Good morning everyone! Today’s author interview is very special, as it is my first interview for Dark Mind Book Tours! With me today, I have the lovely Danielle D. Smith, and we not only have an interview, but a review of her new book, Ghosts of Winter, an excerpt, AND a giveaway! You lucky, lucky people! 🙂
Danielle D. Smith is both a writer of gritty “outside the mainstream” paranormal tales, and an accomplished fine artist and illustrator whose visual work has appeared in various public, private, and gallery exhibitions and in national publications. In her career thus far she has studied everything from costuming to tattooing, and she is always on the hunt for the next great artistic adventure. Her books have been published under Solstice Publishing, Liquid Silver Books, and her own micro-press, Rebel Rose Publishing, and have hit the Amazon bestseller lists multiple times.
Dani lives in San Diego with a large number of books, indie flicks, and documentaries. Her stories appeal to dreamers, troublemakers, dark romantics, horndogs, and general escapists who are tired of the same old thing in the paranormal fiction world. She is the proud owner of a lovely little son named Ryker and several beautiful tattoos. Current projects include the graphic novel version of her wildly popular paranormal adventure tale, “Black Dog and Rebel Rose”, and Book II in the Psyche’s Gate Saga.
Hello Danielle, it’s great to have you here, welcome to my blog!
Greetings, my dear! I am thrilled and honoured to be here. 😉
As in all my interviews-random question first! One of the characters from your novel is half-demon, what would you be if you could be any supernatural creature?
Oh, that’s an awesome question. Being half-angel or half-demon seems a tad too complicated, despite the fact that I write within the angel/demon genre almost exclusively. In all truth? I would probably love to be a mermaid. I swim like a fish and would love to possess such beauty, grace, and seductive power.
Sounds awesome! So when did you realise you wanted to be a writer? Do you remember what inspired you?
I wanted to be a writer from an incredibly young age. My mother always talks about how I wrote some poem at the age of two…no joke! I wrote all through primary school—poetry and short stories and sections of novels I never finished—and then let writing go for a while as I wanted to only focus on art. I picked up writing again a few years ago as a stress reliever and, six books and three publishers later, I have never looked back!
Wow, I would have loved to have seen that poem! What books do you read? Do you read books in your genre, or books very different from it?
VERY different! I don’t care for most erotica—it tends to be sorely cheesy—and I have never liked standard romance. I tend to read horror, dark and weird fantasy, strange random edgy literature, cyberpunk, splatterpunk and “shock” fiction, historical and anthropological nonfiction, and old myths and legends.
A lot then-your TBR pile must be huge! Your novel, Ghosts of Winter, sounds really interesting. Can you tell us more about it?
Ghosts of Winter follows my most popular h/h, half-demon Skriker and his beloved Nephil (half-angel) Rose, as they travel to northern Sweden to help an old friend of Skriker’s battle a ghost haunting his property. It takes place during the Christmas season, and the entire story has a very icy, sparkling “winter fantasy” feel while also being very dark. The spirit the pair strikes out to hunt is pretty terrifying. The story is fast-paced, with tons of fantastic adventure and deep emotion, not to mention some really hot sex scenes and an ending that my fans have been waiting for a very long time. 😉
So what inspired this novel?
Two things: 1.) My fans begging to see Skriker and Rose finally tie the knot, and 2.) I have always wanted to throw a Christmas story out there for those that love to read holiday-themed PNR, but one that still stands out from the crowd.
Where can we find your novels?
Everywhere! Of course, you can find me via Amazon US, UK, DE, etc. and my website—www.danielledsmith.com– as primary sources, but you can also find my work through all the major booksellers, including Barnes and Noble, and all over the web, such as Fictionwise, AllRomance Ebooks, Smashwords, etc.
And what can we expect to see from you in the future?
Two huge comic book projects, the graphic novel version of my fantastically popular tale Black Dog and Rebel Rose, and a WWII themed comic book story with two other artists. I am also working on Skriker and Rose’s honeymoon tale, PUTTI, which will take place in Italy.
