Posts tagged with: urban fantasy

Days of the Dead with Gail Z. Martin

My guest today will be familiar to our regular visitors. Gail Z. Martin is the author of the urban fantasy Deadly Curiosities series set in Charleston, SC, three epic fantasy series, The Ascendant Kingdoms Saga, The Chronicles of the Necromancer series, and The Fallen Kings Cycle as well as a new Steampunk series, Iron and Blood co-authored with Larry N. Martin. A brand new epic fantasy series debuts from Solaris Books in 2017.

As though all that weren’t enough, Gail writes three ebook series: The Jonmarc Vahanian Adventures, The Deadly Curiosities Adventures and The Blaine McFadden AdventuresThe Storm and Fury Adventures, steampunk stories set in the Iron & Blood world, are co-authored with Larry N. Martin.

Gail joins us today as part of her annual Days of the Dead blog tour, which has this cool graphic:

DaysofDead Banner V1 copy

Welcome, Gail! Why Days of the Dead as the name of your blog tour?

gailI write about a necromancer and plenty of death/blood magic plus Voodoo, hoodoo and undead monsters, and the blog tour is always the last week of October–which contains All Hallows’ Eve, Samhain, Halloween and Dia de los Muertos. So it’s kind of a perfect fit! This is the ninth year I think, and it’s always fun and different every time.

How does magic related to death figure into your work?

For a reasonably optimistic person, I seem to be a bit hung up on death. In my Chronicles of the Necromancer series, my main character is (spoilers!) a necromancer who is the good guy. So Tris spends a lot of his time learning to navigate between the realms of life and death and determining the moral boundaries of what he *should* do compared to what he *can* do and bargaining with immortal entities.

In the Ascendant Kingdoms Saga books, we have a secondary character who is a necromancer and Tormod plays a little loose with the morality of raising the long-dead as shock troops in battle and using necromancy as an offensive magical power. In the Deadly Curiosities series, we have a Victorian adventurer necromancer whose power is substantial, very constrained by his morality, but also a lethal weapon against certain kinds of supernatural predators.

IronBlood-cover-design-140x217In Iron & Blood, our steampunk novel, we encounter a witch who delves into darker areas of magic in order to combat killer ghosts and a very dangerous type of undead monsters. The new Epically-Epic Epic Fantasy That Cannot Be Named that I’m working on for Solaris Books to debut in 2017 takes yet another approach to death-related magic, but I can’t really talk about the particulars yet!

I think I’m drawn to the idea of blood magic and/or death magic as being the logical counterpart to Life/Light magic. The concept of a blood sacrifice of some magnitude (token or life blood) is extremely old and factors into all mythology. We fear the idea of resurrection even as we covet it, and anyone who holds that kind of god-like power would be dangerous and susceptible to strong temptation to misuse the magic.

Life and death (or creation/destruction or birth/entropy) are the ultimate primal forces, so there’s plenty of power to be drawn from. I also use other types of magic (herbalist, spell work, sigils and runes, divination, etc.) But I keep coming back to death/blood/necromancy because there’s such rich tradition to mine. Or maybe I’m a little bit Goth!

What led you to explore this?

I’ve been fascinated with cemeteries and ghost stories truly since I was a little kid. I have read books by paranormal researchers for years as well as ‘true’ ghost stories–can’t get enough. I watched Dark Shadows as a pre-schooler, and cut my teeth on Night Gallery and Alfred Hitchcock, as well as reading books on the Apocalypse, Foxe’s Book of Martyrs and the Lives of the Saints (gruesome stuff, all of it–amazing what you can find in the church library). I used to grab all the back issues of my grandmother’s Fate Magazine as a kid and hole up reading them until I had to sleep with the light on.

I’m absolutely fascinated by the weird and obscure–things like the Mutter Museum, the ossuaries under Rome and the necropolis beneath Paris. I have dragged my poor family on cemetery and ghost tours all around the world. Hauntings intrigue me, and I tend to gravitate toward people with Gifts (although as far as I can tell, I have no psychic abilities of my own, or I wouldn’t lose my car keys so often). And I love mythology and legend, which of course focuses on the line between life and death, the power of blood to curse or atone, and the cycle of death and resurrection. I guess I’m a little twisted!

We’re about to dive into the year-end holiday blitz, careening from Halloween into Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Christmas, Boxing Day, and New Year’s. Of those, which are your favorites, and how do you celebrate them?

For almost 20 years, we did a 20 hour round/trip car ride to Pennsylvania for all major holidays. That’s one tradition I don’t miss, although I wish extended family lived closer (or were still here to celebrate).

halloween3 We personally celebrate Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Decorating is a BIG thing at our place. We’ll have decorations up inside and out from Halloween until New Years. So for Halloween, we’ve got a 7 foot inflatable light-up dragon (with moving wings), a 6 foot tall stack of pumpkins, a 12 foot haunted castle archway, myriad light-up spiders and tombstones, plus a full-sized inflatable hearse driven by a headless coachman and featuring a vampire rising from his coffin in the back!

