Please tell us about your latest release.
Omnipotent Blood is the second of four books in my Urban Fantasy Sisters in Blood series. The supernatural world expands in this installment, with Angels, Demons and witches joining the fray, which made it really enjoyable to write. The book blurb is below:
Having survived the attack inside the Natick Mall, Brooke dreads the thought of spending decades in exile while she waits for the media firestorm from the superhuman brawl to run its course. But soon after fleeing Boston, she discovers the battle caught the eye of forces far more lethal than humans. Captured by the dark Goddess Lilith, Brooke has her soul stripped away, becoming a greater demon tasked with leading Hell’s forces to war.
But not even Lilith could have anticipated the powerful bond Brooke has formed with her family. Or the unlikely alliances they’d forge in an attempt to save her. Her love for Sienna and her sisters prevents her from fully embracing the darkness, but the demon spirit inside her is claiming more control of her mind with each passing day. It’s a race against time, and the whole world is at stake.
Was one of your characters more challenging to write than another?
With Brooke being under the influence of very dark forces for a large portion of the book (and not just in a “tranced” robot, can’t control my body sort of way), it made it challenging to write from her very altered and sometimes disturbing point of view while providing readers with enough signs that there is a piece of her deep down that is still fighting to give them hope. She goes through hell—literally—before ultimately finding her salvation. She wrestles with her sexuality and her faith as well, and is thrust into a leadership position she isn’t at all prepared for, waging a demon-on-demon war (featuring dragons, minotaurs and all kinds of other fantastic creatures) with the fate of mankind at stake. There are so many aspects of her character that are developed in this book. She truly is not the same person by the end.
What is your favorite scene from the book? Could you share a little bit of it, without spoilers of course?
here are a lot of them J If I had to pick I’d say it’s when she explores the valleys of hell for the first time atop her sister she’s transformed into a dragon. An excerpt from this scene is below:
“Rise, Ruby,” I commanded.
Once she’d climbed to her feet, I dissolved her gown and motioned for her to climb up onto the altar. Having been told what was to come next, she placed her hands and feet within easy reach of the iron shackles, allowing me to quickly secure them. Knowing I was about to make my now-paralyzed sister immortal filled me with such happiness I couldn’t resist raising her veil and giving her a loving peck on the cheek.
Lilith placed her tri-bladed dagger in the palm of my hand. The black-vial handle had Mary Antoinette Jewel written across its face in the same stylish font and striking crimson lettering as mine had been. I’d never heard her middle name before. While I took a moment to focus on my target, part of me absently wondered why her parents had chosen it.
With a quick lunge, I plunged the twisted steel deep into Ruby’s heart. She let out a faint gurgling noise before she stopped breathing and her heart went silent. Thanks to Hanna, the jeweled golden candle holder was already sitting next to the altar, ready and waiting for me. I inserted the ceremonial black candle and whispered the simple incantation I’d memorized from the grimoire I’d been given. The eerie black flame hissed to life, rising high above the candle.
The sound of my own voice echoed through the temple as I began to recite the first chant and dance around my sister’s prone body. Just as with Aimie, the demonic candle spoke to my spirit, letting me know when and where to place the wax to help dislodge her soul. My body moved on its own accord as I wove the enchanting spell, calling to Ruby’s spirit like a siren leading a ship toward its watery grave. I was so lost in the ceremony by the time I’d completed the last of the chants Lilith had to shake me just to bring me back to my own body.
“Someone’s been practicing,” she said with a beaming smile on her face. “I could not have performed the harvesting ceremony any better myself. Now hand me your sister’s soul so you can call forth her ignis demon spirit.”
I eagerly did as she instructed, unsnapping the vial from the center of the three twisted blades still buried to the hilt inside Ruby’s chest. Rather than tucking it away to be filed in the vault as I expected, Lilith raised the small black cylinder to her mouth. Her tongue sharpened to a needle-like point and penetrated the seal before she tossed her head back and began to feed. Watching her consume my sister’s soul was surprisingly difficult for me. I knew she’d be feeding off my own soul soon enough—if she hadn’t already—and as demons we no longer had any use for them, anyway, but there was still a startling sense of finality to it. Slowly the elegant red lettering began to fade, marking the end of her soul’s existence. By the time Lilith finished feeding, her body was glowing so brightly I had to avert my eyes to keep from being blinded.
