Interview and Giveaway: Donnell Ann Bell

Please welcome Donnell Ann Bell, author of The Past Came Hunting and Deadly Recall.

Donnell has graciously offered to give a copy of Deadly Recall to one lucky reader (paperback within North America or digital version elsewhere): just leave a comment below today to enter the giveaway!  Winner will be selected at random.

What’s your idea of a perfect day?
Would it sound terrible if my idea of a perfect day would be to escape into the muse without interruption and spend time with my cdeadlyrecallharacters?  Those days seem infrequent at present.  I love the feeling of being so intense in the creation process that when it’s time to come back to real life, it feels like you’re coming down from a high, ya know?  The end of the perfect day would be to take a walk with my husband of 30 years through our Colorado tree-lined neighborhood and settle back into reality.

Do you have a signature accessory, color, fragrance, phrase, or meal?
Colors: I love vibrant orange colors as in my publicity photo, teals and blacks.  My closet is stocked with these colors.

Fragrance:  I have worn Chanel No. 5 since college.  I love it, and although I might try other fragrances, Chanel is my preference.

Phrase:  I suppose a phrase I’m known for — possibly because I was a director in a former life (ha ha ha) — is “Work with me.”  During brainstorming sessions with my critique group, when an idea pops into my head, I get so excited, I burst out…”Oh, oh, oh, work with me.”  Occasionally the ideas are pretty good!

Food:  I’m from New Mexico.  I LOVE chile rellenos.

Excluding family, name three people who either inspired you or influenced your creativity.
Two very special nuns:  Sister Frances Louise and Sister Virginia Mary.  Early on, I showed a love of storytelling.  These two women not only gave me writing assignments, they gave me writing prompts.  This happened in sixth and seventh grade, and I can’t tell you what it does for a little girl’s confidence.

My son.  I was already writing fiction when he went away to college.  But he left for Texas Christian University on his 18th birthday.  When it was time for him to leave, he walked into my office, sat down and said, “Mom, what are you going to do without me?”

The first thing I did was burst into tears and embarrassed him profusely.  But after I stopped blubbering, I told him, “Don’t worry, I’ll think of something.”  That something was my 2007 Golden Heart final Walk Away Joe, now called The Past Came Hunting.

Do you listen to music when you write? 
No.  I’m part-librarian.  I like to work in complete silence.  Shhhhh.

If your latest book were chocolate, what kind would it be and why?
I’ll say Almond Joys.  I recently had complicated foot surgery and I couldn’t put weight on my foot for six weeks.  During my recovery, my husband left miniature Almond Joys on my pillow many times to cheer me up.  Isn’t he a nice guy?

What made you interested in writing this particular story?
I’ve always loved Catholic-themed stories, like the movie The Trouble with Angels and the play Do Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up?  Then authors took a darker spin on the Church’s tumultuous history such as the The Da Vinci Code.  J.D. Robb wrote a mystery/thriller called Salvation in Death.  I’ve never read either of these books, and after I heard about them, I made a conscious decision not to so I wouldn’t inadvertently use their ideas.  I wanted to write a mystery without it being a referendum on the Catholic Church — I simply wanted to tell a story. I also wanted to write about New Mexico. Deadly Recall started out a germ of an idea that continued to grow.

What themes do you regularly (re)visit in your writing?
I’ve been told my books center on redemption and forgiveness.  My third book from Bell Bridge Books centers on betrayal.

Tell us about your main character’s psyche or personality. What led her (or him) to be the person s/he is today?
Eden Moran is a defender.  She has a strong concept of right and wrong; when she sees an injustice, she acts upon it.  What happens in the beginning of Deadly Recall carries over to her adult life.  She becomes a lawyer and a public defender.

Describe your protagonist as a mash-up of three famous people or characters.
Hmmm. I see Eden as her own person.  Maybe a female Perry Mason. 😉  Julie Bowen of Modern Family, but the character she played on Boston Legal.  And impulsive like Meg Ryan in Sleepless in Seattle.

