Saturday, December 10, 2016

Welcome & Say Hello to Mystery Author & fellow anglophile Daniella Bernett...

     Hello one and all! How are you today? I'm back and hope everyone is doing well and happy! It’s so great to be with all of you again. Welcome back to my writing blog page where I try to share whatever I think may interest you. Of course, by now you all know how very much I love promoting other authors. Today I interview a fellow writer. With me this time is published Mystery author, Daniella Bernett, as she discusses writing and her current book, Deadly Legacy, which was released on September 24 by Black Opal Books. Deadly Legacy is the second book in her Emmeline Kirby/Gregory Longdon mystery series.
     Daniella Bernett is a member of the Mystery Writers of America NY Chapter. She graduated summa cum laude with a B.S. in Journalism from St. John’s University. Lead Me Into Danger is the first novel in the Emmeline Kirby-Gregory Longdon mystery series. She also is the author of two poetry collections, Timeless Allure and Silken Reflections. In her professional life, she is the research manager for a nationally prominent engineering, architectural and construction management firm. Daniella is currently working on Emmeline and Gregory’s next adventure.
Author Daniella Bernett.
     Welcome Daniella! Thanks so much for joining us here. You’ve led such an interesting and well-traveled life. Shall we begin to learn more about you and your writing?

     SJ: First off, let’s get to know the author behind the books. Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
     Daniella: I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was nine years old. The spark that launched me into the writing world was my fourth grade teacher. Once a week, she had Creative Writing hour and gave us different assignments. I absolutely loved it.
However, I think it all started with a love of reading and an appreciation of language and the written word. I am, and always have been, a voracious reader. Mysteries, spy thrillers, the classics, history, biographies, anything except science fiction and horror. (I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night if I read those types of books).
Another thing I’m passionate about is traveling. It’s delightful to discover new places and meet people from different backgrounds. It broadens the mind and also encourages my imagination to roam free.
      SJ: Poet and Author? How exciting and fulfilling? Do you prefer one over the other? Does one influence the other for you? Who is your favorite poet? Will you share with us your favorite poem? (Either yours or someone else’s is fine.)
      Daniella: In school, I started pursuing my dream by writing short stories (mostly mysteries). After I graduated from college, in the four months it took me to find my first job, I wrote a mystery novel. My first job was as a copywriter at Penguin USA. One day, I plucked up the courage to show my book to one of the editors. She actually read it. She told me that it was better than what she usually sees from first-time writers. However, she said that I should think more in terms of a series. I tried revising the book and submitted it to several agents, who all rejected it. Thus, I chalked it up to a good exercise. But I didn’t forget the editor’s advice. The kernel of the idea for my Emmeline and Gregory mystery series slowly started swirling around in the back of my head, until one day when all pieces fell into place and Lead Me Into Danger came to life on the printed page.
     Meanwhile, I had always enjoyed poetry, especially the Romantics. So I began to dabble with verse and the result was my two collections. My poems do not rhyme. They are descriptive and infused with emotion. I try to paint with my words a place or an emotion that affected me at a particular moment.  I believe this has influenced the narrative in my mysteries. Setting is very important in my novels. I want the reader to be able to see, taste and touch the cities where the action is occurring. I have a very visual memory so I describe places where I've wandered.
Since you asked for a favorite poem, I will share one of my own. It was a hard decision because I’m proud of all of them. I’ve selected “Daughter of the Sea.” It can be found in my first collection, entitled Timeless Allure. I wrote it the first time I visited Venice, one of my most favorite cities.

Daughter of the Sea
Night’s eternal mistress,
Swathed in cobalt blue repose,
Abandons her bed of cloud
To drink from the quiescent water.
Transported by the haunting silence
To an age of grand passions and Machiavellian intrigues, 
She strains toward the dulcet splashing of the grey lagoon,
Tracing a silvery finger across its dusky surface.

