Today I'm thrilled to welcome over Rebecca N. Caudill, author of A Time Apart, book one in the Macauley Series.
Genre: Paranormal Romance , Vampire
Date of Publication: February 8, 2015
Number of pages: 211 (estimated)
Word Count: 71,020
Cover Artist: Rebecca N. Caudill
A love story that traverses the confines of time, life, and death, uniting two passionate souls from different worlds and ages …
Olivia Donnelly has spent her whole life obsessing about how she will die. When tragedy strikes, reality comes crashing down and she’s forced to confront her fears head on. Hoping that a move across the globe will help her to cope with a devastating loss, she arrives in Ireland a broken down shell of a woman looking for a second chance at life.
Almost immediately Olivia is drawn to places she’s never been, and to a man that she’s never met. When she crosses paths with the mysterious and frustratingly private William Macauley, her life is thrown into turmoil unlike any she has ever known. The two couldn’t be more different – she’s human, he’s a vampire – but Olivia can’t get him out of her mind. Having acknowledged her overwhelming desire for William, now she must come to terms with how her feelings for him will greatly alter her future.
Olivia’s understanding of life – and death – take on new meaning as she examines the truth of the person she once was, the woman she was born to be, and how William is the key to her everlasting happiness.
Available at Amazon
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What inspired you to write this book?
I first had the idea for A Time Apart in 2008 when I was reading a bunch of paranormal romance books that featured heroines who were much younger than I was at the time. It’s not that I begrudge the New Adult phenomena, but I have a really hard time connecting with the characters. I really wanted to read about adult situations, with adult characters and so I started thinking about what a heroine, Olivia, would look like in my fictional world, and because I tend to enjoy really multifaceted male characters, I had to make William even more dark and complex than she was. The notion that she was the reincarnation of his dead wife came to me one night as I was struggling to come up with a valid reason for why they were so inexplicably drawn to one another. I felt like it couldn’t just be regular attraction – there had to be something more, a reason why they couldn’t stay away from one another, and from there the story took on new life.
How did you come up with the title?
Once I came up with the story angle, it seemed obvious to me. In fact, I had the title figured out before I had a lot of the story specifics figured out. On the one hand, you have William who has lived centuries without her; on the other, you have a woman who is only half of who she is supposed to be. I liked the play on her being only a part of her true self.
What made you choose the main setting for your book?
My grandmother was Irish and I’d grown up hearing stories about the place, even though she’d never been herself. Over the years it took on a sort of mythical quality in my mind, which fit well with the concept of a paranormal romance. The Yorkshire moors have their gothic tales, and I thought it would be perfect to have a vampire castle in the Irish countryside. I was a year into writing my book before I ever stepped foot in Ireland, and that trip helped me further refine my setting and descriptions.
What sort of personality does your hero have?
William, for all of his confidence and argument to the contrary, is very conflicted about who and what he is. He accepts it, yes, but he still can’t forgive himself for the things he did when he was first made vampire, and that anguish informs a lot of who he is now, almost four hundred years later. He’s sexy, of course, and commanding – men want to be him, and women want to be with him. He likes to think he has control in all situations, but we see pretty early on in the book that he doesn’t. Olivia rattles him, and he makes pretty rash decisions in his interactions with her. Once the two meet, the reader understands – even if he doesn’t – that he’s at war with himself over whether he should have her or let her go. She makes him lose his cool, while breaking down some of the cold reserve he’s built around himself. The longer they’re together, the more relaxed he becomes and we even begin to see glimpses of playfulness in him.
What sort of personality does your heroine have?
First and foremost, Olivia is a very strong woman. She grew up in an unhappy home and so she doesn’t see the world through rose-tinted glasses. When the reader first meets her, she’s trying – unsuccessfully – to come to grips with the death of her parents, hence the trip to Ireland to get a fresh start. She’s acerbic, and dry, and doesn’t easily trust other people but deep down she has a huge capacity for love. No doubt she’s impulsive, and she certainly has a temper, but much of that is only a mask for her vulnerability. All of these emotions lurking below the surface are what lead her to so quickly fall under William’s spell, and why she wants – needs – him so quickly. She’s always known that a part of her was missing, and she finally understands why. Armed with that knowledge, she won’t let anything stop her from getting the happiness that has so long been denied her.
