As I was giving this web site a much needed makeover, I realized I hadn’t written a post since…December 2018?! *Gasps*
And to be honest, I don’t really have the compulsion to blog as much as I used to (although I could probably do a bit better than once every ten months…). I mostly want this web site to be a place where people can find out more about the Reborn series, and what I’m currently working on, all in one place.
I do have a few more books planned for the Reborn series. The first wraps up Siobhan’s (and Carly’s) stories from the previous three books. I also have a partial draft of a stand-alone, Halloween novel that takes place in the Reborn world. I thought I’d be able to get that out for this Halloween, but I’m pushing it back again. (Sorry about that, but I had a wonderful, whirlwind of a summer getting married and moving!)
Also, I have a super secret WIP that has kind of taken precedence. I’ve been working on it on and off for a long time, and it just needs to get done. But I’m excited about it! There’s really no reason for it to be super secret, except that it’s not part of the Reborn series, and I’m not ready to talk much about it yet. I will say it’s a YA science fiction novel with some romance and a lot of drama. (Think Riverdale…with aliens. LOL.)
In any case, you know I like to share playlists of the songs I’m listening to while I’m working on a project. So, here you go…my super angsty, YA book playlist (with YouTube links).
In retrospect, there is a lot of Billie Eilish on here. I’m an adult.
Usually I save my update posts for Wednesdays, but I found myself with a free moment and decided a blog post was long overdue! Read on for updates regarding the availability of e-books in the Reborn series as well as current WIPs.
A few months ago, I took down Reclaim (Reborn book #3) and Revenge (a novella) from Smashwords so that I could make them exclusive to Kindle for a period of time and take advantage of Amazon’s deal options (which are only available for exclusive books). And, although I do like the Amazon Kindle platform for a lot of things (I mean, I do make most of my sales there), this was a somewhat failed experiment, lol. It happens. I have basically come to the conclusion that Kindle Unlimited is useless (at least for authors, and maybe specifically indie authors).
But the good news is, this means I’m taking these books out of KDP Select once the enrollment periods end and making them available for Nook, Apple, and the other e-book platforms once again! The enrollment period is up for Reclaim on December 10, and on December 16 for Revenge. After the terms end, I’ll publish them again through Smashwords. There will be some lag time as they get approved for Premium Status and then transferred to all of Smashwords’ affiliates, but I’m guessing by the end of December they will be available on all of those platforms. I’ll post links to the home page as they go live.
Some of you might know this from following me on Twitter, but I did National Novel Writing Month (a.k.a. NaNoWriMo) this year! Woooo! Lol. I didn’t “win” (the goal is to write 50,000 words in November), but I did come pretty close. Writing a little over 40K is still pretty good, if you ask me. 😉 Sure, it’s probably 40K crap that I will tear apart later as I’m editing, but sometimes you just gotta get words down on a page. Otherwise you will never get anywhere.
My NaNoWriMo project was sort of unexpected. I didn’t think I’d get as deep into it as I did, which is a good thing! Honestly, it started out as some Reborn series backstory. Then, I started thinking I could maybe get a companion novella out of it. Now it’s turning into a monster, ha. Even if I had reached the 50K mark it still wouldn’t be done, so it’s definitely a work-in-progress. I had to put it aside for a little bit because I had deadlines for other things that cropped up, but my goal is to try to finish the first draft before the new year.
So, yes, it’s another book that takes place in the Reborn world…as in, the same “rules” of magic apply as in the other books of the series, but it’s about a different set of characters (one of them does make a guest appearance in Revenge and Reclaim).
The idea began to germinate when I was reading up on Hades and Persephone. I loosely knew their origin story, but needed a refresher. And, just like the Greek myths that inspired the other Reborn books (and namely, Eros and Psyche), I was left thinking about how creepy it was. Of course, I try to put it in context…our modern perspectives on some of the themes in these ancient stories is quite different and still constantly evolving. Still, the story of Hades’ abduction of Persephone is pretty creepy, to say the least.
Just like with Psyche and Eros, I wanted to put a modern twist on it. I wanted it to take place considerably before the events of Reborn, so it starts out at a Halloween party in the year 1999. (I also started writing it right after Halloween so…yeah.) Persephone is a “daughter” of the ’90s so to speak, so when she encounters Hades she doesn’t put up with any of his b.s. Also, since she is from a more modern time period, there’s a weird time travel element to it that hopefully won’t be too confusing. But, to quote the good Doctor, time is just a big ball of wibbly wobbly, time-y wimey stuff, anyway. 😉
So in essence it’s a sort of time traveling, Greek myth meets Beauty and the Beast dark romantic fantasy novel. (That’s a genre, right?)
