Pre-Order Changelings: The Rise of Kings!

Changelings: The Rise of Kings is now live for pre-orders in the Amazon Kindle Store! Between now and July 13, you can pre-order the kindle edition for $1.99! A print edition will be available on July 13 as well.

Ebook COverIrish teens Maureen O’Malley and Sean McAndrew were lost in time. They fought alongside a pirate queen and raised the flag of a new nation. They defied the will of the Faerie king and set in motion a revolution that not only claimed the life of their friend and mentor, but barred them, the last of the Changelings, from Faerie, forever.

Or so they thought.

Facing expulsion for their misadventures, Maureen and Sean are sent to live with Sean’s aunt, deep in the Scottish Highlands. There, Faerie whispers reach out to snatch them once more – and this time, returning home is no longer an option. This time, to thwart the king, they must become myth themselves, and fight a war none may win without dying.

And, to tide you over, you can download Hunted, from the World of the Changelings, at Smashwords for free AND check out how it all started with Changelings: Into the Mist, which is free on Amazon for the next five days.

But wait! There’s more (it *is* my birthday after all – treats for everyone!)! As an extra special bonus to everyone for sticking with me as publication of The Rise of Kings was delayed, below is a special ‘epilogue’ of sorts to bridge the gap between Into the Mist and The Rise of Kings. I hope you enjoy!

The Sleeper

Niamh stood at the head of a silent host whose bodies melted and blended with the mist as they passed through Mag Mell.

The fallen warrior lay sprawled where he took his last stand against the tyrant. Nuada Silver Arm had not even bothered to strip his foe.

Faint wisps of green and white pillowed the man’s head. The vines with their tiny flowers twined about his arms and legs, as if the earth would claim him for itself.

Behind her, awe-struck whispers rose:

“The Plain . . .”

“So much green.”

“Mag Mell – it lives again.”

Niamh crouched beside the Druid and murmured in his ear. “Fallen or sleeping, you give your very soul for your people, Dubhshìth – and yet you claim you are no king.”

No flicker of an eyelid or twist of the lips betrayed his stupor.

“Is he really–?”

“No, though it is well Nuada believed it so. He travels beyond us, but we can bring him back.” Niamh brushed a stray strand of hair from the warrior’s face. “The gods are not yet done with my Druid.”

She stood and allowed her followers to gather the fallen warrior.

“We must make haste. Mag Mell is watched.”

“Is it true, my lady? Do we really go to Tech Duinn? It is said none return from Donn’s domain over the dead.” It was the young healer, Miach, who spoke.

She put a hand on his shoulder. “There are ways.” She looked out into the mist. “Áine will teach us how.”

# # #

Head over to Amazon to get the rest of the story!

The World of the Changelings: The name’s the thing

First things first – how do you pronounce those names?

From Niamh Golden Hair and Nuada Silver Arm, Áine, Manannán mac Lir and Dubhshìth, to Tír na nÓg and Tech Duinn, the world of the Changelings is a challenge when it comes to cultural/historical/mythological accuracy and ease of reading. Not even for me!

The following is a true story.

The boy, who has just read the last two chapters because he was totally responsible for The Rise of Kings ending where it does: Ok, we have Nim… Nimeh? Nimmmm…

Me: “Neeve.”

B: But…

M: or is it “Nimuay”?

B: . . .

M: I don’t know how to pronounce them – I make up pronunciations in my head. Always have. To me, she’s “Neeve.” I’m pretty sure. Or is it “Nimuay?”  Whatever – it’s in the appendix.

B: (muttering to himself) oh my god mom…

M: I have to spell it like that. It’s her name! She’s a real mythological figure.

B: . . .

M: Don’t look at me like that. You know what I mean.

B: Ok.

M: (He has a look, so I keep talking) Don’t worry – aside from the real myths, I cut down on that authentic name thing. There are a lot of Martins, James and Roberts though.

B: And by a lot…

M: Well, see, names stay in families, and the story is cyclical, so it worked.

B: You’re going to have an appendix, right?

M: . . . .

B: (Forestalling the “is the pope catholic, and the sky blue” snark) Ok, so maybe put the pronunciation guide at the beginning?

From the mouth of babes. Even 16-year-old smart-arse babes.

So yes, I know the Irish-language (and some pict/proto-celtic) names can be a bit hard on the tongue to non-Irish speakers. Like I admitted to the boy, I make up pronunciations in my head anyway – you DO NOT want to know how I’ve pronounce words like Houghton Mifflin or even simple words like façade.

And because The Rise of Kings picks up right where Into the Mist left off, the mythology comes fast and furious. So yes, this time, the name guide will be in the front. Lesson learned!

Characters – and their pronunciation – from Changelings 1 & 2

Those with a slash after their name instead of parenthesis have an anglicized name by which they are also known.

Dubhghall, Dubh Súile, Dubhshìth, Dubh, (DOOgal/Doov Sul-e/DOO-she/Doov) Doyle – his name changes with the century, but he will always be the dark stranger, the warrior, monk, and prince.

Gods & Goddesses

Niamh Golden Hair (Neeve) is the rebel queen of Tír na nÓg, and Dubh Súile’s confidante.

Nuada Silver Arm (NU ah) is the king of Tír na nÓg.

Áine (AAN-yuh), Nuada’s onetime queen and Niamh’s mother.

Manannán mac Lir (MaNa-Nan mac LEER) is Nuada, Bres and Balor’s father and onetime ruler of Faerie.

Donn (Don) – brother of Manannán mac Lir, ruler of Tech Duinn, the Land of the Dead.

Lugh (Lu) – a warrior, craftsman, and bard – although known to man, Lugh is new to the pantheon established in Changelings.

The Dagda (Dada) – The father of Manannán mac Lir and Donn, he is the father of all, keeper of time, and god of the earth.

Fomorians (F’MoR-e-ans) i.e. the Fomorian Faction is the name used by Nuada’s enemies in the Fomorian War. Nuada’s brothers, Bres (BRESH) and Balor, led the faction.

Tuatha Dé Danann (TOO-ha da Dah-n’n) – at once old gods and historically, an ancient Irish race.

Warriors

Fionn mac Cumhaill/Finn McCool is the leader of the legendary group of warriors, the Fianna.

Oisín (Ush-EEN) is the son of Fionn mac Cumhaill, a poet, and a member of the Fianna. He tarried in Tír na nÓg for 300 years.

Cú Chulainn (Coo-hullen), the Hound of Ulster, a warrior who many believed to be the son of Lugh. (Listen to his name here!)

The Purely Fictional

Mairead mac Tadgh (Mar-EAD mac Teague) is the love of Dubhshìth’s mortal life and the mother of his child. She was thought to have killed herself when Dubh disappeared in Ireland.

Mártainn mac Aindriú/Martin mac Andrew is Dubhshìth’s rival for Mairead’s affections. He married her when Dubh was presumed dead in battle, and pledged his warriors to help win the war Dubh had been fighting.

Domnall mac Aindriú/Donal mac Andrew is Dubh’s son, who he thought had died with his mother, Mairead. He did not, instead he lived to be an old man whose descendants may or may not include Maureen and Sean.

Places

Tír na nÓg (TEAR na’nog), the Land of the Young, is one of many Irish mythological “otherworlds,”

Tech Duinn (Tec Doon), the House of Donn, which became synonymous with the Land of the Dead.

Teach na Clochach (Tcha n Cluh-hu) House of the Rock aka Cloak Tower – or, in Aunt Margaret’s words: “To me, and to all your ancestors sixty times removed, the keep – as it were – has been called Teach na Clochach – House of the Rock. Clochach sounds an awful lot like a guttural ‘cloak’ to those who’ve lost their native tongue.”

Into the Mist characters – they’ll be back for Book 3

Dian Cécht (deeAAn kay-cht) is the king’s healer.

Credne (KRA-na) is the silversmith who created the king’s silver arm.

Macha (mOH-ka) is handmaiden to Queen Áine.

Miach (ME-ik) is Dian Cecht’s son and a young healer.

