Ivy Whitaker is a long-time lover of the romance genre and horror/paranormal fan. She’s been writing for as long as she can remember and telling stories for longer than that. She currently resides on the east coast, living comfortably in a cabin (in the woods). When she’s not writing, she’s obsessing over her garden, furry companions, or daydreaming about romances yet to be written.
The darkness came for Kayleigh and chased her far away from everything she’s ever known and loved. Her misfortune leads her to Mirewick, a small town buried in Appalachia’s deep, dark recesses. It’s there that she meets a reluctant ally, Ezra. He’s the only one who can keep her safe, though he is very hesitant to let her in, haunted by the memories of those he’s failed along the way. His secrets hobble him, forcing him to keep her at arm’s length, even though he’s all she has. The two are forced to rekindle Ezra’s old alliances — the ones he tried to bury long ago, along with the secrets of his past. It’s the only chance either has at surviving the sinister forces that nip at Kayleigh’s heels.
Their connection is potent. Instantaneous. Irrational. Kayleigh has clawed her way into Ezra’s veins and forced a heart that had stopped beating long ago to start again. Their relationship is contentious at best, but with every passing moment, he’s forced to acknowledge there’s no escaping her. She’s the tidal wave that drew him under and stole the breath from his lungs. And he’ll stop at nothing to save her.
Kayleigh is mine. He thought. And I am hers.
A soft knock came to the door, dragging him from the undertow of his thoughts. Slowly, he forced himself into an upright position. “Yes?”
“It’s me,” Kayleigh squeaked from the other side of the door. “Can I come in?”
He grimaced, his attention falling to the rather obvious tension in his gray sweatpants. He groaned, shifting his weight until he was able to sit back on the bed, holding a pillow to his lap. “Come in.”
The door clicked and creaked open slowly. Her attention fell immediately to his heavily bandaged leg and her face contorted in worry and grief. Concerned, he looked down and realized what had earned her response. He had already begun to bleed through his dressings. Though, he was hardly surprised. The fleshcrafter had practically cut the muscle from the bone. Even with his enhanced healing abilities, it was questionable how quickly he would recover.
“I’m sorry,” she whispered, closing the distance between them. “I’m sorry that I…” she cleared her throat. “That I keep putting you in dangerous positions. I don’t want you to be hurt because of me.”
He watched her for a long moment, his jaw working. He wanted to ask her to create more space. But instead, she was there, beside him. Ezra could feel her warmth against his side. Smell her perfume.
“It’s my job,” he said, grudgingly meeting her eyes. “I will take whatever beating I have to, so you don’t get hurt.”
Kayleigh shook her head, her full lip caught between her teeth — trapped in such a delightful way, he couldn’t help but wonder what it might feel like to have her nip his lip instead. “That’s not what your job is,” she said. “Your job was just to help me. Not go through all of this. I’m sorry I… put you through all of this. I don’t want to be a burden.”
She was. But then she wasn’t. He watched her for a long moment — he saw the way her brow pinched and how she bit into her lip so hard it was a miracle it didn’t start to bleed. He shifted to get a better look at her, and his shoulder braced against the bed’s headboard.
“You’re not,” he said, surprised at the conviction in his words, even as agony sprawled like lightning from his wound.
She grimaced, shifting so that she was resting on her knees. “Let me change the bandages,” she murmured. “Please.”
“Ms. Kayleigh, haven’t you been enough trouble for one day?” He watched as a shiver rolled up her spine. Her hands were bolder, reaching for the bandage.
“Please?” She pleaded.
He didn’t have the heart to tell her ‘No.’ So he nodded, watching as she closed the distance between them. She knelt between his thighs and drew his injured leg into her lap. He watched her for a long moment, too aware of the heat blossoming beneath the trail of her fingers. Her fingers moved quickly, unwrapping the gauze and the bandages that kept him held together. Her expression grew grim when she saw the full extent of the damage. A soft whimper escaped her, though she did her best to mask it.
She reached over him to grab the clean gauze and bandages. He couldn’t help but notice the shape of her body. The gentle curve of her lower back. The shapely form of her ample backside — the delicious, smooth lines of her thick thighs. He knew their strength from having tested her in training. The furthest thing from his mind now was how she might combat him. Instead, he imagined too vividly the way they’d feel wrapped around him.
By the time she righted herself, he was pink in the cheeks. And he was quite grateful for the pillow he kept between them.
