Pooka in My Pantry
Monster Haven, Book Two
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Carina Press
Word Count: 89,000
Cover Artist: Croco Designs
Zoey Donovan—empath, wedding planner, go-to girl for monsters with personal problems—has been marked twice for pickup by Death. On both occasions, Riley the smoking-hot reaper has refused to follow through. For his breach of protocol, Riley is now on probation. For her refusal to die on schedule, Zoey's right to live is challenged. She will have to undergo a life-or-death trial, but she won't know when or where it will happen…
Staying alive might not be so difficult if the Leprechaun Mafia hadn't strolled into town. Now every business owner with the slightest connection to the supernatural community is being threatened with the most appalling bad luck if they don't pay up. Mirrors are smashed, bodies are dropping, and Zoey's still got clients waiting for fabric samples.
With a little luck, she might be able to save everyone and still have time for a second attempt at a decent first date with her favorite reaper.
You help one monster in need, and everybody hears about it.
The recent appearance of various monsters and mythical creatures in my life took some adjustment. But no amount of flexibility prepared me to assist in the live birth of a sea serpent in my own backyard. That’s a lot to ask of anybody.
My swimming pool looked like a major crime scene, and I was pretty sure bits of mucus mixed with dried blood flecked my hair. I’d probably have to take out a personal loan to cover the water bill once I took a three-hour shower, then drained and refilled the pool.
When the sea serpent appeared in my pool a month before, I had no clue what to do about it. Fortunately, Maurice, my resident closet monster, was quick on his feet. While I stood slack-jawed at the kitchen window, he ran to get Molly to be our translator. Fluent in all sorts of crazy creature languages ranging from house pets to gargoyles, Molly, the brownie, lived in a mushroom house in my backyard with her kids.
As it happened, she was unable to decipher a word of sea-serpentese.
Fortunately, a pygmy dragon with a nasty cold had recently spent his convalescence in my garage. Molly spoke dragonish, and Bruce, the dragon, spoke serpentese. Problem solved.
Except it took over three weeks to find Bruce, leaving us with no idea why a listless, snorting sea serpent had moved into my swimming pool. Communicating in pantomime with a creature that had no hands was futile, absurd and probably hilarious to watch.
When Bruce (via Molly) explained the situation, I did my best not to panic. The sea serpent was pregnant, but she could tell something was wrong. Naturally, she came ashore to my house for help, since everyone in the supernatural community seemed to think I had the answer to every problem.
I had no experience delivering healthy babies of any species. All I had to go on were basic anatomy and zoology classes in college, and a wealth of medical procedural shows on television. And yet, something inside me clicked when Frannie went into labor and the baby stopped moving. I jumped into the water without a thought for my spangled, dry-clean-only shirt, or for the discomfort of wet jeans and high tops. In hindsight, I should’ve at least kicked off my shoes.
I’m not sure how to describe the supreme ick factor of having both arms shoved up to the elbow inside a sea serpent’s body. The baby was turned wrong, kind of folded in half and pointed to emerge center-first, rather than in a straight line with its head or tail facing the exit.
“Don’t push, Frannie,” I said. “I have to unfold the baby or it’ll stay stuck.”
Molly made a series of grunting snorts, which Bruce translated into a series of clicks and yowls. I felt the serpent relax around my squashed arms and wrestled the slippery baby into a better position. Another contraction hit and I stopped, waiting until I had more room to work.
The mournful cry from Frannie needed no translation.
When the contraction was over, I made another grab with one hand to hold the baby steady and pulled the head with the other. I’m not a dainty woman, but I’m not big enough to palm a basketball, either. That’s what it felt like I was trying to do in there, only the basketball in question had eyes I needed to avoid poking, and it was covered in what felt like tapioca pudding.
I got a good grip on a dorsal fin at what I hoped was the back of its neck as the next contraction hit.
Clacks and snarls followed down the translation line, and Frannie pushed while I pulled. My other hand shoved, guiding the rest of the baby straight. Once the head slipped into place, nature took over, and out everything slid. Right into my pool and all over me.
As an empath, I try never to leave the house without my protective walls up. The emotions of other people tend to overwhelm and drain me. But I was at home, and I was exhausted. I’d been so focused on the birth that I hadn’t built any barriers, so there was nothing between me and the small group around me to barricade my psyche against what wasn’t mine. I stood in the frigid water, unconcerned by my shaking body or the gore that covered me.
The emotional inrush saturated me in love and happiness.
Frannie nuzzled her new offspring, and a quiet joy settled over me, warming my freezing flesh. From Molly’s direction, relief lay across my shoulders like a heated blanket, and Bruce’s delight prickled my skin in electric jolts. My eyelids burned. I closed them to relieve the sensation. My back bumped against the side of the pool, and I let my knees bend so I could float.
They shot through the other emotions like tiny arrows. My eyelids cracked open, but only for a few seconds. Nothing was wrong. All was right. My job was done, so what would it hurt to take a little rest?
Thin fingers dug into the flesh in my arms, hauling me from the pool. I made a weak attempt to slap at the intruder.
“Zoey, come on, wake up.” Maurice was there, dragging me away from the water and piling towels on my wet skin.
My eyes snapped open. Well, crap. I lay flat on the pavement, still shivering, despite the previous illusion of warmth. Bodily fluids coated my skin, and Maurice had covered me with my good towels.
The closet monster’s big yellow eyes hovered inches from my face. His worry was so intense, it blocked all the warm fuzzy stuff happening behind him. He coaxed me to my feet, fussing at the towels to keep them from sliding off, and leading me into the house.
“Seriously, Zoey. I don’t know how you stayed alive before I got here. If you didn’t drown, hypothermia would’ve had you.”
