Urban Fantasy Settings: Marcella Burnard on Remodeling Reality

Marcella Burnard, author of Nightmare Ink, released earlier this month, is here today to discuss how she turned her favorite tea shop into an urban fantasy tattoo parlor. She also has some fun extras to share: a playlist and cover puzzle, as well as a tour wide giveaway: 5 e-copies of Nightmare Ink. Links are below. Welcome, Marcella!
urban fantasy

Remodeling Reality

Ballard is a neighborhood in Seattle that’s an odd, delightful blend of blue collar workers, white collar, artists, hipsters, senior citizens and young urban families. The joke is that Ballard is where the Nordic people of the Pacific Northwest come to spend their golden years. It is true that there’s a Nordic Heritage festival every year in Ballard. And that Seafood Fest is the biggest street fair in the neighborhood. Yes. Lutefisk is a part of that festival. No. I won’t go near it. I’m clear that lye is a poison. Also, the way my family tells it, there’s not a Nordic gene in our pool. Everything else, but not Nordic.

Ballard is popular on Friday and Saturday nights for its many, if tiny, music venues and all the bands that come through. Two of the last few remaining record stores in Seattle are on the same street in Ballard. There’s a year round farmer’s market every Sunday that closes Ballard Avenue. That’s the street with the highest density of Ballard’s historical buildings, all of which are heavy stone or brick buildings. Most of them are undergoing earthquake retrofit to bring them up to code.

It’s a lovely part of town that I took a bit of poetic license with for NIGHTMARE INK. The Ballard of Isa’s world is less prosperous, a bit more run down and seedier. It’s also possible I put a bus line where no self-respecting metro bus would go. I rearranged some of the stores and turned my favorite, real-life tea shop into Isa’s tattoo parlor.

Ballard Building
Ballard Building

The cobbled streets outside Isa’s shop? They exist. They’re brick but they still rattle you when you drive over them. The cracked and heaved sidewalks are also a real thing. Seattle loves trees. Every gap in the sidewalk has a tree planted in it regardless of the roots lifting sections of sidewalk. City workers come and pour asphalt to smooth out the sidewalk and keep tripping risks down.

In Isa’s world, gangs run rampant all over the city, including in Ballard. And while Seattle does have its issues with gang activity, Ballard is just not that interesting. Go a little bit north, however, to a city park called Golden Gardens and the story changes. Hardly a summer went by that someone wasn’t shot or stabbed at the park – until the parks department brought in musical acts on Friday and Saturday summer nights for the last few hours that the park was open. Opera. I understand that crime rates at the park plummeted.

I haven’t found a way to work that into Isa’s world, yet, but I sure want to.

More About Nightmare Ink

With the needle of a tattoo gun, Isa Romanchzyk has the power to create and destroy. In her shop Nightmare Ink, Isa helps those in need by binding the powers embedded in their Live Ink—the magical tattoos that can enhance the life of the wearer, or end it.  But binding tattoos has earned Isa the contempt of her fellow artists—including her former lover Daniel.

When a friend comes to the shop with a tattoo on the verge of killing him, Isa can’t turn him away. For the first time in years, she works Live Ink into someone’s skin—something she swore she’d never do again. But breaking her vow soon becomes the least of her problems.

Isa is horrified to discover her friend’s body in the shop, but the real nightmare begins when she’s abducted and inked against her will.  Now, as she seeks retribution from the man who betrayed her, Isa must figure out how to bind her Living Tattoo before it consumes her completely…

You can purchase Nightmare Ink here:

More About Marcella

Marcella Burnard
Marcella Burnard

Marcella Burnard graduated from Cornish College of the Arts with a degree in acting. She writes science fiction romance for Berkley Sensation.

Her first book, Enemy Within won the Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice award for Best Futuristic of 2010. The second book in the series, Enemy Games, released on May 3, 2011.

An erotica novella, Enemy Mine, set in the same world as the novels was released as an e-special edition by Berkley was released in April 2012. Emissary, a sword and sorcery short story released in the two volume Thunder on the Battlefield Anthology in the second half of 2013.


Marcella: The writing playlist leans to the creepy. Usually, I don’t want someone else’s words competing with writing, so most of the music is instrumental. Lisa Gerrard is the exception. The Myst soundtracks in my mp3 player are Myst, Riven and Exile. Exile is my favorite (Peter Gabriel had a bit of a hand in that soundtrack and that’s a huge win from my perspective.) The Halo soundtrack is usually reserved for writing science fiction, but there were scenes in NIGHTMARE INK that called for some fight music. By far, however, Nox Arcana got the most play. Nox Arcana defines creepy. Every one of their albums is a concept album built around a theme. But here. YouTube links so you can sample the music I piped directly to my brain while I wrote NIGHTMARE INK.

Puzzle and Giveaway

Jill: Ya gotta click here to get to the cover puzzle, but I thought it was neat. (Did I mention I love puzzles?) Anyway, I couldn’t get the frame to load directly into this post. I guess WordPress.com doesn’t load frames or forms…? ‘Cause it won’t load the Rafflecopter forms either. Speaking of… Click here for the Rafflecopter form to enter to win one of the 5 e-copies of Nightmare Ink Marcella is giving away and click here for my official rules for giveaways.

So what about you? Do you have a favorite tea shop? Do you drink tea? How about coffee? Do you have a favorite tattoo parlor? Are you inked? (I know I asked that before but it was a long time ago and I have new followers now…) What’s your favorite tattoo? If you’re not inked, do you want to be? Me? Nope, but I know plenty of people who are. Thank you, Marcella, for guest blogging today!

Nightmare Ink Banner


Published by

Jill Archer

Jill Archer is the author of the Noon Onyx series, genre-bending fantasy novels including DARK LIGHT OF DAY, FIERY EDGE OF STEEL, WHITE HEART OF JUSTICE, and POCKET FULL OF TINDER.

2 thoughts on “Urban Fantasy Settings: Marcella Burnard on Remodeling Reality

  1. Awesome story concept, Marcella! I am a lover of great tattoos with non of my own to show for the passion. There is simply no image I could conceive on my body…forever. Yet. Ballard sounds like a wonderful place to live. Best of luck to you and Nightmare Ink!

    1. Hi Megan! Thanks for stopping by. I’m fascinated by tattoos too but, like you, I have tattoo commitment phobia. 😀

      In any case, I think Marcella’s premise sounds great and I love hearing behind-the-scenes stories of how authors come up with characters and settings.

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