The Pen Review & Interview with Francesca Hawley

Welcome to the Sunday Morning Edition of The Pen & Muse Review and Interview. I had the pleasure of reading Protect and Defend by Francesca Hawley. I also got to sit down with the author herself. For me, it was a wonderful experience. So please check out Protect and Defend!

Protect and Defend by Francesca Hawley
Paranormal/Romantic Suspense
Ellora’s Cave

The story of Mikaela and Diarmid is a story surrounded by suspense, action, fantasy, and love. Hawley definitely did not disappoint when she wrote Protect and Defend. I really enjoyed reading the story of these two people who come together in the most unusal of places. Mikaela being a well rounded woman and a writer who happens to need research for her next novel. Diarmid who is a shapeshifter who has his own past and baggage. Both come together beautifully. Every scene even those erotic had a tenderness to them. From the plot to the dialouge, Hawley paints the fate of Mikaela and Diarmid to well deserved ending. Want to find out what happens next? Go out and purchase this book! I was glad that I did!


Mikaela Laughlin discovers a whole new world, and an entirely new species, when she tours the crime lab to meet Lieutenant Diarmid Redwolf while researching her next book. She’s lusted after “Delicious Diarmid” from afar for a long time, but meeting him sets her body on fire. It doesn’t take long for Mikaela to discover there’s more to him than meets the eye. Diarmid is far more delicious up close than she ever dreamed.

Diarmid has bad guys to catch, but one look at the voluptuous writer has him wanting to catch her instead. His shapeshifter blood recognizes his True Mate and he wants her naked body arching beneath his. Now. But with a cold-blooded serial killer on the loose, Diarmid has one shot at his future and he will not fail. Because this time, the killer wants Mikaela.


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

My name is Francesca Hawley and I’m a 40-something Iowa girl. In addition to writing erotic romance, I work as a librarian in a medium sized library in central Iowa.

My parents were both readers and they instilled in me a love of books and reading at a very young age. Both of them read to me when I was little. As I grew older, we still discussed books. I remember fondly reading Watership Down by Richard Adams aloud with my mother. We shared the book when I was around twelve years old and it was a wonderful bonding experience.
The early love of books set me on the path to become a librarian, which is a job I really love. It’s exciting to participate in the community by providing programs and recommending books to readers.

Not only was I a reader when I was young, but a writer too. In high school, I often found an empty classroom and sat with my notebook writing romances during my lunch hour. Of course, in retrospect those weren’t very good romances because they were full of purple prose, but it was a start.

Fan fiction was another way I learned the ropes as a writer. It taught me how to construct stories and collaborate. I made a lot of wonderful friends who shared my passion for Anne McCaffrey’s Pern™.

What inspires you to write? Do you find that your muse takes over when writing?

I have to write. I always have stories running in the back of my mind and I was one of those kids who got into trouble for “daydreaming” in class. There have been times when I didn’t write my stories down, but I still fantasized an elaborate story. I found myself watching movies or television and rewriting a story to suit me or deciding what happened when an episode or film was over. That’s how I got into fan fiction. I was such a huge fan of Anne McCaffrey’s Pern™ that I started imagining myself as a Dragonrider. Once I discovered fandom and online role-playing, I had a blast.

I was a big reader throughout the years but I quit reading romance for a long time. I was in grad school taking a break from writing a paper for a library class when I stumbled across Ellora’s Cave which was then a young company. I downloaded my first book. From then on, I devoured every book I could afford – I was a poor grad student after all. Reading took my back to my love of writing romances. I decided that I wanted to try my hand at erotic romances. It was very freeing.

I wrote a short story Alpha v Alpha which was published in a short story anthology called Paranaughty by Draumr Publishing. After that it was full steam ahead and I started a novel. My dream publisher was Ellora’s Cave and my dream came true. This year my first novel, Protect and Defend, was released by EC on January 7, 2009.

As to my writing process, I’m a pantser which means I write by the seat of my pants. I usually have a beginning, a point or two along the way, and an ending in the form of “they lived happily ever after” and away I go. I’ve been trying to be a little less spontaneous, but my Muse (who is a hot guy, BTW) can and often does take over when I write.

