Genre: Young Adult Paranormal
Publisher: Vinspire Publishing
Date of Publication: March 31, 2014
Number of pages: 308
Word Count: 73,500
Cover Artist: Elaina Lee
Fortune has smiled on seventeen year old Aileen McCormick ever since Addison came back into her life, giving her the love she has so desperately longed for. That is, until a mysterious man slithers across her path and slips a spellbinding cameo around her neck. The cameo holds more than just the image of an enchantress who hungers for souls. It possesses a curse that strangles away every memory Aileen has of Addison.
Addison, a three hundred year old fugitive from the netherworld, recognizes the wretched woman inside the cameo and the curse she has cast on his unsuspecting love. The enchanted cameo has but one purpose: to torment Aileen with hints of love she can no longer recall.
Aileen cannot escape the deadly cameo. She runs for her life with the curse only a breath away. If she truly wants her memory back, the enchantress is all too willing to restore it. It will cost her, though. Cost her everything.
I couldn’t remember the last time I had been afraid of the dark. It seemed like a lifetime ago, when shadows and demons consumed me at night, when the end of the world was but a breath away. That was all before I met Addison.
From the very moment I literally fell into his arms, I had fallen hopelessly in love with him. Hopelessly, carelessly, eternally in love with him. And he loved me back.
Addison Wake had become my entire life, my reason for living. I breathed in his love and exhaled his name. My heart beat a passionate rhythm to which only he marched. He danced into my dreams, stealing me away into the stars at the witching hour. Since he had come back to me we had been inseparable.
The last amber leaves of autumn waved goodbye to the worst and best year of my life. The year I lost my home, my friends, everything I thought I needed to live. The year I discovered a grandmother I hardly knew. The year I found new friends. The year I fell in love.
The calendar gloated that Christmas was less than a month away, but who cared? I looked forward to the first day of winter. Or rather the longest night of the year. Ever since finding out Santa was just a figment of my parents’ imagination, I didn’t have much use for the yuletide. But I had always loved that long and wonderful night. Addison had already set a date for that night, promising to take me to an air show in the day and onto the rooftop at night to teach me the constellations.
It was kind of embarrassing, but I had never really learned the stars. Sure, I could spot the Big Dipper and hardly ever mistook the moon for a comet. But that was the extent of my celestial knowledge. Most of my time had been spent looking down rather than up, and I regretted that. Just one more regret in the long list I had been working on in my seventeen years. But all that was changing, and Addison was helping me one regret at a time.
To say I appreciated everything he had done for me would be an understatement. He taught me how to drive a stick. He trusted me with his deepest, darkest secrets. He saved my life. He fell in love with me, maybe even more than I had fallen in love with him. If that was possible.
Mere words could do no justice for how I felt about Addison. But that didn’t stop me from trying to tell him, or show him. I poured my heart out into haiku almost daily. I swirled his initials into the thighs of my worn jeans in three colors of permanent ink. I learned to say “I love you” in twenty-one languages.
My most recent declaration of love cost me an entire paycheck. I purchased a star. Not the Hollywood kind starlets walked across in stilettos. An actual star, in outer space, where no man has boldly gone before.
Bonnie Fay and Nicola had completely different reactions when I confessed what I had done. Bonnie Fay wrinkled her nose and squinted at me, forcing the kind of smile that told me I was lame. “Sounds kinda hokey,” she had said in her southern drawl. “Sugar, if you’re gonna tease him with something he can’t have, don’t let it be a star.”
Nicola, the polar opposite to everything calm and conforming, had a completely different reaction. She ached a sigh, crossed her hands over her heart, and fell backwards onto my bed. “That is just so…” She took a breath and clicked the heals of her combat boots. I prayed she’d say something other than “hokey.” “So… romantic.” Then she wiped away a hint of her sentimentality before it had the chance to smear her dark eye make-up. She had spent too long applying deadly Goth to have it ruined by a girly tear.
