Friday Five: Annabelle McInnes

Annabelle McInnes - alternative profile pictureAuthor: Annabelle McInnes
First published with Escape: September 2017
Favourite romance trope: Tortured Hero
Ideal hero (in three words): Alpha, supportive, gentle
Ideal heroine (in three words): Compassionate, brave, curious
Latest book: True Refuge

What began your romance writing career? Why do you write romance?
There is so much beauty when people fall in love. I take great enjoyment from writing these stories, allowing my characters to find their own path and articulating their happy ending. I plot the big elements to my books, but never the small ones. I try not to even think about my characters until I sit down and write. For me, this allows me to get excited about the journey they take me on. I have always read ferociously and across many genres, but romance speaks to me like no other books do. The birth of my son was the catalyst for me to take a risk and start a new manuscript that was focused on the relationships between my characters. That was the first draft of True Refuge. I write romance because I enjoy exploring the precious moments between lovers, where I can tell tales of tenderness and devotion and create happy endings that can be unashamedly enjoyed.

What was the best writing advice you ever received?

I attended Fiona McIntosh’s Commercial Fiction Masterclass in April this year. There were so many small nuggets of information that I found profound, but the most useful was the word count algorithm. Simply put, it’s a mathematical equation to work out how many words you need to write per day to finish your novel. For example, if you are required to write an 80k manuscript and have one year to finish, but can only write three days per week due to family and work commitments, you simply put in the numbers. So, it would look like this:

52 weeks of the year x 3 days = 156

80000 words \ 156 days of the year to write = 512

There you have it, in one year, you will have written 80k and you only had to write 512 words three days per week. Easy right? Of course, this doesn’t take into account a number of factors, including holidays for example. But if you take in it principle and apply it to your requirements, and stick to it, I promise its works! It prevents burn outs, stop and start writing, and helps with writer’s block. This algorithm has been essential to the success of completing my books.

What was your hardest scene to write? Which kind of scenes do you find difficult to write? Which scenes do you enjoy writing the most?
In romance, one of the most important element is the development of the relationship between the characters. For me, the hardest parts to write are the scenes where this plays out physically. Writing these scenes requires focus on many elements. The details of the physical placement of the bodies, the emotion, the tone and the style of writing all play an important part of these scenes. The Refuge Trilogy is a ménage relationship and often has three people intertwined in the act. The scenes must ensure that each character develops emotionally, that their individual’s quirks, mannerisms and physical limitations are detailed appropriately, and finally, that the relationship between the three of them progresses. It is a mammoth task. These scenes are always integral to my story, so the pressure to ensure that they are accurate makes them even harder to write. They are also some of my longest chapters.

But they are my favourite because of many of the same reasons. I relish writing the love that develops between my characters, the importance they place on each other, and highlighting the devotion and dedication that they share for one another. These scenes are often the most beautiful, and I really enjoy letting go with extravagant words for the right moments.

Where is your favourite place to write?
My favourite place to write is at my desk in my study. When I write in the mornings before the family wakes, I am able watch the sun come up and the flowers open to greet the day. Sometimes, the rabbits will hop past as they get their breakfast. It’s quiet, I’m usually not too tired, and the words flow more freely. It’s a beautiful time of day. 

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What’s the thing about writing that surprised you the most?
I have found the most surprising element to be that I can no longer read for pleasure as much as I used to. The books I read now no longer have swooning couples on the cover, but facts and figures. I spend my nights learning about marketing, branding, web design, the art of writing and advertising. I am inspired by other authors so I still read romance, but I find I can get caught up on their style, prose and plot and it is harder to lose myself in the narrative. My buying habits have changed as well. I am more inclined to take a chance on a new author, buy a book which supports diversity, or is in a sub-genre that I normally wouldn’t read. I also am more inclined to contact an author and let them know how much I enjoyed their book.


