Archive for May, 2012
Please click the tour button above to learn what other blogs are participating
in the tour!
I am excited to be taking part in this Bewitching Book Tour for the erotic romance writer, Lilly Cain. As part of the tour, I had the opportunity to read the first book in her Confederacy Treaty series, Alien Revealed (read my review here) and I really enjoyed it. This is a new genre for me – I don’t read a lot of science fiction or erotica so I thought the combination of the two was intriguing. I am happy to have Lilly on the blog today to discuss the blending of these two genres.
Please welcome Lilly Cain to the blog!
Blending Sci-fi and Sexy
Thank you so much for having me here today! I’ve been writing sexy sci-fi romance for a couple of years. It all began with my first erotic sci-fi novella for my ongoing series The Confederacy Treaty, with Carina Press. Book one, Alien Revealed, was my first experience combining erotic romance with space adventure. It isn’t that different from combining paranormal fiction with erotic romance, both paranormal and sci-fi require world building, but since I am an erotic romance writer, the key to the combination is to express the world building elements without delving in so deeply that the romance is lost.
And let’s not forget the sex. J
So with a light hand on the sci-fi, and a good grip on the erotic romance, I set my characters up as an alien female and a human male. In Alien Revealed, Alinna is a spy, and David is in the starforce military. They are, of course, supposed to be at odds with each other. But don’t worry. They balance.
Check out this scene:
She ran her finger over the tocuh seal on the pouch and quickly flipped through the contents until she found what she was looking for. Her stomach rumbled again. Gripping the plastic packet, she looked up at a small sound. Major David Brown leaned against the door frame in the entrance to her room. His muscular arms crossed over his chest, and he stared unsmiling at her, his dark blue eyes appearing black in the dim night-lights.
Alinna sucked in a breath, her heart seeming to skip its regular beat. Startled, she blurted the first thing she could think of. “Do you have any idea how bad the food is here?”
“Is that what you’ve got there, a little snack?” He stepped closer to the bed.
She gripped the emergency pouch a little tighter to her body as her mind raced through the list of its contents. Exactly what had she stuffed in there the last time she’d updated the boring Confederacy-issued contents? She couldn’t remember. She set the pouch aside, pretending disinterest, and peeled the wrapper off the nutria-bar she had located before the major’s unexpected arrival. “It isn’t much, but it’s a lot better than what they served for supper.”
Major Brown’s eyes never left hers, but as she took a bite of the dried snack, a small smile caught at the corners of his mouth. “I have to admit that the slop they serve here in the medlab is the worst I’ve ever experienced. No flavorings, and nothing to chew.”
Alinna shivered again. Her feet were cold from the touch of the bare floors, but it was his proximity that caused her reaction. She turned, swung her legs up onto the bed and moved the emergency pouch to the bedside table on the opposite side of the room from the curious officer. He watched her every move, and she noted with interest that his eyes lingered longer on her legs than on the emergency pouch. She pulled the cover up over her feet.
“Can I help you with something?”
“No.” He moved closer, reached for the pitcher of water the medtech had left on the suspended bedtable. He poured her a drink and offered it to her.
“Thank you.” She immediately took a sip, relieved at the distraction. It was clear he suspected her of something, or at the very least distrusted her. This could be a result of her cover position—her research had revealed that psychtechs were not always welcomed in the military forces.
“Unless there is something you’d like to tell me about your real mission here.”
Alinna choked on the water. He knows! “Excuse me?”
Major Brown reached out for her hands, steadying the glass of water threatening to spill in her shaking grip. His skin felt cool to the touch, much cooler than Inarrii skin, and rougher, the texture mesmerizing. Tiny golden hairs caught the light on the pale skin of his forearms. His glare softened as he looked into her eyes. “I don’t know exactly what’s going on, Dr.MacPherson, but something isn’t right. I can’t risk the upcoming mission when I don’t have everyone using the same playbook.” He looked deeper into her eyes, looked straight into her Lin’thal. “I don’t know what you’ve got yourself involved in, but if you’ll tell me, I’ll help you as best I can.”
“I’m not involved in anything, but I am very tired.” She pulled away from his touch and set the glass of water down near her emergency pouch. Hardening the tone of her voice, she added a slight empathic push to her words. “I would like to rest now.”
A muscle jumped along the major’s jaw line. A wave of resentment rolled from his psyche, but he turned away and headed for the door. She sagged back against the raised mattress of her bed in relief, until he glanced back at her. A shadow from the doorway fell across his face, but she didn’t need to see him to recognize his intent.
“I’ll see you in the morning then, Doctor.”
She recognized his emotional focus. Like a wild game hunter on her homeworld he’d targeted her, and she knew he had no intention of letting her get away.
Little elements like the use of her language—developed for this series—and her fascination with human body hair give the reader the elements of sci-fi, but the tension between the characters is the main focus of the scene. This is what has to carry the story through whatever plot elements happen, in this case the first contact with an alien species and the introduction of the Confederacy and what it can bring to Earth.
