Award winning author KateMarie Collins visits the blog for the first time, sharing her thoughts on identity, home and reconciling the two. GUARDING CHARON is her fourteenth title. Welcome KateMarie.
One should always read the fine print…especially with an inheritance from a relative you didn’t know existed.
In a rut doesn’t even begin to describe Grace’s life at 22. Her ex is using his position as a cop to stalk her, getting her fired from every job she finds. Her parents, not knowing how abusive he could be, believe all her problems would vanish if she’d simply marry him. After losing yet another job, a lawyer arrives. A relative has died and left her entire estate in Maine to Grace.
Eager to shake the dust of Bruce and small town Texas off of her for good, she leaps at the chance. She even changes her name. Then she learns that her great aunt was a Witch…and the house has some big secrets. Secrets that she has to protect for six months if she hopes to inherit the entire estate and truly be free of her past.
Welcome KateMarie and congrats on your latest GUARDING CHARON. The boatman Charon first appears in classical literature and evokes images of fear and loathing, but he also represents a passage into the nether and a new beginning. What themes dominate most in your novel?
New beginnings, definitely. Finding out who you truly are when you escape the people who want you to be something else because it benefits them.
Who doesn’t dream of inherited wealth from a surprising source? Your character Grace faces some unusual challenges when she does. How does she cope?
Grace/Amber isn’t afraid of her future nearly as much as she is her past. She tends to embrace the challenges because what she left behind was so awful that almost anything would be an improvement on her life.
There are strong paranormal overtones in your novel including witchcraft. Do you consider magical powers a strength or a curse for protagonists?
Strength, definitely. I’m a Solitary Wiccan and made sure that the presence of witchcraft was positive and in line with how Wiccans really live their lives. Part of what I hope is that this book educates someone on what witchcraft really is.
The states of Maine and Texas figure prominently in your narrative. What is your link to these settings?
I have none! LOL. I chose Texas as the starting point because it tends to be conservative. Amber is a bit more liberal minded. Maine seemed to be about as far away as you could get and stay in the continental U.S. I also wanted an area that had a lot of historical homes, so East Coast was a must.
This is your fourteenth title, starting with DAUGHTER HAUK and your seventh print book. Does one work inform another, or are they very different in plot, tone, theme?
‘Guarding Charon’ is my first urban fantasy novel. Everything else is more high fantasy. Though I tend to have mainly female protagonists in my books. I’m a woman, so it’s easier for me to write from a female point of view. Almost every single book has reflections of my own life, though. Be it discovering my faith, escaping from a town where I couldn’t be who I really was, or battling personal demons. There is a part of me in each title.
I’d love a teaser from you work. Care to share an excerpt?
Glancing up at the house, she saw lights in the living room and nowhere else. Briefly, she thought about going around to the back door and trying to get to her room unnoticed, but she dismissed that quickly. Her mom would know she’d lost another job already. There was going to be a confrontation no matter what door she went through. She took a deep breath and strode up the path to the house. Might as well get this over with.
She opened the front door and closed it behind her. “Hey, Dad,” she said as she pulled her jacket off and hung it on a too-ornate-for-the-room coat tree.
She heard him shift in his chair. “Mom told me you lost another job today. What’s the matter? Too stupid to clean dishes right?”
“No, Dad. He said he loved how I ran things. Business was slow, though, so someone had to go.” She crossed to the arched opening on the other side of the room. “I’m pretty tired, so heading to bed early.” She headed down the hallway to her bedroom. If she moved fast enough, she could avoid her mom. She hoped.
“Gracie, baby, is that you?” Grace’s heart sank as her mom’s shrill voice called out from the kitchen. She stopped, her hand on the knob. So close!
June came down the hallway, busily drying her hands on a towel. “Oh, baby. Bruce called and told us how you quit another job.” She reached out to hug her, and Grace knew better than to refuse. “Don’t you worry, baby. You and Bruce can set a date now, you’ll lose yourself in planning the wedding. You don’t need to work, after all.”
Twisting the handle, she looked at her mother. “Mom, there’s not going to be a wedding. I’m not marrying Bruce. See?” She held up her bare left hand. “No ring.” She wiggled her fingers for emphasis.
Her mom’s lips tightened into a disapproving line. “That’s because you’re too stubborn, Gracie Lynn! That man’s being very patient with you, Lord bless him. You’re denying us a beautiful life!”