Inside, I’ve got all kinds of spooky-fun decorations with ghosts, witches, pumpkins, and skulls. Gotta have skulls.


Many of our neighbors are Indian, so we get to celebrate Diwali by association, since fireworks are a big part of that celebration and there’s no missing the explosions in our neighborhood. Some of our friends decorate with strings of colored lights to simulate the fireworks, and then stick plastic candy canes in front of the bushes the week after Diwali is over and they’re ready for Christmas. Hey, it’s America–you can pretty much celebrate however you want!

For Thanksgiving, that’s a whole different set of decorations with a fall leaves garland at the front door, and inside, cornucopias, pumpkins, turkeys and pilgrims. Oh, and a big turkey tureen with matching turkey candle holders and salt/pepper shakers, which is the bane of my children’s existence. (I wanted one for AGES and finally found exactly the right set on EBay!)

We start decorating the Christmas trees (four large ones, plus smaller ones in the bedrooms) the day after Thanksgiving. It’s a multiple-day process. It takes me one full day just to put the lights on one of the trees, and it starts out pre-lit! One tree has ornaments that we’ve collected our whole lives. One tree is a bit more formal and themed. One tree has ornaments that the kids either made when they were little or that have a childhood connection–it’s also the fandom tree with the Enterprise, the Serenity and the Millennium Falcon. Oh, and then there’s the big silver tree in my office (shiny!) decorated with DragonCon badges.

And food! Larry and I both cook. UNC Daughter bakes. Now that we don’t make the trek to PA anymore since all of our parents have passed, our kids and their significant others come to our place. We cook, they play tabletop games and watch anime. Wassail is very popular, and so is Larry’s Southern Living homemade pimento cheese spread. I’m in charge of the turkey and stuffing. Good times!

How many series are you currently writing?

DEADLY-CURIOSITIES1-140x214It depends on how you count. Chronicles of the Necromancer, Fallen Kings Cycle, Ascendant Kingdoms Saga, Iron & Blood, Deadly Curiosities and the new Epically-Epic Epic Fantasy (I’m going to start calling it E3F for short). So that’s 6, but technically Chronicle and Fallen Kings are the same world/characters, so maybe 5.

Then there’s the Salvage Rat space opera proto-series that currently exists in three short stories but we have plans for novels. In various stages of proposal/development are a horror novel, a very dark second urban fantasy series, a different epic fantasy series that will probably be indie novellas, and a couple of possible tie-in series. So lots of stuff in the works!

What inspired you to develop the various series of short stories that tie into your novels, and which short stories tie into which novels’ universes?

I had more stories to tell than would fit in the books. Not all of the stories were big enough or complicated enough to be books, but they made good extra ‘episodes’. And I’m not contractually permitted to bring out additional full books in the series except through the publisher without getting messy, but short fiction doesn’t count.GZM_The_Shadowed_Path_205x330

The Deadly Curiosities Adventures tie into the novels Deadly Curiosities and Vendetta and happen before, during, between and after the books. The Jonmarc Vahanian Adventures are prequels to The Summoner in my Chronicles of the Necromancer/Fallen Kings world. The Blaine McFadden Adventures are novellas that connect to the Ascendant Kingdoms books and fill a time gap in Ice Forged. Larry N. Martin and I co-write the Storm and Fury Adventures, which extend the Iron & Blood steampunk world. We try to bring something new out in one of the series each month!

You attend a fair number of science fiction conventions each year. What do you most enjoy about them?

I do 12-17 cons a year, and they are both social and marketing for me. Cons are where I meet readers and other authors and hang out with my friends. I went to cons before I was a pro, and love being on the other side of the panel table now! I really enjoy fandom, so every con feels like a homecoming. Plus cons are where I do business–selling books, getting invited to new anthologies and projects, meeting editors, coming up with collaborations with other authors!

Ice-Forged-cover-21-140x227Is there a particular place readers new to your work should start?

First books are always good starting points! So that would be The Summoner or Ice Forged or Deadly Curiosities or Iron & Blood. I guess you could also start with the short stories, but you don’t have to read them first.

Please tell us about the other blog tour you’re currently participating in, Hold Onto the Light.

#HoldOnToTheLight is a blogging campaign with over 100 sci-fi and fantasy authors sharing about how depression, suicide, PTSD, anxiety and other mental health issues have impacted them, their characters and their books. We want to encourage a safe, inclusive environment for fans who also struggle, and demonstrate that fandom takes care of its own. You can find links to all of the blog posts at


Where can people find more information about that?

Links to all of the posts are up on along with related posts, and we also have a Facebook page at and a Facebook group at #HoldOnToTheLight, and the links to the blog posts show up on those places as well as other similar content.

What do you have on your slate for the rest of 2016, and what’s scheduled already for 2017?

I’m doing Atomacon in Charleston, SC in November along with the Carolina Renaissance Festival’s Time Travelers’ Weekend/Lit Festival. 2017 starts up again in January with Illogicon, then Coastal Magic, Capricon and Mysticon in February, the AZ Renaissance Festival in March and more!

