Maidens, we have a treat today for you!  We got a chance to ask the talented New York Times best selling author Maggie Shayne.  She’s kicking off her new series, The Portal and just released the first book MARK OF THE WITCH yesterday!  If you haven’t had a chance to take a look at the beautiful site she’s put together for this series, then head on over to The Portal Series.  And now, please help us welcome her to UTC!

Thanks for being with us today!!  MARK OF THE WITCH is the first book in your The Portal trilogy. What can we expect from this book that we haven’t heard already?

I didn’t plan them this way, but the books of this series wound up being far more than action-adventure-paranormal-suspense-breathlessly romantic novels. They took me deeper, on a spiritual journey and a quest for answers to some unanswerable questions. They are meaningful and maybe helpful to people beyond just being entertaining.

How did the idea for this series came about?

I’ve been studying the Ancient Mesopotamian civilizations for almost as long as I’ve been writing. Sumer and Babylon have fascinated me for years, probably because Sumer had the first written language (that we know of.) The first stories were Sumerian, and they hold up remarkably well. The first author whose name appeared on her story, was a woman, a high priestess of Inanna named En-Heduanna, and the story she wrote about the Goddess spread throughout Sumer and changed society and the religious structure, elevating Inanna to Queen of Heaven status. This she did with clay tablets and a reed-stylus. Amazing. Since I’ve also been a practicing Wiccan for just as many years, combining these two areas of expertise in a novel seemed like the next logical step.

The Wings in the Night series has been undergoing some changes throughout the years. I’ll admit that I just started reading it at Demon’s Kiss because I wasn’t aware it was a series. Especially now with the re-release of some older titles in the series, with beautiful new covers by the way, how would you help a new reader knowing how to tackle this series?

Begin with the ebook bundles, Wings in the Night, Part 1, and Wings in the Night, Part 2. They include the first 12 stories in the series, at bargain prices. Part 1 is 9.99 and Part 2 is 15.37. Total breaks down to about $2.00 per story. That’s cheap.

From there, you’d still have the six most recent stories left to catch up, and those aren’t in bundles yet.

If you don’t read in ebooks, I don’t have a lot of hope for you. The earliest stories just aren’t out in print yet, and I have no way of knowing if or when the publisher will reprint them. If you’re resisting buying an e-reader, I suggest you compromise by downloading the free kindle or nook app onto your computer, tablet or smartphone and reading the books that way.

You can find the full Wings in the Night reading list on my FB page under notes, or email me [email protected] and I’ll send it back to you in an attachment.

Do you have plans for releasing any more books in this series or in the Children of Twilight series?

I will never call this series finished. I left off with my surviving characters, post-vampire-Armageddon, hiding out in Romania, because I just that was an ironic place to put them. And it will make a fabulous setting for them to re-emerge when the time is right. In the meantime, I hope you’ll soon be enjoying some of Rhiannon’s backstory in a series of shorts we’ll be calling The Rhiannon Chronicles. Keep watching my soon to be remodeled website and my FB page for further announcements.

Obviously you’ve been writing about vamps since before Twilight made them famous again, but how do you feel the Twilight phenomenon has impacted not only paranormal but reading in general?

Twilight picked up where Harry Potter left off, in pulling a new generation of readers into the fold. The teenage twilight fans are the future of the grown up romance novel genre. Everything that is successful lays groundwork for more things to be successful. I think Stephanie Meyer’s phenomenal success with her series is nothing but a huge gift to reader and every writer out there.

Which authors are on your must buy list?

Stephen King, Gregg Braden, Sandra Brown, Karen Robards, Anne Stuart, Christina Dodd, Teresa Medeiros, Jane Porter, Shelly Thacker, Gayle Callen aka Emma Cane, Christine Wenger, Susan Mallery, Nalini Singh and so many many more. Also, reliable sources say that Phoebe Conn and Rebecca Paisley, some top romance divas who’ve been away for a while, are both making comebacks and I couldn’t more excited.

Of ANY book character, who would you want to have a date with?

You know, every one of my male characters are just thinly disguised versions of my soulmate Lance. Some are more alpha than he is, some are more beta than he is, some are richer, some are poorer, and they all have more of a dark side to them. My Lance just has no bad in him.

