Excerpt from Retribution

Excerpt from Retribution:

I zeroed in on the only uniquely adorned individual at the table…our High King. Morbius of the House of Armaros, his black velvet robe intricately embroidered with gold, sat at the exact center of the curve. Like the others, he bore the symbol of his house prominently displayed on his hood.

The woman who’d escorted us in instructed me to take my place at the center of the room, directly in front of our King. Once I’d done as instructed, Morbius spoke.
“It is with great regret that we meet you today, Jacen of Samsaveel. Your brother was our brother. Your pain is ours.” His voice whispered from within the reaches of the hood, his tone seemed sympathetic yet there was a strange undefinable edge to it.
My eyes narrowed as I tried to make out the features of the man who ruled our people. “Thank you, your highness. I too wish we could have met under less dire circumstances.”
“It is our understanding you have questions about the death of your brother. Did your brother’s Second not explain the circumstances of Julian’s death sufficiently?” They knew of my questions already? How could they have known when I, myself, had been unsure of what I’d needed from them?
Returning my gaze to the featureless faces before me, I responded, the strength of my voice disguising the sudden anxiety I harbored. “Adrien explained well enough. I have a great understanding of how my brother died. Yet questions remain.”
“Then ask if you must. We will answer if we are able.”
A wave of uncertainty flowed through me, shaking me to my core. The time had come. It was now or never. Clenching my fists in front of me to calm my nerves, I straightened and spoke, “I’ve been told an urban legend killed my brother.” Not a single sound was uttered from anyone in the room. “I’ve been told that this creature walked into our seat of power and walked out with Julian. What I do not understand is how…” I paused to let the information sink in. My gaze traveled to each of the members in turn only to return to Morbius. “Am I to believe that this lone Cambiare managed to find her way passed the security gate, through the maze of hallways and into the party without so much as being noticed? Please…tell me…how that was possible. Was he not under the protection of this council?
The question hung in the air between us as time seemed to stand still. Then an eruption of indignant voices rose.
“How dare you…”
“You doubt our protection?”
“Who do you think…”
A fist slammed against the table and silence cut through the room. My gaze found the empty hood of our king. “You forget yourself, Jacen. You come here, question us…the Elders of your Kin…in a tone dripping with disrespect and expect what…to shame us?”
I knew it was a dangerous game I played, but I needed answers. Dipping my head, I choose my words carefully. “I meant no disrespect, Sire. I only meant to question the safety of the members of this council…and your own safety as well, my lord. If one of these creatures can spirit away a member of this council from beneath your very noses, then there has to be a breach in security somewhere. Someone helped them and I want to know who.”
My declaration was met with a rumble of whispered comments. When Morbius held up his hand all discussion silenced. “We cannot tell you who betrayed us as we do not know.” He sat back, crossing his hands over his middle. “When we locate the person responsible, you will be informed. For now, you need only retrieve your brother and return home.”
The muscle in my jaw worked as I replaced bitter sorrow with thoughts of vengeance. “I claim my right of Retribution delle Parentele. I’m not leaving Italy until I do so with the beast’s head as my trophy.”
My statement was met with an uncomfortable silence. I swallowed but refused to look away…to do so would be to admit defeat.
When Morbius finally stirred in his seat his voice hissed out from the darkness of his hood, obviously angered by my statement. “You are not sensible like your brother.”
I remained steadfast in my resolve. “No, Sire. I am not.”

Influences and Inspirations

Recently, after finishing my book a friend of mine wondered how I had written such an intense, dark male lead character. She said, you’re so far removed from the character in your book. You’re sweet and quiet and cautious. How did you write a character from the depths of the male perspective who is so brooding, dark and determined?

My response…I touched the darkness within.

I’ve been considering this answer carefully (because as she said, I am a cautious sort of person). How had I managed to do this? How had I gone from writing love stories to finding my nitch within the darkness of my characters?

I realized that even when I was trying my hand at romance I always seemed to be dissatisfied with just letting the two characters fall in love. I always wanted more story, more angst, more something. I could read romance and be satisfied, but I couldn’t write it. I was forced to acknowledge that I suck at writing happy endings. I love to torture my characters and put them through as much hell as I can without breaking them. I love an under laying of intrigue and conspiracy. I want the reader to never quite know which way is up or who they should believe. I finally embraced the darkness that my favorite authors come from. Stephen King, Sidney Sheldon, and most especially Anne Rice, whom I got  to meet last week.

