Villain: The Voices of Shattered

Villain 10 DigitalI usually highlight fiction—romantic fiction—on my blog, but today I’m sharing a book which is entirely, heart-breakingly, true.

Last fall, my friend and fellow author A.E. Hayes published her autobiography, Shattered: Memoirs of an Amnesiac. In Shattered, Hayes takes readers through the fragments of her life, painstakingly pieced together from journals, hospital records, accounts of friends and family, and a few actual memories retained after a traumatic brain injury wiped out most of her past.

Most of those retained memories, she would come to learn, were not her own. Instead, they belonged to alters: alternate personalities her mind created to deal with the psychological and emotional traumas of her childhood. But while Shattered grapples with the existence of the alters and their effect on Hayes’s life, her next book gives them voice.

Villain: The Voices of Shattered is a series of nonfiction essays, written primarily by alter personalities. In the book, Hayes and the alters tell stories that were not included in Shattered—stories that pose a question: what is good, and what is evil?

Villain will make you question your notion of heroism and villainy, and leave you wondering: who is the villain of this story—and my own?


Kindle | iBooks | Nook | Kobo | Google Play

Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Here’s a brief excerpt from the introduction.

Five days before my twenty-first birthday, I was drunk. I was so drunk that I ignored both the speed limit and the fact that, up ahead, there was a train barreling down a set of tracks that I was seconds away from crossing.

“Stop!” a voice commanded. I didn’t know who she was at the time, but I heard her. I stopped.

The train missed me by a foot, and the force of its momentum made my little green Dodge Neon sway. I was on a boat, seasick from rocking, but mostly seasick from having downed a half-dozen small whisky bottles I kept in the glove compartment.

A man who had stopped behind me approached and tapped on my window. Shaking, sick, and wanting to forget about the train that was still passing in front of us, I attempted to ignore the stranger, but he would have none of it. He kept tapping until I rolled down the window.

“Can I help you?” I asked.

“Can I help you?” he said. “You were almost hit by that train! You didn’t see the flashing lights? Hey, you don’t look well. Would you like me to call someone?”

The only person this stranger could have called at the time was my abusive boyfriend, Alexander. I was on my way to visit him and I wanted to be properly drunk before I arrived. That way, when he forced me to cut myself or punched me for talking too loudly, the impact wouldn’t feel as severe. And he was going to do those things. Drunk or not, it didn’t matter. Alexander was always a man of action. And I, his possession, was desperately trying to drink myself into an early grave.

“No,” I finally said. “I’ll be OK. Thank you.”

The train passed and my car stopped shaking. The man, still staring at me, shook his head, mumbled something under his breath, and walked back to his car. I looked with clouded vision through my rear-view mirror and watched him pick up a cell phone.

Shit, I thought. He’s going to call the cops, report my license plate, and have me arrested. I slammed my foot down on the gas pedal and took off, twisting and weaving my way through the Pennsylvania back roads that would eventually lead me to a large highway.

The drive from my college to Alexander’s house was only two hours long. I was used to driving to him. After all, he never came to me.

The little bottles of liquor were gone, and I knew I couldn’t score more until later that evening. Alexander was abusive, but he didn’t mind providing for me. He enjoyed showing off the fact that he was wealthy and able to procure whatever he wanted at any hour or at the location of his choosing, and what harm would a dozen or so small bottles of whisky do to his pain-in-the-ass girlfriend? I was an asset to him because of my age—twenty to his almost twenty-eight years—but other than being arm candy and a person to buy alcohol for, I meant nothing.

I didn’t want to believe that, but I knew it to be true. I kept driving, weaving in and out of the lanes, until I hit the highway. I increased my speed from sixty miles per hour to eighty and hoped no one would catch me.

Running away was my favorite thing to do. I’d run away from home, from people who wanted to help me, from colleges, from events I loved, simply because I found it easier to run toward the destructive things. Hit me, beat me, rape me, intoxicate me, whatever would come to be—that was always easier. I was the mistress of running.

“You will die this way, you dumb bitch,” I heard the voice say to me.

