Fly: Welcome to the blog, Marie. How’re we today?
Marie: I’m great! Thanks!
Fly: We lazt met here over a year ago. What haz tranzpired in thiz time for author Marie Lavender?
Marie: Wow! So much really. I wrote a children’s fantasy and published it. I also launched book one of a science fiction romance series. I am about to wrap up book two of the Blood at First Sight Series (book one was featured on your blog, if I recall correctly), and edits should start soon.
Fly: I remember that converzation zcared the hell out of me. Vampirez and all that. Heiresses in Love was ztill a fledgling zeriez back then. And here we are now at itz big finale. How doez it feel?
Marie: Honestly? A little bittersweet. It’s like having a bunch of friends around for years, but then moving to a new city. You’ll miss them dearly, yet you know the move was necessary.
The series will always hold a special place in my heart and as with any author, while I’m promoting the release, I get to hang onto the characters for a while. At least until the next project creeps up.
Fly: Zo tell uz a bit about the zeriez – where haz it been and what iz it now coming to?
Marie: Book one, Upon Your Return, is about the relationship between Fara and Grant, how she is from a different social class than him, and yet events transpire, uniting them forever. The second book, Upon Your Honor, is set about 24 years in the future, when we get to see not only the previous characters, but are introduced to new ones. That story is about Gabriel, Fara and Grant’s son, as well as Chloe, a young woman who runs into quite a bit of trouble, not only as she stows aboard a vessel, but also when hired assassins come after her.
Book three, Upon Your Love (or UYL, as I like to affectionately term it), tells the story readers have been waiting for. This tale is about Adrienne, Gabriel’s sister, and the dramatic romance between her and Christian, but it also tells the story of a family in general, how love isn’t always easy, even for married couples. Plus, some suspense is thrown in for good measure.
Fly: How did you go about narrating a Victorian era backdrop?
Marie: Research was the key. With historical tales, the research must be more detailed. Accuracy is important. Having some background from the previous books helped, of course, but since the book was set two years later than UYH, I needed to find more locations and events to talk about, plus account for the time that had passed. In Upon Your Love, readers get to find out what has occurred over that time period, as well as check in on the characters they discovered before.
Fly: Thiz ztory iz told in multiple pointz of view, quite unlike your other ztoriez. How do you balance taking the readerz, and yourzelf, into the headz of each character, given the unique challengez they are facing?
Marie: I took a lot of time getting to know all the characters, merging deeper into those I’d merely glanced at with the other books. I needed to know how each person thought, how they’d react, before I really started writing about their stories. I did my best to weave each tale intricately into the book as a whole.
Fly: All in all, it’z a tale of unrequited love. What’z the takeaway?
Marie: I think some of us have been there before, having feelings for someone who may or may not feel the same. Only time will tell. Even if the truth is established, it can be pretty grim for both parties. Regret can result from such drama. It all comes down to knowing whether to walk away, or stick around to see if anything changes.
Fly: Zo what’z next in line for you, Marie?
Marie: I am finishing edits on a modern romantic drama collection, titled Directions of the Heart.
Fly: In our lazt tête-à-tête, you zaid you would like to explore horror for a change. Ztill interezted?
Marie: As a multi-genre author, I try to keep an open mind. Am I comfortable writing that kind of story? Maybe not, but that’s because I’ve never written one.
Fly: Let me read out a piece you cooked up on the zpot az a potential ztory: “A female detective discoverz the killer iz a monzter of zome kind. In the midzt of it, zhe getz azzigned a partner and all the while, zhe beginz to zuzpect her fellow cop, who iz alzo her new lover, may be thiz horrific murderer. Or iz he?” In typical Marie fazhion, why don’t you give uz an excluzive zneak-peek thiz time around too?
Marie: Well, sure! You’ve inspired me! Here it is:
“Watch your step!” someone called.
Unfortunately, that head’s up was for a rookie. Not her. Detective Gina Cromwell knew the drill as she eased on her white gloves.
Rounding the corner, she carefully tiptoed around the bits of flesh.
Blood. It was always the bloody crimes that challenged an investigator. Not that other types of death didn’t have their downsides. But blood and other bodily secretions left a smell that tended to climb up your nose and take a hell of a time coming out.