32434 (1)They thought they’d found a refuge, but the battle for survival has only just begun…

Surrounded by the destruction of the human race, Euan, Nick, and Kira find solace in one another, making their underground bunker a haven and a home. Sheltered under layers of steel and cement, they should be safe, but danger isn’t always kept outside — sometimes the enemy is within.

When their electronic warning system detects intruders, Euan and Nick must investigate. Outside, they discover the true terror that is approaching, and Euan must make a terrible decision: stay or go. To stay is to watch the only people he loves perish under the weight of pure evil. To leave is to face his certain death to protect them and potentially save humankind.

Despite all his preparation, skills, and strength, Euan knows that each decision carries the risk that he could destroy them all.

True Refuge, Book One, The Refuge Trilogy is available now:
iBooksBooktopiaNookKoboGoogleAmazon USAmazon UKAmazon AUS

Fractured Refuge, Book Two, The Refuge Trilogy is available for pre-order now:
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Feed Your Reader: Love Brings Light to the Darkest Places

32049 (1)
Book one in an emotional, erotic, dramatic trilogy about a world gone to hell, and the hell we hold inside…

The human race has been all but wiped out, along with our best traits: compassion, empathy, and generosity.

Euan is a survivor. In a dystopian wasteland infused with violence and cruelty, he protects something invaluable. His love for Nick and the solace that comes with the connection keeps him from destruction, and offers him that most elusive and dangerous emotion of all —
hope.

But happiness comes at a price and a hunting trip leaves Nick vulnerable to the evil that still infects the world. When Euan returns, he finds Nick broken and bloody, irrevocably damaged in both body and soul.

Now Euan’s only goal is to find a place for Nick to heal, a safe place, a refuge where they can rest, recover and repair their love. When they risk a raid on an abandoned house, they discover the unthinkable, the rarest treasure of all. A woman.

“an amazing dystopian read” – Deborah, Goodreads

Read Annabelle’s moving story about her inspiration behind this trilogy.

True Refuge is available now!
Fractured Refuge, Book 2 of the trilogy, is available for pre-order.

iBooks, Booktopia, Nook, Kobo, Google, Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon AUS

 

Exclusive Excerpt 2: True Refuge

32049 (1)

Book one in an emotional, erotic, dramatic trilogy about a world gone to hell, and the hell we hold inside…

‘Come here,’ he ordered.

Kira jerked like a startled rabbit. A tiny kit suddenly aware that the wolf was in her burrow. This time, she did attempt to take that step back, only to find herself boxed in by Nick’s finely muscled frame.

At Euan’s tone, he had moved in behind her. The need for a second serving less imperative to meeting their desires. His blond hair waywardly fell over his brow, his green eyes glittered with comprehension and sympathy. Nick still battled the demons that seared his soul with hot iron brands, but he’d set that internal torture aside, as well as his bowl of food, to meet Euan halfway to protect and nurture the woman caught between them.

Over Kira’s head, their gazes connected, clashed, tangled in an almost visceral melding of minds and understanding. After everything they’d suffered. Because of everything they’d suffered. On this, they were in agreement.

‘Both of you,’ Euan continued. ‘Come here.’

Nick nudged Kira in Euan’s direction. They moved as one until she was pressed between the two of them. Nick’s defined arms banded around her waist, while Euan’s heavily muscled limbs wrapped around both of them. It was an embrace of solidarity, one of hope, to herald the start of a relationship that, at that point, only two parties were aware of.

Euan bent and rubbed his nose, lips and chin back and forth over the crown of Kira’s head. The delicate strands of her hair caught in the bristles of his beard. Under his palms, Nick’s shoulder blades rose and fell. The mixed scent of intoxicating feminine essence and masculine exertions flooded his senses. Kira’s soft puffs of breath fluttered against the cloth of his shirt at his chest.

He wanted to protect them, shield them both from the horrors of the world they now resided in. A reality that was terribly close to their door. He’d become their safeguard, the impenetrable wall that buffered them from the truth and sheltered them from their enemies. He inhaled slowly. His eyes drifted closed while he comprehended the beauty he held in his arms. He began to unravel the thoughts that twisted in circles inside his mind ever since he’d first seen the little sprite appear out of the trees. He was old enough to know himself, to know what he wanted. He wasn’t a man who got hung up on the direction of the moral compass of a defunct society. So he knew without hesitancy, that he wanted them both.