Yes, I bought my boyfriend a star. It was a little star – I didn’t make that much money – cleverly hidden in the Scorpius constellation. The website informed me the little speck could be seen near the horizon using a telescope the size of a small skyscraper. But the heavenly body, now and forever known as “Addison Wake,” was indeed there. It was my gift to him, a little piece of eternity that would smile down upon us every night until the stars all went out.
Okay, it was a little hokey.
But what could I have given to Addison Wake? He wasn’t exactly like the other boys at Redcliff High. To be perfectly clear, he was nothing at all like anyone on this mortal world. Addison was a phantom, a fugitive from the netherworld, casually walking among the living as shadowflesh. He willed his dark, mysterious ether into the tall, lean embodiment of perfection. An immortal soul, yet vulnerable shadowflesh.
And no, I didn’t need my head examined… or maybe I did.
Addison was completely wrong for me, completely wrong for any living, breathing girl who had a fondness for staying alive. The more I knew we shouldn’t be together, the more I was drawn to him. Like a knot, the harder a person tried to pull it apart the tighter it got.
To show my love for Addison, I had to think of something as unique, something as ageless as he. Haiku hadn’t cut it. And it wasn’t like I could burn him a CD of my favorite music and expect it to mean anything in a year, or a decade, or a century. But a star, it would be forever.
And when that long and wonderful night finally came and Addison showed me the constellations, I would surprise him with his star, pointing to the part of the sky where the tiny speck was supposed to be.
I had no idea how he would react. Maybe he’d shrug or look at me as if I had lost my mind. Or maybe he’d arch one eyebrow higher than the other over his smoky blue eyes and kiss me. It would be cold, December nights get that way, so he would undoubtedly drape his leather flight jacket over my shoulders and wrap me in his strong arms, and I would kiss him back like I had never kissed him before, like I would never kiss him again. And perhaps that would be the night. The night.
I no longer feared the darkness. As a matter of fact, I looked forward it. The longest, darkest night of the year waited for me, and that should have been my happily ever after. But fate can be a funny, cruel thing.
Did you always wanted to be a writer? If not what did you want to be?
From my first memories, I wanted to be a lawyer. Not the kind that chases ambulances or drafts contracts for Fortune 500 companies, but the kind that stood sharp on the tip of the spear. It wasn't until college when I read Jack Kerouac that I thought how provocative it would be to be a writer. Since my college days, I pursued that dream like mercury pursues the top of a thermometer on a boiling hot day.
When did you first consider yourself a “writer”?
I wanted to be a writer for a long time, but it wasn't until Vinspire Publishing signed my first novel. Within a week of submitting my manuscript, they sent me an email. In such a short time, I figured it was like the rest of my queries. "No thanks, not for us." But they had offered me a contract. I smiled and my heart beat fast. I felt like a real-life writer.
How long did it take to get your first book published?
My first novel, Shadowflesh, was written about three years before it found its way to a publishing house. I hadn't spent the entire time trying to get a publisher's attention, though. Only the first three months and the last three weeks. During the interim, my wife at the time told me to scrap the project. As I sat in front of my computer with my finger on the delete key, I decided to give the manuscript one more chance. And I never looked back.
Do you do another job except for writing and can you tell us more about it?
In addition to being a writer, I work as a firefighter. Seems like day and night, the two careers, but they are actually very much the same. When the alarm rings, it's like a story idea blossoming in my mind. When I arrive to the fire, I see a plot, characters, and a dilemma. As I fight the unpredictable flames, I discover plot twists and unexpected tangents. People, like characters, live and die, cry and laugh.
What is the name of your latest book, and if you had to summarize it in less than 20 words what would you say?
My latest work is Forget Me Not. If you lost all memory of your true love, would you fall in love with them all over again?
Who is your publisher? Or do you self-publish?
Vinspire Publishing signed me. They are a small publishing house in South Carolina, but aggressive, supportive, and professional.
How long does it usually take you to write a book, from the original idea to finishing writing it?
I develop an idea, set it aside like bread dough, and let it rise. This usually takes about a month. Then I spend about another three or four months writing. After the manuscript is finished, I get depressed for having to say goodbye to my characters—about a week's worth of no writing. Then the editing takes about another month. So all in all, a book takes around six months.
