Hello, everyone. I’m honored to be a guest blogger at Romance Junkies. What a lot of great stuff is out there on this site! Not just for readers, but for writers, too.
So a bit of background. My first novel, The Infinite Instant, won the 2009 EPPIE Award in March. It straddles several genres: paranormal, hard-boiled detective, romance, science fiction and noir thriller. I really didn’t want to write the same-old, same-old stuff. And I think I succeeded in that.
But if you’re a paranormal fan, and you love kick-ass female heroines, I think you’ll enjoy the adventures of Minuet James, who runs a small Paranormal Services agency. I look for a review on Romance Junkies soon, but in the meantime, there are quite a few reviews out there already to give you a flavor.
Paranormal/urban fantasy covers a lot of ground nowadays. I’m a fan of Patricia Briggs and her Mercy Thompson tales, as well as taking a guilty pleasure in Laurell K. Hamilton’s hard-edged Anita Blake–though the early books in that series more than the later.
I wanted something different in my own book, though. Vampires and werewolves and magicians are great escapism (and tremendous fun to write, too). But I wanted grab-the-reader-by-the-neck realism, in tone at least, no matter how fantastical the subject.
A bit about myself: I live in NE Washington on a pioneer style 20 acres. This last year has been tough, as I lost my mother to cancer. I was her caregiver until we lost our fight. Those of you who have been through something similar know how painful it is.
It’s been a blessing to have writing to take me away from myself. I’m working on the sequel to The Infinite Instant, which is called The Nihilistic Mirror. Readers will be glad to know Drago and Tommy return, though we have new characters, too.
I’ll end with a small extract of The Infinite Instant here. It’s from Chapter 21, titled The Traveling Dead. Minuet’s just about to meet her nemesis, the mysterious Mr. ‘X’.
Enjoy… and ask me anything you want!
The first play I ever attended was an amateur rehearsal of The Tempest. I was five years and six months and twenty-two days old, and my babushka grandmother, whose English was so poor Shakespeare was forever impenetrable, had no-nonsense charge of me in the front row. Though my personal memories extended to little more than the painful recollection of the wooden seat on my unseasoned bottom, our shared memory, their memory, was rich. My father with his tank-like physique and thatch of lividly red hair was dubbed a natural for the part of Caliban. My mother was content with the bit part of Iris. The gender-bending Viola of Twelfth Night was her favorite role. A pocket Venus who yanked cappuccinos by day played Miranda instead, and the schoolteacher who enunciated so beautifully was Prospero. The Stephano I remembered chiefly for the suppressed hilarity he caused his fellow thespians: he was given to rare but unpredictable bouts of stuttering. The night The Bard’s Buffoons first exhibited their exuberantly homegrown Tempest to the local popcorn crowd he outdid himself by lengthening but none of us c-c-c-car’d for K-K-K-Kate to epic proportions and appreciative applause. Yet it was another line from the play that echoed to my steps now. This thing of darkness I acknowledge mine. Turn, Mr. ‘X’, and look into our face. It had rained just enough to impart a peculiar breathlessness and a tinge of sewer to the air. An oil slick gleamed on the dampened sidewalk under my new metal-studded boots, like a parody of a rainbow. There was a mountain shining in sixty stories of white glass ahead, only there was no knight in this tale and the princess was staring at life imprisonment or worse. Edith Piaf emoted somewhere, but no one heeded her heartbreak. An enormous multi-story sign hung on the façade of the glass mountain: Picasso’s dancers deconstructed in acidic Cubist neon. I passed beneath the swarming-bees hum into the lobby of the Casino Lalique.It was frigidly gorgeous. Shimmering columns rose like multi-story stalagmites from the mirror-bright hematite floor. Behind the onyx-fronted and platinum-topped check-in counter idled a quartet of identically decorative blondes in minimalist black and matching silver-ice tresses. The men wore their cosmetics with the same chilly aplomb as the women. Two expensively-maintained matrons, with conspicuous-consumer Hermes scarves hiding their surgically cinched-up necks, checked in with the languid assistance of one of the female versions. I walked past. All roads led to the gambling, and you could do it in your own flesh or in another’s. Miranda, what profit did you hope for by risking your virtue? What was the exchange rate on ducats nowadays, anyway? Probably twenty-four hours without sleep, now. Yes, I know I don’t look my best, please don’t mind all the zippers. But the guard at the entrance to the casino floor passed my dominatrix ensemble without a flicker in his wearied eyes that had seen far too much. I went unnoticed into the cacophony of gaming machines and roulette wheels and the sea of hard-eyed croupiers in silver-ice tresses raking in the chips for the house across the green baize. There was no point in subtlety now. I had an appointment to keep. I played a leisurely hand of old-fashioned poker at one table and blackjack at another, won small, pocketed the chips I couldn’t risk cashing in and wandered on. Plenty of people noticed a tall blonde in black leather, but I was waiting for the right kind of attention, and it hadn’t come yet. I paused to watch the croupier spin the showy over-sized roulette wheel and moved off before the young man with the safety pin earrings and the buzz-cut could try the moves he had in mind on me. He hustled around in a fast flanking action though and confronted me with the smirk already in place. “Hey, can I buy you a—”“Find some other orifices tonight. Mine aren’t interested.”The smile slipped. He had filed some of his teeth to sharper points than nature had intended. “Look, I just—”A hand fell on the shoulder of Fangy Boy and shoved him violently away. I looked up into a face I had never seen. I recognized it, all the same. Martin Santos would certainly never forget it. It was a rock-like visage with a deeply cleft chin and a long white scar across a nose that had been broken a time or two and re-set indifferently. Its eyes were colorless paste jewels set in dross, and what was behind the eyes was unlike anything I’d ever considered human before. But like the face, I recognized it. It is not only the victim that dies when we kill. The hollowness inside us expands like the hole that the foolish old woman tried to cut out of her tattered blanket. Every death we make to mend our cover causes a larger hole in our soul, until at last there are no tatters left to cover the body, not even a name. The man held out his hand. There was a Borgia ring he didn’t try to hide turned inward on his middle finger. Take it or leave it the paste-dull eyes seemed to be saying of course you’re not coming in on your own two feet. What did you expect, you fool? It was the hardest thing I’d ever done in my life to take that hand, but the tiny needle that pricked my palm wasn’t the reason why. “All right,” I said. “I’m still interested.”Immediately the images began to deconstruct like Picasso’s two-dimensional dancers, and the man with no name put his arm around my shoulders like a near and dear friend then walked me away on my boneless jelly legs. By the time we were down the steps, his eyes looked at me from the same side of his nose like another Cubist doodling. The handles on the car doors were Aztec skull smiles, and when he opened one for me it flew off and away in the air like the amputated wing of a gull.I fell back against the upholstery and let the black leather roll behind me support the head that couldn’t stay up. The car started forward with a snap. I said, “The dead travel fast,” and that was bad, because the giggles started then, and they wouldn’t stop. The dead man backhanded me across the face without passion and I said “thank you” and that’s the last I remember.
Thanks for hosting me, Romance Junkies!
– Danielle L. Parker