Featured Author: Danielle Rose-West

Featured AuthorDanielle Rose-West

1)  Please introduce yourself. Tell us a little about the person behind the pen.

My name is Danielle Rose-West and I live in the United Kingdom with my family and our small dog. I am something of a romantic dreamer and always have been. I have always been a rather shy person.  When I was growing up, books were often my best friends!

I have loved reading since I was a small child. My very first books were by Enid Blyton. She completely fascinated me with all the different worlds she introduced me to. My very favourite books were her Far Away Tree series. I still remember every story in those books even now! Magical!

I love to read still, of course, and I enjoy spending time with my husband when we both have time off from work. I love to get out and about. I walk very day for exercise and it really helps me to plot my books. I really am a very ordinary person getting to live the dream of being a writer!

2)    What made you decide to write (the genre of your book), were there any influencing factors, or were any of the stories based on true events.

I have always been an incurable romantic, as I said. I just love romance and how two people find the love of their lives in different circumstances. For me there was never any question that I would write romance. Even if I tried to write something else, like pure fantasy, it would end up with romance in there somewhere! My stories are totally products of my imagination. I have a huge imagination and I always have. I love to explore different characters and scenarios in every book. Sometimes my heroine’s do have a little of me in them. I guess that’s hard to avoid!

3)    How do you promote your book, and do you find that difficult or just par for the course.

I have found it difficult to learn to market my books. At first I didn’t even realise I needed to do that! When it dawned on me that I had to get to work on social media etc to promote my work, it was quite a learning curve. I had never used facebook, twitter or any other social media site before. I am still learning now how to work with them. But I have made some wonderful friends and contacts, so it has been a blessing. I am growing in confidence every day with marketing and connecting with people and I am really enjoying it now.

4)    Do you remember your first review and how it made you feel?  (If it was a bad one, also tell about your good one too).

I do remember. My very first review was for four stars and the lady said it was a beautiful story. I was ecstatic! I remember running round the house telling everyone. I laughed, cried and felt on top of the world. There was nothing like knowing someone had loved my work! It made all those hours of hard work so worthwhile!

5)    Tell us about your book and if it’s a series and how the public is reacting to this book.

My book is called Wild Fire and it is the first in a series called The Fairy Tale Match. It follows a dating agency that is actually run by real fairy godmothers. They have found that since the world no longer believes in magic or them, the only way they can help their charges is to run a dating agency.

In my first book, my hero Jake’s sister actually joins the dating agency on his behalf. She wants to find him true love because a tragedy in his past has closed his heart and she also has another motive, rather more selfish! The heroine, Laura, is looking for love and a new start. She comes to Jake’s ranch to spend three weeks with him, but he has no idea who she is when she first arrives. A lot happens through the course of their story, including enemies past and present that really test the couple. Of course, unknown to them, their fairy godmothers are working in the background to help the couple overcome their difficulties and find everlasting love.

So far, I’ve had some really great reviews for the book. Many have told me that it is refreshing and different. They have laughed with the fairy godmother’s antics and enjoyed the suspense aspect of the story. My second book in this series, Forever You, is also now available.

6)    Can you share any and all links that are important to you as a person and the book?  (You can relate more to a book if you know more about the author).   

I have several links, as follows:

My blog: http://daniellerosewest.blogspot.co.uk/

My Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Danielle-Rose-West/451370021626958

Twitter: https://twitter.com/DRoseWest

Amazon Author Page US: https://www.amazon.com/author/daniellerosewest

Amazon Author Page UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Danielle-Rose-West/e/B00EF5GXSO/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/daniellerosewest

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7213651.Danielle_Rose_West

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/daniellerosewes/pins/

Email: danielle.rosewest30@gmail.com

I truly love to hear from readers and you can find more about my books on most of these pages.

7)    I’ll wrap it up with this question since “7” is a lucky number.   Can you share an excerpt from your book, and I’d like to thank you so much for taking time to share your book with me. Please share as much as you’d like.

Thank you so much for taking the time to interview me. It has been such fun.

Please find an excerpt from Wild Fire. I hope you enjoy reading it.

