Thursday, January 30, 2014

#TNTConfidential Author Spotlight on Freddy MacKay and Horns & Halos

I’m am thrilled to have author Freddy MacKay here with me again! *dances* She comes with a collection of wonderful short stories (I can vow to that, I’ve read them) titled, Horns and Halos.  If you don't trust my criteria, then trust the other readers that have just voted the  anthology as best 2013 anthology in the Love Romance Cafe Group! *woot!* 

Now, prepare yourself to enter the mind of Freddy MacKay and discover the roots of Horns & Halos and Freddy's story Internment. 

Welcome Freddy, where did the idea for this anthology come from?
From our readers, actually. We were over at Dawn's LR Cafe and asked the readers there what they thought the next anthology theme should be. Angels & demons won.

Horns and Halos is in a way an anthology that explores the concept of good and evil. What is your perception on this? 

I think it is good to question what is good and evil, and different cultures have different definitions of what the two concepts. For example, in many Asian cultures, the term 'demon' does not necessitate that the demon is evil. To question ones beliefs mean a person has a open mind and are willing to look at themselves and their society and determine whether their values stay the same or change as their understanding grows.

What was your inspiration for writing Internment?
Um. I was floating a couple different ideas, and when my first one fizzled out I moved onto the kitsune. I am familiar with Japanese culture and have always found kitsune a fun and intriguing topic.

Two of the main characters in your story are rather unusual: a kitsune and a squirrel. Why this pair?

I started with the kitsune and decided he needed a 'pet'. Since Tadaki was in the US, what could possibly be a pet? Squirrels have been an ongoing joke with my friends and me so I figured, why not? Kou, the squirrel, became a force unto himself I had no control over as the story developed. He grew so much I ran with it.

Did you have to do a great amount of research to write Internment?

A fair amount of information I was already aware of due to various parts of my own interests, but I spent a fair amount of time researching kitsune so as to check what I already had bumping around in my head. Plus I had to remember what time period the majority of my piece was in (which was early 60s). I had to make sure not to go too modern.

Is there any chance that the stories in this anthology will be expanded into stand-alone novels?

All the stories in the anthology have been released individually. I know Toni has the next Hounds of Hell story in the line up for this year. Her story was a book 1 to begin with, as was Angel's. Angel's Brimstone series actually pops up in our third anthology, Hot Off the Range, with its second story, and she is currently working on the third story. As for me, Internment was actually a full-length novel already. It will eventually be released in paperback, which is exciting. As for revisiting Tadashi and Kou, I have no plans at the moment.

What are you working on next?

I am working on a steam punk story, Feel Me, that is taking place on a moon colony. I'm excited because I get to play with my dark side again. *Joyous laughter.

White January Snow Quickie questionnaire:

A book to read when it’s so cold: Down Among the Dead Men by Simon Green

A movie to watch when it’s freezing: Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid

A place to visit this month: Any place you can sled.

Something good to eat: Channa Masala

Something that makes you (and will make us) laugh: Watching the little kids roll down the snow covered hills and then wonder why they feel sick. It is cute. Really.


Demons and Angels have been among us for thousands of years, in many cultures and in many forms. What happens when you set the Mischief Corner authors loose on the vague prompt "Write a story about angels or demons?" The poor unsuspecting world is about to find out. 

From Toni Griffin - Archie's Accidental Kidnapping: Hounds of Hell 1

Hell may not have any fury like a woman scorned, but even that's nothing compared to a Hell Hound when you get between him and his mate.

From Freddy MacKay - Internment

Tadashi's life spirals out of control, and he hides away on his mountain taking care of the one place he knows he is safe, and people are safe from him. But the world has a way of interrupting life.

From Angel Martinez - Hell for the Company: Brimstone #1

Shax, the Demon Prince of Thieves, has reconciled himself to exile. He has a grand time careening around the galaxy as a high-end, intergalactic purloiner of pretties. Everything's going just fine, thank you very much, until he comes across an injured angel in a psychedelic alien jungle. 

Buy Links:

MCB || AMAZON || BARNES & NOBLE || ARe and other 3rd party sites  such as Apple iBookstore, Sony, etc.

About Freddy

I grew up and went to college in the Midwest where I currently reside with my family. I spend most of my time playing sports and running around outside. And honestly, that much has not changed since I was little, except who is included my activities. I also have a healthy geocaching addiction. It's so much fun! I enjoy spending my time traveling when I can, and I hold the view that a person should continually to learn about new things and people whenever possible.

For more information on Freddy's work, please visit:

Website: Freddy's Stereograph

Would you like to meet Tadashi and Kou?


