Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Our Own Donnell Ann Bell Talks About Deadly Recall

I can't tell you how excited I was when Donnell agreed to another interview by me.

Deadly Recall, a tense romantic suspense, is her second book from Bell Bridge Books, and which Donnell is pleased and shocked to announce that during Amazon’s April 5th Deal of the Day, DEADLY RECALL climbed to the Number 1 on the Paid Overall List and in the Suspense, Romantic Suspense and the Mystery genres. 

It is my great pleasure to chat with her about Deadly Recall in our own home turf, Five Scribes.

LA: Wow. What a book. No spoilers, promise, but every time I thought I had it figured out who'd done it, I was wrong. Loved the way you put in those red herrings, Donnell. Good job. In fact, I've decided I'm jealous of the energy you have to make both Deadly Recall and the Past Came Hunting so darn good, true, and page turners.

This was a Golden Heart Finalist book in 2010, so it was written, but I'm sure you've rewritten it since then. Did you have the dreaded second book syndrome with this? Or because it was mostly done, it was easier to rewrite and meet deadline?

DAB: Hi, L.A. Thank goodness this is our home turf. At last I can kick my feet up and take a breath ;) Thanks so much for your lovely compliments. Energy, ha! If you’d seen me the last few weeks, you’d take that back. Yes, I had second book syndrome bad. DEADLY RECALL touches on and borders on some controversial issues, although I tried not to dwell on them or pass judgment. I got so freaked out that I asked my editor if maybe “Betrayed” working title for book three out in November, 2013, should come out first so people would give me a chance . Would you say that constitutes Second Book Syndrome?

LA: Yes, that works   I think my second book took so much longer than my first book because I had high expectations that it would be easier.  Wrong, it was harder.

LA: The layer of the Catholic Church made this book seem more real…it felt as if I were behind the scenes, yet not so technical it becomes a Dan Brown book. I'm assuming you are Catholic? And did you have to ask for any special dispensation to write about the church and the bishop with such detail?

DAB: L.A. Yes, I’m Catholic. No, I didn’t ask for dispensation because I imagine any objection I met would have frozen me colder than an Arctic glacier. I wanted to write a mystery about something I’m familiar with. I loved Catholic-themed movies like the “Trouble with Angels,” “Where Angels Fall, Trouble Follows,” or Plays like “Patent Leather Shoes Reflect Up.”   Confession time: I’ve never read Dan Brown. His book was enormously popular the months before and while I was writing DEADLY RECALL. I also read his work was highly controversial. That wasn’t my style or purpose in writing DEADLY RECALL. I had no dark, deep-seated revenge motives and I had no intention of slamming the Catholic Church – there’s good and evil, past and present mistakes and corruption in every organization-- therefore I made the conscious decision not to read any of Brown’s work so as not to inadvertently take one of his ideas.

LA: It's set in Albuquerque! I have family in the area so that a most pleasing surprise. Loved the traffic jams on I-40 and near the shopping centers, so dang true! You grew up in the Four Corners region, Farmington NM. What or why is your Albuquerque connection?

DAB: I lived in Albuquerque a short while, I have friends who live there, and going to school in Las Cruces, NM, I had to travel through Albuquerque numerous times. Albuquerque, for my friends and I, when you grow up in Farmington, is the big city—we often took trips there. When my husband went on business, I accompanied him, went to the balloon festivals and more. New Mexico is a fairly small state. I claim the entire LAND OF ENCHANTMENT as my home.

LA: So who was your favorite character in the story? I know mine!

DAB: Oh, wow, you want me to choose? It has to be Eden. Although I love Kevin Dancer, Eden’s part of me. I also love Sister Beatrice, although we only meet her once and then posthumously. I also loved several of the characters because of their humanity and imperfections. Perhaps we should have said in what order ;)

LA: Who was your least? I have mine.

DAB: There is only one character I despised and I think you can guess who that is. As you can guess, I had my favorite nuns and I had a couple I didn’t care for. Sister Agnes is a hodgepodge of the latter. As I wrote this story, I found myself understanding her and forgiving her. I didn’t like her per se, but I did find that I loved her a little bit. Does that even make sense?

LA: Donnell, you picked two professions for your protagonists that leave, I think, little wiggle room to mess up the lingo and terms that are important to use correctly. Are you masochistic?

DAB: Ha, ha, ha. I’m entirely masochistic. I made mistakes and will continue to do so. I write fiction not perfectionism. The mistakes are entirely mine and not the terrific people who tried to help me. In one scene the psychiatrist asks Kevin how he felt when he had to draw his service revolver. After I read the published version, I cringed when I read that… Service weapons are not revolvers. But the good news is it was the psychiatrist who asked and not Kevin, so the doctor might not have known where as Kevin definitely would have.

LA: Okay, I'm married to a lawyer who hates to give me advice on my stories. The jargon for the police and legal side sounded just right. If I remember, you were a court reporter in a different life, right? Did that help?

DAB: An injury ended my court reporting career, but I find its curriculum aids me so much in my writing. Of course I call upon lawyers, and PIs and law enforcement professionals. I have them on speed dial and ask questions on Crimescenewriters.

LA: Your APD detective –Kevin Dancer- is also so real. How do you write male characters that sound so male? Strong, with a sense of who they are at the moment, even if that changes later. A sense of right and wrong, even if the lines have to be blurred later. AND they're not afraid to say what needs to be said, do what needs to be done.  