Hunted: The End (And a Free Ebook!)

We’re here, at the end of all things – and at the beginning of others (a little melodramatic yes, but that’s what living in D’s head – instead of him living in mine – does!) It’s been a joy to relive this little slice of D – and Sean and Maureen’s – history – especially since it has a great many “Easter Eggs” from Changelings: Into the Mist AND the upcoming Changelings: The Rise of Kings. I hope you have enjoyed it as well! Visit Smashwords for your FREE copy, or download the PDF here.

Continued from. . . 

Hunted Ebook

Despite that I was Sergeant O’Malley’s aide, I was not allowed in the radio control room while my friends flew over Nuremberg. Only those with clearance – far higher than mine – were allowed, but they could not stop me from camping outside the door and chatting up anyone who would stop.

The news was not good. The Germans had been ready for the raids. As the night wore on, and more and more planes went down, and more names I knew were whispered as missing or dead, my dread deepened.

They would make it, though – they always had before. Four tours. It was unheard of. They were blessed by the angles, as some of the other pilots said.

I kept telling myself that, but as men trickled in with tales of being lit up by the German lights, of being hounded by the Luftwaffe, my heart clenched around the knowledge that Pat and Jamie’s blessings may have run out. Neither angels, nor the gods themselves could keep them from the fate of all men, it seemed.

But I had defied fate, part of me reasoned as dawn broke. I had not allowed time to march on, nor the hand of death to take me. If I could do it, so too could they – these men who were better than me by far.

But even my blindness to reality could not change facts. The sun was nearing its apex. No one had returned in over an hour. Anyone still out there would have been out of fuel by now, and forced to land – if they could even manage it – in enemy territory.

I gritted my teeth and took myself to Vice Air-Marshal Bennet. To my surprise, his aide announced me straight away.

“I was wondering when I would see you, Corporal McAlister,” Bennet said as he waved my salute away. “Sit. I have news.”

Bennet took a deep breath and even though I wanted to protest – wanted to deny the words I could see in the other man’s eyes – I did as I was told.

“Sir, may I ask if there has been news of—”

“You know what’s happened to them already, or you wouldn’t be here.”

“Sir, I—”

“I was waiting for a confirmation report, but I can say with some confidence that Sergeants O’Malley and McAndrew were shot down. They’re dead. I’m sorry, Corporal. I know O’Malley was responsible for your post here. He thought very highly of you.”

I had no words to defend myself against the sudden emptiness that opened up in my chest. My hand slid to my heart.

I had lost comrades in war. I had been forced to watch my father’s murder. I had lived through more battles than I cared to remember, but it did not make their passing any easier.

Pat’s letter to his infant daughter crinkled in my chest pocket. He hadn’t the chance to mail it and had asked me to keep it safe until he returned.

“Are you sending anything home, to their families, sir?”

“The telegrams have already been sent to Home Office. Someone will deliver the news to their wives later today.”

My face flushed and I welcomed the anger – welcomed the ability to speak without thinking.

“Sir, forgive me, but how can you just—just dismiss them like that? Telegrams? They deserved better than that.”

Bennet sighed and rested his hands on the papers that littered his desk. I had no business speaking to him like this, but I didn’t care. It was the truth. They had deserved better.

“You have to understand something, Corporal. Their wives are in Ireland – things being what they are there, Pat is already a traitor.” Bennet ground out the last few words and two bright splotches of red had appeared on his cheeks. “Us showing up and giving them honours will only make things more difficult for Kathy and Mary.”

He took a breath and flexed his hands which had turned to fists. The man was angry – furious even – but not with me.

Pat had explained – Ireland was neutral, to a point. Those who had been enlisted in the Irish Army and left to join the British in the war were now traitors. While Pat had never been a member of the Irish Army, but many would – and did – see his wartime activities as an act of treason.

“The girls were stationed with the Women’s Auxiliary back in ’40. They met here, you understand? I gave them leave so they could marry. If Kathy and Mary were smart, they would go to Cloak Tower. There at least, they’d have a place, and I know Jamie’s aunt has been asking for them. But I also know they won’t go. Ireland is their home, and the girls are stubborn – and brave. Always have been.”

He looked me straight in the eye. “Let’s not make this worse for them.”

I straightened and nodded. “No, sir. I understand.”

“I knew you would. Can I count on you, too, to continue the Sergeant’s plan to infiltrate the German line?”

“Sir?” The sound of our plans – made only the night before – on Bennet’s lips made the hairs on my neck stand on end.

“Sergeant O’Malley stopped by my office before he flew out.” He showed me a slip of paper with my name on it. It was a requisition request.

I relaxed, but only slightly. All through the night, all I could think was that I had been wrong, that there had been an informant in 8 Group, and I had lost him.

But even as that fear nipped at my heels, I knew for certain no one had exploited the secrets so rife at Castle Hill House. Not in the last month, at any rate. The informant had left before Pat brought me on.

And I would make sure the traitor was paid in kind for his treachery.

“I see, sir. In that case, yes. As soon as it can be managed.” I would honour their memory by finding out who had leaked the information about yesterday’s raid. I would honour them by helping to end this terrible war.

“Good – you leave at 0800 hours tomorrow. Captain Hardwick will make sure you’re kitted out.”

Bennet stood and I saluted him.

“Thank you, sir.”

“You’ll make them proud, Corporal. I know you will.”

* * *

“Hey, Corporal, wait.” It was Jack, the American pilot with the camera.

I turned and watched the man jog up to him with a mixture of curiosity and impatience. The car tasked with taking me to the harbour was waiting, as was the boat that would deliver me across the sea to occupied France, and from there, Germany.

“I thought you might want to have this.” Jack was faintly breathless when he reached my side, and he waved a bit of glossy paper in my face. “I took it when you boys were in the pub on Wednesday night.”

I was silent as I plucked the paper from Jack’s hand. It was a photograph. I had seen them, of course, but that did not lessen my shock at seeing my own face – or part of it – stark against the gloom of the pub. Jamie and Pat were on either side of me at a table littered with cigarette butts and pint glasses. Pat had a pen in his hand and under a protective hand was his letter to his daughter.

I slipped the picture into my pocket – next to the same letter. I bit hard on the flesh of my cheeks, but whether to stem tears or the rising tide of rage, I was no longer sure.

“Thank you, Sergeant. I appreciate it.” I saluted the American and the other man nodded smartly.

“Good luck, Corporal. Give ‘em hell.”

* * *

Faerie whispers had been chasing me for weeks, and for weeks, I continued to throw myself at the wolves of Germany. Sometimes I caught those who followed me – those who I had rallied to my side with calls for resistance and freedom – looking at me as though I was crazed, or perhaps damaged.

Maybe I was damaged, but they followed me regardless.

The traitor, the man ultimately responsible for the deaths of my friends, the man whose information had effectively ended the aerial war on Germany, had been captured.

When I saw him, I insisted I alone interrogate the prisoner. A glitter of silver haunted the man’s eyes, and he’d been filled with delusions of grandeur. Whispers of Nuada’s doing lingered on his lips and I knew the king’s dark power had turned this man’s heart.

Why? Had exile not been enough? Had the king wanted to crush my soul as well?

The traitor was mad, my men said.

I agreed, but I stayed their hands when they would dispatch him – leave him in a ditch where none would find him.

We would not become those men, I said.

The war was almost over. I could taste it in the air, feel the shuddering sigh of a world brought to the brink of destruction only to pull back.

Actions taken in these final days would stay with us.

It was March again, and still I pressed on.

I had honoured Pat and Jamie’s memory, yet those who struggled and died to bring freedom to the world of men called out to me. The beacons of their hope lit my dreams and haunted my waking hours.

I would bear witness to their fight, so we trudged on, my men and I, and we fought or liberated where we could.

And so, the whispers of Faerie followed me as I hovered at the edge of my despair. My year was up. Niamh was looking for me, begging me to return to Tír na nÓg.

That she knew of my pain I did not doubt, yet I refused to listen until my company was safe. I led them back into a liberated village on the French-German line, and gave them to the commanding officer there.

