I’ve been at this writing gig all my life (since I could hold a pen, I’ve been telling tales). And I’ve been published for over a decade now with millions upon millions of words written…but, I’m still learning.
Still learning about myself. What I’m capable of. What my weaknesses and strengths are. Each time I think I know who I am as a writer or a person, something comes along and makes me re-evaluate and evolve. Sometimes, I’m ready for the journey and sometimes I’m not.
However…when LUNAMARE popped into my head…it was another moment that basically struck me around the back of the head and was like…this. THIS is your lane. This is where your heart lies. This sort of story. This sort of angst.
There have been quite a few moments when characters spring into my head in their fully-formed glory, ready to go to war with me to make me write them, and this was no different.
I said…wait your damn turn. I have a another few books planned before I get to you. The characters merely shoved their entire tale down my throat until I found myself, almost in a haze, opening up my laptop and losing 5 weeks of my life as I stepped into theirs.
Five weeks to write this book.
Fifty-five chapters of frankly, some of the best work I’ve ever done.
It was magical.
It was intense.
I said LUNAMARE was a standalone but that was before I got so swept up in their story that it couldn’t possibly be one. It’s two.
Two delicious books that are heart-rendering, heart-breaking, heart-fluttering, and normally, I struggle talking about my books as if they’re the best thing ever. I let YOU, the reader, decide.
But this book?
I can honestly, truly say…it’s fan-fucking-tastic.
It’s absolutely everything I was hoping it would be and more. It’s angsty but swoony, forbidden but fated, sexy as hell but also achingly sweet. It’s got rawness, feralness, violence, mayhem, and a comes with a bunch of trigger warnings because I held nothing back.
This is the first book since THE BOY AND HIS RIBBON that I wrote from chapter one to chapter fifty-five without going back once. I was pulling 6,7,8000 words days as if they were nothing. I am so completely and utterly obsessed with this book, I literally cannot begin to tell you all the things that happen.
And…want to know something else that’s crazy?
Not one beta reader has read this yet.
I’ve asked for no opinions.
I have no idea what they will say.
I’ve not done that since I wrote TEARS OF TESS back in 2013.
I literally didn’t look up from my laptop till this book was on paper and, even now, the few days off I’ve had to clean my filthy house and clear the mountain of admin, I’m absolutely desperate to go back to it.
So…now that I’ve told you what it felt like for me to write this insanely awesome book…perhaps I better tell you a little bit about it.
I’ll do it in Q&A format, so I don’t go rambling like I tend to do.
- When will the blurb and cover be released?
Probably 3 weeks before release.
- When is release then?
The moment book two is edited and back in my hot hands, I’ll be announcing the date.
- But you said it was a standalone. That blows that it’s not…I don’t want to wait with a cliffhanger.
I totally hear you and that’s why I’m waiting until I have book two written, even though book one is FINISHED. I want to release them both together.
- Wait…what do you mean, together?
Lunamare will release and then the second book Cor Amare will release ONE WEEK later.
- Wow, okay. Why not make it one book then?
Because SOOOO much stuff happens, it just wouldn’t work. I had to follow the characters. They made me do it.
- Is it going to be wide or in Kindle Unlimited?
I’m truly hoping I’m making the right choice, but it will be in KU. (My first direct release in years) There will be no preorders, faffing, special links, website orders, or early editions. I’m going very old school with this release by clicking a single button and wallah, the book is live in the Kindle store ready to read in your KU membership. Both books. A week apart.
- Can you tell me what to expect at least?
If I had to put this story into a trope, I’d say it was childhood friends to lovers, hidden secrets, forbidden desires, touch her and you die, will burn the world to ash for her, always knew I was in love with you vibes. If you loved The Boy and His Ribbon, you will love this one. I guarantee it (and I hate saying that of my work and never do…but this book, it’s special) – it felt special writing it and it feels special on the cusp of releasing. This feels like me. Quintessentially me and OMG, I’m so excited.
This isn’t fantasy is it?
Nope, it’s contemporary as they come. Set in Port Douglas, Australia.
