*Mistress glares at minion* Do you really think that’s the best way to deal with the problem?
Well? *Minion Juli ducks* We’ve got to try something. This mob is growing angrier by the minute.
They won’t survive.
Really? *Juli crosses arms* Look how far they’ve gotten. If anyone can help, they can. She’s on the guest list, after all.
*Mistress lays her hand to her forehead * Give me strength… All right, I’ll ask. Ladies and gentleman, please welcome our next guest, paranormal romance author Jean Murray. Jean’s the author of Soul Reborn. So tell me, dear Jean, do you know any ancient magic that might help quell this crowd? Never mind. Come sit by me, have some…oh, let’s break out the wine, shall we? Now, care to tell my visitors a little about yourself, dear?
Jean Murray: Similar to other authors, I’ve always had these stories bouncing around in my head. It helped pass the time driving, waiting in line etc… It wasn’t until 2009 that I actually thought to write them down. Before I knew it I had a four book vampire series. It wasn’t until my husband sparked the idea about publishing that I even considered submitting my manuscripts. At the time it was just a hobby. I’m so glad he did—it changed my life.
Jean Murray was born and raised in a small town on the east coast. In her pursuit of a nursing degree, she aspired to see the world and joined the Navy. One of the benefits of her membership in the Armed Forces, she has had the opportunity to travel and live in different parts of the world and the United States. Her travels abroad have given her the opportunity to experience different cultures. It inspired her to delve into Ancient Egyptian myths and legends for her Key to the Cursed series from Crescent Moon Press.
Mistress: Curses maybe that’s what we need? Hm….. What inspired your novel, Soul Reborn?
Jean: Would you believe Scooby Doo? No really. I was searching for something unique to write that was different from vampires but had the same allure. Zombies were hot at the time, but I just couldn’t bring myself to writing a zombie romance. (I know some writers can pull it off, but me—no). I wanted to write something that stretched the line between paranormal romance and urban fantasy. Action, romance and a little humor thrown in for good measure. Frustrated, I sat down with my kids one day and they were watching a Scooby Doo Movie. This one was based in Egypt. It sparked an idea. The ancient Egyptian culture had always been an absolute love of mine. The idea that souls lived beyond death. When most people think of the Underworld, they think of hell, torture, punishment, but the Ancient Egyptians believed the Underworld was another realm of existence. If they passed the test they could live eternity in paradise. The majority of Underworld gods of ancient Egypt were benevolent. What a great backdrop for a book!
Mistress: I agree. Egyptian mythology is fascinating. So what became of your research?
Jean: I was told by several writers that publishers would only accept a historical Egyptian-based novel. Ignoring their warnings, I sat down and wrote Soul Reborn. I’m so glad I did. It became my debut novel and the second book, Soul Awakened is due out soon.
Mistress: So, let that be a lesson to you folks, don’t ignore your instincts. You never know where it might lead. 🙂 Congrats on the coming new book. Can you tell us more about Keys to the Cursed.
Jean: The series had been well-received, much to my enjoyment. I have to pinch myself sometimes. I just had a fan/blogger send me a pair of handmade sarcophagus earrings. It’s days like those that make it all worth it!
Mistress: You’ve likely seen these questions as our other guests have answered them, but I’d like to know a little about my guests. What’s your preference: All Hallow’s Eve or All Saint’s Day?
Jean: I think most of us are more familiar with the term All Hallow’s Eve or Halloween. I’m all about dead souls (love to write about them).
Mistress: Favorite scary movie?
Jean: Aliens. The one movie that will make me jump and cover my eyes was the first Alien movie. The thought of being used as an incubator for an alien baby grosses me out beyond all belief. Not to mention it bursts from your chest and kills you. Ah, yeah—scary!
Mistress: That is disturbing. Let’s talk of something more pleasant: Dr. Frankenstein or Dracula?
Jean: Dracula- definitely. I love the premise that he vows vengeance for the death of the woman he loves. It’s hard not to sympathize on some level or at least understand why he is the way he is. (Depending on which story you follow).
Mistress: I suppose that’s true. Still… eternity is a long time. I told him once, just get over her dear, you’ll find another sweetie. Speaking of sweets: Candy corn or chocolate?
Jean:For Halloween—definitely candy corn. Like Oreo cookies, I have to nibble the layers separately. Yes, quirky, I know, but I can’t help it.
Mistress: Well then, there’s some in the pretty crystal dish on the refreshments table. Feel free to gorge if you like. 😉 What are you going to dress up as for Halloween this year?
Jean: A housewife. LOL. Actually, I have a mask from New Orleans I’m going to wear with a black cape to cover my sweatpants, rollers and fuzzy slippers. Ha!
