Thursday, June 28, 2012

Cera's Place: An Interview with author Elizabeth McKenna and a Giveaway!

What do a San Francisco saloon owner and an ex-Civil War soldier have in common? Author Elizabeth McKenna is with us today to talk about Cera's Place and how her writing journey began. Please welcome Elizabeth!

MK: Cera's Place - A story wrapped in love and justice... That just sort of draws a person in. Can you tell us a little something about Cera’s Place?

EM: Cera’s Place is set in San Francisco 1869. Cera runs a saloon but, unlike other such businesses of the times, she doesn’t allow prostitution. Over the years, she has helped women escape their terrible lives and become “respectable.” Jake is an ex-soldier haunted by his Civil War experiences. He’s on a mission to find the daughter of a friend who died in battle. One of the subplots of the novel is based on actual events. During this time period, since the majority of the Chinese population in California was male, Asian women were kidnapped and forced into prostitution in America. The Anti-Prostitution Act of 1870 made it illegal to import women for criminal or demoralizing purposes. Cera and Jake team up to fight a gang that is kidnapping Chinese girls for the local brothels. Of course, in the process they fall in love.

MK: How did your life as a writer begin?

EM: I’ve always loved to write. I started out as an English major in college but switched to Journalism because I tend to write concise. I felt out of place with those who could write paragraph-long sentences. Unfortunately, that set me on a path of non-creative writing. A few years ago, my girls asked why I wasn’t writing fiction. I replied, “Technical writing pays the bills.” I decided to write Cera’s Place to show them it is never too late to follow your dreams (there was also a scary psychic involved, but that’s another story). No, I am not a best-selling author yet, but I am closer to quitting my day job (please don’t tell my husband that).

MK:  Do you have a favorite character in Cera’s Place? Who and why?

EM: I’m in love with Jake. He’s rugged, sensitive, and loyal. What more could a girl ask for? I modeled him after Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen) in Lord of the Rings, one of my favourite books/movies.

MK: What is your favorite scene in the book? Why? 

EM: I’d have to say when Cera and Jake meet for the first time in the saloon. There’s confusion and mistaken identity mixed with initial sparks of attraction. Cera’s acting her toughest, trying to protect everyone. Jake is bewildered but desperate for information and unwilling to leave. It was a fun scene to write.

MK: Without giving too much away, can you share with us a little about how Cera will overcome her greatest challenges?

EM: Cera is used to taking care of everyone around her, but she gets to a point where she has to let others help – or she will fail and the consequences will be deadly. She has to learn that is it ok to depend on others.

MK: Was the research for the book extensive? What is your favorite bit of history you came across?

EM: I did do a lot of research. I’m not sure if this is my favorite, but it was shocking to learn how the Chinese girls were tricked into prostitution. Not much has changed over the years in regards to human trafficking.

MK:  How do you spend your free time? Do you have a favorite place to go and unwind? 

EM:  I have always been drawn to water when I need to relax. When I was younger, my girlfriends and I would sit on the jetties of Lake Michigan and discuss the day’s angst. Now, I take walks by the small lake near my home. The sound of the water is very soothing to me.

MK: What do you have in store next for your readers?

EM: I’m working on Venice in the Moonlight, which is set in 1753. Here’s the description I’ve been using:

After her husband’s untimely death, Marietta Gatti is forced to leave the family’s villa by her spiteful mother-in-law. With nowhere to go, she returns to Venice only to find her estranged father has also passed away. According to his friends, the once esteemed painter died distraught, drunk, and penniless. Upset by the gossip, Marietta retraces her father’s last days and discovers someone may have wanted him dead. When the prime suspect turns out to be the father of the man she may be falling in love with, Marietta faces a heart-breaking decision. Should she risk her future happiness to avenge the death of a man she has hated for the past five years?

Elizabeth McKenna’s latest novel takes you back to the days of Carnival and Casanova, where lovers meet discreetly, and masks make everyone equal.

MK: Is there anything else you’d like to share with your readers?

EM: I’d like to thank you for giving me the opportunity to visit your blog today. As an indie author, I’m always looking for new friends! I really hope you and your readers like my story. I tried to make it both historically accurate and entertaining. Feel free to contact me (elizabethmckennaauthor (at) with any comments or questions!


San Francisco saloon owner Cera Cassidy offers redemption to any woman looking for honest work. At Cera’s Place, men can get a decent hot meal with a whiskey, but if they want anything more, they have to take their desires elsewhere. One summer night, a distraught Chinese girl bursts through the swinging doors with a shocking tale of murder, kidnapping, and prostitution. Outraged, Cera vows to set things right.
Jake Tanner, a scarred ex-soldier haunted by the horrors of the Civil War, is on a mission to fulfill a friend’s dying wish. The trail has brought him to Cera’s door. Captivated by her beauty, he wants to join her fight – but will she let him?

Elizabeth McKenna’s debut novel is a fast-paced adventure filled with memorable characters that will leave you wanting more. Get lost in a time gone by and fall in love today!
Enter to win a copy of Cera's Place via the Rafflecopter widget or by leaving a comment. The giveaway is open to all and the winners will be drawn on July 5th!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Read Chapter 1 of Cera's Place here.
Ebook: $.99 (US) at AmazonGoodreadsBarnes & NobleSmashwordsAppleKoboSony and Diesel.
Paperback: $10.99 (US) at CreateSpaceAmazon and

From the Romance Blogs:
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Clu’s Review - 4 stars (2/20/12)
Marissa’s Book Lounge - 4 stars (2/27/12)
Mrs. Condit Reads Books - 4 stars (3/23/12)
The Jeep Diva – 4 stars (6/7/12)

Join us Saturday for a review of Cera's Place!


  1. Such a pleasure to have you with us today Elizabeth! I'm about done with Cera's Place and have really been enjoying it! I feel the same way about the water--it never fails to calm me.

  2. This sounds like a really interesting book, and since you modeled Jake after Viggo Mortensen I'm sure to just fall in love with him, lol. Aragorn was my favorite from Lord of the Rings:) Very nice interview ladies and I look forward to checking this one out.

  3. I've thought of sending Viggo a screenplay of the book - LOL!

  4. I really could see Viggo playing the part of Jake--kind but a little rough around the edges.

    Venice in the Moonlight sounds like a great new book too!

  5. Love Viggo. LOL. Your book sounds amazing. Really pretty cover.
    Sue B

  6. Elizabeth McKennaJune 28, 2012 at 9:13 PM

    Thank you, Sue!

  7. Thanks for the amazing giveaway!
    elizabeth @ bookattict . com