Author Interview

Guest Post & Interview with author of Bloodstone, Helen Johannes!




What if looking at the face of the man you loved meant death?


Years ago, warrior Durren Drakkonwehr was cursed by a mage. Now feared and reviled as the Shadow Man, he keeps to himself, only going to town to trade rare bloodstones—petrified dragon’s blood—for supplies. Though he hides his face, he can’t hide his heart from the woman who haunts his dreams…


Needing bloodstones for a jewelry commission, Mirianna and her father journey across the dreaded Wehrland where the beast-men roam. When their party is attacked, only the Shadow Man can save them. Strangely drawn to him, Mirianna offers herself in return for her father’s rescue.


Living in the ruined fortress with the Shadow Man, Mirianna slowly realizes that a flesh-and-blood man—not a fiend—hides there in hoods and darkness. But are love and courage enough to lift the curse and restore the man?




“What about us? What do we do?”

Only the hood rotated, cocking with exaggerated deliberation. “Why, you die, old man.”

Her father blanched. His grip on Mirianna’s arms faltered.

She saw the Shadow Man turn, saw the muscles of his thighs bunch as he prepared to leap down the hillside, saw, in the corner of her eye, shapes gathering along the tree line below, horrible shapes she’d seen only hours before rushing at her from a darkened clearing. With a shudder, she broke from her father’s grasp.

“Please!” She reached out to the black sleeve. “Help us!”

He recoiled at her touch like one snake-bitten. The sudden, sharp focus of his regard staggered her, but she backed no more than a step. No matter how he terrified her, he’d helped her once. She’d been led to him again, and not, her instincts told her, without reason.

“Please,” she repeated. “Help us. I—we’ll do anything.”


His voice was a whisper that caressed flesh. Mirianna’s stomach quivered. Her breasts tingled. Her mouth grew even drier. Without thinking, she slid her tongue along her lips. Vaguely, she wondered what she’d done. And why time seemed suspended, as if everyone but she and the Shadow Man had been cast in stone and all sound arrested. All sound except the taut, guttural repeat of his question.






A warrior with a destiny, a woman with a gift. Can loving the enemy restore a broken kingdom? Or will forbidden love destroy it—and them—first?


Prince Arn has a destiny–an ancient throne–but he’s not waiting for fate to deliver when he can act now, before his enemies organize against him. The healer Aerid longs for her barely remembered homeland. Marked out by her gift and her foreign looks, she insists she is no witch. The swordsman Naed hopes to honorably defend his uncle’s holding, but he harbors a secret fascination for the exotic healer. Prince Arn’s campaign against Aerid’s homeland throws them into a triangle of forbidden love, betrayal, and heartbreak. Only when they realize love is blood-kin to friendship, and neither is possible without risk, can they forge a new alliance and restore a kingdom.




Aerid could not recall how she came to be in the Great Hall, or how water and bandages materialized on trestle tables there. Naed sat slumped against the wall while Yormoc tugged off his tunic and armor. Blood painted Naed’s arm, but she could see the wound was only a finger in length.

“Get me up, fool, or ‘tis your hide I’ll line my chair with!” Her master Dranoel sat up, took in the guards at the door, and his ashen face paled further.

Yormoc examined the cloth he had been holding to his gashed jaw. “They haven’t killed us yet. ‘Tis like they don’t mean to.”

Dranoel visibly fought for control. “Mayhap the bastard Prince has some honor, then.”

“Some honor!” Aerid sputtered. Did no one but she understand what they faced? “Belike they’ll be keeping us for their sport, killing us one by one to feed their savage appetites. These be Tolemaks we speak of, and what be they if not barbarians and their master a Prince of savages!”

Dranoel blanched at her words. Yormoc froze. Even Naed’s head came up. But not a man of them stared at her. Cold dread filled Aerid. She whirled.

In the doorway stood a scarlet-cloaked figure so tall his ebony hair brushed the cross-beam, so lean Aerid sensed nothing but bone and muscle and will, a will so strong it emanated from the deep-set, stone-gray eyes. High cheekbones gave his face a noble, arrogant look. The curve of his lips mocked her. The scar cutting across the left side of his face from behind the eyebrow to the corner of the chin mocked nothing.

“Pray, go on.” The Prince of Val-Feyridge planted his boot on a bench and rested a hand on the upraised knee. “Or have you lost your nerve?”


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Guest Post

   “Where do you get your ideas?”

image1As a fantasy romance author, I’m often asked this question. My response is—do you want the quick answer or the deep answer?

