Melody Fields is an investigative journalist.
…Or, at least, she used to be.
An epidemic has swept the United States, turning the majority of its population into undead creatures called Sanguines, who sustain themselves on the life force of the living. Those who weren’t afflicted were given a choice: Enter a protected Colony or hope to survive.
Guilted by her father to flee while she still could, Melody has been marooned on Nantucket Colony for four years. Unable to turn off her vocational instincts, the tough-as-nails, Boston-by-way-of-Foxboro journalist can’t help but notice when her fellow Colonists begin to disappear.
After months of observation, Melody finds a pattern to the disappearances, and it doesn’t take long for her act-first-think-later mentality to kick in and follow a group of kidnappees onto a ferry. Once on the mainland, though, her seldom-seen sense of self-preservation causes her to abandon her mission and flee. Desperate for a place to hide, she winds up in the home of a lonely, soft-spoken Sanguine named Bastian, who seemingly breaks all protocol with his disinterest in eating her alive and his offer of safe harbor.
A slow-growing trust developing between them, Bastian tries his best to help Melody find her place in a now-unfamiliar world, but she doesn’t understand how different her place really is until she reconnects with her inner-circle. Melody and her friends discover that they’ve been unraveling the same unsavory story from opposite ends, and when they tie their information together, they realize they might be uncovering a scandal that could change everything if it’s brought to light. But if they fail, it could mean the end for countless lives…even their own.
~ Bewitching BT
It ripped through her chest as she gasped the cold, foggy air. Feet slamming into the dampened earth, she ran as hard as she could. The back of her throat ached with a cold burn and a cramp chewed at her side. Her right ankle throbbed with a dull pain, but she kept on. She knew if she got caught, she’d have nobody to blame but herself.
The moon was obscured by the clouds, and her eyes tried their damnedest to adjust to the dark while her mind raced to find a place to hide. She knew she wouldn’t last much longer; desperation was rapidly taking the place of rationality.
A tall, wooden privacy fence stood in her path down the string of backyards she was traversing. With little hesitation, she jumped onto an air conditioning unit in the neighboring yard, grabbed the top of the fence, and clumsily slung herself over the wooden barrier. Knowing that she’d hurt her tender ankle even more if she attempted to land on her feet, she collapsed into a roll as she landed on the manicured grass of the yard. Once she stopped rolling, she pushed herself from the ground and looked around in a panic, wiping the night dew off of her face. The house planted in the yard was dark.
Quietly panting, she sneaked to the back door, grabbed the door knob, and twisted it gently. The soft squeak of un-oiled hinges heralded her entry into the house and she cringed at the sound. Once inside, she pivoted upon the tiled kitchen floor to push the door closed, then instantly folded in half, trying to catch her breath. The runner’s cramp wasn’t letting up, the sharp pain of it bringing tears to her eyes.
The voice was velvety, deep, and haunting. Her head snapped up, eyes wide with terror. Instinctively clasping one hand over the cramp, she whipped around to paw at the door knob, but froze in place when she heard the sound of boots hitting the ground in the backyard. Closing her eyes, she shook her head, and let out a soft laugh of relent.
“And I’m fucked.” Turning toward the source of the voice, she tried to speak between labored breaths. “There isn’t much time, so I’ll cut you a deal: I’ll play nice and cooperate if you get rid of these guys. All I ask is that you make it as quick and painless as possible.”
A stately, thin, male figure languidly approached her, his long, dark hair contrasting sharply with his pale face. His thin lips were twisted in confusion, his eyebrows raised in concern.
“Who are they—” A series of loud knocks cut him off. Their eyes connected for a moment. He stepped forward and placed a gentle hand on her shoulder. “Step aside, please,” he whispered.
“Further into the kitchen, if you will.”
She dutifully hobbled into the darkened kitchen and leaned against the wall.
Once she was out of sight, the man opened the door. “Good evening, gentlemen.”
“Evening, sir,” a gruff voice responded. “We’ve been tracking a live one and saw her jump your fence a few yards back. She’s disoriented and scared…just trying to make sure she’s in safe hands. Have you seen her?”
“Why, yes. Yes, I have, officer,” the man replied without scruple. “Bastard,” the woman mouthed to herself, closing her eyes in defeat. The gruff-voiced man let out a laugh.
“Wonderful! Where did she go?” “In my kitchen.”
“Even better! If you show us inside, we’ll take care of her…make sure she’s safe.
Ed, get the shock collar.”
“It seems we have a misunderstanding: She’s my swan.” She furrowed her brow in confusion.