What happens most of the time is that one of my characters will hijack a story. The culprit is usually the hero. Invariably, he messes up any plans I may have made. For example, I started out with a particular hero in a time travel medieval romance. I thought the story was going fine until the man I’d designated as the “villain” arrived on the scene. My “evil” medieval Baron proceeded to completely take over. He informed me I had him all wrong. He wasn’t bad, just misunderstood. I thought, “Yeah, right. You’re a villain.” He convinced me and I started over with Eaduin as my hero and his story is currently awaiting review by an editor. I have my fingers crossed she’ll like it.

Tell us about your works.

My recent release is called Protect and Defend. When people ask for the “short” version of what it is I’ve described it as “CSI meets shapeshifters.” My hero Diarmid Redwolf is a police lieutenant who works as a crime scene investigator and he happens to shift into a wolf from time to time. He meets my heroine, Mikaela Laughlin, when she visits the lab for a tour. He wants her at first sight and it doesn’t take long for her scent to assure him that she’s his True Mate too.
The course of true love never did run smooth. A serial killer from Diar’s past is out to end the relationship by ending Mikaela’s life. Diarmid has to explain shapeshifters to his True Mate and protect her from a psychopath, while they work to establish a new relationship. Life is full of challenges.

Who is your favorite character? How long did it take to write?

My favorite characters are usually my heroes. My excuse is that I have to fall in love with them in order for my reader to fall in love too. That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it. ☺

When I wrote Protect and Defend, I couldn’t think of any character but Diarmid (pronounced dare-mid). Diar was a modern day knight in shining armor and I’m a total sucker for those kinds of guys. Chivalry, protectiveness, honesty… Sigh. Each hero I write embodies those characteristics in his own unique fashion. Intense sexuality is also part of the make-up of my heroes. They are alpha males and when they want their woman/mate, they want her now. Of course, those same characteristics provide the fatal flaw needed to keep the hero from being perfect and perfectly boring. Stubbornness, bluntness, and rigidity are the dark side of their noble traits.

It took me about a year and a half to complete Protect and Defend. It was actually the first novel manuscript I’d completed. I think that’s why it took me so long. I was thrilled to final in a couple of RWA contests with it and I pitched it to Raelene Gorlinsky at the RWA National Conference in 2007. I sent it in and some months later, my editor offered the contract. It’s been a roller-coaster ride.

I wrote my second manuscript, a medieval paranormal erotic romance, Seeking Truth in just about a year. I hope completing my work in a shorter amount of time is a trend.
What do you want to accomplish this year?

I want to complete a new novel set in my shapeshifter world. I also have a Regency set historical I’d like to finish this year. I have a lot of ideas for stories, which is a blessing. Sometimes though, I’d like to tell my characters to quit talking to me all at the same time. I don’t want them to shut up completely, just pace themselves.

Do you have any have any other works in progress that you want to share?

My latest work in progress is tentatively titled Happy Howlidays. Yup, it takes place in my shapeshifter universe but it involves a completely different cast of characters from Protect and Defend. This time there are no dead bodies or blood. Well, there’s some figurative blood because of family dynamics during the holidays, but that’s it.

My hero, Joe Blackwolf, is a lead singer/lead guitarist in a rock band. The story opens on his fiftieth birthday where he’s wondering what he’s got to show for his life. Years of touring, but no home and no pups. Complications arise when he meets his True Mate, Mandy Goldwolf. He thinks she has a mate and he discovers she is the only daughter of two True Mated musicians in his new band, The Pack. Even worse in Joe’s eyes, Mandy is only 35.

Mandy isn’t mated, but she told her mother she was in order to get some breathing room on the ever present topic of “when am I going to get some grandpups?” Well, Mandy has some ‘splaining to do because she doesn’t tell Joe the truth right away. Instead, they do the wild thing in an empty office between sets. Now she has to straighten out the mess she created by lying to her mother and not telling Joe the truth before he found out in a very public way. On top of all that, Mandy has to convince the love of her life that he isn’t too old for her. And all before Christmas.

