Welcome to the Celebrate Lit tour for Out of Darkness and my interview with the lovely Erynn Newman. If you would like to read my review for Out of Darkness, you can find it here. Today, I’m chatting with Erynn about her novel, but before we get started, we’re sharing around sweet tea (with lemon) and hush puppies with honey butter. I’m getting my Southern gal on, y’all! (Please excuse my pathetic attempt at a Southern accent!) You can even find a recipe to make your own sweet tea here.
Images: Sweet Tea – The Country Cook; Hush puppies – Trip Advisor
~ About the Author ~
Erynn Newman is a pastor’s kid, raised in churches all over the Eastern Seaboard. She writes heart gripping romance with a dash of seat gripping suspense. Though she has never worked with the CIA, her DVR contains a veritable Who’s Who of international spies.
She lives in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains with her best friend (who is also her husband), a very busy little boy who calls her Mommy, two cats, and a ceaseless parade of characters who are all waiting for their turn to have their stories told.
~ About the Book ~
Elisabeth Allen gave her heart to Jesus as a little girl and to Drew Marek as a teenager. When their wedding day finally arrives, it’s the happiest day of her life–until a car bomb transforms her dream come true into a living nightmare.
As Best Man at the wedding, Gabriel Di Salvo promises Drew–his best friend and CIA partner–he’ll look after Elisabeth, but he never dreams it will become necessary so soon. As Elisabeth struggles to put the pieces of her life back together without Drew, Gabe becomes her rock, and as they share their grief and begin to heal, their friendship gradually deepens into something more.
Three years later, Gabe and Elisabeth are planning a future together when he receives a shocking call from the one man who can upend his happiness: Drew. Suspecting someone at the CIA is behind his abduction, Drew refuses to come home. Instead, he asks Gabe to bring Elisabeth to him. Now Gabe just has to figure out how to let her go.
Drew and Elisabeth race across Europe, dodging international arms dealers and attempting to reclaim what was stolen from them. But years of captivity and torture have left their mark on Drew. He is no longer the same boy Elisabeth fell in love with, but he is still her husband, and she’s determined to build something new and leave her relationship with Gabe in the past, if her heart will get the memo.
When their enemies close in and the threat of a terrorist attack escalates, Gabe may be the only person they can trust. Drew, Elisabeth, and Gabe are thrown into a fight for their lives–one that will test their loyalties to God, country . . . and each other.
~ Author Interview ~
KATIE: Thanks for joining me today, Erynn. Let’s start off with a little ‘flight of fancy’. Finish these sentences for me:
If I could visit any place in the world, I would visit…
ERYNN: The top of my bucket list was always Australia, but I did that several years ago, and as much as I’d love to go back, I feel like I should choose somewhere I’ve never been. Let’s go with Greece. Amazing sights and history, and man the food!
Well, Australia is always a good choice! But I have to say I would love to go to Greece too. All that history!
If I could assign one household task to the fairies forever, it would be… Ugh, cooking. I love to eat, and I’m actually a fairly decent cook. I just hate it (and the cleaning). Especially when we’re trying to eat healthy because everything takes more time. I would employ a personal chef so fast. Seriously, can you hook me up with one of those fairies?
I’ll get right onto it!
If I was a musical instrument, I would be an… acoustic guitar. Laid back, harmonious. Hopefully nice to listen to. I always think of the guitar as the back drop to all the amazing stories of my favorite folk artists. It tells stories of its own.
Nice! Very versatile, too! 😉
When I was a child, I wanted to be a… marine biologist. Specifically, a killer whale or dolphin trainer at a theme park. I wanted to be the one who does all the flips and tricks with Shamu.
Lol! That would be pretty neat!
My ideal place to read would be… I want to say something epic like in a beautiful forest glen by a waterfall under a rainbow. But truthfully, in my pajamas, on my couch, with my kitty in my lap is my favorite. (Also, your Australian spell check is adding y’s and u’s to all my words and making me second guess my whole life.)
😂😂😂 Yes to the pyjamas on the couch, but I had to leave that last bit in because I’ve actually been wondering at the fact that so many of my interviewees seem to adopt Australian spelling in their responses. I guess know why now! If it’s any consolation, once I put it all into WordPress it underlines them all!
Okay, let’s get down to business. Where did the inspiration come from for this story?
A combination of places. I knew when I was touring Western Europe that I wanted to write a book that explored all the hidden spots in some of the most beautiful places in the world.
I also used to watch a TV show *that will remain nameless* where a character came back from dead to find his girlfriend had moved on. And I HATED the way they handled it. Then I read the book Beneath a Southern Sky by Deborah Raney, and I LOVED the way she handled it, but I thought, what if things had gone differently?
And then I had to figure out HOW to bring someone back from the dead, and I figured the CIA was my best option.
And Out of Darkness was born.
That ‘what if?’ question is so potent, isn’t it?!
Can you briefly introduce us to the three main characters?
Elisabeth is an only child, extremely close with her parents, who run a diner in Washington, D.C. She’s an artist who dreams of making that her career, but she helps out in the diner to make ends meet. She met Drew as a teenager, and she’s loved him her whole life. She’s a delicate kind of strong, and she loves with every fiber of her being.
She has curly auburn hair, light freckles, and honey brown eyes. She looks like this model.
Drew is that annoyingly perfect guy from high school that all the girls loved and all the guys wanted to be. Good at everything, borderline genius, athletic, good looking. And the worst part is he’s also super nice. His mom walked out when he was little, leaving him to be raised by his fire fighter dad and his big sister. He decided to join the CIA after his dad was killed on September 11th.