That night, I slipped into the fields and howled at the moon as I called the mists.

The world fell away and I vowed then, I would enter it no more.

* * *

I sat in the grove of my own creation and stared out at a world and a people descended of mine own. As I watched, trees gave way to stone and the Many lost their claim to the priests of the One.

Then the wheel turned. The sacred trees grew around my effigy of stone and the Many came out of hiding. I sat in my grove and watched a world outside my imagination, willing it to see.

She saw. She saw me with uncanny green eyes – the green eyes of my mother and her mother before her: witch’s eyes.

Joy rose in me. It was time – time to join the world after years of solitude, time to act after centuries of stillness.

I closed my eyes and reached across the barrier, to touch my future and my past.

Hunted, Part 4 (We're Almost There!)

Continued from. . . 

Hunted EbookI tried to hide my trembling legs by leaning up against the wood and canvas hide of the Mosquito which had been my chariot for the last hour.

Jamie wasn’t fooled.

“Aye, it has that effect. Did you know the first time I went up, I was green the entire time? Tossed my lunch, I did.”

I grinned at the young pilot. “Well, it’s a good think I missed lunch today, then.”

Jamie clapped me on the shoulder “Is that so? We’ll have to remedy that. To the pub, aye?”

* * *

I stared at the high-walled nooks filled with laughing men, and at the smoke-darkened beams that spanned the width of the low-ceilinged room. It was deceptively large, this cosy pub.

Cosy – and definitely more to my style. The draught may have changed some, and the method of delivery, but a fire flickered merrily along one wall and men still gathered over drink to tell tales. Here I could feel at home.

Here I could, most likely, fulfil Pat’s command that I unearth the double-agent who plagued 8 Group.

Pat ordered our supper and lagers with a shake of his head after I stared helplessly when asked what I’d like. Until Pat had wrangled my release, I’d been prisoner to the victuals deemed healthy by the good matron of Queen Mary’s Hospital.

As we ate, Jamie attempted to play spymaster himself. He peppered me with questions about the man I was supposed to be, despite Pat’s rolling eyes, and I deflected by asking him about his family – about both their families.

“Well, the girls share a cottage just outside Carrickahowley – easier with the two babes. Jamie’s aunt has been after them to come back to Scotland, of course, but Kathy’s mam is ailing. She’s not going to last the summer, and she wants to be on hand.”

I nodded – the names meant nothing to me but Pat’s eyes were shining bright in the pub’s muted glow.

“Maureen’s a bit of a terror – running already when she should just barely be crawling, her mother says.”

“She devils my boy something terrible,” Jamie added with a shake of his head at his friend. “But Sean’s devoted to her – or so Mary says.”

I grinned and let their chatter wash over me. The big offensive at the end of the month was their last for this tour, and every ounce of me wanted to find that mole and let them go home – these men who still had a home to go to.

“Speaking of Aunt Margaret – Corporal, do you know Edward McAlister of Dunn Ussie? I went to primary school with his son, Colin back in Dingwall – are they relations to you?”

I choked on the hunk of bread and cheese I’d stuffed in my mouth. They still called the keep Dunn Ussie? After all this time? And if Jamie had gone to school with a child of that clan, could he be—?

Pat clapped me on the back and I took a steadying breath.

“Distantly, sir – I believe? The names certainly feel familiar.”

Jamie laughed. “See Pat – told you I could surprise him. You’re a good one, Corporal. Welcome to the team.”

* * *

“You’re telling me the Germans just let them go?” Pat sounded like he didn’t believe a word Jamie was saying.

Jamie shrugged. “That’s the news coming over the wire.”

“Something doesn’t feel right.”

Dubh looked between the two men, hunkered over their lagers. Thick smoke filtered the pub’s already weak light, and cast shadows over everyone. One of the newly-arrived American pilots was complaining bitterly about it as he waved a bulky contraption he called a camera.

“What do you think, Doyle?”

“Pardon?”

“About the trade – have you no been listening, man? What is it – is Delia over there giving you the eye again?” Jamie asked with a wink.

I snorted. If Delia was giving anyone the eye, it was Jamie – not that the pilot would notice. He’d shown off the pictures of his lovely wife and son so many times they’d been worn thin with wear. It didn’t stop some of the younger Women’s Auxiliary cadets, or nurses, from swooning over his rakish smile.

Pat rolled his eyes. “He’s been listening, Jamie – he listens to everything. Did you know, according to our good Corporal McAlister, Johnny Hardwick snitches five paperclips a week from the supply office. And while that may seem sinister, it seems he’s building a replica of London Bridge.”

“Is that so?”

“Indeed,” I snorted. “And as you can see, Hardwick’s paperclip ode to British engineering has no bearing on your mole. You need someone in Germany, not Castle Hill House.”

“Are you volunteering?”

I hesitated, but only for a second. “Yes.”

There was nowhere else for me to go – the lands of Faerie were closed. I had tried to call the mists, to access the places where the veil between worlds was thin, to no avail.

The world was at war, and if going to Germany would help, then so be it.

Pat stared at me.

“Have you any German, then?”

“Mein Deutsch ist sehr gut. Außerdem bin ich begabt, wie Sie gesagt haben, mich gut einzumischen.”

Jamie burst out laughing and I gave him a droll stare.

“I know it is not that simple.” I kept my voice low but emotion crept into it anyway. “Yet, if by donning the armour of the enemy I help keep more of our boys safe to come home to wives and sweethearts such as Mary, I am more than willing to do it.”

Pat put a hand on my shoulder. I had only spent a month with these men, yet through their stories of home – of their infant children, their wives and boyhood exploits – I had come to love them as much as I had loved any brother-in-arms before. They were ten years my junior, but in every way they were my superior. They had lives for which to fight – and I would do what I could to ensure they could go back to those lives.

“We’ll talk about it after the run tomorrow night.”

“Then again, the war might be over after our run tomorrow night.”

Pat shook his head. “As much as I wish it so.”

His voice trailed off and he slipped a bit of paper from his pocket. It was a letter to his daughter. He wrote a new one every week.

He stared at the words scribbled on the page end then back at me. “You’re certain?”

“What is the point of a man with no memory hiding away, safe in the country while everyone else runs pell-mell into the enemy? I’ve told you – beyond your everyday rivalries and daydreamers hoping for home, there is nothing amiss here. My gut tells me my place is there.”

“And is your gut often wrong?” Jamie asked around a mouthful of lager.

I grinned. “In recent memory, I cannot say – yet I feel it has rarely failed me.”

“Then tell us, oh great magician who can see into men’s hearts, what is our fate on the morrow?”

I stared into the dark blue eyes before me. Patrick made noises for Jamie to leave off but I wasn’t listening to either of them.

Static filled my ears and tiny flashes like miniscule bursts of lightening etched jagged lines before my eyes.

“Dubh – Dubh!”

I shook my head, but it would not clear. The noise of the pub had ceased. Jamie and Pat, their hands wrapped around their pints, were still.

“Dubh Súile mac Alasdair!”

“Niamh Golden Hair.”

I spoke her name out loud without fear. The magic of Tír na nÓg had stopped time.

“Thank the gods we have found you – what possessed you?”

“Possessed me? Dear lady, I feared perhaps it was your magic that had done this to me – in retribution for my failure to harken to your cause.”

“You are a fool, Dubh Súile, if that is what you think.”

“I have been called worse by you, my lady.”

“Do not bandy words with me, Druid. You were exiled, as well you know, and not by me. I have found a way to bring you back.”

I tried to keep the incredulity out of my voice and failed. “Bring me back? For a price, I’ll wager?”

“Do you still hold onto your foolish notion that Nuada’s ways are just? That he has not changed and sullied the magic, which was his duty to protect?” Her disgust with her king and father, Nuada Silver Arm, was almost palpable. “He sent you there to die.”

“And I shall make the best use of the time I have here. These men need me more than you do, Niamh.”

“Those men’s lives will be nothing if Tír na nÓg falls to him.”

