It’s not surprising that I ended up writing paranormal romance. I’ve always had a fascination for ‘the other side’ – which for me could encompass anything from ghosts in the contemporary world to vastly different beings in a different dimension.
More than 20 years ago I started a book about a woman who had fragmented visions of crimes and could often foretell death. This was well before the dozens of TV shows and films that feature the same kind of thing. That story had to take a back seat (never to see the light of day) while I churned out writing tasks (ghostwriting and articles) that paid the bills immediately, but of course I kept reading about the paranormal world.
I read romances and thrillers, mysteries and fantasy. I read the Harry Potter series and novels set in the world of faerie and vampires and angelkind. Book after book featured g new creatures and permutations; all fascinating.
Finally it all got too much, and I had to start writing my own story. When I began the Hunting Eve series, all I knew at first was that she was half-mortal and half-fae. Well, as it turned out, she was a lot more than that: she went on to discover that she had an Earthstar grandfather. (Shades of Dr. Who.) I knew that Eve and her mortal father originally returned to Mortal Earth because – as the child mentioned in a prophecy – baby Eve was in danger.
Okay: that was a start. Then I had to come up with a hero, and a whole new world for her to live in (a sort-of-secure pocket of the Otherworld) and a place for her to stay. I had to find her a sidekick or a friend; I had to create a family; I had to give her a job.
That’s how Eve Prentice ended up working part-time in a mixed-species funeral home in Elm Crossing, with a kitsune (a shape-shifting fox) as her best friend. When she wasn’t working miracles on the Dearly Departed, she was busy learning skills that would help her survive.
I suspect that most writers of paranormal fiction get thoroughly caught up with the people and the worlds they create, and I’m no exception. I continue to be surprised (and intrigued) by the twists and turns of Eve’s story, and I can see at least 2 more books after Book 4 (my work in progress).
First Crossing, Book 1 in the Hunting Eve series. This shows her arrival at t the funeral home run by her aunts and her first meeting with Ken (the kitsune who usually takes female form).
***“They’re here, aren’t they?” Eve felt so scared she could barely stand up.
“Yes.” He placed one warm hand on her cheek. “Ready?”
“What about you?” she cried, panicked.
“As soon as you’ve gone, I’ll lock on to another dimension that is well known to them. They’ll realize immediately we’ve both gone, but they’ll follow the last heat signature – which will be me.”
“Where I’m going, there’s a Stargate. I can travel through time and space; they can’t.”
The walls of the garage shook and rattled, and the iron on the roof started to lift.
“It’s time. Lock on! Go!”
Eve instinctively reached within to coordinates of the bright, hard path to the next pocket of time and space. The air around her drew tight, and there was the now-familiar sensation of being at one with magic and nature as she spiraled away. It happened so quickly; one moment she was looking into Hunter’s eyes; the next she was gone.
This time the nausea won.
She was dumped on her knees onto a manicured lawn that swept up to the broad marble steps of a two-storey white building. In the middle of the broad sweep of green was an elegant fishpond leaping with koi, graced by a marble statue spilling a sparkling stream of water from a tilted urn.
Eve barely saw any of it before she was heaving up her lunch. This was far, far worse than the previous occasions. Every bone in her body ached. Her head swam.
And oh, she was so, so sick.
Eve gripped the stone wall at the edge of the pond, felt the world tilt, then laid her head on her arms and closed her eyes. She wanted to die. If this was what crossing worlds did to you, she’d had enough. Enough.
After a time, the world stopped revolving around her and the violent shivering eased. The sun was blessedly warm on her back.
“Uh – excuse me.” The voice behind her was as warm as honey.
No. She couldn’t cope with anyone else. She just wanted ibuprofen and a dark room.
Acutely aware of what she must look like, with her damp white capris streaked with dirt and her hair a salt-encrusted tangle, Eve pushed herself upright and turned, wiping her mouth with a sleeve of the grimy jacket. She looked up, and silently groaned. The woman who stood staring down at her was immaculate: from the auburn hair that fell to her shoulders in a glossy, straight sheet to her peep-toed black high heels. She was dressed in a black suit, with the severity relieved by a cream blouse in some filmy fabric.
Eve got to her feet, staggering a little. “I’m sorry,” she said inadequately, gesturing towards the fishpond. “I – uh – I was sick.”
“Yes,” said the woman. “I saw. I’m sorry you’re not feeling well. Are you here for Mrs. Turton?” She gestured behind her.
Eve looked, squinting against the thudding pain in her head, and saw a stream of people making their way along a path and up the wide steps. Some were sneaking glances at Eve while trying not to be too obvious about it. Others appeared to be too wrapped up in their own misery to care what she was doing. “The service is about to start, but perhaps you would like me to escort you to a private room until you are feeling better?”
A service? Eve twisted around to take a closer look at where she was, and saw the elegant bronze letters above the front doors of the building. CrossOver Funeral Home.
She was at a funeral home?
“I’m not sure I’m in the right place,” she said slowly. “I’m… supposed to meet my aunts.” She frowned and stared at the trim emerald lawn, trying to remember what Hunter had said. Then her mind cleared, and his words echoed in her mind. Their names are Helena and Sophie. You will arrive at their door, and they will be expecting you.
Eve raised her head and surveyed the double doors under the gleaming bronze letters. Surely this couldn’t be the place? She looked at the woman. “My aunts,” she said again. “Helena and Sophie?”
The woman’s mouth opened slightly. “Helena and Sophie are your aunts?” Her face wore a comical expression of disbelief. She surveyed Eve again, taking in every detail of her disheveled appearance, and for a second Eve thought she saw her lips twitch. Then the woman’s face smoothed into polite neutrality. She cleared her throat. “If you’d like to follow me, I’ll take you to them.”
Eve miserably trailed after her, around the side of the imposing white building and into an underground garage. The woman exuded sensuality, even clad in somber black. She looked, Eve thought, far too warm and vibrant for a place like this. Although what did she know? She’d only been in a funeral home maybe twice in her entire life. And never with the mother of all migraines to add to the experience.
They went through a glass door, up a spiral staircase and through yet another set of glass doors. Just past an office where another perfectly groomed girl sat tapping at a computer keyboard, Eve’s escort stopped and knocked on a door. If the gleam in her black eyes and the quirk to her lips was anything to go by, the woman seemed to be trying – not very successfully – to suppress her amusement. She wondered if The Aunts would also find it funny.
“Come in,” called a musical voice.
The woman opened the door and waved Eve inside. “Sophie,” she said in a voice that tried and failed to sound neutral. “This young lady says she is your niece. I found her out at the koi pond. She – uh – isn’t well.”
Eve looked at the tall blond woman directing a charming smile her way and thought, viper.
“Thank you, Ken. I think you had better return to the service now; they’ll be short-handed.” There was nothing in her aunt’s face to indicate this was a reprimand, but everyone in the room knew it was.
The woman nodded graciously and left.
Eve looked after her as the door closed and blinked. “Ken?”
“He’s a shapeshifter,” said Aunt Sophie. “A kitsune; he can assume any shape he wishes, but he mostly prefers to adopt the form of a woman. It can be handy at times in this business.” She took her time looking Eve up and down, her face remaining pleasant. “We were told you were coming.”
And I’m about as welcome as the plague, Eve thought.
***From First Crossing (Hunting Eve Book 1) a novella of 20,000 words available from Amazon Kindle.
Hunting Eve Collection to give away (This comprises Books 1-3: First Crossing, Double Cross, and Crossbreed. Total length about 60,000 words.)
The winner will be drawn Monday 28th January 2013 at 5 pm EDT.