Sharon Donovan's Mask of the Betrayer

My guest today is Sharon Donovan. Sharon lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Prior to the loss of her vision, she was a legal secretary for the Court of Common Pleas where she prepared cases for judges in Domestic Relations. Painting was her passion. When she could no longer paint, she attended creative writing classes and memoir workshops. After a long and winding road, a new dream arose. Today, instead of painting her pictures on canvas, Sharon paints her pictures with words.

Welcome, Sharon. Let’s talk writing!

Anne - Tell us about MASK OF THE BETRAYER.

Sharon - What would you do if you realized you had just married a serial killer? Margot Montgomery faces this dilemma in MASK OF THE BETRAYER, a psychological thriller set in Red Rock Canyon, Nevada.

When the whispers in the night, the whispers of her lover, are the whispers of a killer, will Margot escape before she becomes the next victim?

Deep in the foothills of Red Rock Canyon, a serial killer stalks. He leaves his signature—a skull mask on the corpse. But when the homicide cop realizes the crimes are the reenactment of a case never solved ten years ago--all fingers point to Michael DeVeccio. And when Margot realizes she is married to the killer, her life becomes a living nightmare.

Anne – What a super and terrifying premise for a book! Is it part of a series? If so, include other titles.

Sharon - MASK OF THE BETRAYER is book one in the series. It ends with a chilling cliff hanger and opens in VENDETTA with a deadly plan of unspeakable vengeance.

Anne - What do you enjoy most about writing a series? What part do you loathe?

Sharon - I enjoy writing a series because of character depth and development. By the time one book is written, I know my characters as well as family members and close friends. It makes writing the next book in the series something I enjoy jumping into so that I can further develop their life story. Oddly enough, I loathe series for the same reason. I hate bidding farewell at the end of a series to characters that I’ve come to love.

Anne - Of all the characters you’ve created, does one hold a special place in your heart? Why?

Sharon - Michael DeVeccio is my biggest challenge to date. He’s a twisted sociopath with no remorse. He masks it quite well behind a handsome fa├žade of brilliant blue eyes, a killer smile and 180 pounds of raw, sexual energy. Outwardly, he is charming and debonair. Inwardly, dark demons lurk in his soul. Michael is a trained assassin and has been getting away with murder for years. Why? Trained by his uncle to kill, he murders the betrayer and covers the corpse with a macabre death mask.

Profiling is a big part of this book. As with most serial killers, childhood abuse plays a vital role in the adult’s psyche. I needed to know why Michael killed with no remorse, and in order to do that, I needed to research his family roots. Part of creating a good villain is to show the vulnerable traits in order to garner sympathy as well as understanding.

The hardest part to write was getting inside the mind of a killer. To help better understand how fragile the mind is, I took some psychology classes. The mind has always fascinated me. It can bend. It can break. It can snap. What could have possibly happened in someone’s life to cause them to do such heinous things? Thinking like a killer is not a pleasant thought, but unraveling the many layers of the psyche to find out why it cracked was quite a challenge that could not be rushed.

Anne – Again, scary stuff. Would you share an excerpt with us?

Sharon – From Mask of the Betrayer

The dance floor vibrated with footsteps as guests glided, clomped, and stomped across it. The Joker hopped around, laughing like a fool. The Deranged Clown grabbed Margot for a spin around the floor. Dressed in black and white checks and a black mask, An Evil Jester rubbed up against the Smoldering Temptress, whispering crude suggestions in her ear. Covered in voodoo pins from head to toe, the Voodoo Doll danced alone.

But it was Zorro who turned heads from the moment she’d sashayed into the ballroom. Drop dead gorgeous in a crimson body suit and long flowing cape, she had the attention of every male in the ballroom. Her long platinum hair billowed around her voluptuous body and red feather mask. Sheathed in a crimson scaled scabbard, her Zorro sword rested on her left thigh.

The men all stared. The Mysterious Stranger in a black cape swept Zorro away with the moves of a ballroom dancer, looking for all the world like her long lost lover. But as soon as the song ended, another masked guest asked Zorro to dance, and before long, she’d danced with nearly every man at the party.

“Michael,” Margot whispered in his ear. “Everyone is captivated by Zorro. Do you know who she is?”

Michael watched Zorro glide across the ballroom floor with ease. Chic and elegant with the legs of a dancer, she danced the night away, her patent leather heels never touching the ground. A crimson rose pendant graced her long, elegant neck. Michael knew precisely who she was. He’d given her the rose necklace on their wedding night. Taking one final look at Zorro, he pulled Margot into a tight embrace. After kissing her, he whispered in her ear. “I have no idea who she is. Darling Margot, I only have eyes for you. You are the perfect woman.”

The storm that had been brewing all day broke just as the bell tower tolled. Eleven piercing chimes rang out simultaneously with the rumbling of thunder. Winds from the Mohave Desert hurled in through open terrace doors, blowing out the cinnamon-scented candelabras in the ballroom. Pellets of cold hard rain pounded helter skelter on the windows. The crystal chandelier swayed back and forth like a pendulum. It flickered once, then twice. And then all went dark.

