|Awakening the Fire.|
Ally Shields, welcome to Romance Lives Forever. Let's talk about your book, Awakening the Fire (Guardian Witch Book One).
Genre: Urban Fantasy/Romantic Paranormal
Buy links: Amazon (US): http://amzn.to/Nr8jko
Amazon (UK): http://amzn.to/Rt0zkb
Barnes and Nobel: http://bit.ly/RPrJ45
All Romance Ebooks: http://bit.ly/U25Q0G
Publisher: Etopia Press
Cover artist: Annie Melton
Length: 83,000 words, 245 pages (approx.)
Heat rating: Sexual tension, PG-13, M/F
While fire witch cop Ari Calin races to stop the violence triggered by an exotic drug, a werewolf pack is intent on starting a supernatural war.
Ari Calin has sworn to keep the peace in the Olde Town district of Riverdale, and most of the time the Otherworlders cooperate. The vampires, werewolves and other magical creatures go about their own business, living side by side with humans, until the foreign werewolves arrive and an virtual reality drug hits the streets. When violence erupts, Ari needs more than her witch fire, weapons and potions to stop the madness.
Teaming with a human police lieutenant and a way-too-sexy vampire singer, Ari hunts for the enemy—from the vampire strip clubs to the caverns under the city. Every step draws Ari and her companions deeper into an old feud and closer to the brink of a supernatural war.
What are your main characters' names, ages, and occupations?
Arianna Calin, 23, is a fire witch and a cop for the Magic Council, the ruling authority for Otherworlders.
Andreas De Luca is a vampire who sings in a vampire supper club—and so much more. Andreas was born in 1786 but he was 29 when he became a vampire and will look 29 and yummy forever.
Lt. Ryan Foster, 34, is Ari's partner among the human cops. They work joint cases for the Magic Council and the Riverdale Police Department.
On evening patrol, Ari has just defeated a werewolf who had attacked two children in the park.
Ari retrieved her knife from the forest floor. The woods were quiet again. Still, she lingered, reluctant to leave. An ominous prickle persisted at the back of her neck, keeping her rooted to the clearing. She scanned the trees, opening her mind to the smells and energy in the wind.
A sharp round of applause shattered the silence.
A shadowy figure stepped from the shelter of the trees. The stranger stopped, silhouetted against the light of the moon. “Very nice, if a little overdone. I do not think he will return soon.”
A rich, masculine voice, softly accented, rolled over her. Ari’s pulse leaped. Her witch blood surged in response to the unmistakable vampiric energy, and she snapped into defensive mode.
The vampire stayed in the moonlight. An easy target for witch fire, Ari thought. Maybe he wasn’t hostile. More likely, he didn’t think she was any kind of threat. Either way, her advantage. She’d been underestimated before.
“You need not be concerned,” he said. “I intend no mischief.”
The distinctive cadence of Italy in his words trailed a feathery caress along her skin. The sound wrapped itself around her in lazy curls. A quiver swept up her arms, and she shivered. Ari quickly blocked the intrusion. She needed to keep her wits about her.
“No magical probing,” she snapped. “Your tricks don’t work on me. I’m stronger than that.” Yet even as she spoke, she felt the pull, smooth as silk and slightly wicked. Her blood hummed in response, as if her magic recognized his.
And liked it.
He chuckled. Audacious. Bold. Sexy? Ugh, contrary to popular fiction, seduction wasn’t something Ari associated with vampires. Federal civil rights laws, new treaties, and citizen status didn’t make them any less dangerous. They were predators—useful in the military, but not exactly her idea of boyfriend material.
“I heard there was a new guardian, but not that she was a fire witch.” The vampire moved closer, his feet skimming soundlessly over the layers of fallen leaves and pine needles. When he came to a halt, the moonlight illuminated his face, revealing dark eyes and strong, lean features. A lock of black hair had fallen across his forehead. He was dressed casually in black jeans and a crew neck T-shirt. “Our meeting is fortunate. Always good to know the local authorities.” He cocked his head. “You are not what I expected."
Not again. Ari was sick of comparisons to her mentor. “Sorry to disappoint. Who are you? What do you want?”
“Did I say I was disappointed? On the contrary.” His gaze swept the length of her. “You are much younger, prettier, than your predecessor. But then Yana served a hundred years or more. Disappointed? Not in the least. I find you and your talents…most interesting.”