Seeing my sister’s still form lying on the altar made me quit wondering about what our goddess would be able to do with her newfound power, and I was able to focus on completing Ruby’s conversion. I carefully withdrew the dagger from her heart, breathing a huge sigh of relief when it began to beat again.
The summoning spell for an ignis demon was far more complex than the spell for a succubus, as it required a greater concentration of the darkness to form such a powerful spirit. After conducting a final practice rehearsal inside my mind, I raised my arms high above my head and began to sing out the lengthy chant. By the time I was halfway through, sentient black smoke-like tendrils began to seep up from the depths below and coalesce around my sister’s body. I continued to sing as they forced their way into her mouth and eyes and between her legs. Fearing I would get distracted, I turned away when her body began to mutate, choosing to watch the dark tendrils rise up from the depths of Hell instead. When the last of the smoke disappeared behind me, a fierce roar bellowed through the temple. I turned to find myself face to face with a seventy-foot-long dragon.
Ruby lowered her enormous head so I could rub the scaly red skin between her nostrils. Grayish horns protruded from the top of her skull, but the rest of her countless bony growths—including the spikes that ran the length of her spine down to the tip of her tail—were blood red like her body. Her striking brown eyes were the same color as when she was in her human form, allowing me to see a bit of my sister within the beast. Unfortunately there wasn’t room inside the temple for her to extend her majestic wings. The confined space seemed to be upsetting her.
Feeling a little suicidal, I leaned forward and placed a soft kiss on her snout. “You are so beautiful, Ruby. Can you understand me?”
She nodded, inadvertently knocking me onto my rear. I laughed as I climbed back to my feet. “Easy with the gestures there, sis. I’d say you’re like a bull in a china shop, but you could eat a bull in one gulp.”
She let out a little snort that I took for her version of a laugh. When she opened her enormous mouth to reveal her six foot fangs I couldn’t help taking a step back from her. It was like looking down the throat of a lion, only a thousand times scarier.
I couldn’t figure out what she was trying to tell me by holding her mouth open until Lilith spoke up. “She wants you to climb inside, my young general. To prove you still trust her.”
The are-you-nuts, wide-eyed look I shot back made her and Hanna both laugh. “Look at the bright side. Even if she eats you, I’ll be able to piece your body back together once you come out the other end. No harm done.”
“How comforting,” I growled back at her. Being remade from a steaming pile of dragon poop. There’s an image I’d never get out of my head. Still, if my sister wanted to eat me, she could have done it by now.
I slowly walked forward, stepping over the two-foot-tall teeth in her lower jaw to climb inside her mouth. When she lifted the base of her forked black tongue toward my butt, I figured she wanted me to sit and eased myself down onto the sandpaper-like skin. She carefully closed her jaws until I was cocooned inside in complete darkness. Suddenly her tongue shot forward. I let out a scream as she knocked my legs out from under me, sending me sprawling onto my back. The sides of her tongue rolled around my body, wrapping me up like a burrito before my sister was on the move. I could hear stone breaking apart as she lunged forward on her powerful lizard-like legs. Soon the ground dropped out from under us.
The thunderous flapping of her powerful wings shook her entire body almost like the gallop of a horse. After the initial nausea from my tilt-a-whirl ride, I began to enjoy the feeling of us being airborne and wished I could see where we were going. “Can you fly with your mouth open a bit without dropping me?” I yelled out, hoping she could hear me above the noise. The scorching air I was somehow growing accustomed to came whistling through her teeth as her mouth cracked apart just wide enough for me to peer through.