They sound fantastic, can’t wait to see them! Last random question! Tell us an interesting fact about yourself that most people wouldn’t know about you.
Going by my Facebook profile, lots of folks think I’m just a hardcore, tattooed, spiky-haired badass bitch on wheels. The truth? I love scented lotion, snuggling my stuffed Blue Bunny that I have had since I was born, and making a fool out of myself for my little infant son. Appearances can be deceiving. 😉
Absolutely, I’m with you on that one! You can find out more about Danielle D Smith on her blog. Thank you for being here, Danielle, any last words?
Your random quote of the day: Sometimes a girl just has to grab her balls, suck it up, and decide she’s going to survive. 😉 Do it through art, writing…and hell, a great book!
Couldn’t have said it better myself. It’s been great having you here. 🙂
Now for the excerpt, review, and giveaway! Scroll down, as there are two copies of Ghosts of Winter up for grabs, as well as a swag bag full of goodies!
The ice holds many secrets.
Dolph knew this well, remembered it well as he stood in his doorway, watching the snow tumble, glittering, from the winter-black sky outside his house. Six months of almost no sun—darkness ruled the far Northern lands this time of year, enveloping both icy countryside and glittering cityscape, and dark things dwelled in winter’s frigid grip. Snowflakes tumbled and whirled downward in a silent death’s dance, catching in Dolph’s hair as he watched the shiny jet black snowmobile come up the candle spruce and birch-lined road.
Snow sputtered and flew, glittering, as the machine glided smoothly up to the simple red-stained log house that Dolph had built a year and a half ago when he had chosen to move from the bustle of Stockholm to the remote tundra and woodland of Jokkmokk, near the Arctic Circle in the far north of his country. Two riders, clothed in black snowsuits and glossy black helmets, sat astride the snowmobile’s saddle. The driver stood up and dismounted, lifting his helmet off. An incredibly pale young man, his white-blond hair stabbing at the eternal night sky in high chunky spikes, his green eyes glinting impishly as he strode toward Dolph. The older man grinned hugely, the crinkles around his eyes deepening as he smiled.
“Äntligen hemma,” he said in Swedish, taking the younger man’s hand and shaking it roughly. “Home at last. Skriker…it’s been too long.”
Skriker laughed delightedly. “Hell, yes. It’s good to see you, too, you old wolf.”
Dolph looked beyond Skriker and at the other rider, who had dismounted and was walking slowly toward them. “You bring a friend with you?” he asked, smiling and winking.
Skriker grinned bigger than Dolph had ever seen, nodding. “Ja,” he said. “Någon mycket speciell. Someone very special.”
He winked roguishly, and Dolph grinned.
Dolph watched as the other rider removed her helmet; wild raven hair blew out into the wind, pristine snowflakes catching among the corkscrews and curls. A stunning face, made no less comely by the scars that marked each rosy cheek; strange eyes that evoked both fertile earth and windswept sea. The young woman nodded shyly and put out her gloved hand. Dolph, a big man despite his age, took it gently; as if afraid he would break her beautiful frame if he dared shake her hand too roughly. Only later would he learn how strong she truly was.
“Hello, Dolph,” she said softly. “My name is Rose.” She spoke in shy, hesitant Swedish, and it charmed the hell out of the older man. Dolph grinned hugely.
“You are both welcome,” he said in English. “It has been a long time since I saw my young friend here, in his mother’s homeland, especially during this time of year. I see that he has much to tell me. Come in, and bring your belongings.”
