Welcome to Ink & Magick. I'm your friendly neighborhood witch. What kind of spell can I get for you (or your character) today? I think a calmness (or don't worry) spell would be best for me. I tend to sweat every small detail at length.
We all could use a little more tranquility and balance in our lives, eh? Here's a really simple spell to get rid of troubles from Scott Cunningham's book Earth Power:
"Take a handful of earth and gaze into it: pour into it all your problems. Outline in minute detail all of those problems plaguing you. When you are finished, throw the dirt behind you and walk away from it, not turning back."
A werewolf, a witch, and a vampire walk into a murder scene . . . Sgt. Marilyn Jaye of Supernatural Oversight (the investigative unit for all things which bump a bit too much in the night) is having a frustrating day. A simple case of a murdered ghoul has spun into a second murder of a gentlemanly, Victorian vampire and a search for a rogue werewolf. Then there's her unreasonable attraction to Henry, a young werewolf with a terrible case of PTSD (Post-Turn Stress Disorder). To solve it, she'll need help from her friends, Hanover (Henry's handsome Alpha and Marilyn's ex-lover) and Julius Beer (a vampire who watches over his distressed comrades in Highgate Cemetery). Also alternately helping or annoying her are the other members of the S.O., including her powerful sorcerer boss, the eternal spirit of Romantic poet William Blake, a pool (yes, an actual pool) of secretarial sirens, and an imp who's in love with a cat. And they better figure it out soon because Marilyn is the next target.
Excerpt: Her assistant followed her to the door of a penthouse, which seemed to take up the entire top floor. Odd noises were already coming from behind it. Erick raised an eyebrow as she turned to him seriously. "It's going to go against your entire nature, I know, but I need you not to comment on anything you see here." His mouth opened to object, but she shook her head. "Yeah, yeah, I know you think you've seen it all, but you haven't. Not yet." She turned to knock, leaving him looking irritated, and then thought better of it, opening the door. For far too many reasons, there was no need to wait for an invitation. Erick's reaction was exactly the one she had suspected. She tried to stop his look of shock with her own hard stare, but he was, sadly, a bit too bug-eyed to notice. She couldn't really blame him. It probably wasn't every day that mortals walked in on a full-on orgy. This was one of the better ones, too, she supposed. No one here was shy or uncertain, no one left out. There were at least 35 people in the room, all convulsing and cavorting in one rolling sea of naked flesh. The sounds of their orgasmic moans were nearly deafening. Marilyn didn't share her partner's amusement or interest, however—and none of the participants' apparent joy. She stood with her arms crossed, foot tapping, as a small man in a robe dashed up to her. He had to be new. He looked at Erick speculatively and at her a bit worriedly, wondering. "Um, did you wish to join?" She bit back the growl. "Just get him here." The little man's look became beatific. "You wish to see our Master?" Not really—but there was no avoiding it. Still, she couldn't say it. "I know he's here. Just get him." She was already mouthing the man's response, as it began. "Oh, our Master is always with us!" "I didn't ask for a sermon, just a summons," she growled. When her badge materialized, it glowed a sort of electric blue. She really was annoyed. "I'm a sergeant with Supernatural Oversight." The sound of her foot tapping nearly outdid the nearby moans. The fact that she didn't give her name even caught Erick's attention, which was hard to do, given their current distractions. She disapparated the badge and crossed her arms more fully. This little man seemed far too interested in her cleavage. "Just get the bastard." That surprised him. "Oh, but . . ." She didn't let him finish, using a very old trick to make her voice fill the room. She didn't have quite the range of her mother's magical abilities, but she hadn't gone to a witch school for nothing. "NOW!" She was pissed—it echoed. Still, it got her what she wanted, a feathery light descending into the shape of a robust, older man. His steel gray hair had not a strand out of place, his deep blue eyes twinkling on seeing her, smiling at her angelically. "Now, Marilyn, didn't I teach you not to interrupt anyone's pleasure?" She tried not to grind her teeth, ignoring the old barb. The bastard. Better to just get on with this. If he thought she'd already interrupted, he'd seen nothing yet. "Hi, Dad. There's been a murder . . ."