Each of these authors had a deep impact on my writing. Stephen taught me to explore the darkness and embrace my fears. Sidney taught me to always look a little deeper because things aren’t always what they appear to be. And Anne? She taught me that monsters can be elegant, beautiful and monstrous all at the same time. But, I think most importantly she taught me that depth of character and humanity can survive even in the darkest of worlds.

It took me years to find my way to where I am now. I traveled through the world of romance trying to fit myself into a box filled with happy endings. It never seemed to work. Now, I embrace the world I’ve created. I embraced the darkness and nobility of character that live in that world. I hope one day the world will see their value. I hope one day Jacen and Nix’s world will be as real to my readers as Lestat is to Anne’s readers.

Anne Rice and Me

What a crazy wonderful night!

My daughter and I arrived early for an Anne Rice and Christopher Rice signing on the evening of October 17th.

Ashlea&Me

We got seats in the center third row, right behind the reserved seats. We had a great view of the stage.

AnneRice1

They were recording the interview for public radio which was fun to listen in on. Then they opened things up to a Q & A. Afterwards we got in line for the actual signing.

WaitingforAnne

I’d made the determination that I would present my book The Dagger of Aita: Retribution to Anne Rice as a gift. She had been a major influence and inspiration to me ever since I’d read Interview with the Vampire when I was a teen. She wrote monsters in a way I’d never experienced before and she was a woman who’d broken the glass ceiling of fantasy writing (along with Anne McCaffrey). It was a revelation to a young would-be writer.

I figured if she couldn’t accept it or chose not to, I would have her sign it just for fun.

presentingBook

Too my surprise, she graciously accepted my gift. I told her I had signed it but had not written a personal note in it as I was not sure she would accept it. She smiled and handed the book back to me then said, “Write something in it.”

I was stunned. Call it crazy or insecure or whatever. The part of me that believed she might actually accept it also conceded she’d probably give it away, maybe to a staffer or Goodwill or something. It never occurred to me she’d want me to personalize the book (hence the reason I hadn’t written a personal note in the book). But, she’d asked me to personalize it. 

SigningforAnne

So, here I am at the Anne Rice book signing, writing a personal note in MY book for her!

As it is now personalized, I hope Retribution will grace the shelves of her home along with her other beloved books. Though I hope she reads it, I don’t expect that she will. She said in her interview that she likes to read but has very little time to do so. I accept this as part of what being Anne Rice is. If she does manage to squeak out time and chooses to read my book, I hope she finds as much enjoyment in those hours as she has given me over the years with each of her books.

I’m grateful to be able to give something of myself to her, just as she has done for me for many, many years. Her gracious acceptance and kindness meant the world to me. It’s more than I ever could have hoped for. Whether or not my little book is a success or an utter failure, I will have this night, this moment, to look back on…and remember.

The Dagger of Aita: Retribution

The Dagger of Aita: Retribution

Are you ready for a read that will transport you to a world where the Alimentatori and Cambiare walk amongst humans? Don’t know what the Aliments and Cambiare are? Then perhaps you should find out.  Consider picking up Book one in The Dagger of Aita series.

~ The Alimentatori ~

An ancient race of beings, fathered by The Grigori.
Though birthed by the Daughters of Men they are anything but human.

~ Jacen Trudeau of the House of Samsaveel ~

When a hedonistic Aliment who cares nothing for the traditions of the Alimentatori receives word that his beloved older brother has been murdered Retribution is what he seeks.

~ The Cambiare ~

Mythological creatures? Urban legend? Cold-blooded killers?
A near extinct race whose mere existence threatens everything Jace holds true.

~ Casa Sede di Alimentazione ~

High atop a cliff overlooking Lake Bracciano, the Sede’s pristine exterior hides ancient secrets, hidden agendas and political intrigues. Trust is non-existent and the truth is buried deeply within.

~ A Hidden Threat ~

Seemingly at odds with everyone around him,
Jace suspects his brother’s killer is not his only enemy.

On his quest for Retribution Jace finds
Enemies where he expects to find allies
And allies where enemies should lie.

Back to School Special ~ FREE Sat., Sun., and Mon.

The Dagger of Aita: Retribution

Happy Labor Day Weekend Peeps!

To celebrate it and the fact that my youngest heads back to school this week, I am having a FREEBIE special on book one of my Dagger of Aita series! YES! That’s right! This weekend you can download a kindle copy of my book for FREE!

So, are you ready for a read that will transport you to a world where the Alimentatori and Cambiare walk amongst humans? Don’t know what the Aliments and Cambiare are? Then perhaps you should find out and download the book now!  🙂