Welcome to my weekly Author Spotlight. I’ve asked a bunch of my author friends to answer a set of interview questions, and to share their latest work.
Today, Jeanne Marcella – Jeanne Marcella writes LGBTQIA+ fantasy fiction, with her dark fantasy tales being not for the faint of heart. Quests, adventure, danger, and the grit of living are foremost, but relationships and romance also share the pages.
Jeanne is giving away two Amazon eBooks: The Phoenix Embryo is dark gritty fantasy. Demon Lord is a lighter, cozier read, a cross between urban fantasy/paranormal and a bit of romance. For a chance to win, comment below!
Thanks so much, Jeanne, for joining me!
J. Scott Coatsworth: When did you know you wanted to write, and when did you discover that you were good at it?
Jeanne Marcella: I’ve always wanted to write, and I did tell stories through pictures before I learned to spell. While I continued to improve over the decades, it’s only recently that I realized, yes, I was good at what I did and just needed to believe in myself.
JSC: How would you describe your writing style/genre?
JM: My style is eclectic and hella eccentric. I write out-of-the-box characters and plot, and my dark fantasy often takes readers out of their comfort zone. Overall, my stories showcase the grit of living a life that the world around them despises, and how other characters react to that. It all stems from my imagination as I grew up. Of how I viewed the world and the people around me.
JSC: What was your first published work? Tell me a little about it.
JM: My first published work in June 2013 was a very gritty, very dark fantasy called Through Rain and Missing Mantaurs. It was about a bipedal half breed centaur by the name of Pony, and she’s a mail courier. In the first edition, she was called Horsemeat. The name was given to her by the two human men who raised her.
However, people didn’t take to the story, which certainly is not for the faint of heart or closed minds. I produced a second edition and changed her name to Pony in effort to soften the gritty nature. I also re-added the content I cut out of the first edition. I’d cut that material out of the first edition in effort to fit myself, and the book into the narrow minded mainstream.
Disappointed in the reception of both editions, I soon unpublished it. Only in the last year or so, I realized that was a stupid thing to do. Because that story was who I am as a writer. The trilogy will be completed and released simultaneously sometime in the future.
JSC: What is your writing Kryptonite?
JM: Oh boy, lol. Definitely self-doubt, which I’ve only acknowledged in the last few years. It certainly kept me from writing, and when I look back on it, I regret all the decades I’ve wasted.
JSC: If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
JM: Unfortunately, my writing journey over four decades was not kind at all, and I was extremely isolated. Knowing what I know now, I would have told myself to mow through and not look back. To not devalue my own unique ideas and permit narrow minded views to take precedence.
Looking back, I see it’s because I never found other writers that I connected with until I stumbled upon the LGBT writing community. And I don’t think I would have ever done that if I hadn’t met two great friends—they actually found me!
JSC: Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
JM: I’d advise new writers not to do it unless you already have a “fuck off” attitude and you have outside established support such as other writers you have genuinely connected with.
JSC: How long on average does it take you to write a book?
JM: This is an interesting question. It took me over ten years to write, revise and publish The Phoenix Embryo book 1 (Seasons of the Phoenix saga). During that, I did write and publish my debut novel, Through Rain and Missing Mantaurs, which probably only took three to four years in total. And my third novel, The Demon Lord of California was crafted even quicker than that—maybe two years. I’m certainly picking up speed.
JSC: Who has been your favorite character to write and why?
JM: I love all my characters, but there are those that stand out. As I’d recently mentioned on Twitter, I have a strange affinity for threes. There’s Acanthus Breese and Rupart Bright Terra from the Seasons of the Phoenix saga. Acanthus tries hard and cares too much. Rupart is the opposite side of that coin. He’s a huge ball of hate and anger.
Then Calico Winghorse from Infinity 8. He’s just so adorable and sweet. While I haven’t spent much time yet with younger Calico, I just love the older Calico from the modern day series of Infinity 8—older, wiser, and a lot heavier.
JSC: What are you working on now?
