This is a crime fiction blog and I could’ve been in a quandary, but I wasn’t. Should I showcase this novel here or was another blog I’m involved with more appropriate? As you read the interview questions you’ll see DARK DAYS OF PROMISE can fit in the romantic suspense and/or the inspirational romantic suspense category. It can also fit in one or two other categories as well.
So, let’s see what this novel is about…
Thirty-four year old Vicki Laramie must learn to trust before she can love, but she might die trying.
While Vicki’s children grapple with the death of their father — a man whom she’s successfully fabricated as loving, a lie her rebellious teenager recognizes — she must find a way to support her family and find a role model for her boys. She never intends to fall for Staff Sergeant Chase, her best friend’s son, who suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). She’d much rather choose a safer man to love, but her children have a voice in the decision she makes. With two deaths to deal with, a suitor after her money, a rebellious son, and Sergeant Chase’s repeated attacks, she can only hope to survive the danger she faces. If she doesn’t, her children will be left without either parent.
Was he telling me the truth? I wasn’t sure. The reality of whether or not I’d survive the night and claim I’d made the right choice to accept a ride from such a dangerous man was, as of yet, to be determined. A fierce battle raged within me. Although grateful for the ride, and the warmth of his Jeep, a cold shudder of terror slithered up my spine every time he glanced my direction. The locked door added to my apprehension. Cold overwhelmed me again.
He exercised a considerable amount of care in adjusting the army blanket higher across my chest with one hand. His warm hand brushed against my skin. I flinched, wanting to scream, but managed to keep it in check, in all honesty because I couldn’t … The phantom pressure of his hands lingered at my throat.
It seemed incomprehensible. I’d once thought him in need of my comfort, only to have him turn on me, becoming a killer. Never, if I lived forever, would I forget the coldness in his eyes at the moment I knew I’d die. The memory of his eyes, the cold purposeful reflection of them, caused me to shudder. I couldn’t bring myself to look at him. Would his seeming gentleness be absent, replaced instead by the killer I knew existed behind the veil of concern for my well-being? Though good-looking, he’d proved beyond dangerous — he’d proven deadly. He’d held my life in his hands. The option of my continued breathing his choice and his alone. I wasn’t at all sure by what fate I continued to breathe and feared it had been a calculated move on his part to heighten my terror. He’d measured me well if such were his intentions.
It required a firm determination on my part to remain calm. In the subconscious recesses of my mind, I considered myself his prisoner. Distrust replaced my calm acceptance of his explanation of finding me with emphatic surety. I tried in vain to calm my instincts to run should the opportunity present itself.
Nike: It seems DARK DAYS OF PROMISE can span several genres. Would you call it women’s fiction, or romantic suspense, or a little of each.
Shaunna: It is interesting that you should ask this question. I have submitted this piece in more than one competition both as women’s fiction and romantic suspense. I steered away from women’s fiction and to Romance due to the ending — which I wasn’t sure would be the way it is right up until submitting to the publisher. But, the publisher loved it as a Romantic Suspense so that is what it is. Actually, Desert Breeze Publishing has it as an Inspirational Romantic Suspense. Certainly the issues dealt with could be firmly seated in all of the above categories and I think that was the underlying idea as I don’t consider myself a romantic and I definitely have strong opinions about the typical romance novel.
Nike: What made you want to tackle Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as a theme in this novel?
Shaunna: Honestly? I fell into it, or rather Kelly flipped me! I wrote a scene, and the reader will know which one by my “Flip”, then I had to figure out why he would do such a thing. Every reaction must have a motivation, even if the motivation is not thoroughly explored on the written page. My search for the answer led me, in a roundabout way, to some new friends, veterans in my church group. That was an adventure in and of itself.
Think of a hubby that doesn’t like my talking to men without him at my side (he is slightly jealous of my occasional flirting… he has a right.) I convinced him to step away so the guys would open up and let me in their very tight circle. What I didn’t know at the very beginning was that the one vet was single and that the blond sitting across the room throwing deadly darts at me was his fiancé! Okay, zoom to the present. We are all married to our respective spouses, including me to my wonderful, though protective hubby, and we are all friends occasionally enjoying social gatherings in one another’s homes.
Okay, back to the question. What I learned from these wonderful guys is that every one of them suffers from Post Traumatic Stress in one way or another. I also realized that those of us on the outside go through our daily lives blissfully unaware in most cases. The realization that dropped me like a rock is when one of them smiled, well it wasn’t really a smile but if I were a guy he would have punched my shoulder and added this, “Yeah, you got it. You deal with it too.” Gulp! I experience and deal with Post Traumatic Stress in a very civilian way. 1) I don’t (didn’t) know I dealt with it, 2) My PTSD is very mild, and 3) I go to great lengths to hide it as well as hide from the triggers (unless asked these kinds of questions.)
Nike: Oh, Shaunna I’m thrilled by your transparency about your own struggle with PTSD . Also, your church experience sounds so much like what I’ve encountered. I do think women should be able to come off as feminine, if that’s what their personality type is. But then do expect the daggers flying from across the sanctuary. Ahem…back to the novel. What would you like your readers to take away with them?
Shaunna: I’ve been asked this before and at the time had a very eloquent answer. Awareness. PTSD sufferers are not crazy. It is real and in some cases debilitating. An individual doesn’t have to be a war veteran to suffer from it. I have been told of cases where an infant is born with PTSD due to the violence witnessed from inside the womb.
Shaunna currently resides with her family in Western Washington. Once told by her doctors that she would never leave her wheelchair — due to her Multiple sclerosis. It remains unable to climb the stairs so she leaves it in the garage — to collect dust mites. A storyteller in her youth, she endeavored to extend her love of stories to the written word and in 2005 began to write her first novel. Though that manuscript will remain buried, she has continued to learn and is excited to share her latest work. She has lived in many states among people of varying backgrounds. Recently she met a small group of veterans and in doing so became intrigued with the effects of PTSD on their lives and that of their families. She continues to interview veterans with PTSD. You can visit her blog at shaunnagonzales.blogspot.com
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