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 not for the faint of heart. Quests, adventure, danger, and the grit of living are foremost, but relationships and mild romance might 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.
Thanks so much, Jeanne, for joining me!
J. Scott Coatsworth: Are you a plotter or a pantster?
Jeanne Marcella: Actually, I’m a puzzler. I did a quick blog post about that. A puzzler is one who forever swaps scenes around. That forces you to go back and start all over again to bridge the plot holes puzzling created, so the seams of the story don’t show. I call it my bad habit. It makes finishing a book take longer.
JSC: Name the book you like most among all you’ve written, and tell us why.
JM: I have a soft spot for all my books. But the one I had the most fun writing was Infinity 8: The Demon Lord of California. Calico is a big favorite—not just because he’s the God of Space and Time. (I can really work with him being that deity because a few small inconsistences—remember that I’m a puzzler—turns out mistakes are easier to fix if he’s in the crux of it.) I just have Calico blame that on the timeline getting screwed up in his head. A lot of those fixes have turned out to be great plot points and even better character development.
JSC: How did you choose the topic for “Through Rain and Missing Mantaurs”?
JM: Way back in the early 2000s, the idea for (TRAMM) Through Rain and Missing Mantaurs, started with an entirely different character. An actual centaur named Penelope. It was meant to be a short story, but the plot was vague and lacking. I put it away, then dragged it out much later and decided to make Penelope a mail carrier. From the idea of Penelope, came Pony and the story took off from there, morphing into a trilogy.
I’ve kept the centaur character of Penelope though, and she’s a very minor player in the Elemental Rain series, showing up in books 2 and 3.
JSC: What’s your core motivation in this book?
JM: My core motivation for this book was the challenge to write (Pony,) my first female main character in a story. Writing a female character has always been difficult for me. I’m much more comfortable writing male or gender fluid characters.
Back when I first realized I wanted to be a writer, my first-ever created character was female, but I never did anything with her. She is still around today, but her story is not yet written.
JSC: What was the hardest part of writing it?
JM: The hardest part of writing this book was staying true to my story and myself. And even through three incarnations of it I still feel I held back on it. One of the things I really want to do is just write a story the way I want it to happen, and not care if people freak out over it.
JSC: What character gave you fits and fought against you? Did that character cause trouble because you weren’t listening and missed something important about them?
JM: I’m pointing the finger to Konstantine Bywater. Throughout the first and second editions of TRAMM, he refused to talk to me. In this third edition, it was a little better, but not by much. He’s such a tortured guy, and with all he’s been through, he’s not even open to his lovers. The only person he’s opened his soul up to is his childhood friend, Hendrik.
JSC: What secondary character would you like to explore more? Tell me about them.
JM: That’s kind of a toss up between a few, which I will get to in the second and third books in the Elemental Rain trilogy. But to answer the question, when I get the time, Stone will be a main character in another novel. Stone’s a dapple grey-coated centaur who shows up near the end of the book. He’s half centaur, half elf, and a wind elemental. He’s also a centaur priest who wears clothes.
JSC: What other artistic pursuits (if any) do you indulge in apart from writing?
JM: I used to draw. From the time I could pick up a pencil. I was a pretty dumb teenager, and thought you were only allowed to do one thing as an adult. So I sacrificed drawing. Lots of baggage about that, but I’ve been trying to get back into it for the last five years or so. Not turning out too well.
JSC: If you could create a new holiday, what would it be?
JM: I would create a “read a book” holiday that would last an entire week. Every year would officially celebrate a different fictional genre, and bookstores would give away free books in that genre, but you’d be able to read anything you wanted. Sure there’d be a lot of kinks to work out, but that’s the general idea.
JSC: What fictional speculative fiction character would you like to spend an evening with, and why?
JM: Not to be too pompous, but I would really love to be a part of Calico Winghorse’s found family. Calico is a character of my own creation, from my Infinity 8 urban fantasy/paranormal series. He can be a bit scatterbrained and unable to focus at times, but he knows when things are important, and has the biggest heart.