It has a working title that I don’t feel like sharing yet because this project could still go nowhere. I could end up deciding it’s still just good backstory–good for me to know the events in it happened, but not necessary for readers. As writers, a lot of stuff we write doesn’t, and shouldn’t, see the light of day. But for now I’m excited about it, and it seems to have potential…
To conclude, here is a playlist of random songs I’ve been listening to while writing it (don’t even ask me how T. Swiftie made it onto this playlist, even I don’t know the answer to that…). YouTube links are included.
When I first conceived the Reborn series, it was just supposed to be a trilogy, and it was just supposed to be about Siobhan and Jasper.
But as I was writing Relapse, I realized other characters in this world had their own, complex stories to tell. One of those characters is, of course, Carly. I’ll address my plans for the rest of the series in a future post, but today I’d like to share with you some of the things that inspired the third installment Reclaim, which releases February 15 (and is available for pre-order now!).
Reclaim initially came out of me psychoanalyzing my own book (Relapse), lol. I try not to censor what comes out of my head when I write (I don’t take something out else unless I truly hate it, it doesn’t make sense, or it ends up really not working). Although I make rough outlines for my books, the characters tend to take the story where they want it to go, and who am I to force them to go another way. (This probably won’t make any sense to you unless you are also a writer, haha.)
That being said…I didn’t like where I had left Carly at the end of that book. (Also, if you haven’t read the first two books yet, this is your obligatory spoiler alert.)
If you recall, Carly’s plot thread in Relapse ended with her realizing there was literally no way she (and Dolos) could get out of Pandora without help. Up until that point, Carly had been more proactive thinking about ways to get out, but eventually she had to accept that it wasn’t going to happen. They had to wait to be rescued.
Then, things got even worse for Carly. She’s part Olympian, but also part human, and so was weakening at a much faster rate than Dolos. She was dying, but Dolos used his ability to create illusions to distract her, and to lessen her pain. I don’t regret writing it that way because I wanted to show that, despite the act he showed to the world, Dolos was, deep down, a good guy, and he cared about Carly, a lot. I like writing those “awwwwww” moments that also kind of make you want to cry and give you lots of feels. (As a romance reader and writer, I enjoy those moments where you realize just how much the hero loves the heroine, and the lengths he’ll go to protect her. But thinking about it a little more deeply, this can sometimes be at the expense of the female character’s autonomy.)
As you know, at the end of Relapse, Siobhan did come to their rescue, and Carly was freed. Woot! Hooray!
Sure, Carly had a moment of weakness, and needed the help of a friend, but I didn’t want to keep her in that position. So I decided to center the next installment around her and how she would…ahem…reclaim her power.
Although I keep the details vague, you also get the sense in Carly’s part of Relapse that, as a child, she was the victim of abuse at the hands of her stepfather. In Reclaim, Carly gets an opportunity to confront this dark period in her life and some of the ways it’s still affecting her. And, just like Siobhan seems to have some pretty unique halfling abilities, Carly taps into a unique power of her own.
Let the Games Begin!
One thing you may remember about Dolos from Relapse is he likes playing games. (Whether he likes playing fairly is another story…) Games are also a theme in Reclaim.
By the way, Dolos’s alter ego is inspired by a combination of Jareth from Labyrinth and Julian from L.J. Smith’s The Forbidden Game trilogy (who probably also has a bit of Jareth in him). There’s enough of a twist on it that my book isn’t TFG fanfiction, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge Smith’s influence on my writing. As you’ll see, the opening quote in Reclaim is from the first TFG book, The Hunter: “Sometimes you can’t return good for evil; sometimes evil simply has to be stopped.”
A year ago, when I was first planning out this book and thinking about this theme of games, I remember looking up game theory on Wikipedia. Which took me to a page on pursuit-evasion games, like the princess and monster game. This got me further thinking about portrayals of girls and women in video games, TV shows, movies…basically any form of media…although it is getting better, and at least people are acknowledging and talking about it. So Reclaim became a story about “princess” Carly, battling her own monsters–literal and figurative–and, ultimately, owning her own power.
