Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Canine Hero

Posted by: Jeffe Kennedy
Today I'm celebrating the release of a new Urban Fantasy, NIGHTMARE INK, written by my friend and critique partner, Marcella Burnard. Please give her a warm welcome for her guest post!

Allow me to introduce Riley. Isn’t that a handsome smile? He’s a red heeler who belongs to my friends Emily Olesin and Alden Denny. For a couple of years, they all lived across the dock from me, until the three of them abandoned Seattle in favor of Norway.

At any rate, Riley is the real life model for the dog in NIGHTMARE INK. In the book, I changed his name to Augustus, but everything else remains the same. He’s a willful, opinionated handful who’s convinced he’s a lapdog. He’s a tripod – both in real life and in the book. When Riley was a puppy, long before my friends adopted him, one of his rear legs was badly broken and had to be amputated. It doesn’t slow him down much and it’s possible it contributes to the HUGE chip Riley has on his shoulder. No one is quite sure whether that’s Riley trying to prove he can DO ALL THE THINGS! Or whether that’s just a red heeler trait. They are herding dogs who are generally happiest when there’s a job to do. Riley’s self-appointed duty was to keep the dock clear of birds. I think most of the boaters who hated washing seagull poop from their boats appreciated his efforts.

Gus lives in an apartment rather than on a sailboat, but I wanted that same ginormous attitude combined with delusions of lap dog-dom. Like Riley, Gus is very specific about who he likes and who he doesn’t.

Cute and all, right? Only one problem. Like most people who end up with a pet, I didn’t fully comprehend the consequences when I gave Isa, the heroine of NIGHTMARE INK a dog. She has a cat, too, who I’ll write about her tomorrow. The thing is, few people go into pet ownership (whether that’s you owning the pet, or the pet owning you) without at least a little bit of thought. It’s just that the reality of a dog that chews table legs, shoes, and sometimes pees in the floor occasionally comes as a shock.

It was one thing to blithely give Isa a dog who has to be walked and fed and played with because I thought, “Hey! Wouldn’t it be cool for her to have a dog just like my favorite canine neighbor?” And it was! There’s a scene of Isa walking Gus. The two of them play a game that Riley plays with Emily all the time – he jumps up and grabs hold of the leash near Emily’s hand and he hangs there huffing breath out through his mouth in a doggy laugh until Emily’s arm strength fails. Oh, it is great fun. Gus plays the same game with Isa in the book.

It’s just. Things happen in NIGHTMARE INK that make having animals massively inconvenient. So much so, I contemplated cutting them entirely. I couldn’t. I’d already fallen for them. So had the characters in the book. The result, as I struggled to write a story that juggled the existence of the dog and the cat, was a story colored very differently than the one I’d planned. Having Gus, and the cat, Ikylla, rooted Isa in a way I hadn’t anticipated. That served the story well, I think. It’s an emotionally richer experience. I hope.

And Gus has a part to play in Isa’s story. I’ll admit up front that I don’t know all that much about dogs – I’m not familiar with canine body language or behavioral issues since I grew up with cats. I hope it doesn’t show through in Gus. I want to be true to his nature – to Riley’s nature.

Course, I’ve always heard I shouldn’t write characters based on anyone I know so I don’t get sued. Do you suppose if Riley decides to sue, I’ll be able to pay him off with kibble?

NIGHTMARE INK is available April 15, 2014

With the needle of a tattoo gun, Isa Romanchzyk has the power to create and destroy. In her shop Nightmare Ink, Isa helps those in need by binding the powers embedded in their Live Ink—the magical tattoos that can enhance the life of the wearer, or end it. But binding tattoos has earned Isa the contempt of her fellow artists—including her former lover Daniel.

When a friend comes to the shop with a tattoo on the verge of killing him, Isa can’t turn him away. For the first time in years, she works Live Ink into someone’s skin—something she swore she’d never do again. But breaking her vow soon becomes the least of her problems.

Isa is horrified to discover her friend’s body in the shop, but the real nightmare begins when she’s abducted and inked against her will. Now, as she seeks retribution from the man who betrayed her, Isa must figure out how to bind her Living Tattoo before it consumes her completely…


Marcella Burnard graduated from Cornish College of the Arts with a degree in acting. She writes science fiction romance for Berkley Sensation. Her first book, Enemy Within won the Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice award for Best Futuristic of 2010. The second book in the series, Enemy Games, released on May 3, 2011. An erotica novella, Enemy Mine, set in the same world as the novels was released as an e-special edition by Berkley in April 2012. Emissary, a sword and sorcery short story released in the two volume Thunder on the Battlefield Anthology in the second half of 2013. Nightmare Ink, an Urban Fantasy novel from Intermix available April 15, 2014


  1. As someone else who has written pets into plots, I can relate, Marcella. Riley sounds awesome. Loved reading about him and your book. :)

  2. Thank you to Here Be Magic and to Jeffe Kennedy for hosting me and Riley on NIGHTMARE INK's release day!

  3. Yes, I'm another who has to have a dog in there somewhere. In The Tudor Enigma, I have made up a breed called greysprings who help their magician owners. If you want to see what a greyspring looks like, search for 'silken windhound'.


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