In the case of my current release BLOODSTONE, the quick answer revolves around these two photos and panning for gold.

The first picture is the Rock of Cashel in Ireland. This site dates to St. Patrick, and the roots of the place go deep into unwritten, ancient history. I was mesmerized by the empty windows and roofless walls. The image became Drakkonwehr, an ancient, ruined fortress with deep, mystical roots.

The second picture is from a spring day in a mountain forest. I was entranced by the quality of light and the promise of the opening in the trees ahead. It became the Wehrland, a place of danger and mystery, teeming with the potential of magic. Both pictures accentuate the light vs. dark imagery of the story.

The panning for gold was something my father did for several summers in Alaska. His stories and pictures laid the groundwork for an early scene of my hero panning for, not gold, but the ultimate prize of gem hunters in the Wehrland, bloodstone—petrified dragon’s blood.

That’s the quick answer. You’ll notice it covers setting, a hint of imagery, and the title object. Not a thing about the people who are, after all, the heart of a romance.

That would fall under the deep answer.

I wanted to tell a story about trust, about ignoring the illusions we surround ourselves with and seeing into the heart of a person—because that’s what true love is really all about. We might be attracted by the illusions, but the truth is what either deepens the relationship or drives us away. That meant I was going to tell a Beauty-and-the-Beast story, and because my mind works in mysterious ways, it was going to revolve around a snatch of scroll lore my characters rely on at various points in the story: “True hearts and no fear, against a mage’s power, hold dear.”image2

With a setting and a kind of story, my characters popped up, as they are wont to do, and carried on ‘living’ out the adventure. I just had to write it down.



Where are you from? Tell us a little about yourself!

I’m a military brat who went to a dozen schools by the time I graduated from high school. That’s taught me about both ethnic and cultural diversity, plus what it’s like to live within a military pecking order—not to mention how to be adaptable. On just one move, I bounced from medieval history in Europe to cowboy culture in West Texas. Now I live in the Midwest, but I still love to travel.


Tell us about your book? How did it get started?

BLOODSTONE started with a scene inspired by my father’s experience panning for gold in Alaska. That idea tickled my lifelong fascination with rock-collecting to morph into a story about gem hunters and dealers who trade in one unique gem—petrified dragon’s blood.

I coupled that with an idea about a hero too horrible to look upon—something related to the Cupid and Psyche myth. In that story, beautiful Psyche is forced to wed what she thinks is a monster so horrible he refuses to let her see him. They can meet only in the dark. It’s a story about trust, and I wanted to build on that concept with a cursed hero who’s taken on a heavy load of guilt. He needs to be redeemed by a woman courageous enough to do ‘anything’ to save him.


How do you create your characters?

I write organically as a pantser, and I usually begin with a name and a scene. The character then reveals himself or herself to me as I go along. That means I often have to go back and add something to the earlier pages when I learn some important piece of backstory the character decides to reveal to me on p. 186. In BLOODSTONE the heroine and her father came to me easily, but my hero refused to tell me his real name until nearly half way into the story.


What inspires and what got you started in writing?

I started writing horse stories in grade school, then ‘graduated’ to fan fiction in high school. My first fantasy romance, however, was inspired by THE LORD OF THE RINGS. I wrote half of two fantasy novels, then went to college and got involved in life. I picked up one of the fantasy drafts when my children were small, and I decided to finish it. It became my first published book THE PRINCE OF VAL-FEYRIDGE.


What do you like to read?


I read regency romance, romantic suspense, paranormal romance, fantasy, YA, mystery, children’s fantasy, historical romance, contemporary romance. My list of go-to authors includes Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Rick Riordan, Nora Roberts, Amanda Quick, Janet Evanovich, Christie Craig, Mia Marlowe, Elizabeth Peters, Deborah Crombie to name a few.


What would your advice to be for authors or aspiring in regards to writing?


Practice your craft. Finish something, whether it’s a short story, novella, or novel. Polish your work before you submit it. Join a writers’ group. Be prepared to experience rejection. Keep writing anyway.


Anything else you’d like to share?


Visit me at my blog:


or at my Goodreads page:

Denise Alicea
the authorDenise Alicea
This blog was created by Denise in September 2008 to blog about writing, book reviews, and technology. Slowly, but surely this blog expanded to what it has become now, a central for book reviews of all kinds interviews, contests, and of course promotional venue for authors, etc

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