Mistress: The vampire housewife? Oh that sounds cute! If you could be in any classic horror novel, or story (such as Dracula, Frankenstein, Carmilla, Turn of the Screw, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, The Tell-Tale Heart? The Raven?), which would it be?
Jean: Although I love the lure of Dracula, I have to say The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allen Poe is one of my favorites. It’s been ages since I’ve read it, but it reveals the power of guilt and the ability of the mind to manifest hallucinations. In my opinion it is the best written short story ever. If you haven’t read it—you must!
Mistress: It is quite chilling! Speaking of stories, please give us a taste of your work.
THE HUMAN REALM, HIS BATTLEFIELD.
Asar, the Egyptian God of the Underworld, has been tortured and left soulless by a malevolent goddess, relegating him to consume the very thing he was commissioned to protect. Human souls. Now an empty shell of hatred, Asar vows to kill the goddess and anyone involved in her release, but fate crosses his path with a beautiful blonde huntress who has a soul too sweet to ignore.
DEADLY SECRETS BETTER LEFT UNEARTHED.
Lilly, fearless commander of the Nehebkau huntresses, is the only thing standing in the way of the goddess’ undead army unleashing hell on earth. But Lilly has a secret—one she is willing to sell her soul to keep. If the Underworld god discovers her role in the dig that released the goddess, she will lose everything, including his heart.
Excerpt of Chapter 1:
Movement flickered in the deep shadows.
Asar stilled. Midnight skin blending into the night, he slipped easily into the gloom of the New York City streets and waited.
The human heat signature he hunted lingered in the air like a fine French perfume. He was not surprised when a trio of pale- skinned, red-eyed revens zoned in on the same body heat. The undead craved the flesh of their once previous form.
It was not the human‘s flesh Asar desired.
Saddled by his own hunger that burned like fire in his chest, he raced toward the haunting scent, anxious to claim the prey before the revens. He was not about to give up such a delicious soul to
those ravenous cannibals.
Still too far away, he exploded with a shot of preternatural speed on the slippery, uneven pavement. Surefooted, he hurtled a foul dumpster and sprinted around the brick building. Hunger fueled his every step. He fully expected to hear a scream from the human victim before he reached the alley, but the air remained still.
He slid to a stop on the wet asphalt. The three revens he had sensed lay decapitated on the polluted street. Gaping chest wounds indicated the hearts had been destroyed.
Fragments of shimmering light illuminated the gray, decaying flesh, rising into the night air. Normally, he would have absorbed the shifting souls, but revens were tainted and doomed never to reach the afterlife. The undead were truly dead.
Where was the human?
The sound of shattering glass resonated from above, followed by a shower of diamond shards. Asar evaporated into the shadows against the cold brick of the building and narrowly avoided the carcass of a headless reven plummeting from the upper window. The body hit the pavement like a side of meat slammed onto a butcher‘s countertop. Dark, putrid shrapnel of blood and bone spattered across the roadway. The reven‘s head soon followed, bounced off the cement with a loud crack and rolled slowly down the sidewalk before coming to rest inches from his foot.
He did not give it a second look. Through the shattered second story window, he caught a glimpse of glowing green eyes and the flash of silver.
His body grew taut with anticipation. The humans he typically encountered at night were criminals and opportunists looting stores or transporting illegal goods — the unsavory dredges of humankind. No one else dared to be outdoors for fear of becoming a reven‘s next meal.
The criminals were easy enough prey, overconfident with their modern weapons, but this opponent utilized a more ancient form of deliverance. The reven kills were calculated and completed with the precision and stealth of a skilled assassin. This hunter was no doubt getting paid top dollar for this kind of suicide mission.
The revelation made his chest burn hotter with dark need. His prey would not go down easily. The harder the fight, the more living energy he could absorb from the human‘s soul.
He looked upward. The night sky was waning to lighter shades of blue. He had only an hour of darkness left before the horizon split open with the sun‘s rays. He would like nothing more than to draw out the fight for his own perverse pleasure, but he had to end it soon or face the wrath of his ancient curse.
A pain he would sooner avoid.
A loud crash of metal against stone around the corner interrupted his reverie. He launched forward out of the shadows, unconcerned with revealing his location, and did not waste any time turning onto the dimly lit street.
Only to find it empty.
Asar scanned quickly around the perimeter while turning slowly in a circle. The hunter did not have enough time to scale a building or sprint down the long block. His prey had to be a short distance from here. He walked forward, following the heat trail that vanished in the middle of the street.
Where did you go? Asar turned, looking for some exit the hunter could have used. The pavement shifted slightly under his foot. Looking down, he rotated his foot to the right. NY City Water & Sewer.
So, his prey had gone underground to draw him into a more cramped battle. Little did the hunter know, Asar would be the only victor in this game of cat and mouse.
He would leave with the man‘s soul.