How can people check out your work and maybe win some prizes?

Get all the details about my Days of the Dead blog tour here: with several ways to win free books and ebooks plus other cool stuff.

Book swag is the new Trick-or-Treat! All of my guest blog posts have links to free excerpts—grab them all!

Creepy! Free excerpt from our Steampunk Storm and Fury Adventures short story Resurrection Day

TrickOrTreat w excerpt Baba Ali & The Clockwork Djinn by Danielle Ackley-McPhail

Use your free @Audible trial to get my books! The Dread Audible

TrickOrTreat DoubleDragonSampler#5

You can also connect with Gail on social media:

Find her at, on Twitter @GailZMartin, on, at blog and, on Goodreads and free excerpts on Wattpad

So, everyone, tell us–of all the upcoming holidays, which is your favorite, and how do you celebrate it? What’s your favorite ghost story or magic story?









The Magical Worlds of Gail Z. Martin

Hi, Everybody! Bandita Jeanne and I are cohosting today’s guest, author Gail Z. Martin. Gail writes epic fantasy, urban fantasy, and steampunk, both novels and action-packed short stories. Her work has appeared in over 30 US/UK anthologies. She and Jeanne are both in a new urban fantasy box set, Modern Magic, and Gail has a new short story collection, The Shadowed Path, starring one of my favorite ever characters, smuggler and swordsman Jonmarc Vahanian (see the yummy cover below!).

Today, Gail’s going to talk to us about magic in epic fantasy and urban fantasy. Welcome, Gail! So what makes magic work in different fantasy worlds? 

gailEpic fantasy is medieval, full of sweeping battles, world-altering conspiracies, and the rise and fall of kingdoms and civilizations, reminiscent of real history and yet altered. Urban fantasy brings the supernatural into something akin to our own world, recognizable and familiar but with key–dangerous–differences.

Magic is the most important of those differences and alterations. But while magic is present in both urban and epic fantasy, the magical systems, its invocation and use are often handled differently, and its practitioners treated differently between the two types of fantasy. Those differences are a key part of the world building, and the treatment of magic helps to define both the world and the characters.

the-sworn11-220x362Think about magic in an epic fantasy setting, and most people picture a wizard like Gandalf–robed, larger than life, with wild hair and a staff, casting lightning bolts and working spells. Part of that draws on the medieval setting. Lots of people wore what we would now call ‘robes’, especially if they held a priestly or expert role–like a wizard, who was scholar, alchemist and mage, perhaps even a conduit for divine power.

Magic in epic fantasy is heavily liturgical, couched in elaborate spells and rituals with powerful relics and arcane materials. Grounded in a time when science was alchemy and superstition rivaled rationality, epic fantasy magic feels grand and elaborate. Magic might have been frowned upon by religious authorities, feared by kings, or sought by devotees, but it was not alien to the understanding of how the world functioned, was not antithetical to the foundations of the wide-spread belief systems.

Magic in epic fantasy might be rare or common, hidden or openly practiced, but its existence was not unbelievable, nor did the possibility of it seem counterintuitive to the people of the time. For medieval thinkers, it wasn’t a stretch to believe magic was possible; they questioned whether it ran counter to morality and divine decree.

978-1-939704-60-3Magic in urban fantasy still has aspects of mystery, ritual and lore. After all, magic and the supernatural are all about the boundary with the unknown and the hidden. Yet in urban fantasy, the people wielding the power are our contemporaries, products of the modern world, as much a product of science and culture as the reader and the author. Using magic for a modern practitioner requires being able to set aside contemporary presuppositions about what is and isn’t ‘real’ or possible.

It’s less of a religious objection than a scientific one, the sense that it shouldn’t be possible to set aside or alter the laws of physics. Invoking magic in urban fantasy may draw on ritual, relics and lore but those elements are handled through the lens of modern rationality, not superstition.

And for the record, magic in a steampunk world draws on the Victorian sensibility that everything was ultimately knowable, and that science could conquer everything–even the supernatural, or at least explain it and reduce it to a knowable system.

I write epic fantasy, urban fantasy and steampunk. The magic is different among the genres in important ways, and yet much about the power and its use and costs remains similar.

the-summoner1-140x228In my Chronicles of the Necromancer/Fallen Kings Cycle epic fantasy series, necromancy and blood magic are two ends of a spectrum separated by the ethics and intentions of the practitioner. The magic of the nomadic Sworn is shamanistic, while the Nargi priests attribute their magic to their dedication to the Crone aspect of the Sacred Lady and are sure all other magic is infernal.

Magic is a force of nature that some people can tap into and control. It is known and accepted, but most people do not have any ability, and necromancy is the rarest magic of all.