It’s also just a fun book with some sexy scenes, some fight scenes, and lots of witty banter. 😉
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard that English musician/icon/Goblin King David Bowie passed away last week at age 69 from cancer. (As if that weren’t sad enough, Alan Rickman, the talented English actor who portrayed–among other memorable roles–misunderstood Potions professor Severus Snape in the Harry Potter franchise, also passed away. At age 69. From cancer.) I’m not usually one for getting emotional about “celebrity” deaths–then again, this is the first time that someone well-known I actually really liked has died. I mean, when you’ve spent hours upon hours listening to someone’s music, feeling feels (I’m sorry, I’m not good with the words today) and getting inspired, it’s hard not to feel sad. Bowie is an artist who seemed larger than life, but his death was sort of a weird reminder that he was mortal, just like the rest of us. He’s left quite an impact over the years, a legacy I’m sure will endure far beyond his death.
There’s been a huge outpouring of grief over his passing and support for his family over social media, which, of course, not just any normal person would get, and I hope it brings some comfort to Iman and his kids–to know how many lives he touched. As a side note, I’ve found it a little strange that the press keeps calling his death “sudden.” For his fans, yes, it was unexpected, and I suppose that’s what they mean. But perhaps not for his family. An 18-month long battle with cancer is long and emotionally draining for all involved–and yet Bowie didn’t let it get in the way of creativity, of getting out one last album for his fans. That album, Blackstar, has become his first number 1 selling album here in the U.S., which is awesome but at the same time a little depressing. He had many other albums that deserved to get that spot, but death has that kind of effect on art.
I can’t say that, without Bowie, there would be no Reborn series, but it would probably be a somewhat different series. His songs and various stage and film personas have definitely inspired me, and will continue to do so. So, as my own little tribute to the Thin White Duke, here is a top ten list of my favorite Bowie songs. This was hard to compile, since I like most of his work. But I made myself pick 10 that mean something personal to me, or that I just simply love. Also, except for number 10, this list doesn’t include some of his collaborations that I like (like Placebo’s Without You I’m Nothing and the PSB remix of Hallo Spaceboy). They may not necessarily be everybody’s favorites or critical darlings, but this is my blog and my list, dammit. And feel free to share your favorites in the comments!
10. Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy
This is probably a random one, but for me, this is the song that started it all. Before I heard this delightful Bing Crosby/Bowie duet on the radio circa Christmas 2005 (yes, the radio, this was pre-YouTube/Pandora/Spotify), all I had heard about David Bowie was that he was kind of weird. But then I heard this angelic voice singing with Bing and was surprised, in a good way, to learn who it was.
9. Oh! You Pretty Things
Probably one of the main reasons I like Bowie so much is due to my love for science fiction and fantasy. Much of his work, particularly in the 70s, incorporated sci-fi themes and characters. Oh! You Pretty Things has a sci-fi/dystopian flavor to it coupled with a lively tune, and the lyrics are pretty catchy, too. (Anna and Peter sing a duet of it in Relapse, which was also a bit of foreshadowing for things to come in future books).
8. Life on Mars?
I think this is probably one of his more famous tunes, although perhaps an acquired taste. The lyrics string together a series of seemingly disjointed scenes, but together they create a picture of a young person trying to make sense out of the world and images around them.
7. Moonage Daydream
Just like all of the songs that made this list, Moonage Daydream is one of my personal favorites–the only thing is, I’m not even sure why, haha. I just love this song.
I couldn’t write a Bowie top ten list without including a song from the Labyrinth soundtrack. Although there are lots of gems on there (Magic Dance, When the World Falls Down, Within You), I decided I had to go with Underground. At the risk of sounding pretentious, this song, from the soundtrack of an 80s children’s fantasy movie, sounds better than most of the songs they play on the radio today, lol.
5. Five Years
As an urban fantasy/paranormal romance writer, it takes me 200+ pages to create the world and story I envision in my head. It takes Bowie 3-5 minutes, in songs like Five Years (below), and Drive-In Saturday (an honorable mention).
4. Modern Love
80s Bowie likely had a bit more widespread appeal than Ziggy Stardust, and–although there was a disappointing lack of space/aliens–his hits during this phase of his career were fun and catchy. Modern Love is my second favorite thing (Labyrinth is the first) Bowie did in the 80s.