Rose followed him into the house as Skriker pulled their packs from the back of the snowmobile, stamping the snow from her boots and removing them. A crackling fire blazed in the big stone hearth, keeping the frigid cold at bay. The furnishings were streamlined and minimalist, much in the Scandinavian tradition: rugs of thick ivory sheepskin lined the polished wooden floors, and the house had been decorated merrily for the encroaching holiday. The walls were hung with brilliantly colored red, blue, green, and yellow weavings of the Sámi, the ancient native reindeer herders whom Dolph had chosen to spend his twilight years amongst, as well as the white, silvery grey, and grey-brown skins of reindeer harvested by his indigenous neighbors. The Christmas tree standing smartly in a windowed corner of the room filled the space with the spicy scent of pine. It was decorated merrily with what Scandinavian custom called for: brightly colored paper crafts, ribbons, straw Julbockgoats and ornaments, candles, and white lights that twinkled like stars among the branches. Many of the frost-tinted windows were decorated with candles and white hyacinths, and an electric star lantern hung in the window nearest the front door. Dolph directed her to a guest bedroom that had been prepared just for them; here she removed her snowsuit and aired out the dark blue knit sweater and black trousers she wore beneath it. Skriker came tramping in just as she emerged from the room, stamping the snow from his boots. He dumped their two packs by the door and removed his boots, sticking them neatly next to Rose’s before peeling his snowsuit off right there in the doorway. He shook his head like a dog, playfully, the snowflakes tumbling from his pale hair to melt upon the floor. Dolph laughed as he came striding in from his kitchen, carrying a bottle of vodka and three glasses.
“They still call you the Black Dog over there?” he asked as he sat down on the smart, contemporary sofa in front of the hearth, placing the liquor on the small coffee table. Rose moseyed over and sat down on a white padded chair just opposite the sofa, accepting her glass of vodka with a nod. Skriker shrugged as he strolled to the sofa and seated himself next to Dolph. The two men raised their glasses. “Skål,” the chimed together before sipping the clear liquor.
“Yep, and no better name for me,” Skriker said. “Still fighting, still hunting. Just like I always did.”
Dolph grinned and looked to Rose, his glacier-blue eyes thoughtful. “No, not the same,” he said. “That is obvious.”
Rose blushed, smiling shyly as she sipped her drink.
“My girlfriend,” Skriker said. “We met on a hunt, and that was it—lightning struck. Rosie’s the best hunter I’ve ever met. She can beat even me any day. I’m glad I finally got to bring her along on a hunt in the old Motherland.”
Dolph nodded to Rose. “Indeed. So, you hunt the Darkness?”
Rose shrugged. “I’m known to now and then.”
Skriker snorted. “Modest, my dear.”
Dolph chuckled and poured himself more vodka. “Good. I will need all the help I can get with the problems I have had here. I cannot thank you enough for coming…I know the journey was long. It has been unseasonably cold this year; the snow came early, even for a place this far north. I wanted to bring the best. Skriker, your man, is the best that I know. When I hunted, long ago, I had never seen a man to match him. You honor me, coming here.”
Dolph rose stiffly—he was, after all, almost sixty five, and the winter was colder and crueler every year on his aging bones—and strode up to the fire. The blazing hearth cast flickering orange light over him, turning his lined face to a ghoulish mask as he stared into the twisting flames. His long white hair shimmered like snow on his shoulders.
“I bought this land and built this house so that I could retire in peace and quiet,” he said softly. “Hunting in Stockholm was becoming weary work—I am merely human, after all, and my years grow shorter with each season’s turn. Chasing vampyres, dark faeries, elves, and trolls in and around the city was becoming too much; urban life was too much. I thought to be here would mean solitude and relaxation, a return to my youth—”
“Lagom,” Skriker said softly. Dolph chuckled, and his smile broke up some of the flickering orange-and-black mask that his face had become.
he said quietly. “Just enough. Nothing extreme…I have had enough of extremes to last me a hundred lifetimes. I came here, to Jokkmokk, to enjoy solitude and simplicity. Reading, drinking coffee, enjoying the hearth. Walking among the Sámi and their reindeer,leaning[EF1]
from them. No hunts, no dark things coming from the long winter nights.”