Together. Forever. Or for as long as this life allowed.

True Refuge releases 20 September 2017.

Pre-order now: iBooksBooktopiaGoogleNookKoboAmazon AUAmazon UKAmazon US

Exclusive Excerpt 1: True Refuge

32049 (1)

Book one in an emotional, erotic, dramatic trilogy about a world gone to hell, and the hell we hold inside…

The area was devoid of life as Euan ascended the hill to the dilapidated farmhouse. Its high-pitched tin roof and slatted, rotting wooden exterior, shattered window panes and waterlogged gutters was a stark contrast against the dew-covered pasture that grew long without domesticated animals or machinery to consume it. He took the Glock from the waistband of his pants and palmed the grip as he climbed the sun-bleached steps up to the front door.

All was silent. Not even the faint morning breeze could be heard from the small porch. The quiet was deafening, it screamed a thousand warnings and the stillness spoke its own language, one Euan could understand.

Nobody was here.

They’d all gone. Euan could only hope they’d left Nick’s body behind.

He took a deep breath, maybe the last he’d take with his heart intact, and pushed open the rotting door with his free hand. He inwardly cringed as the loud squeak wrought havoc on his already shot nerves.

Euan stepped straight into a living room. The weak morning light filtered through the gaps in the tin sheeting where the roof panels had fallen to the floor from the weather. Dust moats glinted gold in the sunlight, the stink of decay and fear stung his nose. In the shadows it was cold, but he didn’t think of that, he couldn’t.

Battered furniture had been pushed to the walls to give space for a macabre performance. A play where cruelty was its drawcard and pain was its allure. Boot-prints of black and brown, blood and earth was evidence of an audience. A destroyed dining table, torn carpet and scorched floorboards were proof they stayed for a show.

In the centre of the amateur stage, the star of the entertainment lay motionless.

Nick was as still as death, a lifeless participant surrounded by destruction.

Euan’s nightmares were confirmed.

The bile in his stomach rose up to burn his throat. He scrunched his eyes closed in devastation at what was before him. It took everything he had not to cover his face with his shaking hands and cry into the silence.

The man who had given his life meaning, given him a sense of purpose, of worth. A man who held Euan’s heart in his hands and likely didn’t even know it.

A man who now lay in a lifeless ball on the floor before him.

True Refuge releases 20 September 2017.

Pre-order now: iBooks, Booktopia, Google, Nook, Kobo, Amazon AU, Amazon UK, Amazon US

Finding Refuge

Annabelle McInnes - alternative profile pictureAnnabelle McInnes is the author of True Refuge and the Refuge Trilogy. This is the tale of where she derives her inspiration.

It is hard to articulate poverty and desperation without sounding morose. There is a constant cramp in your stomach, a twisting snake that feeds on hunger, anxiety and fear. It reached minus two degrees celsius that first winter I was by myself. I was cold, I was hungry, and I was often very afraid. After three months in limbo without a dollar to my name and not much more than my school uniform to wear, I was offered basic assistance from the government so I could continue my education without having to leave school. The first cheque I received I bought a coat. It was made of wool and viscose and it required all of the money not tied up on essentials to purchase. It reached my knees and had three black buttons down the front. It was grey, and it was warm. I often wore it to bed, not for heat it offered, but for the comfort it brought me, the safety it provided. I could wrap myself in that wool and hide under bedcovers that smelt of stale cigarette smoke and cheap washing powder.

It was there, under those blankets that I dreamed. Entire worlds would rise and fall, dependent upon my will. I would lie with my back to the wall, my headphones on, a tape-player reciting audio books borrowed from the library. I ignored and chaos, the anarchy and the terrors that surrounded me at night while I lived in a youth refuge that housed both boys and girls from 12 to 18. It is not hard to imagine the events that go on there, in the middle of the night, when youth workers are tired, and children have learned to become very adept in evading adults. 

