Forgetting the night and coming into the daylight isn’t as easy as first thought…
Canna Medici is free. Her tyrant husband, Giuseppe Savelli, is dead and can’t hurt her anymore. Or so she thought. Now that the recovering drug-addict is the head of Caraceni Industries and heiress to Giuseppe’s billions, Canna finds that the riches are more dangerous than ever. Giorgio Savelli, the charismatic but volatile nephew of the deceased family patriarch, wants the Caraceni fortune, and Canna needs to decide how to eliminate Giorgio and be the sole heir of the dirty money.
Operatic music group Virtuosi are in the throes of stardom; world tours, new albums and legions of fans beckon. All baritone Claudio Ramos Ibáñez wants is to be with his lover, Canna, whose business dealings take her to Milan far more often than he likes. The Virtuosi group adapt to the new relationship between Canna and Claudio, but tenor Dane Porter isn’t sure of how he feels about Canna. Dane finds himself in a situation where he can destroy Canna and Claudio’s already strained ‘happily ever after’, and Virtuosi risk a descent into jealousy and madness.
When a brutal murder occurs, and Virtuosi get caught up in the scandal, Canna begins to question if she can have a future with Claudio. As the bodies of enemies and loved ones begin to pile up, the dark desires of drugs and self-mutilation dominate Canna’s mind. The truth won’t set anyone free, and Canna’s life is again under threat, this time from her most dangerous adversary – herself.
It would warm even Canna Medici’s heart to know that, even after almost two years since Night Wants to Forget was released, fans are still reading and coming to me with the all-important question – when is the next Canna Medici book coming out? Soon, my pretties, August 28 to be precise. So yes, shit just got real again. Thank you for your patience.
I haven’t done an author Q&A for a while, so when I sent out requests for questions about Violent Daylight, and all things writing related, I got flooded! Thanks. I have grouped questions together to try and answer as many as I could, since you all have reasonably similar requests.
What is Violent Daylight about?
Great way to start! VD is about Canna and her life post-drug addiction. At the end of the last novel, Canna had managed to stop taking morphine tablets and begin to make amends with all those she hurt during her battle. Obviously things were left in the infant stage when NWTF finished, and Canna needs to time to really heal. While her drug battle has technically ended, her struggle with depression and being an abuse survivor is not easily fixed. Canna wants multiple things for her new life, and the puzzle pieces don’t fit together very well, leading to dangerous conflicts.
How do you feel about the new book?
I LOVE the new book. It feels like such a progression, like it’s the grown-up version of the series. The characters have developed so much. They are easy to listen to and understand. NWTF was the first book I published, only the second I ever wrote and while the storyline and characters were rock solid, I was definitely still finding my way. With VD, I have no fear in what I write – I wrote the book for me and Canna and I think my confidence reflects in the work. I’m not afraid of what people want or what they might say this time. I don’t want to hold anything back.
Why is Canna Medici so popular?
I’m so happy to hear she’s popular! Books have heroes and villains. Canna is both and neither of these things. I think people enjoy reading a manic main character that isn’t innocent, sweet or holier-than-thou. Canna is violent, she’s volatile, she walks down paths most people are too afraid to try. Drugs, rape, abortion, prostitution, euthanasia… Canna won’t back down with her opinion and that tends to polarise people. There are two camps, those who admire the fact she stands up for those who come from a dark background, and those who oppose her and read on, hoping she will change. I don’t mind which camp people fall into as long as their blood pressure rises while reading what Canna has to say. I realise people feel strongly about some subjects, such as fidelity and religion and chances are that Canna will say something to offend. I don’t write to shock anybody or use shock tactics to draw in readers. Next time you’re thinking of penning me a hate letter, think about why you feel offended. Chances are, it’s about yourself, not about me.
Where does the inspiration for Canna Medici come from?
Canna came to me on a random December afternoon in 2009. I wanted someone who wasn’t an innocent, someone who wasn’t the lovable-blonde-who-gets-her-man character. I wanted a book that has no happy ending with love declarations and weddings. Three things lead to serious conflict and often murder – jealousy, revenge and money, and that is interesting. I also wanted to show that behind every cheesy tabloid story are real people. Behind every photoshoot, every glamorous party, every concert featuring superstars, there are regular people living lives just like everyone else. Strip away the bright outer layer and you will find people like Canna, Claudio and Dane. Celebrities and millionaires are often written like they have these amazing lives, and I find it predictable.
What makes this different to other books available?
One things that drives me to tears (or sleep) is a common novel scenario: the hero is the rich and successful man, who has probably had his fair share of flaky gold-diggers, and meets a humble (and often clumsy) woman, who doesn’t love him for his money and they fall madly in love. Oh look, she has a heart of gold and they will be so happy together! Canna Medici is, and always will be, the focal point of the series, not her relationships. Canna is rich and independent. She didn’t work for the money or inherit it from Daddy – she earned it being a sugarbaby to an old man, and won’t apologise for it. The men in Canna’s life are needy, they crave attention from women and cling to her. The music group, Virtuosi, are all men and the face of the creation, but the project is run entirely by women. Women hold all the power at all times. Canna rarely gets blood on her hands because she can manipulate people to do her bidding. At certain times, the weakness and vulnerability goes between characters, male and female, but Canna is the only one who can pull off a crime or act of kindness when the pressure is on. I think the confliction and deviation in roles is the point of difference here. That is the feedback I receive.
Which is your favourite to write – Canna Medici or Luna Montgomery?
