Thursday, March 29, 2012

Imbroglio by Alana Woods : Interview & Excerpt

What drives a person to extreme actions? Actions that others, if they knew, would have difficulty understanding.

What's in Noel Valentine's past that impels her to save a stranger's life knowing that it could endanger hers?

In hot tropical Australia Noel pulls one man from a burning car but is unable to save his passenger.

When the stranger she saved shows up back in her home town of Sydney and asks for a place to stay, why does Noel agree? Especially given he could have been an assassin hired to kill his passenger. Especially given that she's pitching to win as a client the medical technology company that seems to be central to whatever is going on. A company that both assassin and victim had connections with. A company with questionable markets and equally questionable front men.

Imbroglio is an understatement for the mess Noel very quickly finds herself in.

Something grazed her leg. It took a long moment for the fact to register because she was almost comatose.
  Blinking in the sun she turned instinctively away from its blinding light. Where she was came next. Then why she was there.
  Something had grazed her leg.
  She came fully alert, her heart suffocating in its small confines.
  She grabbed for her feet and wilted with relief that they were both still attached. She ducked her face. No blood. No marks.
  Needing air almost immediately she whipped her head up and, whimpering, craned around for the signs. Nothing. Panicking she ducked under again and twisted, waiting to see it, waiting for the connection, anticipating the pain, dreading the death.
  Please no, she kept praying, please no, not like that.
  Waiting for it her fear turned to dutch courage and she forced her fingers wide, making claws of her hands. Come on, she screamed in her mind, I dare you. I’ll bloody well gouge your eyes out before you get me. Where are you? Come on. But no predator answered the challenge. Whatever it was that had brushed past, it had not been interested. She was alone. The birds had left. No ships were steaming to her rescue. And the sharks weren’t hungry.
  The shock revitalised her. The shore became possible again, with one difference. She had remembered there were more dangers in the sea than drowning. Now she swam with that constant in mind and the sun, risen in the east, beating on her head, her arms and legs bloated weighty appendages she could have done without.
  She floundered some time after that, with the sun high in the sky.
  ‘Come on, baby, swim to William.’
  She blinked. She couldn’t focus, the sun’s reflection on the water making of it a shining heaving sheet of bubbling glass.
  ‘Come on, baby, I’m right here.’
  She shielded her eyes and sank past her nose. Water flooded in and she retched and spat and gasped and cupped her fingers over her eyes. He was standing not six feet away, rising and dipping on the waves. As she stared he held out a hand. ‘I died for you, Noel. Come with me.’
  ‘You didn’t.’
  He put his head to one side, hurt. ‘I loved you. And for that I died. Your fault, Noel. Make it up to me.’
  ‘No!  Your fault ... your fault ...’ She flailed away from him, ‘... your fault.’
  ‘You’re going the wrong way. I’ll be waiting.’
  The wrong way? She looked back. He was gone. He hadn’t been real, couldn’t really have been standing on water. Just her conscience ... your fault ... your fault. Wrong way. She slitted her eyes and peered waterily up at the sun. How could she tell? It was midday and she couldn’t tell the way until it dropped. She saw William again, bobbing up and down some distance away, smiling. She turned from him and splashed away.
  The sun had shifted and had her face in a vice, leeching the skin from wet moistureless flesh. Her eyes were swollen, she could barely see, then the sharks came. Circling at first, gauging their prey, accommodating her frantic efforts to get away. The circle was wide and as she wondered if she could swim through the gaps more and more joined the ring until they were tip to tail. Then they began to close the circle, slowly, ritually, and as it tightened they formed two, then three, outer rings. Their fins loomed large the closer they circled. She stopped swimming and watched the fins move in, appalled, fascinated. Like a ballet troupe, as one they altered their course and turned inward. In their rush they grew huge, obliterating the sun, looming like tankers, casting her into black shadows. Then they lunged and she screamed and waited for the pain, rearing waist high clear of the water as they clashed.

Tell us about your current release.

Imbroglio is a thriller with espionage undertones, but essentially it’s about a young woman who saves a man from a burning car and becomes entangled in what she realizes is a very messy and illegal situation.

 Tell us about your next release.

I have a draft and a title: Dragline. It’s a corporate crime thriller and as the title suggests, it’s about spiders.

So far my published novels have been thrillers.  The first, Automaton, was a legal thriller. The title is legal parlance, at least in Australia, for someone who has no memory of the crime they’re accused of committing.

Do you use a pen name? If so, how did you come up with it?

Definitely not! I figure that if I’m lucky enough to get a book out there and noticed, I want everyone to know it was me who wrote it!

At what point in your life did you realize you wanted to be a writer?

I was reading a bodice ripper—do you remember them—and it was so bad I threw it down in disgust and said, ‘I could do better than that’ and my husband said, ‘Why don’t you then.’ I have to say that twelve weeks later when I was still writing he asked, ‘Haven’t you finished it yet?’ That was thirty years ago. What he asks nowadays is ‘When are you going to start making some money?

How do you react to a bad review of your book?

First I get indignant. Then I want to cry. Then I think ‘What the hell! It doesn’t matter.’ The good ones vastly outnumber the bad. Mind you, if I think the criticism is valid I’ll remember it. Constructive criticism is useful; bad mouthing is not.

Are the names of the characters in your novels important?  How and why?

I agonize over names. Silly, I know, but until I hit upon one that I think reflects the person I’m not happy. I think I want them to be appealing so the reader is immediately taken with, or at least interested in, the character. That’s important because my characters aren’t always immediately likeable.

Who should play you in a film of your life?

Meryl Streep, of course.

Have any of your characters been modeled after yourself?

I don’t do it consciously but my daughters say they can see me in some of my characters' mannerisms.

Do you have a Website or Blog?

I do. My blog is on the website. It’s

What are your favorite TV shows?

Big Bang Theory. Love it.

What group did you hang out with in high school?

I was a loner. I feel incredibly sorry for any kid that finds it difficult to make friends.

Do you hear from your readers? What kinds of questions do they ask?

I’ve had a lot of feedback about my first book Automaton but none of it in the form of questions. Just praise and encouragement to keep feeding them books. I’m hoping for the same with Imbroglio.

I was born in Leicester in the UK. When I was four my family immigrated to South Australia—I was what was called a £10 Pom. In 1980 I moved with my husband John and children to Canberra to work with the Commonwealth Court Reporting Service. For most of my fulltime working career I was a professional editor and ended up as Director Publishing of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. In 2004 John and I moved to the Sunshine Coast in Queensland thinking living by the sea would be perfect. But we missed the kids so now we’re back Canberra. We also spend time each year in the UK where our eldest daughter now lives.

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Alana Woods said...

Hi Laurie

Thank you so much for the invitation to be the featured guest author for today, I really appreciate it.

Alana Woods

Anonymous said...

Great interview! Your books sound interesting, will be looking for them on Amazon in the next day or so!

Armand Rosamilia

Jane Myers Perrine said...

COngratulations on your first interview. Good job! And the book sounds fierce!

Alana Woods said...

Dear Armand and Jane

Thank you so much for the lovely comments.