Please welcome author Cathleen Dunn to Conversations today! Cathleen's here to talk about the first installment in The Witches Trilogy: Chimera. So be sure and check out the blurb, cover, and excerpt below, and she has a great interview for us too!
The Witches Trilogy: Chimera
" ...extraordinary debut novel...move over Stephenie Meyer, there's a new girl in town!" -Reader, Ann S.
a witch who is not enjoying her fabulous life. She's got friends,
family, polo matches, private jets... and an evil witch named Dantin
with a psychotic crush on her. He hates that Olivia won't love him back
and he's hell-bent on destroying everything she cares about, just to
punish her. Adding to Dantin's malevolence is his familiar. It can
possess and control any witch, and no one is safe until they are
But the icing on of all this? Olivia can't use her
powers to fight Dantin or his familiar, or she'll turn evil herself.
She'll need every bit of craft and trickery she knows to get everyone
out of this alive. Because if she can't, things will get far worse.
when you think you've seen everything, something new comes along, and
Cathleen Dunn has certainly brought that! Chimera creates an unusual
world of magic... Do not miss it." -Lee Witt, author of Become Unstoppable
Purchase The Witches Trilogy: Chimera on Amazon
Excerpt from The Witches Trilogy: Chimera
It took her a moment to remember where she was. Through sleepy eyes Taylor looked at the bronze silk comforter and complementary mounds of pillows around her. Overhead a gauzy canopy draped over corner bedposts, spilling down the carved wood to pool at the floor. Antique furniture, sleek lucite lighting, and an eclectic mix of items appointed this lush bedroom. Everything glowed from the sun backlighting the silk drapes. Never in her life had she been in a place like this. Now she lay on the soft bed, looking up at the translucent canopy, amazed that this was her room.
The rich smell of coffee came to her from downstairs and she got up to follow it, finding Olivia sitting at the kitchen counter with company. The woman under the soft brown curls smiled at Taylor.
“Good morning. I’m JaneAnne.”
Taylor looked at Olivia. “Is…” She trailed off.
“Yes – she’s a witch, too. You can talk in front of her. Here, have some coffee and a scone and we’ll get started.” She pushed an artisan bag across the counter along with a cup.
JaneAnne was more measured. “Olivia, give the girl a minute; she just woke up.”
“I let her sleep until ten-thirty. Why wait?” Then she shrugged. “Okay.”
JaneAnn turned to Taylor to talk but she was already answering Olivia. “I don’t mind getting started right away. I want to.”
“See? She’s ready.”
“Fine.” JaneAnn sighed. “Well, obviously you can tell Liv and I have been friends a while.”
Olivia continued, “Eidolon should be here soon, too.”
“He’s Olivia’s familiar.”
Taylor looked down at the greys lying on their beds. “Another greyhound? Or a cat?”
Olivia answered. “No, those are just old stories. A familiar is a spirit, a chimera. They live in the logos, where all magic exists. They can look like an animal or possess one, but they usually don’t.”
“And they do a witch’s bidding?”
JaneAnn shook her head. “That old story’s wrong, too. They’re more a partner or a friend, but they have their own lives. Speaking of…” She pointed beside Taylor, where a plume of plum smoke was taking form. It slipped around Taylor where she sat on the kitchen stool and she gasped her shock, then gingerly touched the haze and was astounded.
“I can feel it! I can tell he’s there!” The mist was soothing, friendly and she could hear him saying hellos inside her head. He was warm, masculine.
“Eidolon likes this form. It’s closer to his natural state.” Olivia explained.
Taylor was delighted. “He’s wonderful.”
“Well, not all of them are so friendly.”
“What do you mean?”
“Some will try and possess a witch, take them against their will.”
Taylor was wide eyed. “Why?”
“We have mortal bodies that can feel, taste, touch, hear, see colors. And we have emotions, too. Sensations like ours are a huge experience for chimeras. They want to know how it feels, so some try and take it.”
“What do I do if that happens?” She had a draining feeling.
“I’ll teach you protection spells and you’ve got to learn discipline. Always be on guard.”
JaneAnn stepped in. “Liv, you’re going to scare her.”
“She should be scared. Well, reasonably scared.”
JaneAnn tried to soothe the discussion. “Taylor, it’s like driving on the freeway; just be scared enough to make you pay attention and be careful. That’s all.” She watched Taylor relax a little.
Olivia went on. “So you’ll need protectors while you’re learning. Daphne and Chloe will be your guardians until you can take care of yourself. Ladies, we’re ready for you now.” She put a hand on Taylor’s arm to move her back. “Don’t be surprised.”
“At what?” But then Taylor jumped as two columns of flame burst into the breakfast nook, then instantly disappeared. Slowly they returned, undulating, and Taylor realized they had human form. Luminous, beautifully sculpted, female form. They were Aphrodites made of white-hot embers.
“Who are they?” Taylor’s eyes were wide. The two figures calmly regarded her through glowing eyes.