A flawless jewel born of the sea,
Graced with the pink-gold fire of the stars;
The Adriatic kneels before her, 
Ghostly shadows stalk her narrow, crooked streets,
And lovers intuitively follow her breathless sighs 
Into the realm of dreams;
La Serenissma…Her Serene Highness

     SJ: Very beautiful, Daniella. Thanks for sharing such a lovely piece. Now, I’m an Anglophile from way back when and I spend most summers in Europe beginning with London. What made you set your books there?  Can you tell us a little bit of how the idea evolved for the books?? Please tell us about Deadly Legacy….
Daniella's Current release.
     Daniella: Since I was little, I’ve been an Anglophile. I devoured any book that was set in England and I'm a devoted Masterpiece Theater and Mystery fan. I've visited London and other parts of the United Kingdom several times. Therefore, when I started writing my own books my characters had to be British.
     My protagonists are journalist Emmeline Kirby and jewel thief Gregory Longdon. They are former lovers. Emmeline’s driving determination to find the truth often lands her into precarious situations. Gregory, on the other hand, is a charmer, but a criminal. However, murder goes against the grain so in this they are of one mind. In Lead Me Into Danger, Book 1 in my series, Emmeline and Gregory haven’t seen each other in two years and literally run into one another when she witnesses someone attempt to murder her friend Charles, a fellow journalist. They become ensnared in a hunt for a Russian spy in the British Foreign Office. The book is set in Venice and London.
     In terms of Deadly Legacy, Book 2, what set my story in motion in my mind was the 2003 heist at Antwerp Diamond Centre. A group of Italian thieves stole $100 million in diamonds, gold and other jewelry. Only one man was caught. The diamonds were never found. This captivated my imagination. Then I thought, what if someone had found the diamonds seven years later and thus my tale was given life. I added a "mystery man" named Ambrose Trent, who has a murky past, and I also tossed in another diamond theft that took place in World War II. This latter crime was of my own devising. The past haunting the present with deadly consequences. Revenge laced with blackmail. Meanwhile, there is the ongoing romantic tension between Emmeline and Gregory to add a little spice to the story.

     SJ: How extensive was your research for each one of your books? How much fact and fiction did you roll into each one?
     Daniella: I didn’t have to do too much research for Lead Me Into Danger, just some general background on the Foreign Office. I’ve been to Venice and London several times so I knew the cities well.
     For Deadly Legacy, I read a number of newspaper articles about the Antwerp Diamond Centre heist and researched how Belgian diamantairs, or diamond cutters, fled to England with as many diamonds as they could to escape the Nazis. I learned about the Correspondence Office for the Diamond Industry (COFDI), which two diamantairs with the help of Antwerp’s mayor and the British government established. This office registered and stored the smuggled diamonds until the end of the war. It was fascinating information and perfect for a mystery novel.

      SJ: What do you love most about being a writer? Least?
      Daniella: I love plotting out a story and adding twists and turns to keep readers turning pages. It’s tremendous fun to lead readers on a merry chase for clues. To me, clues are like pearls that are strategically dropped here and there until they form a necklace. Granted, I throw in a few red herrings to keep things interesting.
     What I like least is the marketing aspect. I’m a writer, not a marketing guru. Social media was (and is) the most difficult thing for me. I’m getting better at it, but I would still rather be writing.

      SJ:  What writer inspired you most and how?
      Daniella: Without a doubt, Agatha Christie influenced me the most. For me, she is the grande dame of mystery. She was a genius at weaving complex plots. In addition, she understood human nature and all its foibles. That's why her characters are so intriguing.

      SJ: If you could give just one piece of important writing advice to an aspiring writer, what would it be?
      Daniella: I would tell aspiring writers to READ everything they can get their hands on.  I also would tell them to write the story that they want to write and not what others tell them or what the current market trends are. To write a great story, you have to breathe it, live with it, and nurture it in your dreams and waking hours.