JSC: What are you working on now, and when can we expect it?
JM: What I’ll be working on next is a super secret project. One so secret I can’t talk about it until it’s released. Sorry. 😊
And now for Jeanne’s new book: Through Rain and Missing Mantaurs:
Her past is postage due and centaurs are ready to collect.
Through Rain and Missing Mantaurs is a dark fantasy most daring and eccentric. A tale not for the faint of heart. Pony is a bipedal half-breed centaur with no desire to waste tears on a past she can’t remember. She’s busy enough with her mail routes and package deliveries, and of course, floundering through hot-cold love affairs with the high class courtesans Mardyth and Lullaby.
The mundane drudgery of her life shatters when Konstantine Bywater takes over as Lightfoot Delivery’s new boss. He asks questions she can’t possibly answer, and stirs up a tragic past better left dead and buried.
But running away is no longer an option. Not when Kon and his minions accuse Mardyth of an unspeakable crime. With her lover’s life at stake, Pony won’t stop until she uncovers not only the truth of Mardyth’s innocence, but the truth of the past as well.
Green Hat angled the knife and nicked her throat. Tears squeezed his cloudy eyes, but they were ferocious with promise, as was his grip on her. “By Willdin’s wings, if you’ve—h-hurt him, I’ll kill you right here.”
Pony tried to make sense of the babbling. Hurt him? Did he mean the centaur colt? Green Hat was a centaur?
But Green Hat walked on two legs.
She walked on two legs.
His breath hitched and his fingers tightened. “If you’re a rogue fae, I’ll kill you right here.”
Who were the rogue fae?
Blood soaked into her sweat-stained collar. A knife licking her jugular wouldn’t produce the response Green Hat hoped for. More terrifying things had been done to her on the wild trails hauling mail, and in Nura City’s back alleys as a small child, by monsters that thought themselves men. Pony’s stomach rolled for different reasons. Reasons so steeped in disbelief that cold sweat beaded her clammy flesh. Her heart stopped, then jolted before it beat again.
He had…centaur blood…
From the way Callum had always railed and sneered, spouting his hate for the beasts… She’d just assumed… Just felt that she was unique…special… That she was the only one of her kind to be so…human. It made some sort of odd sense now about how the centaurs had reacted to her, but…
Green Hat contemplated her topknot, bringing her back to the present. He failed to blink away some of the drug haze. His grip tightened around her neck, and he shook her. “Answer me, or what’s left of your carcass’ll feed the wolves tonight.”
He couldn’t conclude anything with her hair pulled back into a severe twist, especially since he’d decided her scent was some sort of forgery. Pony meant her reply to be flippant and rude. Instead, she surprised herself by spouting something brisk and short in that melodic language of his.
The submissive and infantile tone that slipped from her mouth infuriated her. Her teeth clacked—yet another signal of submission. Company foals did that with the older horses; she’d never thought much of it until right now. Her body had taken control of her brain.
Pony forced herself to stop. By Rattani’s counterfeit curtsy, she wouldn’t grovel before anyone. Not Upshaw. Not Mardyth. Not Lully. And certainly not another centaur half-breed.
Green Hat’s mouth dropped open again, and those white brows rose and fell. His green eyes further glazed over. The knife tumbled out of his grasp, and his other hand went slack around her neck. Pony slammed her knee into his crotch. Shoved him to the ground. He hissed, writhing in the dust, clutching at his privates. Pony kicked him again, making sure he stayed down.
He wanted the bow? She flung it at him, hitting him in the head. Green Hat gasped, moaned, and cursed at her in that strange language that scrambled her brain. The sound of it sent shivering waves of dark grief through her. Pony reclaimed her knife and wiped the blood off on her trousers. It was time to collect her mail and get the Nolth out of Eastern Junction.
So what if she was running from her past? What had the past done for her? It had saddled her with two bad-tempered human men who barely tolerated her existence, and Ruskin, the brat-toad she grew up with. She didn’t need or want the past; she was fine enough as she was now. Rest and relief would happen when she was back in Nura City, sleeping in her hammock.