Cate: Please welcome Juliette Cross to my special Halloween celebration. Juliette, please tell us a little bit about yourself.
Juliette: I’m a southern Louisiana girl. I live with my husband and four kids, ranging from 18 to 4. Yeah, we’re not the best of planners. Haha! I’ve always loved writing from a very young age. I taught English to gifted high school students for 17 years, which I loved because I was constantly immersed in literature and art.
Cate: What do you love most about Halloween?
Juliette: The atmosphere. Fall is my favorite season and Halloween brings an air of mystery to everything. It just makes me want to snuggle into a corner with my laptop and write a haunting, romantic story.
Cate: Do you have a favorite memory of a Halloween past?
Juliette: Probably the costume party we threw in college at our apartment. I dressed as a go-go girl. I can’t remember where I found that silver mini-dress. But it was one of those epic parties we all still remember and laugh about.
Cate: Have you ever had an unusual experience you couldn’t explain?
Juliette: Not personally, but I know tons of people who’ve had ghostly experiences. Lots of older homes around where I live. One of my friends said when he was growing up, his mom used to check on him and his brother at night. One night, he looked up and saw her leaning over his brother’s bed. He asked her what she was doing. She turned, put her finger to her lips and said, “Shhhhhh.” He went back to sleep. At breakfast the next morning, he asked her what she was doing staring at her brother the night before. She said she was never in there. Creeeepy. He had tons of stories as his house was a hundred years old and there had been a murder in his house long ago. Yikes!
Cate: What frightens you the most?
Juliette: Monsters of the real world; humans who prey on the helpless.
Cate: Ever gone on a ghost tour? Or ghost hunting on your own?
Juliette: Yes! I live close to New Orleans and have been going there since I was a young girl. One time, my best friend and I went down for the weekend and took the ghost tour of the oldest homes/old hotels in the back of the French Quarter. It was so cool to get a good history lesson and hear some haunted tales, especially when we ended the tour at the house of the famous Voodoo priestess, Marie Leveau.
Cate: Any favorite Halloween recipes you’d care to share?
Juliette: Hmmm, I’m afraid I don’t. We eat some foods seasonally down here in Cajun country and the fall does bring out the big gumbo pot. Unfortunately, I don’t have a written recipe as I make it by heart. As we often say down here, first you make a roux, then throw in onions and then everything else.
Cate: Tell us about your latest release, and where readers can find it online.
Juliette: SOULFIRE comes out October 20th. It’s a loose retelling of Romeo and Juliet in a world where a hybrid-dragon race lives alongside humans. My MC, Jessen, is the daughter of the wealthiest man in the Gladium Province. She strays to the Morgon side of town one night with her best friends and meets Lucius Nightwing, the eldest son of the most powerful Morgon clan. Fate brings these star-crossed lovers together in a society rife with prejudice between the races. But unlike Romeo and Juliet, Lucius and Jessen get their happily ever after. J
Cate: Care to share a blurb or excerpt?
Juliette: Here’s the beginning of Chapter 1….
I swung one leather-clad leg over the balcony railing and froze. Straddling the stone balustrade, I gazed upward, willing my heart to still. A crescent moon cut a half-smile in the starry night as if mocking my rebellion. Or perhaps encouraging it.
Don’t look down.
A smudge of cloud blurred over the moon, nudging me into the darkness. Deep breath in, I swung the other leg over and shimmied toward the ivy trellis. My long legs helped me maintain balance on the stone balcony, making it easier to climb down. Of course, I had to have the villa suite on the top floor—an obscene luxury for a college student. Only the best, my father would say. I knew the truth. He tucked me away in an ivory tower, complete with armed guards, imprisoning me to watch my every move. It had nothing to do with protection. Not mine, anyway.