 247 Danielle Rose-West (smaller) copy

Excerpt

Laura couldn’t help but smile to herself as she climbed up onto the fence to sit and watch the class. Three young women in the group were all working very hard to gain the attention of the handsome riding instructor. The man was quite obviously enjoying the competition, blatantly spreading himself around the three in a way that was fascinating to behold. He bestowed his easy smile in one direction, then another with compliments flowing free and fast. The women preened under his flattering and then glared daggers at each other when he was looking in a different direction.

The man glanced over to the fence and saw Laura. He sent her one of his huge dimple filled smiles, his eyes gleaming in interest. He gave a small nod in her direction, which she returned. The class came to an end and the group made their way out of the paddock, taking the hot sweaty horses back to the stable for grooming. The instructor made his way over to Laura.

“Hi,” he called out to her as he approached, flashing his dimples at her again. “I’ve not seen you around here before. Are you a guest in one of the cabins?” He strode up to the fence and casually draped his arm around the post next to Laura’s leg. His dark eyes ran over her form, the admiration in them making her flush, but he didn’t make her heart flip over the way a certain dark haired, blue eyed man did.

“Actually, I’m staying with Jake and Kerry,” she replied, smiling down at him from her vantage point on the fence. “I just got here yesterday for a visit.”

“Ah, how wonderful to hear the sound of home. A fellow countrywoman if I am not mistaken?” She nodded to confirm his query. “It is always so lovely to meet up with people from home. I have been here in the US for several years now, working as a riding instructor for various ranches and still sometimes I get homesick. I’m Walter Nobel by the way.”

“I’m Laura Hamilton,” she replied, with a small laugh. The man was a real charmer. She could see why the women took to him. He had an easy smile and a naughty twinkle in his eyes. “Have you family back in England, Mr Nobel?”

“Please, call me Walter or Walt. Mr Nobel makes me look around for my father.” He gave an exaggerated shudder. “I left him back in England along with the rest of my family and I certainly don’t miss them. They are the reason I left, actually.” He gave her a cheeky wink, making her laugh. “Have you known the Carters long?” he asked, propping his boot up on the fence near her foot and leaning closer.

“A while,” she replied evasively. Somehow she didn’t think Jake would appreciate anyone else knowing the circumstances of her arrival here. She quickly changed the subject. “Do you enjoy working here?”

“I love it. How many people can say they get to earn money doing something they truly love all day long?” He cocked his head to one side as he regarded her with a deep intense look. “What about you Laura? Do you do what you love for work?”

“Not yet, but I hope to one day,” she sighed wistfully. “One of the reasons I came here was to see if I can settle into a new life in the States. Maybe I can be as lucky as you and find my perfect job here too.”

“So, you may be sticking around here permanently?” Walter asked, his voice dropping to an intimately low caress. “We must take the time to get to know each other better. Being fellow countryman and all, we should stick together.” He gave her a naughty flirtatious smile.

“It would be lovely to be friends.” She stressed the word in the hopes that Walter would take the hint and not keep flirting with her. She thought him nice enough, but he didn’t set her pulse to racing or her heart pounding. The last thing she wanted to do was give him the false impression that she was interested in him. From what she’d seen, Walter was interested in all women. She had no desire to become one of his conquests whose name he probably forgot in moments or maybe never even knew.

“Do you ride?” he asked,  running his eyes all over her in a caressing sweep she assumed was meant to make her weak at the knees, but didn’t. Unfortunately, her hint seemed to have fallen on deaf ears or he was deliberately ignoring it.

“No, but it is something I want to learn,” she replied to his question. “Actually, Bill is giving me a lesson later today.”

“Why bother him? I’d be happy to teach you. I’m always available for a little……private tutoring.” He gave her a lopsided grin, his eyes full of an invitation she had no intention of taking him up on.

“That’s very kind of you, Walter but I really don’t think I could take a member of the Carters workforce away from his regular duties.” Laura decided a more direct turndown might be in order. “I’m more than happy to learn with Bill.” She began to climb back over the fence, when Walter snagged her arm, sliding his hand down her arm and gently rubbing his thumb along the sensitive flesh of her inner wrist.