Part One - Monsters on the Mountain
Chapter One

Spring was alive and well on the mountain. Green buds covered the treetops, bushes bounced with the breeze, tulips and daffodils poked through the ground, and the smallest of forest creatures skittered about looking for their treasures from the previous summer and fall. Tadashi smiled as a familiar young squirrel scampered around his feet, chirping and squeaking at him furiously.

"I didn't take your nuts," chastised Tadashi, switching his broom to one hand. "You've forgotten where you've put them. Or they've decided to become wonderful new additions to the forest in the form of trees."

The squirrel stopped its angry barrage of noises and looked up.

"I'm telling the truth, Kou," said Tadashi. "I haven't hidden your nuts."

Kou chirped once.

"Look over there, by the arches." Tadashi pointed at the gate. "Why do you think a Black Oak is sprouting? I didn't plant it there."

The squirrel's nose twitched. He stared at the seedling then took off in the opposite direction for his oak by the temple.

"Aren't you even going to say you're sorry?" called Tadashi, shaking his head.

Kou climbed up his tree and went straight into his nest.

Tadashi chuckled and went back to his sweeping. "Little pest."

He didn't mind the forgetful little squirrel. The temple would seem big and empty without him. Company, in the form of the squirrel, was a welcome reprieve from his duties. Tadashi would have to remember to procure some of Kou's favorite treats. He had some hidden away. The spring was always a rough time of year for the small forest mammals like Kou, the poor squirrel could use a break.
Though he wasn't so small anymore. Kou had just turned a year at the end of April. It felt like just a moment ago that Tadashi had been up nursing Kou back to health after his mother abandoned the litter early. Kou had been the only one to survive. He'd been a fighter and would continue to thrive, though Kou had to be hungry. The winter had been an unusual one, the cold extreme even for the mountain, and food was hard to come by at the moment.

Definitely not an easy time for the animals, their stomachs empty, and they were looking for a mate. Tadashi stopped sweeping the grounds and searched for the squirrel. No wonder Kou was so upset. He must be preparing to lure a female. Were there any around? Tadashi scanned the trees and the forest floor beyond the gates. He couldn't see them, but he could smell them. Quite a few in fact. All of them were scurrying about looking for food.

Kou knew what he was doing, wanting his nuts. Sneaky devil. But then, Tadashi raised him. He only had himself to blame for the squirrel's cheeky behavior and slight, oh, awareness.
A squirrel raised by a kitsune. He must be getting lonely. Him, a messenger of the god Inari, taking in such a small pest. What is the world coming to?

Tadashi picked up his broom and headed back toward the small building next to the temple. At the same time, Kou popped back out of his nest, pinecone securely between his teeth. The little pest did have food. Kou ran by, dragging the pinecone with him.

"Be careful once you pass the gates," warned Tadashi. "It's not as easy to protect you once you leave the shrine."

Kou stopped and tilted his head, observing Tadashi.

"Here at the shrine, my powers protect you," said Tadashi. "Step off the sacred grounds, only my luck travels with you."

It wasn't the good kind though. Hadn't been for years, not since the Japanese engaged the Americans in the World War seven years ago. But Kou didn't need to know that. His happy aura was one of Tadashi's only lights. He didn't want to damper it.

"Go, have fun."

Kou chirped and ran off, scampering away with a sense of purpose.
Tadashi faced the temple and bowed, asking a favor from his god, Inari. "I know you and I haven't been on the best of terms, but please, protect Kou."

Tadashi straightened then resumed his course to the small hut by the temple, ignoring the larger house behind the shrine. He ducked into the doorway and took several long steps to the dresser by his bed. Tadashi rummaged around the top of it. He had kept a stash of Kou's favorite nuts for an occasion like this one… somewhere. A small, brightly colored cloth bag finally peeked out from under a pair of socks.


He had used a little of his magic on the bag so it preserved and kept the nuts fresh. Tadashi grabbed the sack and stepped back. He gently placed it on the floor so he could grab it once he had shifted. Tadashi quickly pulled off his clothes, letting them drop to the floor.

Funny thing about real clothes, they wouldn't just disappear like the ones that formed when he used his magic. Getting tangled in real clothes was cumbersome and annoying. So was having to strip naked to shift.

Tadashi's view of the dresser top went from above it to eye level to not seeing it at all. He shook, adjusting to his new smaller size, and then picked up the cloth bag with his mouth. Tadashi trotted outside and over to Kou's tree. He leapt, deftly landing on the lowest branch.

Leaping from one branch to another, Tadashi quickly worked his way up the tree to Kou's nest. He dropped the bag into it for Kou to find then descended as fast as possible. Trees were a squirrel thing—foxes, not so much. Now if there was a den underneath, he could work with that. Tadashi made his final jump, the dirt kicking up around his paws when he landed.

