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Anita Clenney | Creating a Written World

May 18, 2011

Anita ClenneyAWAKEN THE HIGHLAND WARRIORAs writers, we have to create worlds. Whether it’s the real world, a make-believe world, or an alternate reality, we have to populate those worlds. We dress the characters, give them histories, anxieties, families, and dreams. But I think we sometimes insert a little more of ourselves into them than we realize. For instance, you’re eyeball deep in revisions and edits and you realize your heroine is…You. No wonder she felt so familiar. Is this writer’s therapy? Are we working out our childhood troubles and disillusions through our characters? Are we living through them, or just so enamored of ourselves that we are certain we must belong in a book? Well, I hope your life has been so exciting, but I suspect we’re just slipping into the familiar.

As I was writing the character of Bree Kirkland, heroine of AWAKEN THE HIGHLAND WARRIOR, I realized that Bree bore some distinct traits that I either have or want to have. Bree is a quirky historian. Not boring and stuffy, but kind of Indiana Jones-ish. Okay, that’s not me, but I wish it was. She’s clumsy–that is me–and she’s always felt a little different than the other girls. Hmmm, maybe me. Of course, this is because she’s been destined to do something very unusual. She has to wake the Highland Warrior who’s been sleeping in the crypt behind her house for over a hundred fifty years.

Writing what you know and love is a good thing, but as writers we need to stretch our imaginations and enlarge our boundaries beyond our own experiences. I think that can happen in many ways; watching people, movies, reading books, playing “what if” and sometimes through dreams, which is how AWAKEN THE HIGHLAND WARRIOR began. In this dream, my car had broken down on a secluded road, and my young son and I were forced to go to this castle for help. A man opened the door and graciously invited us in and offered us lunch while we waited for a ride. There was a woman inside as well. While we were eating, I saw a private look pass between the man and woman. It was so evil, so full of anticipation, that I knew my son and I weren’t just going to die, we were going to be entertainment. I can’t explain the horror of that dream, knowing I had to get my son out before our hosts realized that I knew they were evil. I pretended to take my son to the bathroom so we could sneak out, and of course I woke up as we were trying to escape. The dream was so disturbing I tried to go back to sleep so I could successfully escape, but no luck. That dream stuck with me for days. About the same time, I had been thinking how cool to have a story where a warrior was found buried but he wasn’t dead. I combined the ideas and the story was born.

The series is about a secret clan of warriors, appointed by Michael the Archangel, sent to protect humans from demons hiding among us. The heroes are tough, powerful, and delicious, and the heroines are spunky, fun, and keep the heroes in line. This first story, AWAKEN THE HIGHLAND WARRIOR, is the book of my heart. The characters and the plot just came alive for me, and I hope I kept a bit of me in my heroine, but not too much, because it’s her story, not mine. Here’s a blurb and an excerpt:

He’s had centuries to dream of her
Mis-adventurous historian Bree Kirkland discovers a 19th century Scottish warrior buried in a crypt behind her house. But Faelan, the warrior, isn’t dead. When he awakes, he has no choice but accept the help of this modern-day woman who’s rescued him, but she’s more fearsome than the demon trying to kill him. If he’s not careful, she’ll uncover every secret his clan has bled and died to protect.

The attraction between Faelan and Bree is instantaneous, and for a good reason, but so is the frustration, because they’re from vastly different cultures. Faelan can’t fathom a female being so bold and rash. The woman attracts danger like a magnet. And she won’t let him protect her; he, a renowned warrior since before she was born. If he could drive that bloody thing she called a car, he’d toss her over his shoulder and get her away from her house before the demon who locked him up comes looking for him.

Bree feels something for Faelan that goes way beyond attraction, frighteningly so, but on the other hand she’s ready to stick him back in the time vault if he doesn’t stop with this over-protective nonsense. It’s not the 19th century for God’s sake. He’s treating her like a child. Women are tough and independent. But after she finds out what has this big, bad warrior so worried, she’s glad to have all that muscle close by. And she’d give her pinkie toe to get her hands on that talisman hanging around his neck.