My maroon silk blouse snagged on a tendril of ivy. I slipped it loose and dropped the final few feet to the grass below. I peeked around a manicured shrub toward the front of the complex. One of the guards leaned against the entrance, nearly dozing. Smiling to myself, I crept across the shadowed lawn to the side street.
I jumped into the sleek, black coupe waiting at the curb and turned to Sorcha. “Let’s go.”
She grinned and tore off into the night, away from Cade Heights.
“I don’t get it.” Ella leaned forward from the back seat. “Why can’t you just walk out the front door like everyone else, Jessen? There’s no curfew or anything.”
I flipped down the compact mirror above the passenger seat, checking my hair. I plucked a leaf from the black waves falling past my chest. “Ella, have you actually met my father?” I wiped away a streak of dark liner from below one eye. “Sorcha, where’s your eye shadow?”
“Check the glove compartment.”
I touched-up the tawny shade of color on the outside corners and smeared a glossy cream on the bottom lids, setting off my light brown eyes. Pleased my hair and makeup looked fresh, and not like someone who just crawled down an ivy trellis, I flipped the mirror shut.
“Yes, I’ve met your father. You know I have.” Ella didn’t get the concept of rhetorical questions. Her glazed look, as always, made her pretty features more child-like. “So?”
“So!” Sorcha careened around the next corner, veering deeper into the city. “That man could suffocate a person with a glance.”
I sighed. “Forget about him. Don’t you ladies want to know our destination tonight?”
“Oooo, I do love it when you’re sneaky, Jess. So what’s the big secret? Why am I decked out in my highest-heeled boots and shortest skirt?”
I pulled the glossy flier from my back pocket and handed it over.
“Oh, yeah. That’s what I’m talkin’ about, baby.” Sorcha turned down a side street, heading for the farthest edge of the Gladium Province.
“What is this?” Ella snatched the paper from Sorcha’s hand. “We can’t go there. It’s a Morgon club, Jessen! We’re not allowed.”
“Oh, Ella. Relax.” I snatched the flier back and pointed at the headline. “Do you see who’s playing tonight? We have to go. For moral support.”
“Yeah, for moral support,” agreed Sorcha with a mischievous grin, tossing her dark red locks over one shoulder. “And to play with a little fire.”
I laughed. Ella didn’t.
“You two are crazy. Out-of-your-minds crazy. I don’t care if Jed’s band is playing. He knows we’re not allowed on that end of town, much less in one of their clubs.”
“Calm down.” I twisted in my seat. Ella looked like a wide-eyed doe frozen in the headlights. “First of all, that’s not true. It’s not illegal to go to a Morgon club.”
Ella needed a refresher course on desegregation laws, and how it was illegal for either race to bar anyone from a public place. Of course, my father might let a Morgon come into his place of business, but he’d never let one step foot in his house. Not unless there was money riding on it. Unlawful or not. Ella’s parents also fell into his line of thinking.
“Look. Other humans go all the time. Jed told me. I mean, why the hell would they hire a human band to play if it were against the law? Times are changing.” I wanted to believe it was true, whether or not my father was stuck in the dark ages of bigotry and discrimination.
Ella heaved a small sigh, voice almost a whisper. “But, my mom, she told me never to go to their side of the city.” I glanced over my shoulder. She twisted a blond curl around her index finger, a sure sign of distress for my timid friend. “It’s dangerous, Jessen. Your dad would kill you.”
“Hence, the very reason I snuck out of my apartment rather than let his henchmen tail me all night long, as usual.”
Sorcha zoomed into the Morgon district, the buildings transformed to suit the dragon-hybrid race—sharper, wider, taller, like mountains made of glass and steel.
“I don’t approve,” protested Ella.
Sorcha squeezed her car into a parking spot on a street where glittering clubs lined the block, then popped open her purse and applied a fresh coat of cherry-red lipstick in the rearview mirror.
I gave Ella my reassuring expression while Sorcha primped. “I know. Don’t worry. Jed wouldn’t invite us if he wasn’t sure it was safe. Now, come on. Let’s have some fun.”