3. Rebel, Rebel
I think one of the reasons Bowie’s glam rock days have had such a lasting impact is that he showed people it’s okay to be “weird” (whatever that means to you). He was a voice for the outcasts of his generation, telling them “you’re not alone” in songs like Rock ‘n Roll Suicide. His most covered track (according to Wikipedia), Rebel, Rebel captures this spirit. Also note his fabulous getup in this video.
Okay, so clearly Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust/glam rock days are my favorite. So many great songs, especially Starman.
And, finally, my number 1 favorite song of all time, out of all the songs and all the musicians. Well, it might be tied with Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, but right now it has a slight edge. Heroes gives me chills and feels.
So, it’s been two months since my last brief update post, and…one year since my last “official” WIP (work-in-progress) Wednesday post, lol. I haven’t been completely unproductive during that time…I just haven’t been blogging as much. I recently posted a short update to the “My Books” section of this blog, so some of this is a repeat of that. I originally created WIP Wednesday to keep you all updated as to what I’m working on. Since I sort of disappeared (well, from social media) for the last few months, I think we’re due for an update.
However, I’m not going to blog as consistently as I used to so I can concentrate on writing instead. When you self-publish, you have to play writer (obviously), but also editor and promoter, in addition to all of those annoying little things I wish I could delegate to someone else, ha (mostly the layout/formatting stuff). Thankfully, I have several beta readers as well as some smart friends and family members who help me edit. It’s always a good idea to have a fresh set of eyes read your work, even though I still give it a final read through for final touches. My point is…and yes, I promise there is a point to my rambling about this…sometimes these roles start to blend together, and activities like promotion start to take over from the most important part: the writing. So this fall, it’s all about the writing–the characters, the relationships, the world-building, resolving old conflicts, creating new ones, and–one of my favorites–the plot twist.
Right now, I’m working on the third installment of the Reborn series, which takes a break from Siobhan and Jasper’s rollercoaster of a relationship to focus on Siobhan’s sorority sister, Carly. It doesn’t have a title yet…I have one in mind, but it still might change so I’m resisting the urge to share it yet. Without giving away too many spoilers from Relapse, there’s a time jump toward the end where clearly a lot of stuff went down, and you find out what that stuff was in Book Three. This is the story of how Carly saves her sorority, learning the hard way that becoming a leader means making some tough choices and personal sacrifices. Carly really comes into her own in this book. In Reborn, she’s just one of Siobhan’s sorority sisters, quick with a sarcastic comeback but easily talked into things by her friends. She faces some personal demons in Relapse and comes out of her shell a little bit, opening herself up to the possibility of love. In Book Three, Carly meets every challenge and obstacle with determination and courage. And, unlike some of the other characters, Carly isn’t as easily seduced by the promise of power or thrill of danger.
Book Three also continues the story of Carly’s relationship with the trickster god Dolos, although, like many of the relationships in this series, it gets very rocky. In Relapse, their relationship took a pivotal step forward–in this book, it will take about ten steps back. I’m just warning you, haha. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I don’t often like reading or writing about relationships in which the characters end up happily ever after with everything tied up in a neat little bow in the end. I’m much more interested in the will-they-or-won’t-they part, or even the should-they-or-shouldn’t-they. (One example is Elena and Damon’s relationship in The Vampire Diaries. They had the same dynamic in the book, but right now I’m thinking about the TV show. I much preferred it when Elena was with Stefan lusting after Damon from afar, lol. It’s the whole forbidden/temptation aspect: Damon is Stefan’s brother, and usually the bad one out of the two. As soon as Elena and Damon finally got together, I was bored.) Just thought I’d let you all know where I’m coming from with this. It’s the way I’m writing right now…that could change in the future. Also, I hope that, in future books, all of my characters will get their happy endings. (But, sometimes, the messy ending is the ending, and it’s up to the reader to imagine where it could have gone/where he or she would want it to go. Isn’t that what fanfiction is for?)
I’m about 16,000 words into this project. I don’t really have a word count goal for it, except that it will be a little longer than Reborn, perhaps a bit shorter than Relapse. I used to think it was going to be a novella until I realized all of the places I could take it. It took me awhile to really get this project underway, but in the end, I’m glad that I waited. I’ve worked out a lot of the plot kinks in my head, and it’s going in a much better direction now than it would have if I would have started writing it a few months ago. I have the major conflicts and turning points in mind, but right now I’m just writing without using much of an outline, just seeing where the characters and story want to take me. They usually end up going in another direction, anyway, even when I do try to use an outline…
My other goal is to do more bouncing between projects so you don’t have to wait a bajillion years for the next installment to release. I myself am a very impatient person, and I know how frustrating it can be to wait. I also know you may be wondering where I’m going with Siobhan’s story–what makes her so unique compared to the other halflings, and whether she’ll bounce back from the darkness she succumbed to at the end of Relapse. So I’m getting that project underway, soon, too.
