Caitlyn Hunter: We had an unexpected break in our author interviews today so we decided to put up another character interview similar to the one I did in December of last year with Apprentice Angel, Ted “Mac” McNabb, from my book Unwilling Angel. This one is with Marcus Tassel, the hero of my upcoming book Storm Shadows.
Okay, Marc, let’s start this conversation by having you tell us a little bit about yourself.
Marcus Tassel: I guess I should start with the basics; I live on Eternity Mountain in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, I’m Cherokee, and I’m a shape-shifter.
CH: A shape-shifter, you mean like a werewolf?
MT: No, that would be my brother Luke. He shifts to a wolf. Me, I turn into a cougar.
CH: How often does this happen?
MT: Whenever I want it to; these days anyway, but back when the Shamans first cursed us—
CH: Wait, us?
MT: Yes, me and my three brothers.
MT: For putting aside our responsibility to our tribe. You see, the Cherokee believe every person has a certain amount of responsibility to their People and my brothers and I turned away from that so the Shamans warned us to straighten up. We ignored their warning, enticed other men to join us, and more or less lived like wild animals for a while. It was all fun until someone died then the Shamans decided they’d had enough and cursed us.
The curse included exile to Eternity Mountain and we’re all shape-shifters; Matt into a bear, me into a cougar, and Luke into a wolf. Poor Jon can shift into just about any animal he wants, which gives him a lot of animals to watch over since part of the curse is protecting the animals we turn into and keeping their habitats on the mountain safe
CH: And when did all this, the curse I mean, happen?
MT: Hundreds of years ago, I’d give you the exact date but even we don’t know when it was. We do know it was before the white man came to live there, back when the only people who walked the Blue Ridge Mountains were the Cherokee and a few other tribes of Native Americans.
CH: Wow, that would make you more than 300 years old, right?
MT: Yeah, about that but like I said, we don’t really know the exact date.
CH: You held up good.
MT: Thank you, immortality has a lot going for it in that respect.
CH: Anything else we should know about the curse?
MT: All of us have psychic abilities, something else I don’t think the Shamans intended, but we all have them. We can read each other’s minds and the minds of most people we meet. I’m also, to a certain extent, precognitive, meaning I sometimes know what’s going to happen before it happens—but that’s not always a sure thing.
CH: What do you mean by “not always a sure thing?”
Well, take my fiancé, Betty Sue, for instance. She first started showing up in my visions back in the 1960’s and she’s pretty much been a constant visitor in them since then. Only thing was, I never saw her face until I actually met her in real life. All I really remembered about her after a vision was her eyes. She has what I call storm shadow eyes; they’re the color of storm clouds lit from behind by the sun. That was the only thing I remembered—well, that and she was fiercely determined to keep me alive at any cost.
You see, each of the visions, the early ones I mean, had to do with my death and—
CH: Wait, you’re immortal. I thought immortals couldn’t die.
MT: Depends on how you interpret the curse and also how you look at the Cherokee legends. Although the curse hints at immortality, it never comes right out and says we’ll live forever so sometime around 1980 or so, after the fifth time I died, I started doing some research about the legends of the Cherokee. What I found was that some of the People believe that every man is given a certain amount of time to live. Within that time he can be killed over and over but he’ll always come back to life or can be brought back by a ritual performed by his relatives. Until his time is up and then nothing can bring him back.
But I think that one really deals more with reincarnation than anything else. The other theory I found was that each person is given a set number of lifetimes and after they use those up, that’s it.
CH: You mean like a cat having nine lives?
MT: Right, except in Cherokee legend, it’s seven.
CH: So, you’re not sure if you’re immortal or not?
CH: Okay, now on to your story, Storm Shadows—oh, I get where the title came from now. That’s really nice that you would name your story after your fiancé’s eyes. Anyway, it’ll be coming out soon. Can you give us a hint of what it’s about, sort of a summary straight from the horse’s—or cougar’s, I should say—mouth?
MT: Sure, but since you wrote what you call a back story blurb, can I just read that? I’ll probably go into a lot of detail that’s better left for the reader to find out when they read.
CH: That works for me. Go ahead.
Betty Sue’s grandfather calls her a “pert-near” woman, meaning everything about her is ordinary, maybe even a little dull. When her friend, Nathan, inadvertently puts her job as a middle-school librarian in danger, he offers her the use of his cabin on Eternity Mountain while she waits for the school board to decide her fate. She accepts, grateful for the chance to chase a dream or two, determined to become something more than a “pert-near” woman.
When she meets Nathan’s blood-brother, Marcus, she’s literally knocked off her feet. And when he tells her the truth about what he is, an immortal shape-shifter living under an ancient curse, Betty Sue doesn’t care; not when he has her dreaming of happily ever after.
Despite being hurt and confused when he tells her he loves her but he can’t ever marry her, Betty Sue risks her life to save him from one of the deadliest creatures on Eternity Mountain. As she recuperates in the hospital, she makes up her mind not to give him up without a fight and with the help of his brothers goes back up the mountain to confront him.
Can Betty Sue snare one of the few remaining cougars in the Blue Ridge Mountains and find her fairy tale ending?
CH: Thank you for being here with us today and sharing a little bit about your life, Marc.
MT: You’re welcome, I enjoyed it.