Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Guest Author - Annette McCleave (Blog Tour & Giveaway)

I am very happy to welcome Annette McCleave here today to talk about her debut novel Drawn Into Darkness which releases September 1. Drawn Into Darkness is the first book in the Soul Gatherers urban fantasy romance series. This is Annette's first stop on her Cross Into Darkness blog tour and to celebrate Annette is offering a signed copy of the book to TWO lucky commentators (entry rules at the end of the post). Annette will be by to answer questions, so please leave a comment about the post, the book or anything else you would like to ask her.

You can visit Annette at her website www.annettemccleave.com and also read my review here. Welcome Annette!

Thanks for having me here on your fabulous blog, Doug. You’ve introduced me to a bunch of new authors and I love getting the inside scoop on upcoming books, covers, and contests.

The history behind my debut novel is a little twisted. The fact that I write paranormal romance shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to anyone who knows me—I’ve been an Anne McCaffrey fan since I was 14, and Star Trek, BSG, Buffy, and True Blood all continue to enthrall me. I enjoy a gritty yet humorous take on an alternative world, and my stories reflect that.

But as fascinating as an alternative world has always been, Drawn into Darkness was heavily influenced by real life. Or, perhaps more accurately, real death. No, I haven’t had a near-death-tempted-by-the-bright-light moment. But my brother passed away ten years ago, my mother three years ago, and my dad just this past year. That’s a lot of death close to me.

I never consciously decided to deal with those events by embracing death in my writing, but in hindsight it’s clear my writing picked up on it. After all, who did I pick as a hero? A dead guy. Who is one of my nastier characters? Death. What do my protagonists do? Battle demons over the souls of the dead. Hmmmm.

Soul Gatherers are immortal warriors tasked with gathering and protecting souls, and they’re given certain tools, including magic, with which to perform that task. The question is whether the tools they have are adequate for the dangers about to be unleashed.

In Drawn into Darkness, Soul Gatherer Lachlan MacGregor is tormented by his past, the potential loss of a powerful relic, and the fact that he’s dead but the woman he loves is alive. Rachel Lewis is challenged by a troubled teenage daughter, a job that never stops, and her attraction to a priest. (He’s actually just disguised as a priest, but she doesn’t know that). The bad guy is a demon who....

Wait. It might be easier to show you:
“I promise not to take more than five minutes of his time.” Drusus smiled again, deeper and longer this time, diving through the protective layers of her conscious mind. Devout believers could not be possessed, but they could be influenced. All it took was a firm, gentle touch.

The nun’s shoulders eased and she beckoned him farther inside. “Can’t see the harm in that. Come, I’ll show you to his room.”

He followed her up the stairs, flinching as he narrowly avoided bumping his shoulder on a large wooden crucifix on the wall. The scent of lemons was harsh now, burning his nostrils, clawing at his skin, but he pushed on. Everything worth having demanded a high price. And he was close to his prize; he could sense the faint undercurrent of the relic’s power.

The old nun smiled shyly at him as she waved him into the sparsely furnished bedroom at the end of the hall. Feeling magnanimous, he returned her smile.

Then he faced the priest.

Like the other Protectors he’d encountered over the years, this one recognized him immediately, despite the intricate human veneer he’d adopted for the occasion. Something in the eyes, perhaps. No matter, it simplified his task. He shut the door.

“Let’s get to the point, shall we? The Linen, if you will.”

“You’re too late,” the priest responded. “It’s gone.”

The words snatched the breath from his lungs, their meaning instantly clear: Although there’d been nothing but confusion in his eyes last night, at some point MacGregor had experienced an epiphany. He’d stolen the Linen. Again. “When did he come?”

The rosary in the priest’s hands slid from one bead to the next as he prayed, silently weaving a powerful shield. “Just after lunch.”

Six hours
. Six miserable hours wasted knocking on the doors of other churches. Six hours of enduring the burning air of consecrated ground, fighting for every breath, feeling his flesh crawl under the ghostly touch of holy spirits. All of it made bearable by the knowledge that he was closing in on his long-sought-after prize.

Only to have it stolen from beneath his nose.