Now, before I give you the first official teaser (literally, there are no teasers, hints, or any snippets anywhere about this book which is an actual FIRST for me. I’m usually terrible at keeping secrets…) I just wanted to tell you the genre that I’m putting this into (it’s contemporary but let’s elaborate).
I joked around with a friend not long ago (a writing partner who I’ve been sprinting with on the other side of the world while writing this tale) and I joked that it has all the feels of a life story (it covers their entire lives – book one covers almost six years), so technically it could fall in the realms of say a Nicholas Sparks book where you never know who is safe or who will die and usually always has a heart-breaking twist.
But…it’s also dark.
Things happen in this book that do need to come with a TW (check the tab on my website if you want to see) but it’s also not a classical dark romance. It’s complicated and tricky and just like life is messy, this book is messy too.
But dark messy.
So…I’ve coined my own genre.
Whenever you see my name like this on my books (see below) this is a Dark Sparks genre. What you’re going to get is a life story that is chock-full of need, angst, love, and lust. A love story that exceeds a romance and one that I’m truly very proud of. I’ll forever be a lover of Dark Romance. I will always write it BUT…these Dark Sparks books are where my heart truly lies.
My heart lies in a place of torture and anguish but also hope and growth. In a world that’s so rich and complex that I can step into the shoes of my characters and feel everything they feel and endure everything they go through.
This is the craft I was meant to create and…if you’ll come with me on the ride, I have so many more planned. Because it’s magical to write and I think I’m ready to hold up my hand and say…this. This genre is my lane. I might stray out of it occasionally but I am so at home here, so happy here, and feel as if this is where I excel.
So…without further ado, I give you the very first chapter of LUNAMARE
(Sea in Latin: Mare)
“I SUPPOSE MY FIRST QUESTION HAS TO be the one that everyone is dying to know.” The reporter cast a shy look my way, cheeks flushed, eyes bright, hope clinging to every word for the story of her career.
I sighed, knowing this question would come but hoping it could have waited until after. After I spoke so eloquently of my life’s work. After I gave every piece of my legacy. Instead, my broken heart would have to bleed all over the rest of her questions because I wouldn’t be able to staunch the flow once she asked.
“Perhaps we should ask about Lunamare first?” Dylan said, shooting a reproachful stare at his colleague, all while adjusting the microphone in front of me.
“Oh, yes, of course.” Margot sat back on my comfy wicker furniture, the soft ocean breeze playing in her strawberry blonde hair. She winced. “I’m sorry. I just…ever since I heard about you two, I can’t stop imagining your love story.”
I smiled softly.
Was I once like her? Diamond-eyed and untouched by time? So full of magic and wonder?
The answer was yes.
Yes, I’d once been like her.
And I’d lived a life worth living.
A life worth telling.
Even now, with time carving relentless lines across my face and stamping its unforgettable memories into my weathered skin. Even now, with that very same clock tick-ticking in the back of my mind of what I faced once this interview was over…I still glowed with gratitude.
So, so much gratitude.
“You can ask,” I said softly. “I don’t mind.”
Dylan stiffened a little, a dark beard framing his mouth with harsh expectation. It seemed his article on my unparalleled creation would be overshadowed by true love.
And wasn’t that always the way?
You could fashion the tallest building.
Build the fastest car.
But in the end…the greatest achievement of your life would always be what you loved the most, and what loved you the most in return.
“Is it true…” Margot scooted closer, her notepad and pen forgotten on her lap, her burnt yellow sundress swaying around her knees. “That you pulled a lion from the ocean and fell in love with him?”
The sea called to me with its soft hish-hish-hish upon the crystalline sands.
“It’s true.” I smiled.
“And is it also true that you descend from a line of sirens? That your very name means nymph and that your lion loved you back because you sang to him like all sirens do and captured his soul forever?”
“Jesus, I’m so sorry about her,” Dylan snorted, tossing his rakishly long hair off his forehead. “I swear she comes highly educated.” Pinching her in the side, he muttered, “This isn’t a fantasy, Margot. This is real. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to interview the greatest visionary of our time. A woman who not only gave her life to the sea but also made living beneath the waves a reality.”
