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FOX TALE #ParanormalRomance by Karen Hulene Bartell

Karen Hulene Bartell returns with a look at her paranormal romance FOX TALE. The story centers around a Japanese myth about shape-shifting foxes called kitsunes. Karen even traveled to Japan to research the subject. Welcome, Karen, and tell us all about it!

Fox Tale Research – and Kitsunes

To research Fox Tale, I flew to Tokyo and Kyoto, Japan. When traveling, one of my favorite activities is talking with locals. (Luckily, many Japanese speak English!) I wanted to know what they thought, what they believed.

Specifically, I wanted to know if they (or their grandmothers, friends, or neighbors) believed in the existence of shapeshifters known as kitsunes.

The following excerpt encapsulates their responses:

“The belief in kitsunes began in simpler times when most people were farmers, who lived close to nature.”

“And now?” I glanced at his face, his eyes lustrous in the dim light.

“Most Japanese live in concrete canyons, and rational university educations replace superstition. Still, fox stories persist through theater, festivals, language, and literature…”

“Despite a waning belief?” I leaned closer.

“Even today, some believe in fox possession.”

I pulled back my head. “Is that what it sounds like—demonic possession?”

“Not necessarily. Kitsune possession can take three forms.” One by one, he raised his fingers, counting off the ways. “Possession of an individual, a family, or a medium.”

“A medium what?” I frowned.

“A channeler or psychic, someone who invites the kitsune to inhabit her body and use her voice to predict the future.” His sniff passing for a laugh, he leaned closer as if taking me into his confidence. “Of course, the medium expects the kitsune to vacate her body afterwards, which is a leap of faith. Once in possession, the fox may stay.” His voice became husky. “The kitsune is formidable.”

“You’d mentioned three forms of Kitsune possession. What are the other two?”

“The kitsune can possess entire families.” His mouth twisting, his grin was cynical. “Although some would say the families possess him since the household’s members make the fox spirit do their bidding, either for their success or their enemies’ demise. A fox spirit often lives with its family for generations—as long as the members care for it.”

“I can understand the medium’s issue with the kitsune not leaving, but if you believe in such things, this hereditary possession sounds like an ideal arrangement.” Squinting, I hunched my shoulders. “What’s the drawback?”

“Historically, people feared those families and wouldn’t socialize with them or marry into them. Even today, their descendants have trouble finding spouses.”

“Are you serious?” I glanced up from the uneven path. “Why?”

“Fox magic. The nogitsune were thought to steal from neighbors, cause illness, or possess people against their will.” His unwavering gaze captured my attention.

For several moments, I was spellbound. Then breaking the connection, I peered at the paper lanterns illuminating the tunnel. The lamps’ uncanny red glow generated a shadowy, surreal landscape that kindled my imagination. “How can you tell when people are possessed?”

“They all share an addiction…”

Blurb, FOX TALE:

Heights terrify Ava. When a stranger saves her from plunging down a mountain, he diverts her fears with tales of Japanese kitsune—shapeshifting foxes—and she begins a journey into the supernatural.

She’s attracted to Chase, both physically and metaphysically, yet primal instincts urge caution when shadows suggest more than meets the eye.

She’s torn between Chase and Rafe, her ex, when a chance reunion reignites their passion, but she struggles to overcome two years of bitter resentment. Did Rafe jilt her, or were they pawns of a larger conspiracy? Are the ancient legends true of kitsunes twisting time and events?

Fox Tale Excerpt:

“Ava, are you all right?”

“Yes…” His anxious eyes cleared my mind like fog lights cutting through mist. “I am all right…no thanks to you.”

“I deserve that.” His chin dropped on his chest.

“That and so much more.” This time, anger rose in my throat like acid reflux.

After the breakup, I couldn’t mention the bastard’s name for a year. Always questioning what I’d done wrong, I finally realized his leaving was his flaw--not mine. Then I fantasized telling him off, rehearsing what I’d say and how I’d say it…

But now, face to face, the bluster left me.

Worry lines radiated from his glistening eyes.

Mute testament to what? Grief? Remorse? Like drops of water eroding stone, what thoughts etched those furrows? His face was haggard. His looks have changed, but has he?

“Your behavior two years ago was unconscionable.” I pressed five, and the elevator doors started to close. “I shouldn’t have come.”

He intercepted, and the doors reopened. “Please stay…”

I took a deep breath, debating. Then rather than hold up the car again, I stepped into the vestibule.

“Can you forgive me?” A deep V showed between his red-rimmed eyes.

“No. Standing me up on my birthday was bad enough but eloping…That was unforgiveable--and crocodile tears won’t help.”

“Yet here you are…” A light flickered in his moist eyes.

“I know.” I glared at my nemesis in a silent standoff, annoyed as I stifled a sigh. “What I don’t know is why.”

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Author Biography:

Author of the Trans-Pecos, Sacred Emblem, Sacred Journey, and Sacred Messenger series, as well as Kissing Kin, Fox Tale, Wild Rose Pass, The Keys: Voice of the Turtle and more, Karen is a best-selling author, motivational keynote speaker, IT technical editor, wife, and all-around pilgrim of life. She writes multicultural, offbeat love stories steeped in the supernatural. Born to rolling-stone parents who moved annually, Bartell found her earliest playmates as fictional friends in books. Paperbacks became her portable pals. Ghost stories kept her up at night—reading feverishly. The paranormal was her passion. Novels offered an imaginative escape. An only child, she began writing her first novel at the age of nine, learning the joy of creating her own happy endings. Professor emeritus of the University of Texas at Austin, Karen resides in the Texas Piney Woods with her husband Peter and her mews—three rescued cats and a rescued Catahoula Leopard dog.

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Apr 09

Thanks again, Jana. Appreciated being here!



Apr 09

Thank you for hosting FOX TALE and me today, Jana! I have a question for your viewers: How do YOU research your novels?

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