“Wait!” Sorcha passed me the lipstick. “You look good in this.”
I applied and handed it back. “Better?”
“Luscious.” She winked. “Look out Morgon men.”
We walked the block in silence, taking in the towering sight of Acropolis at the end. At least ten stories of Gothic stone with wing-like buttresses and spires stabbing into the darkness above. Grotesque gargoyles glared down. The stone creatures drew my eye with their long limbs, sharp claws, wings spread wide, and gaping mouths, tongues lolling. Was this some kind of subliminal warning to beware of winged beasts?
Sorcha glanced up at one particular fiendish gargoyle, seeming as if it would leap off its pedestal at any moment. “Mmm. I’m feeling like a damsel in distress. How about you, Jess?”
“Um, isn’t this owned by the Nightwing clan?” asked Ella, sandwiched between us.
“Yep,” I replied.
Sorcha added more sway to her walk. “Awesome.”
Though the exterior reeked of an ancient time, an electric blue sign burned above a black door—Tonight: Red Dream. My heart skittered at the sight of the man checking IDs. I’d never seen a Morgon this close. We’d had a guest speaker in my Multicultural Literature class, but the Morgon woman, a poet, stood on the stage a good distance from the audience.
This guy was huge, a wall of bulging muscles. His brawny physique wasn’t what kept the three of us riveted to the spot. Massive wings—leathery, jagged, and magnificent—held us spellbound. The man cleared his throat to get our attention, gesturing inside with a crooked smile. “Welcome, ladies.”
“Such a gentleman,” said Sorcha, batting her bedroom eyes. As we stumbled into the club, she grabbed my shoulder and leaned in. “I think I’m in love.”
“Slow down, Sorcha. There are plenty more inside.”
Sure enough, there were.
Cate: What inspired you to write about the theme?
Juliette: I love the theme of forbidden love. And Shakespeare is a master storyteller. I’ve always wanted to try my hand at retelling one of his tragedies, but giving it an HEA.
Cate: Thanks for being part of the Halloween fun, Juliette! Have a spooktacular Halloween.
Here's more about Soulfire and Juliette:
SOULFIRE by Juliette Cross
Nightwing Series, Book 1
Genre: Urban Fantasy/Romance
Publisher: Lyrical Press/Kensington Publishing Corp.
Release Date: October 20, 2014
Book Length: 109 pages
In a world divided by prejudice and hatred, only love can bridge the chasm.
Tensions are rising in the Gladium Province. The boundary between humans and Morgons has begun to blur. While the human aristocracy strives to maintain distance between their daughters and the dragon-hybrid race, fate has other plans.
As the daughter of the corporate king, Jessen Cade is duty-bound to honor her arranged marriage to a man she detests. Feeling trapped by family duty and a loveless future, she longs for more, straying to the Morgon side of the city.
Lucius Nightwing is the eldest son of the powerful Morgon clan, and the greatest enemy of Jessen’s father. When a bar-room brawl thrusts Jessen into his arms, his dragon roars to the surface, craving to sate his carnal hunger in the brown-eyed beauty. The beast in Lucius recognizes her as his own, even if the man refuses to admit the truth.
Buy Links for Soulfire
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/soulfire-juliette-cross/1120138661?ean=9781616505615
Juliette calls lush, moss-laden Louisiana home where the landscape curls into her imagination, creating mystical settings for her stories. She has a B.A. in creative writing from Louisiana State University, a M.Ed. in gifted education, and was privileged to study under the award-winning author Ernest J. Gaines in grad school. Her love of mythology, legends, and art serve as constant inspiration for her works. From the moment she read JANE EYRE as a teenager, she fell in love with the Gothic romance--brooding characters, mysterious settings, persevering heroines, and dark, sexy heroes. Even then, she not only longed to read more novels set in Gothic worlds, she wanted to create her own.