“It would be no trouble at all, I assure you, lovely Laura. Jake would probably be happy for me to teach you. He relies on Bill heavily, especially when there are horses near foaling. We’d be doing him a favour.” He smiled persuasively at her, tugging on her arm. “We could start now if you want? My next class isn’t for an hour.” His eyes took on a heavy gleam of desire as he looked her over again. Boy, this man had the hide of a rhinoceros. What did it take to get him to quit? Laura was about to firmly pull her arm out of Walters grip, when a hand clamped down onto his wrist and yanked it off for her.

Jake stood over Walter, looking furious. “What the hell do you think you’re doing, Nobel?” he demanded. Laura thought he’d looked angry yesterday, but it was nothing to how he looked now.

“Calm down, Carter. What is your problem? I was only offering a riding lesson to your lovely guest. Thought I’d save Bill the job.” Walter calmly rubbed his wrist where Jake had gripped him, looking remarkably unruffled by Jake’s anger.

“I know exactly what kind of riding lesson you were offering and I doubt it was the one Laura was after. I’ll thank you to treat our guest with respect. While we’re on the subject, I don’t like the way you push yourself at our female clients. Rein it in or I’ll be speaking to Kerry about finding a new instructor. Got it?” Jake’s voice was deadly, his expression hard.

Walter shrugged, laughing softly but it didn’t quite reach his eyes. The charming air dropped away and his face took on a harder edge. “I never push myself on women, Jake. Quite the opposite if you must know. Can I help it if women love me?” he asked, spreading his hands wide with an innocent expression. “Come on, Carter,” he continued in a friendly voice, winking at Jake in a conspiratorial way. “You knew what that was like once, didn’t you. Before….” He gestured to the left side of his face.

Jake froze at the implication of Walter’s statement. Rage boiled in his veins and his fists balled at his sides. He was on the verge of punching Walter Nobel’s overly pretty face, the desire to break his perfect nose overriding his better judgement, when a small hand clamped down on his arm. He looked down to see Laura standing next to him. She shook her head slightly as she twinned her arms through his, effectively stopping him from his murderous intentions.

“Jake, did you come to get me for that tour you promised?” she asked, smiling sweetly at him. “Please excuse us, Walter. I’m sure I’ve kept you from your work long enough.”

“I have enjoyed our chat immensely, lovely Laura. Meeting you has been the highlight of my dreary day.” Walter declared dramatically, clasping a hand to his chest. “By the way, that offer for a riding lesson is always open to you. Just say the word.” He gave her a suggestive wink, grinning widely. Laura felt Jake tense up beside her, waves of anger rolling off him. She gripped his arm tighter.

Shaking her head at Walter’s nonsense, which she was sure was just to get up Jake’s nose, she sighed hoping Jake wouldn’t attempt to hit him again. “That’s very kind, Walter but I’m sure I’ll be fine with Bill.”

He gave an exaggerated sigh of despair. “Another time then, fair Laura,” he replied, executing a small bow in her direction, he threw an insolent salute to Jake before he swept off towards the stables.

Jake growled low in his throat. “I wanted to punch his stupid fake smile right off his arrogant face,” he hissed out in a low voice.

“I know and if it wouldn’t land you in jail with a huge law suit round your neck, I might have let you,” Laura told him. “He shouldn’t have said what he did. It was wrong of him. I can’t believe he would speak to his boss that way. Isn’t he worried you’ll fire him?”

“No, because he is one of best at what he does or so Kerry says. She hired him. I don’t really get involved with that side of the business. I avoid him usually. I can’t stand him and as you noticed, he can’t stand me either.” Jake gritted his teeth, unaware his hands were twisting together as if he had Walter’s neck between them.

“I can see that,” Laura said, letting go of his arm and stepping back from him. She felt the loss immediately, but didn’t want him to feel she was being too familiar with him. “Really, you shouldn’t let him get to you. Surely you could see he was just trying to wind you up on purpose. His opinion of you shouldn’t matter.”

He couldn’t admit to her that normally he was never bothered by Walter’s pathetic pursuits of women. If they were too stupid to realise the man was a Casanova that was their problem. It had, to his complete annoyance, bothered him to see Walter pursuing her. When Jake had seen the two of them together in what looked like such a cosy position, he’d felt like someone had hit him in his guts. He’d flashed right back to Victoria and every feeling of betrayal had come rushing to the surface.

