Athena Daniels is the award-winning and best-selling author of the Beyond the Grave paranormal romance series and the romantic thriller Desperate. In 2016, Athena was nominated for Author of the Year and Best New Author in AusRom Today’s Reader’s Choice Awards. Her novel, The Seer’s Daughter, which blends edge-of-your seat suspense with steamy romance, also won multiple awards. As our Author of the Day, Daniels reveals how her son's lego fascination inspired her to start writing, talks about her interest in the paranormal and and what she thinks about everlasting love
Please give us a short introduction to what The Seer's Daughter is about.
The Seer’s Daughter the award-winning and best-selling first book in my Beyond the Grave, paranormal romance series.
For her, he’ll break all the rules…
After her grandmother’s death, Sage writes off the eerie supernatural happenings she’s begun noticing as grief. But when a dark killer chooses her as the next victim, can she escape an evil even the authorities can’t see?
As featured on AusRom Today: "...the perfect culmination of paranormal mystery with steamy and sensual romance and just enough suspense and intrigue to guarantee a chilling, goosebump-invoking, story line...”
"...as chilling as it is sexy... This is much more than a romance."
The Romance Reviews, 5 stars Top Pick
Watch the trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-GDaMZLt7iw
To save her, he must let go of everything he ever believed.
Upon returning to her hometown for her grandmother’s funeral, Sage Matthews is terrorized by a series of strange events. She dismisses each eerie occurrence as a by-product of her overwrought emotional state, until it becomes chillingly clear that something not of this world is desperate to get a message—or is it a warning?—through to her…
Detective Sergeant Ethan Blade comes to Cryton, South Australia, to catch a serial killer. When Ethan meets Sage—the latest victim’s beautiful granddaughter—his attraction to her is explosive and inconvenient. He knows she’s not crazy, but Sage’s theory about the murders is unbelievable.
With the handsome detective rejecting her ideas, Sage embarks on the supernatural journey that her grandmother started. What she discovers shatters everything Sage ever knew about herself—and who she really is.
Ethan’s routine case quickly turns personal when he discovers Sage is the killer’s next target. For her, he’ll break all the rules and cross every line. But how can he protect Sage from an evil he cannot even conceive of?
Why did you decide to mix edge of your seat suspense with Romance?
I love romance when it’s more than just about the romance. I love reading edge of your seat thrillers, and I’m often a little disappointed when there’s not a steamy romantic thread to complicate things even further. When I started to write, it was only natural for me to blend the two of my favourite genres.
Why the paranormal angle? What fascinates you about the paranormal?
I have had many unexplained experiences throughout the course of my life, enough to be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that there is much more to this life than what we can see, hear, smell, taste and touch.
I never opened up and talked about my childhood experiences until very recently. It was not something my family discussed. Plus, I did not want to sound flaky, or have people think I’d lost my mind! But, as this buried side of me started to come out through my writing, I have recently started to speak about my own experiences with the paranormal.
Last Christmas, my mother was visiting from interstate and the conversation turned to my writing and my fascination with the paranormal. I shrugged and tried to laugh it off the way I always do, and then mum told me something that happened to me when I was only nine months old that shocked me. I will be writing about that in an upcoming blog very soon.
In real life, do you believe in everlasting love?
Yes! I am the eternal romantic. I guess that’s why I love the romance genre so much!
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
Um… A Wonder Woman outfit in my closet? Oh, sorry. You weren’t asking about super-powers. :) The answer to what secret skills I have is not nearly as exciting. I am a partner in a family business where I run the office and accounting functions. I also have a deep love of metaphysics and hold qualifications include in Feng Shui, 4 Pillars of Destiny, I Ching, Crystal Healing, Aromatherapy, NLP, Life Coaching, and Ericksonian Hypnosis.
Tell us about your writing habits - when are you most productive, do you stick to a set word count a day?
I discovered my passion for writing later in life and wrote my first full-length novel just before I turned forty.
I still fit my writing around my life as opposed to the other way around. My responsibility as partner in a family business, and the commitments that come with having two young boys at home all come first.
I write in the mornings. Don’t hate me, but I’m a morning person. I LOVE mornings. But only since I started writing. At night, during a movie that isn’t quite holding my attention, I’m secretly impatient for it to finish so that I can go to bed and allow the morning to come that big quicker. Something like a child on the night before Christmas!
Without the need for an alarm, my mind springs awake, taken over by a restless energy. On weekends, or even after a big night out, I’ve tried to fight this energy, but to no avail. It wins, each and every time. No matter how few hours of sleep I’ve had, or how tired I am, the writer inside shouts for me to get up and put words on paper. I may suffer for the rest of the day, falling asleep in my sandwich, but one must suffer for their art, right?
So anywhere from 3.45am onwards, I’m out of bed and heading to the kitchen for my coffee. Notice that I didn’t say spring out of bed? And I can assure you, I look nothing like those perky people on the adverts, who look a million dollars in their cute little pyjamas and perfect hair. For a start, it is dark when I get up. And I too, look like something that crawled out of the night.