DAB: What a beautiful compliment. I sure tried. When I create a character I get to know them as I write and where he is in his age group and in the stage of his life. Joe Crandall in The Past Came Hunting is a by-the-book, career police lieutenant. Kevin Dancer is still clawing his way up the ropes of law enforcement, and he hasn’t been hardened the way Joe has. He’s younger, still looking for the right woman, and events of his childhood still have huge influence over him. The events that happen in Deadly Recall will be part of his hard knocks education if I decide to write a spin- off book. I take these all into consideration when they evolve in the story.

 As for dialogue and character, this might sound corny, but I create a lot of these characters surrounding my husband. There’s no one with a more ethical, larger sense of right and wrong than Les Bell. Les will say in one sentence what some people say in three paragraphs. After 30 years of marriage, I learned “men-speak” from him. ;)

LA: I shed a tear at the end for Sister Beatrice. (Promise, not a spoiler.) Do you get emotional when you write, I know I've cried over a scene. And when you're finished with the book what do you feel? Satisfaction? Fear? Sick of the dang thing?  

DAB: I choked up numerous times in DEADLY RECALL, which means I’m either entirely sappy or too close to this story. I felt a great deal of satisfaction because this book evolved from my roots. I felt burgeoning satisfaction when I completed the story. I was also terribly afraid, but something compelled me to write it, even when editors and agents told me not to, whether I was the only person to read it or not – I had to tell this story. I’m not sick of it yet. Give it time ;) I’m still a relatively new author.

LA: Was Father Slater modeled on anyone one person. He was a fantastic character.  

DAB: Loved Father Slater. When I was a little girl we had a priest who played the guitar. He sang a song called, “Little Boxes,” which challenged people trying always to fit in. He also sang in church, which I think some of the older parishioners took issue with as he was too hep back in the 1960s. I can’t say Father Slater was this priest, but somewhere in my subconscious, like the nuns, I created Father Slater to be Eden’s replacement for her mentor Sister Beatrice.

LA: You are one of the founding members of the Crimescenewriters and you belong to several mystery writers groups. Do you write the book and then use these experts to make sure it's right? Send them pages? Check for jargon? Use TV crime shows?

DAB: I’m not a founding member. That honor belongs to Wally Lind. I’m a moderator and co-owner these days. I can ask questions and form my answers from these professionals, but, no, I never send them pages. Kind of like asking for dispensation thing from the Catholic Church. I think having them read my work would freeze me. I do try to get it right to the best of my ability, which is why I take Citizens Academies, and workshops, every chance I get. The good news about Crimescenewriters is they don’t necessarily say that would never happen, they try to help writers create a way around their stories to make their scenarios plausible. Again, any mistakes are mine.

LA: In our last interview you mentioned forgiveness as one of your primary themes in writing and see this specifically this book. Forgiveness is often hard to grant, why do you think you chose this theme?

DAB: I think today’s society with reality shows an instant gratification sorely needs a mega-dose of forgiveness. Often, I see people ripped to shreds over misspeaking, or how they dress or look, or for having a differing opinion. I will continue to write about redemption and forgiveness. Like it or not, it’s part of me and who I am. I find it intolerable that people hate. I’m one of those who find it easy to love and to forgive.

You ask the most amazing questions, L.A. Thank you very much for making me think. Now my head hurts :)

LA:  Sorry I gave you a headache :)  But the book was so good, I had to ask the questions that came up.

Don't forget Donnell is posting an excerpt TODAY over on my other blog, An Indie Adventure  AND she's giving away a copy of her book to one person who leaves a comment here and there! 

Digital or paperback in North America, Digital for International readers. How wonderful is that!

Donnell Ann Bell is the author of The Past Came Hunting and newly released Deadly Recall from Bell Bridge Books.  Both books were nominated for the prestigious Golden Heart from Romance Writers of America®.  The Past Came Hunting climbed as high as #6 and Deadly Recall reached #1 on Amazon Kindle’s paid list. Her third release from Bell Bridge Books will be in November, 2013.
You can find her book sales link on her website:  

And you can find her here at:



Jerrie Alexander said...

I have to agree...the question were awesome and so were the answers. As a card carrying Donnell Bell reader/fan, I enjoyed seeing a little deeper in where Deadly Recall came from!

Great interview ladies.

Cher Gorman said...

You go girl!! WOO HOO! You're cookin' with gas, baby! Yeah!


Danica/Dream said...

Donnell, what a great interview! I'm excited to read it now. Well, more excited after having read the excerpt. Wait, did that sound bad? I like the excerpt too. I just DOUBLY like it now. :)

Donnell Ann Bell said...

Thank you so much, Jerrie! I appreciate your support so much!

Donnell Ann Bell said...

Thanks, Cher! Didn't LA do a brilliant job. Great questions, huh?

Donnell Ann Bell said...

Danica, it didn's sound bad at all. Glad it piqued your interest! Thanks for stopping by!

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Hi Jerrie,
Thanks! Donnell inspires great questions...well, I guess that should read her writing inspires great questions.

Thanks for visiting.

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Hi Cher,
Good to see you here. Did you check out the Deadly Recall at my other blog?

It's a great book. D is cooking with gas, and I need a fill 'er up of the same stuff :)


Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Hi Danica,
So nice of you to stop by. It really is a great book by a great author, wonderful woman and super friend.

Who could want more? Not me, except for her next book!!


Theresa said...

Hi Ladies,
Great questions Leslie! Donnell interesting answers. For how many years did you go to Catholic school? I'm in the middle of Deadly Recall and enjoying it very much. What makes you write stories about cops? Do you have cops in the family? Come from a cop family? I'm curious . . . what is it about these types of stories that intrigue you?