He’d had to remind himself that this was Laura. She wasn’t his. If she was interested in Walter, it was none of his business. But his feet had taken him over to them anyway. He’d wanted to rip Walters arm off for touching her. It was totally irrational, but he felt like Laura belonged to him as if they were connected somehow. He tried to keep rejecting the emotions, but they kept springing up. She drew him to her like a moth to a flame. His mind had been on nothing but her all morning; to then see her smiling and chatting, apparently having a wonderful time with that stupid arrogant jerk had been too much. She obviously didn’t feel a thing for him and he’d rather die than let her know Walter’s interest in her had got to him.

“It’s not just his opinion,” he corrected. “He is simply saying what everyone else thinks. I’ve heard the whispers. They all say what a shame it is, what a waste.” He turned bitter eyes to Laura. “He just had the guts to say it to my face.”

They fell into an awkward silence, each staring at the other. Laura wanted to reach out to him, the hurt she’d seen on his face when Walter had made reference to his scar had cut into her heart like a knife. She wanted to be able to hold him close and soothe that pain away, but she didn’t have that right. She wished she could tell him it didn’t take anything away from his handsome face, but that was too personal. She was too afraid to reveal what he did to her and how he made her feel. They barely knew each other, after all.

Instead she swallowed hard, trying to dislodge the lump in her throat. The last thing he needed from her was pity. “Not everyone holds that narrow view,” she finally said. “There are people who think what’s on the inside is far more important than what is on the outside.”

“What happens when what’s on the inside is broken?” he asked quietly.

Her heart bled for him. She touched his arm gently. “I believe all things can be healed; given time,” she said sincerely.

“I don’t.” His soft reply cut her deeply. Whatever had happened to him had left a scar far deeper than the one on his face. She wondered if any woman could touch it. She doubted that she was special enough to even try. Unsure what to say, she decided to change the subject completely, but he was already turning away from her.

“If you don’t mind, I need to get back to work,” he told her abruptly.

“Of course.” Laura wished she could keep him with her, but she could see him shutting down in front of her eyes. “Will you be having lunch with us?” Her foolish heart hoped he’d say yes. But he shook his head.

“I need to stay out with the horses today. Bill will though. He is looking forward to giving you that riding lesson.” He gave her a small smile, making her stomach clench and her heart turn over, then he walked swiftly away.

Laura headed back to the house to make lunch for three, feeling lonelier than she had in her entire life.

*****

“It didn’t work!” Flo said smugly to Lotta, waving her wand in her face. “He’s walking away again. I told you it wouldn’t work! It was too boring and mortal.”

“You must have patience, Flo,” Lotta told her, gritting her own teeth and trying to practice what she was preaching. “He was most definitely jealous. You saw the way he flew up to them. He has feelings for her. I can feel it in my wand!”

“I still think we need something more dramatic and romantic to get his attention.” Flo fluttered around, her face screwed up in thought. “Didn’t she say she’s having a riding lesson?”

“Bill is giving her one, not Jake. Why?” Lotta eyed Flo suspiciously. She didn’t trust the little fairy godmother one bit.

Flo’s face was starting to go red. That was never a good sign. She began bouncing on her tiny feet. That sign was even worse. “What are you cooking up?” Lotta asked, becoming alarmed.

“I have a perfectly wonderful idea!” Flo announced. “Romantic, dramatic and perfect. This should get a kiss or two out of our prince. He’ll be declaring his love in no time!” She sighed whimsically.

“You are not turning anything into anything it shouldn’t be are you?” Lotta inquired.

“No, no. Of course not!” Flo waved her wand around as she disappeared in a twinkle of stars.

“Tell me what your plan is!” Lotta yelled after her, but she’d already vanished. Lotta grumbled under her breath as she began a frantic search for her bothersome partner. It took her half an hour to locate Flo in one of the stables, happily patting horses on their heads with her small plump hand. She was beaming at them and heaving big sighs of bliss, fluttering her eyelashes in romantic raptures.

“What have you done?” Lotta asked abruptly, too upset for any finesse.

“Don’t worry. You’re going to love this idea. You won’t have to undo it. It’s perfect!” Flo exclaimed, patting the horses all over again. “This will get Laura and Jake together in no time.”