Into the darkness of the small tunnel, he followed the exaggerated heat trail in the confined space. He heard the faint breathing and pounding of a human heart. Here kitty, kitty. The hunter was foolish enough to make a stand, but not for long. He followed the arresting scent, anxious to fill his hollow emptiness. Only a few more steps and then he‘d see his prize—
His gaze shifted over a female with long blonde hair whose curvy hips were loaded with an arsenal of weapons. In her hand, she clasped a long, intricately carved blade—a blade she pointed directly at him.
Asar swallowed against the sudden constriction in his throat. Not a hunter.
Energy rippled off her skin like streamers of bright sunlight. Her powerful essence of life called to him, the very energy that fed
his unquenchable hunger. All he had to do was touch her silky skin or lips to devour the luscious beauty. He had already taken a few steps toward her when he stopped.
Another sensation of hunger distracted his senses. One he had not felt in very long time, nor cared to feel again. His hardened arousal was inconvenient, considering the moment.
An inconvenience he was willing to explore a little before he dined on her soul. Heat radiated off her skin, a sharp contrast to his own cold, dead body. His skin began to burn, even at this distance. A welcome, but deadly flame. Despite this threat, he drew in like a moth to a flame. Warm, soft and most importantly, alive.
“I will not hurt you,” Asar whispered in a low, resonant voice. Amusement flickered in the female‘s glowing green eyes. I can‘t say that I would make the same promise, she said with a menacingly seductive smile, pressing the tip of her blade above his empty chest cavity.
It brought him to an abrupt halt, but only briefly. Despite the knife, he could not help but draw in closer. He waited to see if she would act, thrusting the blade deep into his chest. The fair female would be in for a shock, as it would not have the outcome she expected. He had no heart to pierce and no soul to destroy—a fact that relegated him to hunt in this despicable place.
““Why would a beautiful woman risk her life by being out after dark?” he asked, running the tips of his fingers against the sharp blade. Only a skilled warrior could wield such an instrument. The beheaded revens in the street were evidence enough of that.
Awaiting her answer, he leaned in on the tip of her blade, piercing his dark skin.
“Who says I‘m the one at risk here?”
She pressed the blade a little deeper into the thick muscle of his chest to call his bluff. He sneered. The huntress would need to do more than that to cause him pain.
“I do,” Asar said, enjoying her little taunt. She obviously had no
appreciation for who she was speaking to or else there would be fear in her eyes. Everyone feared death on some level, and he was the master of it.
Judge, jury and executioner.
As God of the Underworld, Asar was death, personified.
As if sensing his thoughts, she withdrew a second blade from her hip, escalating the level of her defense. “You don‘t belong here and I‘ll see you just as dead as your pale friends from earlier this evening.”
“Friends? Who said I had any friends?” Asar stepped forward again forcing himself into the personal space she so obviously wanted to keep for herself. He moved close enough to smell her sweet scent. Like a finely spun sugar on the tip of his tongue. He
licked his lips and his groin tightened to an unbearable ache.
His gesture and level of arousal did not go unnoticed. A sudden flash of heat rippled from her body and turned her face a bright pink, a contradiction to her hardened eyes. He still maintained a respectable distance from her, yet he could feel the current of energy emanating off her skin, stronger than an average human.
Her beautiful green eyes blinked quickly. Her confusion registered in the deep emerald depths. “What are you?” The cadence of her breath increased as he hovered over her lips, creating a small white vapor as it crossed his face. The urge to kiss her was strangely unbearable, as was the strain of his hard cock against the confines of his pants.
“You would not believe me if I told you.”
Her eyes shifted to his approaching lips. “Honestly, it doesn’t matter. You are not human, which makes you only one other thing.”
Despite her threatening words, the pain from the tips of her blades penetrating his skin disappeared. The knives were no longer positioned to kill. He tilted his head and watched the fluctuation in the huntress’ green eyes. Still no fear, but intelligence and an equal amount of curiosity analyzed him.
Asar could not deny the need to taste her any longer. Grimacing against the burning of his skin so close to hers, he leaned in to savor her soft lips. (to read more of the sample, please visit http://www.amazon.com/Soul-Reborn-ebook/dp/B004WDYK7A/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1350953511&sr=1-1&keywords=soul+reborn#reader_B004WDYK7A )
Mistress: Sounds fascinating! Where can our guests find you on that evil little realm called the Web?
Blog Address: www.wickedromance.wordpress.com
Mistress: Thanks for being with us tonight, Jean. You know, i think I’ve come up with a great idea: if you find an ancient spell to disperse this mob, I’ll be happy to have it!
*Minion Juli looks at Jean and rolls her eyes* We’ll work on it, Mistress. Folks, we hope you enjoyed this chat. Don’t scamper off….There’s more to come.