“They’re Will-O-Wisps. Have you heard of those?” asked Olivia.
“The flickering lights people would see in marshes at night – people used to think they were spirits. Sometimes they would follow the lights and get lost or drown.”
“Very good.” The closest one answered Taylor, a velvety smooth voice with a hint of the flame that waved across the lips. “In fact, the Sea Sirens are our cousins. Plenty of sailors followed them beneath the water.”
“But the Japanese understand us better. They call us kitsune kami, or fox-spirit.” The other picked up the thread in the same velvety voice. “Guardians.”
“I’m Daphne,” the first one said.
“Chloe. Nice to meet you, Taylor.” She wafted just above the floor, and Taylor saw that her thighs tailed down into softly curving flame.
Olivia regarded them, pleased. “Just like a chimera, they live out in the logos and are entirely magic. And they’re practically undetectable until they flare. Then they disappear instantly so they’re hard to track. Perfect guardians against chimera – and most other things.”
“You might not see us…”
“…but we’ll always be around at first...” Chloe stepped in.
“…until you can handle yourself,” Daphne finished.
Olivia was all business. “So the sooner we do this, the sooner you can start learning.” She leaned forward and put her hand on Taylor’s cheekbone, looking into her eyes. Immediately Taylor’s world collapsed into blackness, followed a millisecond later by an explosion of sensation. The room around her became intense and prismatic – colors were extent, appearing to have far more depth than she’d ever seen before. Inanimate objects looked as if alive and had a sort of extra dimensionality to them, and every noise was pinpoint clear. Taylor gaped at the room. It was as if she had lived all her life without really seeing what was there. The room became translucent and an amazing pastiche was superimposed on it. She heard layers of voices. Shadowy figures moved around her, outlined in a kind of glowing energy. A few looked at her curiously as they went about their business, but most didn’t notice, as if she didn’t exist in their world. Most surprising was the radiance everything had, glimmering and flowing through everything, including her, and it crackled around her with a rosy glow. She could feel it course through her, vibrating her like a string on a violin.
“I had no idea. It's so beautiful, and the colors are so intense!” She was enthralled. “And Olivia…I can feel it.”
JaneAnn nodded. “It is something, isn’t it? That’s the logos flowing through you, what you’ll tap into for magic.” She loved this part.
Olivia took her hand away. “You’ll get used to it, but you really need to work on self-discipline so it doesn’t distract you.” Taylor was still staring around her, a neonate discovering the world anew.
“Taylor! Did you hear me?”
JaneAnn threw back her head and laughed, a warm throaty sound that descended like musical notes and Taylor could tell it was genuine. A tinkling symphony of sound in Taylor’s newly enhanced perception.
“Oh, Olivia, leave her alone for a while and let her enjoy it. She’s got Eidolon and Daphne and Chloe with her.”
Interview with Cathleen Dunn
Q: Tell us about your book - and how do you say the name?
A: This is the first book in "The Witches Trilogy", pronounced "Chimera" - like "Guy-Mere-Uh". And you can find it by searching "The Witches Trilogy" or author Cathleen Dunn as well.
The main character is a witch named Olivia Phalen. She's a light witch – they can only do good with their powers. In return they can have almost anything; live lavishly, travel, be famous...anything. Olivia's got friends that she loves and a new apprentice named Taylor. But Olivia also has an enemy - a powerful dark witch named Dantin who loves tormenting Olivia. He stalks her constantly and is continually hurting her friends. He even killed her last apprentice.
Q: Why is he doing that?
A: Because Olivia rejected Dantin. He wanted her badly - he still desires her, in fact - but she said "no" to him. Dantin's pretty twisted and vicious, and when Olivia didn't want him they way he wanted her, it hurt him, then that hurt turned to rage. He keeps tormenting her because he still wants her and can't have her, so it never ends. He's so vengeful and spiteful that he kills what she loves so she can't have any happiness either. And now, Olivia's got a new apprentice and for sure Dantin will come after her, too.
Q: Olivia's got friends who are witches, too, right? Why don't they all just gang up on Dantin and take him out?
A: Because they're light witches. They can't. They can only do good with their powers. If they hurt or harm, then they'll turn dark themselves and become violent and psychotic like Dantin.
Q: Why is this book called "Chimera"? What is that?
A: A chimera is a spirit, or a mirage, or a combination of two creatures. In my books, chimeras are spirits that are a witch’s familiar. They live in the magical realm and can protect or guide a witch in the magical world. They can be good, or they can be really evil, like Dantin's. And a chimera can possess and control a witch if they can get inside one. Dantin and his chimera make a really formidable, horrible pair.
Q: Sounds like a pretty dark ride.
A: Well, some of it is, but there's also the magic, too. And Olivia's gang is rich, and I mean crazy wealthy. Almost every person I talked to when I started to write these books said, "Oh, yeah, make them rich. Why do sorcerers and witches all live such ordinary lifestyles? If I had magical powers, I'd live a rock-star life."