Did you enjoy writing one scene above all the rest? If so, share.
I don’t want to give too much away here, but my favorite scene to write is one of the last ones of the book. When I initially envisioned the full story of A Time Apart – which, incidentally, has been the title since the moment I started writing it – I knew how I wanted the relationship between William and Olivia to play out; they were always going to get together. Midway through the book we see her making the decision to be with him, which was a joy to write, but I knew it wasn’t The Scene.
I felt that it was important for the story that when Olivia truly give herself to William that there be a romantic element as well. Yes, this is a paranormal romance, but above all, it’s about the love these two people share for one another. So immediately I knew what I wanted the scene to be, even well before I had ever written any of the other steamy sex scenes in the book. I was a bit worried about going overboard, or being able to artfully weave the scene together, but when I finished writing it, I felt immensely proud of what I had created. It’s one of the few scenes in the entirety of the book that didn’t really change at all during the editing and re-writes.
Tell us about your book cover and how it relates to your story.
There’s an old saying about judging a book by its cover, and doing so is something that I’m definitely guilty of. Let’s be honest, some romance covers – regardless of sub-genre – are pretty out there. I still can’t believe people carried books with Fabio on the cover on public transportation!
Because I know just enough about Photoshop to be dangerous, I set about designing my own cover even before I was finished writing the book. I went through several ideations that started with a castle as the main imagery – after all, Macauley Castle plays a central role in my novel, as much as some of the characters in the book. At first I was really happy with what I had produced, but then I started to feel like it wasn't setting the right tone. All the photos I had at my disposal were of a castle during the day, surrounded by verdant fields of green. As readers know, very quickly the action shifts to night, which made that sort of photo wrong on a few levels.
After scouring several stock photography sites I was nearly ready to give up and just go with a generic cover that I could purchase for $40 but then I stumbled on it – a series of photos of a red headed woman who looked a lot like I had pictured Olivia. I looked through the set and realized that with some time in Photoshop I could take those images and give them the feel I wanted. Photos purchased, I set about giving the images a darker look and feel, and after several different versions I settled on the imagery that I used when my book first debuted. When it came time to do a print cover, I used the same imagery but flipped it, and added some additional noise and darkness and changed the font to be a bit bolder.
When the reader is first introduced to Olivia, she's living in this sort of in-between state. She's of the living, but she hasn't been living; rather, the death of her parents has triggered a set back in her emotional stability and now she's pretty much obsessed with death. Everywhere she goes, everyone she meets, she wonders how he or she will die, and she most often wonders how SHE will eventually die. I liked the misty white gradient as it rises up to meet her face – in full, bright color – as it gives you the sense of someone who's fading. On the opposite side is a dark, black grungy, web-like texture peeking out in the shadows, which hints at something more sinister. It balances out all of the white; it tells you that this isn't a story of light.
One of the things that I really like about this cover is that it isn't dark. Almost every paranormal romance novel out right now has a dark cover. Of course, going this route could bite me in the arse, but I enjoy that what I’ve created isn't the norm for the genre, that it stands apart from the rest, that it establishes OLIVIA as the hero of my story, and not WILLIAM. Then again, I’m sure a picture of a hunky William’s chest would have sold more copies. J
Are you currently working on another story? If so, we’d love some details.
I’m in the process of editing and revising Blood of My Blood: Book Two of the Macauley Series; you can catch a sneak peek of it at the end of A Time Apart. It picks up exactly where Book One leaves off, but in it we learn more about William’s life after he became a vampire, and we see how Olivia is settling into her new, preternatural life.