What can we expect from you in the future? ie More books of the same genre? Books of a different genre?
I plan to write five books in the Shadowflesh series. Right now, I have two published. Three to go.
What genre would you place your books into?
A lot of people call the Shadowflesh series "Young Adult Paranormal Romance." I prefer to call it a "Modern Gothic Love Story."
What made you decide to write that genre of book?
I remember the most impressionable, most passionate, most intense time of my life, when the fire burned its hottest. Age seventeen. I didn't have to conform to the world, and magic still happened.
Do you have a favorite character from your books? And why are they your favorite?
My favorite character is Addison Wake. He is a young man who had been killed three-hundred years ago, had his soul cast into a prison, and is occasionally allowed to walk the mortal plain as Shadowflesh. He walks with grace and confidence, talks like he fell out of a Shakespearean play, and isn't easily intimidated. He's all the things I wished I had been.
How long have you been writing?, and who or what inspired you to write?
I began writing in my grade school days, inspired by the Arthurian tales.
Do you have a certain routine you have for writing? ie You listen to music, sit in a certain chair?
I wish I could write anywhere, but my creative streak is a stubborn beast. I like sitting at my little desk, listening to Okkervil River, and sipping coffee. Then words fall into place.
Do you read all the reviews of your book/books?
I try to read the reviews, hoping for a little encouragement. What I often find is something much different: tough love.
Do you choose a title first, or write the book then choose the title?
The titles of my first two books came later, much later. For each, I played with words. I slept. I prayed. I stayed awake all night. Then the titles slipped out of the ether like a graceful ghost.
How do you come up with characters names and place names in your books?
I say the names aloud, over and over again. I want the names to seem unique, yet natural. Name after name, often cool names, are scrapped until something right falls into place.
Are character names and place names decided after their creation? Or do you pick a character/place name and then invent them?
I usually have a character in mind long before the name arises. You should see my outlines. Rather than names, I refer to characters as Snake-face, Sunglasses, and Shy Girl.
Do you decide on character traits (ie shy, quiet, tomboy girl) before writing the whole book or as you go along?
I try to know my characters' foundations before writing the book, and then fill in the details as the book is being penned. What often happens is that my characters evolve into something quite different.
Are there any hidden messages or morals contained in your books? (Morals as in like Aesops Fables type of "The moral of this story is..")
In life, nothing is not enough and everything is too much, but one thing is often just right. But it takes patience and strength to find it and recognize it.
Which format of book do you prefer, eBook, hardback, or paperback?
I'm an old-fashioned kind of guy who likes to read on the go. Paperback.
What is your favorite book and Why? Have you read it more than once?
Picking a favorite book is like picking a favorite sunset, but I suppose there is one. Voltaire's Candide. It's the ultimate story.
Do you think books transfer to movies well? Which is you favorite/worst book to movie transfer?
Books-to-movies is a great concept, but it seems like it seldom works. People who read books often say the book was better than the movie. But I say the movie is simply a different cut of the same fabric. My favorite book-to-movie would be Breakfast At Tiffany's. Their similarities and differences make them great bookends on one of my mind's creative bookshelves.
Your favorite food is?
I love strawberries, preferably thinly sliced and sprinkled with sugar. Happiness by the spoonful.
Your favorite singer/group is?
Like I alluded to earlier, Okkervil River. Their haunting songs remind me of what a lonely wolf sounds like when he howls at the moon. Eerie, ethereal, and everlasting.
Your favorite color is?
White. The absence of color. So I suppose my favorite sound would be silence.
Your favorite Author is?
Jack Kerouac. His writing was as flawed as his persona, but they both cut a groove in the mind. Jack had a purpose.
Shawn Martin calls Springfield, Missouri, home. After graduating from Missouri State University with majors in Economics and Political Science, he bounced around the Midwest only to end up right where he started.
His day (and night) job is being a firefighter. Aside from rescuing cats in trees and removing burnt pot roasts from ovens, he spends his time finding the hardest way to do the simplest of things. The rest of his time is spent weaving words into another installment in the Shadowflesh Series. Visit www.shadowflesh.com for a look into the author and his work.