Plus, writing about the wealth and the magic is so much fun. For example, Olivia rescued Taylor, her new apprentice, from a trashy, abusive home. Suddenly she's living with Olivia in her mansion and going to a witches gathering in Houston on Olivia's private jet. I absolutely loved writing Taylor's first experience in that jet; how she looked around the
cabin at all the beautiful polished wood and sparkling halogen lights, and felt pampered and unreal doing the flight. Six months earlier her stepfather was beating and raping her, and now she's learning magic and has a jet almost all to herself.
I really like taking the luxury and the light aspects of the setting and mashing it against the dark that Dantin and his chimera bring. Evil is evil no matter what wrapping it comes in.
Q: You've lived a lot of places; why set the story in Seattle?
A: Seattle is both creepy and beautiful - a contrast of dark and sparkle. In the winter it's dark 14 hours out of every day (Yes, really! The sun rises around 8am and sets close to 4pm in December and January!), and let's not forget about the rain and grey skies because of all the clouds in the winter. But the rain makes things wet and they glisten - especially at night. If you look at an aerial picture of Seattle's downtown on a dark rainy night, you can almost see what I try to capture when I write, the sleek and the otherworld in one place. You could imagine lots of magic hanging in the air, or paranormal creatures lurking about.
In Seattle there are lots of unusual places that are good settings for scenes. When I worked for Seattle Opera, we were exposed to a lot of artists that were very creative, and had to live on a non-profit salary, so we found unusual entertainment on a dime. For instance, going to a cheap basement club where volunteers had painted colorful murals on the walls and pink plastic flamingoes adorned the bar, or we’d take books and a picnic to a tiny park in Ravenna on the 4th of July. So many hidden treasures in Seattle. Juxtapose that with the high-tech, high-gloss, high-rise office buildings and the parks nestled into the hills and neighborhoods and there's no end to the possibilities.
Q: You have a full-time job; when do you find time to write?
A: Some people can write a couple hours every day, but I can't switch from my day job where I have to be logical and sensible to my fantasy world very easily, so I write on Saturday and Sunday, and maybe an occasional Friday or Monday for ten to thirteen hours a day. I just stay in my world and write a bunch of pages and then go back to work during the week. My characters are never far away though; I think about them constantly and formulate the next weekend's work in the back of my head while at my day job.
Q: When do you find time for your family?
A: Oh! They get my complete attention every weeknight (or at least four nights a week). I don't do anything else but pay attention to them. Well, the dogs are easy; they can lay on my feet even when I'm writing, so I make sure to clear my calendar weeknights for .
Q: Where do you get your ideas?
A: Ever since I was little I loved superstition and ghost stories and magic. I remember getting a book of superstitions from the library and thinking about them all the way to school when I was in first grade. Things like: "If you see the full moon through the trees it is considered bad luck", or "if you walk through a spot of cold air, you have just
walked through a ghost", or "never let a broom touch your head; it is bad luck". I also see stories in music; the feeling a particular song gives me might start a story there. For example, my niece gave me a CD by "Evanescence" - their "Fallen" album - and while listening to it I started to see Olivia and her problems, and how she was feeling about being hounded and isolated by what had happened in her past. Interestingly enough, her decision on how to handle Dantin came off a "Transformers" album. Go figure.
Q: What kind of music do you listen to?
A: Almost anything, but I especially love harpsichord concertos from the Baroque era, and rock. Some of my favorite bands are Avenged Sevenfold, Disturbed, Godhead, Nickelback, Rammstein, AC/DC, a little Alice Cooper, Evanescence, and almost anything from the Eighties. I also love big band - Glen Miller, Tommy Dorsey, the Andrews Sisters, almost anything from the Thirties and Forties.
Q: Anything else?
A: Just a huge THANK YOU to everyone who loves to read and to everyone who has stopped by my website and fb, or bought my book. I love reading, too, and I love writing about our witches and am busy writing the second volume in The Witches Trilogy, titled Blue/Black and scheduled to come out in 2014.
Q: Where do we find you?
A: You can find The Witches Trilogy: Chimera on Amazon.com, and you can find me on Twitter @Cathleen_Dunn, and my website, Cathleen Dunn.com and Cathleen Dunn’s Facebook Author page.
Author Cathleen Dunn has lived in Seattle for the last 20 years after growing up all over the United States. She's lived in Texas, California, Kansas, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon, Arizona, and truly likes variety: she attended college both in Washington and Arizona, has a day job at an engineering company, loves rescuing greyhounds, has been onstage with Seattle Opera, has been known to paint faux finishes and murals inside homes for her friends, occasionally goes hunting and fishing with her husband, watches way too many old movies and educational television, and listens to both Baroque and Metal music.
Cathleen is the author of The Witches Trilogy series of full-length novels. She published the first installment, Chimera, in November of 2013 and is currently writing the second novel, Blue/Black, set for release in 2014. She sets her stories here in Seattle, where the dark and rain create the witches' stories in her head. She just writes them down.