      SJ: What is a favorite book you enjoyed reading and would recommend without hesitation? Why?
     Daniella: This is such a difficult question. There are so many authors that I thoroughly enjoy. I would have to say Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier is one of my absolute favorites. Du Maurier masterfully ratchets up the suspense by writing the story in first-person. As with all such narratives, the reader only gets one viewpoint. But in this case, the narrator is unnamed which only enhances the mystery. She is known throughout the story only as Mrs. de Winter, the second wife of the brooding and attractive Maxim.  It was a stroke of brilliance on Du Maurier’s part to have as her narrator a naïve young woman, who is timid and rather unsure of herself. She remains utterly in awe of the beautiful Rebecca, Maxim’s first wife. Mrs. Danvers, the housekeeper who was devoted to Rebecca, never misses an opportunity to let the narrator know she is a pale comparison. All along, the reader suspects that something is wrong and is compelled to keep flipping pages in a race to find the truth. The book left me breathless. I hope one day readers will say the same thing about my books.

     SJ: In closing, and without giving too much away, do you have any more projects in the immediate future? We’d love to hear about it.
      Daniella: Yes, I do have more projects up my sleeve. I am working on Emmeline and Gregory’s latest adventure. I’m actually in the middle of Book 5. However, I would be happy to give you a tiny hint about what awaits them in From Beyond The Grave, Book 3, which will be released in 2017. The story is set in Torquay, Devon, on England’s rugged west coast. It’s supposed to be a restful holiday for Emmeline far from her recent harrowing escapes from spies and others with nefarious objectives back in London. She also needs distance to sort out her conflicted feelings for Gregory. But who should turn up out of the blue? You guessed it. The dashing and devastatingly handsome Gregory. That’s when secrets from his past—and murder—shatter the serenity of the picturesque idyll.

     Thanks so much, Daniella for participating on my blog. It’s been a pleasure speaking with you. Thank you so much for allowing us to take some time out of your busy schedule and interview you. Readers, as always, thank you for dropping by. Take note you may purchase a copy of Daniella’s through her publisher or at online retailers and independent booksellers.

      But before we go, we can’t depart without sharing a bit of Daniella’s books with you.
      First, here is the synopsis for Deadly Legacy, which was released by Black Opal Books on September 24, 2016.

        DEADLY LEGACY is the second book in the Emmeline Kirby-Gregory Longdon mystery series:
       A month after her adventures trying to track down the killer of her friend Charles Latimer, Emmeline finds herself in a car that has crashed on a lonely country road in Kent with a dead man as her companion. How did she come to find herself in this predicament? It all started with a man named Ambrose Trent, the fiancé of her friend Claire Sedgwick. But there's something not quite right about Ambrose. When he ends up dead, Emmeline believes she knows who the killer is. But as new evidence comes to light, she realizes that she's dead wrong--and only Gregory can save her.

      But what good is the synopsis alone without an excerpt:
      March, 2010
The noise came from a long way off. Angry, persistent. It rattled round and round the outer edges of Emmeline’s consciousness. A despicable pain throbbed mercilessly as it slowly slithered up from the base of her skull all the way to her temples. Surely, her head was going to explode at any moment. She couldn’t see. The menacing blackness was everywhere. Taunting her, clawing at her. She suffocated in its embrace.
Gradually, Emmeline realized that her eyes were closed. She shifted slightly, groaning as her head rebelled against the thousand needles of pain that the movement caused. Something was holding her back. What was it? She opened one eye tentatively and then the other. It was still dark. With a supreme effort that made her wish she were dead, Emmeline managed to lift her head. Beads of perspiration dotted her brow from the exertion. She tried to catch her breath and focus on her surroundings. She was in a car. Her eyes fluttered closed again. The seat belt was cutting into her ribcage. Her clumsy fingers fumbled to open it. After the third attempt, she was free.
Emmeline opened her eyes once more, squinting hard to channel her disjointed thoughts. The noise that had plucked her from the inky depths of oblivion was rain. Not a pleasant spring rain, but rather a seething torrent that lashed against the windows and sent an icy tremor of fear down her spine. Where was she? What was she doing here? Before she could answer these questions, she passed out.
When she came round, there was another sound mingling with the tempest outside her window. It was…violins. Violins? In the middle of nowhere? Emmeline thought she had become delirious. Her ears strained toward the music. Yes, it was violins mimicking the rain. The Four Seasons…Summer…Vivaldi. It was the radio. She wasn’t losing her mind after all. She sighed with relief. But Vivaldi reminded Emmeline of her recent trip to Venice, which, in turn, led to thoughts of Gregory. She squeezed her eyes tightly shut, hoping to push away these unsettling ramblings. However, her eyes snapped open as a searing white flash scorched the night sky. Then, thunder cracked its vicious whip.
In that instant when the lightning illuminated everything as if it were daytime, Emmeline saw that she wasn’t alone in the car. There was a man in the driver’s seat and he was quite dead. A dead man, just like Venice. The pounding in her head and the music were converging in a crescendo, but despite her revulsion Emmeline made a concerted effort to look at him. It was Ambrose Trent.
She could feel herself slipping from consciousness. He was right. I did kill him. But you can’t kill a man who never existed. Can you?
Emmeline was dead wrong.

