Posted at Aug 2, 2016 9:23 am
The Inevitabity of the Cute
Guest Post by Marcella Burnard
Actors have a saying. Never work with children or animals. Reason being that if there’s an animal or a kind in whatever work you’re doing, no one is looking at you. Or listening to you. Not ever. They’re looking at the cute thing.
I’m a little surprised to find the same is true of novels. When I wrote Damned If He Does, I knew the heroine needed a cat with some attitude. Inspiration wasn’t hard to find. Anyone who knows me or who takes the occasional gander at my social media sites knows that I’m a crazy cat lady. All I had to do was look around. I have an orange tabby, though my orange guy is a short-hair and has no tail (amputated by the Humane Society vet before we got him).
But I needed just a bit more of a sense of entitlement. So I combined Autolycus with his littlest sister, Hatshepsut, and came up with a long-haired, orange tabby with some serious opinions on the people who enter his house. That trait came from a third cat – a Siamese queen from my childhood named Natoa. She used to sit in the window that looked out at the front door. If you walked up to ring the doorbell, there would be this baleful seal point Siamese giving you the evil eye and hissing at you. So Archimedes is grounded in cats who’d once been real-live cats.
The bit about no one wanting to work with animals and children, though, is that after writing a story about an asexual heroine, an incubus who needs to bottle her sexual energy for the devil, and the devil himself, the character who’s wining the popularity contest in reviews? You guessed it.
Looks like feline kind really did make a deal with the devil.
BACK COVER COPY
Rejected by heaven, twisted by hell, what’s a damned dead man to do when he stumbles upon a life and love worth fighting for?
Though damned for his earthly sins, Darsorin Incarri likes being an incubus. Prowling women’s dreams to siphon off their sexual energy for Satan’s consumption has its perks: an array of infernal power and a modicum of freedom. Sure, Ole Scratch holds Dar’s soul in thrall, and Dar has to spend a few hours recharging in Hell every day, but it could be much worse. All he has to do is hold up his end of his damnation contract – five women seduced, satisfied and siphoned per night for eternity. So when he encounters gorgeous, bright, and funny Fiona Renee, it’s business as usual. Deploy the infernal charm and rack up another score. Except it doesn’t work. She’s immune. He has to find out what’s gone wrong or face Lucifer’s wrath.
Fiona Renee has the life she’d always wanted: a career, a home, a cat with a bad attitude, and peace. Fiona’s dated. Had boyfriends. And hated every minute of it. She’s reconciled to being lonely. So when a man shows up in her bedroom in the middle of the night demanding to know why her dreams turn to nightmares every time he tries to seduce her from within them, Fiona winds up negotiating a contract with a demon that allows him access to her life. She never anticipated that it would also give him access to her heart. If she’s going to fall in love at all, something she never thought would happen, shouldn’t it be with someone who’s alive? If Fiona wants to hang on to Darsorin, she has to find his true name—the one he’d been given at his birth over a thousand years ago. But Satan, himself, stands in her way. Even if Fiona can dodge Lucifer, she and Darsorin have to face the question neither of them can answer: What happens to a dead man if you manage to wrest his soul from the Devil?
“What the hell was that?” she gasped. Wrapping her arms around her chest, she shivered and switched on the bedside lamp. She glanced around the room, looking for comfort in the form of her orange tabby cat. “Archimedes?”
She frowned. No cat. He usually slept on the pillow beside hers. The bedroom door was closed. When had that happened? She climbed out of bed. The covers had been tossed askew as if she’d fought them the way she’d fought her dream. She hauled the sheet and blankets back into position. Her hands shook.
She opened the bedroom door. “Archimedes?”
He sat outside the door, staring up at her, expectation in the forward set of his ears and whiskers, and a dead mouse at his feet.
Gasping, she backed up a step. “Eugh. First a slightly rapey sex dream involving a patient, now mice? Thank you so much for nabbing it, Archimedes. I’m not crazy about the notion of mice waltzing through our living room and kitchen.”
The cat seized his prize, tossed it into the air, and then pounced when the limp body landed. He batted the rodent into the bedroom.
Fiona jumped back. Just what she needed to complete her less than restful night: stepping on a dead mouse in her bare feet.
Pupils dilated, whiskers quivering, Archimedes shot a glance her way, as if to be certain she’d noticed.
“You are a mighty hunter,” she said, crouching down and offering a hand to him. “And I cannot tell you how much I appreciate you protecting me.”
He tickled her fingers with his whiskers, then nudged them with his furry head. His rusty purr soothed her.
“Archimedes, my love, I’m going to the shower. I’ll never get back to sleep if I don’t wash off the memory of that dream,” she said, reaching for the mouse’s tail. “Could I have your prize, handsome? You caught and killed it, it is rightfully your snack, but I am not crazy about having to clean mouse blood out of my carpet. Not to mention the notion of where and how I’d find whatever bits you didn’t eat.”
As she pulled the corpse closer, the cat whirled and pounced. He grabbed the limp body in his jaws, growling. He bolted out the bedroom door.
“I’m not chasing your furry butt all over the house at 2:30 in the morning.” She sighed, rose, and went to turn on the shower. “I just had to share my life and living arrangement with an obligate carnivore. At least I’m not on early shift. Maybe the store carries carpet cleaning products.”
Marcella Burnard graduated from Cornish College of the Arts with a degree in acting. She writes science fiction romance for Berkley Sensation. Her first book, Enemy Within won the Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice award for Best Futuristic of 2010. The second book in the series, Enemy Games, released on May 3, 2011. An erotica novella, Enemy Mine, set in the same world as the novels was released as an e-special edition by Berkley in April 2012. Emissary, a sword and sorcery short story released in the two volume Thunder on the Battlefield Anthology in the second half of 2013. Nightmare Ink, an Urban Fantasy novel from Intermix came out in April of 2014 and the second in that Living Ink series, Bound by Ink, came out in November 2014. She lives aboard a sailboat in Seattle where she and her husband are outnumbered by cats.