I’d like to thank Amber for hosting me today. I am sharing an excerpt from my story, Internment, with everyone and will be giving away an eBook copy to a commenter below.
When approaching this novel, I knew I wanted something different. There are lots of different paranormal creatures out there so why limit myself to Western myths?
I, personally, have always been drawn to folklore from different parts of the world. Japan being one of those places I repeatedly come back to. Yokai—demons—are not necessarily bad creatures, just not human, unlike Western mythology where the word demon is synonymous with evil. It is the choices of the demon, or the people, or how the demon came about that dictated its nature. I love how this ambiguity allows us to explore the perspectives of good, bad and the choices people make.
Internment is a story that is set over a long period of time, starting just after the end of World War II. We find a lonely kitsune—a fox demon from Japanese lore—on a California mountaintop missing his dead lover. Tadashi has a lot of anger and survivor’s guilt built up over the loss and we meet him at a delicate time in his life. The choices others make, and he makes in return, set into motion events no one could predict.
Since my story would be about creatures from Japanese folklore, I wanted the cover style to be reminiscent of Japan but current with cultural references in mind. I hope you all love it as much as I do. 😉
Alone on his mountain, the kitsune Tadashi only wishes to be left in peace so he can mourn his lost lover and take care of his temple. Unfortunately, several townsmen who have no idea of Tadashi’s true nature have different plans for the “Jap on the mountain” and his land. When they push the kitsune too far, he reacts with horrific violence, leaving tragedy in his wake. Broken and terrified of himself, Tadashi represses his natural drives and shuts himself off from the world.
The intrusion of a lost little girl and her persistent veterinarian uncle, Berg, stumbling into Tadashi’s life, though, and turn his carefully ordered world upside-down. The reluctant hero needs to decide whether he is truly happier alone or whether he can once again embrace a truth he used to know, that life is for the living.
Excerpt—”In the Bath”
“Relaxed?” asked a warm voice.
The lyrical laughter felt good against his neck. Goose bumps prickled along his skin. “You must be.”
“Considering you fell asleep.”
“What?” Berg jerked, regretting the sudden movement. His head went under the water. He sat up, sputtering and coughing. “Hell.”
It hurt. So bad. Like a bubble had formed in Berg’s chest and was pressing against his heart, choking it and him.
“Whoa.” A hand pulled him up more. “I didn’t mean to make you drown.”
Tadashi’s black eyes were the only thing Berg could focus on.
“You all right? Do you—should I heal you?”
“What?” Heal? He gasped, fighting for air. How much did he swallow?
Tadashi pressed his palm against Berg’s chest. His eyes focused on where his hand lay. Berg stilled. A white glow emanated from his friend. The burning agony lessened. He could breathe. The soft light flowing from Tadashi, his look of determination and concentration made it hard to focus on anything but him.
Panting, still confused, Berg gaped at Tadashi. He’d forgotten Tadashi could do something like heal him. But there was something else calling his attention. Apparently, Tadashi wasn’t focused because there was white peeking out from under his towel.
“You have two tails.”
“What?” Tadashi turned in a circle, trying to look at his ass.
Berg died. He just did. He couldn’t stop the laughter if he tried.
Wide eyes met Berg’s gaze. “Why are you laughing?”
“Because you’re turning around in circles like a dog.”
A loud growl filled the room. “I am not a dog.”
“Don’t tell that to Alva.”
Tadashi’s ears perked up. “She’s well?”
“Yup, and happy as can be.” Berg waved Tadashi closer, curious. “Now stop moving and let me look.”
Tadashi grumbled but spun around. Berg lifted the towel, only to have Tadashi thump it back down. The fox glared at him.
“How else am I supposed to check your tails?”
“Oh, uh, go ahead then.” Tadashi’s muscles were flexed, hands fisted at his sides.
Lifting the towel once again, Berg confirmed his suspicions. Two tails flicked back and forth. He reached out and stroked them. Yup. No mistaking it, there were two luscious tails. The thick white fur felt wonderful in Berg’s hand. He tugged, not hard, but with enough force to check if they really were attached. They were. Berg still had trouble reconciling that Tadashi had a tail sometimes.
“Well?” asked Tadashi, his voice hesitant, wobbling.
“Definitely two tails.”
A yip of happiness was not what Berg expected. Neither was the blur of activity as Tadashi spun around again. The cries of joy. Or Tadashi whipping his towel off, giving Berg a show. Tadashi cradled his tails, tears streamed down his face.
“So, you’re happy then?”
“Yes,” whispered Tadashi, rubbing his face in his tails.
Wasn’t two tails weird? But… Tadashi wasn’t a normal fox. He was a kitsune. Berg racked his memories for the stories.
“You could have up to nine, right?”
Tadashi nodded. His eyes closed. Grief clouded his face. He pressed the tails tighter against him as if he believed they’d disappear.
“I’m sorry.” Berg had said something wrong. He just didn’t know what.
Tadashi shook his head. “I’m just happy to have another back.”
“So…” Berg lost his thought, unable to push more past his lips. Tadashi used to have more. Why’d he lose them? But with the atmosphere the way it was, Berg didn’t think he could ask.
A knock at the door made them jump. Then a silky voice flowed through to them. “Tadashi? Did you wake Berg?”
“Yes, Mother.” Tadashi gulped a few times, steadying his voice. “He’s getting out right now.”
Berg didn’t waste any time and stepped out. “Sorry.”
He didn’t know why, but he kept feeling like he had to apologize. Tadashi waved him off and picked up his towel. Berg watched in fascination as the tails began disappearing. Seeing Tadashi with no tails seemed odd. The man seemed incomplete without them.
When Berg lifted his eyes, Tadashi was giving him one of those odd smiles again. “Let’s get out of here before the girls burst in.”
About Freddy MacKay
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. You can email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org