“Is that meant to be a compliment? Never mind. I don’t care.” Ari raised her chin and looked him straight in the eyes. “If you think I’m a pushover because I’m young, you can think again. I’m good at what I do. I’ve trained my entire life.”
His eyes narrowed at her bold stare. She thought she’d made her point, until he laughed. Ari bit her lower lip. Had she been too quick on the uptake? Again. Or was she reacting to vampiric magic? She nudged up the strength of her magical defenses.
“Your entire life,” he murmured. “As long as that. Impressive.”
Ari snorted but didn’t take the bait this time. She waited to see what he’d do next. Unfortunately, he had the same idea, and they stood staring at each other.
The vampire acted unbothered by the silence. He stood at ease, his body relaxed but waiting. The breeze ruffled the unruly, black hair that curled over his ears. He looked thirty or less in human years. Yet, despite his present efforts to hide it, she felt an underlying hint of power that said he was older. Much older. Awareness of him filled all the available space.
Whoever he was—she hadn’t forgotten he didn’t answer the question—his continued watchfulness made Ari uneasy. She moved her hand closer to her dagger. Although blood hunting was strictly forbidden, with a penalty of immediate execution, she didn’t trust any vampire to play by the rules.
His lips curved under her scrutiny, a hint of amusement reaching his dark eyes. Humor? That surprised her. As their humanity fell away, vampires usually took on a distinctive look: cold, predatory, reptilian. Except for the newborns, and this guy didn’t feel that newly minted.
In a rare flash of vanity, she wondered what he thought of her. The long, dark blonde hair wasn’t very witchy. And her five-five frame was more boyish than curvy. But the long-lashed green eyes? All witch, and her best asset. Great-Gran’s eyes. Her mother’s eyes. Ari jerked herself back from this weird train of thought. What was the matter with her? This wasn’t a hot-looking date.
Whatever was going on behind the vampire’s hooded eyes, he kept it to himself. He made no overt aggressive moves, simply stood there. Wasn’t that typical predator behavior? Lure the unwary into a sense of safety? Well, he could forget it. Wrong prey, bloodsucker.
She took the initiative. “I know what you are, but I’ll ask again, who are you? What are you doing here?”
He moved then, gliding forward. She was startled when he bowed with all the grace of an old world aristocrat. It didn’t quite fit the jeans and T-shirt. “Andreas De Luca, at your service, madam witch. And you are…?”
“Arianna Calin. Guardian for Olde Town.” She hesitated, then stuck out her hand. She really didn’t want him touching her, but getting along with both the human and magic communities was part of the job.
He accepted the gesture, grasping her hand in long, cool fingers. Ari felt a spark of energy, but its relative neutrality told her how good he was at controlling his magic.
“Arianna.” With his eyes never leaving her face, he repeated the word, his voice rolling it around. “Not exactly a Romani name.”
“No, should it be?” Her gut clenched at his unexpected remark. How much did this vampire know about the Calin family of witches? About her?
As if she’d spoken aloud, he said, “Your great-grandmother was the witch Talaitha. The last great fire witch in this region.” His smile said he knew he’d surprised her. “Talaitha is a Romani name.”
How did he know that? What right did he have to use her name so freely? Ari was tempted to confront him, but it would have confirmed what might be a guess on his part. Talaitha was one of Ari’s given names. An ancient name. Since the old names held power in her world, she was reluctant to share it. Especially with a vampire.
Andreas De Luca examined the hand he continued to hold. His fingers were inches away from Ari’s silver bracelet. Although he didn’t make direct contact with the trinket, he didn’t act bothered by the sight or presence of the charms, most of which were considered dangerous or at least harmful to vampires. The miniature silver cross, the vial of holy water, the protection stones. Ari lifted a brow. Interesting reaction.
“These slim fingers have inherited Talaitha’s gift for fire,” he said, using her great-grandmother’s name again, as if he knew it bothered her. “A rare and coveted talent.” His smile broadened, bringing charm to his attractive face, and he lifted Ari’s fingers to his lips in a brief kiss. Before she had a chance to react to this unexpected gallantry, he turned her hand over and nipped the palm with wickedly sharp teeth.
“Ouch!” She snatched it back, leaped away, and glared at him. Her witch senses flared with a rush of hot energy that ran to her fingertips. Ari clenched them into fists.