“I’m just drunk,” I said to myself, shouting over the radio.

“You’re just an idiot,” she said. “You’re gonna get into a wreck and we’re going straight to hell.”

I picked up my pack of cigarettes from the passenger’s seat, lit a smoke, and enjoyed the sound of the crackling paper upon the first inhalation. It was soothing, like flipping the pages of a book I’d been yearning to read.

Going straight to hell?

Crazy brain, I thought. Don’t you know better?

I cannot go where I already exist.

© 2018 A.E. Hayes

Sex and Magic: The Allure of Enchantment


In a previous post, I discussed some of the general context for why I like mixing magic and sex. In this post, I’ll get into the nitty-gritty details of adding magic into a sex scene.

There needs to be an emotional content to any sex scene, or else why is it in the book? But having magic available as a storyteller gives me the ability to have the characters literally share emotions as well as their bodies. Sometimes, they share physical sensations, thoughts, and images, too. Magic opens a whole world of possibilities that are not available in a mundane world.

Here is a brief snippet from A Merge of Magic, the serial prequel to the Fay of Skye series I am currently releasing on Kindle Unlimited:

Pleasure and a burst of warmth at her accomplishment washed through Viola. Her strawberries-and-cream magic, with its hint of vanilla and spring water, suffused his senses. He wanted to lap her up, to lick every inch of her.

Her desire answered his, passion quaking between them as images of their bodies joined cascaded through his head. But the imaginary coupling was from her perspective, with the sensation of stretching and fullness instead of constriction and penetration. Ian panicked.

We’re done. Get out of my head.

This is early in the main characters’ sexual relationship, although they have been friends since childhood and have secretly been in love with each other for five years. I am using their magical connection to deepen their emotional bond—but it’s happening too fast because of the magic, and so they both aren’t ready for the intensity of the experience.

Here’s another example from Essential Magic, the first book in the series:

The connection sang through thick ropes of magic that wrapped around and through their bodies. She almost cried out when she saw the pulsing web of power now suffusing them. Every move that they made raised a kind of magical energy she’d never known existed. It pulsed along their nerves, pumped through each artery and vein, poured out of Mal and into her and back, growing stronger and more powerful with every thrust of his body into hers. Her hips rose to meet him, and his head lifted from her breast so he could stare into her eyes.

Etta met his gaze and everything else fell away. There was only Mal, and only her. Then there was only one being, striving as one flesh, straining toward and finding a peak of pleasure so intense that every other sense shattered.

In this scene, the characters have been intimate several times previously, but this is the first time they have completely consummated their relationship and made love. It is also the first time they have joined their magic in this way, and one of the first times Etta has cast any spell at all. All of those things combine to enhance and deepen the experience for her.

One final, longer example comes from book two, A Theft of Magic. It’s from the midpoint of the novel, so you might consider it a spoiler, but I’m of the belief that good books can’t be spoiled. And let’s face it—this is a romance. We know there’s going to be a HEA. We just aren’t sure how the characters will get there!

His magic met hers with an almost desperate surge, all of his desire and need rising to meet her as she grasped his cock and lowered her hips. She sank onto him with a moan, and he grabbed her arse as she gripped the side of the tub and began to move.

Everything smelled of apples, of Ronan’s true magical scent, of the secret self he tried to hide with years of bitterness and salt. But she could see it—could taste and hear and feel it. The man who had this sweet, crisp, sensual center was entirely worth fighting for.

If only he would allow her to.

She kissed him, letting her tongue and her lips say against his what she could not form into speech. Except, with magic, her thoughts washed over him like the water that splashed against the tub, and all her words flowed into him. You are more than your fears, more than your past.

Heat and pulsing pleasure built and crested, again and again as she rocked against him. His passion twined and twisted with hers, and his pain and his doubt. I have nothing left to give you. It’s all been taken away. I’m not enough.

Love doesn’t ask for anything, Ronan. I don’t need anything from you. She broke the kiss and moved her hands to his chest. His heart pounded against her palm, but she focused on his storm-grey eyes. I love you, and I’m not going to stop. Take my love. It’s yours.