As a reader, I want to know that the hero and heroine are going to make it, going to get through the conflicts between them and overcome the obstacles. Sure I like a laser fight as much as the next gal, but I want to see these two people interact, give in to their attraction and hopefully, fall in love. As a writer, it’s my job to see that they do just that, and to make the scenery less important than the characters, without making us forget that a few steps outside their bedroom walls is the vast openness of space.
What’s your favorite sci-fi romance? What stands out for you? The sci-fi or the love?
The Confederacy Treaty Series – Alien Revealed, The Naked Truth, and coming soon, Undercover Alliance! From Carina Press
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Please stop by and visit Lilly at her favorite spots:
Please click the tour button above to learn what other blogs are participating in the tour!
TITLE: Alien Revealed
SERIES: The Confederacy Treaty #1
AUTHOR: Lilly Cain
PUBLISHER: Carina Press
PUBLICATION DATE: June 14, 2010
A copy of this book was provided by Bewitching Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.
Inarrii agent Alinna Gaerrii was tasked with observing the Starforce base on Earth. Crash landing her observation pod onto the base was not part of her mission briefing. Neither was making “m’ittar”–mind contact–with Major David Brown, the human who discovered her amongst the wreckage.
David thinks she’s a psychologist sent to evaluate his Special Forces team, and Alinna goes along with his misconception, seizing the opportunity to observe humans up close. But their daily contact has unexpected side effects, and Alinna soon invades David’s dreams. Through their intimate mental connection she allows him to express his forbidden physical desires.
Alinna delights in the sensory exploration and grows excited by the prospect of a treaty with the humans and a potential life mate in David. But an attack from an unknown ship sends the base into chaos, and Alinna may be forced to reveal her lie, erasing all hope of a successful treaty, and driving David away forever…
Ok, full disclosure: I don’t read a lot of science fiction and I don’t read any erotica. This is the first book I’ve read that can be considered erotica or erotic romance. And I enjoyed it. Cain does a good job of creating a steamy, science fiction romance with an interesting world and a great sense of tension.
What I really enjoyed about Alien Revealed was the world Cain creates. We are thrown into an Earth of the future, where space exploration is common, but alien life forms have yet to be discovered. Humans perceive other humans as their biggest threat to creating colonies on other planets. Meanwhile, the Inarrii are an alien race who have been observing humans, undetected, and gathering information about the planet and its inhabitants in order to determine whether or not to make contact and offer membership into an intergalactic confederacy. The Inarrii are similar to humans but have distinctive henna-like designs on their bodies which are actually nerve endings that react to emotions – anger, fear, sexual attraction – by raising up in ridge-like swirls all over their skin. For the Inarrii, m’ittar, or mind contact, is an essential part of communication and healing for their people, and the Inarrii agent Alinna is excited to discover humans also have the ability to achieve m’ittar. I thought this was a fun setup. Even beyond the romantic plot of the book, my interest was held by the idea of the Confederation and the politics that will come into play once first contact is made and humans are forced to understand the bigger world out there. And the idea of the Confederation itself was interesting and makes me curious as to what other new alien races will be introduced in future installments of the series.
The tense, quickly paced plot was also fun. Once Alinna crash lands, it is only a matter of time before Major David Brown realizes things are not what they seem with her. Inarrii do not lie and so Alinna finds it increasingly difficult to maintain the façade of a Starforce psychologist. Without giving too much away, tension quickly builds as Alinna’s cover starts slipping and both she and David are forced to make major, life altering decisions.
The main characters were good. I especially liked Alinna as a lonely woman, far from home, isolated in an alien land, pretending to be someone she is not. Her stress and personal conflicts were believable and you had compassion for her as a character. However, I was not able to connect with David as much. He always seemed angry and I did not fully understand why. This distanced him from me and I had a hard time caring about his own conflicts.
Now, the sex is not…demure, flowery, or genteel. David has a domination fantasy and Alinna lets him play out these fantasies in both their physical and mental sexual encounters. She uses m’ittar to connect with him pretty early on in the story and what he thinks is a sex dream, is actually a psychic connection between the two. This mental contact continues until their desires are made physical. The language is graphic. So, if that’s not your thing, this is probably not a good book for you. It is definitely steamy but, in my opinion, not very romantic. I had a difficult time connecting what David and Alinna were feeling for each as more than sexual attraction. The sex was raw and exciting but I just didn’t feel any deep emotion there, contrary to what I think the characters are meant to feel. There is also a final mating ritual that is sacred to the Inarrii. When I learned what that was I had to giggle. Let’s just say I thought it was going to be some big, romantic act, and, in my opinion…it’s not.
All in all, I enjoyed this book. It was a good intro to science fiction-erotic romance, and it was entertaining with an interesting world to explore. Though there were a few things I thought fell short, there was enough that I did appreciate to make me recommend Alien Revealed and The Confederacy Treaty Series to anyone interested in sci-fi erotica. In fact, I’ve already read the second in the series and will post a review soon!
