If you go to the Hamilton Gardens in New Zealand and wander through the Japanese Garden there, you will see a bronze plaque with a haiku engraved on it describing the peacefulness of that environment. It was written by yours truly. Every now and again someone phones me up and says, “By the way, I was in the Hamilton Gardens the other day and I saw a poem by a Vonnie Hughes. Is that you?” Mmm, I mumble, because in truth that haiku took only a very few minutes to write. Poetry comes much more easily to me than novel writing, but I kid myself that the experience with poetry writing keeps my words economical and apposite.
As far as novels go, I’ll stick to writing Regency historicals and contemporary suspense. I love the intricacies of the social rules of the Regency period and the far-ranging consequences of the Napoleonic Code. And with suspense I can give free rein to my interest in forensic matters and the strong convolutions of the human mind.
And I’ll probably write until the day I die. Like many writers, some days I hate the whole process, but somehow just cannot let it go.
Vonnie and I have also realized we share the same middle initial. Sadly, not the same name since hers is Jacqueline which is much, much prettier than my plain Jane moniker. Since Vonnie is so busy with promotion, she allowed me to interview the heroine of her latest release, Lethal Refuge, Célie Francis.
LETHAL REFUGE IS OUT NOW AS A PAPERBACK FROM THE WILD ROSE PRESS AND AS AN E-BOOK HERE:
1. Introducing myself: Yes, I’m Célie Francis. What’s your point? No. Not Céline. That’s the Canadian songbird. I’m a New Zealander. No, my unusual first name doesn’t cause any problems. In my job I need to stand out. I’m a torch singer, and I’d rather have my own name than be called by one of those kittenish stage names that some other singers use. You know, names like Silky Amber or LaKat Boom Boom. Damned stupid. Anyway, I’m in the book called LETHAL REFUGE that Vonnie wrote. It’s a romantic suspense, set in New Zealand.
2. Do I consider myself unconventional? Hey, I’m not the one out of step here. The rest of you are. I’m not unconventional. I’m just me. Take me or leave me. Sure, when I was younger I got hurt a few times by cretins who couldn’t work out what makes me tick, so I just toughed it out. I do that a lot. Tough it out. Works for me.
3. Do I embrace my uniqueness or have I always wanted to fit in? ‘Embrace my uniqueness?’ What the hell are you talking about? Like I said, I’m just me. About the fitting in thing, well…once or twice I’ve wished I could be a sweet young lady—you know, the sort of delicate flower everyone protects from life’s hardships and follies. Then fortunately I come to my senses. Take Brand Turner, the police psychologist from Lethal Refuge for instance. At first I wanted to be the sort of woman he probably admires—the well educated delicate flower thing. Then I discovered that Brand takes people as he finds them. Cool.
4. My role model? Well it sure ain’t my mother. Heh! It’s not Mother Teresa either. Nah, don’t really have a role model. I am what I am. I’d pretty much achieved what I set out to do until this cretin came calling and stuffed up my world, and a lot of other people’s too, of course.
5. If I could do anything without concern for the circumstances? That’s a no-brainer. I’d kidnap Brand Turner and keep him so he couldn’t get the chance to meet other women with PhDs and prissy relatives or who look like models who’d escaped from Balenciaga’s latest collection.
6. Is your ideal man unconventional? Laughs loudly. Nope, not at all. My ideal man is Brand Turner and boy, is he conventional. He does all the right things. Had a long-term relationship, concentrated on his education and achieved a doctorate, doesn’t blurt out stupid things in company, always looks before he leaps and is totally reliable. On the other hand he’s an independent thinker, doesn’t always say what you think he’s going to say, and boy, does he know how to make love. Nope. Not conventional there. Very innovative. Stupendous.
7. Any other juicy details? Nope. When this is all over I want to go back to my career so I’m damned if I’m sharing all my darkness. I’m thinking ahead to PR.
The nagging wail of sirens carried on the breeze. Too late.
Ellery laughed inanely and Roberta shuddered and clutched Brand’s jacket in a death grip.
What the hell had taken them so long? By the time the cops were stationed around the house, Célie knew they’d all be dead. Ellery was going to win after all.
He’d blame everything on Roberta. She’d take the rap for every single murder, attempted murder, assault, burglary, download of pedophilia and anything else he could pin on her.
Facing the Glock clutched in Ellery’s unsteady hand, Célie’s mind spun like a top, running through her options. There weren’t any. She was closest to Ellery, so she’d go first.
She shuffled her feet a little and Ellery frowned. He juggled the Glock as if it was a remote control and Célie remembered how awkwardly he’d held the weapon in the car. Brand had once commented on Parlane’s scorn for Ellery’s lousy test shooting. All well and good, but he wasn’t going to miss her at such close range. Even the newest, most nervous police cadet could manage a shot like that.
“Keep still,” Ellery growled at her.
Good. She was making him nervous. If she could distract him enough... With that one shuffle she had gained half a yard and changed the angle of her body. She looked across the room at Brand. “Love you,” she said.
Brand smiled and drew a deep breath. Then he nodded. Ellery stared at Brand and sniggered, his attention diverted. “How sweet.” His lip curled.
Célie launched herself and bashed hard into Ellery. He skidded sideways. Off balance, he fumbled to release the jammed safety catch on the Glock. The muzzle pointed at the ceiling.
“Bitch!” Ellery splayed his legs to steady himself and raised his free arm to smash it down on Célie’s head but she’d darted behind him. She rammed her arm up between his legs. He bucked, startled, as she grabbed him by the balls. Gritting her teeth, Célie thanked her lucky stars that a life spent fighting her way uphill had taught her how to play dirty.
Frantically Ellery tried to drag her hand away, but Célie increased the grinding pressure, gouging with her long, piano-playing fingers. Ellery screamed. The Glock clattered to the floor and Parlane swiped it away with his uninjured foot.
A sound like rolling thunder presaged a crash as the door flew open and Ralston burst in, followed by a flurry of uniformed cops.
“About freaking time,” Célie snapped.
Here’s a link to my Amazon page where you can purchase LETHAL REFUGE:
I’m also at www.vonniehughes.com