“You speak of things you do not know. They know nothing of you or your kin – their lives have meaning all their own.”

I thought I heard her snort, and I couldn’t keep the grin off my face. I had missed our banter.

“So you will not return?”

“Not until I have ensured their safety.”

“I cannot keep they gateway open forever, Dubh Súile.”

“Certainly, a day will not matter to you, Niamh Golden Hair.”

She laughed outright at that. “A year then, for you? I will see what I can do. If he suspects anything, I will have to close it, and you will be trapped there.”

“Perhaps that is as it should be – perhaps I should grow old and die, as is the fate of all mortal men.”

Niamh paused for a moment; when she spoke again, her voice was barely a whisper.

“Not your fate, Master Druid – not yet. We have need of you.”

The murmur of premonition crawled along my skin, and I shuddered.

“Good day to you, Master Druid. Should you have need of me, summon the mists. I will be watching.”

The noise of the pub came rushing back, drowning my senses in a heady wave of clanking glasses and the scrape of wood on wood. I gritted his teeth. Jamie and Patrick were looking at me, expectant smiles on their faces.

“Well, what is it man? What is our fate?”

“Ah, I do not deal in men’s fate – yet for you I see a great legacy. Your children will grow to do good things in your name.”

“Well, that’s all a man can ask for, I suppose.” Pat grinned and went back to his letter while Jamie sauntered up to the bar to order another round.

I watched the two men and wondered why my own words sat heavy in my heart.

To be continued. . . 

Hunted, Part 3 – And Some News

Hunted Ebook.pngSo… how are you liking “Hunted” so far? As with all things, I decided midway that, given how some don’t like serialized reading, I will be making “Hunted” available as a free downloadable ebook in a variety of formats! Stay tuned!

Continued from Hunted, Part 2…

“So, what do you think of her, Corporal?”

“She’s beautiful, sir.”

“You’re a funny sort, McAlister – you talk like you’ve never even seen a plane before.”

And so I hadn’t, but I wasn’t about to tell that to Sergeant Patrick O’Malley.

The twentieth century was rife with oddities, but aeroplanes were the most fantastic contraptions I had yet seen. Growing up, the Christian monks had claimed that their god ruled the heavens, but now it seemed man had invaded even that domain.

I had always been a warrior, a worshiper of the land, and student of the unseen things between worlds. Never had I dreamed to exist so high, with only the clouds and birds for company.

I tore my eyes from the twin-engine beauty called a de Havilland Mosquito to look at the young man who was now my commanding officer.

Pat’s red hair was bright in the spring sun and freckles stood out boldly on his pale skin. He was twenty-four – a good ten years younger than me, had I cared to count the number of mortal years to take their toll on my body.

“Keen for a bit of flying, Corporal?”

Jamie – Sergeant James McAndrew – nudged me in the ribs and gave me a rakish grin. He was always teasing someone, but his best friend, Sergeant Patrick O’Malley, was his favourite target. Considering they had been friends since their days at boarding school, and co-pilots for six years, he had every right.

Both men could have become officers – had they taken the offered break between their tours of duty and attended officer training. They were natural leaders and had the respect of any crew that worked with them.

Instead, they had gotten married and spent a brief leave in Scotland, at Jamie’s family home. Being reassigned to the Path Finder Force of 8 Group, under Air Vice-Marshall Bennett had been their reward. Together, the men had survived four tours of duty – two of them with 8 Group.

“You can’t take him up, Jamie,” Pat said now. “It’s against regulations.”

“Ever since they graced you with an aide, you’ve been all over these ruddy regulations.” There was laughter in Jamie’s voice and a merry twinkle in his blue eyes to take the sting from his words.

“Ah sure, and didn’t they offer you the same thing? You’ve more need of an aide than I do – your desk is a disaster.”

“Don’t tell me he has you filing papers while he’s dazzling the lasses doing loop-de-loops in the sky.”

“If anyone would know about that, sir . . .” I graced the black-haired Scot with a wry grin and Jamie barked a surprised laugh.

“The tongue on you – Pat did well to bring you on,” he said as he clapped me on the back. “Not that anyone will tell you anything, but I’m sure you have ways around that.”

“Enough, Jamie,” Pat warned. “You’re not supposed to know about that, either.”

No one was supposed to know I had been brought on to provide cover for the reconnaissance flights into Germany. There was some talk that 8 Group had a mole, and it was my job to find him – or her – and plug the leak before a big offensive set to take place later in the month.

On the train from London, Pat had explained the Intelligence Services had tapped him for work in 8 Group headquarters. He was not keen on the new role. He was still a pilot at heart, which was why he had enlisted me as his aide, and had “Corporal McAlister” transferred to the Administrative and Special Duties Branch. This way, Pat could take to the skies while I watched and listened on the ground.

Jamie nodded at his friend, but wasn’t done trying to get me in the sky. “Come on, Pat. The laddie here has been through hell.”

Pat looked between us and a small smile started at the corner of his mouth. “Ah, you’re worse than my nannie, God rest her.”

“Och aye, I’ve one of those myself.” Jamie grinned. He had won. “Just don’t tell Aunt Margaret I said so – she’d have my head for talking about her like that!”

* * *

I had no idea what it took to prepare oneself to fly, and was forced to stand by, helpless as a babe, while Jamie helped me pull up the jumpsuit, and strap on the helmet and parachute.

“Just in case,” he said with a wink and a mock-annoyed click of his tongue.

Seated in the plane, my palms began to sweat.

I had fought naked in hand-to-hand combat. I had crossed the sea between Scotland and Ireland in a tiny boat of leather hides. I had faced the boiling masses of a Fae army, which could not die, but when the ground fell away, all was noise and rattling sensation that gnawed at my bones.

The sky bent around us in stunning shades of blue as the plane soared.

My heart eased from my throat and my hands relaxed of their own accord. My soul filled with something resembling peace – fleeting and precious.

For the first time in a thousand years, I knew I could close my eyes and allow the gifts of the Goddess – gifts I had honed for years in the Druid grove and had forgotten at Nuada’s command – to flood my heart and make me whole.

I kept my eyes open.

There was too much to see.

To be continued. . . 

Hunted – A Changelings Short, Part 2

Continued from Hunted – A Changelings Short. 

“What do you remember?”

Dubh Súile mac Alasdair lifted his eyes to the red-haired man standing over him. He looked smart in his pilot’s uniform. He was young, yet his green eyes spoke of many battles.

Every day it was the same question.

Every day he said the same thing.

“Nothing.”

It was a lie.

Each of the 1200 years I had lived among man and Fae spread out before me – loves and lives lost taunted me whenever I closed my eyes.

Each moment of the war which had torn me from the world of men screamed at me in dreams, and the memory of magic, which had once been my reward, still lingered on my skin.

But that was not what the young man meant.

A broadsheet included with this day’s breakfast declared it was 1 March 1944. The narrow bed in which I lay belonged to the Queen Mary Convalescent Auxiliary Hospital just outside London, England.

I had not been in London for nearly 400 years. Metal-clad machines prowled the streets, their growl replacing the clatter of horses’ hooves on the cobbles.

It had been one of these—these things, which looked more like the monsters reserved for the unknown realms at the map’s edge than something man should ride within, that had put me at the mercy of the white-capped ladies of Queen Mary’s in the first place.

The only thing that remained the same was the endless war – only this time it wasn’t with the French.

“Nothing at all?” Pale eyebrows arched to etch lines of disbelief in the sergeant’s face.

“I remember nearly cracking your skull, even as I cracked my own.”

Not my finest moment, but Nuada Silver Arm had not meant it to be. In fact, I was fairly certain the king meant it to be my last moment.

“You and the cab came out of nowhere – if you hadn’t rolled me out of the way, I might have been hit by the bloody thing myself. Your reflexes are sound, at least.”

“Physically, perhaps,” I admitted. “My memory before that black cab is a little dim, however.”

“And yet, the doctors tell me the memory loss is a protective mechanism – depending on what it’s protecting, I would say that reflex is also very good, soldier.”