I am a big fan of the Chicagoland Vampires series by author Chloe Neill and have been eagerly anticipating the release of the latest installment in the series, Biting Cold (release date August 7th). So, of course I was geeked to see all over the internet the new cover for the next book in the series, House Rules!
Without further ado… Read more »
AUTHOR: Amanda Carlson
SERIES: Jessica McClain (Novella)
PUBLISHER: Orbit Books – Short Fiction
PUBLICATION DATE: April 11, 2012
Jessica McClain was born the only female in an all male race. The only problem is-she’s no wolf. Called a curse, a witch and the Daughter of Evil by the superstitious wolves, Jessica decides to fight for her freedom, at age nineteen, the only way she can-in the ring.
When she’s brutally attacked right after her fight, is it enough to finally earn her freedom off Compound, or will she be forced to endure the hatred even longer . . .
SHE-WOLF (MINI) REVIEW:
As you may be able to tell by the title of my blog, I have a soft spot for werewolf/shape-shifter stories. I adore them. They are probably my favorite supernatural creature in the paranormal/speculative world of fiction. So color me lucky when author Amanda Carlson tweeted a Mother’s Day giveaway for her new e-novella, Blooded, a story about a young woman who is the daughter of an alpha werewolf, but not a werewolf herself. I immediately entered the giveaway and was lucky enough to receive a copy. And I am so glad I did. This novella has me beyond excited for the release of the full novel, the first in the Jessica McClain series, Full Blooded.
The official synopsis does a good job of summarizing this slim novella, which is only 66 pages, so I won’t rehash this straightforward plot. Let me start instead with what I enjoyed about the novella – Jessica McClain. She is a feisty smart ass with some serious cojones. The story opens with intense action in a fighting ring and it’s a great introduction to Jessica as a character. Right away you see she is brave, smart, if a bit rash, and scrappy as she holds her own in a death match with an alpha werewolf. I enjoyed Jessica’s voice. She always has a comeback even when she is on the road to unconsciousness or being drowned by a werewolf.
I also enjoyed the werewolf mythology – Carlson sets the rules up in this novella. Pack dynamics, powers and abilities, weaknesses, key relationships, and the wider world. We know vampires, witches and demons exist here and once Jessica leaves the confines of the compound, I am sure we will meet some along the way.
If I can nitpick just one thing, I will say there were some things that felt a bit repetitive. However, I think this may have been the point. Jessica feels she has to constantly defend her desire to leave the compound and give her reasons for what some feel have not been smart choices. But this really is minor. With this novella, I think Carlson gives us an exciting introduction to a new series. The full novel will be released this September. And I’m marking the release date on my calendar!
Shelf Candy is a weekly meme hosted by the lovely Five Alarm Books. This meme gives us an opportunity to highlight a cover we love and the artist who created it. Please click the button above to find out how to participate and to see what other covers are being discussed this week.
This week’s Shelf Candy is another collection of beautiful work – cover art from the Sirantha Jax series. These covers are just simply gorgeous.
WHY I LOVE THESE COVERS:
I admit I’ve only read the first two in the series (I know, I know I have to catch up before the sixth and final book is released), but I think they capture the character of Sirantha Jax. She is vulnerable and complex and has been through a lot, but she brings herself through it and I think the cover art captures the strength of her spirit perfectly. I also appreciate that while she looks sexy, she is not hypersexualized. The emphasis is on her strength and not her ass.
The artist responsible for this work is Scott M. Fischer. A graduate of the Savannah College of Art and Design, Scott has created cover art for adult, middle grade, and children’s fiction. On top of that, Scott is also an author having written and illustrated his first children’s book, Twinkle, in 2007. And as a conceptual designer, Scott has worked on projects for Microsoft, Sony, and Disney.
Without further ado….Scott M. Fischer!
SWR: Can you describe the moment you realized you wanted to make art your life and profession?
From birth! Actually when I discovered Dungeons & Dragons in 4th grade. We had an assignment about what we wanted to be when we grew up, and I wrote, “I want to make the art for Dungeons and Dragons” No kidding. When, as an adult I illustrated the Beholder for the Monster Manual, my inner 4th grader was pretty stoked.
SWR: How did you get involved with creating cover art?
I was doing gaming art for card games (Magic the Gathering) and D&D. but I really wanted to break into the larger publishing world, so I started formatting all my gaming art in novel cover proportions (even though most of the art would be cropped out on a tiny card) but I used those in my portfolio and started submitting samples to art directors.
SWR: What is your process? Once you get a brief for the creation of a cover, what is the next step?
Lots of thumbnail sketches. Chicken scratch really only decipherable by me. Then I scan one of those and tighten up the sketch, which I submit to the art director. Once I get approval, there are a million ways to skin a cat, often a fusion of traditional and digital media. Photoshop being my primary workhorse.
SWR: How did you get involved with the Sirantha Jax series?
Honestly I am not sure how they picked me, but I am glad they did! My guess is they saw my work, maybe in the Spectrum Fantastic Art annual. But I got the call and was psyched to do it.
