Today I’m thrilled to welcome over Marcella Burnard, author of Damned If He Does.
Genre: Light Paranormal
Date of Publication: 7/19/2016
Number of pages: 333
Word Count: 98k
Cover Artist: Danielle Fine
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?
Giveaway! Be sure to enter the Rafflecopter after this post for a chance to win one of three copies of Damned If He Does.
Oh, that's easy. It's Darsorin's line to the heroine, Fiona: “In all my short life and in the eternity of my cursed unlife, I have never before been a woman's nightmare. Why am I yours?"
Tell us about your book cover and how it relates to your story.
Is that cover not super pretty? The amazing Danielle Fine did the cover art and worked REALLY hard to capture exactly the right feel for Darsorin and Fiona. We went through several cover mockups and had settled on one I thought was good, but she wasn't happy, went back to the drawing board and came back with awesome. The gal on the cover really does look like Fiona - I was very specific about her. I could see her clearly. Darsorin was harder - I mean, sure. Tall, dark, handsome and undead. But that leaves a lot of wiggle room. I feel like this cover really captured him well. The city in the background is Seattle, where the book is set. The flames - ah, the flames. This is where I had a moment's hesitation, because I feared that they would suggest this is a hot read. And it isn't. Fiona is asexual, so it can't be a hot book. But. Darsorin IS a demon. In order to heal, in order to restore his powers and his energy, he has to recharge in Hell every day. When the Devil gets mad at him, Darsorin ends up being lit on fire. So the whole flame motif is really important to the story. It really is a question of whether or not the flames of Hell can reach up and swallow Fiona the way they have Darsorin.
Are you currently working on another story? If so, we’d love some details.
Always working on another story. The current WIP is an odd sort of historical fantasy. I think. It's set right at the beginning of the Civil War. Ariana Bissett is a Union spy tasked with acquiring a certain set of cursed gold artifacts. Legend has it that these relics are powerful and whoever possesses them can tip the balance of the war in their preferred direction. So she'll have to steal a few of them. Not a problem, until the Confederates send a dispossessed British lord after the same artifacts. If I'm doing my job correctly, there's a hint of creepy in this story to go along with the supernatural bleeding through into Victorian and Civil War Era New Orleans.
Tell us about your favorite writing environment. Is it indoors, outdoors, a special room, etc.
My favorite place to write is at a local tea shop called Miro. It's in Old Ballard where the sidewalks are cracked and heaved by tree roots and part of the streets are paved, part are cobble stone. They have a nook tucked into a corner that looks out onto the street. The staff bring me tea and the occasional goody and don't at all mind that I camp out for three or four hours. (That's two pots of tea for those keeping track.)
How long have you been writing? How long have you been published?
The writing bug bit when I was a kid and the tiny library in the town I lived in ran out of stories I wanted to read. I got bored and it finally occurred to me to make up a story I wanted to read. Then a movie when I was 12 ended so badly and made me so mad, I spent my entire summer rewriting the ending for myself on my mother's typewriter. No correction ribbon. There are a lot of xxxxxxx'd out lines on those pages. (Yes, I do still have them. In storage. If the mice haven't made them into nesting material by now. The story was terrible. I hope mice can't read.) Anyway, that was the summer I think I offically became lost to writing. I got caught up in it and just never quit. Even if I was making up stories when I should have been taking notes in math class. I didn't actually attempt to get anything published, however, until the mid to late 90s. That was when I quickly found out how much I didn't know. I joined RWA and began learning. I tried romantic suspense, contemporary and fantasy. It wasn't until I went to my first love - science fiction - that I had any success. Enemy Within was picked up by an agent in early 2009 and sold to Berkley in September of that same year. Easy The Call day - it was 9/9/09.
Do you prefer to write short stories, novellas or novels? Why?
If we go by what I have out in the world, novels clearly win. I'm terrible about 'and then'. Complication (in fiction) delights me. Drama and complication in the real world expose me for the introverted geek I am and I just pull the bed covers up over my head. But on paper, it's kind of fun. For that reason, though, I do force myself to write shorter forms once in awhile. It's a really useful exercise to make myself strip a story down to its most basic, most compact bits. That way, when I go back to novels, there's some hope that they're cleaner. Tighter, maybe. That's the illusion I carry around with me, anyway.
Do you write books in series? If so, share a bit about the series you currently have published or are coming soon.
I do write in series, though, I will say that was not my natural state when I began. I wanted to write stand alone novels. But when my first book was sold in 2009, the very first question the publisher asked was 'can you make this a series?' I scrambled. Did. And now, everything is a series. The first series is SFR - Enemy Within and Enemy Games - the publisher shut the series down unfinished. I'm working on that part. There are three more books coming to finish that series out. The second is The Living Ink series, Nightmare Ink and Bound By Ink. Those are Urban Fantasy. I'm in the middle of drafting book one of a vaguely steampunky historical fantasy called The Artifacts of the Aegean. The genereal premise is that a set of mysterious, and some say cursed, gold tiles could tip the balance of the US Civil War should one side manage too accummulate them. Something Union spy Ariana Bissett is tasked with achieving. She hadn't counted on the Confederates sending a British lord to fight her for them.