His rich laughter rang out. The real thing, no magic this time. Grinning, he threw up his hands as if to ward off retaliation. It defused the moment.
“It’s not funny,” she snapped, getting herself under control. Unclenching her fingers, she stared at the small drop of blood that welled from the broken skin. Her brain warred between anger and a strong desire to get the hell out of there.
What is the most important thing you do for your career now, as compared to when you first started writing?
I network. When I began writing full time four years ago, my friends and family didn't understand why I was doing this. I felt rather lost until I discovered other writers. Now I network for support and promotion, knowing there are many out there sharing the same triumphs and frustrations.
What do you enjoy most about life?
Almost everything. Seriously! I've always been curious and enjoy seeing and experiencing new things, from climbing the pyramids to horseback-riding through the Arizona desert. I suppose that's why writing, reading and traveling top my list of things I love to do. It's a way to experience many new worlds. But sometimes it's the little things that really catch you off guard. The butterfly in the garden, a particularly good wine, a sailboat on the lake at sunset.
If you could give the younger version of yourself advice what would it be?
Get serious about your writing much earlier in life. I wrote my first book when I was nine—all about a palomino horse. Imagine how many books I could have written if life hadn't distracted me along the way! It takes time to learn the craft. Write, rewrite, and then do it all over again.
Do things your family or friends do ever end up in a book?
OMG, yes, but they don't know it! Mannerisms mostly, and sometimes parts of funny conversations. I try to disguise them so they won't guess. :) But I even use people on the street. No one is safe.
What are some jobs you've done before (or while) you were a writer?
I began full-time employment as an English teacher, then a practicing lawyer and finally a Juvenile Court Officer. The most fascinating years were spent as a member of C.A.T.T, the Child Abuse Trauma Team that investigated severe child abuse cases.
What kind of books do you read when taking a break from your own writing?
I can't read urban fantasy while I'm working on a new book, so I usually turn to mysteries like those of J.D. Robb, thrillers like Vince Flynn, or a light romance. If I need cheering up, I re-read Georgette Heyer to laugh at her witty dialogue.
In between manuscripts, I catch up with new paranormal releases from Laurell K Hamilton, Kim Harrison, Charlaine Harris, and anyone else that catches my eye. I tend to like vampires!
Imagine you get to go on a dream vacation, but you have only one hour to pack and leave, and it starts as soon as you finish this interview. What will you take with you and where will you go?
My laptop, so I could write and check-in by email and Twitter. My kindle for obvious reasons. Lightweight clothing and my camera. I would return to Egypt for the fourth time, do the Nile trip again and see Luxor and Karnak. I love that place!
What is your favorite holiday and why?
Thanksgiving. Everyone comes home for Thanksgiving just to enjoy the good food and conversation. No pre-holiday shopping, fighting through the malls, wrapping packages, or holiday programs to detract from family time. And I rather like the pumpkin pie, too.
Which statement is more like you:
"I am a vacation spa because I am laid back and relaxed."
"I am a ten-countries in ten-days tour vacation, because I do things as fast as possible."
I'm definitely the ten day tour, and I've been on several! If something needs to be done, I want it done now. I'll stay up all night to finish. And I have no patience whatsoever with delayed gratification. Now, now, now. As soon as this task is done, I can move on to the next challenge, the next fascinating riddle to solve.
Please Fill in the Blanks
I love pizza with pepperoni and mushrooms.
I'm always ready for chocolate!
When I'm alone, I read or play tug-a-war with my miniature pinscher, Ranger.
You'd never be able to tell, but I have an earring collection in the hundreds!
If I had a halo it would be tarnished. :-D
If I could be an astronaut, I'd go to the moon or mars.
I can never watch a movie where the hero or heroine dies, because I cry too much. It's embarrassing!
Books Coming Soon
Fire Within (Guardian Witch Book Two) is scheduled for release on Dec. 14, 2012.
Burning Both Ends (Guardian Witch Book Three) will be released in the first half of 2013.
If you email me (email@example.com) the correct answer to the question below, I will enter you in a drawing to win a free ebook of Awakening the Fire (kindle, nook or pdf). The answer is available on my blog (Hint: check out the Character Posts). Contest ends at midnight Oct. 25, 2012 CDT. Good luck!
Contest Question: What is the first name of Ari's best girlfriend forever?
Find Me Here
Book trailer: http://youtu.be/xraKddWGIgM