Today I'm talking with Lily Ennis, author of the romantic suspense novel Fire in the Mountain. This is Ms. Ennis' debut novel. She is also sharing an excerpt from her novel with us. I hope you will enjoy reading more about this intriguing novel and up-and-coming author.
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Lily Ennis, Author
Tell us a little about yourself
I live in a rural area outside a town of 6,000 people on a small lifestyle block with my husband Geoff, four gorgeous ginger tabbies, a 40+ something year old sulphur crested cockatoo and a wonderful goat called Charlie. I treat every minute of the day precious and am never bored. Everything interests me – okay, not sports, not really.
Briefly describe your novel Fire In The Mountain
It’s based on two people who meet each other again after three decades. They get themselves tangled in a mysterious theft. Lana returned to
after the tragic death of her husband, Yuri.
Both were musicians. Too painful
to continue without him, she finds solace in her old school friend, Sarah, who
inspires her to take up geology. She
settles into her new life and new love until she unexpectedly reunites with
Paul, her first love. With that she is
thrown into turmoil as she tries to reconcile the girl she once was with the
woman she became. New Zealand
Paul travelled the world studying volcanoes, devoting little time to his marriage, but he came home to study Mt Ruapehu’s lahar. His love for Lana never died and when he learns of her whereabouts he engineers himself back into her life.
Every day of his life Alfred tried not to think of his years spent in prison camps. Then some medals are stolen and he is inextricably thrown back to Monte Cassino. But as he follows the search for the medals he is pleased to add some excitement to his sedate retirement years until it comes at a cost, first to Lana and Paul, and then himself.
I met up with someone from school and it was not what I expected. That covers the romance bit. I recently completed a geology degree so wanted to set the novel against the dynamic backdrop of an erupting volcano. Surely, there is no more interesting place on earth than where the earth is being made!
I didn’t want a shoe box collection of rejection letters from myopic print publishers.
It has to influence whether I recognize it or not. I certainly am influenced by my surroundings and living in the country keeps me grounded in what the seasons are doing and how the environment slowly changes.
What do you do for fun?
Martial arts, Scottish country dancing, embroidery and I play a few instruments. Of course I read, that goes without saying. But for serious fun I am secretary of the local SPCA and along with hands on volunteering at the shelter I spend a lot of time on policy and governance issues.
What books have you read recently that you've enjoyed?
Labrynth by Kate Mosse
The Six Wives of Henry VIII by Antonia Fraser
The Captive Queen by Alison Weir
The Girl in
Times Square by
Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks
I am. It’s about some Japanese submariners that beached in
and sat out the rest of
the war as prisoners. It’s also about
Kitty, a school teacher and Robert, a physicist who eventually get together. However, Robert’s role in the war is not
altogether clear and it holds the romance up somewhat. Pivotal to the plot is Robert’s relationship
with the Japanese. Watch this space. New Zealand
Where can readers connect with you?
Excerpt from Fire in the Mountain
It had not been an easy sleep. Eruptions had been relentless all night. Each time she had awoken to a particularly disturbing explosion Emma and Paul had also jolted into life. It seemed they had snatched less than one or two hours at a time. When the morning light finally woke Lana, it was silent outside. The wood-lined walls of the hut were shadowy. She held her sleeping bag close to her face leaving only her eyes peeking out from its folds. She unwillingly looked at the window. She didn’t want to see a thick ash-strewn landscape or swirls of ash flying past. She wanted it all to be a dream. But it hadn’t been her imagination. The air was thick and no sunshine was able to penetrate. She glanced over to Paul’s sleeping bag. It was empty. She pulled it to her face and breathed in his scent that impregnated the soft down. It was cold. He had left long ago. She listened. Nothing. She quickly sat up and looked around. No Emma either.
‘Damn!’ She clenched her fists and beat them on her mattress. No wonder Emma had so willingly conceded defeat last night. She had every intention of accompanying Paul and he had bloody let her!
It was calm outside. The hut for once was not trembling. She peeled herself out of her bag and dressed in full thermals with trousers and shirt over top, ready for a day on the mountain should she get the opportunity. Then she ran her fingers through her hair and padded out to the main room. She made straight for the door. She’d held a slim hope that Paul and Emma were sitting on the deck with a hot cup of tea watching the sunrise. But the deck was empty and their boots had gone. How dare they! It was clear that Paul had wanted Emma with him or they would have woken the whole hut arguing about it. She stomped back inside and let the door slam behind her.