I also have an interview with the author today!
I also have an interview with the author today!
Tell me about yourself, and your writing.
I’m the crazy lady in the coffee shop who mutters to herself and occasionally erupts into bouts of maniacal laughter. My hair is probably sticking out sideways, there’s a coffee stain on my t-shirt, and I’m probably jiggling my leg because I have to go to the bathroom, but it hasn’t registered yet that I should do something about it.
I write quirky urban fantasy, usually with outrageous creatures and crazy scenarios dropped into everyday surroundings.
How long have you been writing? How many published books do you have, and
I’ve always written. I just didn’t start finishing anything until a few years ago. I have two published books in the Monster Haven series, with one more written and coming out in September.
Do you write in multiple genres or just one? If just one, do you ever consider
straying outside your genre?
I write short stories in all sorts of genres. My novel-length work, though, is urban fantasy. I do have two stand-alone books waiting in line to be written which are contemporary fantasy, but I have the rest of this series and another urban fantasy series or two before I can get to them.
Are you a plotter or do you write from the seat of your pants?
I cannot function without a plan. By the time I start writing, I have a synopsis, the first sentence, the last scene, and all the major plot points figured out. Usually, I have a pretty decent outline and a stack of index cards with scenes and characters. There’s no pantsing going on here. None.
What is a typical writing day like for you?
No two days are alike. Sometimes I get right to it. Others, I go for a long drive to figure things out, during which I talk to myself and gesture wildly while I drive. I get a lot of strange looks. There are days when I write for an hour, get up and walk around for ten minutes, then come back to it for an hour. Others, I procrastinate for hours. It all depends on where I am in the story.
Who do you love to read? Favorite authors, favorite books?
Anything Neil Gaiman does is gold. Lev Grossman’s The Magicians was really good. I have a serious addiction to all things Disney, so I adore the Kingdom Keepers series by Ridley Pearson. All the books take place inside the parks at the Magic Kingdom.
What is something you'd like to accomplish in your writing career next year?
August of next year I’ll be turning in the last book in the Monster Haven series. So, next year I’d like to write and sell a new series.
If you could have one paranormal ability, what would it be?
Maurice can travel between closets. I would never be home if I could do that. There are closets all over the world. I’d have pastries in France for breakfast, a little beach time in Maui, lunch with my mom in California, check out the Coliseum in Rome, dinner at Epcot in Florida, a moonlight beach stroll in the Caribbean, and then back home to sleep in my own bed in Kansas. I would never get any work done, but I’d have a great tan.
If you could keep a mythical/ paranormal creature as a pet, what would you have?
Real sea monkeys. Not those stupid brine shrimp things. Real sea monkeys like the picture on the side of the box. Tiny monkeys you can train to do tricks in a bowl of water.
Tell us a little about your latest release.
Pooka in My Pantry is book two in the Monster Haven Stories. The series is about an empathic wedding planner who has monsters coming to her with their personal problems. In Pooka, Zoey’s got a bad luck curse on her, and the Leprechaun Mafia want her to pay them protection money. Also, there are crazed goats, a shark attack, and an escaped polar bear. And muffins baked by her live-in closet monster, Maurice.
What is something that you absolutely can't live without? (Other than family
My laptop. I don’t think I could live laptopless. Without it, I couldn’t write, I’d never be able to check the IMDB to see where else I’ve seen an actor when I’m watching a movie, and all my crops and farm animals would die.
Could you ever co author a book with someone? If so, who would you choose, and
what would you write?
I think I could co-author a book with my husband. We think alike. Our writing styles are different, but we write in similar genres. We’ve worked together before, so I don’t think we’d kill each other. That’s a bonus.
If you could spend a day with anyone from history, dead or alive, who would it be,
and what would you do? What would you ask them?
Walt Disney. I would love to show him all the cool stuff they did with his ideas. When the day was over, I’d ask him if he thought they did a good job or if he was disappointed.
What are some of your other hobbies outside of writing?
I like to half-make stuff and then forget I started it. I’ve got a half-crocheted blanket, several cross stitch projects, a really awesome thing I’ve been working toward doing to the coffee table with Modge Podge and printouts of comic book frames. A box of Sculpey clay I might use to redo all the drawer pulls in the bathroom. I’m thinking of repainting my desk. I might spend the next few hours looking at paint samples that will be out of style by the time I get around to buying the paint.
If you were on the staff to have a book adapted to movie, what would you pick?
The rest of the Narnia books. They stopped too soon!
What is a talent you wish you had, but don't?
At least a little artistic ability would be nice. Even my stick figures look like something the cat regurgitated.
Red. No, green. No, wait, purple. Yeah, red. Wait…
Weather: Hot or cold?
Favorite place to read?
Favorite non-alcoholic drink.
Black cherry smoothie from Panera.
If you could travel anywhere and do anything, no limits or money holding you
back, where would you go?
I’d hit all five Disney resorts, and every park in those resorts. I’ve been to the ones in California, Florida, and France, but I still have Tokyo and Hong Kong to add. A year spent travelling to all of them one after the other would be an awesome adventure.
About the Author:
Rachel’s head is packed with an outrageous amount of useless Disney trivia. She is terrified of thunder, but not of lightning, and tends to recite the Disneyland dedication speech during storms to keep herself calm. She finds it appalling that nobody from Disney has called yet with her castle move-in date.
Originally from Northern California, she has a tendency to move every few years, resulting in a total of seven different states and a six-year stint in England. Currently, she’s planning her next grand adventure. Rachel has one heroic husband, two genius kids, several annoyed cats, and an imaginary dog named Waffles.
She doesn’t have time for a real dog.