My left eyebrow raised of its own accord and the sergeant finally cracked a smile.

The sergeant’s smile turned into mock surprise. “What’s this, no retort? No denial? I call you ‘soldier’ and you simply accept it?”

I answered his smile with a wry twist of my lips. It was about time. At turns solicitous and stern, the sergeant had been trying for two days to uncover my identity.

“I have been a warrior – among many things – all my days. I could no more deny it than willingly stop breathing. And yet, I do not know for whom I fight.”

“For Queen and Country, that’s who,” the sergeant snapped. “I had a thought you were from one of the Highland regiments. A lad from the Black Watch had gone missing on his way back from the front. Deserter, they thought.”

Deserter.

The word slithered through the air, now sharp and sour. The sergeant’s eyes had turned to flint as he waited for me to twitch, blubber, or show any other sign that my memory loss – amnesia the doctors called it – was a ruse.

I stared placidly at him, and waited for him to continue. My mortal record – all my mortal records – had been lost to time for centuries, but creating an identity from whole-cloth was foolhardy at best. No longer did man rely on a messenger who might take days, if not weeks, to reach his destination. In 1944, a command from a faceless man half a world away could move – or halt – an entire army.

“A Corporal Doyle McAlister, late of Dingwall? I sent up your photo. Captain there says it was blurred – don’t know how that bloody happened – but it’s close enough.”

Breathing was suddenly difficult. My family name – and the name of my home – had changed only slightly. Was this more of Nuada’s machinations, or some other agent of fate?

I took care with my words. “The names feel familiar, sir, but I can’t say for certain that I am your man.”

“That will do enough for me.”

It was my turn to smile. “Why in such a hurry to tag a name to me, sir?”

“Because amnesia or not, you’re a canny one, Corporal. You watch, you wait and you keep your own counsel. I have need of a man with your skills.”

“And?”

If I was being tested, the matching grin on Sergeant O’Malley’s face said I’d passed.

“And I was only granted two day’s extra leave. I’m due back at 8 Group tomorrow. So, unless you would prefer to return to the front with your regiment…?”

O’Malley left the question hanging, but I didn’t leave it there for long. I’d seen the mechanical monstrosities man had made – and I had no desire to experience them any closer than I already had.

“You’ve cleared this with McAlister’s commanding officer, Sergeant O’Malley?”

“Indeed, Corporal McAlister, I have. How do you feel about aeroplanes?”

To be continued. . .

Revealed: Changelings: Rise of Kings

Ebook COverHey, looky here! We have cover art!

And to celebrate, we also have fiction!

The forming of the story that is now Changelings: Rise of Kings was fraught with many a darling, plot-hole, continuity error, and time-travel migraine. Great swaths of story were cut, re-fashioned, and re-purposed, but my favorite was the story of D’s time in England, 1944.

When he revealed to Maureen and Sean in Into the Mist (which is still FREE today if you haven’t picked up your copy) that he had known their fathers – indeed, had grown to care for them as brothers and was there the night they died – I wanted to tell the whole story. I wrote it, but try as I might (and I tried. I really really tried), it didn’t have a place in Rise of Kings – nor does it in the as-yet-untitled Book 3. I’ve teased bits of it throughout the life of this blog, but I’ve decided to release it over the course of the next few weeks – if anything, just to give it a cohesive finale.

Hunted: A Changelings Short

I heard a wild cry echo through the mists, as though hounds howled against the night.

The Plain, Mag Mell, was empty – stripped of all lore, all magic and life – and Niamh Golden Hair’s curses still rang in my ears.

I would rue the day I had turned from her cause, she had said.

As the sound caused dread to prickle my skin, a part of me laughed. There is a reason Niamh is the Fae’s greatest spell weaver and seer, though not many risk the king’s ire to say so.

The mists pressed down upon me. They started to dance. So wrapped up in my own misery – my own heated denial of her visions – was I, that I did not see their grasping fingers twine ‘round my legs.

And then that cry. That hideous, desperate cry.

The king – Nuada Silver Arm. It had to be.

I carried a sword, gifted to me by that same king for wining his war, but it’s blade mattered little. Nothing crafted by man can harm the Fae. Once it was said they could be killed – that the Fae feared man’s iron – but I knew that to be a fairy tale.

The cry which rent the air told me I was hunted. It is always so for those who travel between the worlds. Why did I think I would be any different? The war I won for Nuada Silver Arm had been over for an age – man had already forgotten it as they sped beyond us.

changelingsebookcover-flat4

Who is Dubh Suile? What are the Changelings? Get your free e-book and find out!

I was a man outside of time, beyond the help of kindred, and I had just turned my back on the last of those who cared.

 

A haunting wail pierced the air, adding anguish to that wild cry of terror. We sang in tune, my hunter and I, and when he ripped the world from beneath my feet, I nearly wept with relief.

* * *

 

“What do you remember?”

 

I gazed at the red-haired man who towered over me. He looked smart in his pilot’s uniform. He was young, yet his green eyes spoke of many battles.

Every day it was the same question.

Every day I said the same thing.

“Nothing.”

It was a lie.

To be Continued…

Three Ghosts: A Post-Script (Spoilers!)

Whew, I never thought we’d get here – but here it is, the conclusion to the contemporary Irish thriller, Three Ghosts. Warning, just like yesterday, here be spoilers – but don’t worry – if you didn’t read along, and/or don’t like reading in serial format, the full novella – including all-new content – will be available to download on St. Patrick’s Day

Catch up: Part 1

Epilogue

Cover Art by Casey T. Malone

Cover Art by Casey T. Malone

Dee came to with a nasty goose egg on the top of her head. Emmet had been hauled off to the MI5 dungeons, Pat was arguing with an aide about being taken to the hospital, and Aiden, God rest him, had been zippered up and sent to the morgue.

“It’s going to kill his mother – first her daughter, then Aiden.” She choked back tears. It could have been worse, she knew. At least Marley had the decency to look distraught, but it wasn’t helping – in fact, the sorrow on his face was just making her madder.

“Where were you – what happened in there?”

“I was trying to get to you – it took me a while to realize the phone Pearse tossed me wasn’t for me to use, but for me to listen.”

Dee glanced at the monitors now being dismantled by agents draped in protective white suits. “The monitors.”

“Indeed,” answered Pearse, who was lying on his back on his own gurney, wincing only slightly as the ambulance crew patched him up enough for travel. “Emmet had eyes everywhere – put that bloody IT degree to good use, aye?”

“But I thought you were working for Marley—“

“Not for me, he doesn’t.” Marley snorted. His cell phone buzzed and he put up a hand asking for their patience before taking the call.

Dee watched him leave the room with a small jolt of desperation. Don’t leave me alone with my ex-husband, she wanted to say. An ex-husband who, until two hours ago, she was prepared to kill.

Pearse made restless noises in his gurney and she turned to him. “So, I guess I should thank you for not letting Emmet put a bullet in my head,” he said to his hands.

Dee gritted her teeth against the blush that spread up her neck. “Yeah, well, if anyone was going to do that, it was going to be me.”

“Cheers, love.”

Dee shrugged and stared at the blanket draped over the edge of the gurney. This was awkward.

“I’m guessing you have questions.”

A tiny laugh escaped before she could stop it. Just a few. “How did you know – about Emmet, I mean? How far back does this all go?”

“It started when you and I got together. You probably weren’t paying attention, but he was a pretty big agitator – Pat wanted him on the Shadow Council until he realized what a horrible, self-righteous prig he was. That’s why we recruited you, instead.”

“Wait, you recruited me?”

“Well, you had that trust fund – of course, I complicated things when I married you, so there’s that.”

Dee rolled her eyes. “Yeah, I suppose there’s that.”

“Emmet wasn’t too pleased you left politics behind to play with the lads – didn’t like that you chose me over him. It turned something inside him, and I noticed him watching you a few times – why do you think I kept him from you?”