There seems to be a lot going on here. Tell me about what type of supernatural beings are in your world? There are beings of all sorts there: from mythology, folklore, the paranormal, occasionally religions, you name it. It's a very diverse place. In just this novel, there are werewolves, vampires, ghosts, witches, incubi, demons, ghouls, imps, sirens, trolls, and quite a few others.
How do you handle vampires? The main vampires in Unearthly Remains don't live in families (although they do in my other novels). The London vampires are a bit more solitary, even when they live near other people. They do occasionally mate with humans, though, in which case they'll be more sociable for a while. A person can only be crossed over into being a vampire with their full consent, which makes them different from werewolves. The vampires have a strict rule, as well, that a person can only be crossed over if they're otherwise going to die.
Werewolves? Most werewolves in my world live in packs with an Alpha, but it's not generally a very tooth-and-claw sort of life. The Alpha can be an enforcer if necessary, but he or she is mostly a protector. Even the challenge to take over as Alpha isn't usually violent. It's chosen by each individual Alpha, with results which range from a 12-part dance contest to a limbo competition to a chess match (and many others, depending on the Alpha's interests and skills). The newly-turned werewolves tend to need protecting, too. No one chooses to become a werewolf in my world. It only happens when a threat-level wolf attacks a bystander and forces that person to turn. The memories of that experience tend to be rather traumatizing, especially since the new turn has to give up their old family, friends, and life.
What makes your creatures unique? I suppose mostly that they all have a slightly comic edge to them. I try not to let anything get too heavy. The characters have created an extremely complex world, too. I learn more about it with each novel I write, and I'm always surprised by how much more intricate it becomes each time (I'm the type of writer who doesn't plan so much as learn as I go).
What about Supernatural Oversight? Tell me more about the organization and the world it exists in. Supernatural Oversight is the police force of the extranormal world. There are a lot of branches working in several different ways. The one Unearthly Remains focuses on works all around the world (there are portals which allow them to go from place to place, so travel isn't an issue). Much of what they do involves keeping the paranormal world secret from the mundane, human one. If something happens which might bring too much attention (or which involves damage to—or done by—anyone paranormal), they step in. Often, they don't need to solve mysteries so much as hunt down the obvious culprits, though, so a real puzzler is a great annoyance to them.
Do humans know the supernatural exists? Not as a rule. Much of the attention of Supernatural Oversight is aimed at keeping it that way.
Which one of your characters surprised you? At times, all of them (like I said, I tend to be a "let's see where this goes" kind of writer), but there are two in particular I can think of. The first was when I suddenly realized that the 19th-century British Romantic poet, William Blake, had shown up as a character. The other would be when I found out that the secretarial pool was an actual pool and was filled with industrious sirens.
Who is your favorite (or least favorite) character and why? It's pretty much impossible for me to choose a favorite. I really love them all. As to a least favorite, it would probably be Herman, a zombie ex-gangster from the 1930s. He works for the S.O.'s Special Investigations unit, which tracks down serial killers. The unit is also made up of ex-killers. Herman is knowingly obnoxious, racist, sexist . . . everything you'd expect out of (basically) a rotting gangster corpse. He's a character not even his own creator can love. I tend to side with Marilyn, who keeps hoping the werewolves will remove his head and play football with it.
What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful? Leave a review! Please! Telling other people about it, that you liked it, and why, not only helps others who may enjoy it find the book, but it also lets me know that someone out there is both reading and enjoying—and that is just nirvana for an author.
What can we expect from you next? I'm working on editing a magical gothic romance set in an antebellum mansion in Charleston, South Carolina, one which has an extremely creepy history to it. The one resident who got away gets pulled back in to find that she's going to be the house's next sacrifice—and also learns that there's real magic in the world, which might be her only hope.
Katherine Gilbert was born at house number 1313 and then transplanted to a crumbling antebellum ruin so gothic that The Munsters would have run from it. She has since gained several ridiculously-impractical degrees in English, Religious Studies, and Women's Studies. She now teaches at a South Carolina community college, where all her students think, correctly, that she is very, very strange, indeed.