Pull up a chair, grab a drink of your choice from the cooler, a Chocolate Chip or Peanut Butter cookie from the plate, and let’s find out a little about Anise Eden and her Paranormal Romance/Suspense, All The Light There Is, Book Three in The Healing Edge! Don’t forget to enter the Rafflecopter at the end of the post
Tena, thank you so much for having me on Authors’ Secrets to celebrate the release of ALL THE LIGHT THERE IS! It is such a pleasure to be here.
Anise, the pleasure it all mine. Glad to celebrate All The Light There is! Tell us what inspired this particular story.
As the last installment in The Healing Edge paranormal romance/suspense trilogy, ALL THE LIGHT THERE IS casts its group of paranormally-gifted healers into a new and galvanizing role as they uncover a deep web of subterfuge that puts them in the crosshairs. In this crucible of science and spirituality, danger and destiny, the relationship between Cate and Ben deepens, and the MacGregor Group discovers shocking truths about their true potential. ALL THE LIGHT THERE IS ties together the interpersonal connections and larger plots of the first two books, acting as both the culmination of the series and a broadening of the imagination for the future of the MacGregor Group.
Did you tell friends and family that you were writing a book? Or did it take a while to come out and tell friends and family you were a writer?
The impulse to write my first novel caught me completely by surprise, so the only person I told at first was my husband. Once it was finished, I shared my first book with a few trusted people, but the process of revealing my work progressed very slowly. Early on, it felt as though both my work and the new writer in me needed protection—a little bit like crabs that have recently molted and remain vulnerable until their shells have a chance to develop. Now, one of my greatest joys is getting the word out to readers who I believe will enjoy my particular brand of paranormal romance/suspense!
What do you want your readers to take away from your books?
First and foremost, I want my readers to have an entertaining and enjoyable experience. Beyond that, since everyone’s experience is unique, I believe we all take away different things from what we read. However, I write about characters who are misfits, living on the fringe of “normality” and feeling out of place for a variety of reasons. It is my wish that my books will inspire people to have more compassion for themselves and others; to throw open the windows of the mind and consider new possibilities; and to know that they are not alone—that there is always hope.
What do you like to do when you are not writing?
I’m something of a homebody who enjoys the simple pleasures: sharing a meal with loved ones, reading, playing with the dog. I also love traveling, especially to explore history, and taking in a really good play or concert. Those types of experiences live inside of me and enrich my life in countless ways, and I often draw upon them when writing.
ParaTrain Internship, Day Six
It’s just a meeting. Nothing to be nervous about. I wiped my damp palms on my skirt and ordered my brain to focus on something else. Like the Jag, I thought. Focus on the fact that you’re finally getting a ride in the Jag.
And not just any Jag—the British 1936 Jaguar SS100 Ben had restored. He’d found the car in a barn in Pennsylvania, sitting on blocks and covered in hay bales. Now, it looked like it had just left the showroom. My fingertips roamed across the soft leather seat as I admired each piece of shining chrome and the deep glow of the wood on the dash. The car’s transformation was a testament to Ben’s workmanship—not to mention to his patience and tenacity when it came to the things he loved.
The things—and the people, I thought, smiling down at my ring. I hadn’t exactly made things easy for Ben, but now, two gold birds were wrapped around my finger, holding a lustrous piece of Scottish agate between their wings. He’d wanted to give me a tangible reminder of how he felt, a talisman to guard against anxiety and doubt.
I stole a glance at Ben. He was completely in his element, left hand loosely holding the steering wheel, right elbow propped up on the door. Everything about him was solid and squared-off, from the angle of his jaw to the way he carried his shoulders. These qualities were augmented by his charcoal gray suit and crisp white shirt—worn sans tie, as usual. I marveled that no matter what internal battles he might be fighting, Ben always exuded a quiet confidence.
“Enjoying yourself?” he asked.
“Completely.” I closed my eyes and inhaled my new favorite scent—a mixture of fine wool, cotton, and vintage leather that clung to Ben like an olfactory tattoo. “My mom would have loved this, you know.”
His light brown eyes softened. “You think so?”
“Absolutely.” Every summer when I was a kid, she had taken me to the local car shows. Back then, we could only look, never touch. Riding along with Ben, I felt like a glamorous movie star. I struck my best Hollywood pose, and he smiled.
It was such a pleasure—not to mention a relief—to see Ben relax after the nonstop drama of the past two weeks. There had been too many life-and-death situations, too much tension. And more than anyone, Ben had earned a vacation. With that in mind, after our meeting at the Smithsonian, we planned to spend the rest of the weekend on the Eastern Shore. That evening, we had a dinner date with my mother’s cousin, Ardis, and a reservation at a nice bed-and-breakfast. Sunday’s schedule was still open. I thought we might head to the ocean; I loved the beach in the fall. Or we could take the ferry to Smith Island; wander around St. Michaels, go sailing…. As I considered the possibilities, I nearly forgot to be nervous.