Dee cocked an eyebrow and he grinned without a hint of embarrassment. “Okay I might have been jealous too, but there were rumors that he was getting involved in girls and drugs – running a racket, like. If there’s one thing the lads don’t like, it’s that sort of traffic.”

“Especially when they can’t profit from it.”

Pearse smirked. “Yeah well, there was no point in you knowing. To be fair, things progressed so far beyond Emmet and his girls that I forgot about him until after Pat got me out of Donegal. He wasn’t on anyone’s radar, but something didn’t sit right.”

“So, what – you played him?”

Pearse nodded. “I had a suspicion he’d advanced his racket. I got closer to him, let him think I was hell-bent on revenge and still blinded by Republican fervor – which wasn’t terribly hard at the time, mind – and needed a financier.”

“Which is when you realized it went deeper than girls and drugs.”

“Very clever, Ms. O’Brien,” Pearse smirked. “And, it went a lot further than just the regular players in Ireland and England. That’s when I turned – I knew he was going to use me, use the cause, which didn’t seem to mean anything to anyone anymore, all for his cronies, and I couldn’t let that happen.”

“Still fighting the good fight, Mr. Finnegan?” Marley asked as he came back into the flat.

“Someone has to – within reason, of course.”

“Of course.”

Dee looked between the two men, and over at Pat, who looked like he had reluctantly agreed to be carted off to the hospital – very reluctantly.

“Speaking of the good fight, what did happen at No. 10 – is the Prime Minister—?”

“He’s fine – the reports of those five deaths have been – how do you Americans put it? Greatly exaggerated. Looks like it was just a gas leak.”

“The London game, a fucking gas leak?” This was Pat as he was being wheeled out of the flat. “Hey there, Darlin’, glad to see you’re up and about.” He turned back to Marley “Oi, lad, we’re going to have to have a wee chat when I’m up and about – bloody gas leak.”

Marley spared Pat a look. “Look, you old hustler, it’s better this way – this way your empire remains, and so does mine.”

Dee waved Pat off – if he was truly angry about the outcome of the London Game, he was doing a good job of hiding it with cheerful bluster. Then again, Pat was, as Marley put it, an old hustler. He could make you think anything he wanted.

Pearse’s voice broke through her contemplation of Pat – or Rory Finley’s – tricks.

“So, Marley, what’s next?”

“Next, these people are going to take you to the hospital.”

“And after that?”

Marley grinned – and for the first time Dee saw just how much he loved his job. “Well, we need you to escape custody as soon as you’re able. I trust you’ll find what you need.”

Pearse saluted them with a wry smile as he was wheeled out of the flat.

As the door closed on her ex-husband, Dee turned to Marley. “So, if you didn’t know Pearse was an informer, why did you tell me your code name for him?”

“Sorry?”

“John Carol – there was an informer in Northern Ireland you lot called Agent Carol – wrote a book about it, yeah?”

“Two books, actually. I knew Pearse had been working for us–”

“But you said he wasn’t working for you.”

“And he isn’t. I’m not his handler – and he’s so deep undercover, I’m not even sure he remembers he has one. It’s one of the risks we run with informers. It doesn’t matter how long anyone has been the service – if the incentive is right, they can turn on you in a second.”

Cheerful thought. Dee grimaced and waited for the agent to answer her initial question.

He sighed.

“I told you his name to see if you knew – just testing the waters, Ms. O’Brien,” he added when she started to interrupt. “But, since you asked, Pearse picked out his own code name – from what I understand, it was a favorite Christmas movie. Speaking of which, you can stop spreading these around town.”

In Marley’s hands was a red, rectangular envelope. She took it and gingerly slid her finger along the flap.

Inside, the Mother and Child stared beatifically.

“This is the one I sent my mother. You promised—”

“Look again.”

She opened it. There was a date scrawled on the inside and an address: December 27. 9:00 AM; 18 Park St London SE1 9EQ, UK.

“And before you ask, I didn’t send the other one either. You can tell her Merry Christmas in person.”

She closed the card and tried to keep the smile off her face. “How’s that, then? It looks like I’m going to be a bit busy over the next couple of days – research, you know.”

“Easy. Your family is booked in an entire floor at the hotel. Thought it might be a nice surprise, all things considered.”

“Who did – you, or her?”

Marley grinned. “If I say me, will you invite me to dinner?”

Dee gave him her hand and let him pull her off the gurney. “You’re a glutton for punishment Agent Marley—”

“It’s Greene.”

“What?”

“That’s my real name. Jason Greene.”

“Oh. Well then, Mr. Greene. Let’s go have dinner. I’m starving.”

The End

Spotlight: Helena, the Memoirs & PubSlush, Oh My!

pubslushbuttonWhen we discussed the idea of Helena featuring some of her incredible work from the upcoming Memoirs of a Dilettante, Vol. 2 on the D/A Dialogues, I had no idea which piece she’d choose.

I knew they’d all be great – because, frankly, all of them are – but I can tell you right now, the one she chose is perfect.

I mean, perfect. A perfect read. Perfect for this blog, and perfect for me, your faithful author-who-talks-to-a-Druid-in-her-head (because before the Druid, there was Dorothy). So, without further ado, I present to you . . .

The Great and Terrible Countess of Oz

“It’s a twistah! It’s a twistah!” exclaimed the Countess Penelope of Arcadia, which is, in this instance, a county in Kansas by way of Oz. It wouldn’t be the last Oz reference made this weekend. The sky swelled black like a bruise, and the wind howled and threw things around in a poltergeist tantrum.

The cat-like but never cowardly Countess and I had driven through it, swerving to avoid minor debris like small tree branches, and once, a stray shopping cart blowing across the road. I kept my white-knuckled hands tight on the wheel, while Penny twisted and turned in the passenger seat, looking this way and that to see where the storm was coming from; where it was going. We drove right through the middle of it and came out the other side, like we’d gone through a car wash. The rain beat and battered us but did not best us.

When we made it safely home, I made sure to park far away from any trees, and when I saw the debris the next morning, I knew I’d made the right decision. We got out of the car and ran to our door, both of us getting soaked to the bone just crossing the street, and then locked ourselves in for the night, lighting candles and huddling on the floor in the living room, just watching our big bay window in terror as shingles blew off our roof and tree branches broke and fell.

The next morning, we woke up sans power, which means sans air conditioning, and neither Penelope nor I woke up with the cheery disposition of a member of the Lullaby League. I told Penny I was heading out, and asked if she wanted anything. She buried her head in her pillow and told me to go away and come back tomorrow.

“Why don’t you get your lazy butt out of bed and come with me?” I suggested.

“Pay no attention to the girl beneath the blanket! I am the great and powerful…”

“Okay, get up,” I said, pulling the blanket off of her. “If you’ve got the energy for snark, you can come to the store with me.”

“Oh, have a heart, Helena! Can’t you see the circles under my eyes? I didn’t sleep all night!” And then she gave me the most pa-thetic, pitiable look – which she knows full well I am helpless against.

“You know, I shouldn’t let your puppy dog face get to me! I should be on my mettle, and yet, I’m torn apart. Okay, darling, you win. What do you want me to bring you?”

“Bring me the broomstick of the Wicked Witch of the West!” She demanded weakly, still trying to sleep, before the humidity began to rise again, making sleep impossible. “Oh, and coffee. For the love of Oz, the great and terrible, bring me some coffee. I don’t care how many curly toed Munchkins you have to kill, fa la la la la, blah blah blah, just bring me some coffee.”

“Uh, bring me some coffee… what?”

“Now, bitches!” The Countess demanded mock-indignantly.

“That’s more like it,” I replied.

I went out to try to acquire coffee for the Countess and myself (as no one wants to live with an under-caffeinated Countess, dar-lings) and was confronted with debris the likes of which I’ve never seen. Tree branches had broken and fallen all over the place, and entire streets had been blocked off with yellow police tape. I had to navigate around a labyrinth of newly altered landscape, taking twists and turns, and more than once running into a dead end and having to turn around. There was one rather straw-headed guy trying to direct traffic, but when I asked him which way to go, it became rather clear that he didn’t know any more than anyone else.

