1. Tell us about your newest release.
Wildwood Spring is the story of Celia Landry, a woman seeking healing waters from a spring in the backyard of a reclusive man's property. Turner Wildwood has grown up in solitude because his father distrusted everyone after he fought in the Civil War. When Celia appeals to him for water, he agrees to help, although he warns it's not special. He keeps his real identity hidden from her. Celia returns to thank him and ends up staying at Wildwood Manor. As she discovers the secrets of the house and its occupants, she begins to fall in love with Turner. Unfortunately she unwittingly brings danger neither of them imagined.
2. What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your story?
I love the setting which is Eureka Springs, Arkansas, which is known for it's springs. In the 19th century people believed the water had healing properties. There are springs all over the town you can drive around and look at. When I was doing research on the town, I learned it was established July 4, 1879 with about 1,000 residents. Within six months the population had boomed to around 10,000. It has the largest collection of Victorian homes in America. Pretty cool.
3. Do you have any interesting quirks or rituals?
I always put my left shoe on first. I think it's bad luck to start with the right foot. I don't always put my socks on like that, but usually I do. I have a tattoo of a four-leaf clover on my left upper ankle and I had it put there because of the shoe thing.
4. What authors or friends influenced you in helping you become a writer?
One of my big author influences was Louis L'Amour. His writing paved the way for my love of the Old West and historical novels. Linda Lael Miller's historical romances also inspired me. And I have to credit my critique partners for helping me learn to write better and guiding me down the right paths.
5. What does your family think about your career as a published author?
My mom always says, “Why does it have to have sex in it?” She just skips the 'dirty' parts though. She's a huge supporter, showing up when I go to book signings and she bought me a new 2-in-1 computer for Christmas. I run everything by her when I'm working on a new book. My husband says he hears “blah, blah, blah, book, blah, blah”, but he's been really good about coming with me to signing events and if I'm having trouble with a character name or sometimes even plot problems, he's helped me out.
6. Besides writing, what other interests do you have?
I love hiking in conversation areas and national parks. It's good exercise and the places and history often inspire new stories. I love antique stores too because all that stuff for sale was part of history! It's really neat.
7. Can you tell us what is coming up next for you?
I just finished another historical romance and I'm going to try something new for my next novel, a contemporary romance. I haven't written one in a long, long time, so it should be interesting, but I'm really excited about it.
8. How can readers connect with you online?
Facebook – http://facebook.com/allisonmwrites
Twitter – http://twitter.com/allison_merritt
Goodreads – http://goodreads.com/AllisonMWrites
No one goes to Wildwood Manor, a hulking stone house on a hill outside town. Legend has it crazy old man Wildwood owes his life to the magical water of the spring at the back of the property. Celia Landry needs that water to save her mother, and she’ll brave anything to get it.
Turner Wildwood, the son of the house’s eccentric builder, is growing as reclusive as his father. When Celia turns up at his door, he’s drawn by her beauty and bravery. Wary of strangers, he doesn’t reveal his identity, but agrees to her request. When she returns to Wildwood in wake of personal tragedy, he's waiting there with a stunning change in his heart. He knows he should tell her the truth, but he doesn't want to ruin their budding friendship.
Celia's curiosity leads her to part of the frightening answers hidden behind Wildwood's doors, but her own troubled past may lead Turner into danger neither of them suspected.
"Would you like to dance?" Mischief sparkled in his blue eyes. "This is one of my favorite songs. Despite my almost solitary upbringing, dance was part of my education."
She felt heat scorch her cheeks. "Not part of mine, I'm afraid."
"I'll teach you." He faced her, putting one hand on her waist and taking her hand in his. "Do the opposite of what I do. I'll count."
He counted in fours, moving in time with the music. Celia stumbled, but after a few moments, she caught on. Turner led her around the room as they spun in circles. She laughed, forgetting her worries. It wasn't a ball and they were both in their nightclothes, but it was as elegant a dance as she could hope for.
Turner grinned as he pulled her a little closer. Their bodies came together, fitting perfectly. He dropped her hand, wrapping both arms around her waist. They stopped moving, standing in the shadow of the mastodon. Dark blond hair fell over his forehead, but it didn't hide the desire on his face.
Her name was a delicate breath of air, and he clung to her as though afraid she was a dream. She was too wide awake to believe that. Her senses seemed sharper than ever. He smelled of the lemony soap Mrs. Southard used for washing the sheets and the coffee he'd had at supper. Even in the muted firelight, she saw him clearly, his golden hair bright as sunbeams, his blue eyes the color of the sky after a storm.
She'd never been a romantic, knowing all too well she'd either be a spinster or a housewife too busy with chores and children to consider stolen kisses. She'd never imagined a man would want to show her stars, or dance with her around the skeleton of an ancient beast. These were moments she could cherish forever, think of when her world came back into focus.
It all had to end.
He lifted his hand to her face, pushing a strand of hair over her ear. "You look upset."
"I'm grateful." She forced the words out. "It's not every day I get escorted around a ballroom."
"You mean it might never happen again." He looked somber. "You'll return to the kind of life you led before we met. One where you're often hungry, alone, and overworked."
She glanced away, hating the truth of his words. "It isn't that bad."
"Somehow I don't believe you."
He wouldn't, not after the way she'd reacted to everything he'd shown her in his life. They were from different places and he could never understand how she'd lived before. She couldn't explain it without risking his pity.
"You could always stay. I'll find something for you to do in the manor. Official book reader. In the evenings you could recount all my favorites and the new ones I don't have time for."
His breath stirred the hair near her ear, tickling her skin.
"I think I prefer the title of cookie sampler. Who wouldn't want to sit in Finny's kitchen all day tasting the items he draws out of the oven." She pressed her cheek against his velvet lapel and closed her eyes. "You should have taken me back to town when you found me at the spring."
"I couldn't do that." There was the slightest hitch in his voice, as though the idea caused him pain.
"I'll be ruined for life outside of Wildwood."
"Good. Then you'll have to come back."
A love of reading turned Allison Merritt into an author who writes historical, paranormal and fantasy romances, often combining the sub-genres. She graduated college with a B.A. in mass communications that's gathering dust since it was determined that she's better at writing fluff than hard news.
She lives in a small town in the Ozark Mountains with her husband and dogs. When she's not writing or reading, she hikes in national parks and conservation areas.