SWR: Had you read the manuscript prior to creating the art, and, if not, what kind of direction did you get from the art department on the first cover?
I read the MS for the first novel, and totally fell in love with the character. So I think I came up with that concept. For the remainder of the series, Lesley Worrell, my fantastic Art Director, had pretty specific ideas for the covers, so I would read the descriptions, and often flip through the MS as well.
SWR: How has Sirantha’s cover art changed over the series? Does it get harder or easier?
Each one has its unique challenges. On top of that I have been doing them so long that my art has evolved as well. But in the end, Sirantha is such a strong character, that they really were all a pleasure to work on. And I’ve often heard from the Author, Ann Aguirre, after I finish a cover and she has been amazingly supportive of the work. Such a pleasure for an illustrator to get that kind of positive feedback from the Author. After all we are trying to illustrate a world we can’t see inside their head! So to get even close is a nice feeling.
SWR: Where do you find your inspiration?
EVERYWHERE! That is a pretty generic answer but it is true. I am a tinkerer by nature. For instance, I have a pile of old rusty stuff that I turn into robots, and I love spending hours figuring out how the pieces from various sources can fit together into a cool looking robot. Really I do the same thing with my art. Trying to fit various things together in a pleasing way.
SWR: I read that you are a trained musician. How does music inform your artwork?
I think the arts are all related. My music is put together much the same way as my rusty robots, and paintings. A unique arrangement of bits assembled to strike an emotional cord with the viewer.
SWR: You’re also a children’s book writer. How does it feel to create a story in words as well as images?
There is nothing like it. The marriage of words and visuals is the ultimate to me. And when I am working on the children’s books or chapter books, and a burst out laughing in an empty studio about what I am working on… well it is a great day at work!
SWR: What, if any, are covers you consider iconic or influential?
Robert McGinnis has to be one of my all time favorites. His blending of design and painting chops in unrivaled to this day.
SWR: Finally, if you were given the opportunity to create the cover for any book ever published, what would that book be and why?
A Wrinkle in Time. Because the book is that great, and trippy. And what a great chance to get a bit cerebral in the art.
And, now, for fun…Scott was game enough to take the Pivot quiz and here are his answers:
What is your favorite word?
What is your least favorite word?
What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?
What turns you off?
Deadlines, but they are needed!
What is your favorite curse word?
I’d say the F-bomb. When my computer crashes and I lose hours of work on a piece of art because I forgot to save, no other word will do.
What sound or noise do you love?
The sound of the coffee pot.
What sound or noise do you hate?
The buzz of a mosquito in my ear.
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
Kids TV show host!
What profession would you not like to do?
The guy who scrapes the gum off the sidewalk. And where does all that gum come from anyway? I find it hard to believe there are that many people out there spitting out their gum where people walk.
If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?
Go back you are not done yet.
Scott has a brand new blog where he talks art and technique.
You can also find him at his official website and Twitter.
You can learn more about the Sirantha Jax series at the website of the author,
the fabulous Anne Aguirre.
And a shout out to SpazP for inspiring this post and for reminding me of how truly great these covers are!
TITLE: Easy Pickings (Novella)
PUBLICATION DATE: January 6, 2012
Two heroines. Two magics. One world.
There’s nowhere in America like the Big Easy. Just ask Jane Yellowrock, shapeshifting vampire killer, whose hunting grounds run the length and breadth of the Bayou.
Just ask Joanne Walker, whose shamanic magic has drawn her to the heart of American Weird.
But it’s not Joanne’s world, and it isn’t Jane’s either. In a New Orleans where Katrina never hit and supposedly-dead vampires stalk the streets, Jane and Jo have to find and defeat the magic that brought them there–or they just might find themselves…
fan fiction by the authors themselves!
This was fun. Pure, action-filled fun. If you are a fan of Jane Yellowrock or Joanne Walker then this is a must read – a fun novella to tide you over until the release of the next book in the Yellowrock and Walker series.
Weighing in at 81 pages, this is a quick read. It opens with Jane and Joanne suddenly finding themselves in an alternate reality – a New Orleans that exists in another world. They immediately recognize the magic each of them have and team up to figure out where they are and how the hell to get back to their respective worlds. Immediately, they battle a big, bad demon, size each other up and share some mutual respect for one another. Moving from one battle to the next, they are fighting to save New Orleans and themselves.
Murphy and Hunter alternate chapters, shifting perspectives between Jane and Joanne. There are some great moments between these two alpha-females:
There wasn’t any good news. We were utterly and completely boned. I said, “Try not to kill anybody,” to Jane, and then we met the onslaught.
And then, later, Jane:
I liked Jo. She didn’t get all girlie, despite her feelings about not killing things. People. Whatever.
I would say this novella was really about putting two characters, cut from the same cloth, together in a different world and standing back and watching them kick some ass, exchange some great dialogue, and observe one another. There is non-stop action and, if you are a Skinwalker fan, the emergence of some familiar characters makes it even more fun. I would not recommend this as an intro. I think you need to have read at least one of these series in order to really enjoy it. This is definitely one for the fans who want to see their favorite characters do what they do best.