I imagine my answer is the same as almost everyone else’s. I loved reading as a child. I devoured every book that fell in my lap, regardless of the intended audience or age group. I became obsessed with storytelling and world-crafting. I fell in love with worlds and characters; before long, my head was filled with my own. I have veritable piles of notebooks filled with ideas and short stories (unsurprisingly, most of which are horror stories). My journey to becoming an author was far less clear-cut. I didn’t show anyone anything I’d written (outside of my poetry) until I was in college. My first-ever manuscript was passed to an editor who told me I had “something special.” In the end, I sat on that manuscript like a chicken safeguarding an egg. It took years for me to do anything with my writing. To make a long story very short, I decided to self-publish. I wanted complete control over what went out into the world. I wanted to ease myself into the idea of people reading my work. And now, here I am!
My writing process is a unique brand of organized chaos. I believe wholeheartedly in the power of “front-loading.” I spend a lot of time conceptualizing my book, starting with a comprehensive character write-up. From there, I dive into the world-building, adding little touches until I feel like the world feels real. From there, I storyboard, outline the story, then fine-tune the chapters. Then, it’s time to write! At some point during the writing process, I usually end up deviating from my notes, which leads to correcting my outlines, my spreadsheets, and all other data sheets. As you can imagine, my brain is just two hamsters on a wheel. When I have to alter something, the hamsters start running in opposite directions from each other, and it becomes a whole mess.
I’m sure, like most authors, one of my favorite pastimes is reading. I’m a bit of a gym rat when I’m not reading. I enjoy lifting heavy weights, running, and yoga classes. I love gardening and spending time outdoors (particularly in this part of the northern hemisphere where warm weather is fleeting). I also enjoy cooking. I have regular daydreams about starting my own vegan food blog, but I have the awful tendency of never writing down my recipes.
The immediate celebration comes in the form of Thai or Indian food and a few days off.
I keep myself busy on release days. Typically, this involves inviting friends over for a few drinks, some good food, and a night of playing board games. My friends typically will continuously check Amazon or my socials to see what is being said (because they’re the real MVPs). I get wildly nervous on launch days, so having friends around keeps me grounded!
Sometimes, ideas come out of nowhere and burrow into the gray matter of your brain without warning. I can’t pin down the exact moment this story came to me, or where the inspiration came from. It feels like it was simply a part of me that I one day woke up and realized was there. The only thing left to do was write it. Funnily enough, I didn’t go to the Appalachians until after I had written Redemption and its sequel.
I do my best to never base characters directly off anyone in my life, though, it’s impossible to avoid likenesses entirely. I think my characters are amalgamations of the best parts of those I love and the worst parts of myself.
Balancing lore with story. I’m terrified of the idea of info-dumping. It took A LOT of editing to get this book to a point where I felt lore and story were balanced.
I had so, so much fun coming up with the lore. Especially the big-bad. I love creating monsters most!
Anne Bishop is one of my all time greatest influences. But, T. Kingfisher, Stacey Marie Brown, Anne Rice, Jim Butcher, and Joe Abercrombie were the authors who dominated my TBR list at the time of writing this.
Every part of her body ached for him. She couldn’t think of a time she desired anything more than to feel him inside of her. To make her bow until she broke, trembling with the weight of her release.
She scrambled with his belt, her fingers sluggish in her drunken stupor.
A low, feral-sounding growl escaped him. Not the kind a lover would make. Not the kind that awoke desperation between her thighs. It was the sort of sound that cut her to the quick. Panic bubbled up in her breast. A frightened gasp shuddered past her lips as he clasped a hand over her mouth.
When he pulled back, his eyes had begun to yellow — to brighten in the dark. His lips peeled back, revealing many sharpened, brown teeth. Skin began to lose its luster, sinking into the hollows of his cheeks and over the ridges of his eyes until his stretched skin looked to be little more than leather. Lips pulled back until they all but disappeared, creating a hideous, protruding mouth.
The stench that came off him was otherworldly. On his breath, she could smell whiskey and rot.
His free hand pulled back, his gnarled hand closing into a fist. A sharp blade began to protrude from the skin above his wrist, growing with every frantic beat of her heart. It was not made of metal — it was white, its sharpened edges a worn yellow. A hiccupped sob spilled between his fingers when she realized that she was staring at a knife made from his own bone.
He snarled; his once gray eyes now full yellow as he watched her.
“You should have stayed dead.”
Erik. Purely because he has Golden Retriever energy, and that’s my vibe. As far as what I would say? No idea. I think we’d have fun just talking about nothing the entire time.