Thank you for asking me here Terra. Over the last couple of months I have done several interviews and articles and I really wanted to do something different for Yankee Romance Reviewers. So I’ve decided to firstly tell you a little about my real world and the world I created for my books.
I’m an Australian and recently Doug of the SciFiGuy blog had a fabulous give away of NIGHT’S COLD KISS. To go in the draw the commenter had to supply a fact they knew or learned about Australia. There were some fabulous facts that people came up with, some even had me learning a thing or two. I live in the nation’s capital and work in IT for a government department. I live with my husband of over twenty years, our two sons, and three rather insane cats. I love animals and put them in my books when ever I get the chance.
In Australia, the seasons are opposite to those of the northern hemisphere. So we are just coming into spring. Christmas day for us is summer so a lot of Australians go to the beach or have a bbq. Where I grew up in tropical north Queensland, it was usually scorching so it would be a day of eating, drinking and backyard cricket (a game with a bat and ball and lots of running). The country which started out 200 years ago as a prison for England’s criminals is vast but a lot of it is practically uninhabitable. The bulk of our population lives on a relatively small percentage of land close or on the coast. I live in the mountains yet we are still only an hour and a half from the beaches – and while not quite high enough in altitude to snow – there are snow fields a couple of hours away.
So that is a little something about my world in which I exist. Now I want to tell you about the world in which my characters exist.
The world of my characters is very much like our own in a lot of ways. There is an Australia and a United States, Europe, etc. There are cities and towns just like ours -- governments and war, capitalism and communism just like ours. But the different is that the creatures of the night and myth, or at least my versions of them, live and work among humans.
The race of vampires are called the Aeternus and my other creatures have different terms and differences from the legends they are based upon. Though I have tried to keep them simple and easy to understand within the actual story. I have supplied a glossary in the back of the book to help people with the different terms. The best way to describe my world is to show you this glossary.
Aeternus: A race of vampiric people who must ingest human blood to live, although not the living dead of legend. They have created a symbiotic existence with the humans that feed them. Aeternus are either born of Aeternus parents or created when a human is embraced (see embrace below). Those born to Aeternus parents live as humans until their twenty-fifth year where they may or may not Awaken to become an Aeternus. Those who do not Awaken are known as Latents.
Awaken: A parahuman coming of age resulting in the activation of parahuman abilities. This occurs at different ages depending on the race.
Blood-thrall: An extreme state of sexual arousal. In humans it’s brought on by a small amount of Aeternus blood entering the bloodstream either by direct entry through a vein or cut, or a few drops into an eye. Latents are more susceptible to its influence. If a human is in the throes of Blood-thrall the Aeternus responsible may also succumb to the effects. Once a certain point in the Aeternus’ arousal is reached, they must see it through to the conclusion.
Blood-sucker: Term usually used for a dreniac, but can be used as an insult to an Aeternus.
Death-high: The state of intoxication a Necrodreniac enters when they have drained a human to the last drop.
Donor: A human who voluntarily donates blood through a Donor Agency to feed the Aeternus. A blood donation can be collected and bottled, or a live donation can be given with the Aeternus feeding directly from a Donor vein. Donors are regarded highly, unlike fang-whores who are indiscriminate and little more than prostitutes.
Dreniac: See Necrodrenia.
Embrace: To change a human into an Aeternus or Necrodreniac through the Eternal-Kiss. A dangerous process often resulting in the death of the recipient human, with only one in ten embraced humans achieving successful transition. A human embraced by a Necrodreniac will become a Necrodreniac, complete with an addiction to death-highs. It is rare for a Necrodreniacs to exert the self-control necessary to embrace humans. Humans who’ve survived the Eternal-kiss are known as the embraced.
Eternal-kiss: A mix of Aeternus or Necrodreniac blood and saliva transferred from the mouth of the embracer to the mouth of the embraced. For an Aeternus to administer the Eternal-kiss, permission must be given by the recipient, unless it is a life and death situation. Necrodreniac’s usually don’t ask – they just take.
Fang-Mistress: A human kept in luxury by an Aeternus in return for exclusive feeding and often a sexual relationship.
Fang-Virgin: A human who has never allowed an Aeternus to feed from his or her vein.