“You know better than that, Dolph,” Rose said quietly, her half-drunk vodka glass warming between her long hands. “You were a hunter. You saw too much to ever believe that there is peace in any long night, even when you seek to forget what’s out there.”
Dolph shook his head doggedly and downed the rest of his drink. He came back to the sofa and sat down beside Skriker, filling the younger man’s glass again, and then his own.
“It is my humble belief, lovely Rose, that there is still a peaceful night to be had. I remember many from my childhood, and some from my adulthood, before the night that I lost my wife.”
Rose leaned forward, her dark brows furrowing, her expression pained. “My God, Dolph…how terrible! How—”
Dolph raised a hand to silence her, not unkindly. “A story for another journey, when you return someday. What I have here now, haunting this land surrounding my new house…that is what we should discuss. Past is past.”
Rose averted her eyes and sipped her vodka.
“So what’s the story, Dolph?” Skriker asked. “You told me on the phone that it was in the house itself…you think you have a ghost on your hands?”
Dolph nodded. “Ja. Something that rattles at the latch and the windows, howls on the wind all around the house. At first, it was only the howling, doleful and chilling. The people who tend the herd near here have spoken of it to me as well. Soon, I began to see strange…how do you say…mist. Vapor. It crept in one night, floating across my floor…I saw it only that one night, not since, but it frightened me greatly. It broughtice into this house. Cold, deep and biting, unlike any I have ever known…I have tried to warm the house despite it, make it more cheerful. I even put up my tree quite early this year, if only to raise my own spirits.”
He turned his pale icy eyes to Skriker, and his aged mouth was a thin trembling line.
“People have died, out on the tundra,” he said quietly. “Only a month ago…they found one of the herders, dead among the reindeer. His body had been torn to shreds, as if by a huge and powerful beast. Blood frozen into the very earth. I feel in my bones that these acts of terrible violence against my neighbors are the result of what is haunting this property and the land surrounding it.”
Skriker was staring into the fire, his thick pale brows deeply furrowed; the look on his face was disturbingly pensive as he listened to the old Swede’s words. Rose leaned forward, setting her glass on the table as she stared at her companion, her face suffused with concern.
“Skrike, honey, what is it?”
Skriker shook his head slowly, his mouth a knife slash as he stared into the fire. Dolph set his hand on the younger man’s shoulder.
“Nothing…yet. Let me mull over this tonight and I’ll have some idea of what we’re looking at.”
Dolph lifted his glass one last time and tipped the remaining vodka down his throat. He harrumphed hoarsely, as old men do, and dug into a pocket of his sweater, pulling out a pack of cigarettes. He offered it around; Skriker accepted, Rose did not. She gazed at Skriker for a long tense moment before rising to her feet and nodding to their host.
“I’m going to turn in. Thank you for your hospitality, Dolph. I look forward to speaking with you more in the morning.”
Dolph nodded as he lit his cigarette. “I only wish I could offer you more, Rose. Have a pleasant night.”
Skriker was still staring into the fire when Rose vanished into the guest room at the back of the house, his jade eyes narrow. He plugged the cigarette Dolph had offered into the corner of his mouth and lit up demon style, inhaling the acerbic smoke with deep pleasure. Dolph glanced at him, pinching his own fag between his long, lined fingers and gesturing toward where Rose had been sitting only a few moments before.
“She isn’t human, is she?” he asked quietly. Skriker shrugged.
“She’s half human.”
“And what? Half demon, like you?”
“Oh, no. You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.”
Dolph grinned, his pale, intense eyes twinkling, the deep lines around them crinkling in amusement.
“How many hunts did we go on when you were in Stockholm? And you still think that I would not believe your words, my fine young friend.”
Skriker laughed softly. “Fine. What would you think if I told you that you had a Nephil under your roof tonight?”
Dolph snorted. “I’d say you were crazy, Halfling. They don’t exist, and if they did, God did away with them millennia ago.”
Skriker glanced at the older man, his jade eyes glittering in the firelight. “You do have a Nephil under your roof.”