Credo in Deum Patrem omnipotentem, Creatorem caeli et terrae . . . ,” the monsignor began firmly.

The Apostles’ Creed. In Latin.

Red-hot rage sluiced through his veins at the familiar words, words that would focus the priest’s faith and imbue him with incredible power. Every blessed object in this room would become a weapon. But even a Protector was breakable. He’d proven that himself, several times. Neither God nor all the faith in the world would save this miserable wretch now. He’d live just long enough to regret giving the Linen to MacGregor.

Et in Iesum Christum, Filium Eius unicum, Dominum nostrum . . .”

The scent of lemons thickened, every molecule of air now a droplet of acid. Drusus glanced at his hands. The skin was peeling away, leaving his flesh red and raw. On second thought, spilling the blood of a single holy man wouldn’t be satisfying. Not this time.

“A pity MacGregor chose to desert you,” he murmured, as orange flames sprouted from his ravaged fingertips. He’d kill all five of the pious souls living here. Slowly. Singe by painful singe, sear by screaming sear. Using just enough heat to roast the flesh from their bones, he would drag the event out for several hours and truly savor the experience. He’d do the old nun last, so he could watch the light dim in her cowlike eyes. “He’s going to miss one hell of a party.”

He tossed the first fireball.
Drawn into Darkness takes place in a world where angels and demons truly exist, souls can really go to hell, and sometimes the process by which they end up there completely sucks. But don’t worry, it’s not all dark and serious stuff—I like to laugh, too. And it is a romance. I had great fun writing the book and, hey, it was cheaper than therapy.

This is the first stop on my Cross into Darkness blog tour. In addition to the book giveaway here on SciFi Guy, I’m offering you a chance to win a grand prize. Over at my personal blog, I’ve got a mystery photo, and at each stop on my tour, I’m giving a clue about the identity of that photo. If you guess correctly and submit an entry over at my site, you could win a silver Celtic cross not unlike the one my hero Lachlan MacGregor wears. Contest details, including the stops on my tour are listed on my blog.

SciFiGuy Clue: The place in Scotland where Lachlan MacGregor hails from (two words)

Good luck!

Drawn into Darkness will hit store shelves on September 1st. The second book in the Soul Gatherer series, Bound by Darkness, releases in May 2010.


Annette McCleave is giving away a signed copy of Drawn Into Darkness to TWO lucky commentators. To enter is easy -

  1. Leave a comment or question about the book or the guest post.
  2. Blogging about the contest gets you an extra entry. Leave the link as confirmation.
  3. Two names will be drawn at random. Two books to be given away.
  4. Open everywhere.
  5. Giveaway runs until Monday, Midnight, August 31. I'll announce the winners on release day September 1.
Cross Into Darkness Blog Tour Websites:


  1. The book sounds interesting and I definitely like to cover.

    I blogged about the giveaway too!

  2. Hey there my fellow pixie chick. So looking forward to reading you fabulous book. I have a pre order already. Big wave from downunder

  3. I have been so waiting for this book to come out. I can hardly wait. I was so excited when I logged on to SciFiGuy's blog and here you were doing an interview. BTW awesome interview & the excerpt has me wanting more. This book sounds like a promising new series. Congrats on the release. I'm cris-crossing my fingers & hoping to win. I'll be following your blog tour.

    Posted about the contest here:

  4. Wow! Early risers? Or are you all from down-under like Tracey? :-)

    Thanks, Jeanette! Good luck with the contest.

    Hi Tracey! Today's the big release day for you! Congrats!!

    Kainani--Thanks for the super-warm welcome! Glad you enjoyed the post. See you on the tour...:-)

  5. Hi Annette,

    I am so looking forward to reading your book. I love the concept. I'm sure it will be a huge success.

    Sorry to hear that some of your inspiration, if only subconsciously, came from personal experience.

    Lots of luck with the book!

  6. The book sounds really interesting.I look forward to reading it.

  7. Hi, Helen! I'm looking forward to your Jan 2010 release, as well!

    Thanks, Elaing8!