Ice-Forged-cover-21-140x227In the Ascendant Kingdoms Saga epic fantasy series, a devastating war destroys two kingdoms and knocks out the artificially-imposed control over magic, leading to massive destruction as wild magic causes deadly storms and opens portals for monsters to come through from other realms. The loss of the ability to control magic in a magic-dependent culture where most people have at least a little talent wrecks havoc on an everyday scale as well.

Hero Blaine McFadden must not only gain military control to regain order, but also reimpose the binding on magic to save his people.


Switch to my dark urban fantasy series, Deadly Curiosities, and modern-day Charleston, South Carolina is a hot spot for supernatural perils. I draw on a variety of magical traditions including Voodoo, Hoodoo, Native American, old Norse and European magic, with a main character who can read objects by touch and supporting characters with a variety of supernatural abilities.

It’s our world, with a twist, and the characters believe in the supernatural because they have seen and experienced its reality. Ritual and lore are often part of focusing concentration and harnessing power, but magic is not superstitious or necessarily an issue of religious faith; it is grounded in its own rules and systems.

IronBlood-cover-design-140x217And then there’s the Steampunk series, Iron & Blood, with the ever-optimistic Victorians who relish exploring the unexplained. Science and magic are at odds as the old ways and the new sensibilities vie for dominance, but beneath it all is Victorian rationality, the belief that the truth is out there.

Inventors like Edison create machines to record the voices of the dead, while Nikola Tesla harnesses energy in ways that put wizard lightning to shame. It’s a brave new world, but it straddles both old and new ways of thinking, and the tension between those realities is part of the fun.

Thanks, Gail! You have some giveaways and other fun things coming up.  How can people find those?

From June 21-June 30 I’ll be doing my annual Hawthorn Moon Sneak Peek Event blog tour, and I hope readers will stop over to my website, find out what all is going on and where to find the posts, giveaways, contests and fun events. And of course, please look for The Shadowed Path at your favorite bookseller!

The Hawthorn Moon Sneak Peek Event includes book giveaways, free excerpts, all-new guest blog posts and author Q&A on 22 awesome partner sites around the globe. I’ll also be hosting many of my Modern Magic co-authors guest posting on my blog during the tour.  For a full list of where to go to get the goodies, visit

There’s a Deadly Curiosities story excerpt here:

Shadow Garden

And a Jonmarc Vahanian one from a story in The Shadowed Path here:

Caves of the Dead

 Gail is the author of The Shadowed Path (Solaris Books), Vendetta: A Deadly Curiosities Novel in her urban fantasy series set in Charleston, SC (Solaris Books); Shadow and Flame, the fourth and final book in the Ascendant Kingdoms Saga (Orbit Books); and Iron and Blood a new Steampunk series (Solaris Books) co-authored with Larry N. Martin.

She is also author of Ice Forged, Reign of Ash and War of Shadows in The Ascendant Kingdoms Saga, The Chronicles of The Necromancer series (The Summoner, The Blood King, Dark Haven, Dark Lady’s Chosen); The Fallen Kings Cycle (The Sworn, The Dread) and the urban fantasy novel Deadly Curiosities.  Gail writes three ebook series: The Jonmarc Vahanian Adventures, The Deadly Curiosities Adventures and The Blaine McFadden Adventures. The Storm and Fury Adventures, steampunk stories set in the Iron & Blood world, are co-authored with Larry N. Martin.

You can connect with Gail on social media:

At her website,, on Twitter @GailZMartin, on, at blog and, on Goodreads and  free excerpts on Wattpad

Since the theme of the day is magic, what’s your favorite story involving it?

Demon Huntress and Karilyn Bentley

DSC_4616 copyBandit Buddies, please help me welcome back one of my favorite authors, Karilyn Bentley.  In the past Karilyn has stopped by to chat with us about her dragon shifters. This time, she’s here to give us the scoop about her new Urban Fantasy, Demon Lore, A Demon Huntress novel.

Suz: Karilyn, welcome back to the Bandit Lair. Pull up a barstool and we’ll have Sven mix up your favorite drink.

Karilyn: Yummy! I love visiting the lair. The company is great and who doesn’t love the sexy Sven? <waves at Sven> I’ll get the party started by ordering a margarita. Can’t beat those! Oh, and please apologize to Ermengarde for me, no dragon shifters this time. She’ll have to wait for my next release. 🙂

Suz: Tell us what made you decide to add another genre to your stories and how you came up with the idea for the Demon Huntress series?

Karilyn: Like so much in my life, it wasn’t planned, I kind of fell into it. It’s not like I sat down one day and decided to write a UF. I started writing this funny scene (or what I thought was a funny scene, it’s been cut from the book so maybe it wasn’t as hilarious as I thought) with an ER nurse. She was snarky and messed up and popped into my mind and wouldn’t let go. But I needed a story. I also had an opening scene from the very first book I wrote (the one hiding in the closet) that I wanted to put in one of my books. I loved the scene and the tension it built, it was the only scene in that first book worth saving. Ever since I wrote it years ago I wished it would belong in some book. The scene was of a doctor being shot while at work in the ER. One day it clicked in my mind to combine the two and voila, Demon Lore was born.