When presented with the idea of discussing the Alpha-Female in any genre of book, the first character that came to mind was Jane Yellowrock of Faith Hunter’s Skinwalker series. She is, hands down, one of the toughest heroines I’ve come across in urban fantasy. There is a line from the film Tombstone that reminds me of Jane. When asked why he would risk death to help a friend, Doc Holliday says:
Doc Holliday: Because Wyatt Earp is my friend.
Jack Johnson: Friend? Hell, I got lots of friends.
Doc Holliday: …I don’t.
Jane reminds me of Doc. She doesn’t have many friends, but those she does have, she’ll lay down her life, face anything, to help them. She’ll do the same to protect an innocent and to do her job. She is tough, with moments of vulnerability. She is a total kick-ass, alpha female heroine and I am, for lack of a more eloquent word, GEEKED to have Faith Hunter here on the blog to discuss Jane Yellowrock and the Alpha-Female.
Please welcome Faith Hunter!
SWR: Define Alpha-Female. In what ways, if any, is she different from the Alpha-Male?
The alphas of any gender have to be able to handle physical crises and attack, deal with long term strategy and consequences, and be tough no matter what they are up against. If they grieve, hurt, or cry, they have to do it while alone, when no one can see. But the female alpha? She has to be able to do so much more than the alpha male—you know, twice the work to be considered half as good. (rolls eyes) The alpha female has to look good while doing all her jobs, be able to use her sex as one weapon in her arsenal, and defeat the opponents. She also has to wow the bad guys, the good guys, and the readers, and she has to do all this without coming across as a snooty bitch or an unfeeling bitch. She has to be warm, gentle, and kind as well as know how and when to kickass. That’s hard to do! Go Alpha females!
I think the difference between the male and female alpha goes back to that WOW factor. Females have to have a softer side, a sexy side, they have to be vulnerable on some level, even if the only person to see that side is the reader.
My favorite alpha male is Jack Reacher of the Lee Childe novels. Reacher is tough as nails, totally self-contained, and self-reliant, but he isn’t pretty, and he doesn’t have to be. Jane Yellowrock, while not a traditional beauty, is striking and all woman. She has cool clothes, even if they are limited in number, and kickass boots.
SWR: What was your inspiration in creating the character of Jane Yellowrock?
I think that broken women make the best characters and the strongest women, even in real life. Women who have survived things that would destroy others can and will stand up and fight; they don’t run away, because they know who they are and where their strength comes from. So the first criteria for Jane was that she be broken. The second criteria was that she not know how or when she was broken. I wanted a character who had lost part of her life, part of her past, and who would unfold before me, reveal herself to me, like a new friend who tells snippets of her life. The third criteria for Jane was her Cherokee nature. I had just discovered that I was about 20% black, and over 40% mixed American Indian—Cherokee and Choctaw. I was on a road to self-discovery and Jane became part of that!
SWR: Do you consider her an alpha-female, and, if so, in what ways is she an alpha?
Jane Yellowrock is gutsy, never runs away from a fight (even when she probably should), and defends the innocent. She is soft in her love of, and protective instincts toward, children. She can kick anyone’s butt. And she is tall, dark, and striking in appearance. Also, she is evolving and growing. I think all really good alphas have to move forward in their thinking and their lives or they just get boring.
SWR: Some people would argue that the alpha female has no instinct for nurturing. This is not true in Jane’s case since she shows real nurturing instincts towards Molly’s children. Do you think “nurture” and “alpha female” are mutually exclusive?
When I first was writing Jane, I knew something was wrong with her. She was not clicking with me and I didn’t know why she was wasn’t, so I asked Kim Harrison’s hubby, Guy, to read the first 100 pages. He didn’t want to tell me, but he found her too hard, too cold, too unfeeling. So I introduced the character Molly, who is antithetical to Jane in nearly every way. Molly is an earth witch with a husband, two kids, a house in the country with a huge garden, a half dozen sisters, and is Jane’s best friend. Molly bakes bread! Molly cooks! Molly nurtures! All the things Jane can’t or won’t do, or be. And Molly’s children are Jane’s godchildren, the one way that Jane has for being soft and gentle. Once I added a softer side to Jane, I liked her. A lot!
SWR: What role does sexuality play in the alpha-female persona of Jane Yellowrock?
Jane and Beast are on two different sides when it comes to a love life. Beast is the soul of a mountain lion that Jane drew inside her by error, in an accidental act of black magic, when Jane was five years old and fighting for her life. Beast wants strong alpha males as her mate and as Jane’s mate. The biggest, baddest of them all? Beast wants. And in multiples if possible. Beast is a cat. In many ways, she just wants to play.
