Top 5: Ava Bradley

Before we get to Ava Bradley’s Top 5 List of Writing Influences, let’s learn a little more about her.

The author of Edge of Midnight and August Unknown, Ava Bradley loves edge-of-your-seat thrillers, but believes every story is better if there’s a guy who gets a girl in the end. To Ava, a book without a Happily Ever After is like a house without a roof. Ava can be found on the world wide web at and on facebook at


Top 5 Writing Influences

When asked to list my top 5 writing influences, the list immediately came to mind. I’m a pretty strong willed person, but in this case I really take to influence. In a good way! My career has been a long one, and these have all been with me since the beginning. (Especially my last influence, whom I met twenty years ago)

Susan Wiggs

Susan has been one of my favorite authors for as long as I can remember. Her writing is so smooth and flowing that reading her books feels like waltzing. One of my all time favorite books is the Horsemaster’s Daughter. It features a spunky heroine that defies social expectations (I can relate because I’m a bit of a rebel) and a nobleman who learns there is more to life than propriety (one of my favorite lessons for a historical hero to learn). Early in my writing career I had the good fortune to attend a small, intimate writer’s retreat where Susan was a featured speaker. She quoted Sydney Sheldon, and that quote stuck with me to this day because I identified with it so deeply. Next:

Sydney Sheldon

“If you want to write a book you might. If you have to write a book you will.”

Sometimes people look at me like I’m strange when they learn I’m an author (because before they thought I was just an ordinary mild mannered secretary. Truly, there are two kinds of people in this world: ordinary, and writers). Some look at me and say, “Really? You wrote a book? As in, a whole, real book?” Others look at me and say “I was going to write a book once,” and I think of that quote and smile to myself.

Jane Austen

When I was very young my mother was very restrictive in what she would let me read. When I was in fourth grade and everyone was reading Judy Blume’s Forever and Blubber, I was forbidden. These books weren’t allowed in our school library, so I went to the public library and read Pride and Prejudice. It remains one of my favorite romantic stories today. Her biggest influence on me was to write what is in my heart, regardless of what other people tell me I shouldn’t. I look at her, and other early female authors, and I’m humbled by their courage to write the controversial stories of their time, and their pride in their work.

Barbara Van Tuyl

I’m really showing my age in these references! As a horse crazy girl and voracious reader, the A Horse Called Bonnie series packed a one-two punch. I gobbled up the series, reading and re-reading each book. This was the point in my life when I became a writer (the I-have-to-write-a-book kind) and my first story was an action-adventure about my experience at horse camp. I wanted to be Barbara Van Tuyl. I tried to get my mother to type up my story little book-sized pages, and about three pages into it she said “forget this!” I was heartbroken at the time, of course, but looking back I realize how outrageous my request was.

Agatha Christie

Whenever I’m feeling blocked or unenthusiastic about a work in progress, I think of Agatha Christie, who wrote over seventy books with only pen and paper. Her amazing writing accomplishments make me sit at the computer and type at least 1000 words a day, no excuses.

Jasmine Haynes

One of my favorite authors and dearest friends, Jasmine Haynes has remained one of the most supportive and generous writers I have ever known, and fame has not changed her in the slightest. As an author she is one of the most unpretentious success stories I know, and as a person no one has a warmer heart or more giving nature. She’s the writer, and the person, I aspire to be.



From Chapter One of Last Rights

March, 2224


Am I dead?

Death wouldn’t hurt this much. Would death hurt at all? The dying part might, but afterward...I should feel nothing.

Bracing odors—ammonia, hepacide, and astringents—sledgehammered his senses. Light filtered through his closed lids as consciousness seeped in. To his left, medical equipment beeped and clicked.

He was in a hospital. Spared, yet again. My curse.

Training kicked in, keeping him calm, but the injury evaluation he gave himself was self-taught. Don’t move until you’re sure you can.

His blind evaluation remained pain-free until a flex of his left wrist sent a spike of agony shooting up his arm. Broken ulna, polysplinted. Dim memories of a hand-to-hand fight and a deflected blow from a rebel fighter flashed in his mind’s eye. Rebels…I could be anywhere.

He found no other significant injuries, even though his pain was all-encompassing. I got away easy this time. Yet even as he had the thought, an underlying sense of urgency shook him fully awake. Something was not right.

My last assignment? Or something in me much longer?

He peeled open dry eyelids in time to see a tall black man in blue scrubs leaving the room.

“Wait.” Not much sound came from his hoarse throat. He coughed and started to call out again, but it was too late. The man was gone.

Just as well. He didn’t want anyone knowing he was awake yet. He turned his head left, and then right, more to evaluate his surroundings than to flex the muscles. He shared the semi-private room with a sleeping old man, still as death, in the next bed. The old guy breathed softly, mouth open in a silent snore.

Thank God for small miracles.

The bed to his left was empty. Brackish water stains marred the light panels above, and he glimpsed a rodent-like flash of brown darting through the far corner. Another quality facility.

Damn. Someone had inserted a catheter. He hated those damn things. Jesus, how long have I been out? He glanced down. The polysplint on his arm was bright pink. Someone’s idea of a joke. At least he wasn’t cuffed to the bedrail, like that time in Paraguay.

With his good arm he tossed the blanket aside. I have to get the fuck out of here. But go where? I don’t even know where the hell I am. Faces slid through his foggy memory. A woman and two pretty girls. Camille, Jenny, and little Becky. A surge of urgency rocked his heart and the beeping monitor increased in speed. Gotta go now.

He reached down and pulled on the catheter tube. Fireworks exploded in his vision. He gritted his teeth. Someday I’m gonna get a tattoo on my dick: Do not place objects in slot.

His feet were bare. The pale blue smock that would show his ass to the world was printed with tiny yellow ducks. Somebody at this hospital was a real comedian.

He needed clothes. Tall cabinets across the room were probably a closet. Even the old man’s clothes would be better than this smock. As long as he didn’t call attention to himself, he was an expert in quick, quiet getaways.

The door burst open so violently he bit his tongue in surprise. A woman angled through sideways, maneuvering a small boy around her legs to put him in front of her. Her rubber-soled hikers squeaked on the slick linoleum floor, spearing his eardrums like a lance of ice.

Her gaze whipped up and she met his eyes. Time stopped. An imperative thought entered his mind, a mandate he somehow knew was his mission. Protect this woman and child.