But get excited for Carly’s book, because it’s going to be awesome, and will probably incorporate more elements from gothic fiction and horror than its predecessors do. Most of it takes place as night, and some of it after-hours at a creepy amusement park. I’m listening mostly to Melanie Martinez’s Cry Baby album while I’m writing this, which just has so many awesome songs on it, my favorite of which is below. She’s just my new favorite person.
In other news: You can now follow me on Pinterest! It was supposed to be so I could save inspirational pins for characters, places, fashion, etc., but right now it seems my Tom Hiddleston board is seeing the most action…..
Hi all, and happy almost July! 😉 This is just one of my quick check in posts. First off, I have another giveaway happening on Goodreads for a chance to win a signed paperback copy of Relapse. It’s open to U.S. residents only through the end of the day on Sunday, July 5. (One day I’ll be able to offer these giveaways to readers abroad, when I have money or something.) You can enter here.
For my fellow indie authors, I thought I’d share the results of my first giveaway of Reborn through Goodreads. I’ve prattled on about marketing before on this blog, but really my basic marketing strategy so far is to try a bunch of things and see if they work, lol. Although I’m by no means an expert, I like to share what I find out in hopes that a fellow author might find it useful. I mean, that’s how I pick up all of my book pimping ideas–from seeing what both traditionally published and indie authors do, how they get the word out about their books. I wanted to try another avenue for my giveaways to reach a wider audience than my Facebook page (although I’ll continue to hold them on there, too). The fact that Facebook hides everything now has made it a little harder. Also, I may have read an article that said indie goddess superstar Colleen Hoover’s first novel made it big after she did a giveaway on Goodreads, lol. The skeptic in me realizes that probably a lot of people have tried this and have NOT become instant indie god/dess superstars. I’m pretty sure Colleen Hoover is made of magic.
Anyway, the point is that I tried it. Here’s what happened, and what you might notice, too, if you try it. 1. A lot of people will enter the giveaway. I’m not even sure how people find out about these things, but over the 5 day giveaway, I had 407 people enter, which didn’t seem too shabby. 2. Also, you’ll see a spike in the “to read” shelf for your book because I *think* Goodreads requires you to add it so you can enter the giveaway. 3. I had a few downloads and Goodreads ratings trickle in for Reborn, and picked up a couple more followers. What I don’t know yet is if the winner will actually rate/review the book after she reads it. It would be really awesome to get a review out of it–then again, I’m always wary of getting reviews on Goodreads. (I’m still bracing myself for the day when someone goes off on a long hate tangent about one of my books. As a woman writing fairly sexy books, I feel that this is somehow, unfortunately, inevitable. Though I guess, as they say, any publicity is good publicity…)
So, the jury is still out on whether the Goodreads giveaway will help with reviews and spreading the word about Reborn. Nevertheless, I opened up the giveaway for Relapse this week. I’ll write a follow-up post about all of this at some point. Otherwise, July’s experiment is to not do any other pricing promotions or anything like that (well, except for this giveaway). I play around with the prices of my books a lot, but for now they are going to remain steady. (FYI, Reborn is $1.99, and Relapse is $2.99. Both are now available through all ebook platforms.) I’m going to TRY to focus less on marketing, and more on writing.
Speaking of writing…I am writing, I swear. I have a lot of other life stuff going on right now (ch-ch-ch-ch-changes), but I’m fitting in some planning and writing here and there. I have some ideas for the titles of the rest of the series and pounded out a few book summaries last night. I don’t know if anyone else is like this, but sometimes it helps me to write a draft of a back cover-type book summary before I write the book. It helps me to be more focused from the start–otherwise, I end up having subplots galore. (I’m still afraid that sometimes Relapse has too many subplots…) For titles, I am attempting to stick to words starting with “re-” so that they have some sort of common thread, but was really drawing a blank for a while. I tried to brainstorm “r” words with my mom, the former English teacher, who also helps me edit, but all she came up with was “rutabaga.” I guess in the next book Siobhan could eat a magical rutabaga that gives her more special powers. (Don’t worry, I’m not calling the next book Rutabaga.)
