Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Guest Post - Author JoAnne Kenrick
& Giveaway

Happy Tuesday!  This is a special day, because I'm very excited to welcome The Immortal Realm's first guest.  JoAnne Kenrick is the author of When A Mullo Loves A Woman, Sweet Irish Kiss, and Rock You Like A Hurricane.  She is also just the nicest person.  :-)  Today JoAnne is here to talk about her latest release, Dracula's Kiss, which has been getting some really great reviews.

Take it away, JoAnne!
Firstly, let me extend a huge thank you to Dianne, for allowing me to chat about my new release, Dracula's Kiss, on her blog. It's a huge honor to be here and I'm totally fighting back a fan-girl squeal here. You know, I just adored Darkness Dawns!
“JoAnne Kenrick writes with passion and excitement. She brings her characters to life through lavish attention to emotions and character. She weaved a tale that entranced my imagination leaving me wanting more.” 

For the setting of this story, I wanted a dark mood and to portray an apt location for a creepy halloween party that would lend itself well to a gothic-esk tale reminiscent of the classic vampire movies. I would say that I chose Slains Castle in Cruden Bay,  Scotland. But I think rather, the castle choose me.

As I wasn't able, physically, to go in search of my perfect location (although a Brit born n bred, I now live in North Carolina), youtube became my best friend. It's amazing the places you can visit through other people's eyes. When I typed in creepy Scottish castle, Dracula was the first word I saw.
Odd as it may sound, but all the search results were from Cruden Bay. I type in that search now, and I get completely different results. And that's why I believe these locations called out to me...or rather my muse.

Here's one of my favorites, that gave a real 'close up' look at Slains Castle.

Cruden Bay and it's surrounding area is home to a few different locations of interest that are perfect for the female lead, Catherine Ela (Cathela), who has what some might say an unhealthy obsession with vampires. Well, her boyfriend Nick would say it's unhealthy. Lucky for her she moves on to more exciting pastures in...Dracula's Kiss.

Ecclesgrieg Castle is located in St Cyurus, near Cruden Bay. It's believed that Bram Stoker visited while staying in the Kilmarnock Arms in Cruden Bay during 1894. This house has an an intriguing history, with legends of curses, smugglers, and ghostly sightings.
Sadly, the building is in need of some serious repair. Author to the rescue, and creative license. With my magic wand, well my keyboard, I renovated it into an impressive five star hotel for the Castillo chain of hotels and resorts featured heavily in the multi-author 1NS series of which Dracula's Kiss is apart of.

Voilà. We have a rendezvous meeting place worthy of our vampire obsessed Cathela and her dark prince, Alec Murray.

Slains Castle (also known as New Slains Castle) is sat on cliff edges, over looking the often rough North Sea. That right there is perfect, without the Dracula connection; I loved cliff-edged buildings in my vampire or ghost stories. The story goes that Bram Stoker visited this castle while vacationing in Cruden Bay. A year later, Dracula was published. Of course, every building Bram Stoker ever visited has been rumored to be the inspiration for locations in his novels. Whether they are, or not, it's still fun to know he walked those lands while writing one of my favorite novels of all time. Yes, there's a little bit of Cathela in me.

Kilmarnock Arms Inn. Bram visited this hotel and pub often during the 1800s, and it is believed he used to use it as a writing retreat. I used this location as the place where Cathela stayed after the Bank's Halloween ball in Slains Castle. It seemed like the obvious choice for Cathela to book a room here. I couldn't see her even considering anywhere else being the die-hard Dracula fan that she is.

So you see. How could I NOT choose Cruden Bay for Dracula's Kiss? I do believe it's a perfect setting for Cathela's encounter with a vampire dressed as Dracula to 'blend in'. Oh the irony.

With sporadically placed candle sconces as the only source of light, she wished she’d worn her glasses. And the uneven floor made her regret the four-inch heel on her patent leather boots. With each step, they caught in the cracks. She took them off and pushed them against the wall, figuring she could pick them up on her way back. Down the narrow and winding steps, she padded. Long dress and bare feet, like a damsel in distress from an old horror movie. Maybe Dracula is on my trail. She giggled. What if I pretend he is? Intoxicated, she struggled to pick up her frock and shorten it so she could run the length of the steps. She glanced back as if being chased, and even let out a little cry for help. I could give Mina Harker a run for her money...and Dracula a run for some fun.

She reached the bottom of the incline.

Left or right? Shame Nick isn’t here with me. It’s deserted and anything could happen down here...if I took the wrong turn. She pointed left but decided on going right, stealing a candle from the wall for light. An adventure, that was what she needed. A Gothic—all be it drunk—adventure.

