Jen: Today we welcome Dana Michelle Burnett to Romancing the Book. Dana, will you share a short bio with us?
Dana: I got my start writing short stories and sharing them with my family and friends. Over the years, my work was published in numerous commercial and literary magazines. My short story John Lennon and the Chicken Holocaust was include in The Best of Foliate Oak 2006. I’m an avid reader of anything dark and romantic. I live in Southern Indiana with my dancing diva daughter and a crazy assortment of pets. I can be found at
Jen: Please tell us about your newest release and where the idea came from.
Dana: Possessed is actually the story of my Spiritus Series flipped and told from the point of view of the hero, sort of like Stephenie Meyer’s unreleased Midnight Sun was to Twilight. Anyway, the main idea behind the novel is that a Civil War soldier is murdered by his wife and returns over a century later to haunt her reincarnation. The big question in the novel is if he has returned for love or revenge.
It was easy enough for me to go to the school and find the dance simply by following the sound of the music. I floated invisible through the students in their formal attire, searching for Becca.
I found her and the boy standing along the edges of the dance floor. She was taking the paper cup of punch that the boy was offering her. I moved closer when she coughed after taking a sip.
“I’m sorry,” the boy said as he stroked her back. “I should have warned you that a couple of guys from the football team always puts a little something extra in the punch.”
“It’s okay,” Becca said between gasps of air. “I think I’ll just step out in the hall and get some water.”
I followed her, listening to the litany of thoughts going through her mind. She questioned if this was what she was supposed to want. She couldn’t understand why this was so hard for her.
“He’s not me…” I whispered inside her head.
She jumped and looked around.
“Go away,” she said aloud. “Don’t ruin this for me. Let me have this night.”
I did go away. I left her and went out to where the boy stood waiting for her to return. I looked at his boyish profile, unlined and unworn with adolescent stubble on his jaw. This was my rival. This was the “man” that was trying to take my Becca away.
The boy was speaking with that hateful Ashley girl, but I didn’t hear what he was saying. My mind was already turning to darker things.
So Becca wanted this one night…Well, so did I.
I pulled in my strength, gathering myself small and hard. I rose up above him, glaring down, before blasting myself into his body. There was a dizzy feeling, a sickening lurch to the left, and then I was back on the outside looking at him standing there with Becca at his arm.
I was weak, feeling the darkness trying to reach up and pull me down into the nothingness, but this time I wouldn’t go. I concentrated on the two of them, watching him try to recover just as I was.
The boy swayed a little from side to side as he smiled down at her, “I was just about ready to send a search party out for you.”
“Sorry,” Becca said as she reached up to stop the boy from falling right into her. “Are you okay?”
The boy staggered a little to the right and blinked as if trying to focus, “Yeah that Ashley just gets under my skin. She doesn’t know when to shut up and go away.”
“That’s not what I’m talking about,” she said as she took the paper cup from him and threw it in the trash barrel. “How many of those have you drank?”
The boy blushed and raised his hand to his forehead as he staggered to the right again, “I am so sorry.”
She reached up and grabbed his arm again to steady him, “Are you going to be alright?”
The boy shook his head, this time leaning dangerously to the left. “I’ll be fine.”
“Are you sure?”
“Not really,” the boy said, looking quite sick. “Why don’t I go splash some water on my face? Will you wait for me?”
I followed the boy as he lurched off, staying close as he walked out into the hall. I was determined this time. I gathered again, pulling all of my energy before I dove directly into the center of his chest. There was the sickening spin as his consciousness fought mine, but at last there I stood living and breathing again, an interloper in the body of the boy.
There was no turning back now. I walked back out to where Becca was waiting. Seeing her there, looking so beautiful, it seemed impossible that in mere moments I would be able to feel her in my arms again.
“May I have this dance?” I asked, reaching my hand out to her.
It seemed to take an eternity for her to turn and put her hand in mine. My heart leapt the instant our hands touched and I felt her fingers in mine. I pulled her close, holding her against my body and lowering my nose to her hair. I inhaled deeply, there it was, the scent of honeysuckle and vanilla.
“My beautiful Becca,” I closed my eyes and whispered against her forehead.
Jen: Are you a plotter or pantser?
Dana: I am a reformed pantser. I am trying to use outlines more and plan my plot out more, but those old pantser way still creep in from time to time. There should really be a support group…
Jen: Describe your writing in 3 words.
Dana: Dark. Romantic. Horror.
Jen: What kind of research did you do for this book?
Dana: I’m really lucky; I live near Corydon, so I was surrounded by my research every day. There is a house in Corydon that I pictured as being Alastor’s home, I was able to visit the Civil War battlefield, see the old Capitol building, visit the library, and it was as if I could follow in my character’s footsteps. Then there was tons of reading about reincarnation, psychotherapy, past life regression, voodoo, Civil War trinkets, and bringing back the dead. Yes…My search history is frightening.
Jen: How do you come up with characters names?
Dana: As crazy as it sounds, my character names are just meant to be, even if I don’t realize it at the time. For my heroine, I needed a name that would be possible in the Civil War era and today. I played around with a few and settled on Becca, so no big story there, but for Alastor, I just always loved that name. I was over halfway through the first book before I learned that Alastor means “vengeful spirit”…How great is that?
Jen: Do you have a favorite character or one you most identify with?
Dana: I am so in love with Alastor. A ghost with a temper that speaks so beautifully…What’s not to love? That was a big part of me writing Possessed, so many people read the first three books in the series and either loved him or hated him and I always felt like he had more to tell, that his side of the story would be even more compelling than Becca’s.
Jen: What’s next for you?
Dana: I’m currently working on the last book in my Gypsy Fairy Tale novella series and then I have a few ideas spinning around in my head. I always tend to write more effectively in the winter, so I hope to follow that trend.