We were flying above a vast ocean of bright orange magma. Off in the distance I began to make out what looked like the ruins of a sprawling coastal city. Giant granite statues of my god and his daughter stood like sentinels on the high cliffs above the port. Skeletons of mile-wide castles and long-abandoned arenas littered the ground we passed above, as did the foundations of thousands of homes. Further inland, the tracks of ground were sectioned off and plowed in neat rows. Farms had once spanned from one horizon to the other. Now all that was left was an endless stretch of charred, lifeless soil. It was like looking at a post-apocalyptic earth. If I didn’t utterly despise our enemies before seeing such indisputable evidence of the genocide they’d committed, I certainly did now. Soon the angels would pay for what they’d done to our homeland. They’d all pay.
Can you tell readers a little bit about the world building in the book/series? How does this world differ from our normal world?
While the bulk of the story occurs on our modern-day earth, Brooke visits both heaven and hell, which in my book are entirely different worlds unlike anything described in the bible with a rich and violent history stretching back countless millennia. As is true in all wars, both sides have committed atrocities as a means to an end, and while the angels are definitely “the good guys”, they are far from innocent. The reader is forced to wrestle with that fact, and will likely find themselves empathizing with Brooke’s altered POV at times.
With the book being part of a series, are there any character or story arcs, that readers jumping in somewhere other than the first book, need to be aware of? Can these books be read as stand alones?
Omnipotent Blood contains its own unique plot arc and can be read as a stand-alone. Both the central conflict and the primary antagonists are introduced in this installment. I drop in short character and plot point refreshers in the first couple of chapters as well. Obviously readers would benefit from having read Dangerous Waters but they wouldn’t have to in order to enjoy Omnipotent Blood.
Do you find it difficult to write in multiple genres?
I enjoy writing in both the Urban Fantasy and Fantasy genres. I find Urban Fantasy writing to be a little easier. By being rooted in the “real” world, it provides the author and reader with an established foundation to tie the magical / supernatural elements into. If, on the other hand, your world is full of carnivorous jasperia vines, soul stealing mist clouds and all manner of unique creatures, you need to get the reader’s head around these elements in addition to introducing the main plot and your central characters. On the other hand, Fantasy writing provides a blank canvas for the author which is incredibly endearing to me. I hold Laini Taylor (Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Days of Blood and Starlight) in high regard as a Fantasy Author and have learned a great deal from her writing.
Other than writing, what are some of your interests, hobbies or passions in life?
My wife and I love hiking and viewing wildlife. We have been to Yellowstone National Park four times. Someday I’d love to retire there. After twenty years of marriage we still go on a date night ever Saturday, which typically consists of catching a movie and eating at one of our favorite restaurants. I am a lifelong New England Patriots fan, back to the early seventies, and played football in both high school and college. I grew up playing sports, hunting and fishing with my three brothers and our dad. And I am an avid reader, of course. I may have to build a new wing onto our house soon if I keep devouring novels at my current pace J
What was the last amazing book you read?
The Name of the Wind (Kingkiller Chronicles, Day 1) by Patrick Rothfuss. Patrick is a gifted storyteller, and the book is presented in a really unique way, going back in time to explain how the protagonist became the legend he is while occasionally cutting back to the present time. The style reminded me a bit of The Notebook, although even modern day in this case is in the middle of the series plat arc. At some point in book 3 or so we will catch up with where the narrator is in time then be treated to seeing what happens from that point forward. It’s kind of dystopian fantasy.
Where is your favorite place to read? Do you have a cozy corner or special reading spot?
Typically in bed, although if it’s been a long day that can present challenges with trying to stay awake. If I’m being especially bad on a weekend (letting myself read for hours rather than write) the recliner in the man cave is my preferred spot.
What can readers expect next from you?
I am currently working on a fantasy romance called Kerrigan’s Race that features a female Olympic swimmer who is captured and taken to a foreign water world full of mermaids, griffins and countless other creatures. The Greek and Roman pantheons play a huge role in the story, with Neptune and Poseidon ruling over their world. I will also begin working on book three in the Sisters in Blood series soon.