“Your swan? Then why was she running?” “She’s a bit skittish. My apologies.”
“No, no. Taking common sense out of the equation, there’s a new law that states she has to be walked. We can’t have them running the streets in the middle of the night.”
“Oh! I wasn’t aware. I’m so sorry.”
“It’s fine, but you really need to keep up with the new regulations. There’re more and more laws being passed these days on swans, and you need to keep up on them.” There was a sigh. “Is she registered? Microchipped?”
“No, I’m afraid I neglected to do that, seeing that I acquired her before the Divide.”
“Listen. You need to get her registered and microchipped ASAP, and no more joy- runs without you.”
“Yes, sir. I apologize for the trouble she’s caused you. Thank you for your patience and informing me of the new laws. I’ll be sure to follow your directions.”
“You’re welcome. You have a good night.” “Thank you. Please do the same.”
Once she heard the door close, she walked into the middle of the kitchen. “Thank you,” she said quietly, pushing her light brown curly hair behind her
“You’re quite welcome.” He stood as still and straight as a statue. An awkward silence filled the room until she cleared her throat.
“Well, a deal’s a deal, and I never break my word.” Taking a breath, she looked at her feet. “So, do we do this here, or is there a special room you do it in? I’ve never done this before. I’m assuming you don’t want to do it in the living room…you know, because of the mess—”
“Would you care for a cup of tea?” He made his way to the cupboard by the sink and took out a mug. “I used to be a tea drinker. I adored it.” After placing the mug on the counter, he took the teapot from the stove and filled it with water.
She watched on, nonplussed, not knowing what to say as the man placed the teapot back onto the burner.
“I believe I…yes, I do believe I even have some sugar. No milk, though. Or lemon. Sometimes, lemon is better than milk and sugar. But then again, what kind of person puts lemon and sugar in their tea? No, no, lemon goes with honey, and sugar goes with milk. As I said, though, I don’t have any lemons. Or honey, for that matter, so I guess it’s a moot point, isn’t it? You’ll have to do with only sugar.”
Cocking her head, she stared at him as he rummaged through another cupboard.
She could just barely make out what he was doing by the soft light coming from the kitchen window.
“Of course,” he replied in a casual tone, producing a box of tea. “Just a bit under- stocked, I’m afraid.” Finally, he turned to look at her. “Please, have a seat.”
She glanced around the pitch black room to see where there might be a chair, but couldn’t make anything out.
“Oh, right. Sorry.” He turned on the light. “Where are my manners today? I didn’t even ask you your name.”
The light was nearly unbearable at first for her. She squinted, waiting for her eyes to adjust.
“It’s Melody.” She found her way to the kitchen table, dropping her backpack to the floor. “What’s yours?”
“Melody what?” He placed a teabag into the mug. “Fields.”
“Well, Melody Fields, I’m Bastian Pasztor.” He gave her a quick smile, and for the first time, Melody could clearly see what he looked like. His face was long and narrow.
There were dark circles beneath his gentle eyes, and the bridge of a prominent nose that seemed to dignify his face sat between them. The muscles around his thin lips were more pronounced than others’, adding definition to a confident chin. He didn’t look much older than herself.
Uneasy and confused, Melody shifted in her seat.
“I’m sorry, Bastian, but why are we doing this? I would prefer to just get it over with, if it’s all the same to you.”
The man quietly scooped some sugar into the mug before bothering to answer. “People spend their entire lives fearing the very thing you apparently crave. They
do anything they can to delay the process or fool themselves into believing it’s farther away than it actually is. With every passing year, with every milestone, they only feel more anxiety, more inclination to defeat this inevitability of nature, only to realize that they’ve fostered an entire life of crippling fear, wasted on the fixation of its end. And there you sit, begging for it.” The sound of the teapot’s whistle interrupted Bastian’s speech, and he reached across to the stove to silence it. “Can you tell me why that is?”
“Because when it’s about to happen, the anxiety is overwhelming. Besides, unlike a lot of people I’ve met, I take responsibility for my actions, and my actions have landed me here. I have no regrets,” Melody replied, attempting to sound stoic. A hard swallow undulated in her throat as she watched Bastian stir her tea.
He walked to the table, placed the mug in front of her, and took a seat.
Fingers curling around the warm mug, she stared at the steam rolling off the top of it as he stared at her.
Blinking her eyes of the trance she was in, Melody shook her head.
“Sorry, I just spaced out a bit.” She lifted the mug to her mouth, but before she could take a sip, Bastian interrupted her:
“Manage to find some regret?”