JM: I’m currently alternating between two projects. The first one is book two of the Infinity 8 series. This book will deal with missing vampires, and Calico’s portal.
The second project is The Phoenix Reflection. It’s a companion novel to SotP, or The Seasons of the Phoenix saga. The protagonist in SotP is Acanthus Breese. The Phoenix Reflection belongs to Idris, who is Acanthus’s older brother.
Reflection is a good interrupt to Acanthus’s story, because of where the plot is currently headed. I can’t go into detail because of spoilers.
And now for Jeanne’s latest book: The Demon Lord of California:
The God of Space and Time considers himself just a simple baker. Until he meets the Demon Lord of California.
LGBT fantasy/paranormal fiction. Stripped of his psychic powers, Calico Winghorse barely made it to 19th century Earth via his interdimensional portal. As a mixed-blood phoenix concealing himself in human form, he opens a bakery in the San Francisco Bay Area and quietly licks his wounds. But the unique method of his escape has drawn the unwanted attention of Infinity Corporation.
Representing this angelic-run company is Agustín Chávez de la Cruz, the Demon Lord of California. Even though Agustín is the corporation’s heir, he finds himself demoted from his daily duties for a new assignment: take absolute control of the portal.
As Agustín formulates a more gracious avenue of acquiring Calico’s gateway, the demanding head of IC interferes, further complicating matters. From this unexpected interlude, Calico and Agustín realize they both wish to establish more than a mere business arrangement. So negotiations stumble along, all the while Calico ensures that the good people of the city are getting their fill of baked goods.
Yet due to Calico’s injuries, the portal remains vulnerable to the darker forces that want it at any cost. Agustín will have to push both his angelic heritage, and his own psychic powers to the very limits to mend someone who not only bears celestial blood, but who is also the god of space and time.
The mismatched wrought-iron wings embellishing the massive double-swing gate was an impressive sight, even if somewhat menacing. The appendages stretched across the black bars, one engulfing each panel. Calico detected faint traces of a protection spell woven into the metalwork, perhaps during its construction.
As he drew closer, the details sprang to life. The sleek smoothness of the one resembling a bat’s wing arched into acute points with small hooks at the crests. The color shimmered with dark, oily blues and purples in the early morning sun. Its avian counterpart sported a matte-ivory finish; the fine craftsmanship of the individual feathers provided the illusion of each one ruffling in the wind.
Brow raised, Calico wondered if the feathered wing symbolized a phoenix, but knew it was highly unlikely.
How curious is that?he thought. The majesty sprawled out before him strongly reminded him of his own interdimensional portal. Briefly, Calico thought of his creation. The spiraling arms of a clockface that either pushed shrinking numerals inward to the center or expanded the digits outward, pushing them off the beveled edge.
His gaze returned to the feathered wing. Frazil and Maars had informed him the beings with such wings in this land were not phoenix, nor were they technically the warrior priests they were familiar with back home.
What had his brothers called them in this land? Angels? Still, the grand sight before him reminded him a little of home, where no one cared about your mixed heritage as long as you didn’t visit a human-populated city.
Calico shook out the memories rattling around in his skull case. Frazil and Maars would be very unhappy with the direction of his gloomy thoughts right now. No matter how much he hoped, or prayed to their mother goddess, they could never go home. Not as long as Great-grandfather Rupart suffered under the death god’s insanely jealous and possessive curse.
Drawing a deep, semidepressed inhale, Calico stepped up to the demon lord’s own impressive portal. In his homeland, demon lords were also powerful, influential. But even they could not break a vengeful god’s curse.
The polished brass plate affixed to the stone wall guided him away from his misery. Crisp, embossed letters read DEMONYM. Below this, the mismatched wing motif carried through, showcasing the buzzer bell. Calico pressed it.
Within seconds, an old man shuffled out of a small building several yards up the driveway. The gatekeeper took one look at him and his confection-filled cart and disappeared back inside. Seconds later, the motorized gates clunked open.
“The kitchens are around back,” the gatekeeper said as he drew abreast. “You’re expected, Mr. Scrivens. Follow the narrower path for deliveries.”