I’m also working on a regency romance that has been simmering at the back of my mind since I’ve been obsessed with the period for many years now. I don’t want to give too much away about it because it’s still in the early stages, but there’s a paranormal angle there as well and I’m really excited to mix the genres as they’re my two favorites.
Tell us about your favorite writing environment. Is it indoors, outdoors, a special room, etc.
Ha ha ha ha! I’ve gone through so many these past several years, but I haven’t really found one that I would call a favorite. When I first started writing A Time Apart we lived in a beautiful 1910 craftsman, but I didn’t really have an office space of my own so I wrote the beginnings of the book on the couch. Later, I began working from home and we transformed the third bedroom into a dedicated office for me, and while it was great for the writing I did for work, I felt sucked dry creatively so I couldn’t really work on my book in there. Since then, we’ve sold our house and have been renting an apartment in a more vibrant part of town. It’s much smaller so I no longer have dedicated office space. Also, last year I fell on a dock and messed up my tail bone pretty bad so I can’t sit in one place for too long before the pain sets it, so I move from the bedroom, to the couch, to the dining nook, and all around. I long for the days when I have a creative space of my own where I can be comfortable writing. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it’s not too far off in the future.
It’s time to promo. What is your favorite marketing tool?
Those who have read my bio know that I have a pretty extensive background in public relations. In fact, I have over a decade of pitching and securing coverage for the underlying technologies that power some of the world’s current technological innovations. I had (naively) thought that having been successful with something that most people can’t understand, that doing publicity for my book would be a breeze. Ha! I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Honestly, I haven’t quite figured out what my favorite marketing tool is as an author, and I’m still getting the hang of it. I love Twitter, and have had an account since its early days. In 2015, I created an account specifically to talk about writing and becoming an author, but I’m having a hard time finding my footing in the community. In general I’ve never found Facebook a great marketing tool outside of big brands, so I’m still not convinced it’s the right avenue for me to pursue, especially with the changes Facebook has implemented with promoting accounts.
I don’t mean to sound negative about marketing. I’m not at all. I think I’m just learning to re-set my expectations on what book marketing is, compared to technology marketing. Old habits die hard, can’t teach an old dog new tricks, and all that jazz. ;)
That said, the marketing tool that I’m certainly most intrigued by is the video trailer. I have done videos in my previous profession, so I know how powerful they can be in driving interest in a product, but until I started following book tours, I hadn’t seen anything like it for authors. I really love the idea of giving readers an idea of what the book is about in video form, and it’s something I’m excited to explore with future releases.
Do you prefer to write short stories, novellas or novels? Why?
As a reader, I prefer to go more in-depth with the characters and to really examine what is happening to them and around them. I think that’s the reason that I haven’t pursued turning any of my ideas into short stories. The few that I’ve read seem to end just as I’m getting interested in the characters. Also, if my answers here haven’t clued you in, I’m a bit long-winded so I’m not sure that I could stick to putting together a short story that was worthy of publication.
At over 70,000 words, A Time Apart is a full-length novel, but I am intrigued by the idea of creating shorter novellas for future installments of the series. There are so many twists and turns coming up in the story that it could make sense to examine each of them as standalone novellas rather than trying to wrap them into one longer, cohesive story. The other thing that has changed the way I think about the novella is the success of them with self-publishers, and with the one-click ease of purchasing via digital outlets. (I have a Kindle, so I use Amazon.) If a novella is priced right, the story is riveting and fast-paced, I can definitely see that being a great avenue for a writer. Now you’ve got me thinking about all of the possibilities!
“Ladies and gentlemen, welcome aboard Flight 716 with service from San Francisco to Dublin. We ask that you please fasten your seat belts and secure all baggage beneath the seat in front of you or in the overhead compartments. At this time, please turn all personal electronic devices to airplane mode so that they cannot transmit a signal. As you know, smoking is prohibited for the duration of our journey to Dublin, and that includes in the lavatories. Thank you for choosing Aer Lingus. Enjoy your flight.”