Lotta persisted in questioning Flo, but she wouldn’t say any more. Lotta decided the only thing she could do was keep her eyes and ears open and hope she could avert any disastrous consequences of Flo’s idea. She slumped against the stable walls and wondered what the consequences were for a fairy godmother that quit!

***Danielle is a very kind and giving colleague and friend.  She has a fabulous book and I KNOW you will enjoy reading it!

Featured Author: J. Naomi Ay

 Featured Author:   J. Naomi Ay

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  1.  Please introduce yourself. Tell us a little about the person behind the pen.

I’m a former CPA and businesswoman, who out of boredom more than 20 years ago, started writing a science fiction/fantasy story purely for my own entertainment.  Mr. Ay and I have two boys one would consider adults although they are still on our medical plan, a daughter who is fourteen and has just started high school, and a Pomeranian.

2.  What made you decide to write (the genre of your book), were there any influencing factors, or were any of the stories based on true events.   

I’m a life long fan of Star Trek and Star Wars and have also enjoyed historical fiction.  The Two Moons of Rehnor has a lot of elements from all that.  In fact, recently a reviewer called it “Game of Thrones meets Star Wars.”  I confess that I’ve never read or watched Game of Thrones but my sons tell me that is a huge compliment.

3.   How do you promote your book, and do you find that difficult or just par for the course.

Well, that’s exactly the issue isn’t it?   We write this amazing treatise and put it out there on Amazon and somehow expect readers to notice it amongst the other 80,000 ebooks which are launched every month.  Unless you’re really lucky, that just doesn’t happen.  So, promotion means constantly working the social media, advertising in the social media and working the local area press and book stores.  It’s hard and horrible for someone who’d rather just sit in front of their computer and bond with Word.

4.   Do you remember your first review and how it made you feel?  (If it was a bad one, also tell about your good one too).

Of course!  As I mentioned early, the Two Moons of Rehnor series evolved over a 20 year time period.  About 1 ½ years ago, I bought an iPad and discovered the whole ebook revolution and KDP.  Here I was sitting with a huge story that was almost ½ million words figuring that nobody would ever read but me.  So, figuring that I could hide under the cloak of anonymity, I bravely put up the first 70k words on Amazon as “The Boy who Lit up the Sky.”  I didn’t tell anyone, not husband, not kids, not friends.  Two days later, someone bought it.  The next day, they returned it.  Oh!  You mean I’ve got to edit it too?  Anyway, long story short, I asked two friends to take a look at it, edit it and tell me what they thought.  They both came back and said, basically, you’ve got something here.  A month later, edited and republished, I got my first review from a stranger.  Here it is:

What a great book READ April 11, 2012

I really enjoyed this book. This book renewed my love of the fantasy genre.I had just finished the “Hunger Trilogy” and feeling a little let down. This book is the opposite. It has everything you want in a book; politics, drama; the unexpected and love. The characters are developed so you feel you have a stake in what happens to them. Just when you wonder what happened to a past character there they are again in the story adding more “flavor” to this stew of intrique. I just finished book 1 and purchased the next 2 just so I can continue uniterrupted. ENJOY.

PS started book 2 last night and stayed up until late just to get to a point I could take a breath. This book promises to be even better than the 1st one.!!!!

5.    Tell us about your book and if it’s a series and how the public is reacting to this book.

Yes, as mentioned, the original Two Moons series was nearly ½ million words which I broke up into Books 1 – 5.  Amazingly, once I called that done, I started receiving letters from fans begging for more.  Now, I’m in the middle of drafting Book 11.  We’re several generations into the characters and the story is taking twists and turns in all sorts of directions.  I’ve also written 9 prequel novelettes which sort of fill in the gaps.  4 of the novelettes have been made into audiobooks and I’m also working with an illustrator to turn the series in graphic novels.  The Two Moons of Rehnor #1, a graphic novel which starts at the beginning of The Boy who Lit up the Sky will be out before Thanksgiving in ebook format.

As far as how the public is reacting, The Boy is probably the most controversial book as there is some graphic scenes of child abuse, implied rape, and a fair amount of profanity.  Some object to this while others tell me it’s mild as I don’t get into any explicit details.  Unfortunately, a lot of people think that because it’s about “a boy” it’s intended for children or teens which is NOT.  It is necessary to show the development of the character though.  That being said, The Boy is still highly rated on Amazon and Goodreads.  The series overall has 152 ratings with a 4.38 avg on Goodreads and on Amazon, every book in the series has a 5 Star average in the US, UK and Germany.  It’s truly amazing to me and heartwarming that the series and especially, the main character, Senya, has garnered so many fans.