The others were not up. There was a light breeze coming through the broken window with ash swirling its way in. She trotted back to her pack and cut up her bright yellow plastic pack liner then fastened a piece of it to the window frame with insulation tape. It gave the room a surreal cheerful look.
Bill was tossing and turning on his bunk, lying diagonally across several mattresses and muttering. She went to him and placed her hand on Bill’s forehead. A bit hot.
‘Not that one,’ Bill muttered. The comment caught Lana by surprise and she quickly withdrew her hand.
‘Which one?’ she asked squatting alongside the bunk.
‘What purple ribbon Bill?’ Lana pressed him.
‘Who is Tom?’
‘Tom,’ he repeated.
‘Where is the purple ribbon Bill?’ asked Lana.
‘Ant,’ Lana murmured to herself. An insect or a name?
? She decided to lead the questioning. ‘How did you hurt yourself Bill?’ Antony
A name, Lana decided. ‘Who is Ant?’
‘You shouldn’t have taken it,’ Bill warned.
‘What did I take?’ asked Lana.
‘With a purple ribbon?’
‘Stop it,’ Bill made a thrusting movement with one arm.
‘Are you in a fight? Bill? Are you in a fight?’ Lana repeated.
He made another thrusting movement and rolled away from Lana. Just then the door to the bunkroom opened and Dave came out. He quickly surveyed the room.
‘What’s going on?’ he asked Lana.
Lana bristled at his tone.
‘What’s he been saying?’
‘Just about a ribbon.’
‘And?’ he spat.
There was maliciousness behind that one word. It scared her.
‘And nothing. Look your mate better see to him if he’s a doctor. He’s clearly not well,’ she implored. ‘He’s reliving something stressful and it’s the fever bringing that on.’
Dave looked around the room furtively. He opened the door to Lana’s bunkroom and glanced in. ‘Where are your friends?’ he asked.
‘They’ve gone out for a minute,’ she lied. ‘They’ll be back any time now.’
She rose from her squatting position and made for the door of the hut. Dave took a half step to one side so she could pass but not so easily that she didn’t rub against him.
‘Where are you going?’ he asked.
She turned, glared at him and slammed the door after her.
It was a trek of some fifty metres uphill over uneven ash-covered, rock-strewn ground to the toilet. A mid-green plastic box battened down with steel guy ropes stood sentinel above the little hut. As she climbed she had a good view of the ash column spewing out of the volcano. She looked down over the east side of the mountain. The ground was covered in a fairytale powder of fine ash. Previously dark brown and red rocks were now a pale shade of grey. It was a different place. She felt like an observer from another planet. She suddenly imagined the little green toilet was a dark blue police box and Paul was the Doctor and she was the beautiful assistant.
She was surprised to see she was trembling. The man calling himself Dave, who clearly was not called Dave, was intimidating. He didn’t need to be. It was like she and the others had done something to upset him.
She studied the hut from above. It was a simple structure, rectangular in shape with a single gable roof. Apart from the two bunkrooms and the communal living area there was a small warden’s quarter attached to the north end. An open deck linked the two. There was a solitary stainless steel sink attached to one end of the deck, quite out of place. Even from here she could see the small yellow cake of soap she’d left next to the tap. A small black polythene water tank was situated on a wooden trestle to the rear of the building. The hut was covered in fine ash and there were trails in the ash on the roof left by the tumbling molten rocks. The water tank appeared to be in tact. Both the hut and tank was also secured with metal guy ropes; testament to the ferociousness of alpine winter storms.
On her way back down the hill she heard footsteps behind her. She halted and looked around only to be assailed upon by Dave. He held onto a fist-sized boulder and raised it above his head. Lana immediately bent forward ramming her rump into his body. He lurched forward with the unexpected shock of the impact grunting as he did so. She let out a gnarled guttural scream as she curled her right hand into a fist and using assistance from her left hand to drive it she projected her right elbow into his midriff. She felt her elbow sink into his soft upper belly. He had been surprised by her counter and had not thought to tighten his stomach muscles. Instead her elbow connected with his solar plexus. Dave gasped for breath caught unawares and sucking at the top of his lungs for precious life-sustaining air. He crunched forward heaving as Lana knew he would and his head was perfectly positioned for a smack to the face. She swung her right fist up, pivoting at the elbow and smashed him with a back fist to his face. She felt the back of her fist connect with the gristle of his nose.