Suz: Tell us about your new book, Demon Lore.

Karilyn: Demon Lore is the story of Gin Crawford, empath and ER nurse, who finds a mysterious bracelet that gives her demon hunting powers. Needless to say, she’s not too excited about her new gig. 🙂  Here’s the blurb:

Gin Crawford has enough problems dealing with her empath abilities. Finding out she’s the world’s newest demon-slayer is the last thing she needs. Unfortunately, when she slips on a mysterious bracelet she is given no other choice. On the plus side, her new gig comes with Tall, Dark and Handsome, a mage who may or may not have her best interests at heart. Thrust into a power-play between good and evil, Gin must choose a side before she becomes the next victim in the ongoing battle.perf5.000x8.000.indd

Suz: When creating an alternate world, did you find it hard or easy to do? How did you decide which powers to give your heroine?

Karilyn: I’ve always written in an alternative world (doesn’t everyone to some extent?) so building another one wasn’t difficult. Remembering what I wrote is the problem. I have to use a series bible to keep my place. Or hopefully keep my place. 🙂  When I started writing the story, I wanted Gin to be a demon huntress, to fight the nasties in the world. But I’m a pantser so my unconscious gave her an extra ability (empath) along with a host of problems. And a hot guardian mage.  🙂

Here’s an excerpt:

The evil man-thing stands on my porch, his lips turning in a menacing smile of death. I don’t need to touch him to know he wants me dead. Muscles freeze, trapping my breath in my lungs. Like a rabbit in view of a wolf, I’m immobilized, waiting for death’s blow. Time slows, his gaze locks on mine, trapping me in place. Move, move, move! My mind screams as the man’s fingers twitch.
But the spike of adrenaline explodes into my limbs too late to stop the backhand blow slamming across my jaw.
I superman it halfway across the living room. Land on the hardwood floor in a thud of pain-ridden limbs. My jaw morphs into a screaming ball of nerves. My head no sooner hits the floor than I hear the bracelet scream, a high-pitched wail quivering through my skin like vibrations from a tuning fork. The bracelet tightens around my wrist, cutting off the circulation, and then it loosens with a pop at the same time I hear the door click closed. 
Ohgodohgodohgod, I’m going to die. I don’t want to die. No, no, no, no, no. Pain and terror hold me crumpled on the floor as my mind crawls backward in time.
But I’m no longer a child, fearful of fists and words, cowering on the ground.I’m a fighter.
My head spins, but I refuse to lie on the floor waiting to be killed, so I attempt to stand. Evil Guy laughs as I ass-plant it. Laughs as a moan escapes my lips. He takes a step toward me, right arm drawn back for a hit. His fist hurls toward my face, but I manage to block it with my left arm. My right arm, the one with the bracelet, shoves forward, slamming into his chest.
His black eyes widen, mouth open in surprise, his hands fluttering to his chest before dropping. I stare at my hand, stare hard, for I’m as surprised as Evil Guy. The bracelet had become a sword, a long, thin spike of metal extending from the silver links, straight into Evil Guy’s heart.
A sword?
Definitely a sword. The flat of the blade rests against the back of my hand, cool metal heating from the warmth of my skin. Small silver links circle around my palm, lending stability to the two-foot long sword.
I’m not sure which scares me more, Evil Guy paying me a visit or the fact the bracelet performed a morphing trick.

Suz: Being an urban fantasy, you’re writing in 1st person. Did you find this any problem?

Karilyn: Nope. I find it easiest to write in 1st person. I had to teach myself to write in 3rd.

Suz: Okay, it’s late, you’re writing…what snack do you reach for? Salty or Sweet? And what beverage do you wash it down with?

Karilyn: I have a sweet tooth the size of the Pacific. That said, I try not to eat when writing. But I do drink. 🙂 My beverage of choice is tea, caffeinated, decaf or herbal. Sometimes in the evening I’m known to have a glass of wine with my writing.

Suz: Are there going to be more in the Demon Huntress series?

Karilyn: Yes! I’m glad you asked. As of now, there are a total of five books in the series. I have a lot of fun writing them and hope the reader enjoys them as much as I do!


Dianna Love and Demon Storm

 Take three best Friends–

Demon Storm Characters EvalleEvalle Kincaid

Evalle has been an outcast since day one because she’s an Alterant—half Belador, half unknown. From the beginning of BLOOD TRINITY, Book 1 of the Belador series, Evalle has been fighting to save the world, to save the people she loves, and to earn the right to hold her head up and have a normal life. Oh yeah, and the right to NOT be caged as a dangerous beast. All of that depends on uncovering the origins of her mixed blood.

Demon Storm Characters Quinn

Vladimir Quinn
Quinn climbed out of a Russian gutter to become one of the most powerful Beladors, both as a warrior and as a financial guru. He’s lived his life without ties because protecting his family and close friends is hard enough. Or so he thought until he fell in love with his enemy.