If you could make changes to a story you’ve already written, which would it be and why?
I would change the ending of ENEMY GAMES. Right now, that book ends on a cliffhanger. You do not know if a major character is alive or dead. That was supposed to have been a hook into book three. Which might have worked had the publisher not folded the series at the end of book two. Readers were left disappointed. I was left disappointed and the heroine of book three in that series was left disappointed. She's a demolitions expert. This is not someone you want hanging out in your head expressing her discontent over the situation. Yeah. I'd change that ending.
The problem with being damned was that no one would meet your eye.
Darsorin Incarri squared his shoulders and glanced into the faces of the people passing him on the sidewalk. They'd look one another in the eye. Smile. Say, 'good morning.' But for someone whose soul had been claimed by the Devil? Nothing.
People would try. There’d be a split second of eye contact, then, as if the varied torments of Hell were somehow reflected in his eyes, their gazes would run away. Every time.
Shivering in the May sunshine, he shoved his clenched fists into the pockets of his black leather jacket. A single crumb of human warmth that wasn't infernally compelled, surely that shouldn’t be too much to ask. Even for a damned soul.
He pushed through the door of a tiny drug store around the corner from his office and trudged to the pharmacy in the back.
“May I help you?” The pharmacist wore her strawberry blonde hair pulled into a swinging ponytail. Her name tag said ‘Fiona.’ Glasses, thick jade frames and barely-there lenses, heightened the olive of her eyes and magnified the smoky eyeliner and shadow she wore. Lush, full lips, painted clear pink smiled at him.
She met his gaze firmly.
No hint of nervous energy.
He pulled in a slow breath. The woman of his dreams–dreams he didn’t know he had, because Hell has a way of grinding those right out of a damned soul–and here he was picking up itch cream for his boss.
“Prescription for Louis Sieffer.”
She turned away to leaf through the white prescription bags before turning back armed with one of them. “Here we go. Have you used this medication before?”
Her white coat washed out her pale complexion, but the lavender silk collar of her blouse, peeking from beneath the coat, caught his imagination. The silk must be worshipping the curves her abomination of a coat all but eradicated.
He sucked a breath in between clenched teeth as his body hardened. Game on. Another soul to seduce for Ole Scratch.
Without conscious thought, he hit her with sex magic. Marking her. Warning off rivals, and maybe, tipping her off, too, so they could both revel in the anticipation. Lust spiked all around him in the cramped, back corner of the drug store where three other women and one man, thin enough to blow away in a breeze, perched on hard plastic chairs, waiting for their prescriptions. He breathed it in, tasting, confused. None of it seemed to emanate from the young woman he held in his predatory crosshairs. She radiated friendly warmth, not insatiable desire like the rest of the females within ten feet of him–like she should.
He latched onto the desire surging around him. Three women. Three separate threads of want. All for the taking. Their want fed him, spilling into the empty space where his forfeited soul should have been. While he wanted the pharmacist, he’d been presented with a buffet of feminine sexual drive, he sampled the offerings. Longing was heady, addicting stuff. The unfulfilled yearning plunked into the dark well of him, tantalizing him with the sensation that he could be filled up, that he could feel almost human again.
He smiled and sucked harder on the women’s dissatisfaction and burgeoning appetite.
“Mr. Sieffer? Sir, have you used this medication before?” the pharmacist repeated, her voice clear and alluring as a shot of the smoothest whiskey.
“For eternity,” he said. Why wasn’t she inarticulate with need?
Her smile fell and she leaned closer, lowering her voice. Captivated, he mirrored her until he could have pretended to lose his balance and have their lips meet over the middle of the counter. He caught the faintest hint of perfume. Rose and jasmine. Hunger he hadn’t experienced in centuries spiked his blood–different from his soul-bound compulsion to service as many women as possible in the name of Hell. This delectable morsel kindled the lecherous nature that had damned him in the first place. He could consume her. His mouth watered. He would.
Drunk with wanting her, he downed another shot of the unrequited desire he’d tapped from the other women.
“Certain STDs can be difficult to control, but this ointment should give you some relief from the pain and itch . . .”
Sympathy, cool, blessed sympathy, smacked him in the face like a dead fish. What she’d said–what she thought–registered. He jerked upright.
“It’s not for me!” he said. “I’m picking this up for a–friend.”
Her pink lips twitched.
Adorable. Kissable. Bitable.
“Believe me,” he said, vitally aware that his voice had dropped just like every ounce of blood in his body had. “This is better than the snake oil and wormwood he’s been using for the past thousand years.”
Oh, that didn’t sound weird. Or like he had a gay lover. He closed his eyes. Smooth, Incubus. Real smooth. What the hell had happened to his ironclad contract that assured he’d always be supernaturally sexy? Every woman’s dream?
About the Author
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. Damned If He Does, a light paranormal romance came out in July 2016.
She lives aboard a sailboat in Seattle where she and her husband are outnumbered by cats.