Fang-Whore: A derogatory term for those who sell themselves indiscriminately to any Aeternus for blood, and usually sex, in exchange for money and/or blood for Spiking.
Latent: One born to parahuman parents who does not Awaken in the designated year for their genus, instead continuing to live as a human.
Mer-people: A little-known race of parahumans who live beneath the sea. They have been known to mate with humans, however, this is rare and the hybrid offspring seldom survive.
Necrodrenia: A disease that develops when an Aeternus completely drains a human while feeding, resulting in a Death-high. Addiction is certain and immediate. Death is the only cure. When an Aeternus is in the grip of Necrodrenia they are known as a Necrodreniac or dreniac.
Orb or Orbing: A crystal orb used by a witch to capture images from a subject as they tell a story. Commonly used to reenact crime scenes, but because of the subjectivity of the witness or suspect, the evidence is not admissible in court. However, it can supply valuable insight into the crime which may give investigators leads to pursue.
Parahumans: Alternate humans including the Aeternus, animalians, shape-shifters, magic wielders and Mer-people. All begin life as human and change to parahuman in different ways depending on their genus and race.
Shape-shifter or Shifter: Shape-shifters, or Shifters as they are often referred to, have the ability to bend their form to mimic other shapes through the use of magic. Once changed they retain their own consciousness; however, they can take on some of the characteristics of their changed form, such as flight when shifting into the form of a bird. Shifters do not become the animal they mimic unlike animalians who are part human and part animal.
Spiking: A Human practice of mixing a couple of drops of Aeternus blood with a diluted Amphetamine mix then injected intravenously. This increases the effect of the narcotic and “Spikes” an extreme sexual high. Highly addictive and illegal, users eventually destroy their body’s ability to produce white blood cells, resulting in death. A human that Spikes is known as a Spiker.
Thaumaturgist (Magic-Wielders): Races that practice thaumaturgy to bend and use life and death energy, e.g. witches, druids, shamans, etc. Each race uses magic in a unique manner and for their own aims; for example, light witches who use life energy for the benefit of the others, and dark witches who use death energy for self-gain and chaos.
Thaumaturgy: The art of invoking supernatural powers, i.e. magic, which is the created from life or death energy.
Venator: A type of bounty hunter who collects bounties for the capture or destruction of parahuman outlaws. Traditionally human, but in recent years, parahumans have joined the ranks. Each Venator must be trained, licensed and registered with The Guild before they are permitted to hunt. A Venator gains a license by attending The Guild Academy in their final year of training and passing a set of rigorous exams. Venators may specialize in various fields including Necrodreniac destruction, hunting of Dark Magic-wielders or tracking down rogue animalians.
Animalians, The: Animalians are intrinsically part man and part animal, differing from shape-shifters. There are three main genera in the animalians: The ursians – man-bears; the felian – man-cats; and the canians – man-canines. Each genus is made up of several sub-genera; i.e. the felians have families of tiger, panther, lion, cougar etc. There is much infighting between the genera. Humans cannot be turned into an animalian – they must be born. But it is possible for a human to mate with an animalian whereby the child has a fifty-fifty chance of awakening to their animalian heritage. It is the same between the Genera – the child of two different genera will not know its genus until it awakens.
Leave a qustion for Tracey about her book along with your email addy as she is giving away a gift pack of a cap, T-Shirt, and Tote Bag plus a signed copy of Night’s Cold Kiss to go with it. Woot! Don't miss out on this one everyone and it is International!!!!! One lucky winner will be announced at the end of the week.
Chapter One - Hunter and Hunted
Antoinette crept along the alley, unknown shadows pressing in on her from the darkness. Perspiration beaded on her upper lip, and she swiped a hand across her face before the salty moisture slipped unwelcome to the corners of her mouth. Sweat trickled down her back. She tugged the damp T-shirt away from her sticky skin. Sucking the humid air into her lungs was like trying to breathe through a warm wet blanket.
Damn this heat. Why couldn't he have picked someplace a little cooler?
But she knew why. Miami was the perfect hunting ground with its transient population.
Over the last two weeks she'd tracked the vampiric Necrodreniac across three states with her brother, Nici. The killer's trail of bodies had led them here and now they were so close she could almost taste it.