Demon Storm Characters TzaderTzader Burke

Maistir of the North American Belador warriors, he’s as deadly as he is attractive, and rules a force of Alphas. His loyalty to the Beladors and those he loves—in particular the Belador warrior queen– knows no boundaries. If life were simple, he’d be with the woman he loves, but nothing comes easy to those who lead.

Toss in one sexy, mysterious Skinwalker–

StormDemon Storm characters Storm

Half Ashaninka Spiritwalker, half Navajo Skinwalker, Storm came to Atlanta hunting a dark force. He’s found it.

Unfortunately, it may be too late, because the dark force is following the woman Storm loves—the one he’ll face death to protect. Evalle Kincaid.

Stir them all together–

Then let a New York Times bestselling author mind the stove

What does she do?

Dianna headshot 282 X 323 pixels floppedDianna Love turns up the heat of course!

Cassondra:  Most of you all have met my guest when she’s visited the lair in the past. Today I’m especially excited to bring her back, because I want to share the evolution of a series, and how it was born, nearly disappeared, only to be saved when two generous authors worked together for sake of their readers.

I think it’s an interesting look inside publishing, and Dianna has some awesome news.

But I’ll let her tell you about that.  Dianna, thank you so much for joining us in the lair today!

Dianna:  I’m thrilled to be here. I always love visiting the Bandits!

Cassondra: Tell us about the origins of the Belador series.

Dianna:  I created the Beladors nine years ago, and when my agent took it to two major publishing houses, both senior editors wanted it. The snag we ran into was the weekly editorial and marketing meeting, when both sales groups said they had no idea how to market this series. I was told if I made it a vampire story, they’d buy it, because – they knew how to market vampires, a hot genre at the time. I declined, because that was not the way I saw this series.

But I did ask one of the editors whether I should change anything else about the story and she said, “No. The story is great, but I think you may be ahead of the curve.”

 …Was Evalle even still alive?

Of course she was alive.

His heart continued to beat, didn’t it?



Cassondra:  So how did the Beladors get their day in the sun?

Dianna:  That editor ended up being right. I put the Beladors aside, then five years ago as I was about to take it out again, the house where Sherrilyn and I were publishing a romantic thriller series asked us for something paranormal. Since Sherri had invited me to co-write her BAD Agency series, I offered for her to become co-writer on the Beladors. We gave the editors the same pitch from years before and once again, they loved it, but this time, everybody was on board. Funny, huh?

Cassondra:  *raises eyebrow*

Dianna: Urban fantasy had ‘grown up’ during that five-year period so the readers were ready for something different and new.  I was thrilled when readers embraced this series.

Cassondra: Last fall saw the release of RISE OF THE GRYPHON, Book 4 of the series, and fans immediately began clamoring for the next book.  But for a while it looked like the Beladors might not get more stories, and Evalle and Storm might be left without their HEA.  Will you talk to the readers about how that can happen, even with a popular series?

Dianna:  Publishing is a strange business. Back when we were first asked to switch gears and write this urban fantasy series, the romantic thriller series we were writing had just hit #7 on the New York Times list (and four other major lists), but the publisher wanted paranormal. Sadly, we had to stop writing the romantic thrillers.

So fast forward four years and the Beladors almost didn’t continue, but this time it was because my and Sherri’s schedules had gotten so loaded, especially with her awesome movie and television deals, that it was difficult to find the time in both of our schedules for us to continue collaborating.Love--Demon Storm Low Res

I couldn’t be happier for Sherri’s amazing success, but this series put more on her already crammed plate. She’s got terrible back issues and any writer will tell you that is a critical health problem when trying to type all day and night.

Cassondra:  But you have good news for the readers, right?

Dianna: I do! When it became obvious that something had to give or the Beladors would no longer be published, we did what we always do – decided what was best for readers. That’s why I’m moving ahead, writing the series on my own. It was a natural progression since I created the series and always knew where it was going. I can’t say enough about Sherrilyn Kenyon’s generous spirit when it comes to helping other authors and watching out for her readers. We have always agreed to put our readers first.

Cassondra: This fall was originally slated for the release of Book 6 in your Slye Temp series, which is high-octane romantic suspense. But you postponed that until late winter. Tell us why.

Dianna: It’s very hard for me to put off a book release. I’m not just type A. I’m type AAA, and the idea of missing a deadline gives me a rash, but the minute we decided that I should continue the Beladors on my own, I made the decision to stop working on the next Slye Temp (STOLEN VENGEANCE – now scheduled for Feb 2015) and write DEMON STORM. I’ve wanted to give this story to the readers since releasing RISE OF THE GRYPHON last year, and I was so flattered by the enthusiastic response this summer when I announced that DEMON STORM would be next.

“Storm has come for me every time I’ve been in a jam. Every. Time.

Don’t ever think I won’t turn this world upside down for him.”