Did that excerpt from Deadly Legacy intrigue you? I know it has me interested in reading more and wanting to read the first one, too.
Daniella's First Release, the book that began the journey.
     Don’t forget to check out her first book, Lead Me Into Danger, which was released on October 1, 2015.  Here’s the synopsis for you:
     A journalist, a jewel thief, and a Russian spy…when their paths cross, it’s murder.
Journalist Emmeline Kirby hasn’t laid eyes on her former lover Gregory Longdon, a jewel thief, in two years. But she literally tumbles into his arms, after she witnesses two men attempt to murder her friend and fellow journalist, Charles Latimer, in Venice.
When Charles is ultimately killed, Emmeline is determined to bring his murderer to justice. But as she and Gregory delve deeper, they become ensnared in a hunt for a Russian spy in the British Foreign Office, who has his sights set on keeping his identity a secret at all costs—as Charles found out too late.

Both books by Daniella are available at on-line retailers and independent booksellers.                  

      Feel free to connect with Daniella at one of the below web sites:
       Amazon author page:
       Goodreads Author Page:

Thank you all for visiting with us. It’s always a pleasure to meet readers and authors. Until next month, every one please stay safe. Smile. Be happy. Show compassion. Be nice to others. Put a little love into your heart. Please speak up for those without a voice, whether it be a dog, cat, elephant or monkey. One person, one voice can make a difference. Read a book and pass it on. Leave a review. Reviews are important for authors. Believe me. I know. Thank you!
S. J. Francis, Writing is my passion, but animals are my world. 
Advocate for the underdog, and cat, and supporting writers, et al.
In Shattered Lies: "It's All About Family." Available now from Black Opal Books and for sale at all on-line retailers and independent booksellers.
                     Shattered Lies is a runner-up in the 2016 Shelf Unbound Indie Best Book Award Competition.
                     Shattered Lies is a 2016 Reader's Favorite Honorable Mention in the Fiction - Women’s category.  
                     Shattered Lies was a Finalist in the 10th Annual National Indie Excellence Awards.
                     Shattered Lies was chosen as General Fiction Official Selection in the 2015 New Apple Book Awards.
                     Did you know that the first, original book cover design for Shattered Lies was a semi-finalist in the 2015 Authors dB Best Cover Contest? 

My Black Opal Books Author Page:
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And now for some legal stuff: Copyright 2016 by S.J. Francis. Opinions expressed here are solely those of the author, S. J. Francis and the guest author and are meant to entertain, inform and enlighten, and intend to offend no one.


  1. Graduating summa cum laude in journalism is an impressive background for writing. You have a strong online presence and I see your books often, and all over. Rebecca was one of my favorite books too. I've read it more than once. Good interview. Interesting.

  2. Linda,

    Thank you for your kind words.