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.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.
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.
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)
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 -
- Leave a comment or question about the book or the guest post.
- Blogging about the contest gets you an extra entry. Leave the link as confirmation.
- Two names will be drawn at random. Two books to be given away.
- Open everywhere.
- Giveaway runs until Monday, Midnight, August 31. I'll announce the winners on release day September 1.
- August 26th: Fantasy, Futuristic & Paranormal blog
- Aug 31st to Sep 4th: Penguin USA blog
- Sep 1st: Literary Escapism
- Sep 3rd: Love Romances & More
- Sep 7th: Murder She Writes
- Sep 9th: I Do Not Want to Wait, I Want the Book Now
- Sep 16th: Muse Interrupted
- Sep 21st: Paranormality
- Sep 22nd (final stop on the tour): Silk and Shadows