Otherwise, I’ve been spending my summer finishing up work with my current adviser, getting some reading in, and watching season four of Game of Thrones. (I know, I’m a little behind.) And Poldark on Masterpiece Theatre. Mostly because of Aidan Turner (who, by the way, also played Kili in the recent string of Hobbit movies). There are also a lot of other good things about the show, like some interesting characters and a plot and stuff.
Anyway, those are all of the updates I have. Happy Fourth of July, and enjoy the long weekend!
This is just a short post to say hi and Happy Valentine’s Day! Enjoy the day with your loved ones. And, if you’re a fellow single lady (or gent), make sure to treat yourself!
I wanted to use up my last free day while Relapse is enrolled in KDP Select, so it’s free through the end of the day today! It’s the perfect read for Valentine’s Day…well, if you like your romances dark with a side of twisted. You can download it here and add it on Goodreads here.
Have anything special planned for the day! Feel free to share in the comments! I have a lot of work to do today, so I’m living vicariously through you. 😉
With only a few weeks left until Relapse releases on Tuesday, December 2, let’s get reacquainted with some of the characters.
I thought I already had a profile up for Jimmy, but I guess I must have taken it down at some point. You probably remember Jimmy as Siobhan’s old flame from high school. Their love starts to rekindle in Reborn, but Siobhan’s growing attraction for Jasper gets in the way. I guess, if you include Max, Reborn sort of has a love quadrangle. Things get even more complicated in Relapse when Apate decides to make Jimmy her latest boy toy. So, really, it’s a love…web? A web of love and lies…
James (Jimmy) Wallace
Age: Early twenties
Hometown: Laurel, Pennsylvania
Occupation: Bartender; lead singer of punk rock band Search and Destroy
Physical Description: Short, dark brown hair; hazel eyes; square jaw; lips usually set in a stubborn pout; aversion to wearing shirts
Only two more weeks until Relapse comes out…..eek!!!!! Why did I decide to release it right after Thanksgiving again? Oh, right, because I love you guys, and I want you to have something to read over winter break. 😉
Before we go on with today’s post, I thought I’d mention I got a little (very, very little) writing done this weekend…335 words, to be exact. I’m working on a novella from Anna’s POV. The novella takes place somewhat parallel to the events in Reborn. I don’t know if I’ll do anything with it, or if it will become part of the next book. I’m mainly doing it to find her voice and flesh out her back story, since I want to incorporate more from her POV in future books.
But, anyway, that’s not what today’s post is about. I want to talk about influences: the authors, themes, and types of characters I’ve become obsessed with over the years. This may turn into a two-part post…we shall see…
1. Mischief and Mayhem
As a reader and writer, I’ve always been intrigued by the idea that there could be these otherworldly, always mischievous (and often malevolent) beings sort of lurking in the background, in worlds adjacent to our own, influencing it in ways we don’t realize. (Or sometimes, as they do in Reborn, they get very mixed up in our world.) It’s a totally freaky, even creepy idea–one I think is so much fun to explore in fiction, but nothing I actually believe in real life. When I was first playing around with the story that would eventually become Reborn, this is the concept I knew I wanted to capture. I wanted my supernatural beings to be volatile, mischievous, and manipulative–characteristics often embodied by The Fair Folk. I’m talking about the devious Fair Folk of Irish lore, or like Puck et al in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, not the Disney fairies like Tinker Bell, lol. To be quite honest, I don’t know a lot about Irish folklore besides what I’ve seen other authors use–and they’ve incorporated it quite well already into works of fiction, so I wanted to do something a little different.
I think Karen Marie Moning’s Fae are the best–but, as she is my favorite author, I’m probably biased. In Moning’s Highlander and Fever series, the Fae are arrogant, devious, and lethally seductive. Back in the day, I wrote a book review of The Immortal Highlander–my absolute favorite of her Highlander romance novels. Immortal’s antihero, Adam Black, is a good example of this type of character, although he’s not mischievous in a cruel way. The Seelie Queen places a curse on Adam that strips him of his immortality and makes him invisible. His is a hopeless case until he meets Gabby, a sidhe-seer–gifted with seeing beyond the glamour used by the Fae, and the only one who can see Adam. Since Gabby seems to be his only hope, Adam ingratiates himself into Gabby’s life and eventually convinces her to help him. It’s been awhile since I’ve read this book, but I remember Adam perched on Gabby’s desk at her law firm while she tried to get work done, nagging her. Obviously, that kind of behavior would be super creepy and annoying in real life, but the love-hate dynamic between Adam and Gabby made for a very entertaining book. It didn’t help that Adam’s glamour was that of a sexy Scottish Highlander, making it almost impossible for Gabby to resist him.