  8. sounds great count me in


    wadesherry@hotmail dot com

  9. Hi Annette,
    the cover is really great - I love the cross!
    Can't wait for your book - just a few more days...

  10. I wasn't sure if I'd be interested in the book at first but, after reading the interview and the snippet that was included I can't wait to get my hands on it.

    Thanks for your time Annette.

    Thanks for the giveaway and Guest Author blog Doug.


  11. Looks interesting. Why a woman for the devil?

  12. Good luck in the contest, cqueen2. Thanks for stopping by.

    *ina* - I rather like the cover myself :-)

    Jen D - Glad you found the snippet intriguing!

    SandyH - Thanks! Actually, the female baddie is Death, not the devil. As to why I made Death a woman, she just popped into my head that way. My characters tend to appear to me fully formed.

  13. I'm always looking for new authors to read! tWarner419@aol.com

  14. I love the fact that you gave the heroine a child. So many paranormal romances leave the woman behind when she has a child that I was starting to believe we'd never see a strong, capable mother in the genre. : ) (This, of course, excludes Michele Bardsley's series.)

  15. I'd love to read this book!! Thanks for the giveaway and please count me in.


  16. Paranormal and romance. Two of my favorite subjects. Sounds like a great read.

  17. tetewa – And authors always need new readers, LOL! I hope you get a chance to pick up Drawn into Darkness.

    Jackie Urhmacher – I’ve always found it interesting to see what perfectly ordinary people do under trying circumstances :-)

    Lee P – Thanks, and good luck in the draw!

    carol – I can promise some of both!

  18. I love the cover! It sounds like a great book
    throuthehaze at gmail dot com

  19. Hi Annette! You're a new author to me and I like discovering new authors. I can't wait to read Drawn Into Darkness!


  20. I'm so glad you were able to make something positive out of all the sadness you've had.

    The book sounds amazing and I'm definitely adding it to my wishlist!

    I posted this on my FB page: http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/profile.php?id=699660271&ref=profile

    joderjo402 AT gmail DOT com

  21. Throuthehaze – I agree; the cover is smokin’! The lightning, the sword, the colors ... and yes, the hot guy. :-)

    etirv – Doug does such an awesome job of introducing new authors—at least, new to me. He’s single-handed doubled my TBR pile. Thanks for commenting. Good luck in the draw!

    joder – Thanks so much for the kind words. Writing is a great outlet. Hope you get an opportunity to read the book!

  22. Great interview. Drawn Into Darkness sounds good. I love the cover.

  23. This book sounds great! Of course, the cover helps. :) I can't wait for it to come out next week!

    rocket_kay at hotmail dot com

  24. CrystalGB – Thanks so much!

    Lisa N. – I’m countin’ down the days to September 1st myself :-)

  25. The book sounds good. Can't wait to read it!

  26. i am fascinated with the whole near death experience , i am a huge paranormal/romance fan and this is right up my ally would love to read it , star trek and buffy arre 2 of my favorites too
    roswello at hotmail dot com

  27. Congrats Annette on the release!! I have so been waiting for this book to release!!! Soul gathering, angels, demons, and a sexy battling Scottish warrior...(sigh) it can't get any better than this!!!

  28. Hi Annette,
    Drawn Into Darkness sounds like a book I want to read!
    chey127 at hotmail dot com

  29. Kalynnick – I hope you enjoy it!

    roswello – I'm a huge PNR fan, too. :-) True love and magic are a great combination. Did I mention I like the Princess Bride, as well? :-)

    Cybercliper - Thanks for the lovely comments! I sigh over Lachlan, too. But I'm a bit biased. :-)

  30. chey - Wonderful. I hope you get the chance to read it!

  31. Ooooh, good excerpt! Now I want to know what happens next and what that was all about! :D

  32. I enjoyed the excerpt - it reminded me a bit of the showdown in The Exorcist. I would love to enter the giveaway for this book!

    Marian - mdperera at hotmail dot com

  33. wow sounds like a great read. I am puttin it on my tbb list. I too experienced lots of death in my past. when I was 17 i lost my mother, a set up grandparents, and a uncle within four months of each other so you have my sympathy and any way you can deal is a good thing.