A scream pierced the still darkness. She dropped, her hand wrapping around the pistol grip. A second cry ripped through the night and she relaxed. Only a couple of tomcats fighting.
Other sounds began to filter through: water dripped somewhere to her right, distant police sirens wailed, and animals shrieked—both the two-legged and the four-legged varieties—but not a hint of her target.
As she turned her head, she caught a glint on the ground and looked up to her right at the broken window on the side of the old warehouse. Glass crunched beneath her boots as she gripped the windowsill to haul herself up.
She remained balanced on the sill until her eyes adjusted to the gloom. The stench from inside hit her with an almost physical force; the foul aroma was made up of musty wet paper, stale urine, and animal feces. But underlying it all lurked something more subtle—and much more disturbing. The smell of pain, the smell of evil, the smell of death itself. The reek of a Necrodreniac lair.
Christian waited, silent and patient. He heard her long before he saw her from his vantage point in the rafters thirty feet above the warehouse floor. She entered through the same window he'd used earlier and he breathed her in, holding the scent, tasting it, savoring it. Human.
She perched on the windowsill, her nose wrinkled in disgust and her eyes narrowed as she peered into the far corners of the abandoned building. Even if she'd looked up, he'd have been safe from discovery, his position secured by shadow.
After a few moments she dropped to land quietly, sinking into a low crouch with hands braced on the floor and head tilted to listen. Her outfit—from her SWAT tactical vest down to solid black army boots—looked perfect for a covert mission and enhanced her slim, athletic, but unmistakably feminine figure. She wore no perfume or synthetic scent, only her own natural fragrance. A thick braid of pale blond hair fell over one shoulder, the end brushing the floor as she hunkered down. Definitely a Venator and judging from her actions, a well-seasoned one, although he guessed she could be no more than twenty-five. A pistol was secured in the front holster of the SWAT vest just under her left breast and a sheathed katana sword was strapped to her back, the handle within easy reach over her right shoulder. His interest piqued, she was either very stupid or an extremely skilled old-school hunter. Christian predicted the latter. Rising to her feet, she continued to move along the wall.
From the corner of his eye, Christian caught a blur of movement as a stray cat landed softly on the windowsill. The scruffy feline took one look at her then leapt inside to race behind some boxes piled near the wall. The sound of her heart pounded, as clear and heavy as distant thunder. If he were closer, he'd be able to taste the fear on the air she exhaled, yet her first instinct had put the blade in her hand. Impressive. Watching her in action might provide a pleasing distraction. He breathed her in again and licked his lips, his appetite roused. Wonder if she tasted as good as she smelled.
Antoinette closed her eyes and forced her breathing to slow as she slid the sword back into the sheath.
Inhaling deeply, she pulled herself together and glanced around. An involuntary shiver ran up her spine and she shook it out. It wasn't like her to be so jumpy; something here was off, but she couldn't put a finger on it. While she didn't sense any immediate danger, the hair on the back of her neck prickled.
On the far side of the building was a door, the very thing she looked for.
Antoinette ripped open a Velcro pocket on her vest. A drop of moisture slid down the bridge of her nose and dropped from the end onto the back of her hand. She flicked it away and cursed under her breath. Nici got to sit in the van's air-conditioned comfort while she scrabbled around dark alleys and stinky abandoned warehouses.
She smiled and shook her head. I wouldn't have it any other way. Waiting in the van would've driven her crazy. It was just as well she'd passed the Venator exams and not Nici—he was much better at computers and all that technical shit.
Licking her dry lips, she pulled out her flashlight, crossed the room and placed an ear against the door. Metal, not wood. The unexpected coolness under her cheek offered a brief, but blessed, relief.
Nothing came from beyond, not a single sound. The handle turned easily under her hand—a sign of recent habitation—and with a gentle push, the door swung open.
The dreniac's scent wafted from the basement, fresher than the lingering trace out here, but still not recent. If he was hunting, he'd return soon enough. She hoped. Swallowing hard, she stepped into the open doorway. Just because he wasn't home didn't mean there weren't other nasty surprises waiting down there.
Antoinette looked down the narrow stairs leading into the inky blackness below and pulled the gun from its holster. Though her heart did beat a little faster, her palms were dry and hands steady.