Friday, November 23, 2012

Cera's Place by Elizabeth McKenna - Author Interview

Today I'd like to welcome author Elizabeth McKenna here to talk about her romance release, "Cera's Place".

Thanks for stopping by, and for being kind enough to answer all my prying questions! The floor is yours.

Why do you write in your genre? What draws you to it?

When I decided to write a book, I chose historical romance because of my love of history and a happy ending. When I was younger, I was very jaded and disliked romance books. Life didn’t happen that way! You don’t get the guy you want in the end! So instead, I read books filled with angst and pain, and sometimes the characters were happy in the end, but mostly they weren’t. Around the time I hit 40 years old, I decided I wanted a sure thing. If I was going to invest time in a book, everything had better work out. I wanted love and happiness. As for the historical part, I love to do research. Before I had children, I was studying for a Masters in Library Science. I also love to learn something when I read, whether it is about history, another culture or another country. Historical romance is a perfect fit for me.

What research is required?

Once I pick a location for my story, I research the history of the place, which then leads me to choose a time period, subplots and backstories for the characters. For example, when doing research on San Francisco for Cera’s Place, I found several articles on Chinese prostitution, which then became a conflict for Cera and her friends to resolve. Since Jake was an ex-Civil War hero, I researched battles and a regiment for his backstory. I found a 19th century map of San Francisco to determine where Cera’s saloon would have been located. I made sure language, clothes, and scenery were as accurate as possible, often consulting old photos and archives. I looked up details such as how far a horse could travel in a day, what type of guns were popular, and whether telegraph messages were available. Because I wanted the story as believable as possible, I think I researched every other paragraph I wrote – which is probably why it took me so long to finish!

Name one thing you learned from your heroine.

I learned from Cera to accept help when offered and to take time for myself. As a mother and a control freak, I try to take care of everybody and do everything myself to the point of exhaustion – a common problem for mothers everywhere! Cera is the same way. She never stopped to consider what she needed or wanted out of life. Her only mission was to help her friends. When Jake enters her life, she says she doesn’t have time for romantic love. Can you imagine? However, she finally comes to her senses. (I’m still trying to.)

Any odd or interesting writing quirks, habits or superstitions?

Before I can work on my story, I have to check all of my various websites (Hotmail, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc.) I can’t concentrate unless I do.

Plotter or pantser?

With Cera’s Place, I was definitely a pantser. I had ideas on what I wanted to happen, but I never did a formal outline. I just wrote. With my current story, Venice in the Moonlight, I am paying more attention to formal story structure. I’ve had an outline from day one.

Look to your right – what’s sitting there?

I’m sitting on my couch watching the Green Bay Packers (Go Pack Go!). To my right is a Diet Coke, a glass of water, an empty Reeses Pieces wrapper (it’s Trick or Treating today), a few writing reference books, and a folder containing notes for my current story, Venice in the Moonlight.

Anything new coming up from you? What?

I’m working on Venice in the Moonlight, a historical romance set in 1753. Here is the story so far:

After her husband’s death, Marietta Gatti is banished from the family’s villa by her spiteful mother-in-law. With nowhere to go, she returns to Venice only to find her estranged father has also passed away. According to his friends, the once esteemed painter died distraught, drunk, and penniless. Upset by the gossip, Marietta retraces her father’s last days and discovers someone may have wanted him dead. When the prime suspect is the father of the man she may be falling in love with, Marietta faces a heart-breaking decision. Should she risk her future happiness to avenge the death of a man she has hated for the past five years? Elizabeth McKenna’s latest novel takes you back to the days of Carnival and Casanova, where lovers meet discreetly, and masks make everyone equal.

Do you have a question for our readers?

What is your favorite historical period? Why?