Sisters in Blood
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Freya’s Bower
Date of Publication: October 6, 2015
Number of pages: 294
Word Count: 117,529
Cover Artist: LLPix Design
Having survived the attack inside the Natick Mall, Brooke dreads the thought of spending decades in exile while she waits for the media firestorm from the superhuman brawl to run its course. But soon after fleeing Boston, she discovers the battle caught the eye of forces far more lethal than humans. Captured by the dark Goddess Lilith, Brooke has her soul stripped away, becoming a greater demon tasked with leading Hell's forces to war.
But not even Lilith could have anticipated the powerful bond Brooke has formed with her family. Or the unlikely alliances they'd forge in an attempt to save her. Her love for Sienna and her sisters prevents her from fully embracing the darkness, but the demon spirit inside her is claiming more control of her mind with each passing day.
As she drew closer I got a good look at her face. The tiny hairs on the back of my neck tingled. I’d seen her before—the creepy room service girl at the hotel who’d held my wrist for about five seconds after I’d taken my glass of wine. “Am I supposed to believe that you just happened to show up here? A hundred and fifty miles from the hotel you work at?”
She grinned, securing her thick, wavy hair in a ponytail. “Of course not—although I don’t actually work at the hotel.” She made a wide sweeping gesture with her arm toward the wreckage. “Who do you think caused the accident?”
This whole encounter was freaking me out. Fuck being discrete. I visualized her flying backward into the snow bank. In an instant the strange connections formed in my mind, physically linking me to all of the cars, people and debris that surrounded me. I didn’t want to hurt her—not yet, anyway—so I only pushed hard enough to send her sailing about fifteen yards into the ditch.
She laughed as she climbed to her feet, shaking the snow off her designer outfit. “It’s been a while since I’ve been knocked on my ass. Impressive.”
I’d never felt so dumbfounded in my life. Even if this psycho bitch was used to fighting my kind it was unlikely she’d ever crossed paths with another telekinetic. She was acting like I’d crafted a wiener dog out of a balloon at the fair. “What the hell are you?”
“I need you to come with me,” she said, making no effort to respond to my question. “And since you seem to be immune to being bound—I’ve been trying ever since you got out of the car—you’re going to have to consume my blood first.”
“I’m not going anywhere with you!” Where the hell were Sienna, Raven and Sandy? Ruby’s escalade might be shielding them from seeing the encounter, but even if it did, I wasn’t exactly being quiet. And Ruby was staring right at us.
“Your coven sisters can’t see or hear you.” She’d apparently guessed my thoughts by the direction I was looking. “A simple illusion. To them you appear as if you’re still sitting in the passenger seat like you were told.”
“Enough!” Her voice boomed with unnatural power, causing me to take an involuntary step backward. “I have no desire to harm you, child, but you are coming with me. Now.”
With all of the abilities that I had been given, I never thought I’d have cause to feel afraid again, but watching her approach me like I was nothing but a petulant child made me shiver. There was no way to fake that type of unwavering and absolute confidence.
Still, she couldn’t possibly know I was far stronger and faster than the vampires she was accustomed to. Like every redneck bar brawler, she’d finally messed with the wrong person. I shifted my feet into a more athletic stance and began to study her movements, searching for a weakness to exploit. My muscles tensed in anticipation. “Take another step toward me and I’ll rip your fucking heart out.”
C.M Michaels grew up in a small town in northern Michigan as the youngest child of a close-knit family of seven. He met his wife, Teresa, while attending Saginaw Valley State University. Together they’ve provided a loving home for several four-legged “kids”, including Sophie, their eternally young at heart, hopelessly spoiled Spaniel.
He has always enjoyed writing, and still has fond memories of reading his first book, a children’s novella, to local grade schools when he was 14. C.M. is currently working on the third book in the Sisters in Blood series along with a Fantasy romance called Kerrigan’s Race.
An avid reader since discovering Jim Kjelgaard novels in early childhood, his favorite authors include Kelley Armstrong, Peter V. Brett, Richelle Mead, Rachel Caine and Laini Taylor. When he’s not writing, C.M. can be found curled up with a good book, watching movies or hitting the hiking trails with his wife.
C.M. currently resides in Louisville, Kentucky.