From the age of sixteen I lived in that refuge in Canberra. For those first three months, most of my meals came from school, where they offered me sandwiches from the canteen. I would hoard them and, as they grew stale, I would simply remove the mould from the crusts. Why waste the entire meal when only small sections were tainted? I still fight this need today. I’ve read that Youth homelessness effects 11 out of 1000 children in Australia. But I suspect there are many more. You likely won’t see those invisible children on the streets. They’re in hostel, youth refuges, or living in the spare rooms of friends whose parents are brave enough to shelter fugitives from the storms of life.

For two years I lived amongst the poor, the drug addicted, the traumatised and the mentally ill. I navigated a world completely foreign to most, a world that I hope you will never see. A world of destitution, desperation and despair. Where laughter comes with a sardonic edge, and no favour is ever given without consequence.

There is both abundant hope and wretched futility in those places. Girls as young as fourteen, pregnant, destitute, kept me up all night with their coughing and their stories of a better life for their babies. They dreamt of houses, of safety, of simple things like education and shoes. They knew nothing except their own tiny, singular world. There was a fruit bowl in the communal kitchen, laden with exotic offerings. It would often rot without being eaten, not for lack of hunger, but because most didn’t even know that such things were edible. 

True Refuge and the Refuge Trilogy draws from these experiences. I work with my memories of boys yet to be moulded into men of muscle and power. Young souls desperate for love and guidance, yearning for a hand to hold, but often too bitter and hurt to reach out. The worlds I create are cruel and cold and barren. A reflection of my memories of that time, but I also write stories of love, of beauty, of people that overcome adversity, that push past their hurt and pain to become champions, heroes for humanity. I write about the wonderful things that men and women can accomplish because I’ve seen it, I’ve lived it, I’ve endured and prevailed.

My experiences colour my writing, they influence both the darkness and the light. I strive to write characters that are more. About men and women who overcome societal constructs, their own histories and demand more from their worlds, more from the people that surround them, more from their leaders and their government. I have learnt that heroes do not ride down from castles on horses that glimmer in moonlight to save maidens with long hair. They come from within. Only a hero born from within yourself can pull you from the mire of poverty. Only heroes that are created by our own bravery, resolve and grit, merged to our hearts, and become intrinsic to our natures can truly guide us to freedom. They drive us, motivate us, and inspire us. They demand that we keep going, get up and try again. Until one day, you are the hero, you are the champion. You are the one shaking your principal’s hand to receive your Year Twelve Certificate, you are walking down the aisle to marry the love of your life, you are holding your beautiful baby boy in your arms. You eat bread without mould and you write stories about love and triumphing over adversity, about men who defy society and women who challenge those men without fear. That is the beauty of this one, wild and precious life. Take it, embrace the hero inside yourself and demand more from everything around you. Then love it, and maybe, when you can, write about it too.


32049 (1)

Book one in an emotional, erotic, dramatic trilogy about a world gone to hell, and the hell we hold inside…

The human race has been all but wiped out, along with our best traits: compassion, empathy, and generosity.

Euan is a survivor. In a dystopian wasteland infused with violence and cruelty, he protects something invaluable. His love for Nick and the solace that comes with the connection keeps him from destruction, and offers him that most elusive and dangerous emotion of all —
hope.

 

But happiness comes at a price and a hunting trip leaves Nick vulnerable to the evil that still infects the world. When Euan returns, he finds Nick broken and bloody, irrevocably damaged in both body and soul.

Now Euan’s only goal is to find a place for Nick to heal, a safe place, a refuge where they can rest, recover and repair their love. When they risk a raid on an abandoned house, they discover the unthinkable, the rarest treasure of all. A woman.

Pre-order now! iBooks, Booktopia, Google, Kobo, Nook, Amazon AU, Amazon UK, Amazon US