Calico guided the pony cart up the driveway. Gray bricks bordered manicured green lawns. Beyond the green belt were trees thick with foliage. A smaller gravel path forked from the main drive, around to the back of the mansion.
A door was open, which left Calico disturbed. He hurried inside. As he suspected, flies buzzed around in the center of the room. With a disgusted grunt, he concentrated. Using his telekinetic power, he herded them together and shooed them out.
That done, he marveled at the impressive kitchen. Colorful ceramic tile dominated the large room. Numerous ovens stretched across an entire wall. Pots and pans hung from wrought-iron ceiling racks in the middle of the room, beneath them, long tables that served as preparation stations. A diamond-pained window highlighted an equally massive sink. Chefs were not present. Surely, someone had to be here, as evidenced by the open door.
“Hello?” he called.
Well, he’d best get the order inside and set up before guests wandered in searching for refreshment. Once again using his telekinesis, and remembering his brothers cautioning him on usage of his unpredictable powers, Calico stacked four boxes in hand. Finding his inner balance and calm relaxed him. The remaining packages floated out of the cart and trailed behind.
Each box lined up on the long counters in the center of the room, and all the lids opened at once. Within minutes, all the confections waited on silver trays and pies on platters he’d discovered stored in a small room off the main kitchen. Calico stepped back and admired his work. He reveled in the sweet scents that uncurled and lingered in the air. Just like at his bakery.
The far door leading deeper into the mansion swung open. Two rough, gritty men walked in—humans. Calico wondered if they were his customer’s bodyguards. Their flawless matching uniforms consisted of dark blue trousers and buttoned-up coats. A bright blue patch on their collars drew his attention. It was an infinity symbol.
They came closer. Calico was accustomed to taller folk, as he had been raised among giants and boasted that heritage within him. Their auras conducted an undercurrent of danger, of clandestine power.
He did not sense any magic within them, but it concerned him just the same. It had been decades since he had trained for combat—skills that had saved the lives of his siblings. But he was no longer as acute and swift as he once was, and he was keenly, uncomfortably aware of it. If they took offense at his strange presence, he would be easily thrashed.
“Hello, good morning, are you one of the new recruits?” asked the Mexican gentleman.
“He’s awfully skinny to be a recruit,” the blue-eyed, brown-haired man added.
Calico threw back his shoulders. “What was that?”
“Hola, soy Ramírez.” The first man pointed to himself. “Ah. Um. This is Joe Mist. We heard you have a portal. How easy is it to control? Is it a lot of work?”
Ramírez stuck out a hand. Calico ignored it, recoiling instead, his gaze darting between the men. The blood drained from his cheeks, leaving him breathless and clammy. Only he, his brothers, and Mr. Triptych knew of his portal.
“What are you . . . ?” Calico asked.
“Welcome to Infinity 8.” Joe Mist bobbed his head. “The boss said a new recruit would be here today—one who stood out from all the others. They work us pretty hard, but it’s all good. We gotta keep on our toes to protect the veils between worlds from the Amaranth. And there’s always perks.” He was staring at the goods on the trays.
“The A-Amaranth?” How were they aware of an otherworld empire that he had only heard of in his youth? “I do not understand,” Calico said. “I was hired to bake and serve pastries.”
The men looked at each other. “Aren’t you Calico Winghorse?”
They knew his real name. “I am Mr. Scrivens, the baker.”
“Oh, right. Etney said you had an alias.”
Calico frowned. “Etney is your employer?”
“No, Lord California is.”
A ruse. The man who had been his customer. But not really a customer. A man who had come into his bakery and deliberately liedto him. A man who had known his true identity from the start. Fingers curled into his palms and turned white from the pressure.
Jeanne Marcella writes LGBTQIA+ fantasy fiction, with her dark fantasy tales being not for the faint of heart. Quests, adventure, danger, and the grit of living are foremost, but relationships and romance also share the pages.
Granted unlimited access to books at a very early age via the library, she quickly acquired a fondness for creating her own stories through word and drawing. She was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area.