“This way seems to be clear,” he said, pointing left, but before I could drive away, he pointed right and added, “but then I haven’t seen too much debris down this way, either.”

“Then again, people do go both ways,” I replied, and was given a confused look by the accidental scarecrow, who just waved me on, unappreciative of my witticisms.

As of this memoir missive, we are still without Internet (oh boo hoo, what a tragedy – do you want us to start an emergency fund, Helena?) and while your sarcasm is always appreciated, there is no need to be concerned for your favourite dilettante and her aristocratic accomplice – we are just fine, thank you very much.

Oh, but anyway, darlings, we’re home – home! And these are my memoirs – and you’re all here – and I’m not going to leave here ever, ever again, because I love you all! And… oh, darlings, there’s no place like home!

———–

If you want to read more, BECOME A FAN at PUBSLUSH and pre-order Memoirs of a Dilettante Volume Two and Penelope, Countess of Arcadia

Available now! image06 JESSICA image07

The one, the only Helena Hann-Basquiat, everyone's favorite dilettanteThe enigmatic Helena Hann-Basquiat dabbles in whatever she can get her hands into just to say that she has.

Some people attribute the invention of the Ampersand to her, but she has never made that claim herself.

Last year, she published Memoirs of a Dilettante Volume One, and is about to release Volume Two, along with a Shakespearean style tragi-comedy, entitled Penelope, Countess of Arcadia.

Helena writes strange, dark fiction under the name Jessica B. Bell. VISCERA, a collection of strange tales, will be published by Sirens Call Publications later this year. Find more of her writing at http://www.helenahb.com or and http://www.whoisjessica.com Connect with her via Twitter @HHBasquiat , and keep up with her ever growing body of work at GOODREADS, or visit her AMAZON PAGE

Overheard Over Coffee…

Back in November, Katie Sullivan released her long-awaited first novel Changelings: Into the Mist, the first in a series of adventure novels that blend the fascination of historical fiction with the wonder of Celtic mythology. While she is working on the second book, due out this Fall, she’s also been writing a serial thriller called Three Ghosts, which she will publish as both a paperback and e-book this month. Helena Hann-Basquiat currently has a Pubslush campaign taking pre-orders for Memoirs of a Dilettante Volume Two, and is also publishing a Shakespearean-style play, a tragi-comedy called Penelope, Countess of Arcadia. They sat down one evening to chat.

Overheard over coffee at Helena’s…

The one, the only Helena Hann-Basquiat, everyone's favorite dilettante

Okay, then, well, I’ve just made myself a double cup of Chai Latte and the whole room smells like cinnamon and licorices.

Katie Sullivan

Yum. I love chai. I make it with coconut milk, because although from Wisconsin, dairy and I don’t get on, but even without that problem, coconut milk in chai is divine!

The one, the only Helena Hann-Basquiat, everyone's favorite dilettante

I’ll bet. If I ever buy one at Starbucks, I usually get a soy chai latte. That is kind of criminal, you living in Wisconsin and not eating cheese. But then, the leading cause of death in America is actually heart disease, if the film Thank You For Smoking has taught us anything.

Katie Sullivan

Oh, cheese is exempt. I can only give up so much (wheat, most grains, tomatoes, peppers, ice cream). I’ll happily die from heart disease for cheese.

The one, the only Helena Hann-Basquiat, everyone's favorite dilettante

Sounds like you’d be difficult to plan a meal for. But I’m sure you’d make it very worthwhile with the pleasure of your company. It occurs to me that we are coming up on having known each other for two years. But this is really the first time we’ve actually had a chance to sit down together and chat about the writing. Tell me about Three Ghosts. Where did that come from? How is it different from writing about D (your LONGTIME companion)

Katie Sullivan

Two years, that is crazy! Three Ghosts had a sort of round-about genesis (don’t they all?!). The germ of the story started when I was 18, with a young woman who moved to Ireland and fell in love with a rable-rousing charmer, who ended up dying for his ’cause’ forcing her to go underground. Well, I quickly realized at 18 that I had no idea what I was talking about – even if I was a young woman who moved to Ireland and fell in love with a charming rabble-rouser! Fast forward more years than I care to count, and a friend issued me a challenge via text message: “tell me something interesting.” I did, and he turned around and said: “That’s the first line of a a story your going to write. I want 500 words tomorrow.” Bossy. Anyway, I couldn’t stop at 500, and even after 1000 I was having trouble wrapping it up. Then I went to serialize it on the blog and realized there was more. So, the blog gets the serial, and then it will be downloadable in its full form on March 17 – on its own and as part of a promotion for Changelings.

The one, the only Helena Hann-Basquiat, everyone's favorite dilettante

That’s a great idea. A musician friend of mine gave me some advice one time, and that was PUBLISH PUBLISH PUBLISH. Make sure you’ve always got something new or something around the corner. So I’ve been trying to do the same — e-books, novellas, etc…

Katie Sullivan

And I’ve taken my cue from that – believe me!

The one, the only Helena Hann-Basquiat, everyone's favorite dilettante

Can you give me a brief “what’s it all about?”

Katie Sullivan

Sure – Deirdre O’Brien, an Irish-American political activist, married the wrong man – and had to kill him to save the lives of thousands. Fifteen years later, he’s back from the dead, with a horrific plan to destroy the tenuous peace between Belfast, Dublin and London. She only has three days – three days, and three ghosts. She will confront them, or risk becoming one herself.

The one, the only Helena Hann-Basquiat, everyone's favorite dilettante

That sounds amazing — like a thriller starring a young Harrison Ford or maybe that guy who plays the new Captain Kirk. And I really enjoyed how you started it off with the Dickens allusions — very classy.

Katie Sullivan

Thank you – it carries through, but only faintly – I can see which ghost is past, present and future, but none of them are particularly nice men! And yeah, Chris Pine can totally be in it – even as a bad guy, I’m okay with that!

The cover art debuted on the blog last week, graciously crafted by Casey T. Malone. It has a subtle, classic aesthetic that I really like and can never seem to achieve on my own.

The one, the only Helena Hann-Basquiat, everyone's favorite dilettante

So you are going to do a print copy, then? That’s great! And then, will it be back to Changelings II – The Wrath of Khan?

Katie Sullivan

Yes, the print copy is sort of my conceit. I just really like doing it! And yes, Changelings 2, Benedict Is Dubh (almost as good as Richard Armitage) is underway. It has sat in the drawer for long enough and I’m almost eager to let D have his way with my inner dialogue again.

Here’s the latest blurb:

Fresh from their misadventures in Into the Mist, Changelings Maureen O’Malley and Sean McAndrew have been abandoned in a world devoid of magic. Faced with expulsion, Maureen and Sean have nowhere to go but to the McAndrew estate, run by Sean’s mysterious Aunt Margaret.

But even deep in the Scottish Highlands, Faerie whispers spun by the treacherous king of the Fae, Nuada Silver Arm, reach out to snatch them in the night – and this time, returning home is not an option. This time, in order to thwart the king, they must protect the McAndrew family, no matter the cost to themselves.

Slipping between the shifting lands of the Fae, the last days of World War Two, and the heady months leading up to the Jacobean Rebellion of 1745, the war between Man and Fae will come to its dramatic conclusion in Changelings: The Coming Storm

The one, the only Helena Hann-Basquiat, everyone's favorite dilettante

You seem to take your inspiration from so many places — from the news, from history, and from mythology. In Changelings, you wrote about historical events, and then showed how there was a supernatural world behind our own that was influencing those events. It reminded me almost of how Christian mythology supposes that there are angels and demons behind everything, influencing events. Or maybe that’s just that show Supernatural.

Katie Sullivan

That was the idea – it didn’t start that way, but once D came in on the scene, my ex-husband and I had lots of conversations on what it might be like if the myths that make up so much of the social fabric of a slightly older Ireland, were real. Changelings grew from that.

The one, the only Helena Hann-Basquiat, everyone's favorite dilettante

I was wondering what other places you might take Sean and Maureen — Ireland has had such a violent history, especially in the 20th Century.