  34. Congrats on your release. It sounds interesting and am looking forward to reading it.


  35. Thanks for the interview! I've put DRAWN INTO DARKNESS on my wish list. It sounds great, and I love the cover! :)

    Good luck with it, Annette!

  36. Drawn To Darkness sounds like an interesting book to read when you're NOT reading in bed. But during the day curled up on a comfy sofa would be perfect.
    wandanamgreb (at) gmail (dot) com

  37. This is what I love about SciFiGuy, learning about new books and reading bits about/from the authors. I don't even have to look at Amazon anymore! I just check out this blog.

    I loved the excerpt. It did seem a little dark (demons killing priests and nuns) so it's good to know there will be humore in the book. Love humor! and urban fantasy.

  38. Pissenlit – Glad you liked the excerpt! Of course, you'll need to read the book to find out what happens next. ;-)

    Marian – This excerpt is about as dark as the book gets. If you're hoping for The Exorcist, you may be disappointed. If you enjoy a darker shade of romance, on the other hand.... :-)

    Pamk – Sorry for your losses, too. Thank goodness for great memories!

    Jenny N. – Thanks!

    Karen W. – I truly appreciate the interest and the good wishes.

    Wanda – Balancing a dark theme with a meaningful romance is the part I enjoyed most about writing this book. I’m a huge fan of Happily Ever After, so the focus remains strong on the romance.

    Mardel – I love to laugh, too. Humor in a paranormal/urban fantasy romance is vital, I think. We can’t let things get too serious. :-)

    Thanks for having me as a guest, Doug! I really enjoyed being here.

  39. I'm very excited about this as I have not read a book by you yet.

    k i m i k a i o @yahoo.com (no spaces)

  40. the book sounds very promising!
    I'll be waiting to read it.
    Heres the entry about the giveaway in my blog -> http://geki-libros.blogspot.com/2009/08/drawn-to-darkness-gaveaway.html


  41. this book sounds very intriguing. I'm always looking for new authors/series.

  42. Wonderful post. :)

    Please throw my name in the hat.

    kweenmg at yahoo dot com

    Thank you.

  43. Great interview! I've heard of this book before and it sounds really good. I'd like to read it.

    I blogged about your contest on my blog at this link:

    Last paragraph on the bottom of the post.

  44. Wow this looks great.. if I don't win, I'm definitely going to have to buy myself a copy!!

    That being said.. I really hope to win though.

    Morning Glow
    ohmorningglow AT aol DOT com

  45. The book sounds really good! Count me in for the giveaway please.


  46. Please include me. Drawn Into Darkness sounds like a great new start for a series in the paranormal romance genre. I loved the excerpt and how it drew you right in.

    How many books are planned so far?

    Posted on the sidebar here: http://donnasbloghome.blogspot.com/

    bacchus76 at myself dot com

  47. the book sounds good!!

    I added a link, its on my sidebar under contests

    Thanks for a chance to win!

  48. Hi Doug and Annette!

    Thanks for introducing another great author.

    I love the cover and the strong female lead, I hope it continues to grow in popularity and many books to come.

    Please count me in!

    Blogged at http://myblog2point0.blogspot.com/


    Dottie :)

  49. I totally love the cover and the book sounds great!

  50. I love this cover, and it soo sounds like my sort of book! I would love to win it!

    Morning Glow
    ohmorningglow AT aol DOT com

  51. Blair W

    Thanks for the giveaway!!
    I have always wondered if the Author has much say on the cover art?

  52. I would love to win this, please enter me in the giveaway, thanks!

  53. I read the review/excerpt and this definitely seems like something I'd enjoy - count me in!


  54. Mary D
    zenrei57 (at) hotmail (dot) com

    Not only does this book look and sound terrific, but I can (unfortunately) relate to Ms. McCleave's remark about losing so many loved ones in a relatively short length of time - feeling close to death. It does happen, and certainly is never easy.

  55. this books sounds like a great read..thanks


  56. Looks like a very interesting story. Cant wait to read it very exciting


  57. I love how books are using traditional biblical mythology. It's romantic in it's own right.

    brittanynoelle (at) gmail (dot) com

  58. ==========================
    Thanks to everyone that participated. The giveaway is closed and results will be posted today.

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