What’s the worst that could happen? I get lost? The ruins aren’t that big. I’ll have a little wander around then take a taxi back to the Kilmarnock Arms Hotel and sober up.
The ceiling height dropped with every tiny step she took, and she could no longer stretch out her arms without bumping into walls. The tight space terrified her. Heart pounding, she rounded a bend and laughed with the ridiculousness of the situation, unable to believe she had accidentally on purpose arrived at the dungeons. Thick, steel bars still enclosed two of the cells and heavy-duty iron handcuffs were chained to the walls. She crept into the first chamber and glided her finger along the iron of the torturous restraints. Imagining the pain and horrors that must have happened there, she shuddered.

“Have ye been naughty? Do I need tae teach ye a lesson and lock ye up?” A voice penetrated the darkness around her, shattering her little game of pretend cat and mouse. She spun to see who’d followed her. Not wanting to be caught in a drunken state, she prayed it was a stranger. But in the same moment, she hoped for someone she knew who wished her no harm. No one would hear me scream for help.

Her candle snuffed out from a breath, and not her own. The chill exhale kissed her neck and skated down her body like an icicle drip. The horror of it sent her hurtling backward. Had it not been for the wall behind her, she would have landed on her butt.

“Who’s there? Bar dude, is that you?” She pressed herself against the cool stone bricks, too excited to be truly afraid. After all, this was what she wanted. To not know what was going to happen next, and to fully engage in life again. And the way her heart jumped and her chest pounded, she felt alive for the first time in years. “Hello?” She peered down the corridor that donned only a flicker of light from the stairway’s sconces.

JoAnne Kenrick, as ex-Ghost Tour Guide turned Romance Author, is a Welsh lass who has lived in various countries around the world.  She now calls North Carolina her home, where she lives with her husbands, two children and a lazy cat.  When they aren't demanding her attention, she can most likely be found watching a vampire movie, reading or baking up a British favorite in her NC. kitchen.  That is, when she isn't writing or chatting up a storm on social networking sites.

To celebrate my first guest -- Thank you, JoAnne! -- I thought I would give away an Immortal Guardians swag pack (Night Reigns cover flat, Darkness Dawns cover flat, Night Reigns postcard, and Darkness Dawns mini-bookmark).  To enter just post a comment and answer this question:
If you could visit any of the locations 
JoAnne mentioned, which would it be?
Make sure you include your email address in your post if you'd like to enter the contest.  I'll randomly choose a winner next week.

Have a great day!



  1. Woot for creative licensing! Oh, I think I'd want to visit them all. I'd just take a day or week to visit Cruden Bay. :)

    All the best JoAnne! *hugs*

    And congrats to Dianne on your RT nom!

  2. Thanks for dropping by, Jessica xx I wish I was a rich and famous author then I'd offer up a prize of a trip for two to Cruden Bay. Alas, I have to sell a few more books first hehe
    And yes, uber congrats on the RT nomination, Dianne, that's totally awesome and so not surprising. Darkness Dawns ROCKS!

  3. Slains castle looks totally vamp-worthy. I think I'd have to check it out. Although any castle would be wonderful. The only one I've ever been to was Neuschwanstein in Germany. It was too pretty for vamps.
    Great post Joanne.

  4. what a great post! thanks JoAnne you are a real inspiration.

  5. Great post!!! I don't think I can pick between the places! Ill just say I want to visit them all!!!


  6. Thanks, Jessica and JoAnne! Seeing my book nominated alongside books by some of my all-time favorite authors is positively surreal! What an honor!

  7. Ok, after reading all of this I'm gonna have to go buy the book. I have to know what happens. I would love to visit Slains Castle. I have a thing for the ocean and houses(Castles)on cliffs.
    Sherrie S

  8. Great post, Joanne! Glad I could finally make it by.

  9. I've never been to any of the ;locations so a visit to any would be great!

  10. Great surprise post! Thanks Joanne for sharing now I have to go out & buy your book :) Dracula's Kiss is right up my romantic, breath-holding, vampire alley! I love a good beer, an old rustic pub, vampires, & any old rustic/historic place so I would definitely want to stay/see Kilmarnock Arms Inn!

    Heidi V

  11. Wow they all sound like great places to go. I don't think I could pick just one so I would want to go to all of them.


  12. Hi!
    I would love to visit them all! But Ecclesgrieg Castle seems to be more interesting! Thanks for the giveaway!


  13. i just wanna ask.. she lives with her husbands?? how many does she have?? lol

    these places look awesome but sound a bit creepy.. the castle sounds awesome (i would love to go there to take pix) but i think i would love to go to the cliffs and visit the Kilmarnock Arms Inn..

    thanks for the awesome contest!!

    alainala AT hotmail DOT ca

  14. LMAO husbands...opps typo! Or is it??? Mwahaha