I’m so ridiculously in love that after seeing Real Steel with another couple, the female half of that pair and I were recapping the film privately while freshening up and she said, “Best part was seeing Hugh Jackman with his shirt off.” And I said, “He had his shirt off?”

Yeah, I’ve got it bad.

So my answer is, I get to “date” them all. I live with their inspiration.

And which female character in ANY book would you take out for a drink?

The female characters are all based on various parts of my inner self. And we don’t drink. 😉 But if you’re asking my favorite, ever, female character, it’s Rhiannon. I adore her.

Tell us the first thing that comes to mind:

* Shifter: The cool “Rat Fink” shifter knob I bought Lance for his Boss 5.4 pickup truck.
* Vampire: Dracula
* Tattoos: Ouch! (I have two. I will not get more. I cried when they pierced my ears, so….)

Thank you so much for stopping by Maggie and now a little teaser excerpt and book trailer from MARK OF THE WITCH.

Dammit straight to hell, I was being sacrificed again.

I stood on the edge of a precipice, the hard ground under my bare feet already warming beneath the rising, scorching sun. The unblinking red-orange eye of an angry god rose slowly over distant desert sands, beyond endless dunes, watching as I paid for the sin of practicing magic without a license.
Just as I had been at every execution before, I was dressed in almost nothing. A white scrap of fabric tied at my hip, covering one leg and leaving the other bare below the knot. Another length of the same stuff was draped around my neck, crossed in front to cover each of my humongous boobs, and then tied behind to keep it there. I wore no jewelry. Resentment rose up in me at the notion that Sindar, High Priest of Marduk had stolen it. And then I wondered how I knew that.

This isn’t me, after all. I mean, it feels like it’s me, but it can’t be, me. She’s olive skinned. She’s gorgeous. Her boobs are huge. I’m pale and blonde and too thin. No curves here. Not like those, anyway.

And yet it was me. I was there. On that cliff, in that body. No denying it.

There were two other women, dressed pretty much the same way I was, standing on either side of me. I felt close to them. I loved them.

Three men stood behind us. I felt the one behind me, his hands, warm and trembling, resting softly on my back, low, near my waist, where the skin was bare. My back was screaming with pain I didn’t understand, but that man’s touch was good. Soothing. I tried to relish it, thinking it was the last time I would feel it, or anything good. Ever.

I wanted to turn my head, to look back at him, to see his face, but somehow I could not convince my dream self to do that. It didn’t matter, though. I knew what he looked like. In my mind, I saw him clearly; his long, black hair, his fine white tunic with a sash of scarlet, the fat gold torc around his corded neck. His arms were banded with steel and coated in fine dark hairs. He was strong, and he had ebony eyes.

I didn’t need to see him, nor the poor, half dead captive man held by soldiers a bit farther away. He was still struggling to break free as they forced him to watch. He’d already been beaten bloody. I’d glimpsed his face as they’d marched us up the cliff, far from our city gates. He barely looked human. His own mother wouldn’t have known him.

And Sindar, the High Priest, he was there too. I knew his face as well. Eyes lined with kohl, lips darkened with the juices of rare desert berries. The rolls of fat at his neck, sporting layers upon layers of gold. His robes of the finest fabric, imported from the East. His belly so big that his golden cords had to be tied above the bulge, making him look like a mother about to give birth. I knew he was there, knew the secret lust in his eyes for what was about to happen to us. He was twisted, turned on by violence. Or maybe just by the rush of knowing he held the power of life and death in his hands.
I was going to have to kill him one day.

I tried to look at the other women instead, because, aside from the touch of those large male hands on my skin, they were the most interesting part of this whole thing. They had dark hair and dark eyes, just like I did. But as I looked at them, they changed, the way a reflection in still water will change when a stone is dropped into it. One, briefly became a blue-eyed brunette, and the other, a fiery redhead, modern looking women in modern looking clothes. It was brief, the illusion, and then the High Priest was speaking in some long dead language, and the hands at my back began trembling harder than before, kneading my waist, I thought, and I closed my eyes in some kind of bittersweet anguish.

