Sunday, February 9, 2014

Alana Lorens new novel anything but a "mere" ENCOUNTER

Alana, welcome to my blog and I want to hear all about it: 

Who are you and what brings you by today?     I’m Alana Lorens, and I’ve come to share ENCOUNTER with your readers. It’s a suspense tale that reads kind of like constructing a bomb: when you have simmering emotions, throw in some dangerous secrets, add a truckload of people on the run, and the criminal who’s waiting for them, then drop them all in a freak snowstorm—well, all you have to do is sit back and wait for the explosion.
What drives you to write the kinds of books that you do?                I don’t know exactly how the process comes together. I do know that I write the stories that come to me, rather than trying to design work that follows the popular trends. In all likelihood, by the time you see the top of that wave that defines a trend, it’s hit its stride and is already on its way out. I write books that I would like to read. I hope others find them enjoyable, too!
What are your influences?  Favorite books?  I read everything Anne McCaffrey’s written. Her characters are compelling and the storytelling so appealing. I enjoy Heinlein’s later books, as they open up more liberal possible futures. Stephen King, in my mind, is also a master storyteller, perhaps as much for his ability to turn the perfectly ordinary into something horrific as for any of the blockbuster moments.
Could you share the best advice you’ve received as an author?  What advice would you share?      In Margie Lawson’s class out on the mountain in Colorado, I learned a lot about interjecting emotion in the writing. Emotion is what allows readers to connect and invest in your characters. It should be there in every single paragraph somewhere, even just the flavor of it. The reader clings to the “why” more often than the “what” , in my opinion.
Can you talk a little about your writing process?     I often come up with characters first, but in this book, I’d fallen in love with the northern part of New Mexico, and I was dreaming that my someday lottery winnings could buy me a ranch there. I modeled our setting on a real ranch that was for sale at the time, and it too was used for retreats, etc. Once I was firmly entrenched in that place, then I pulled together the characters, their diverse needs, and what might bring them all together in one place. After I researched the possibility of the blizzard that creates the microcosm, found it could be done—voila!
Tell us about your latest release!
ENCOUNTER is the story of a week in the lives of some very diverse people and how they intersect unexpectedly:
Teo Haroun and the other lawyers in his firm look forward in varying degrees to the retreat at the Sherman Ranch in northern New Mexico.  The boss has laid down some rules - no phones, no computers, no communication with the outside world - that makes them uneasy.  But the corporate team-building exercises are necessary for this firm to survive its inner sniping and turmoil - and to protect the secrets they hold. 
Inez Suela and thirty other Mexicans have paid a coyote hundreds of pesos to take them across the border and into the United States where they hope to make a better life.  The crowded truck heads north into New Mexico to meet their local driver, the occupants unaware that a freak March snowstorm is waiting in its path.  
Jake Patrin, the caretaker of the Ranch, fights demons of his own as he struggles daily with addiction.  Working far from the city on the lonely Ranch, hosting those who rent the facility, is his protection and his solace.  But he's about to lose the only peace he's been able to grasp. 
Davi Pilar needs to make some fast money to appease a couple of St. Louis loan sharks, so he agrees to pick up a truckload of illegals and take them to St. Louis.  He drives to New Mexico not knowing that Inez, the woman who rejected him years before, is one of those on that truck.
The intersection of these people, the collision of their cultures, and the revelation of their secrets lead to violence, death, and even redemption in their New Mexico ENCOUNTER. 
Talk about one specific theme in your latest book.
That some people can be good, can show their generosity of spirit, even under the most dire of conditions.
Can you share a passage?

Teo pondered the similitude of human experience. Whether caught in the modern world, buried in multi-tasking, fax, microwaves, cell phones and the constant demands of technology, or fighting to stay alive, hunting food and shelter in a time when a bite from a wild animal could kill...people were still people, with a basic need to be warm and safe.
                He poured hot water over a green tea bag and watched Annike work the group. She moved like a panther, sleek and practiced, as though she always expected eyes on her. She paused just in the middle of the room, wearing skin-tight leggings and a slinky shirt in a pale teal that outlined her thin proportions and set off her Scandinavian features.
                Mitch and John Kirk placated her need for attention, while Cattrin made small efforts to compete.
                Better them than me. I keep her happy all year round. As for Cattrin, Teo only had one thought: Little witch.
                The four took the most central chairs in the lounge. Judy spoke with the facility caretaker at the pass-through before she took a stool near the kitchen. John Kirk settled into his over-stuffed chair with a wink at Mitch. “Got to keep an eye on the boss man.”
                Mitch grinned back. “Better for me to keep an eye on you. Did you get that last set of drawings back to Premiere before you left?” His smile remained intact, but a trace of tension crossed his face as the inevitable business talk crept back in.
                “Fed Exed them before three. They’ve been registered, sealed and recorded.”
                “Good. Very good.”
                Annike laughed in a low sultry tone, drawing everyone’s eyes again. “Mitch, dear, as tightly as you’re wrapped we should have brought a bag of charcoal along. You could stress them into diamonds to pay for the rental of this rustic little hovel.”
                Her tone was light, but her eyes held the same sharp glint as at the airport. She hadn’t forgiven Mitch for everyone having to be here, or for anything else, probably, clinging to that grudge like a lifeline. For how long?
                Judy tapped the counter lightly. “A bit of housekeeping?”
                “Now we get to do housekeeping, too?” Annike’s comment, delivered with lazy ennui.
                Judy’s smile lost none of its incandescence. “Not only are we following Harmonics’ instruction for the exercises, we’re also doing so by sharing quarters and being segregated from the world. We’re miles from distractions, especially with all your electronics left behind.”
                She eyed them, steel firm behind the pleasant smile. “We haven’t searched your bags, of course. We’re counting on you as officers of the court.”
                At the mention of searching the bags, Teo stiffened. Surely they wouldn’t really do that. There had to be some privacy among adults. He’d left his phone, his laptop and all his case data at home. Without them, he hoped to find a few moments of peace.
                That wasn’t what he had to hide. 
Tell us about your book’s cover!     I worked with Karri Klawiter to come up with something that had the stark feel of a place stranded in snow. She really had some great ideas—I love it!
What else can you do besides write?     I’m a single mom to two kids on the autism spectrum, and I also practice family law, which gives me some insight into the personalities of attorneys. I’m learning to knit, I quilt occasionally, and I love growing organic vegetables in the summers.
After the last page, what do you want the reader to leave with?     A lesson on how humans have to stick together, no matter what their differences might be. We’re all we have.
What’s next?      Working on book three in my Horizon Crossover series (written as Lyndi Alexander) and also finishing up book 2 in my Color of Fear YA post-apocalyptic series. Later in the year, I have a sci-fi romance on board, and another romantic suspense coming. And hopefully, my long-in-process historical romance with pirates!!
For more, check out my web page and blog at http://alanalorens.com, or my sci-fi fantasy page at http://lyndialexander.wordpress.com. Alana and Lyndi are also at Goodreads and Facebook, too!

Alana, thanks for stopping over and I'll definitely be checking out Encounter and putting it on my must read list!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks so much for hosting me today! Great questions!

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