“No.” She smiled, placing the mug back onto the table. “I was just thinking of the famous last words of Madame du Barry before she was executed.”
“Encore un moment, monsieur le bourreau, un petit moment,” he recited. Melody nodded.
“What a fool, she was.”
There was a sound of indignation and shock from across the table. “False. She was a victim of circumstance who was undeniably and
unapologetically human.” “She was an idiot!”
Leaning his elbows onto the table, getting closer to her, Bastian made a face of controlled contention.
“How is that?”
“She was keeping herself in a life of luxury while porking a king who was setting up his predecessor, who, by the way, was an even bigger idiot than she was, to run his country into debt! The French were starving, and she’s buying jewels? Poor little victim. Then, when the French took all of them down, she begs her executioner for just a ‘little moment’ more of life? For what? Her life was over already, she just failed to see it. It was over the very moment the monarchy fell, because that’s what she chose: To live by the monarchy. You live by it, you die by it.”
“You are grossly over-reaching with those sentiments. You make her out to be as bad as Louis XVI! Her hands weren’t that deep in the cookie jar. Besides, how can you condemn somebody for valuing their life at the moment of death? We all make mistakes and live in ways we later realize were harmful. She loved being alive; what’s so wrong with that?”
“If she loved her life so damn much, she should’ve been living a respectful one to begin with. Then, maybe she wouldn’t have been in that position at all.”
“You mean, like the position you’re in?” “Do you hear me begging for my life?”
“That’s not what I’m referring to,” he said calmly.
Turning her gaze away from him, a distant look on her face, Melody considered her words before she spoke them.
“The true test of a belief in something is knowing you would die for it. What’s driving me forward, the things I place my beliefs in…I would. I would die for it. I put myself in this position chasing the truth, and I would die for that. As a matter of fact, dying for that reason is the best way to go. Living a life full of beliefs that aren’t worth dying for isn’t worth my time. Not even for one little moment.”
Finally, she raised the cup to her lips and took a sip. Bastian watched on with an unreadable expression. A small smile curved her lips, as she met his eyes.
“This is good. Aren’t you going to have some?”
“As much as I’d like to, no. It just sits heavy in my stomach, nowadays.” “That’s too bad.” The words were genuinely empathetic. “Maybe one day you’ll
find a way to taste it without discomfort.”
“Doubtful, but thank you.” Like a fragile old man, Bastian made his way to his feet. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to get back to what I was doing. The guest room is to the left, down the hall once you pass through the living room. Take your time and relax. All I ask is that you take off your shoes before you walk into the rest of the house.”
“Guest room?” She raised an eyebrow.
“Call me a bleeding heart, but despite her actions, I felt bad for Madame du Barry. I felt bad for her, and I feel bad for you.” He made his way to the door frame of the kitchen.
Melody squinted at Bastian in disbelief.
“Does this mean that you don’t want to…you know?”
“I’m afraid that I’ll have to decline your offer from earlier.” The delicate smile he gave her somehow had a heaviness about it.
“Thank you,” she whispered.
Giving her a nod, he exited the room in silence.
Melody sank down into her chair with a deep exhale. Kicking off her shoes, she took another sip of tea, and realized that it was better than good; it was the best she’d ever had.
1. If you were to describe your e-book/book in only one word, what would it be?
2. What would you say inspired you to write it?
The way I interpret the current political climate in America combined with my love of romantic horror and monsters.
3. What was the source of inspiration for your protagonist? What about your antagonist?
I have absolutely no clue. My characters come to me; I don’t come to them. I did use astrology to sharpen their edges, though.
4. Have you ever been hit by the infamous “writer’s block”? What did you do to escape it?
Not so much an honest-to-goodness block, but more, trouble with flow. I removed myself from the process, altogether, until something came to me.
5. Your all time favorite book?
‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ by Oscar Wilde.
6. What made you pick that one above all others?
Oscar Wilde sucks me in like no other author; he makes you want to emulate the characters (well, not the back-stabbing or the opium dens, but the way they conduct themselves in a social manner).
7. What’s the longest time you’ve spent working on a project?
As an adult? I’ve been working on a project called ‘Ben and Concetta: Five Days in New York’ since 2010, and came up with the concept in 2008 or 2009.
8. Would you say becoming an author has changed you? In what way?
Yes; it made me realize what I really want to do and who I want to be, even after years of university.
9. Was there ever a time, during your work on the e-book/book, when you felt like giving up? What made you change your mind?
10. What does your day-to-day life consist of? What else do you do, aside writing?
Feed myself. Clean and cook. Hopefully do yoga.