It was what she had trained for all those long years. She had always wondered if she’d need to use her skills. And if caught in a situation would she be able to react instinctively? She’d always found it difficult to touch her training partner’s head – something about the touch of their eyes, wet mouth, sweaty forehead. It repelled her. But now the adrenalin fuelled the fight, as she’d always hoped it would when it came down to it. Dave howled and dropped heavily to the ground clutching his nose. It began to swell and his eyes watered. She lifted a booted foot and stomped on his head until she saw the first blood streak his cheek. He extracted a mouthful of expletives.
She was pleased to hear it. At least she hadn’t projected the bones of his nose into his brain and killed him. She looked at the damage she had inflicted. She couldn’t feel safe unless he was unconscious. Her training told her to run or to administer a more permanent resolution to her attacker. But she was prevented from executing further damage as Jim appeared downhill of her. The angle of the incline gave her a temporary height advantage. She was aware that she was still vulnerable to attack from Dave but she had bought herself time. Jim came straight for her. He was unaware that the target he presented to Lana was more vulnerable, in fact the best she’d ever been offered for the sort of attack she contemplated. She summed up her situation in a split second and directed a beautiful straight-legged Muay Thai kick to Jim’s groin. He let out a blood-curdling scream as he doubled over clutching himself. Lana grabbed onto Jim’s shoulders and with a mighty holler brought her right knee up to his face smashing his head on it as she did so. Her knee connected with his nose which made a dull crack as it broke.
But then the time she’d bought ran out. She felt the earth disappear from under her as she took a wallop to the back of her legs. Dave had found himself in the unenviable position of being on the ground, bleeding from head wounds and possibly affecting any possibility of good decision-making. However, to his advantage he was now below Lana’s centre. He grasped her lower legs propelling her face down onto the ground and he dragged her until she was half on top of him. Her worst nightmare. She shouldn’t have let herself go to the ground. Now she really would have to get close to her assailant if she was going to win this. Mount, side mount, bridge, post. Words flooded into her head. Why was he still flailing under her? Don’t give him space, she heard her sensei over her shoulders. Keep your arms tight. Use your body, dead weight Lana. She tried to relax into a dead weight like she had been taught but she wasn’t lying over his chest enough to squash the air out of him and hinder movement of his torso so she flailed her arms and legs, twisted her body around and hit out at him. She had all her weapons free, punching and elbowing, sometimes connecting, sometimes not. She cursed her wasted energy at an unconnected blow. She kept her body writhing from side to side, bringing one leg up at a time and digging in Dave’s ribs with her knees.
Her face suddenly was buried in his groin and she bit hard into his thigh. He screamed again and this time jerked her upwards and his legs shot up off the ground. She grabbed the soft flesh behind his thigh and pinched it, twisting it before letting it go. Then her face fell back into his groin directly over his scrotum. She felt the soft flesh under layers of fabric fill her mouth. It was worse than anything she’d ever experienced. She gagged on the furry fabric of his trousers and the sweaty urine odour it harboured. She heaved. She should bite, but it was against her nature. She couldn’t fill her mouth with his balls and his blood. She shouldn’t think of it. She should just do it. No time to think about it. She knew she shouldn’t take her weight off him. It would be all over if she gave him space but the sick feeling in her stomach dominated the rules that she’d learnt to play by.
‘Hold the cow still,’ Dave yelled as he grasped a chunky boulder. He was scared; she could hear it in his voice. He didn’t know that she was completely and utterly spent.
Jim regained his feet and stooped to take hold of Lana’s wildly kicking legs. His fingers found her trousers and he pulled the fabric. They gave way and slipped a little pulling away from her. Then she felt strong hands around her ankles as Jim dragged her off Dave onto the uneven cold ground. She wanted to pull her pants up. The cold bit at her skin, but she had to get up. Can’t have her back to her attackers, most dangerous place. She panted, unsure what to do. She was aware of Dave’s arm raised in the air. She shot a glance at Jim, whose face registered terror. It was enough to make her roll onto her side but it was too late. Now she could see Dave’s bloody face and wild eyes behind the rock that struck her head. And then there was darkness.
I'd like to thank Lily for sharing information about herself and her novel with us and for sharing this interesting excerpt. Be sure to pick up your copy of Fire in the Mountain at Amazon or Smashwords.