If you could host a mystery-author dinner party, who are the six writers (living or otherwise) you’d include?
Six writers…  Oh, boy, talk about on the spot. 😉 Daphne du Maurier, Agatha Christie, Sandra Brown, Daniel Silva, Lawrence Sanders and Robert Crais.  That would be quite the occult with three alive and three dead, don’t you think?

What’s next for you?
Writing-wise, I’m editing two books (working titles “Betrayed” and “Buried Agendas”), plotting a story my critique group conjured up during our writing retreat two weeks ago, and developing my first mystery series.  Until now, I’ve written single titles.

Health-wise, I’m recovering from foot surgery, can’t wait to go to physical therapy and get back to a walking and workout regimen.

Thanks for having me, Mysteristas!

***

Donnell Ann Bell is a two-time Golden Heart® finalist who previously worked for a weekly business newspaper and a parenting magazine.  Her debut novel The Past Came Hunting became an Amazon bestseller, reaching as high as #6 on the paid overall list and finaling in 2012 Gayle Wilson Award for Excellence, RWA’s® Greater Detroit Bookseller’s Best, and the 2012 Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense. Deadly Recall, brought to you by Bell Bridge Books, is her second published novel.

For more information, please visit her online.

Website: www.donnellannbell.com,
Twitter: @donnellannbell
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Donnell-Ann-Bell/285286321485019?ref=hl.

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34 thoughts on “Interview and Giveaway: Donnell Ann Bell”

  1. What an interesting interview (and I hope that your foot is healing magnificently at this point). Eden sounds fascinating–great mash-up! Looking forward to reading Deadly Recall asap. Thanks so much for visiting us, Donnell.

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  2. Cynthia, I loved your questions. I appreciate the opportunity to visit with all of you today. Physical therapy has been grueling but helpful. I owe a debt of thanks to everyone who told me to get it and that you don’t come out of cast w/o repercussions.

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  3. Donnell, thanks for stopping by. I think we have a mutual friend – Annette Dashofy? At least I think so. I might be wrong.

    Are all of the books Catholic-themed? As a Catholic, I’m always interested to see fiction takes on the Church. So many of them are, as you said, a referendum on the Church. I wouldn’t mind reading/seeing something with a different twist.

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  4. Hi Donnell! I loved The Past Came Hunting and can’t wait to read the new book.

    As another Catholic girl, I’m glad you decided not to write a referendum. While the Church has it’s faults, I get really tired of the vehement Catholic-bashing, not to mention the false assumptions of what we believe. Off my soapbox now…

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  5. Donnell, loved the interview. It’s always fun to learn more about you. An almond joy on your pillow??? How sweet is that! I love the idea of a series from you. Keep those great books coming.

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  6. Hi, Mary, answer to no. one Annette Dashofy is my good friend and critique partner (have to say, she’s an amazing plotter, and I LOVE her writing). And two, yes, I’m Catholic.

    This is my first Catholic-themed mystery. All I wanted to do was write a mystery, and I wanted to write about what I know. I try to come up with heavy conflits in my books. In The Past Came Hunting I have an ex-con who falls in love with a police officer. In Deadly Recall, I have a nun and a priest who have an affair. As I told E.B Davis in an article a while back. If I would have placed this story in the Baptist or Presbyterian Church it wouldn’t have had the same amount of conflict because those characters don’t take a vows of celibacy.

    So, no, it’s not a referendum, but I do address human nature. (So cool to see the white smoke and the bells ringing, yesterday, no?) Thanks for dropping by.

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  7. Hi, Joyce! Thank you so much for your nice thoughts about The Past Came Hunting. I agree with all you’ve said. My mom was so cute when she started reading my draft version of Deadly Recall. She’d flip through pages and say, you can’t do this… you can’t do this… all right. you can do this. If you get a chance to read, I think you’ll see my book is about human nature in a Catholic setting. And I think (she says modestly I’d call some of these people my friends. Thanks for stopping by!