(Hopefully not this bad, but no guarantees!)
So I take my strong coffee, and creep into my office so as not to wake my two little boys and husband (who is the antithesis of a morning person), and shut the door knowing I have some precious undisturbed writing time.
The Seer's Daughter has received multiple awards. Did you expect the book to be this well-received?
No, but I am very grateful that it has. I am humbled by how well the series has been received so far. I have received such lovely feedback and I am very lucky to have such wonderful readers.
How long have you been writing, and what made you decide to become a writer?
I signed my first publishing contract in 2014, and since then, I have published an additional three full-length novels. My fifth novel is scheduled for release in December this year.
I spent nearly forty years searching for what was missing in my life, while at the same time trying to convince myself that nothing was. Strangely, it was a young boy and his Lego set that helped me discover my passion.
One afternoon, I was watching my son build a Lego creation that was years above his age level. He was seven at the time, and the set he was building cost hundreds of dollars. The recommended age was for a child twice his age and I wasn’t convinced he could do it. I doubted very much that I could do it. I had tried to encourage him to try a less challenging set, something recommended for his age group, but his determination was unwavering. My son worked hard for that specific set, doing jobs and achieving the merits at school that I had set as ‘conditions’. His passion and perseverance finally paid off and I bought him the set. When bag after bag containing gazillions of tiny pieces spilled onto the floor, I thought, ‘what have I done?’
My son was undaunted by enormity of the project, working for many, many hours straight, following a complex manual to build it piece by miniature piece. His focus was astounding, his determination unwavering. He was only seven! It was a struggle for him to simply leave his project to eat his meals, and the moment he finished he was straight back to it. I knew his mind had stayed on his creation with every bite he took.
The expression on my little boy’s face when he finished it brought me to my knees. His smile lit up his whole face, his eyes were twinkling and bright. His whole body seemed to glow as he walked around his impressive accomplishment. He’d transformed, come ‘alive’. It was at that moment, that something tugged inside of me.
Did I have that? What did I do that gave me a similar feeling? I wanted that same sense of exhilaration my son experienced simply through the focus of bring something to life. I wanted to create something of my own.
I pondered on that for some time, and realised there was already a part of me that had been pondering it for much longer. I just wasn’t listening to it. I was busy, I had a full life, but I realised that no matter how much I crammed into the finite number of hours in one day, it did nothing about filling that hole inside of me. And now that I’d realised that something was missing, I knew I had to do something about it.
When I look back, I see that I had spent my whole life searching. I am an eternal seeker of knowledge. An avid reader, I have several books on the go at any one time; both fiction and non-fiction. I was taking courses, the qualifications and certificates could wallpaper a room. But what was I doing? What was the thing that lit me up on the inside the way my son’s Lego project did for him? And more importantly, what was holding me back from finding out?
The answer it turns out was as simple as it was complex. Fear. I was scared of making a decision. Of all the pathways my studies opened up, what if I chose the wrong one? What if I couldn’t do it? What if I failed?
I realised there is safety in not giving anything a go, of not risking your heart by putting it on the line. There is a certain security in being the support crew and encouraging the dreams of those around you. But was I really doing even that task that as well as I thought? I like to think I was, but if you remember back to when I was talking about my son I used the phrase, I tried to encourage him to try something closer to his age. I see now, that what I was actually doing was discouraging him from trying something he really wanted in case he couldn’t do it. In case he failed.
That was a lightbulb moment. I don’t want to inadvertently pass on the same fears that have stopped me following my passions. My words were saying one thing, my actions another.
I don’t want to be the lecturer, I want to be the example.
And that is the change in mindset that freed me, allowed me to embark on my journey as a writer. I gave myself permission to fail. But I also know there is no such thing as failure. Because failing means something came to an end. Passion and following your dreams is what life is all about. There is no end. If something doesn’t give you the desired results, re-tweak it until it does. You have that freedom. It is your dream.
And once I understood this, not just intellectually, but in a way that I felt as the truth, a huge weight lifted off my shoulders.
I took the plunge. I became a writer. It is my passion. It lights me up on the inside when I release a book that I have spent countless hours making the best it can be. I put it out into the world and a piece of my heart, my very soul, goes out with it. I take that risk. Any feedback I receive I hope will be kind. Considerate. Helpful. So that I may grow to be a better person from following my dream. So that my words of encouragement to my children won’t be empty.
I hope you are following your own passion, and you don’t wait as long as I did before you start. But if you do, that’s ok too. The perfect time is where you are right now. Whatever your passion, I wish for you the same sense of wonder and accomplishment that a little seven-year-old boy once got by completing a Lego set.
As George Eliot once said, “It’s never too late to be what you might have been.”
What are you working on now?
I am working on the fourth book in the Beyond the Grave series, as well as a contemporary romantic thriller scheduled for release in December 2017.
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
Please feel free to connect with me on Social Media, or send me an email: [email protected]
Social Media Links:
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Twitter – https://twitter.com/AthenaDaniels11
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