What would be your advice to aspiring writers out there?

Never give up. Never ever give up. If you really want to be a published author you have to keep going. If you get rejections, paper your wall with them. They’re a badge of honor. No matter how bad it gets or how bad it feels – tomorrow may be the day you get the offer. Believe in yourself and in your talent as a writer, because if you don’t believe no one else will either. I know this sounds like a cliché fest, but it really is the truth. Sherrilyn Kenyon, Stephen King, and Nora Roberts are where they are because they persisted. Never forget that.

I’d also encourage writers to find a critique partner or critique group you value. CPs are worth their weight in gold. They will tell you the truth when your work is crap and when it’s good. They’ll help you brainstorm and hold your hand. They’ll celebrate with you when you win and commiserate when you lose. They are an invaluable resource. Feed them chocolate often.

Learn how the business works and remember it is a business. No one will give you anything, you have to earn it. Listen to what published authors say, but also research on your own because you need information from more than one resource in order to be fully informed.

Let me say that one again – never ever forget that this is a business. Think like the entrepreneur that you are. Save your receipts so you can write off expenses on your taxes. Things like attending conferences, paying for organization memberships, the cost of classes and books are all a part of the cost of doing business. Buy a computer you use for your writing? It’s an expense. To be sure what qualifies, talk to your tax preparer for information. Start now. This year.

If you are offered an contract but you’re not represented by an agent, good for you. If you’re unable to secure an agent to handle negotiations, all is not lost. Before you sign on the dotted line, ask a literary lawyer to vet the contract for you. Not your cousin, Fred the all purpose local attorney, but a lawyer with a specialty in contracts and most specifically LITERARY contracts. They’re out there. They don’t come cheap, but they are worth the money.
Finally, start promoting YOU as a brand before you’re published. Buy an internet domain name and get a Web site going. If you have the time and energy, start a blog. Make contacts. Network. It helps…a lot.

What are your favorite books at the moment?

No Holds Barred by Paris Brandon. It just came out from Ellora’s Cave on Friday, February 13. Paris is my crit partner and so I had the opportunity to read this as a work in progress. It’s hot and deeply emotional and basically just a great read.

Poison Ivy by Misty Simon. Actually I’d recommend any of the Ivy series of cozy mysteries Misty writes. The stories are very funny and I haven’t figured out the mysteries during the middle of the book – which is definitely a big deal to me when I read a mystery. Misty was my first crit partner, and if it weren’t for her I doubt Protect and Defend would have ever seen the light of day. I learned a lot about story and pacing from Misty.

I also enjoy books by Christine Feehan, Robin Schone, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Lora Leigh, Robin D. Owens, and Cheyenne McCray. There are so many favorite authors I can count them all.

What is your favorite word? Least favorite?

Ah, shades of The Actors Studio. I love this part. Okay…
Favorite word – Fuck. Hands down. It’s such a versatile word. It can be a noun, verb or an adjective, depending on how you use it. You can insult people with it. You can have fun with it. Aaaand it’s one of George Carlin’s seven words you can’t say on television. That alone makes it a valuable word.

Least favorite word – orientated. I grew up using the word oriented. For example, “Fred looked at the map and oriented himself along a north/south axis.” I know orientated is a word. I know because I looked it up in the dictionary when I thought it wasn’t a word. However, whenever orientated is used in a book I stumble over it and start to grumble about its presence. It completely throws me out of a story.

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


  • Miriam,
    Thanks for the comment! I’m really enjoying the process of writing Happy Howlidays and I hope my editor loves it when I complete it. 🙂

  • Nice to meet you, Francesca. Sounds like you’ve found a fabulous outlet for that imagination! Your stories sound wonderful, and that cover is . . . eyecatching 🙂 Best of luck with your new release! And thanks to Denisse for bringing us this fine interview.

  • Hi Francesca,

    Cops are my favorite heroes and crime scene investigations are my favorite plot for romances.

    Thanks for the advice to aspiring writers and thanks, Denisse for introducing Francesca on this blog.


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