There is daylight (excuse the pun) between the two book characters and series. I love to write Canna – you can look at the most improbable scenario and know Canna can pull it off. In both series, I want a reader to look up and think ‘holy shit, that could really happen’. However, the books follow different paths. While Luna Montgomery in BITVS is solid but reasonably gentle, Canna is unpredictable and violent. The Secrets of Spain series is A LOT of work with historical detail and has pressure applied by readers to have everything 100% accurate, whereas Canna Medici is pure fiction. That gives me a whole lot more freedom to move. I love them both, but for very different reasons.
Do you need to read Night Wants to Forget before Violent Daylight?
You don’t have to, but the complex understanding of the emotions that drive Canna and her crimes will be understood better if you know how sick she has been, what she has suffered and what she did to ruin to Virtuosi in NWTF. I have written a novel that can stand alone, but the enjoyment would be enhanced by reading NWTF. If you have not read the first installment, there is a free promotion coming up soon on the NWTF second edition, so your chance to get started is coming!
How much time has passed between Night Wants to Forget and Violent Daylight?
VD starts two weeks after NWTF finishes. Because of the fragile nature of Canna at the end of the book, it seemed natural to follow her through her recovery in the next book. It would have been easy to skip a year or two and have her well again. It could have also made for a boring book of wedding, babies and cheesy love scenes. Instead, I could have a gritty reality of the bipolar sufferer coping with loss while trying to stay clean and sober. Way more opportunity to create drama!
Which cities will feature in this book?
Canna’s home is Milan and Virtuosi are based in London throughout the book. The other cities to feature are Madrid, Valletta, Helsinki, Moscow and Sydney. Milan and London are again the focal points, with these other locations adding some drama. No need to head back to Cartagena for some scandal!
Who is your favourite character?
Canna. Every time. I support every decision Canna makes 100%. None of the other characters endear me like her, with the exception of Claudio, because of the easy flow of friendship he has with Canna.
Do you think Canna is partly to blame for all the abuse she has endured?
NO. Absolutely not. Canna was an unloved child who left home young in search of something better for herself. Unfortunately, with a combination of low self-esteem, youth and high ambitions, it led her down a path that left her married to a violent older man. Giuseppe was evil but also very charming, so it took Canna too long to see his violent nature. By the time she knew she had married a man who ran his empire like a mafia ring, it was too late. “You only leave the Caraceni family in a body bag”. Canna endured her marriage because she felt like she had no other option. No matter her behaviour, no one deserves what Canna put up with. In VD, more stories of the state of her Italian life emerge, and I would find it hard for anyone to say that Canna deserved that treatment. No woman ever deserves to be abused, no matter what they do, secret French lover or not.
How do you manage to make an evil character so likable?
I had a reader tell me that Canna Medici is like the female Tony Soprano. The behaviour Canna indulges in is violent and greedy, but in the end, she’s a person just like everyone else. Anyone could find themselves in the same situation as Canna. Everyone has the capacity to be a killer or criminal. When the stakes are high, behaviour becomes irrational. In VD, the stakes are higher than ever. Canna is in mortal danger. People can be pushed over the edge and into desperate situations. Yes, Canna chooses to stay in the Italian crime family, so she makes the choice to be the Countess Caraceni, but late at night she is still just a woman like everyone else.
Do people really enjoy cutting themselves with razorblades?
Yes, they do. Cutting your skin is an adrenalin rush. The physical pain distracts from emotional hurt. It’s extremely complex and if a person has never found themselves in the state of mind where cutting is an option, it can be hard to grasp. Cutting is not a pathetic cry from help, as so many believe. It’s not attention-seeking. Its a physical manifestation of emotional despair. Canna feels in control of her body when she hurts it, and others attempt to control her with pain. There are obvious connections in Canna’s case.
Is there a lot of sex in this book, like Night Wants to Forget?
Yes, there is a lot of sex. Sex is another vice of Canna’s, though as you know, she is specific about her partners. Sex is a tool that can be used against men, and even the promise of sexual encounters can be used as leverage. (Are you hating Canna yet?) Canna does have a lot of sex, as she is very emotionally involved in a relationship. It’s not sex for the sake of sex.
How many addictions does Canna suffer?
Canna suffers from having an addictive personality, which means she can become addicted to anything. Obviously there is Canna’s drug problem, and binge drinking. Canna does not suffer from sex addiction and never has. Canna is addicted to hurting herself, whether that is with alcohol and drugs, hurting herself or self-sabotage, which leads to chaos that gives her (in her mind) justification to hurt herself. It’s a vicious circle.
Do you get criticism from bipolar sufferers?
Not so far, I haven’t. Bipolar disorder is something very misunderstood. People often think of it as someone with dramatic mood swings or multiple personality problems, and use it as an insult ie. she went all bipolar in that argument. The illness is when a person is in a state of mania, which moods, good or bad, can last for months at a time. Canna lives in a state of hypomanic episodes where she can function just fine, though constantly filled with anxiety, stress, sleeplessness and it can look like a good mood since the state can be highly productive. It can cause intense sex drive and mass creativity. Many people won’t notice what the sufferer is going through but the sufferer is uncontrollable in their behaviour. It does feel a little like being high; euphoria and anxiety can co-exist a world that feels rushed and full of panic. It allows Canna to live life at high speed and achieve things that others would find exhausting. When she becomes irritated, it’s an extreme situation. Canna cannot control her mood – good or bad. Mixed affective states can also occur where Canna be euphoric and depressed at the same time, which causes the need to self-abuse. Canna suffers Type II bipolar, which is hypomanic but not psychotic. These problems can be managed but Canna chooses not to be helped.
Which of Night Wants to Forget and Violet Daylight has been the most pleasurable/difficult to write?