Katie Sullivan

I can give you a spoiler: After 2, Maureen and Sean are done – they will witness the 1745 Jacobean rebellion, but they evolve to become witnesses and protectors of history and family. Their daughter, on the other hand….

The one, the only Helena Hann-Basquiat, everyone's favorite dilettante

And here I almost hoped I’d see them make it to the swinging ’60s! Anyhow, I think it’s a fantastic concept — that world behind our own, influencing ours — and one which has saturated mythologies and religions of all sorts. I think that such a universal idea is easily grasped by people, because it makes for fantastic storytelling possibilities.

Katie Sullivan

It really does – there are so many ways a story can be told – is this the real aspect, or is that? And of course, you know yourself when you weave stories together to create the Memoirs. Your PubSlush is underway for Memoirs Volume 2 – can you tell me why PubSlush as a vehicle in particular?

The one, the only Helena Hann-Basquiat, everyone's favorite dilettante

I had been hunting for something different — I wasn’t unhappy with Kickstarter, I just wanted to see what other options were available. Pubslush is sort of a “by writers, for writers” community, and it isn’t just about crowdfunding. It’s a place for indie writers to discover each other, promote each other — and when the campaign is over — it doesn’t end there. My book will stay up on Pubslush for people to discover there. They’ve been really personal with the customer service — I can’t say enough good about them.

Katie Sullivan

It seems like an inviting place, which as a customer is always a plus. I know Three was a stretch for me – I’ve never written a thriller before (read loads though), and I know that included with some of your PubSlush perks, is a new Dilettante offering called Penelope, Countess of Arcadia. What is that all about, and where did you get that idea?

The one, the only Helena Hann-Basquiat, everyone's favorite dilettante

Penelope started out as a throw away joke — I thought I might get a blog post or two out of the idea — but it just seemed to CONSUME me — I wrote the whole think in less than two weeks. Without giving too much personal information, we had a pretty bad scare, as Penny was accused of misappropriation and outright embezzling from the student society she had belonged to when she was still in University. Long story short (because the fictionalized version is so much more fun) everything’s okay, and Penny didn’t go to jail, but for a few days there, it was NOT looking good. The person that made the accusation had crossed paths with Penny before — and I’d had so much fun lampooning that event, that I just HAD to do something with this. I wanted revenge on the person we call The Empress, and what better revenge than to be cast as the villain in a Shakespearean tragedy?

Katie Sullivan

I think it’s amazing, and I can’t wait to read it. It wasn’t until my son started reading Shakespeare, and then I picked up a Shakespearean Star Wars that I really started appreciating the form, so when you came out with the idea, I was cheering on the other side of the monitor, because I know you’re going to bring a flair and panache to it – but still make it relatable (a la star wars for me) for people to read. And I think that’s fantastic.

The one, the only Helena Hann-Basquiat, everyone's favorite dilettante

Well, I won’t spoil anything, but I do make a Mulder and Scully reference. And I’ve included You as an actual character so I can break the fourth wall as Helena is wont to do.

Katie Sullivan

Oh my goodness – that is hysterical, and so very appropriately Helena. Okay, so you have to do something for the Luddite over here: Explain to me the #WhereIsHelena thing. I’m a terrible person and I just found mine in a pile of mail that had been sitting by my other desk (as we were taking up carpets, no less).

The one, the only Helena Hann-Basquiat, everyone's favorite dilettante

Ah.. this is a… well, I don’t want to say failed experiment because I’m still holding out hope that it will continue… as far as I’m concerned it can go on indefinitely. It’s my attempt at viral marketing. Sort of a chain letter/hot potato type thing. Find one, pass it on, but before you do, Tweet, take a picture, post it on Facebook, etc… with the hash tag #WhereIsHelena and I’ve been handing out prizes — music from my collection, e-books, even a paperback copy of Memoirs Volume One to one lucky person.

It’s not necessarily linked to this Pubslush campaign, but more of an ongoing thing.

Katie Sullivan

Okay! That’s a very cool idea – reminds me a little bit of the BookCrossing thing that started several years ago – find a book, read it, pass it on but before you do, there’s this log of where its been online, using the ISBN numbers (or something). Now that I have them, I’m doing my part, but not to be entered in for prizes. Can I exempt myself from prizes?

The one, the only Helena Hann-Basquiat, everyone's favorite dilettante

I forbid it. You can always give your prizes away. So, you’ve been reading a lot as I’ve been posting some of the stories that have become volume two — what are your expectations for the book, how it might be different from volume one. A strange question, perhaps, but I’d like a perspective other than my own.

Katie Sullivan

Well, I definitely feel like the stories have matured in a way. There’s a variety of narrative threads, and while they still run the gamut of human emotion – from ridiculous to heartbreaking, I think this one is going to touch even more poignantly on story – Its been so long since I’ve read them in any sort of order, I’m looking forward to falling back into the life you’ve painted for us.

The one, the only Helena Hann-Basquiat, everyone's favorite dilettante

I remember that we really first started getting acquainted shortly before I’d wrapped up writing on Volume One — this would have been maybe May or June of 2013 — and it probably wasn’t even until that point that I realized what I had. At first glance it was just a collection of stories. True, near the end, I started linking up the narratives — the whole California/Halesowen back and forth storylines — but I hadn’t started out with any inkling that it was a book. When I began Volume Two, beginning very deliberately with Arcadia, I sort of knew what the book’s theme was going to be. It’s still not a novel by any stretch. More like a TV show where there are story arcs, but then they’re interrupted by stand-alone monster of the week episodes. But there is, I hope, a more cohesive feel this time around.

Katie Sullivan

I think it really does have that feel – and it’s one that is approachable. It has a conversational feel that lets the reader feel part of the goings-on – and this was true for Vol. 1 as well. I just finished reading Henry and June, and while obviously vastly different, the immediacy of Anin’s journal entries has that same sort of feel.

The one, the only Helena Hann-Basquiat, everyone's favorite dilettante

I don’t know if it was intentional, or how well I’ve succeeded, but I think a lot of the stories are more heartfelt, as if I turned the irony down to a more palatable level. I hope people relate, I hope they’re moved to laughter, and to tears. It’s my fondest wish that chocolate milk will shoot out of at least one person’s nose.

Katie Sullivan

I’m pretty sure you’re going to get your wish!

The one, the only Helena Hann-Basquiat, everyone's favorite dilettante

Good night, Katie! You’re awesome. Thanks for the chat.

Katie SullivanDescended of pirates and revolutionaries, Katie Sullivan is a lover and student of all things Irish. Born in the States, she is a dual US/Irish citizen, and studied history and politics at University College, Dublin – although, at the time, she seriously considered switching to law, if only so she could attend lectures at the castle on campus. She lives in the American Midwest with her son, two cats and a pesky character in her head named D (but you can call him Dubh). She can be found writing with said character weekly at her blog, The D/A Dialogues.

The first book in the Changelings series, Into the Mist is available in print and digital through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Kobo.

Changelings cover-page001 Three Ghosts Cover

The one, the only Helena Hann-Basquiat, everyone's favorite dilettanteThe enigmatic Helena Hann-Basquiat dabbles in whatever she can get her hands into just to say that she has.

Some people attribute the invention of the Ampersand to her, but she has never made that claim herself.

Last year, she published Memoirs of a Dilettante Volume One, and is about to release Volume Two, along with a Shakespearean style tragi-comedy, entitled Penelope, Countess of Arcadia.

Helena writes strange, dark fiction under the name Jessica B. Bell. VISCERA, a collection of strange tales, will be published by Sirens Call Publications later this year. Find more of her writing at http://www.helenahb.com or and http://www.whoisjessica.com Connect with her via Twitter @HHBasquiat , and keep up with her ever growing body of work at GOODREADS, or visit her AMAZON PAGE

Available now! image06 JESSICA image07

BECOME A FAN at PUBSLUSH and pre-order Memoirs of a Dilettante Volume Two and Penelope, Countess of Arcadia