It was usually at this point in any flight where Olivia’s real panic kicked in. Shortly – terrifyingly – the plane would be airborne with nothing but land and sea below. While she knew statistically that airplanes were safer than cars, she’d never known anyone – let alone two anyones – who had been killed, their bodies never recovered, from a freak accident on the freeway. Not to say that it didn’t happen everyday; she just didn’t know anyone that it had happened to.
To distract her mind, she listened to the crew outline the plane’s safety procedures and then the Captain’s welcome, including the weather forecast for Dublin – rainy and brisk, how shocking. Sipping the champagne the flight attendant had offered her when she boarded, Olivia felt the combination of the Valium and the alcohol take over her body, but not quite enough that she gave up the death grip she had on the arm rests. As she felt the tell tale tingle of the Valium working its magic, she thought – not for the first time – that maybe someday a plane crash wouldn’t be the worst thing to happen to her. Maybe someday she’d just never wake up from the self-induced drug and alcohol fueled nothingness she needed just to fly.
Who am I kidding?
Sadly, more and more frequently it wasn’t just plane rides that had her mixing booze and pills. Most days she wrapped herself in a hazy blur of alcohol like a security blanket, protecting her in a cocoon of mental fuzziness.
Olivia felt her pulse beginning to race and her breathing accelerate, and she made a conscious effort not to panic, not to look over at Judgy lest the woman start advocating for professional psychiatric help. It wouldn’t have been the first time some well-meaning motherly type had tried to get Olivia into therapy. She stole a quick glance in Judgy’s direction only to find that she was already engrossed in her novel, Olivia’s neurosis and emotional paralysis the least of her concerns.
Not too long after she had fought back the near panic attack, the whirring of the engines lulled Olivia into a stupor that soon resulted in a fitful sleep. For the next ten hours she didn’t exactly fall into a deep slumber, but she wasn’t fully awake either. Her mind seemed to float between a dreaming and wakeful state, and she felt strangely separated from her body. She’d see snippets of things in her head but wasn’t sure if the images were of events or instances that she was remembering, things she was imagining, or scenarios she was concocting to be used in her novel.
And then Olivia saw, quite clearly, the face of a man she had never met and yet she felt like she had known him all of her life – blue eyes, sharp and unnaturally piercing as if he could see deep into her soul. She saw a field of green that stretched far and wide, rolling hills dotted with sheep and lined with stacked stone walls. She saw herself as a child chasing a puppy larger than she was down by a river while laughing that high-pitched squeal that only a child can make as the dog raced back toward her covered in mud and dripping with water. And then that image changed as quickly as it came and she saw her mother as a young woman, happy and carefree, in love with a man who was not Gerald Donnelly.
And as she always did when in one of her fitful states of sleep, Olivia saw all the ways she could die – car accident; mugging gone horribly wrong after having put up a brave fight; her house on fire, the flames licking at her feet as she tried to run; her body weak and broken as it was ravished by cancer; or her heart slowly stopping as she lay in her bed, blind from old age and hunched with the rigors of time.
And in these dreams she was ready for it – any of it – almost welcoming the vast blackness that would follow whatever her death would be.
And then she saw that face again – the man she didn’t know but felt so deeply that she should. He whispered her name, longingly, “Olivia.”
About the Author
Rebecca Caudill read her first novel when she was just four years old and has been hooked on books ever since. When she wasn't writing her own stories, she was sneaking copies of her mom's paperbacks to read late into the night.
Fast forward several years later and Rebecca graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a B.A. in Journalism and a minor in English Lit, which gave her new insight into the written word. Following college, Rebecca embarked on a career in tech PR in the famed Silicon Valley, which eventually led to her leading Global R&D communications for a Fortune 500 company that everyone knows by name. Finally, after more than a decade of writing words ascribed to other people, in December 2014 she quit her job to pursue writing full time.
Today Rebecca lives with her husband and beautiful-but-neurotic cat in Oakland, California. When not creating fictional worlds inhabited by strong women, rakes, rogues, and dashing heroes, she is planning her next vacation, trying out new recipes, or drinking Islay scotch.