He jerked his head in the direction of the guest room. “Her.”
Dolph slowly looked back into the fire, slipping his cigarette between his lips; his hand trembled slightly as he did. He smoked silently for a few moments, his watery blue eyes unblinking. Finally he said, “Does she frighten you?”
Skriker shrugged. “Sometimes. What scares me more is the thought of losing her… she’s everything to me. You should have seen her that first night I ran with her, Dolph…the female equivalent of the most beautiful, finely-honed blade you could imagine. The first time I laid eyes on her, it was like fireworks went off, and it wasn’t just my willy talking.”
Dolph chuckled. “That would be a change.”
Skriker grinned, shooting a playful wink. “Tell me about it, old wolf.”
“She’s done you good, then?”
Skriker nodded. “She’s made me a better man…she’s made me care more. Made me a hell of a lot less selfish. I have a lot to thank her for.”
“Does she have any abilities?”
Skriker’s eyes took on a distant look. Outside, the wind mumbled about the walls and rattled at the latch. A knot of wood on the fire popped like a small gunshot, sending sparks swirling wildly up the chimney, so many bright embers eager to die out in the bitter night.
“Oh, yes. Her father gave her gifts like I’ve never seen…I have demon fire in me, but her fire is the Heavenly type…this white blazing glory that the paintings hanging in the Vatican can’t come close to touching. She can talk to animals, seek out spirits…she can exorcise with a touch. She can speak telepathically…she’ll probably be able to spot what you have here more easily than me. That’s part of what makes her such a great hunter—these abilities. A shifter stole her away once while we were on a hunt in New Mexico, and he only kept her as long as he did because he could put her under a sleeping spell. She would have killed him if he hadn’t. She’s amazing, Dolph. She’s gonna be the one that can uncover what’s been bugging you here, using those very gifts.”
Dolph poured himself another half glass of vodka and took a long swig, his throat clicking as he swallowed.
“I am sixty five years old, and I discover new things every day,” he muttered. “I never imagined I would ever see anything born of Heaven, from the highest branches of the great ash…this earth is ruled primarily by the darker spheres, that which is contained at its roots. Meeting Rose gives me hope. To meet an angel, especially during such a sacred time…I welcome this as a gift.”
He downed the rest of his vodka and set the empty glass down on the coffee table before rising stiffly to his feet.
“I will bid you a good night, Skriker, and pray that the darkness remains outside long enough for you to rest at least one night after your long journey. Of course, as you will recall, the night is almost eternal here this time of year.”
Skriker grinned and flicked a salute and shook the old man’s hand. “I remember very well indeed. Sleep well, old wolf.”
He sat up for a while after Dolph had retreated to his room, smoking another cigarette as he watched the fire dance and flicker in the stone hearth, his sharp ears tuned to every gust of wind that sighed its way around the eaves of the house. When he was heading back to the guest room to join Rose, he paused for the barest moment, certain that he heard a doleful, wailing cry echo across the frozen snowbound wastes outside his old friend’s door.
A cry that was there and then gone, torn away on the freezing wind like a slip of paper.
Rose was lying awake when he came into the guest bedroom. She had bathed while he and Dolph sat up talking, and now was nestled in the big platform bed, snuggled deep beneath the quilts and thick blankets, gazing at him with those strange, lovely eyes. He glanced at the bedside table, took quick note of the wicked-looking iron knife placed there.
Already taking precautions, eh, Rosie? That’s my girl…
“What happened, Skrike?”
Skriker peeled off his sweater and then the t-shirt he had been wearing beneath that and crouched shirtless before the small bedroom hearth, stoking a fire that danced and crackled merrily, throwing its bright orange glow across the thick rustic
“What happened with what?” he asked.
Skriker was silent for a moment, chewing his lip as he placed another chunk of wood onto the fire. Sap sizzled and sparks danced their swirling way up the chimney and out into the frosty night.