She ground her hips down, hard, and rode him until he gasped and groaned, and her own release gushed in a flood of his water magic, illuminated by a million sparkling points of her light.

Sorcha and Ronan are a fairly lusty couple, coming together physically early in the story but taking much longer to accept their love for each other and the possibility of a long-term relationship. This scene is a very poignant encapsulation of both of their emotional states: Sorcha has reached her first turning point. She is becoming more confident in herself and is willing to express her love and take the risks, to fight for what she wants. Ronan continues to feel he is inadequate and unworthy, but craves her love anyway.

This scene could have played out with them speaking their lines instead of thinking them to each other, but the magic and intimacy of mind-to-mind connection forces Ronan to accept what she is feeling in ways that a mundane coupling could never produce.

I don’t think I will ever write a non-fantasy story (although never say never, I suppose). At least, I don’t intend to. I love this genre and the freedom it gives me to explore deep emotional connections between people and physical and spiritual connections to the world and humanity in general. And magic sex is super hot.

To keep reading the books excerpted above, visit any of the following retailers:




Essential Magic, The Fay of Skye Book One


Amazon | iBooks | Kobo | Nook | All Romance eBooks









A Theft of Magic, The Fay of Skye Book Two


Amazon | Kobo | Nook  | All Romance eBooksiBooks

Trade Paperback

CreateSpace | Amazon  (Barnes and Noble coming soon)







A Merge of Magic, A Fay of Skye Serial Prequel

Part One Amazon Exclusive eBook

$0.99 or free with your Kindle Unlimited Subscription

Goodreads Giveaway for Essential Magic

I’m hosting a Goodreads Giveaway for Essential Magic!


There are 10 copies of the paperback version up for grabs, so enter for your chance to win!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Essential Magic by Cara McKinnon

Essential Magic

by Cara McKinnon

Giveaway ends July 31, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway


The contest runs through the end of the month. If you just can’t wait, the eBook edition is only $2.99. You can get it from any of these retailers:

Amazon | iBooks | Kobo | Nook

Here’s a little teaser to whet your appetite:

The act of unpacking and the guileless chatter helped Etta ignore the prickles of excitement and apprehension that sparked over her skin when she thought about what would come next.

Or when she pictured the marchioness’s very handsome son. Lady Hazelby clearly had not wanted Lord Malcolm to interact with her more than necessary, and yet he’d ignored the unsubtle hints and showed her kindness anyway.

When he’d first entered the room, he’d filled it with a magical presence so strong and fresh that she’d felt hope for the first time since meeting Lady Hazelby. She’d been relieved to see the distinct silver streak in his hair, and to feel his magic, bright as a summer’s day, with hints of cool streams and full of the refreshing flavor of a glass of lemonade.

But as they’d talked, he’d pulled his magic inward, locking it away from her, until he was as contained and controlled as his mother.

She couldn’t help the surge of disappointment, then or now. The house was so cold, magically-speaking. At home, her mother would have three or four different spells going all the time, or even a dozen during harvest season when they were always busy. Here, everything they’d done with magic in the mountains was accomplished using machines. They had electric lights strung in the public rooms on the first floor, and water closets on every story. Beth said there was even running water for the baths in the family wing, and dumbwaiters to move food and other items between floors.

Where was all of the magic? She’d passed through a weak ward right outside the house, and there was a stronger ward down a floor and to her right, which she assumed was the family wing. Maybe the marchioness had a private study there, where she did her spells.

How could anyone live like this? Etta’s power was untrained, but it was an active part of her—a constant, comforting embrace. It interacted with the world around her, giving her bits of information, and offering more if she opened her Sight. Even now, with her Sight closed, she knew that where this house stood, a Roman couple had once made love in the grass. No one was alive who knew them, but the earth remembered.

She wanted desperately to turn her passive gift into active magic. But there wasn’t much active magic to be found in this house. She sighed and thanked Beth, who curtsied and dashed off to help in the kitchens.

(c) Cara McKinnon 2016
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