Grace arched her eyebrows. “‘Us?’ Sorry, Mother. But I’m not paying the price for you to live in luxury.” She threw open the door, slamming it behind her. Turning, she put the chain on. She’d installed that about two years ago, after finding out her mom had been snooping through her journals.
Then she burned them all.
She removed her purse, tossing it on her desk before collapsing on her bed. Her hands flew to her face. Stifling the urge to scream, she tried to get rid of the headache threatening to form. She had to do something, but what? No one in town would hire her. And she didn’t have enough saved up for a bus ticket to anywhere worth going. Anywhere big enough to disappear in.
Tomorrow, she’d go to the library. Search for a job with a cruise line or something. Do they still want people to teach English in Japan? Sighing, she dismissed that idea. She’d need a valid passport, for one. That cost money. And the only place local to apply was housed in the same building as the police department.
A knock at her door broke through her panicked thoughts. “Grace,” her dad called. “Come out here, please. Someone wants to see you.” His steps retreated.
Something in his voice gave her pause. It couldn’t be Bruce. He would’ve said his name. And none of her friends lived in town anymore. They’d gotten out and stayed out.
She rose, glancing at herself in the mirror on the wall. Pulling out the scrunchie, she grabbed a brush and worked it through her hair quickly. That’d have to do.
Sliding the chain off the lock, she opened the door and closed it behind her. She heard her mom talking to someone, her voice nervous. Whoever this was, it wasn’t someone they expected.
Grace stopped in the archway. Her parents sat on the edge of their chairs. Near the front door stood an older man, his dark suit neatly pressed. His gaze settled on her, his face lighting up. “You must be Miss Adams,” he said, his voice warm. “I’m pleased to meet you. My name is Laurence Dixon,” he extended his hand to her. “I’m a lawyer. Please, sit. We have much to discuss.”
Grace shook his hand, surprised at the greeting. She eased into a chair nearby. “Hello, Mr. Dixon. I don’t understand why a lawyer would be here to see me, though. I haven’t done anything wrong.”
He smiled at her. “Oh, I know you haven’t, Miss Adams. I represent your great aunt, Amanda Cross.”
“I don’t have a great aunt, Mr. Dixon,” she answered.
“She’s been dead to me for decades!” Her mom stood, anger on her face. “Whatever she might want with my Gracie, she can’t have it!”
Mr. Dixon looked her way. “I’m sorry, Mrs. Adams. But your daughter,” he nodded toward Grace, “is named as her heir. And is of legal age to inherit. Whatever your issues with Ms. Cross may have been, it has no bearing on her last wishes.”
Grace blinked. “What inheritance, Mr. Dixon?”
He turned back to Grace. “Ms. Cross has named you her sole heir, Miss Adams. She has left you her home, and entire fortune. There is but one stipulation you must fulfill to inherit.”
For the first time in a very long time, Grace felt hope stirring within her. This could be her chance to escape! Disappear forever! “What’s the stipulation, Mr. Dixon?”
“Ms. Cross’ estate is on the Allagash River, in upstate Maine. In a small town by the name of Cavendish. Her will explicitly states that you must reside in her home for six months. The estate will pay all of your expenses for the duration. After that time, you will inherit all of Ms. Cross’ assets and can dispose of the home and contents as you feel best.”
“She is getting married! I’m not going to allow her to travel across the country to live in some hole in the wall!” Her mom screamed, her voice shrill.
That decided it. Grace stood, extending her hand. “Mr. Dixon, I accept the challenge. When do we leave?” She didn’t care how much her mother sputtered in rage and disbelief. She was, as he pointed out, of legal age to inherit. At twenty-two, her life was hers to lead. But she had to get out from under Bruce’s radar to do it. Six months in Maine? That should do it.
Mr. Dixon took her hand, placing his other one on top as they shook. “We can leave tonight, Miss Adams. I have a car outside. And a private plane at the airstrip. As soon as you’re ready to go.”
She smiled, genuinely happy for the first time in over a year. “Give me five minutes,” she replied and then darted out of the room.
I’m working on ‘Emile’s Blade’ currently. Another Amari novella. When that’s done, I’ll be putting all three (the two already out are ‘Fin’s Magic’ and ‘Alaric’s Bow’) into a single print volume. After that, not certain. Could be a sequel to ‘Mark of the Successor’ or more about Amber, Charon, and Cavendish, Maine!
Looking forward to that! Thanks for joining us, KateMarie. Come back soon.
Universal link: myBook.to/guardingcharon