~~Evalle Kincaid

Cassondra:  Readers have been forming virtual picket lines, demanding to read DEMON STORM. I think because Evalle and Storm have been through so much together, everybody was rooting for them.  I’m not giving spoilers, but I’ve loved this series since book 1, and this might just be my favorite book yet.  I promise the readers, they won’t be disappointed.

And the fantastic news is…it’s here!  DEMON STORM released two days ago, October 21.

Dianna, will you give us a teaser?

Dianna: Absolutely.  Here’s the back cover copy

We all have demons… some are more real than others.

With Treoir Island in shambles after a Medb attack that left the survival of the missing Belador warrior queen in question and Belador powers compromised, there is one hope for her return and their future – Evalle Kincaid, whose recent transformation has turned her into an even more formidable warrior.  First she has to locate Storm, the Skinwalker she’s bonded with who she believes can find the Belador queen, but Storm stalks the witch doctor who’s threatening Evalle’s life.  When he finally corners the witch doctor, she throws Storm a curve that may cost him everything, including Evalle. The hunter becomes the hunted, and Evalle must face her greatest nightmare to save Storm and the Beladors or watch the future of mankind fall to deadly preternatural predators.

Dianna:  And you can always read the first chapter excerpt on my website.  The link is here.

Cassondra:  Can you give us a hint about what’s coming next for Evalle, Tzader, Quinn and Storm?

Dianna: Okay, that’s tough without giving spoilers.  If you didn’t read RISE OF THE GRYPHON, you won’t get some of this, but I don’t want to ruin it for new readers, so those who know the story will have to read between the lines.Quinn is still reeling from losing someone very important to him, and finding out he has a family member he never knew about. When he comes back in WITCHLOCK, the next Belador book (June 2015), we’ll begin to see him deal with this and face finding his lost family, which isn’t an easy task considering the only person who knew where they’re hidden is now dead. Quinn’s a tortured hero who has a lot ahead of him.

Tzader has his own set of problems, but I can’t go into that. Let’s just say we’ll see more of him and how he’s handling his tormented love life. I can’t tell you much about Evalle without giving away major spoilers from DEMON STORM (these stories are all tightly connected), but I will say that in WITCHLOCK, you’ll see more of all your favorite characters, including Feenix, Evalle’s two-foot tall pet gargoyle!

Cassondra:  Woooot!  I love Feenix!   But you’re involved with a very special project this fall.  Tell us about that.

Dianna: SomBox Set--Last Hero Standinge of you may know that books are now published both by New York houses and by authors publishing independently (aka Indie authors). Because of this new opportunity, authors have the ability to partner up with one another and do things that are just not workable for the bigger, slower mechanisms of traditional publishing. With Indie publishing, multi-author boxed sets are not only possible, they’re common. This fall, eleven authors came together to create a box set called LAST HERO STANDING, and ALL the proceeds go to Pamela Clare, an author who is battling breast cancer with little support. It’s hard enough to battle a disease like that and pay medical bills not covered by insurance, but writing comes to a standstill and that translates to no income.

The incredible thing about being able to do this is that we made the decision in August and had it ready to go before October 1st, when the box set went live for preorders. (Last Hero Standing is available for download October 28th). Even if we could have all gotten permission from our publishers (if those books had been released through NY), this box set would not have been released until later in 2015 at the earliest.breast cancer ribbon

 Pamela needs money NOW, not a year from now.

This is a battle for her life.

 I so appreciate the other four NYT bestsellers, four USA Today bestsellers and the two award-winning authors who have donated their books and their time to this set. The cover and formatting was donated. I’m handling the publishing, so I can tell you EVERY penny is going to Pamela, and nothing is getting diverted to overhead, which is just awesome.

Please consider buying this set and/or surprising someone by giving it as a gift – for only 99 cents.  

Dianna will give away a signed print copy of DEMON STORM to one reader from the Continental US,  AND she’ll gift an e-copy (Amazon or B&N account required) and a set of  Belador Keeper Kase© Cards to one international reader .

Find more on Dianna at her website

Follow her on her facebook fan page

OR go  join the group and hang out with the crazy kids on her facebook Street Team.

She’s on twitter too–@DiannaLove

 Dianna wants to know…

What do you love most about series?

Have you read series with continuing characters?

If so, what makes you want to keep coming back for more of those characters?

Have you read urban fantasy before?

In romance, do you enjoy couples from previous books making appearances in later books in the series?

To be entered in the drawing, just leave a comment. 

Mary Buckham’s Invisible Recruits

My guest today is USA Today bestselling author Mary Buckham.  Her Alex Noziak urban fantasy series features five women drafted to combat preternatural beings in a quest for power.  We have witches, like Alex, shifters, a sexy warlock, and people with other unusual gifts.  Mary also co-writes the Red Moon young adult science fiction-fantasy series with Dianna Love.  

Welcome, Mary!  What inspired you to write the Alex Noziak urban fantasy series? 