In 1869, San Francisco saloon owner Cera Cassidy offers redemption to any woman looking for honest work. At Cera's Place, men can get a decent hot meal with a whiskey, but if they want anything more, they have to take their desires elsewhere. One summer night, a distraught Chinese girl bursts through the swinging doors with a shocking tale of murder, kidnapping, and prostitution. Outraged, Cera vows to set things right.

Jake Tanner, a scarred ex-soldier haunted by the horrors of the Civil War, is on a mission to fulfill a friend's dying wish. The trail has brought him to Cera's door. Captivated by her Irish beauty, he wants to join her fight - but will she let him?

Elizabeth McKenna's debut novel is a fast-paced adventure filled with memorable characters that will leave you wanting more. Get lost in a time gone by and fall in love today!

Cera noticed the stranger while she leaned against the bar, drinking her third cup of coffee for the day. It was the first chance she’d had to catch her breath. Business was brisk, as everyone wanted to talk about last night’s fire over some food and drinks.

He sat alone, hunched down into his faded officer’s coat, reminding Cera of the many war-weary drifters who had passed through her place. His worn boots rested casually on the seat of a chair, and though his Stetson sat low over his eyes, she got the sense he could see just fine. He seemed to be waiting.

More often than not, Cera could see trouble coming. When she looked at this stranger, an uneasy feeling rose in her belly. Unfortunately, she couldn’t decide if it was because of the bowie knife and Colt revolver strapped to his sides or because his tangled, dark hair and chiseled jaw made him the best-looking man she had seen in months.

As she pondered the stranger, his face moved out of the shadows, revealing a thick jagged scar running from the outer edge of his left eye to the corner of his mouth. Startled by the sight, Cera’s hand jerked, sloshing coffee over the cup’s rim. Their eyes met and, for an instance, Cera thought she saw a flash of anger in the stranger’s gaze.

Embarrassed, she turned away to hide the blush blooming in her cheeks. As she wiped her wet hand on her apron, she chided herself for such squeamish behavior. Since the end of the War Between the States, plenty of men had walked through the saloon’s doors with injuries far worse than a scar. There was no reason for this one to unsettle her.

When her composure returned, she sought out Ginger. “See that drifter over there?” She inclined her head slightly in the stranger’s direction. “Has he said anything to you?”

“Oh my, my, my, that dusty Yankee? I’ve been trying to catch his eye since he sat down. I think they’re blue, by the way. Too bad about his face, but luckily I’ve never liked my men prettier than me.”

Cera laughed, despite her present worries. “Well then, you’re the perfect girl to go charm him—find out what he’s about.”

Ginger’s painted on eyebrows knitted together as she cast a discreet glance at the stranger. “You think he’s trouble?”

“Maybe, but maybe I’m just nervous because of last night. Either way it will be good to know who he is and what he wants. He looks barely able to afford the beer sitting in front of him. Who’s been serving him?”

“Sonya, I think.”

“Try to get him talking. I’ll go see if he’s paid for anything yet.” Cera gulped the rest of her coffee and moved to where Sonya sat playing cards with three other men.

Author Bio: Elizabeth McKenna is a full-time technical writer/editor for a large software company. She never read romance novels until one Christmas when her sister gave her the latest bestseller by Nora Roberts. She was hooked from page one (actually, she admits it was the first love scene).

She had always wanted to write fiction, so when a psychic told her she would write a book, Elizabeth felt obligated to give it a try. She combined her love of history, romance and a happy ending to write her first novel Cera's Place. She has also written a short story titled The Gypsy Casts a Spell, which was published in eFiction magazine and can be read on her author website.

Elizabeth lives in Wisconsin (Packers, Brewers, and Badgers - oh my!) with her understanding husband, two beautiful daughters, and sassy Labrador. When she isn't writing, working, or being a mom, she's sleeping.

Elizabeth McKenna website:
Cera’s Place on Amazon:
Cera’s Place on Barnes and Noble:
Cera’s Place on Smashwords:
Twitter: @elizamckenna


  1. I love books set in the 1800's. Cera's place sounds like a great read.



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