Welcome, Isobella Cate!
What do the words ‘writer’s block’ mean to you?
Writer’s block is when I have the words in my head but cannot put it to paper. It’s when I’m stumped as to what happens next and my mojo is quiet. Writer’s block can also be self-doubt – when you compare yourself to other writers and think your writing isn’t good enough – and you lose the zest for writing.
Writer’s block is like a death knell if it doesn’t lift.
Do you read your book reviews? If yes, how do you process negative reviews?
I used to and I am fortunate to have more good reviews than negative ones. At first it stung when I read a negative review; then I grew to accept that not everyone will like my books. There will always be people who nitpick and if I allowed their comments affect me, I won’t get any writing done. Eventually, I’ve stopped reading them and just keep writing. It’s more productive to write.
If you could time travel, would you go back or forward in time?
In one word, describe yourself.
Do you find yourself getting emotional when you write? Is there a scene that sticks out as being the most emotional to write?
Yes, lots of times! The one that made me emotional was a scene in my paranormal romance novel, Midnight’s Paradox, when Cynn Cruor warrior Blake Strachan met his nemesis Scatha Cruor Herod D’Argyle.
What are you working on now? Can you give us a sneak peek?
I’m working on Firebinders: Fleur. It’s the second book of the Firebinders series which is a spin off from my more popular Cynn Cruors Bloodline series. The Firebinders are mortals with long life spans whose blood heals or kills.
Here is the prologue:
New Year’s Eve 1904
Times Square, New York
Ellery Mellisande led his family through the shoulder-to-shoulder crowd in Times Square, trying to find a gap where they could regroup. It was not the best of places to make arrangements that would forever change their lives but they had no choice.
It was their turn to be hunted down.
He glanced over his shoulder. Genevieve held his hand tightly, giving him a short reassuring smile belying the fear and anguish swimming in her dark blue green gaze. Behind her, their daughter, Angelique, was breathing through her mouth, her head thrown back staring at the dark sky. Taking the rear, her twin brother, Alain, had taken off his flat cap, his face grim as perspiration dripped from his temple even in the freezing cold.
“Papa.” Angelique’s voice was faint, her skin pale under the kaleidoscope of fireworks.
Ellery didn’t need further prodding. Despite the curses surrounding them, he and Genevieve pulled Angelique to the front of the line.
“Over there,” he shouted as they all inched their way, stepping on shoes and trekking at a turtle’s pace until they reached an alley miraculously devoid of revellers waiting to welcome January 1st, 1905.
Angelique stumbled into the open space as Ellery pulled his wife and son through the bodies forming a barrier between claustrophobia and the open air.
Genevieve rushed to her daughter who was leaning and gripping the wooden crates stacked by the side of the brick building.
“Are you alright?” Genevieve asked above the sound of revellers, her white linen and lace dress rumpled and stained with dirt and sweat. Her hair was unpinned from the Gibson girl bouffant chignon atop her head.
Ellery looked at his family all of them taking huge amounts of slightly ammonia smelling air. But it was better than being trapped in between bodies that he, too, had felt the threatening invasion of swooning.
Swooning was for women.
They all looked at each other. Angelique had lost the pale blue satin ribbon that kept half of her golden-brown hair tied at the back of her head.
“This is the only place we can talk,” he said. “A safe place and time to decide what needs to be done.”
“No,” Genevieve cried, vehemence and anger mixing with the tears forming in her eyes.
* * * *
She was going to collapse.
She felt her hand being tugged forward but in a sea of bodies jostling for a place to watch the first ball drop on New Year’s Eve from the Times Building. She was only vaguely aware that her right hand was in her mother’s grip, while her left held the strong and reassuring hand of her twin brother, Henrí.
“Angelique, not long now.”
Her mother’s voice floated about her, crossing the heads and faces of New York. She could hardly feel the cold air and her thick cot was making her over heat.
Immaru help me.
She looked up at the starlit sky, hoping to catch a clear pocket of air she could drag into her lungs. To her right, the top of the Times Building rose to the sky, its stark white façade made dirty by the smog that was becoming the fixture of the city. The number ‘1905’ remained dim, only illuminated by the street lights. Soon it would be ablaze from the fireworks promised by the New York Times’ owner, Alfred Ochs.
“Papa…I don’t…” Tried as she might Angelique couldn’t get air into her lungs. The crowd crushed into whatever minute space around her.
Suddenly, Henrí and her mother pushed her forward to her father and they hauled their way forward amidst the curses and glares of some of the revellers.
“My daughter is about to collapse,” Ellery roared above the grumblings. That declaration caused a narrow path to appear ahead of them. They all rushed through before the bodies closed behind Henrí.
They were free.
Angelique stumbled into the dark alley, walking like a drunk to the crates stacked one after the other. She never suffered from claustrophobia; but the dense New Year’s Eve crowd and the reason for why they had departed their home in a hurry had triggered the panic attack that had led to this.
She gathered her skirts when she sat, careful not to let it fall on the piss-ridden floor.
“Are you alright?” Her mother helped her straighten up then cupped her face. Genevieve brushed the damp tendrils away from her face.
“I’ll be fine, Mama,” she said as she inhaled. It wasn’t the purest of air but a cold wave passed through and she was able to breathe more. Neither was she overheating.
Neither were her family.
Henrí’s face, ruddy while they traversed through the crowd regained his colour. And just like Angelique, the fire he had inside him settled down.
The rest of her family took a crate and sat down. Just like Angelique, Genevieve raised the hem of her skirts above their laced-up boots.
“What’s happened?” Henrí asked, wiping his brow with the back of his hand before putting his flat cap back on. “I have to get back to the hospital.”
Angelique saw the anguish flicker between her parents. Her stomach plummeted.
“It’s time, isn’t it?” she asked in a small voice almost unheard over the voices of New York. Fear and heartache tightened her chest.
Her father looked at her, his eyes filled with despair. Her mother covered her face with one hand while her other hand was locked with her father’s.
He nodded. “It’s time.”
At the mouth of the alley, people began chanting.
They all stood.
Angelique flung herself against her parents, her heart breaking into a million pieces.
Alain embraced her, and his arms wrapped around his parents’ shoulders as they all huddled together one last time.
“We haven’t got much time.” Ellery pulled away from their family embrace. Henrí, Angelique, take care of each other.”
Her father glanced furtively at the crowd.
“We will meet up in the lodge on Catskills in a year’s time, to the day. Is that understood?”
Angelique and her brother nodded vigorously; their fingers tightly entwined.
“Go straight to the new house. Here’s the key.” Her father removed a chain around his neck. “Follow our plan to the letter and we’ll be fine.”
“We have to go.”
“One! Happy New Year!”
Angelique's face crumpled; her sobs lost in the cacophony of joyous shouts. Her arms tightened around her father, mother, and Henrí. They all embraced each other once more, her father whispering one phrase as they huddled for the last time.
“Find Marek Bannach!”
Copyright © Isobelle Cate 2021