6.     Can you share any and all links that are important to you as a person and the book?  (You can relate more to a book if you know more about the author).  

My links are as follows:

www.jnaomiay.com

www.twomoonsofrehnor.com

www.jnaomiay.wordpress.com

www.facebook.com/jnaomiay

The main series is available in ebook and paperback format at all major book resellers.  Here’s the link to Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B007B77U8A

7.      I’ll wrap it up with this question since “7” is a lucky numberJ.   Can you share an excerpt from your book, and I’d like to thank you so much for taking time to share your book with me. Please share as much as you’d like.

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Excerpt from The Boy who Lit up the Sky, Chapter 1, Meri

“What have you got there?” I asked Sister Moon.

“A pot of gold,” she cackled holding up a little purse and shaking it.  It jingled with heavy coins.

“No,” I said reaching for the baby in her arms.  “Who is this?”

“A Karut.”  She easily relinquished him to me.  I peeled back the blanket and looked at the little face.

“Aren’t you pretty?”  I stroked the soft cheek.  “You’re sure he’s a Karut?  He’s so pale.”

“Maybe he’s a half-breed,” she replied, already counting the coins.  “So many good Mishnese girls giving themselves to Karut men after poor Lydia was forced to do it.  I suspect we’ll be getting a lot more just like him.”

“Maybe,” I agreed, stroking the baby’s tuff of silky black hair.  “He’s sweet all the same.  Does he have a name?”

“Senya.”

“Senya,” I repeated.

“Now don’t you go taking special heart to this little rat,” Sister Moon scolded me as she tossed the coins back in the purse.  “The same will happen to him as the rest of them.”

“Maybe he’ll get adopted by a nice family,” I said wistfully.  “Look what long eyelashes he has.”

“Nobody will want a Karut,” she snorted.  “He’ll be here with the rest of the nasties until he runs off and gets himself killed on the street.  Get yourself back to work now.  Put the baby in the baby room and go check the one year olds’ buckets.”

“Yes Ma’am.”  The baby put his little fist in his mouth.  “Can I give him a bottle first?  He’s hungry.”

Sister Moon shrugged.  “Be quick about it.”

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“Thank you, Ma’am.”  I curtseyed and hurried the baby to the baby room where I could get a bottle out of the warmer and sit for a moment before I had to dump all the potty buckets.  Twice daily I had to circle through the one year olds’ room here in the Old Mishnah Orphan Home where twenty babies sat naked in chairs, eating, sleeping and pooping at will.  I spent about two minutes with each of them, wiping them hopefully before they broke out in rash, putting ointment on their rashes and hugging them all for just a moment before I must put them back down and move on to the next.  By the time they graduated on to the two year old room, they were allowed to wear pants and shirts, sleep on cots and eat at small tables.  If they messed their pants for whatever reason, they were sent back to the one year old room for a day which was such a punishment that rarely would they mess again.

The baby room was my favorite place though.  It was quiet and warm in there, and I could sit in a rocker and cuddle as many little bundles as I had time for.  The older ones stood in their cribs and waved to me as I came in.  Some babbled out a few nonsense sounds and some smiled showing me two or four tiny teeth.

“Hello babies,” I called to them.

“Hello Meri,” Sister Lena called back.  She was in a rocker with one of the few little girls we had.  Most of our children were boys.  I didn’t know why they were abandoned more often than girls.  Girls could be put to work, I supposed.  Certainly our girls unless they were rescued before age seven or eight, would be put to work earning their keep.

“Who have you got there?” Lena asked.

“A new one,” I replied, grabbing a bottle and settling down next to her.  “This is Senya.”

“A Karut,” she gasped with surprise.  The baby she was holding stopped sucking and looked at her for a moment.

“Yes, but he’s pretty isn’t he,” I said, offering him the bottle.  He sucked it greedily and patted it with his hand.

“I wonder why the Karuts didn’t take him.”  Lena peered at him through her bottle thick glasses.

