Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Feline Heroine

Today I'm celebrating the release of a new Urban Fantasy, NIGHTMARE INK, written by my friend and critique partner, Marcella Burnard. Please give her a warm welcome for her guest post!
Hatshepsut wants you to know that she is the model for the cat in my Urban Fantasy novel NIGHTMARE INK. Isa, the heroine of the book, has a cat, Ikylla, and a dog, Gus. I introduced Gus and the real life inspiration for him yesterday. Today, it’s Ikylla and Hatshepsut’s turn. 

Hatshepsut is my real life, youngest feline. She lives aboard our sailboat with me, my husband, and two other cats. She is the queen, and she has very specific notions about how she is to be treated. Adoration is fine, thank you, so long as you aren’t too forward and obtain her permission to touch the sacred fur, first. However, your veneration and offerings of cheese are preferred.
Ikylla is meant to be a long haired version of Hatshepsut. Same regal bearing, same ‘you will worship me’ attitude, even if she lives in an apartment rather than on a boat. She’s also forced to share her living arrangement with a dog, an indignity that Hatshepsut has been spared. If only because I’m allergic to dogs and my heroine, Isa, is not. This may make NIGHTMARE INK a bit of pet ownership wish fulfillment. 

Writing Ikylla was easy, easier than writing the dog, Gus. My parents had cats before they had kids, so I grew up having to learn cat language. My folks insisted. They were spectacularly, and rightly, unsympathetic when I’d come crying to them because one of the cats scratched me. “What’d you do to the cat to deserve that?” I might have whined, “Nothing!” but I always slunk away because we all knew that our cats didn’t lash out for no reason and that meant I had earned my results. It made me motivated to learn how to read every twitch of whisker, ear, and tail if I wanted the cats to like me and still play with me. (They were great playmates with wicked senses of Siamese humor. I was invested in making myself likeable.)

The result, I think, is a stronger sense of Ikylla’s body language in Isa’s story. The cat speaks volumes more than the dog simply because I have a much stronger grounding in feline behavior. Funny. I’d always wanted to be bilingual. It hadn’t occurred to me that, after a fashion, I might be. I understand cat. Not that I speak it all that well, according to my three. They consider me a particularly dense kitten. Until they want to eat. Then I’m the light of their lives.

I didn’t want the animals in NIGHTMARE INK to be ornamental. I wanted them to be characters in their own right. They have roles to play in the story. No spoilers, but there is a scene where Ikylla goes hunting. That, too, is based on Hatshepsut, who is a great hunter. In her own mind. She prides herself on bringing me freaking huge spiders. We live in Western Washington. Dangerous spiders are thin on the ground in these parts, but Hatshepsut is so proud to bring European Brown Spiders (2” leg span! Yay!) to drop before me so that I may praise her prowess. O_o I will say that Ikylla’s prey is significantly more dangerous and challenging, but the last time Hatshepsut brought in a spider at 5am and dropped it on my bed? It’s possible I levitated straight out of sound sleep to get away. I could hear that spider crawling up the bed clothes. Shudder.

What about you? What stories do you have about your animals that you’d work into a book? Would your pets sue for defamation? Could you buy them off with a few pieces of cheddar the way I’ll be able to do with Hatshepsut?

NIGHTMARE INK is available in E-format

With the needle of a tattoo gun, Isa Romanchzyk has the power to create and destroy. In her shop Nightmare Ink, Isa helps those in need by binding the powers embedded in their Live Ink—the magical tattoos that can enhance the life of the wearer, or end it.  But binding tattoos has earned Isa the contempt of her fellow artists—including her former lover Daniel.

When a friend comes to the shop with a tattoo on the verge of killing him, Isa can’t turn him away. For the first time in years, she works Live Ink into someone’s skin—something she swore she’d never do again. But breaking her vow soon becomes the least of her problems.

Isa is horrified to discover her friend’s body in the shop, but the real nightmare begins when she’s abducted and inked against her will.  Now, as she seeks retribution from the man who betrayed her, Isa must figure out how to bind her Living Tattoo before it consumes her completely…


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 available April 15, 2014


Marcella Burnard said...

Thank you so much for hosting Hatshepsut and me! She's over on a chair, preening. I rather think she knows we talked about her today. :)

Jeffe Kennedy said...

She looked lovely, too!

Stacey Brutger said...

Congratulations on your new release! What a beautiful animal!