EUR quarter of Rome. Well, it was late at night and dark..and I was young.
What do you enjoy doing on your down time?
What?! You mean I'm supposed to get down time? When?
These days, I quilt and read in my limited relaxation time. I used to play classical piano, but arthritis put an end to that. I also used to enjoy riding motorcycles and quads in the desert, but I haven't done much of that recently, either.
I use larger amounts of "down time" to travel to somewhere in the world I haven't been before. In February 2015, I'm going to Antarctic.
What is your favorite part of writing?
The beginning, when the ideas are fresh and exciting, and the end, when I finally type "The End" which my editor always takes out.
In addition, I enjoy delving into the thinking processes of the characters, trying to assume their mindsets and to become someone I'm not. What would this character do? How would he/she react? It's exciting when the character comes alive and starts taking over the story, sending it in directions I hadn't planned, saying and doing unexpected things.
I used to change those unplanned surprises because they were "out of character", but I've learned that it usually means the character knows something I don't. Now, I leave those quirks or hiccups, and most of the time I learn the reason later on. I have to drop only about a fourth of them.
Do you have any certain routines you must follow as you write?
I try to write every day, from about 4:30 am to 7:30 am and then after other times when my schedule permits, but I'm not always successful. And even when I'm trying to write, my family doesn't understand that interruptions—even the well-intended ones—set me back. But what am I supposed to say when my husband comes into my office and says, "I just want to give my lovely wife a kiss."? That kiss may cost me forty-five minutes, but I've learned to keep my yap closed.
I write in scenes and stop at the completion of each. I write down what I believe the next scene needs to have. Each morning when I sit down to write, I read and edit the material I wrote the day before (or go back even further). By the time I get the place where I need to write new material, I'm back into the story.
I use a one page outline that gives one line about what has to happen in each scene in each chapter. So I have an idea where I'm headed all the time. Changes do occur and new things pop up. I don't always change the outline, but if it's a major change in direction, I have to.
What are some of your favorite books or authors in the Urban Fantasy/ Paranormal Genres?
I've been a sci fi/fantasy fan for many years, back to the time when booksellers didn't know how to shelve fantasy/paranormal in book stores (when we still had them). In those days, such books were always put with Science Fiction. So, my favorites go back to Andre Norton, Anne McCaffrey, and C.J. Cherryh.
More contemporary authors include Katie MacAlister, Evie Woolmore (a new discovery), Lisa Kessler, Jade Lee, and Deborah Harkness. I find new "favorites" all the time.
How would you pitch A TIMELESS MELODY to someone who has not heard of it before?
A Timeless Melody is a time travel romance (novella length) about a university student in 2500 AD at the University of Red Gulch, the Mineral Capital of the Solar System. A history student completing her master's thesis on the founder of Red Gulch, she illicitly uses the university time machine to go back to 1979 to research, first hand, the founder Brandon O'Donnell. There, she falls love with the topic of her thesis and plots to return to his time to spend the rest of her life with him.
But she quickly discovers, the task isn't that simple. To achieve her goal, she'll have to a secret that could destroy her plans.
Can you tell us a little bit about the world that A TIMELESS MELODY is set in?
This novella isn't the kind of time travel novel set in another time or world. The primary action takes place in the California Mojave Desert in 1979 and 1980.
Critical to the plot, the portion of the novel is set in a future on earth (2500 AD) when humanity has spread into the solar system and is exploring beyond. In this time period, there are functional time machines, but the use of them is controlled. History graduates at some universities have access to the machine on a limited basis. Residents of this future have children to meet their obligations for keeping the population stable, but children are raised in nurseries, not by their parents. There isn't much more about that future world in the book. Just pertinent facts.
But even though most people define world building as the construction of an imaginary world, all writers deal with world building. It's a necessity if a writer hopes to produce a novel, in any genre, that is consistent, real, and believable. Creating the setting of a novel is a type of world building.
Novels set in contemporary times and in familiar places don't require as much time, research, or as many words. A writer often sets the stage in a few words or sentences. That's all the reader needs to understand where and when the novel takes place, how people dress and act, and the laws of physics that apply. The reader can rely on what he/she knows of that time and place and the planet we live on.