Margot deflated a little, nodded sadly, and consulted her little notebook. “Nerida, how did you envision Lunamare? Did you always believe you could create an undersea liveable biosphere?”
“It’s not just a sphere anymore,” Dylan interrupted. “Over a thousand people now list their address as the Coral Sea.” His eager hazel eyes met mine. “How did you go from being a marine biologist to the architect of a new world?”
I looked between the two reporters.
I glanced down at my weathered hands and the pangs in my bones spoke of time running out. I’d agreed to this interview because Lunamare was worthy of every publication possible, but…my heart was weary and nostalgic.
Tipping up my chin, I smiled at Margot and gave her the answer to the question she truly wanted. The question that followed me around every time I stepped on shore.
“It is true that I captured the heart of a lion. That I plucked him from the sea when I was just twelve. It’s true that I fell in love with him at first sight, all while he was stubbornly blind. And it’s true that he fell for me…eventually, not because I’m a nymph or siren or some other fantastical myth or legend. He fell because we belonged to each other.” I sighed wistfully. “All it took was for our eyes to touch and our hearts to beat, recalling the song we’d always known, slipping into sync where we belonged.”
“Wow.” Margot blinked. “That’s—”
“A wonderful tale. A romantic one to be sure.” Dylan sniffed. “But not the one we came to—”
“Is he here?” Margot scooted even closer, looking like she’d fall off her wicker chair with eagerness. “Do you think he’d share his side of the story while you shared yours?”
“Margot—” Dylan shot daggers at her, all while her eyes remained soft and dreamy.
I pitied this spritely thing. She hadn’t met the one who would change her life. Not yet. I wanted to tell her that when that love of a lifetime found her, she would know the deepest abysses of despair and the highest hills of joy.
That each day would be perfect, even if there were tears and fears, and none of them would be long enough.
I hid my flinch from her question and covered it smoothly with a smile. “He’s not here, I’m afraid.”
“Oh.” Margot’s face fell. “That’s too bad.”
“Yes…it is.” My lovelorn heart squeezed like it always did when I thought of him.
Lunamare might be my legacy but Aslan?
He was my reason for existing.
Thanks to him, my lips had been kissed beneath a million sunsets. Our blood had turned to salt from a thousand moonlit swims. And our love gleamed brighter than all the stars.
“How did you come up with the name Lunamare?” Dylan asked, looking pointedly at the microphone and trying one last time to follow the script.
I wasn’t prepared for the kick in my chest. “It’s Latin. My mother was always fascinated in languages and swore she’d be fluent in all of them before she died.”
“And was she?” Dylan asked.
“Not quite. But she did know more Latin than anyone else I knew.”
Margot wrinkled her nose. “Luna…means moon right?” And mare means…”
“Sea.” I held her stare, willing memories not to drown me.
“So, you just combined the two words together?” Dylan kept a close eye on me, tasting my reluctance to share.
This tale I wanted to keep close, but…if I wanted to do this. Truly do this—truly leave behind the purest parts of me, the truest parts and ugliest parts, I had to pour all my hardships, and heartaches into their hands.
Do I have the strength?
Sucking in a breath, I tasted the words before speaking them, learning how it would feel to be honest. To give them everything.
“You said without the moon and the sea, we would never have met,” he whispered.
My heart hiccupped. “Thank goodness for the ay and the deniz then.”
“For the luna and the mare,” he whispered, his eyes locking onto mine and making the world drop away.
I sat taller, my chest aching and so full of love. “It was Aslan who joined the two together. Many, many years before I ever dreamed of creating something so extraordinary.”
A rush of memories.
Star glow and moonlight.
Desire and desperation.
My cheeks heated and it was my turn to lean forward.
If I shared my innermost parts, I could relive them again. I could rewind time that was whispering of my end and go back to the very beginning.
I could touch him for the first time again.
Kiss him for the first time.
