ILLUMINATION Behind the Scenes: Atlanta’s Fernbank Museum

Happy Tuesday!

So, every book has a few of what I call “set pieces”–distinctive locations in which major scenes take place. Some of those in ILLUMINATION are, of course, in my fictionalized version of the real community of Penton, Alabama.

Others–such as the New Orleans and Atlanta locations–are usually real places. The major Atlanta location in the book is the Fernbank Museum of Natural History.

I had originally set the scene in one of Atlanta’s high-rise hotels when I plotted the novel, but decided when I got to the actual writing I wanted someplace more distinctive. The first thing that came to mind was the Georgia Aquarium, because it’s a really cool place. But I couldn’t imagine my vampires hanging out with the (literal) sharks.

Then I thought about is one of the city’s oldest surviving cemeteries, Oakland Cemetery (where I once got locked in past closing time, but that’s a story for another day), which has a really cool restaurant across the street called Six Feet Under. But I already had a big cemetery scene in the book, plus vampires…cemeteries….you don’t need too many of those.

Finally, I decided on the Fernbank Museum of Natural History, which is undoubtedly one

of the coolest places in the city. It’s built to incorporate 75 acres of outdoor space, including a 65-acre old-growth forest, as well as bronze dinosaurs that meet visitors on Dinosaur Plaza as they arrive at the museum. There’s a multi-story atrium that houses dinosaur skeletons, and then there’s Argentinosaurus, the largest-known dinosaur to ever roam Earth, way down in Patagonia. Think a 47-foot-long reptile that weighs 8 tons. Now imagine that reptile within spitting distance of Mirren Kincaid’s telekinetic mate, Glory Cummings.

My apologies to the Fernbank Museum for wrecking their facility and leaving vampire corpses scattered on the grounds. All in a virtual way, of course.

It was too cool to pass up. And besides, vampires…dinosaurs…well, there’s an irony to be had, right?


Scene-Snippet Sunday, Penton Edition, and Weekly Winners

Belated Happy Canada Day, an early Happy Independence Day, and whatever else is going on. There are so many scary things going on in our world, both natural and unnatural, that any time we can settle back and appreciate what we have, it’s a good thing, yes? So if you’re in a place to be able to enjoy something in your life and be grateful for it, even if it’s temporary, let’s do that today.

In the meantime, we can be thankful for books and the worlds that carry us away and make us forget reality for a while. My current project, in addition to getting THE CONSORT ready to release at the end of July (more on that later), is working on the long-awaited Penton #5. It’s a challenging book to write because, unlike the other four books in the series, the main characters are not vampires. Nik Dimitrou, who we first met in STORM FORCE and then in ALLEGIANCE, is the main Pentonite in this story, which has the working title of ILLUMINATION. Nik is a first-generation American whose parents were from Greece and I think this photo is a pretty good representation of how I imagine him.

And here’s a snippet…

The woman was young, no more than nineteen or twenty, but Nik couldn’t miss the scar tissue on her neck or the deep circles beneath her eyes.

She called herself Addy, which might or might not be her real name. She was technically human, but she’d been on the vampire circuit a while—and hanging out with the wrong kind of vampires.

Nik didn’t want to touch her, and the feeling seemed mutual.

“Why I gotta hold hands with him?” Addy said. “He ain’t even a vampire. I can tell.” She turned to Nik’s companion, standing tall and silent against the wall. “I won’t do it.”

Nik sat back in his folding chair and rested his hands on the table. “What say you, Mr. Kincaid?”

The vampire leaning against the wall, a massive six-eight and built mostly of muscle, didn’t uncross his arms or move away from the wall. “She can hold your hand, or she can have her memories wiped and take a f**king walk, that’s what I say.”

Mirren Kincaid, second in command of the Penton scathe headed by Aidan Murphy, had already interviewed Addy’s vampire companion, a man who claimed to support the Pentonites’ opposition to the Vampire Tribunal. They were trying to repopulate Penton, but only with vampires willing to bond themselves to one of the Penton lieutenants.

 And only if they came with an equally trustworthy fam. Which is where Nik came in.

God, he hated it. He was a damned Army Ranger, not a vampire. But he had a skill set they needed, and they had an attribute he needed.

Nik reached his hand across the table, palm up.

Now…did you win a book this week? The day job imploded last week, and not in a good way, so I wasn’t able to catch up with mailings during my lunch hour as I had hoped. I’m not anticipating next week to be any calmer, so I will do as much as I can on the holiday tomorrow.

You know the drill–if you see your name, please email me with the needed info (email for digital, snail-mail address for print) at I move all winners into a “handling” folder so don’t worry that I’ve forgotten or lost you!

JANE won a $5 Amazon gift card for commenting on the “orphaned series” shop talk post. Thanks to everyone who participated!

AMANDA won this week’s Reader’s Choice contest and chose Pippa DaCosta’s Chaos Rises (book one) as her favorite this week. You also can pick another book up to $US 15 if you prefer–just let me know!

FAITH won her choice of a digital copy of Marie Andreas’ The Glass Gargoyle or Marie’s book Warrior Wench.

And that’s it for today! Tomorrow’s the 4th of July, but there will still be a Reader’s Choice posted so drop by!