Zorro sat at the bar, sipping on a bourbon on the rocks. Michael crept up behind her and whispered in her ear. “Nobody makes an entrance like you do, Darling Candace. You have every man in the place rock hard.”

“Michael,” she purred, her smoky voice as smooth as silk. “I knew you’d recognize me.” She ran her hand over his masked face. “The role of Valentino suits you. You are still the most handsome man I’ve ever set eyes on.”

“And there were certainly enough of them,” his voice came out low and husky. “How many men, Candace? Did you ever keep count of how many lovers you had during our marriage?”

“You were the only one that ever mattered,” she rubbed up closer. “We had something real special between us. And being back in the ballroom tonight brings back all those memories. Like the way you used to hold me in your arms when we glided across the floor. And afterwards,” she slid her hand down his chest—and lower still. “We set the sheets on fire, remember, darling?”

“We had our moments,” he said. “But I also remember kicking your trashy ass out of Vegas and telling you to never return. And yet here you are, an uninvited guest at my masquerade ball. You know the extent of my wrath better than anyone. And yet you dare to defy me. Why is that, Candace?”

“Because I love you, darling,” sexuality oozed from every pore. “You and only you. Let’s sneak up to our old bedroom and see if we can rekindle some old flames. Come on, sugar. Let’s get between those satin sheets and set the night on fire.”

Michael leaned very close, massaging her leg with his fingers. In a voice raw with sexuality, he whispered, “Darling Candace. How can I resist. Meet me in Uncle Carlos’s suite in ten minutes. We’ll ring in the New Year together. You have no idea how much I want to be alone with you. Beautiful, beautiful Candace. I promise to make you scream.”

Anne – Wow! I see what you mean about Michael being charming. And deadly. How many rejections have you received? Was one more memorable than others? Why?

Sharon - Too many to count. LOL! One in particular stands out from a big New York house. On a rejection letter, the size of a business card, was neatly typed in bold type. “YOUR PROJECT DOES NOT EXCITE US.”

Anne – Any words of advice for struggling, unpublished writers.

Sharon - Never give up!

Anne – Well said! J Where can readers find you online?

Sharon – at my website, on Twitter or they can email me at:

Anne – Thank you so much, Sharon. It’s been a pleasure to chat and get some insight into how you write. I wish you every success, and of course, happy writing!

* * *


Deanna Jewel said...

Hi Anne and Sharon!! Long time, no chat! Where DOES the time go? Great interview! We're glad you ignored the rejection letters and never gave up on your many have already enjoyed your stories and fallen in love with your characters. Thank you for the introductions!

Sharon Donovan said...

Hi Anne, great to be with you today! Thank you so much for the warm welcome. You have a fabulous blog and I'm delighted to be part of it.

Sharon Donovan said...

Deanna, dear friend, always a pleasure to chat with you! Thank you so much for your kind words, they mean the world to me as does your friendship.

Kelly Hashway said...

Best of luck to Sharon. I love the premise of this story. :)

Sharon Donovan said...

Thanks, Kelly. Hope the teaser might entice you to get drawn into the NASK series.

P.L. Parker said...

The idea of this book just gives me the shivers! But definitely makes me want to read it!

Sharon Donovan said...

Hi Patsy, I had a shiver or two writing Mask but was equally drawn into the mind of a killer. Just like so many through history, how could he lead two such opposite lives? I needed to know.

Pat Dale said...

Mask of the Betrayer is pretty scary stuff to read. Not for the faint of heart, which means its stuff I groove on. LOL

Sharon Donovan said...

Thanks, PD Great minds and all that, your books give me the shivers too!!

Hywela Lyn said...

Hello Sharon, my dear friend
What a fascinating insight into 'Mask of The Betrayer', one of my favourite books of yours, although I love them all. Can't wait for the sequel.

Thank goodness you didn't take any notice of that NY Publisher who said
'you project doesn't interest us.' Their loss! Your work certainly interests and indeed captivates your readers. You are so talented. May you go on from strength to strength
Lyn xx

Sharon Donovan said...

Thank you so much for your kind words, Lyn, dear friend. I'm so glad that Mask didn't scare you too much. I'm looking forward to the release of Vendetta. I think as writers if we don't develop thick skin when it comes to rejection, none of us would be published.

Sharon Donovan said...

Thank you, Anne for a lovely interview and to all for stopping in to chat. HAPPY READING!

Celia Yeary said...

Dearest sweet Sharon--How can you write this scary stuff!! It does not fit your witty, funny personality. But I suppose all of us that little dark side...Me? Too much of a scaredy cat to even think about someone getting murdered. You do such a good job with the topic though, because you make your worst villian have a little bit of a human side..they all do, I think.
I enjoyed the interview--not run-of-the-mill.

Sharon Donovan said...

Dearest Celia, you make me smile. I've always had an extreme fascination with what makes a person tick. Inherited trait, accident, abuse. How a person so seemingly normal can lead a double life horrifies me. Can anyone be completely trusted...or do we all have a breaking point...hmmm.
Food for thought...

Anne K. Albert said...

Thanks to everyone for dropping by, commenting and making Sharon feel so at home!

Sharon, it is my pleasure to feature you and Mask of the Betrayer. Such a fascinating book...and author! Hugs :)