But Jane was raised (in this current life) in a Christian Children’s home and she is, unconsciously, looking for the white picket fence, 2.5 kids, husband, dog, and cat—which, if she really looked at that versus her nature, would and should send her running to the hills. (grins) We all want things that are not in our natures, or that would not be good for us, and we have to learn and accept who we are and what is really good for us as we grow. Jane is learning that her not being human means that her dreams have to change. And that is hard. Jane is having to merge the needs and wants of her two, very different, personalities and a past that sets her apart form others.
SWR: How does Jane’s alpha nature impact her choice of mate/lover/partner? What does an alpha female need with regards to a romantic partner – a beta or another alpha?
Frankly, I don’t think Jane knows what she needs yet. I think she is secretly afraid of sharing her space with an alpha male, and does things that jinx any relationship that might have a chance of really going somewhere. I think her needs and wants will change as she continues to be part of the New Orleans’ vampire society, with all the benefits and horrors that might bring. In the end, I think she will take a man (being?) who can see her for what she really is, one who accepts her, is tender toward her, and treats her gently even when she may not deserve it. A male who will let her stand on her own two feet, fight her own demons, and yet support her when she needs it. Passion and friendship. Hard to find in the real world. Just as hard to find in Jane’s world.
SWR: Alpha Female has almost become synonymous with “bitch.” Why do you think that’s true? And do you think this is true for Jane and how she is perceived in her world?
I think we as writers have forgotten what I forgot early on, what Kim’s Guy told me. Every character has to have something soft and caring about them to make them interesting. They have to have something (s) to grow through, and other characters to love. We writers are creating characters who rely on snark and fists, and that is both bitchy and boring. I’ve put down several books lately where characters have no inner strength or tenderness, and are just mouth and weapons. It takes more.
In her own world, Jane hides who and what she is, and protects that broken, bleeding part of her soul. So yes, a lot of her men think she is a bitch a lot of the time, but she is learning to let some of her men into her life. I’m having fun with that!
SWR: Who are some of your favorite alpha-female characters?
To name just a very few:
Joanne Walker of the Walker Papers by CE Murphy.
Kim Harrison’s Rachel Morgan
Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson
All of Ilona Andrews’ characters (male and female)
Kalayna Prices’ Alex Craft (a newcomer to UF field and I adore her!)
SWR: Is there anything else you would like to add about Jane and the Alpha Female?
Thanks to all the alpha fans out there! You promote my books to your friends and on FB, Twitter, and other social media. That is what keeps writers in print. You make it happen. You have the power.
The Skinwalker series is one of my favorite all time UF series. If you have not read it, save yourself and purchase the books here. You won’t be disappointed.
Faith loves her fans and she wants to hear from you. Please stop by and visit her at her favorite spots:
About the Author:
Faith Hunter writes dark urban fantasy: Skinwalker series, featuring Jane Yellowrock with Skinwalker, Blood Cross, and Mercy Blade, and Raven Cursed. Her Rogue Mage novels, a dark, urban fantasy series—Bloodring, Seraphs, and Host—feature Thorn St. Croix, a stone mage in a post-apocalyptic, alternate reality.
TITLE: Summoning the Night
SERIES: Arcadia Bell Series, Book #2
AUTHOR: Jenn Bennett
PUBLISHER: Pocket Books
PUBLICATION DATE: April 24, 2012
Arc received courtesy of author.
After narrowly escaping her fate as a sacrificial scapegoat, Arcadia Bell is back to normal. Or at least as ordinary as life can be for a renegade magician and owner of a tiki bar that caters to Earthbound demons. She’s gearing up for the busiest day of the year—Halloween—when a vengeful kidnapper paralyzes the community.
The influential head of the local Hellfire Club taps Cady to track down the fiendish bogeyman, and now that she’s dating red-hot Lon Butler, the Club’s wayward son, she can hardly say no. Cady and Lon untangle a gruesome thirty-year trail of clues that points to danger for the club members’ children. But locating the person behind the terror will require some metaphysical help from Cady’s loyal bar patrons as well as her potent new Moonchild powers—and she’d better figure it out before the final victim disappears and her own darkest secret becomes her biggest enemy.
I adore Arcadia Bell. Full stop. With this book, author Jenn Bennett creates a wonderful follow-up to her debut novel, Kindling the Moon. This series is a unique, complex, and fun addition to the urban fantasy genre. And it is a definite auto-buy for me.
My favorite part of the Arcadia Bell series is the cast of main characters. Arcadia is smart, funny, and multilayered. On one hand she is a tough and independent woman, a powerful magician that is just starting to understand her newfound and profound powers. One the other hand, she is wounded and vulnerable, just coming off a dramatic and hurtful realization about her parents, and starting to find her footing in her newly adopted family of her boyfriend Lon Butler, and his son, Jupe. Lon is a forty-something single father, almost 20 years older than Arcadia, and with a complicated past. Jupe is biracial and motherless. He and Arcadia share a common bond in that their mothers weren’t, well, very motherly (understatement alert).
