Join me in welcoming our next Showcase guest, Elise K Ackers. Elise was a storyteller before she was a writer. For hours on end she would recount every moment of her kindergarten days to her mum, pausing often for dramatic effect. She would help her dad finish bed-time stories – sending the family dog and cat to the moon, amongst other adventures. And almost from the start her parents knew. They just knew what she’d grow up to be.
A writer, obviously!
So Elise, tell us a little about your latest book.
Unforgettable is my latest contemporary romance and my first with Escape Publishing. It’s a second chance story about two people who once ruined their chance of being happy together, now facing the chance of getting it right. The book involves a redevelopment project subplot, deep characterisation, and the popular amnesia romance trope.
A small element of Unforgettable is non-fiction. I used to work on a big-scale redevelopment of a Melbourne concert hall, and it was that experience which inspired me. I was fascinated by the construction, by the dust and the progress and the innovative solutions to complex problems. I ended up inventing a cast of characters, dropping them amongst the rubble, and plotting my way out!
In hospital following a near-fatal accident, Connor has temporary retrograde amnesia, and there’s a blank slate where the last three years of his life should be. It’s a woman with haunted eyes and secrets who offers to help him rediscover his past.
Colleague, friend and ex-lover, Emma warns him they must be discreet. No one knows about their past relationship, and for the sake of their jobs, no one can. She reintroduces him to his life and the fascinating redevelopment project they are working on, and the more time Connor spends with her, the more he wants a future with her in it.
But Emma blames herself for Connor’s accident and she won’t confess to what broke their relationship in the past. Now Connor is fighting for love, for his job, and for another chance.
A story about second chances, a second look, and the futility of fighting fate, Unforgettable explores the concept of walking a path already travelled and learning from your mistakes.
There was a long pause, and Emma knew it was time for the inevitable question. The one that could see her being shown the door again. Had she learned her lesson? Would she do things differently this time, or would she try again to hide what had eventually broken his heart?
“Why?” Conner said.
She didn’t dare look at him, she didn’t have the courage to see how he was looking back at her.
“You found out something about me.” A tear fell before she could look away. Mortified, she dropped back onto the couch and stared at her lap, her hair a blessed screen around her face. “And it changed everything.”
She heard him move, then the seat cushion beside her sagged under his weight. His hand touched her shoulder. “Were we in love?”
Damn him. Damn his amnesia and his awful questions. She should have gone home, left him to find his own way back here. It cost her a great deal of energy to answer. “If we were, we never said it to one another.”
She had loved him so much that it had kept her up some nights. Her life had become duplicitous: she had eaten and loved, breathed and loved. Everything she had done, every thought she had had… It had all been done with a heart so swollen she had often wondered how she’d contained it within her chest. And still she loved. Every day a little more than the last. And every time she looked into those eyes—those eyes that had once watched her like she was all that mattered in the world—another little fissure appeared in her battered heart.
She started when fingers parted her hair and pushed it back from her face. She looked up slowly, numb with pain and longing and a terrible heartache that had been her constant companion for months now, and waited for the rebuff. This was too much for him to deal with right now. He had a life to rebuild, and it shouldn’t start with a crying woman on his couch. She had her dignity. He wouldn’t have to push her away twice.
A lie, she thought. She had no dignity when it came to Connor. She would wait in the wings for a lifetime, hoping for him to one day open his heart to her again.
But he shouldn’t have asked her about this so soon. She’d wanted to help him piece together what he had lost, and now they had crossed a line they couldn’t return from. She didn’t have a current role to play now. She was the ex-lover. She’d expired. And her second chance had lasted little more than three days.
“Hey,” he whispered. His fingers trailed along her cheekbone then down her throat. “Don’t cry. I’m sorry I pushed. Please don’t leave.”
She looked at him. “What?”
“I won’t hurt you again. Please stay, I still need you. That was wrong of me to… I had to make sense of how I feel whenever I see you. And why I miss you so much all the damn time.” He stared at his hand, which had curled around the curve of her neck. “I don’t remember you. But I ache for you. Everything inside of me is telling me that you’re all I need to know.”
He looked at her mouth, lingered on the sight of it, and then met her gaze. Something in her loosened and fell. Something else fractured. Her heart screamed with longing and her head tried to warn her, to save her.
But she leaned forward.
Now it’s time for the nitty gritty Elise hits the Diva Couch
1. Name your celebrity free pass
Jensen Ackles, hands down. That man has inspired many a male protagonist for me. I’m a big fan of the show Supernatural and I have to confess that sometimes I’m not really aware of what’s going on, so much as how he moves around the room!
2. If you knew your next meal would be your last, what would you have?
Strawberry baked cheesecake and vanilla icecream from an amazing little deli in South Melbourne. Clearly I prefer dessert over a main course, but if it had to be a main, it would be lamb shank pie from one of my favourite pubs.
3. Tell us about the worst day job you ever had
It was a customer service position in a boutique kitchenware store. Once I discovered that my responsibilities wouldn’t extend beyond ringing up sales and dusting products for most of the day, I explained to the manager that I’d made a mistake. She agreed (I think the ‘caged animal’ look on my face was bad for business) and I left after the first day. It’s not high up there as far as bad experiences go, but maybe I’ve been lucky with my day jobs.
4. Describe your writing in 3 words
Character driven, layered.
5. If you won the lottery, what would be the first thing you’d buy for yourself?
Insurance – ha! I’d probably buy myself something small but frivolous to enjoy for the length of time it took to get the money in the bank, into high-interest accounts and into some property investments, then I’d go on an overseas holiday with what was left. Sorry, no spending-bender from this one. I’m a little too deliberate with my money.
6. Favorite comic book superhero
Superman. I have heaps of movies and almost all of the television shows featuring him and I’m hanging out for the next instalment on the silver screen. I just love the Clark Kent vs Superman persona/s, and the silliness of the disguise. A pair of glasses fools the world? Classic! It was the love story which dragged me in, though. Lois Lane loves Superman, Clark Kent loves Lois Lane – it’s the best love triangle I’ve seen! And he’s so idealistic and handsome. An all-round winner.
7. Tattoos—love or hate?
I used to hate them, but then I dated a man who turned out to have a good half a dozen of them in discreet places. Imagine my surprise! However, each of them were so important to him – they represented people or moments in his life and that’s what really brought me around. If something is special enough to a person that they want to carry a reminder of it on their skin, then I’m mostly all for it. Now it’s just the bows that I don’t understand. What do the bows represent? Someone tell me!
8. Best writing advice ever received
It’s actually a Winston Churchill quote, and I’ve turned to it a few times. “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” Simple enough, but perfect for a writer who’s been staring at a screen for hours, despairing about his or her progress. To me, that quote reemphasises the importance of perseverance; a skill every writer needs to have.
And now for the
One lucky commenter will have their name drawn out at the end of the week and Elise will gift that person a copy of Unforgettable. It’s that simple! So tell us what you think–do you have a favorite amnesia plot book? (I love them myself).