Do you have a favorite scene in A TIMELESS MELODY?
My favorite scene is toward the end, but talking about it would be a spoiler.
Which character was your favorite to write about? What about the hardest to write about?
I initially wrote this as a short story in the first-person viewpoint of the hero. I suppose you could say that the hero was my favorite because it was his story I chose to tell.
Alas, my editor asked that I rewrite it in third person so I could include the heroine's viewpoint. She was the hardest to write because in creating the story, she was seen only as the hero could see her. Once I got into her mind, I had to create a future world for her as well as deal with her reactions.
It was a good choice. The story went from 10,000 to 30,000 words and is a much better story as a result.
What Other Projects can we look forward to reading from you?
Currently available from Breathless Press is the Tour Director Extraordinaire romantic suspense series about a tour director and a spy. It's a five-book series, although each novel can be read as a standalone. Each book tells a spy/intrigue story in a different country, and in each book the relationship between the hero and the heroine kicks up a notch.
Also available is a Sci Fi Romance entitled All In The Game.
My next new project, after I finish editing an already-completed murder mystery, will be a historical WWII novel about the incarceration of the Japanese-Americans in the US. It's a shameful piece of our American history that I feel strongly about, and I have been wanting to attempt a mainstream novel about the topic for years. The working title is Belt of a Thousand Stitches
In addition to that, I have far more ideas than I have time to write, so many of them may never see the light of day.
A Timeless Melody
Melody is out of her element, and Brandon believes she knows more than she lets on. Her secret may be more than he bargained for.__________________________________
She appeared out of nowhere, blown into of Red Gulch—a decaying mining town in the Mojave Desert—on the crest of a desert breeze like the ever-present tumbleweeds that filled the empty streets in the blink of an eye. Except everyone knew where tumbleweeds came from.
Brandon O'Donnell never figured out where Melody came from, but she captured his heart with her flaming red hair, hypnotic light-grey eyes, and intense but distant way of speaking, almost as if she knew a lot more than she let on.
What will happen to their love when Brandon finds out the secret Melody has been hiding from him all these years?
Their gazes met. In that moment, a myriad of emotions flashed across his features. Surprise. Suspicion. Desire.
Swept by prickles of fear and doubt, she reined in the panicky feeling as a bead of sweat slowly rolled down her spine. She'd been so confident that she had done the right thing…that everything had already happened…that her destiny brought her here. Her resolve had faltered when Brandon approached her in the Gold Nugget Café. The power of his mere presence rendered her speechless. She'd forgotten her well-rehearsed speech. Her heart tripped and stuttered.
After dreaming of the moment so long, when their gazes locked, his light blue eyes, gentle but filled with hunger, were the eyes of a stranger.
Now, before she lost her nerve, she stripped off her damp shirt and unzipped her jeans. She dared not let him see her misgivings, even though she intended to show him everything else. She couldn't afford to fail. By coming here, she'd risked more than her own future and happiness.
Much more than she had any right to gamble.
Brandon stood appraising her. Hard, lean, and bronzed by exposure to the desert sun, with sandy-colored hair like silk, his snug T-shirt outlining sculpted muscles all the way down the length of his long torso. Just as she remembered. But much younger, and so delicious she wanted to eat him.
Her body tightened at the core. Of its own volition, her tongue slid across her lower lip before she realized she returned his ogle with equal intensity.
He's letting me call the shots. Smiling self-consciously, she hooked her thumbs into the elastic of her panties and pulled them off.
In two seconds flat, he shed his boots and clothes.
Without hesitation, Melody dove naked into the shimmering water, cool relief caressing her skin and driving away the oppressive heat. How could anyone live in such heat?
Seconds later, from behind, strong arms closed around her middle, just below her breasts. Brandon must have dived almost at the same time. He pulled her into his embrace, his body throbbing against her. A riot of sensations exploded in her. They surfaced together, in full body contact, both drawing in gasps of air that had nothing to do with needing oxygen and everything to do with young healthy hormones.
Leave a comment and enter a drawing for an E-Book from my romantic suspense series Tour Director Extraordinaire.
Here's a question to think about: If you were able to travel in time, where would you go and what 3 things would you take with you?