Satisfied he had done his duty, Tadashi headed back toward his room when he stopped. The sun felt good. Birds chirped their favorite songs. The small animals chattered. Maybe... Maybe he could run around a bit, stretch his legs. It couldn't hurt to enjoy a fine spring day like this one. He didn't have to worry about intruders. The locals rarely came up the mountain.
Unsure of what to do with a 'Jap' or his shrine.

A subtle survey of the temple and its surrounding inhabitants put Tadashi's mind at ease. He wouldn't be gone long. His wards, however small, would be safe in his absence. They were happily shacking up with one another anyway. They wouldn't notice if he slipped away for a few hours.

With a turn, Tadashi headed toward the back of the property to an old and seldom used path. He was the only one who used it anymore, and the animals seemed to know to leave it alone. Bits of grass sprouted through the dirt, reminding Tadashi he'd have to weed soon. But that would be for another day. Today… today he'd run. Enjoy the sun and fresh wind blowing in from the ocean and let go for a little while.

Tadashi kicked, running along a path that led to nowhere but an isolated cliff, his tails swirling behind him as he traveled, the past and present haunting his footsteps as he raced to the one spot where he and Akatsuki once overlooked a sleepy California valley and its town.

A place he visited now by himself since Akatsuki died in the internment camps.

* * * *

Trotting back to his room, satisfied with his run and able to work past the ever-present ache inside him, Tadashi stopped suddenly. There was a smell on the breeze—an unfamiliar scent. No. Scents. He whipped around and stuck his nose into the air, breathing deeply. It wasn't right. He growled. Something was wrong. Even the forest had gone quiet as if all the life bustling about earlier hadn't happened.

Tadashi sprinted toward the cause of his unease. The new growth and small buds peeping from the ground bent as he ran by, his speed kicking up a small wind where he passed. There should be some noise. The forest hadn't been this quiet in years. The last time the animals were this quiet was… Tadashi stumbled.

Had humans returned to the mountain?

Most left his area alone due to the stories that developed after the war. He had let the tales proliferate, encouraged them, giving the tales a helping hand or paw periodically.
No one wanted to visit a haunted shrine.

He lifted his snout and tested the air again. Eyes closed, Tadashi tried hard to remember what humans smelled like. It had been so long. Nothing. He lost the scent. Tadashi shifted, turning and inhaling the wisps of smell the wind brought him. Finally, he caught the unfamiliar odor again.
His heart raced, the forest a blur as Tadashi ran to meet his intruders. His sanctuary would not be poisoned by humans, even if he had to drag them away by force. A low rumble settled in his belly the closer he got to the scent. His memory might not remember the general odor of people, but it was close enough to the one person he remembered best.

When the smell hung in the air like a heavy perfume, Tadashi slowed. Other animal smells mixed with the humans. Tadashi sniffed the ground and sneezed. Dogs. The hair on his back stood straight as he growled. Of course this couldn't be easy, but he would not back down. If he could scare whomever was stupid enough to visit the temple, that would be easiest. Less of his dwindling energy would be consumed. Tadashi tilted his snout back again, trying to locate the offenders.

Circling through the trees, he searched desperately. No noise was being made. If humans were around, the bumbling idiots should be making some kind of sound. Trampling bushes underfoot, breaking low-hanging branches and squished flowers in their path instead of stepping around. They destroyed everything they touched. Took what they wanted and hurt those not like them. Like Tadashi or, more importantly, Akatsuki.

Tadashi needed to find the intruders before they hurt something valuable.
Finally, he found a piece of cloth hanging on a bush. The material was rather large and kind of looked like a shirt. Tadashi sniffed at it. Yuck. It smelled horrible. He sneezed. Humans were foul.

As he tore the offending material away from the bush, one thing did register with him.
The animals were chatting away again. Tadashi took it as a sign the intruders were gone. He shifted and took the piece of clothing in hand. He stretched it out, taking a good look at it. A t-shirt. His heartbeat went into overdrive, the emotions barraging Tadashi making it awfully hard to keep his form. His tails slid out, and the need to hunt battered away any reason he had.

Humans had gotten awfully close to the temple. Closer than any in so long. Tadashi would have to check the seals and barriers. He wanted no unwelcome guests.

Angry he couldn't find the humans, Tadashi spun around and began to pace through the trees. He struggled with allowing his baser instincts to come out and hunt versus going back to the shrine and regrouping. If he got too close to town, people would notice, especially right now. He wanted to know if someone new had come to the sleepy mountain village but his showing up could create problems. Tadashi only went to town for supplies, and even then, his trips down were when he could control his different forms.

No. He was too upset to make the journey down. He'd have to go back to the shrine, regroup, and make a plan. Tadashi also wanted to find Kou. Maybe the little squirrel could tell him something.

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