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Introducing Anna Leonard: Laura Anne Gilman’s Alter-Ego

September 10, 2008

Luna author Laura Anne Gilman enters the word of paranormal romance with not one but TWO new releases this month under the name Anna Leonard! Laura discusses the similarities and differences between her new reads: The Night Serpent from Nocturne Bites and the ebook exclusive short Dreamcatcher from Nocturne Bites…

by Anna Leonard, aka Laura Anne Gilman, author of The Night Serpent and Dreamcatcher

This month my alter-ego “Anna Leonard” gets a grand launch, with THE NIGHT SERPENT and the e-novella DREAMCATCHER both hitting the shelves (virtual and otherwise).

Although I wrote these at different times, their dual debut got me to thinking about how the stories are very different – and what they have in common. Both are paranormal romances, yes, but their heroines are quite distinct in personality and in the risks – physical and emotional – that they face. What the two heroines share is something I didn’t even realize until well after I’d handed the manuscripts in to my editor. They were both written with specific women in mind, women who have shown me the true meaning of courage. Not physical courage, although there’s that, but internal courage.

THE NIGHT SERPENT is in many ways the classic girl-kicks-ass, gets-hot-guy adventure we all love: In order to defeat a power-mad killer, Lily has to use her smarts and her skills to save herself (with a little help from a hot, smart FBI agent, naturally). The only problem is that she helped create the threat by her own foolish actions a lifetime ago. In order to stop him, she has to own that mistake; accept it, learn from it, and then let it go, and move on.

Anyone past the age of twenty has at least one serious regret. By the time you reach your 40’s, the road is littered with them and mostly you shrug and move on. But sometimes you can’t. Writing Lily, I realized that I was channeling two very specific—and very different – women: B., and P., whom I met while researching another project. What they had done in their past was less important than the fact that both of them had, independently, decided that they were not going to pretend it hadn’t happened. They faced their actions, took stock of who they had been and who they wanted to be, and made changes. The kind of strength it takes to face that kind of internal scrutiny, and come out stronger? Facing a killer is easy, by comparison!

And Emma, the heroine of “Dreamcatcher?” The original premise was the legend of the incubus, who gives sexual pleasure…at a high price. Emma isn’t a damsel in distress by nature, so when she’s suddenly thrown into a situation where her physical and mental strength are useless against an enemy who is taking over her dreams and leaving her exhausted and unable to function, she’s left floundering. She has to learn that sometimes the only way to win a battle… is to let the enemy in. It sounds easy – but it’s not.

Here, I knew from the start that I was writing it specifically FOR someone: my friends J. and S. and K., women who battle, daily, with the fact that their bodies aren’t capable of things we take for granted. They have Fibromyalgia, or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, or severe Lyme disease – conditions that make daily life a daily challenge, 24/7. Yet, they take weakness, and find inside it an amazing strength.

And there’s the tie between my Nocturne heroines: not just courage but lion(ess)heartedness. The kind of courage that allows you to look and not flinch away from the truth, no matter how ugly or unpleasant or difficult it might be to accept, that gives you the strength to get done what must be done.

And by doing so, in my books, they win (and, in Emma’s case, save) the hot, smart, caring guy, too! That’s the kind of reward courage should always have….

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