Friday, August 16, 2013

Megan Johns, A Shore of Secrets, plus #giveaway

AUTHOR:  Megan Johns
BOOK TITLE: A Shore of Secrets
GIVEAWAY? YES - Be sure to leave contact information in your comment.

Why don't you start with telling us a little about yourself? What genre do you write in and why?
I live in a pretty village in the Essex countryside, UK, having ‘escaped’ from London several years ago. My husband and I are now empty-nesters apart from an adorable, but incurably mischievous Cavalier King Charles spaniel.

My first publication was a children’s book, but my focus now is contemporary romance ‘with teeth’. I particularly enjoy the romance genre because of the way it enables one to incorporate so many life issues. ‘The Path of Innocence’ was written for women who understand that life is not clear cut, that love exists in different forms, sometimes contradictory. In my latest release, ‘A Shore of Secrets’, I explore various themes, including the power of the family in a small Italian society, deception, secrecy and distrust.
I also have short stories published in the anthologies Writers on the Wrong Side of the Road and The Speed of Dark.

Tell me about your current book which you are promoting.

A Shore of Secrets’ is set along the Venetian coast.  The beauty is not confined to the place. Hotelier Giovanni Renaldi is tall, dark and devilishly handsome. Yet holiday representative Abi seems immune. Crossed in love, she is in no hurry to fall again. Plus his arrogance is so infuriating.

Surely the discomforting feelings he evokes can only be guilt at covering for his naive sister’s secret lover?

When passion finally wins through, the thrill of their lovemaking is soon wrecked. And Giovanni, proud and fierce defender of his family since inheriting the role of patriarch, is enraged to learn Abi has colluded with his sister.

But Abi quickly discovers her secrecy is nothing compared to Giovanni’s. As the family’s closely guarded secrets begin to unfold, she is sucked into their internal wrangling.
Is nothing what it seems in this clandestine community?

And can love triumph over the turmoil of scarred lives?

 ‘In all secrets there is a kind of guilt.’ Can Abi learn to trust, and Giovanni to forgive?

What got you interested in writing, and what inspired you to write your first book?

I always enjoyed writing, but juggling a family and career left little time for anything else. It was only when life slowed down that I truly discovered my creative streak. Actually, it was during a period of illness. I found it so therapeutic to be able to ‘escape’ inside my head and it was then that I got really hooked. Suddenly I discovered how much was stored inside, waiting to be unleashed. We are such complex characters, moulded by our unique life experiences, and once you start to delve inside your head, things from way back that you think are forgotten creep back into your conscious mind. There is no telling what you might find!

Do you outline before you write? If not, what’s your initial process?

I am getting better in this respect. In my first full length novel, I let the characters lead the way. Now, I am more aware of the need to rein them in when they deviate too much from genre requirements. Generally, I know where I want to get to, but not necessarily how. I don’t think I could work to a rigid plan, but I do have a rough outline of where I want to head, even if it is flexible.

What comes first: the plot or the characters?

Having said that, I still think the characters are key. The plot is their journey through a series of problems and how it develops will be influenced by the way the characters evolve and grow. Characters are critical; they should be complex and credible, people we can care about and identify with. Unless readers care about the characters and understand what they are feeling, they are less likely to engage with the plot.

Which of your characters do you love/hate/fear/pity the most and why?

My favourite character is the heroine. She’s a mix of characteristics, gutsy and strong minded, true to herself, yet fallible enough to be accessible. Who do I pity/hate? Donadini the drunkard. Life has thrown him some cruel blows, but it is no excuse for his behaviour.

Did your book require a lot of research? How long does it take to write a book for you?

I am fortunate in having a close Italian friend who gave me insight into the way of life. Also, various trips there have given me my own perspective on the place.
Of course, the Internet is an invaluable tool for research, but it cannot give you insight into the nuances that first hand experience affords. If I feel a strong emotional attachment with a place, and can visualise it vividly, feel it around me, absorb its ambience, it really kickstarts my imagination. Not that I’m knocking the Internet; it’s a great bonus for writers. Research is essential if we want to give our work teeth. There will always be readers who are versed in the topic under discussion and one has to be careful to ensure accuracy.

What are some of the challenges in your writing process?

Plotting is definitely the hardest part of writing for me

Describe your writing space.
I work in the garden room, which has beautiful open views. I find that feeling close to nature helps the creative process, although I can sometimes get distracted by the wildlife (i.e. birds and not raucous parties!) An added bonus is that it is very quiet and I find I need this in order to be able to write effectively.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I do some home tutoring work. I enjoy interacting with children and find it very rewarding.
What books or authors have influenced your writing?

Joanna Trollope because of the pithy way in which she deals with contemporary issues. I also admire the way Rosamunde Pilcher and the late Maeve Binchy weave their stories.

What are your current books out right now, and what are the books coming up for

‘A Shore of Secrets’

‘The Path of Innocence’, published by Devine Destinies BUY LINK CLICK HERE
Short stories in the anthologies ‘Writers on the Wrong Side of the Road’ and ‘The Speed of Dark’ published by Chase Enterprises Publishing. BUY LINK CLICK HERE

What advice would you give a new writer just starting out?
Believe in yourself and keep writing. Don’t let rejections knock you down. Learn from them and take on board constructive criticism.

Where can people learn more about you and your work?

Short Excerpt:

A whirl of electric-blue flashes gyrated in an elaborate dance across the night
sky. Probably the polizia on automatic call-out. An ambulance outside the Hotel
Umberto informed her otherwise. Momentary panic ground her to a halt and,
shaking her head, she appraised the scene. The piazza hummed with activity. A
huddle of guests outside the hotel seemed in good spirits, despite their various
states of undress. From beyond them, however, the shadowy image of a stretcher
emerged. Her stomach clenched. Pushing a path through the crowd of onlookers,
she rushed toward it.

“What’s going on?” she protested as the tall, imposing figure of Giovanni
Renaldi appeared from nowhere to block her way.

“Nothing to worry about,” he informed her in a manner so crisp it verged on

A needle of pique worked its way through her veins and she regarded him
head-on. He might be the epitome of Italian suave and sophistication, but any
appeal was annihilated by his infuriating manner. “So why the ambulance?”

“There’s been a minor incident, that’s all. It’s just a routine check-up.”

“Routine? At this time of night?” Her voice rose in sharp protest. Something
about his demeanour struck a chord. “If it’s one of my clients, I need to know
what’s going on!”

He regarded the shoes still dangling from the crook of her fingers and pitched
her a severe look, as if addressing a child. Uncomfortable under the weight of his
gaze, she wriggled her shoulders and looked away.

“Your clients are fine. We’ve done a head count and everybody is accounted
for. The all-clear should come any minute now so they can return to their rooms.
Now, if you would excuse me, I have things to do.”

Things to do.
The words reverberated in her ears, intent on taunting her. Yet,
she was the senior resort representative. It was her job to sort out problems at the
Umberto. And God knows there were enough of them...

“But...” she shouted after his disappearing back. A siren wail signalled the
ambulance’s departure, and she threw her arms up in frustration.


  1. Great to be here today, Penny. Thanks for inviting me.

  2. I too, let the characters lead, and it is amazing the stuff you can find inside your own head. Great interview and excerpt. Love the premise! Congratulations!


  3. A great post thank you & I enjoyed the interview.


  4. Congratulations to Yolanda Renee. Megan has chosen her name and is making arrangements to deliver her free book.