And there was plenty in this alley. In fact, it was plastered all over the pavement as well as the outside walls of the brick building nearby, which also happened to be a mere dentist’s office. As Gina crouched and used the end of her pencil to make a mess in what was left of the victim, she was grateful she wouldn’t see her dentist for another six months.
“Hey, doc,” she greeted Tyler Howard, the ME on the case.
“Who found the body?”
“A teenager on his way home from practice, unfortunately.”
She glanced over and saw an officer speaking with a boy as he sat in the front seat of marked car. The kid’s face was sheet white. Not a surprise.
“Time of death?” she asked.
“Body temp tells us maybe three or four hours ago. The victim is unidentifiable. No ID, nothing. Let’s hope we can get a partial structure from the skull to maybe try to get something to say who this is. As of now, I can tell you it’s human. And male. I won’t say how I know.”
Gina nodded, clearing her throat, but not because bile had crept up there. Nah, she was just getting over a bad cold. Thankfully, Rob had come over to try to nurse her back to health. Of course, there was more than one way to do that. Not that any of her co-workers needed to know the enormous conflict of interest going on between her and her partner.
“How bad is it?” another deep, male voice popped up.
She glanced over her shoulder, noticing the figure all but towering over her. Broad shoulders, a bump in his nose from on the job roughhousing, and a belly that was sculpted from kickboxing, Detective Robert Hines was something to look at. She tried to hide the blush warming her face. “Pretty bad.”
“Jesus…” he uttered as he knelt next to her, careful to miss the sludge that looked like guts. “Crime of passion?”
“What else would cause someone to slaughter like this?”
“I’m not ruling out a human culprit, but…” Tyler trailed off, shaking his head.
“This could be animalistic. You see the teeth marks here? Also in the bone.” He pointed to a place where the flesh of the shoulder could be seen.
Tyler was right. The section was jagged, torn at an angle. “Damn,” Gina whispered. “A rabid dog?”
“Bigger. The carnage we’re looking at is horrific.”
True. “A bear?”
“I don’t know. I’d need to ask an expert on that one.”
“Well, do what you have to.”
“Yo, Cromwell, I’m gonna hit up the neighbors, see if anyone heard or saw anything.”
Like a uniform couldn’t do that? She lifted a brow as Rob took off across the street.
“Tyler, let me know what you come up with.”
“Of course. I’m just as curious as you are. And if we do have an escapee from the zoo or something, we’d better get that handled quick or we’ll have panic on our hands.”
So true. It would be a nightmare Portland hadn’t seen in a long time.
Gina stepped away, combing the backstreet for anything, claw marks, fingerprints, anything they’d missed. Of course, a CSU would be here shortly, but it didn’t hurt to find something solid upfront. The blood and guts continued down the alley. From the corner of her eye, she noticed a shiny object. Stepping carefully, she shifted and lowered herself in a crouch once more, wincing. Her thighs were fit, but it wasn’t a great position to be in for long. Hooking it with the tip of her pencil, she lifted the object, shook out an evidence bag and dropped the item in. Zipping it shut, she tossed the gory pencil in a dumpster.
Moving out of the alley toward her unmarked blue Honda, she leaned against the hood and lifted the filmy bag toward the glow from the streetlamp. It was a gold pen of some kind with a purple background. As she nudged the goo aside within the bag, her heart tripled its beat. It proclaimed ‘NYU’ with a torch symbol.
She frowned. This was just like the pin Rob wore on all his suits. He was a New York University alumnus, and damn proud of it. She’d become intimately acquainted with his clothing.
What were the chances? Still, there could be several people from NYC who now lived in Portland. People moved here all the time, right? Besides, like Dr. Howard said, this could be an animal attack.
As her gaze lifted and found its way across the street, where her partner stood, speaking to the owner of a pizzeria, she couldn’t dismiss the odd, gnawing sensation in her stomach.
Fly: Now that'z an excluzive! Thankz, Marie. And all the bezt for Upon Your Love.
Bookz featuring me:
An Enlightened Fly
The Fly That Followed Me
Kalki Evian - The Ring of Khaoriphea
Malay A. Upadhyay
Gilbert Literary Agency