“Remember, my sisters,” said the brunette, who had, of course, become raven haired again now. “Remember what we must do. We cannot cross over until it is done.”

Oddly, the words I heard were spoken in some exotic language, and yet I understood every word.
I tugged at the ropes that bound my wrists, tugged so hard I felt new blood seeping from the welts those ropes had already cut into my flesh because of my struggling. My gaze strayed to the jagged rocks far, far below, and my toes dug into the hard earth as my body instinctively resisted.

But as always, it was futile, and I knew it. And I relaxed, and reminded myself of the plan.

An instant later, my body was plummeting.

There were no screams, not one, not from any of us, as we arrowed downward like hawks diving onto their chosen prey. Our own weight propelled us as our feet peddled uselessly. The only sounds were the soft flapping of our garments, and the arid wind rushing past my ears and face, whipping my long black hair above me. I smelled that wind, sucking it in deeply, tasting every flavor it held in my final breath. I closed my eyes, and awaited my fate. And I heard the other two, their voices chanting some familiar verse and I joined them. My heart raced faster and faster as I waited to feel the impact of the already bloodstained rocks below.

There was a sudden, jarring blow, like the hit of a powerful electric jolt, in every cell of my body. And then nothing. Blackness.

About the Author

Maggie Shayne is best known as the New York Times bestselling author of more than 50 novels, nearly 30 novellas, a former soap writer, (The Guiding Light, As the World Turns,) a former advice columnist (Shayne on You,) and RITA Award winner. But what’s less known about her is that she’s been a practicing Witch for almost as long as she’s been a published author.

The choice is yours.  Winner will get any Maggie Shayne book they’d like, and she has quite a selection to choose from.  International.

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  1. What a terrific contest! I cannot wait until all the early stories are out in print, e-books are fine… but my fav books are always best in print form. The excerpt was lovely, thanks!

    – lavendersbluegreen(at)yahoo(dot)com

  2. Great interview! I’ve never read any of Maggie’s books but they do sound like books I would enjoy – I’m excited about the ebook bundles because it’s a good way to sample the writer and at the same time get a lot of books for your money – it really makes reading more affordable. I love the blurb for Mark of the Witch – I downloaded the prequel and look forward to reading both. Thanks for the giveaway!

  3. Maria: if you check out my backlist (they’re on site, just click the Maggie Shayne Classics Collection) I have several backlist books up for very low prices. You can check there too.

    Lavendersbluegreen: I hope we see the older ones in print again too!

    Powerse: You’re welcome!

    Harlie: I made that trailer myself. And the original song behind it is by dear friends of mine and you can get it on iTunes and Amz and elsewhere. They’re writing another for the Book 3 trailer. The book 2 trailer will be released in mid-October, but we didn’t have time for another original recording and had to use stock music.

    Jennifer: I am a huge geek about opening lines. I swear more over them than most other lines in the entire book. I’m glad you liked it.

  4. What an exciting new series! I love a great mix of paranormal, suspense, romance and so much more. Congratulations on the newest release, and I will surely be looking for more!

  5. This looks like a fantastic book, Maggie is a new to me author so I need to go check out the rest of her stuff cause this excerpt is wonderful. Carin
    mawmom at gmail dot com

  6. Maggie Shayne is a fantastic writer and I am a huge fan! Thank you for doing what you do and I can’t wait to read your new book! 🙂

  7. I haven’t read any books by Maggie, but after reading the interview and watching the trailer, I’m going to have to do some checking on what I can add to my TBR list.
    luvfuzzzeeefaces at yahoo dot com

  8. I already have Legacy of the Witch downloaded to my kindle. Its up next to read. Look forward to this series.
    Thanks for the giveaway


  9. I haven’t read any of Maggie’s books, but I read a lot of great things about them. I think I am just over whelmed by the number of her books and I don’t know where to start.

  10. Maggie Shayne sounds like a really interesting person. I haven’t read any of her work, so I appreciate the information on where to find the earlier books, and the correct reading order.

    Love this excerpt! I really want to read this book. Thank you for the opportunity.

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