Lenobia’s sleep was so restless that the familiar dream took on a sense of reality that overstepped the ethereal realm of subconscious outlets and fantasies and became, from the beginning, all too heartbreakingly real.
It began with a memory. Decades, and then centuries fell away leaving Lenobia young and naïve again, and in the cargo hold of the ship that had carried her from France to America—from one world to another. It was during that journey that Lenobia had met Martin, the man who should have been her Mate for his entire life. Instead he had died too young and had taken her love to the grave with him.
In her dream Lenobia could feel the gentle roll of the ship and smell the scent of horse and hay, sea and fish—and Martin. Always Martin. He was standing before her, gazing down at her through eyes that were olive and amber and worried. She had just told him she loved him.
“It is impossible.” The dream memory replayed in her mind as Martin reached out, took her hand, and lifted it gently. He raised his own arm until the two were side by side. “You see the difference, you?”
The dreaming Lenobia made a small, wordless exclamation of pain. The sound of his voice! That distinct Creole accent——deep, sensual, unique. It was the bittersweet sound of his voice and its beautiful accent that had kept Lenobia away from New Orleans for more than two hundred years.
“No,” the young Lenobia had answered his question as she gazed down at their arms—one brown, one white—where they pressed together. “All I see is you.”
Still deeply asleep, Lenobia, Horse Mistress of the Tulsa House of Night, moved restlessly, as if her body was attempting to force her mind to awaken. But this night her mind did not obey. This night dreams and what might have been ruled.
The sequence of memories shifted and changed to another scene, still in the cargo hold of the same ship, still with Martin, but days later. He was handing her a long string of leather tied to a small pouch dyed a deep sapphire blue. Martin put it around her neck saying, “This gris-gris protect you, cherie.”
In the space of a heartbeat the memory wavered and time fast- forwarded a century. An older, wiser, more cynical Lenobia was cradling the crumbling leather pouch in her hands as it split and spilled it contents— thirteen things, just as Martin had told her— but most of them had become unrecognizable during the century she’d worn the charm. Lenobia remembered a faint scent of juniper, the smooth feel of the clay pebble before it turned to dust, and the tiny dove’s feather that had crumbled between her fingers. But most of all Lenobia remembered the fleeting rush of joy she’d felt when, in the midst of the disintegrating remnants of Martin’s love and protection, she’d discovered something that time hadn’t been able to ravage. It had been a ring—a heart-shaped emerald, surrounded by tiny diamonds, set in gold.
“Your mother’s heart—your heart—my heart,” Lenobia had whispered as she’d slipped it over the knuckle of her ring finger. “I still miss you, Martin. I’ve never forgotten. I vowed it.”
And then the dream memories rewound again, taking Lenobia back to Martin, only this time they weren’t at sea finding one another in the cargo hold and falling in love.
By Christine Zika, Editor-in-Chief of The Literary Guild
I have known P.C. Cast for almost ten years. I was her editor for her romance novels and have been her friend ever since. She is a delightful, hard-working and generous woman and one of my favorite storytellers. Here are some little known facts about this very talented author: She was once in the Air Force and lived overseas in Japan, where her daughter Kristin was born. She worked as a high school English teacher for fifteen years. She is from Oklahoma. Besides the House of Night series, she has written romance and fantasy novels that involve the retelling of classic myths. She has won numerous writing awards and has become a permanent fixture on the New York Times list with her House of Night series that she writes with her lovely daughter, Kristin, currently a full-time college student.
CZ: PC, before you were a published author, you were a teacher and prior to that you were in the Air Force. Tell us how your various career paths influenced your storytelling.
PC: That’s a great question because, as you know from being my longtime editor, I weave a lot of my life into my books. What my unusual and varied past has done is provide lots of fodder for fiction. You mentioned that I was stationed in Japan. The three years I spent there afforded me the opportunity to understand what if feels like to be an outlander, an image I’ve used freely in my writing. The Air Force also instilled in me a love of travel, and the different countries to which I’ve traveled have definitely influenced my writing.
At first teaching influenced my writing mostly through the richness of the myths and legends I taught to my students. Then I got the idea for the young adult House of Night series and suddenly the school, teachers, students, issues, even the class scheduling all influenced my writing. The truth is my experience as a high school teacher makes House of Night real, and that is one of the key reasons this series stands out in a genre flooded by vampire books.
CZ: How did you manage to write and stay so focused and so on-deadline when you were juggling a full-time teaching job and raising your daughter as a single mom?
PC: I had to pay my bills and my public school teacher’s salary definitely didn’t do that! Okay, seriously: early on I had to find a way to multi-task. When I started writing I used to have to sequester myself in a quiet room Ð door closed Ð no interruptions. It took me a good half an hour or so to fall back into the world I was creating and to begin being productive for that day’s writing. Well, after I signed my first contract with you for the original three Goddess Summoning Books, and I had real deadlines, I realized that I didn’t have the luxury of easing into my writing. So I taught myself to concentrate. It really was just a matter of training myself to focus quickly and clearly, and to fall easily into the manuscript world. Eventually I could do it in the ten minutes per class I had after I’d lectured and given my sophomores their assignment for the day. Once an author has the ability to focus and write in a classroom of thirty teenagers, what can’t she do?
PC: I think the books are fun! Yes, they deal with serious and sometimes difficult issues, but they do so with a sense of humor and a realism that clicks with all different age groups. My characters are likeable Ð readers pull for them and want them to save the world, or at the very least learn how to parallel park and figure out boyfriend issues. I’ve always believed a good story is simply a good story.
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