Moning went on to write the Fever series–a sexy urban fantasy series in which the walls between our world and that of the Fae become even thinner. The Immortal Highlander isn’t an official prequel to the Fever series, but it’s definitely where her books about time-traveling, sexy Scottish Highlanders start to get much darker, and it sets up the conflict for her later books. I think the Fever series was a pretty daring one–primarily, I’d call it an urban fantasy, but Moning combines elements of a bunch of different genres and just makes it work so well (mystery, sci-fi, romance, and they’re funny as hell). I’d say for marketing purposes, it’s a good strategy to choose one or maybe two genres that your work fits into, but her books have taught me that it’s okay to push the limits of a genre and mix things up a bit.
A very much related type of character is:
2. The Trickster
The Trickster is, according to TV Tropes, which I can’t stop reading lately, a type of character that “plays tricks or otherwise disobeys normal rules and conventional behavior.” This is definitely related to what I’ve described above, but I’m separating them out. We can depict these qualities in an entire race, like the Fair Folk (or the Olympians…), or in an individual character (whose peers may or may not embody these traits). I prefer the darker, more anti-hero-ish tricksters who use outright manipulation and deception to get what they want, without (much) remorse. They also pretty much pop in and out of places and situations as they like without a whole lot of consideration for rules or puny humans other people. Recent examples include Rumpelstiltskin on ABC’s Once Upon A Time and Loki in the Thor franchise. Another classic example (teehee) is Jareth from Labyrinth.
One of my other favorite trickster types is Julian from L.J. Smith’s The Forbidden Game. I’ve most definitely fan-girled over this trilogy before on this blog, but it’s one of my all-time favs. One of my friends introduced me to L.J. Smith back in freshman year or so of high school, and my life was changed, forever. (Dramatic much?) These books were already ten years old or so when I originally read them, and now…yes, I just confirmed on Wikipedia, The Forbidden Game is twenty years old. Aaaaaand now I officially feel old.
Anyway, I reread them this summer (they were first published as separate books, but since they’re short, they’re published now in an omnibus edition), and…they were still good. Sure, they’re written at about a middle school reading level, and, since they are so short, I noticed some of the repetition. Smith is a fan of the epithet, which, in a longer book, may help you remember each character–but, in a shorter book, it gets repetitive. Even so, there’s just something about Smith’s writing I’ve always loved. It almost has a beat to it–like poetry.
The Forbidden Game is an urban fantasy trilogy with a tiny blonde-haired, green-eyed protagonist named Jenny Thornton. Jenny starts out as an innocent, naive girl still dependent on her childhood sweetheart, Tom. (I mean, Tom’s nickname for her is Thorny. You don’t get any more disgustingly cute than that.) There’s mystery and magic from the start of Book One, The Hunter, when Jenny, who is being followed by two delinquent-types, takes refuge in a strange store called “More Games.” She buys a game in a plain white box, simply called “The Game,” from the even stranger boy running the shop. Of course, with his white-blonde hair and otherworldly blue eyes, he’s über attractive–and, despite his seeming indifference towards her, Jenny feels a strange connection to him.
That night, Jenny, Tom, and the rest of their friends start to play The Game, setting up a paper house and drawing their worst nightmares on sheets of paper. The next thing they know, they’re inside the paper mansion, transported there by the cyberpunk boy from the More Games store. His name is Julian, and he’s the youngest of an ancient race called The Shadow Men. In order to win Julian’s twisted game, Jenny and her friends must confront their worst fears–and, if they lose The Game, they lose their lives. Julian is a predator and master of manipulation (and very Jareth-esque). Of course, as the series goes on, you find out that Julian maybe isn’t the ultimate big bad he claims to be.