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  8. Hi, Jerrie. Yes. I finally had to say I love having those bite-sized Almond Joys, but I better not have one every day. I LOVE them, but I was very sedentary during my recovery. I think my family felt bad for me and were looking for “cheap” ways to cheer me up. They rented a scooter for me and knew I braked for chocolate 😉 Thanks for stopping by!

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  9. Theresa, I think husbands are a work in progress. My husband has been amazing in the last few years. He wants to retire, and i have a huge decision making in the process Seriously, he took a five month sabbatical last year, which turned out perfectly because it coincided with my foot surgery. He made coffee every morning and he CLEANED! And are you ready for this? He went back to work and he still makes coffee before he leaves. Yes, he’s a pretty nice guy.

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  10. Donnell, Enjoyed your interview. Hope your recovery from the surgery goes well. Looks like spring is coming to Colorado, so I’m sure you want to be out and about. Almond Joys on your pillow. How sweet. I love Dan Brown, too. Thanks for mentioning a couple other authors I might enjoy.

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    1. Hi, Theresa Crater (since we have two Theresas.) I haven’t read Dan Brown as I mentioned, but it would be impossible to be a writer and not have heard of him. When I started running Deadly Recall through Critique, one of my CPs said oh, this character is like the one in The Davinci Code. I was so grateful I hadn’t read it — still haven’t because I wanted my ideas to be my own. Thanks for stopping by today!

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  11. Exactly. So sorry that happened. But I wasn’t about to stop writing Deadly Recall because the story was calling to me so strongly. Therefore, I didn’t read it.

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    1. Thanks, but it happens to all of us, doesn’t it? When I heard Dan Brown was writing about Washington, D.C., I did think I was going to be forced to have a serious talk with him, though. But thankfully, mine was significantly different than his.

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      1. Good to know Theresa! By virtue of his name, I imagine he creates a best seller. Washington, DC Political thriller? Love those!

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  12. Donnell, yes, Annette is a fabulous writer. She’s been so helpful to me; I feel very lucky.

    Yes, seeing the smoke yesterday was very cool. Catholicism is so great for all that pomp and circumstance – and mystery! I mean, the stories of intrigue that are possible surrounding a papal enclave are just amazing. And I totally see why you would stay away from Brown if you’re in the same “theater” so to speak.

    I love those human nature stories. An ex-con/police or nun/priest? That would be totally amazing. And one of my college friends had an ex-priest and ex-nun for parents (they met each other and requested to be released from their vows) – so the possibility for an affair is completely believable. I just always get a little disappointed when a priest/nun character falls into the “evil Catholic” mode – it’s almost become a cliche, you know?

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  13. Donnell, a fun, interesting interview. Am eager to read your newest. It’s next as soon as I finish this month’s book club assignment. (Yours will be more fun!) I really enjoyed The Past Came Hunting. Want to hear more about your series. Looking forward to lots of time to chat at the Writers Police Academy.

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    1. Linda, thank you! Wow, I hope you’re enjoying your book club read! Yes, I’m excited about the Writers Police Academy too. Registration starts tomorrow by the way! Thanks for stopping by!

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  14. Hi, Rhonda. I hereby nominate you for sister in law of the year!!!! I’m so sorry about her foot, but Almond Joys make everything better 😉 Thanks for stopping by!

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  15. Oh my goodness, I feel we were separated at birth. #1 question–that would secretly be my ideal day, which would disappoint my family to no end, so I will always publicly say traveling with my family. #2-color is orange. #3 my in-laws went to TCU. #4 As a Catholic and a writer, I understand completely. So very proud of you!
    Great interview and glad I learned more about you!

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  16. Sis!!! Finally I get to me you and it’s on a blog?!!! Yes, Larissa, it appears we have a whole lot in common. How very cool. And our sons play basketball, don’t forget. I don’t think my family knows my ideal day either Thanks for visiting with me today.

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