Denise Patrick, Author of The Scarred Heart, Talks Writing

My guest is Denise Patrick. A well-traveled military brat, Denise developed a love of history and other cultures during her formative years. Reading came as naturally as breathing and once hooked on romances, she determined to write one herself. Historicals are her first love when it comes to romances, especially the Regency period.

She and her husband live in the western U.S. and have two grown children. They love to travel and their current destination of choice is Germany. Someday she hopes to make it to England to see firsthand the places she has studied and writes about.

Anne - Welcome to Piedmont Island, Denise. The summer temperatures are climbing and that dictates we sit on the deck, enjoy the view, and sip some cyber lemonade. If you’re comfortable, let’s talk writing. Tell us about your book.

Denise - The Scarred Heart - Sometimes, the greatest casualty of war is trust.

Lionel Cantrell has all but given up hope of finding his missing wife and child. He left them in the care of his parents and older brother while he went abroad to fight the French, only to return to a marriage in shambles, a daughter who cannot possibly be his, and his wife and son fled to parts unknown.

Until now. At a former comrade’s house party, Lion comes face to face with the object of his five-year search. Emma, whose cold reception is keenly edged with barely concealed panic.

When Emma’s perfect marriage to her childhood sweetheart crumbled into an unendurable year of humiliation and torment, she had no choice but to take their son—and her sanity—to build a new life under an assumed name. Her chance meeting with Lion threatens to expose long-buried emotional scars. And physical ones, the origins of which he must never know.

Emma’s stubborn refusal to explain why she won’t return home only fuels Lion’s relentless curiosity. So does their undeniable passion. Time is on his side, and his well of patience is deep. But Emma’s trauma runs far deeper…perhaps too deep for love to reach.

Anne - What do you enjoy most about writing? What part do you loathe?

Denise – I enjoy creating a story. I've been a daydreamer all my life. As a child I spent my impressionable years in Europe. The history was so vivid that my imagination took flight. I remember wandering through castles, palaces, gardens, churches, and small villages and being awed by the fact that they'd been there for so long. Even as a child, I had a fertile imagination and I often made up stories about the people who used to live in such wondrous places. It was a natural progression for me to study history and then write historical romance.

I think I'm not alone in truly not liking the promotion process. I work a full-time job, so my time is limited. In addition, I have an active church life. Promotion takes away from the joy of writing because my creativity does not extend to "blowing my own horn". My poor blog is neglected regularly. I write under a pen name, so I try not to get too personal, which makes it very hard to really connect with readers. I have a website only because I finally bit the bullet and paid someone to do it and maintain it.

Anne - Of the characters you've created, does one hold a special place in your heart? Why?

Denise - The characters I love best are the ones I'm writing at any given moment. However, of all the characters I've written, my favorite is a character that is only a shadow in my Gypsy Legacy series best: the mother of Tina (The Marquis), Felicia (The Duke), and Jon (The Earl). She was created when I was still in High School (literally, decades ago). Back then, I created a whole world on a far distant planet. Even then I knew that if I wanted to create/break the rules of everyday living, I had to create my own society to do so. In that distant society, she was the youngest child in the family - spoiled, but gifted. I created many stories about her - and have put her through all kinds of emotional trauma. I even killed her off once, but it also killed my writing, so I had to dump that story. When I started writing the Gypsy Legacy series, I wrote it about her children because I could mold them more easily into the time period I'd picked. Even so, her daughter, Felicia, is very like her.

Anne – Outside of writing, of what accomplishment are you most proud? 

Denise - I don't know that I can say I'm most proud of this, but outside of my family, writing, and my job, I love doing activities with the young people at church. I have been leading the youth group for almost 10 years now and each year I learn something new from them. Watching them blossom and grow reminds me that every generation has their "style" and we old folks can learn a thing or two from the young ones once in a while. More than anything else, I'm humbled and blessed to be able to work with the youth.

Anne – I agree, Denise. I’m not one who yearns for the good old years…they’re here and now and each generation brings something unique and wonderful to this world. How many rejections have you received? Was one more memorable than others?

Denise - I don't really keep track of rejections, but I can think of four that I've received. The most memorable one was one that gave me such insight into the flaws in the story that I wrote the editor a thank you note for it. I then sat down and re-wrote the story (it took me over a year), then resubmitted it. Family Scandals is scheduled to be released August 28.

Anne – Congratulations! Would you share an excerpt of The Scarred Heart with us?

Denise – Of course.

They stopped to change horses at Penrith. As Lion helped Emma out of the coach, he asked if she would prefer the opportunity to stretch her legs while the team was being tended. With the alternative being to wait in the inn’s parlor, Emma gladly chose to walk a bit. Strolling away from the inn on Lion’s arm, she breathed in the cool air and appreciated the sun on her face.

“I owe you another apology,” she began. “I seem to be doing a lot of that of late.”

He turned to look down at her, one dark eyebrow lifted in inquiry. There was no condemnation in his gaze, only curiosity. Perhaps her continued admissions that she might have been wrong surprised him. Perhaps not.

She hadn’t slept very long in the coach. When she awakened, however, she’d kept her eyes closed as her mind reviewed their conversation regarding Grace. It had not been a good feeling, realizing how selfish she had been in abandoning Grace. Blaming a child for the actions of its father was the coward’s way out. True, she knew Charles would not pay much attention to the child. After all, she was nothing more than a worthless girl. But that still did not condone her actions. Lion was right. What kind of mother abandons one child to lavish love on the other?

Lion was still watching her as if he expected her to bolt. She stopped and turned toward him, her hand lingering a moment on his sleeve before she dropped it to her side.

“I did not mean to imply Grace was not…our…daughter. Your mother made that quite clear to me before she was born…that…regardless of her real father’s identity, the law would label her accordingly.” She paused momentarily and looked away from his overwhelming presence, then forced herself to continue. He hated her already. What was one more reason? “The truth is that I…didn’t…didn’t…want her.”

The stunned silence that met her comments did not give her any degree of comfort. She wished she could have been more forceful, more defiant. But it was hard to be defiant when you knew yourself to be in the wrong.

Anne - Her heart is definitely scarred, but I'm certain that will change! Thank you. Now, one final question. Where can readers find you online?

Denise – At my website and on Facebook.

Anne – Thanks so much for visiting Piedmont Island, Denise, and sharing your thoughts on writing and sharing an excerpt from The Scarred Heart.

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