The Forbidden Game includes one of L.J. Smith’s favorite themes (and, okay, one of mine): the love triangle. Ms. Smith’s love triangle is usually set up as the relatively innocent girl caught between the good guy/hero type and the seemingly bad boy/antihero. In this case, Jenny’s good guy is Tom, and Jenny’s bad boy is Julian. Jenny knows that sweet and caring Tom is the guy for her, but she can’t help but be tempted by Julian’s beauty and charisma. These books are also about obsessive love: Julian is obsessed with Jenny and will do anything to have her.
Which brings us to one of my other favorite topics, and the final one for tonight:
3. Forbidden Desires
Two of my favorite themes in fiction are sin and temptation (well, what is perceived to be sinful by that character). Often, this takes the form of fairly-innocent-girl-gets-tempted-by-dark-sexy-mysterious-man’s-dark-world-of-…..darkness…..okay, I’m becoming less and less articulate as this post goes on, but you get the gist. 😉 Let’s just call it forbidden love/lust. This theme probably at least in part stems from the idea of sex as a sinful or evil act–perhaps a very Western/Christian notion. In some of these stories, the innocent heroine, initially intrigued by the sexy, devilish antihero, ultimately resists temptation and does the “right” thing. Going further with this interpretation, maybe it has something to do with the antiquated notion that women retain their virtue and innocence for as long as possible. And, even though I don’t agree with that, it’s a fun theme to explore in fiction. This is probably why Nathaniel Hawthorne, who was big on writing about sin, temptation, and the hypocrisy of the Puritans, remains one of my favorite classical authors.
Like I said, The Forbidden Game is the perfect example of this. Throughout the series, Jenny has to battle against her attraction to Julian in order to do the right thing and save her friends. But Julian’s influence on her isn’t all bad: Jenny transforms from the innocent girl who still relies on her boyfriend for everything into a more independent and confident young woman who thinks for herself. This theme of the allure of darkness is also a major theme in the musical The Phantom of the Opera. And in a certain 80s children’s fantasy movie.
With the relatively recent explosion in popularly of paranormal romance and other darker forms of romance and fantasy, the above types of characters and themes are fairly common right now–although not every author approaches them in quite the same way. These otherworldly characters, whether they’re the Fae, gods, fallen angels, vampires, etc., may be charming and alluring, but they’re also cunning, dangerous, predatory, and don’t play by our (human) rules. Of late, they’re also typically inhumanly beautiful, which further emphasizes their almost irresistible pull and maybe plays a little bit into the notion that not everything attractive is good for you.
When I think of what a paranormal romance is–just what exactly the genre encompasses–these types of characters and themes are what come to my mind. I think everybody is a little bit different with regards to this. Although many paranormal romances still have that major, initial element of forbidden love, some authors go on to develop a story that is a little more traditionally romantic/lovey dovey, and it’s this type of story a lot of readers are used to now. Since I’ve been marketing Reborn as a paranormal romance, I think a few people have been confused by how I chose to approach Siobhan and Jasper’s relationship. It’s not traditionally romantic–it’s passionate and intense, but also a roller-coaster ride, and even a bit scary at times. That’s because the, er, “classic” paranormal romances, like L.J. Smith’s work, combine themes from the romance and horror genres. I’m not even sure “romance” is the right word, except that it captures the passionate relationship between the two lead characters. But these stories are also about temptation, forbidden desires, obsessive “love,” good and evil, dominance and submission, predator and prey. The settings are dark, mysterious, and sinister–as are some of the characters.
If you’ve read Reborn, you may see now how the above ideas have influenced it. My Olympians are, for the most part, volatile, capricious, mischievous, and manipulative. And even the ones that aren’t completely devious have a dark side (as the tagline for Relapse says, everybody has one…although perhaps not quite to the extent that my characters do, lol). Siobhan isn’t completely innocent in the conventional sense, but she’s a bit of a small-town girl thrown, thanks to Jasper, into the darker, alluring world of the Olympians. Jasper is her forbidden fruit–Siobhan knows he’s dangerous, but is tempted all the same (and Jasper will go to any lengths to keep her). And, unlike the strong, “virtuous” ladies described above, Siobhan isn’t as good at resisting temptation. In Relapse, Siobhan’s struggle against this forbidden world is taken to a new level as she begins to realize she’s more like the manipulative, control-freak Olympians than she thought. As a final tease, you’ll also meet a new character in Relapse–a sexy, silly, trickster-type like Jareth or Julian. I’m excited for you to meet him. 😉