“Remember New Mexico? How that shifter stole you away?”
“Of course. How could I forget?”
Skriker nodded brusquely. “Yeah. She was…well, a special girl. I’m sure he’ll tell you about it sometime. From what he’s told me, the Scandinavian equivalent of the Fey took her. They have ruled the forests and wastes in this country since time immemorial, and if you piss them off, you pay. You know how faeries and elf folk are. Not too far removed from the demonic kind…tricksters and all. He pissed them off, they took her…and he never got her back.”
“That’s terrible…just terrible…Jesus…”
He tossed a last block of wood onto the fire and stood up, turning to her. She sat there gazing at him, her face forlorn at his words. His mouth twisted, his green eyes taking on a wistful look.
“Look,” he said softly, “I know that all you wanted a little downtime with me this Christmas. No hunts, no blood, no bullshit. And me bringing you all the way up here was one hell of a journey. But I’m so glad you’re here with me, baby. This place—”
He raised his arms, as if gesturing toward the frozen tundra and forests that surrounded the house, his tight tattooed skin shimmering faintly in the firelight.
“—this land…holds more magic for me than I could ever explain. This is where my human side was born. And having you set foot on Swedish soil with me…I think my mom would have been thrilled, Rosie.”
Rose just gazed at him silently, her strange eyes gleaming in the soft yellow firelight, and the melancholy in her face made his heart ache. He offered an impish grin and reached down, unbuttoning his trousers.
“Hey,” he said. “You know how to keep warm on a cold Swedish night, right, Rosie?”
Half-demon supernatural hunter Skriker and his lover, the Nephil huntress Rose, are looking forward to nothing more than a little downtime for the holidays. But when an urgent call comes in from Skriker’s checkered past, hopes for a quiet Yuletide are quickly buried by a desperate request for help…and the hunt is on.
The notorious pair travels to Jokkmokk, Sweden to battle an ancient and angry force haunting the rural property of a retired hunter who once ran with Skriker in his youth. There they will discover that the ice holds many secrets…and sometimes those secrets can be deadly.
**Publisher’s Warning: This ain’t your grandma’s Christmas tale! Contains foul language, violence, and sex so steamy it could melt glacial ice!**
I loved the scenery in this novel. The author has clearly done her homework, and everything was perfectly described-I could practically feel the cold snow! The characters were wonderful as well, full of life and vividness. I especially liked the little quips that each of her characters have; floundering hero and heroines these are not! The writing itself was rich and well-paced, drawing you into the story with a well-deserved pace. There were quite a few moments were I was either grinning or gasping in horror. There was a magical feel to this book, due in part that the author has created two entirely new kinds of character which I haven’t seen in other books. Although the two main characters are half-angel and half-demon, it isn’t as easily worked out as you would think! The descriptions were beautiful as well, especially the description of the wedding gown. Oh, and the sex scenes were steamy hot. 😀
There were one or two spelling and grammar errors in the book-and I mean literally that, just two or three-so it certainly wouldn’t be enough to put me off reading it again. Also, I feel that this book is not one of those in a series which you can read separately; I feel you would need to read the previous books to understand this one properly. I only say this because there were a few points in the book where it referred to an earlier book, and I found it difficult to follow the storyline of these points. Having said that, I personally still enjoyed the book on its own merits.
This book was wonderful. Despite the fact that you may have to read previous books in the series to really enjoy this one, this could certainly be seen as a good thing, because now I have to go and get all of Danielle’s other books! 😀 This was a beautifully written book that had a little bit of everything; romance, horror, suspense, and drama. I would suggest this to anyone who is looking for something different from the usual paranormal novels that has a strong, heart-pounding storyline to match.
I give it a strong…..4/5 stars!
And now for the giveaway!!! To enter, simply put your name and email in the form below, and answer the question, to get the chance to win a copy of Danielle’s ebooks or a swag bag! The contest will end on the 19th July, and the winners will be contacted then. Good luck!