Thursday, July 15, 2010

Welcome Carina Press Author Bernita Harris!

Today I'm blog swapping with the very cool Bernita Harris which has absolutely nothing to do with wife swapping, but that's another story.

Seriously, since joining Carina Press, it's been fun getting to know Bernita and her new paranormal romance mystery novel, DARK AND DISORDERLY.  According to her blog, An Innocent A-Blog, Bernita likes to write, blog, and talk to a green frog in her garden. 

Hmmm.  I've got a feeling she's not telling us everything.  Let's dish.

Me: Bernita, how long have you been a writer?
Bernita:  Off and on ever since my teens when I had ambitions to be a poet. I blame Keats and Coleridge, Shakespeare and Shelley for that ambition. In my twenties I wrote a couple of romantic suspense trunk novels. In my thirties a non-fiction book on emergency preparedness that I sold twice--to publishers who immediately bit the dust. Gave up on that as cursed and concentrated on raising my four children. About five years in this latest incarnation.

Me: Why did you become a writer?
Bernita: A variation of the creative urge, I suppose--and the urge to share the results. Writing seems the most satisfying. I love language, words, I love books. Sometimes I think writing is the true magic in that the words of a story are a like a spell that enchants us for a brief time!

Me: What was the inspiration behind your main character, Lillie St. Claire, in DARK AND DISORDERLY? By the way, I love Lillie's name!
Bernita:  Thank you! Difficult to say, I've always been fond of the woman-as-warrior trope, fascinated by myth and legends as well, and since at one time I was a forensic consultant in occult related material I have drawn on that research to some degree.These things combined to produce my heroine.

Me:  Tell us, have you ever met a ghost?
Bernita:  No, though I have been aware of what paranormal researchers define as 'presences" on several occasions.

Me:  What about favourite author books? Name one book you were unable to put down.
Bernita: I have many, many favourite authors books.Just about all of: Mary Stewart, Elizabeth Peters (Amelia Peabody books) Ellis Peters (the Brother Cadfael books) Elizabeth Moon (Paksenarrion), Andre Norton (Witch World), Guy Gavriel Kay (Song for Arbonne, The Tapestry), Robert Jordan (Wheel of Time), Laurel K. Hamilton (Anita Blake), Betty Neels, Essie Summers, Georgette Heyer..Can't name just one, there are many I've been unable to put down--and then yearn for more, more, at the end!.

Me: You can't write 24/7.  Or can you? What do you do for fun?
Bernita:  Reading, gardening, (herbs and flowers) yard sales and flea markets (to feed my collections of bad art, cheap Chinese pottery, and brass ware), genealogical research ( because it's a personal backdoor to history.).

Me:  Please, please, please tell us about your book!
Bernita:  Dark and Disorderly relates the adventures of Lillie St. Claire, an exorcist Talent hired by the town of Waredale to eliminate various specters and spirits which have invaded that municipality. These ghosts are part of an epidemic afflicting the entire country, interfering with traffic, lowering property values and revealing, sometimes, where the bodies are buried.

Lillie's job is complicated by several factors: other paranormal entities appear, a pro-spirit group wants her eliminated, and her dead husband is not satisfied with merely haunting, he seems intent on murder. Adding to her problems is her attraction to psi-crime detective Johnny Thresher who can't seem to decide if Lillie is a victim or guilty as hell of her husband's death--while Lillie strives to bring justice to the dead as well as the living.

**Here's a brief excerpt from the first third of the book. Lillie has been called to investigate a desecration and is frightened by the implications.**

Cemetery Hill rose out of the flat land along the highway like a bosse on a shield. I stood under a lowering sky at the edge of a narrow pit and looked down. Likely my imagination, not my nose, identified a certain malicious taint in the scattered dirt and fresh turned earth.

The body lay partly disgorged from its coffin in a tatter of rotted fragments of clothing and mud. A stake shattered the remains of its rib cage. A sodden clod of yellow clay slid down the pile of excavated earth, split on a bare broken root, and slopped on what might be the remnants of a long skirt and delicate leg bones.

The frisson which chilled the nape of my neck had nothing to do with the drip of rain water from the massive oak above, nor the suggestive sucking sound made by the soggy ground releasing my boot heels when I backed away.

Bodies are very bad when they are fresh and raw with blood. When I can hear the screams ripped from the bones and the mouths of butchered flesh. There’s a mental identification, an agony of empathy.

Bodies are very bad when they are crawling and squirming with carrion beetles and fly maggots and puffed with liquefaction. That’s a physical revulsion.

Bodies are also bad when they are desecrated in a grave. That’s a spiritual shudder. An offense to decency, to our oldest taboos.

The stake gleamed fresh. The skull was missing.

I stepped closer and crouched to see better. Definitely missing, not just disarticulated.

Someone had scoured away the lichen and chalked the grave marker. A name, a partial date and a single benedictive word stood out from the face of the faded marble, above the plinth, below the Celtic cross. They wanted to make sure they had the right one.

Lily St. Claire …1868… aibhinn.

Aibhinn… Care had been taken to chisel the word deeply and so it had survived the slow obliteration of more than a century’s wind and weather.

I didn’t know if the inscription had been meant as a curse or a dedication. I preferred to think the latter. But I did know it meant that someone had known and believed her to be a woman of power back then. And the choice of grave below the name for this specific desecration meant someone knew -- or suspected—a concrete connection now. And that frightened me.

Thanks, Bernita, for blogging with us today! Best of luck with your book.  I've got it loaded on my Nook and can't wait to read it!

DARK AND DISORDERLY is available from Carina Press and wherever digital books are sold.


Jude said...

I love paranormals! This one sounds great. Love your author list too!

MLZ said...

Sounds interesting. I too love Lillie's name. Good luck Bernita! Also, Congrats to you Liz on your favorable book reviews on Captive Spirit.

fairyhedgehog said...

Mary Stewart, Elizabeth Moon, and Georgette Heyer have all been among my favourites.

Bernita said...

Thank you,everyone!
I hope you drop by and read Liz's revelations on my blog as well.
My author list goes on and on. I didn't mention Dorothy Sayers or Marjorie Allingham, or Kipling or John Buchan or Oppenheim or...

laughingwolf said...

how cool is all this? thx bernita and liz :)

Liz Fichera said...

Laughingwolf, you're welcome! Stop by anytime! :-)

Barbara Martin said...

Wonderful excerpt, Bernita. I wonder what other stories you have up your sleeve.

Liz Fichera said...

Hi Barbara, great to see you here too!

Bernita said...

Thank you, Barbara!
A couple more, anyway! Stories tend to breed, you know...