Bree’s fingers tightened around the metal disk as she ran through the graveyard. She zigzagged past leaning headstones, some nothing but weather-beaten rocks shoved into the earth as memorials to long forgotten souls. Her lantern swayed, throwing shadows on the crypt looming before her, beckoning in the moonlight, its stone walls the color of bones. Thick vines crept over it, sealing in cracks left by time, while gnarled branches from the twisted oak hovered like outstretched arms. Protecting.

Or threatening?

An owl screeched overhead, as she scurried up the crumbling steps, wishing night hadn’t fallen, when shadows twisted into monsters and spirits came out to play. The burial vault lay open near the back of the crypt. Waiting. Blood rushed past her ears, a loud fluttering sound, like all the angels’ wings beating in unison. She moved closer and peered at the chest inside. It was ornate, made of metal and wood, with green gemstones embedded in each corner. It looked ancient, like it belonged in a museum or a pyramid, or perhaps Solomon’s Temple. The beauty of it struck her again, as it had when she’d first discovered it.

She set the lantern on the edge of the burial vault and studied the markings on the chest. Swirls and shapes like writing, shifting in the amber glow. Stretching out a finger, she touched the surface. Warm? She yanked her hand back and hit the lantern. It crashed to the floor, throwing the top of the crypt into darkness. Dropping to her knees, she scrambled for the light. A sound cut through the silence. Scraping, like fingernails against stone. She grabbed the lantern, not daring to blink, then remembered the wind outside and the claw-like branches of the old tree.

She placed the lantern securely on the vault cover she’d pushed onto the alcove, and unfolded her hand. The metal disk she held was three inches in diameter and appeared to be made from the same metal as the chest. Not silver, not gold. One side had deep grooves, the other was etched with symbols. With trembling fingers, she lined up the disk with the matching grooves on top of the chest and pushed. There was a series of clicks as the notched edges retracted, and a voice rushed through her head.

What lies within cannot be until time has passed with the key.

Bree whirled, but she was alone. Only stone walls stood watch, their secrets hidden for centuries. It was sleep deprivation. Not ghosts.

She pulled in a slow, steadying breath and tried to turn the disk. Nothing. Again, this time counter-clockwise, and it began to move under her hand. She jerked her fingers back. A loud pop sounded and colors flashed…blue, orange and green, swirling for seconds, then they were gone. Great. Hallucinations to go with the voices in her head.

Her body trembled as she gripped the lid. This was it. All her dreams held on a single pinpoint of time. If this ended up another wild goose chase, she was done. No more treasure hunts, no more mysteries, no more playing Indiana Jones. She’d settle down to a nice, ordinary, boring life. She counted…




She heaved open the chest.

Terror clawed its way to her throat, killing her scream.


A Man From Another Time…

Faelan is from an ancient clan of Scottish Highland warriors, charged with shielding humanity from demonic forces. Betrayed and locked in a time vault, he has been sleeping for nearly two centuries when spunky historian Bree Kirkland inadvertently wakes him. She’s more fearsome than the demon trying to kill him, and if he’s not careful, she’ll uncover the secrets his clan has bled and died to protect…

Could Be the Treasure She’s Been Seeking All her Life…

When Bree inherits an old treasure map, she discovers a warrior buried in her backyard. But the warrior isn’t dead. Bree shocks Faelan with her modern dress and her boldness, and he infuriates Bree every time he tries to protect her.

With demons suddenly on the move, Bree discovers that Faelan’s duty as protector is in his blood, and that her part in this fight was destined before she was born. But nothing is ever what it seems…


Anita Clenney writes paranormal romance and romantic suspense. Before giving herself over to the writing bug, she worked in a pickle factory, at a preschool, booked shows for Aztec Fire Dancers, and was a secretary, executive assistant, and a realtor. She lives with her husband and two children in suburban Virginia where she is working on her next book, Embrace the Highland Warrior, which will be in stores in November 2011. For more information, please visit and

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