11. How do you deal with bad reviews or acid criticism? What would you advise other authors to that effect?
When it comes to a bad review, I’d say try to learn from it (if they have anything constructive to say); if people do not like your book, and it’s not due to technical issues or your writing, you just have to realize that not every person will enjoy your storyline, or your characters will sometimes rub people the wrong way. Everybody’s taste is different, and you can’t take that personally.
12. Is this title part of a series? Without giving us spoilers, of course, what can we expect from the next e-books/books in the series?
I hope so!
Book 1: Addresses classical humans’ rights
Book 2: Backlash of the events of the first book
Book 3: Addresses Sanguines’ rights
Book 4: Things get real
13. What do you have stored for us in the future? What are you working on/planning on next, aside this title/series?
Current: ‘Counting the Stars without You’
Calliope Stanton, a 33 year-old epidemiologist in Burlington, Vermont, is returning to her job at City Hall after being in a psychiatric ward for two weeks due to a nervous breakdown. Calliope’s also coping with a shiny new anxiety disorder and a slight case of agoraphobia because of what’d happened to her. So, when she becomes paranoid about some of the people from the Department of Health who’ve taken to hanging around her coworkers (not to mention the state sociologist, Dr. Sasha Kensington, who’s been desperately trying to pay her a visit), her best friends, Flannigan and Bentley, try to help her figure out if her paranoia is just in her head, or if it’s founded in reality.
Started, but not active: ‘Ben and Concetta: Five Days in New York’
Concetta Graziano is a 26 year-old graduate student from Brooklyn who was relocated to Macomb, Michigan when she was 9 years old. Reeling from a traumatic break-up, Concetta threw herself into genealogy as a means to distract herself from the pain, and it did the job…until she hit a brick wall with her great-grandmother, Seraphina Morelli. Unable to find anything about Seraphina, except for the fact that she was a teenaged orphan maid who came to New York from Italy in the employ of a rich family, Concetta emailed Dr. Benjamin Collins, a 19th century Italian orphan expert and history professor in Toronto. But when she emailed him, she got more than some information about orphans; she got a pen pal with whom she exchanged several emails a day.
Two years later, Concetta decides to go back to New York for a week in order to hunt down information on Seraphina. Concetta’s leap of faith encourages Ben to take one of his own, and surprise her in New York. But when they meet…they find out that they’re not what the other expected: As a matter of fact, they exceed each others’ expectations so much that it sends both of them into an emotional tail-spin of insecurity and painful memories, and the only way to battle their inner demons is to reveal secrets they’d rather keep buried.
Started, but not active: ‘The Extraordinary Circumstances of Winston and Boomer’
Winston’s life is stagnating.
She’s a 28 year-old singleton who has been working the same ‘starter’ job (a teacher’s assistant at a middle school) since she graduated from college, and resides with her cat, Boomer, in a house she can barely afford. No romantic prospects. No job advancement. Just repetition.
But everything changes for her when she discovers that Boomer can talk.
Boomer points out the fact that ever since Winston brought him home (which was not too long after the death of her fiance a few years prior), her life has gone nowhere, and decides that he’s going to help her overcome her emotional hang-ups…whether she likes it or not.
(A twisted re-telling of the tale of Orpheus and Eurydice.)
14. What made you decide to go the self-pub way?
I think that my favorite verse of ‘Skirnismal’ sums up the sentiment best:
Long is one night,
longer are two,
how, then, can I bear three?
Often to me, a month has seemed less,
then now, half a night of desire.
Basically, I didn’t want to wait around for the publishing industry to MAYBE take a chance on me. I am in absolute LOVE with my book; it took me two years of thinking and a year of writing and editing. The process was grueling and wonderful, and at the end, I created something of which I am endlessly proud. There were people who told me that they wanted to read what I’d thrown myself into, and I wanted to share it with them. And with self-publishing, the creative control is all mine: The content, the cover…everything.
15. What would you say was the toughest part?
Pre-production: The formatting was a nightmare.
Post-production: Letting people know my book exists.
16. Did you hire professionals for editing, cover design, formatting?
Editing: I had a former friend do the content editing for me, and she did it for free, but she was incredible; I truly believe she could be a professional. As for the copy editing, I did hire a professional (Night Owl Editing Services), but I could only afford to have her do three chapters. If I could’ve afforded it, I would’ve had her edit my entire book, as she was very helpful, kind, and good at what she does.