Then we entered downtown D.C. I sobered as stately suburban homes gave way to modern office buildings and massive structures of chiseled granite. Before long, the Smithsonian office building came into view—ten stories of tinted glass reflecting the cloudless blue sky like a darkened mirror. It took up half a city block.
Ben caught me biting my lip. “You know there’s nothing to be nervous about, right?”
“I know,” I lied. The truth was, I couldn’t believe we were actually there. It had been less than twenty-four hours since Ben told his mother, Dr. MacGregor, about our group’s experience with the double kheir ritual. Now we were on our way to meet with her world-class paranormal research team—and not just to exchange information. We’d been asked to give a demonstration, as well.
I had dressed up for the occasion, wearing a dove gray pencil skirt and a wine-colored cashmere sweater my mother had given me one Christmas. Still, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I didn’t belong at the Smithsonian—not as anything more than a tourist, anyway.
“Well, just in case,” he said, “let me remind you that you have nothing to prove here. None of us do. My mother already told her colleagues what happened with our ritual, and they’re keen to know more. But they don’t have any definite expectations; after all, half of them still think the double kheir is just a myth.” In a conspiratorial tone, he added, “Think of it this way. I know you have a lot of questions. Today, you can ask anything you like.”
“Hmm.” I bit the tip of my finger. “Anything?”
“Like whether The Da Vinci Code was based in fact? And whether they’re all members of the Illuminati?”
He chuckled as we pulled into the underground parking garage. “If you ask them those questions, I’ll make sure you get a substantial year-end bonus.”
“Deal,” I said, smiling tentatively. I was still getting used to the idea that my new boyfriend was also my new boss.
Ben was the manager of the MacGregor Group, an alternative healing clinic founded by his mother and housed in a repurposed church. I first met him when my former employer, Dr. Nelson, sent me to the MacGregor Group for treatment. My mother’s recent suicide had left me in pieces, unable to function. As close as she and I had been, somehow I hadn’t seen that my mother was in crisis. Her shocking loss had debilitated me, and I could barely leave my house, let alone return to my job as a psychotherapist. What Dr. Nelson hadn’t told me was that Dr. MacGregor was a psychiatrist who specialized in paranormal gifts, and that instead of “treating” me, she and Ben were enrolling me in ParaTrain, a paranormal skills training program. My first lesson had been to learn the definition of an empath—and that I was one.
Since then, my life had changed so dramatically that it was unrecognizable. Dr. Nelson, Dr. MacGregor, and Ben had all worked hard to convince me that because I was an empath, the key to maintaining my mental health was to leave my job as a therapist and go to work for the MacGregor Group. The idea of leaving my beloved therapy clients was nothing short of heartrending. But after due consideration and several persuasive paranormal experiences, I had agreed to take their advice. Before I could officially start my new job, though, I had to complete a three-week training program: one week of preparation, followed by a two-week internship.
My time in ParaTrain had flown by. Although I was starting my final week of the internship, I still didn’t feel anywhere near ready to take on my new role as an empath healer. Before I met the MacGregors, I hadn’t even known that empaths existed, so I was still struggling to find my bearings. And the unexpected romance between Ben and me was keeping me permanently off-balance. Add in the mind-blowing experience we’d had with the double kheir the previous week, and…. Well, I didn’t even know what had happened there, so I was fairly certain that I’d make a fool of myself trying to describe it to the Smithsonian research team.
That thought had me wiping my palms on my skirt again. “I am nervous, though, about this demonstration we’re supposed to give. The researchers may not have any definite expectations, but surely they’re hoping to see something. And unlike the rest of you, I have no idea what I’m doing.”
“You’ll be fine, Cate,” Ben reassured me as we pulled into a parking space. “Kai’s got it all figured out. He said he has something simple and easy planned, so just follow his instructions. Even if nothing interesting happens, that’s still useful information for my mother’s team. They’re scientists, remember? In an experiment, even a negative result is valuable.”
I had no reason to doubt Kai. He was a highly capable expert in ancient rituals, among other things. But when it came to the paranormal, I had a track record of unintentionally messing things up. “What if I forget our instructions and start reading people’s emotions?”
Dr. MacGregor had passed on a request from her project director that we refrain from using our paranormal gifts on the members of the research team without their specific permission. Apparently, they were much more comfortable observing others than being observed themselves.
“The fact that you’re already worrying about that means it’s highly unlikely you’ll forget,” he said. “And even if you do, who’s going to know?”
Only everyone, I thought. My poker face was nonexistent. I buried my face in my hands. “I’m just afraid that I’m going to embarrass myself. And you. And your mother. And disappoint everyone.”
Ben turned off the ignition. I felt him lean towards me and gently tuck an escaped strand of hair into my braid. “That’s not possible.”
His optimism was endearing, if ill-founded. “Oh, I assure you, it’s possible.”
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