“Sister Moon thinks his mum was Mishnese.  Was your mum Mishnese, Senya?” I teased.  The baby smiled with the nipple still in his mouth.

“He says yes.”  I laughed as he sucked fiercely once again.

“He is beautiful,” Lena agreed.  “What color are his eyes?”

“I don’t know.  Open your eyes, baby.  Let me see your pretty eyes.”

The baby opened his eyes as if he understood me, and Blessed Saint, I nearly dropped him.  His eyes were silver, like swirly specks of silver light.

“Blessed Saint,” Lena cried upsetting her baby who howled in protest.

Senya closed his eyes again as if he knew this is what caused us fright.  He finished his bottle and sucked air until I wrestled the bottle from his mouth and held him against my shoulder.

“He is possessed.”  Lena calmed her baby and then quickly put her back in a crib.  “Do you think this is why the Karuts didn’t want him?”

“He’s not possessed,” I insisted, burping my little friend.  “He’s sweet.”  He patted my face with his hand while looking out across my back.

Lena looked at me warily.  “It is strange though.”

“It is,” I agreed.  “But they are kind of beautiful too.”  Surely, if he was possessed, we would know that somehow.  I might have to ask the Father about that, but I hated speaking with the Father.  He always wanted favors, and his breath was bad, and his old skin was wrinkled and made my own skin crawl.

I changed Senya and put him in one of our shirts.  I was about to put socks on his little feet when I was stopped short.

“Lena, can you come here?”

She approached with narrow eyes.  I held up a little foot.  Senya reached for it too.

“Look at his nails,” I said.  “Why are they like this?”   Gingerly, Lena touched them.  She visibly shivered.  Senya played with his toes.  He put one in his mouth and sucked on the long curled nail.

“We should dispose of him,” she said.

“Dispose?” I cried.

“Throw him out in the gutter before …before…”

“Before what?  You mean to kill him?”

“No, no.”  She walked away.  “Maybe send him to the Karuts.  I have a bad feeling about him.”

“Will you tell the Father?”

Lena turned and looked into my eyes.  She nodded slowly.

“Don’t hurt this baby,” I begged.  “Let me take care of him.”

“I have a very bad feeling about him,” she repeated, and her wimple nearly fell off as she shook her head.  “Something is wrong about him.”

“I promise, Sister.  Please let me care for him.  If he turns out to be bad, then I’ll help you get rid of him.  Don’t turn him out now and don’t tell the Father.”

“What will you do for me if I agree?” She asked, lifting her head haughtily.

“What do you want?”

“All the diapers,” she said.  “All the time.”

I looked down at Senya.  He smiled at me, and when he opened his eyes they sparkled.   “Okay,” I agreed, falling in love with this strange little fellow.  “I will do anything to save little Senya.”

I was strange too.  My back was crooked, and my face was scarred.  I was ugly even though I wasn’t always.  Once I was a beautiful young girl who nice boys would ask to dance and nice girls would chat up.  Once I went to school and got high marks in Mishnese and literature and fair marks in math and science.  Then my step-father wanted me, and when I refused he pushed me down the stairs and broke my back.  As I lay crumpled, he set my clothes on fire.  The Saint saved me, and after I was healed, I came here to love other children who no one wanted anymore.

Senya loved me, I thought.  He greeted me every day with a smile.  He didn’t speak.  He didn’t even make noise, but he stood in his crib and waved at me and his silver eyes sparkled.  Everyone else he ignored.  He sat in the corner of his crib sucking his fingers, or lay on his back and played with his strange toes.

The Father came to look at him.  “How much was in the purse?” He asked Sister Moon.  She told him, and we all gasped as it was such a large sum.  It would feed everyone in this house for a year.  “Will there be more?” The Father wondered aloud.

“I think so,” Sister Moon replied.  “For as long as we keep him.”

“Then we will keep him until they want him back,” the Father declared.  The next week, the Father had a new speeder.  It was shiny and red with rich leather and polished wood inside.  It looked very expensive.  He wanted me to sit in it with him.  He wanted me to pleasure him while he drove it around.  I did because he was the Father and I was so ugly no other man would want me.  If he threw me out on the street, I would have nowhere to go and be forced to pleasure other men who were worse than him.  This is what he told me when his leavings were in my mouth, and I wished to spit them out on the fine carpet of his new speeder.