He’s got jet black, longish hair, crystal blue eyes, and dimples. A small but athletic frame. He’s modelled after Bryce Larkin (played by Matt Bomer) from the TV show Chuck.
Gabe grew up your typical spoiled rich kid. His parents gave him stuff instead of spending time with him. He was an arrogant ladies’ man with a quick and snarky sense of humor, but secretly a good guy who felt kind of alone in the world. Until he met Drew and Elisabeth.
He’s got sandy brown hair, green-gray eyes, and a tall muscular build. I modelled him after Anthony DiNozzo (played by Michael Weatherly) in the early seasons of NCIS.
I have to confess, I’m more than a little bit in love with that picture of Drew. And more than a little bit in love with all three of these characters. Really, if you haven’t met them, GO DO IT NOW.
Well, maybe finish this interview first! But then GO MEET THEM!
Speaking of being in love, this novel has quite the love triangle in it, but you don’t actually like love triangles that much. Why not?
I can’t stand it when characters aren’t honest with each other and when they put their own interests or desires ahead of another’s feelings. When the character in the middle of the triangle selfishly strings two great people along, I lose respect for them. I also don’t like having my heart ripped out when someone I care about gets hurt. But who does?
Yep. I’m hearin’ ya! So how does an author who doesn’t enjoy love triangles come to write a novel with such a strong love triangle in it?!
Yeah, so…I didn’t INTEND to write one. Gabe just kept becoming more and more central. He was supposed to maybe develop some feelings for Elisabeth, that she definitely wasn’t supposed to return. And he was supposed to bow out gracefully and kind of disappear after chapter fifteen. But his story just took on a life of its own. There was so much MORE to him than I originally intended, and by the time everything was on the line, I realized of COURSE she’s in love with him. And I was too. And it was too late for all of us.
*Sigh* I bet they didn’t warn you about that in author school! But then, doesn’t that just reflect life? We can make our own plans, but how often do they play out as we imagined them?
What was the most difficult part about writing this love triangle?
The aforementioned heart ripping out. Because everyone in this story DOES do the right thing (most of the time), so there’s no one to be mad at. Like Gabe says, not having a choice doesn’t make it any easier. And there’s really no way everyone can have a happy ending. But I have to believe I gave them all the RIGHT ending.
For what it’s worth, I think you did give them the right ending, but Gabe is right, too. That didn’t necessarily make it any easier! But I also think that’s one of the greatest gifts books can give us: the chance to live through and process those really tough kinds of emotions, and to experience the unique satisfaction that comes from knowing that you did the right thing, even thought it cost you.
The character of Anthony DiNozzo from NCIS has been quite influential in shaping the character of Gabe. What do you like so much about his character?
I always loved about Tony that he came across as full of himself and immature at times—all jokes and skirt chasing and movie quoting, but he was actually an extremely competent agent, an incredibly loyal friend, and he would lay down his life for his family (yes, the team was always his family).
Gabe is all of those things as well. Humility has never been his strong suit, and he falls back on humor instead of facing his emotions head-on sometimes, but he is an unstoppable force, and his loyalty to his family is absolute.
Well, I found it impossible not to fall in love with him. And if you haven’t read the interview linked above, I really encourage you to do so. Erynn was really very brave, allowing herself to be interviewed by Gabe!
Drew and Elisabeth go through quite a lot in this novel. Aside from staying alive, what is the greatest challenge they face in this story?
If you’ve read the prequel, First Light, you know that Drew and Elisabeth are each other’s first loves. They’re soul mates (even though I don’t believe in those, they make me want to). They’re not going to let a little something like one of them being dead for three years come between them.
There was never any question for me that they would make things work, but I wanted it to be easy (back when I didn’t believe it was possible for her to love anyone else, before Gabe surprised us both), and Gabe made it anything but easy. So yeah, Elisabeth is in love with her husband’s best friend. Oh, and her husband has PTSD and really isn’t the same guy she fell in love with anymore, and if that weren’t ENOUGH to deal with, there are some angry arms dealers bent on their destruction, so… take your pick I guess.
Now THAT’S a story to sink your teeth into! You’re making me want to read it all over again!
What’s next for Erynn Newman?
Ooooh!!!! Just thinking about what’s next makes me wish I could chuck all my other responsibilities and write ALL THE TIME. Because I am in LOVE with my next project. It’s called Captive Hearts, and it’s the story of Nick Harding, an ex-Army Ranger whose parents are murdered, and his little brother is the only witness. There are four Harding brothers who end up going on the run together, and I just LOVE their dynamic.
And then there’s the girl who gets herself all caught up in the middle and ends up having to go along with them (because kidnapped is a strong word when it’s not what Nick intended, and he only wants to keep her safe). So you know, trying not to let anyone he cares about die while developing feelings for a woman he technically abducted (for her own safety!).
The tagline is, “If he ever wants to win her heart, first he’ll have to gain her trust.”
I can’t wait! Thanks for chatting with me today, Erynn. 🙂
~ Giveaway ~
To celebrate her tour, Erynn is giving away a grand prize of a signed copy of Out of Darkness, a signed copy of First Light, The Joy Eternal~A Sweet and Bitter Providence CD, a $10 Starbucks gift card, and Italian Chocolate Hazelnut Creme Cookies!! Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! https://promosimple.com/ps/beac
Where in Europe would be your first choice to visit—or to hide from arms dealers?!