These are complicated characters that continue to develop in this second book. And their conflicts are real. Not manufactured. The May-September romance between Lon and Arcadia produces very real doubts for her about the future of their relationship. She also feels a certain amount of fear about her new family. Having come from one that was not close, she starts to feel the weight of responsibility that comes with being a part of Lon and Jupe’s lives. These are issues that are based in the real world and that are relatable. They are not supernatural problems, but problems that can be complicated by the supernatural. And I appreciate the primary focus on character development as we see Arcadia and friends grow, and their futures together become more complex.
And speaking of futures, I do hope Lon and Arcadia are in it for the long haul. With the introduction of a new character, Hajo, I feel a further complication surfacing. But Lon and Arcadia are officially my favorite UF couple. Their chemistry is palpable and sexy. And it makes me smile. Here is just one example of the wonderfully flirtatious banter between the two after Arcadia has found a picture of Lon when he was a teenager:
“There’s several photo albums’ worth of the same thing at home,” he said.
He nodded and gave up the fight, returning his attention to the pile of papers in front of him. “I can’t believe Jupe hasn’t forced them on you already.”
“Any from the time you were in the seminary?” I asked.
“That sexy Jesus thing again?” he teased without looking up. “You’re a filthy girl, you know that?”
I think it’s this kind of humor that makes the Arcadia Bell world fun. There are also fantastic pop cultural references that make me laugh:
“It’s just that getting someone’s name tattooed on you is like a death sentence,” I finally said. “There’s a good chance you’re going to end up with a tattoo that you’ve got to get changed from Winona to Wino.”
And Jupe. I really think Bennett channeled her inner teenage boy to hit the right note with him. And he is fantastic. The relationship with his father is a unique one and I love moments like these when discussing a Halloween ride:
“Is it scary?” I asked. “I’m not a fan of people jumping out at me.”
“Nah, it’s kind of lame.” His eyes darted to the side.
“That’s not what you said three years ago,” Lon said.
“I was just a kid, and thanks for bringing that up, assbag.”
“Father Assbag,” Lon calmly corrected.
There is also a solid mystery here. Children of Hellfire Club members are being abducted which is similar to a series of abductions and murders that happened years earlier. Arcadia is called on to use her powerful skills to help track down the killer before more children lose their lives. While the killer definitely pinged my radar, the accomplices and the reason behind the kidnappings were a surprise.
Finally, Bennett sets up a good premise for the third book with the tempting Hajo, Arcadia’s past coming back to haunt her, the Hellfire Club, and the power of the Moonchild coming into full effect.
Summoning the Night gets four howls for the originality in its characters and their development, its humor, and its strong mystery.
And don’t forget to enter my giveaway for your chance to win a signed copy of either Kindling the Moon or Summoning the Night!
Five Authors and the Five Books that Inspire Them –
Five by Five, May 7th – 11th:
Due to unfortunate, unforeseen, and totally understandable circumstances, the author originally scheduled for today, was unable to contribute. So, I decided it would be a great opportunity to introduce you to a new author. I was lucky enough to get the wonderful Jes Young to step in and save the day!
Jes Young is a former copyeditor who decided to leave the publishing world for a bit in order to be a full-time mom. She is back with a vengeance now that her debut novel, Tab Bennett and the Inbetween, has been released. A dark fairy tale, it is the first in a new UF series called “Princess of Twilight and Dawn.” I read a small short on her website and I am excited to get my hands on the full-length novel. Read the synopsis. You’ll want to get your hands on it, too. It looks to be a great start to a new world and heroine.
Without further ado…Jes Young!
5 Books that Inspire Me
Jessamy by Barbara Sleigh
Jessamy is the first book I ever loved. It’s about a girl who is transported back to 1914 every time she enters the schoolroom of the old house where she spends summers with her Aunt. It’s a book about wonder and magic and mystery and it unlocked my eight year old brain and filled it up with stories.
The Immortals After Dark series by Kresley Cole
For some reason I can’t fully explain, Kresley Cole’s Immortals After Dark series is like writing fuel to me. Reading them never fails to inspire me to write. Maybe because every book is just the right combination of funny and sexy and sad. Demon from the Dark is my favorite because of quotes like this:
“He’d swiftly collected those monsters’ heads, tying them together with a piece of the rope she’d hoped never to see again, then strung them over his shoulder. Periodically, he offered his catch to her.
“No, no, I have a pair just like them at home,” she’d said. “I would just regift them.”
Still Life with Woodpecker by Tom Robbins
Still Life with Woodpecker is just so full of words. No. Not words. Language. Of beautiful, thick sentences that go on and on. It’s convoluted and silly and a little bit dirty. It’s about true love and redheads and bomb making. And every time I read it I end up wishing I was the one who wrote it.
A Kiss of Shadows by Laurell K. Hamilton
Before I read A Kiss of Shadows, there was hardly any magic in Tab Bennett and the Inbetween. This book and the others that followed in the Merry Gentry series made me think about magic and sex and menace in a way I hadn’t before. This is where my urban fantasy education really began.