I edited the rest of it by researching how editors edit, and it was a blessing to’ve had that experience…it taught me so much. You get a lot of grief about editing your own book: Websites say things like, ‘you may wonder how you can afford to hire an editor, but you can’t afford NOT to!’ I’m sorry, but that sentence won’t magically make $900.00 appear in your bank account. I literally had no choice: It was edit the book yourself, or allow it to rot, and allowing it to rot was not an option for me. Doing the research I did and finding all of the things I was doing wrong was a great way to learn, and I’d do the same thing again, if i had to.
Cover design: Yes, I hired a professional…three of them. The last one nailed it. I’d love to tell you who he is, but he asked me not to give him credit, as he is over-worked. He did such a beautiful job, though.
Formatting: Me and my little British helper. What a nightmare that was.
17. How did you decide who to hire, if you worked with pros?
Night Owl Editing Services: I had her do the first chapter, and I liked her prices; she did a great job, so I hired her.
Cover: My cover artist was my last hope. His portfolio looked so good, his prices were fair, and so I hired him. Thank everything holy that he did such a great job!
18. How long did the production part take, from the moment you began working on the manuscript to self-pub to when you hit ‘Publish’?
Late 2011/early 2012 to December 2014 for the ebook; March 2015 for the paperback
19. Where is your work being distributed, Amazon, B&N, Smashwords, AllRomanceEbooks/Omnilit, some other distributor? How did you decide which one(s) to go with?
Amazon, CreateSpace [expanded distribution], and the Barnes and Noble website
20. If you could turn back in time and do things differently, would you? What would you change?
1. I would’ve written it with the formatting in mind. I used tab. And have 88 chapters. God, help me.
2. I wouldn’t’ve done ANYTHING until every last bit of formatting was completed. I made the mistake of consulting my astrologer to elect a publishing date and hiring the cover artist before it was formatted because I didn’t think it’d take as long as it did. HA! Wrong.
21. In retrospect, what was the toughest part of self-pubbing? Was it the part that you thought would be toughest before embarking on this adventure?
It was formatting and editing, but I thought it’d be finishing the first draft.
22. What’s one characteristic of an author who self-publishes, one word that would describe them?
1. If you could wish for any one thing, and it would immediately come true, what would you wish for?
For all of my friends, family (four-legged variety included), and myself to live long, happy, healthy lives with little to no pain and die of old age.
2. If you were stranded on an isolated island, what’s the one book you’d absolutely wish to have with you?
A blank one…and a pen.
3. Name your favorite fruit.
Pink Lady apple.
4. Coffee or tea?
5. Favorite season?
6. How about fav time of 24 hours?
7. Were you a boyscout/girlscout?
Girlscout: Brownie and Junior.
8. Favorite food for breakfast?
9. Do you collect things like stamps, or key chains, or shoes?
I collect strange or unique cookbooks. For example, my collection includes: A Shaker cookbook, a Celtic Mythology cookbook, a Medieval cookbook, etc.
10. Favorite color, you know you want to tell us!
11. Drama or comedy?
12. Have a fav quote or personal motto?
‘There’s no reason to be rude unless there’s a reason to be rude.’
13. Cats or dogs?
14. Dinner by candlelight or a night out clubbing?
Dinner by candlelight.
15. What song have you listened to most recently?
By choice? ‘Waves’ by Mr. Probz
16. What first came to mind after reading question no. 1 of the Fun Facts section? I mean that thing that you reconsidered after giving it more thought 😛
There was no reconsideration, honestly!
1. If you could choose to be someone else for just one day, it would be…
A stuffy Englishman.
2. Your oldest memory is…
Being at a very strange hotel in Florida for Disney. I was barely two years old, so my mother was in absolute shock that I remember this. My mom and dad were in the room; I got off of the bed, and there was a glass door leading to this enclosed…courtyard, I guess, but it was filled with dense greenery. My grandma and my older brother were walking around in it. It was beautiful, and just so unique that I figured it was something I’d dreamt as opposed to a memory, but when I told my mother about it, she confirmed that it was real.
3. The one thing you’d do anything to avoid/get out of is…
4. Your favorite part of a date is…
Deeply intimate conversation.
5. If a character from any book could become real and you could spend a day with them, it would be… from the book…
Almost any of my characters. Yes, I’m totally that guy!
6. You were/are a hardcore fan of…
7. If you could have any one superpower, it would be…
Being able to change my physical appearance at will, or teleportation.
About the Author & Links:
Luna DeMasi was born in New York, but currently resides in southeast Michigan. She holds a B. S. in psychology, a master’s of library and information science, and is a staunch advocate for human rights, animal rights, and gender equality.