When I came back to the orphanage, I went to the baby room and found Senya crying.  He sobbed silently, his little body heaving but making no sound.  There was a red welt across his back.  “Who did this?” I demanded of Sister Lena.

“Sister Moon,” she said.  “Sister Moon says he is destroying too many socks and wasting our precious cloth.  She says he is to have cold feet all winter.  He shall have no more socks.”

“But why did she hit him?” I asked, picking him up and holding him tight until he stopped crying.  He put his hand on my face and nuzzled my neck.

“He looked at her with his wicked eyes and she said she felt dizzy because of it and nearly fell down.  He is possessed she says, but the Father says he must stay here so we cannot throw him out in the gutter.”

I wondered if I could take Senya and run away.  I would have to pleasure anyone who would give me money, and how many would want one as ugly as me?  I would have liked a real job.  Once I knew how to type and could speak well and answer a vid and perhaps put together things with my hands.  There were no jobs like that anymore.  There were no jobs for anyone because Mishnah was broke.  There were only jobs for men who joined the guards and women who worked as maids in the Palace.  I could not do that because I was a woman with a broken back and burned face.

It was a cold winter, and there was not much food.  The money from the purse had been spent on the Father’s new speeder and his fine clothes and jewelry.  The children cried because they were hungry and cold, and the old radiators spat and hissed, but little warmth came from them.  Senya’s little feet were always cold, and when I was with him I wrapped them in rags, but someone else always took them off.  Senya sat in his crib and held the bottle himself.  He was getting big, and his face was taking shape.

“He looks more and more like a Karut,” Lena said beside me.  “He looks like Prince Sorkan.”

“He does,” I agreed, admiring his handsome little face.  “But pale.”

“Maybe he’ll get darker over time,” Lena thought.  “Did you give him this bottle?  It’s not time for him to eat.”  She took it away.  Senya opened his mouth to protest.

“I didn’t,” I said.  “He was already drinking it when I came here.”

“Well I wonder how he got it then,” Lena frowned and just as she did so, the bottle went flying out of her hand and back into Senya’s.

Lena and I both screamed.

Senya popped the bottle back in his mouth and gave us a big smile.

“How did he do that?” Lena whispered, her eyes giant saucers.

“I don’t know,” I whispered back.  “Do you think that’s how he got the bottle from the warmer?”  We both looked at the warmer as if it could speak to us.  Lena turned back and snatched the bottle out of Senya’s grasp again.  He opened his mouth in a silent howl.  Lena ran across the room and put it on the warmer table.

“You want it, Senya?” She challenged.  “Then take it.”

Senya pulled himself up by the bars on his crib and held out his little hands.  The bottle flew across the room right into them.  He fell back on his bottom and sucked triumphantly.

“Don’t say a word of this to anyone,” I begged Lena.

“Blessed Saint,” Lena collapsed in a chair.  “What is he?”

“Please Lena, please!  I’ll do anything.  Don’t let them throw him out on the street!”  I was on my knees before her.

“Okay,” she said, narrowing her eyes and smiling wickedly.  “Forever and ever you will be doing the diapers, Meri.”

“I will, I will,” I promised.

Senya laughed.  It was the first noise we had heard from him.  I ran to him and gathered him in my arms.

“You little devil,” I cried, and he laughed some more.

“Mayhap, he really is,” Lena snorted and walked away.

We lost four babies from the baby room including our one little girl.  There was a fever going around, and the diapers were endless and messy.  Our one year olds and two year olds were sick too, and I was forever dumping buckets filled with loose and foul smelling stools.  Our two year olds were messing their pants, but we did not punish them because several of them had died, as well.  Our building was cold, and the snow and frost outside made it impossible to open the windows and bring in fresh air.  The children burned with fever and then shook with chills.  I wrapped and rewrapped as many as I could, but there were not enough of us Sainted Ladies here to take care of them.  There was sickness in the city, and bodies lay in the gutters where ever you walked.  Our dead children joined them waiting for the coroner’s van to collect them.

* I’d like to thank J. Naomi Ay.  She is a wonderful author and colleague.  I would personally recommend her book (s).   Thank you for allowing me to interview you.