Love him until the end of time.
I need that.
Brushing down my wave-foam green dress, my bare feet longed to step into the cool wetness of my home. I’d been on shore for far too long.
But it wouldn’t be too much longer.
I sat taller with determination. “It was the moon and the sea that brought him to me. Without either, we would never have found each other.” I smiled as a vibrant memory swept me up. “It became a bit of a vow between us. A wedding troth, if you will.”
Dylan sucked in a breath.
Margot swooned. “How old were you when he realised he loved you back? I mean…how old were you when you first slept together? I mean—”
“Margot.” Dylan reared back, rolling his eyes. “Jesus Christ, I’m so sorry.” He pinched the bridge of his nose. “This interview is not turning out how I thought it would.”
I chuckled under my breath, running my thumb over the ring on my wedding finger. The inscription burned against my skin as if it were only yesterday.
The night he’d placed it there.
The crashing wave of love.
Longing caught in the back of my throat; I whispered, “I’ll tell you what. Let’s forget about the interview. We ignore your scripted questions. We forget about why you came here today.”
“Are you…are you saying you’d like us to leave?” Dylan’s spine snapped straight. “If so, I must apologise. We meant no offense. We’re just impassioned about your life, Nerida—”
“Please, if I overstepped, I didn’t mean—” Margot bit her bottom lip, cutting herself off.
“It’s fine.” I looked at them both. At their newness and verve. I’d been like that once. I’d been passionate about every fish, whale, reef, and anemone. I’d been besotted with love and embraced every day with joy because I’d been given him so young.
I suddenly wanted to relive it all.
Every kiss and trip and fall.
I sighed, accepting how differently today would turn out to be and how thankful I was that I had this final chance to love him. “I meant…instead of a stuffy interview, I give you a story. A story people whisper about. A story about a nymph and her lion and everything else in between.”
Margot reached over with the biggest grin and touched the back of my paper-thin hand. “With every part of me…yes. Yes, please.”
I twisted my wrist and let her link her fingers with mine.
A flashback of my much younger fingers wrapping around the arm of a teenage boy filled my mind.
My thoughts tripped back to that fateful day, and I sucked in a breath as so many others unspooled.
I sank like a stone into a sea of them.
I let them crash over me with waves of tenderness, brokenness, and home.
And when the last one washed away, I focused on the two young reporters.
This story wouldn’t be the one they came for.
It would be so, so much more.
“I thought he was dead when I first saw him. I jumped overboard and swam as fast as I could, all while my father yelled, my mother screamed, and the pod of dolphins we’d been studying swarmed around me….”
Add to Goodreads: (links are still taking their sweet time to load so might have to search for it)
Follow me on Amazon so you don’t miss the release: bit.ly/3KAlvEY
I’ll be back soon with the release dates!
In the meantime, I’m off to clear my emails so I can sink back into this world and not come up for air until it’s done.
I hope you love it as much as I do!
6 thoughts on “I lied and I have the first teaser for LUNAMARE”
The ocean calls to me. Always has and always will. This book has already sucked me in. I cannot wait.
Pepper, I loved Ribbon Duet so much, I can’t wait for this new story, I love your books, I love, I love, I love
‘Dark Sparks’ made me laugh out loud so hard!!!! Thank You! Bravo and thank you for following your heart! I can’t wait to in-joy this beautiful creation. May you always know that anything from your heart will find whomever needs it… whether you completely switch genres at some point or not. You have a grand gift that reaches many. Shine on!! Many thanks to you <3
Oh hell Dark… Queen… Now you are into the effin ocean? Omg! It’s gonna be soothing… But please please i beg your majesty let me know it’s a HEA… Otherwise… My heart will break.. And it’s damn deep….. Just like heart of ocean… 😘😘😘😘
Oh my gosh!!! I knew I should’ve waited to read this! Now I’m going to think of this book every time I pick up my Kindle! I did the same thing with The Boy & His Ribbon. I can’t wait!
Sweet lord! I’m already in my feels and it hasn’t started. I cannot wait for these!