Darkfever and the Fever series by Karen Marie Moning
Urban fantasy is populated by kick-ass heroines; women with long hair and high heels who literally fight monsters for a living. Leather pants are practically a genre-wide epidemic. For me the thing that sets Darkfever and the rest of this series apart is that Mac, the main character, is exactly the opposite of that. At the beginning she’s innocent and sweet and very, very pink. Over the course of the series she fights, she fails, she kills, and she dies. She loses everything and from the pieces she builds someone tough and sleek and strong. Darkfever taught me that a cream puff can become a tough cookie with the proper motivation – something I was definitely inspired by when I was writing Tab Bennett and the Inbetween.
What books are my characters reading?
Tab would be really interested in Fifty Shades of Grey right now. I think she’d find Ana’s struggle between acquiescence and rebellion easy to relate to; Tab’s got a lot of strong-willed, over protective men around her too.
Robbin has Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson on his nightstand but I don’t think he’s much of a reader. It’s probably been sitting there for a long time.
Alex is reading Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien.
What’s up next for Jes?
Book #2 of the Princess of Twilight and Dawn series!
Tab Bennett and the Underneath will be out in December. Unlike Inbetween, which was a talking book, its sequel, Underneath, is an adventure. There’s a dark forest to cross, a dungeon to escape, and bad guys to vanquish. It’s been incredibly fun to write.
Go get your copy of Tab Bennett and the Inbetween here.
And, please, stop by and say hello to Jes at some of her favorite spots:
Now, enter for your chance to win an ebook copy of “Tab Bennett and the Inbetween” along with ONE book of choice from Jes’s top five list!
Five Authors and the Five Books that Inspire Them –
Five by Five, May 7th – 11th:
Jenn Bennett is the Atlanta-based author of the wonderful Arcadia Bell series. She is also a visual artist, a Tiki bar expert, and a dark fairytale enthusiast. Now, this totally explains the inspiration for Cady Bell and her world. If you have not read this series, please do. Jenn has a knack for creating characters you really care about, living in a world you want to explore.
Here are five things I love about the Arcadia Bell series:
1. Diversity? Why, yes.
A forty-something, divorced love interest with a biracial teenage son, who has a married same-sex couple as caretakers when dad isn’t around? This is fantastic. This is real. This is my world. These are people I know. Drop some magic into this, some fantastic paranormal elements, and you have an urban fantasy I can relate to. I’ve been known to go off on a rant about the lack of diversity in the genre as a whole, but Jenn Bennett rectifies this by embracing diversity in her world and I can’t tell you how much I love it.
He’s so damn cute. What a cool kid. Jenn channeled her inner teenage boy and created an endearing character that you want to spend more time with. A movie buff myself, I want to hangout with this kid, give him a camera, and help him produce a remake of some horror classic.
3. Lon and Cady Sitting in a Tree
Arcadia is just…cool. Smart and funny; clever with her magic, independent, tough, and loyal. Lon is just…cool. Sexy, older, pirate mustache and all, strong, silent type. These two together is just right. They have a chemistry that jumps off the page. I count them as one of my favorite UF couples. Please, Jenn, don’t break them up! Ever. That is not meant to sound threatening. Nope. Not at all.
4. What a Wonderful World
Arcadia lives in a world of magic and demons. Demons that look like you and me, called Earthbounds, and those living in the Aethyric plane. Earthbound demons have special abilities like reading minds, sensing or manipulating emotion. Arcadia is a magician with strong powers and the ability to call and banish demons back to the Aethyric plane. She also has come into new powers which she is just starting to understand. This is a wholly unique world and an totally original magic system.
5. She Makes Me Laugh
There is great, clever writing in the Arcadia Bell series. And a lot of the humor is spot on. From the back and forth between Lon and Jupe, Jupe and Cady, to worrying about losing a vintage Zippo lighter when investigating a booby-trapped grave site, Jenn has a knack for finding the funny in tough situations while also creating humorous dialogue that feels authentic and unforced.
(I’m reading book two now so stay tuned for a review of Summoning the Night!)
So, without further ado…Jenn Bennett!
Five Books I Love Oh-so-dearly
I write urban fantasy slash paranormal romance. Horror-tinged, demonic, sexy, funny, weird occult stuff. You might imagine that a list of my five most influential books would be dark and dangerous. Well, some of it is. Kind of. Because if you’ve read my books, you also know that my work is very character-driven. Less about action and the apocalypse and more about the experience of getting to know the people who inhabit my worlds through an unravelling mystery. Maybe knowing more about where I come from as a reader will help you to understand the strange—but charming, yes?—world of Arcadia Bell.
5. Henry and June by Anaïs Nin
For those of you who don’t know, Anaïs was a French-Cuban writer who is famous for her affair with Henry Miller. She’s been accused of being egotistical and a whore. She published erotica in a time when it wasn’t hitting the bestseller lists. She lived her life as she wanted, independently, boldly, and without shame. This book is taken from her unexpurgated diaries (the sex isn’t censored). It made me want to have a torrid affair with a literary giant and then out-write him.