Mary-portrait-squareThe concept of invisibility, by choice or by living in an environment where a woman’s innate gifts have been undervalued is fascinating to me. Many women can relate to the protagonist of my series, Alex, not because of her abilities as a witch or a shaman but in her struggle to come to terms with who she is and what she can do. It’s not an easy path, filled with lots of what-if second-guessing and OMG moments, but she’s willing to try, which makes her a person readers root for and a woman, I think that many readers can understand.

I never envisioned that the series would take off as well as it has or that it would earn me a USA Today bestselling author ranking.  Tickled pink by the response to Alex, and her team. 

Please tell us about Alex and her comrades.

Alex, who is part-witch/ part-shaman and all attitude, and the other four women of the IR (I for Invisible, R for Recruit) Agency have been coerced into a covert organization because of their additional paranormal or other abilities (psychic, ability to turn invisible, etc.) to counter threats from the world’s preternatural individuals. Most of the world is unaware that preternaturals even exist, but a few are aware and see growing conflict between them and humans. The Agency is a small start, but it is a start, and now women who have hidden their gifts must not only embrace them, but pull together as a team.

They are up against very powerful forces and if they fail, they risk death or worse.  If they survive one year, they are free to walk away from the Agency. But that’s a big IF.

Who is Bran, and can you say whether you have long-range plans for him?

Bran is an uber-sexy warlock, an enemy to witches and, in the first full-length novel, INVISIBLE MAGIC, the person Alex must work against to determine if he’s good and caught up in something very bad, or bad, and needing to be removed.  Against every instinct Alex possesses, except one, they become lovers. Their relationship starts with major trust issues and gets worse. So yes, Bran is a reoccurring character and we’ll see more of him as the series progresses. 

MaryBuckham_InvisiblePower_2000Would you like to include an excerpt?

Delighted you ask. Have attached an excerpt from INVISIBLE POWER, the second novel in the series.


I’m Alex Noziak, a witch/shaman in the temporary employment of the IR Agency. I for invisible, R for recruit, and calling any of my five-member team employed was a load of crock. I was here as an alternative to prison. Long story boiled down to a year’s agreement to be a member of a small, highly secret organization meant to combat a rising tide of preternatural agitation against humans. Fancy words for saying five of us stood against who knew how many species that, until lately, were mostly content to stay hidden from human eyes.

So here I was, in the exotic city of Paris, lounging on a street corner, a baby buggy in front of me, dressed like a down-on-her-luck Parisian mother. I had my waist-length braid of hair tucked up under a cheap hat that was itching like crazy and enough makeup on my face to disguise my Native American skin tones. I’d considered using an appearance spell then discarded it. Not that I liked looking like I’d bought every kind of cosmetic Walmart had to offer and used all of it at once, but magic was something I used with extreme caution.

Why? Because it always exacted a price and I was still smarting from my last bout with spell casting. That and a run-in with a demonic African witch doctor.

About two months ago it became apparent that someone, or something, was no longer happy with the status quo of humans being blithely unaware that there were more than themselves populating the planet. Preternaturals had their reasons for flying under the radar, for many of them survival being the biggest reason. Humans tended to kill first and ask questions later when they dealt with anything they perceived as a threat. If you don’t believe me consider the poor cockroach. As if a bug that small was really going to do something to them. Non-humans, like most squishy, squirmy bugs, fell squarely under the category of dead must be better.

But someone wanted to change all that and my job, along with my five teammates, was to stop it from happening.

Team leader Vaughn, who was sitting at a nearby café table, sipping espresso and looking more French than the locals, was I assumed fully human. She also was a socialite, pampered money, and stunning looks; more than that though, she was willing to put her life on the line for a cause, protecting those who didn’t know they needed protection.

Then there was Kelly, a former kindergarten teacher who was so nice I kept waiting for the catch. Her gift was the ability to turn invisible for short bursts of time. Drawback was, she was still learning how to get a handle on not popping away when stressed or scared. Right now she was playing tourist, complete with a crumpled map, a camera, and a vacuous expression on her face as she looked around the seedy neighborhood. She fit the role so well even I believed she was lost.

She was waiting for my signal to do her thing, become invisible and reconnoiter our target and mission accomplished. A quick get-in-and-get-out-in-one-piece job. Piece of cake.

Jaylene Smart and Mandy Reyes were the two other team members, lounging against a far wall, looking, except for the cast on Mandy’s arm like hookers trolling for johns among a few other women doing the same thing. Jaylene, tall, gorgeous, and African American was a psychic, which meant she saw the future. Not always in technicolor or clearly, but that was the challenge with gifts, you had to take the bad with the good.

Hispanic Mandy was a soulless spirit walker; someone who like me, could pass over to the spirit world. Difference was I remained a shaman when I traveled between realms. She might as well have worn a neon sign that flashed corporal-body-ready-to-be-inhabited to any spirit with enough chutzpah to try.

I figured the reason some spirit hadn’t succeeded yet was only because they were wary of Mandy’s abrasive personality. Smart spirits.

M.T. Stone was our team instructor, and as we had yet to finish our training, was here with us for support. Since he’d nearly died on our last mission, one that was supposed to be easy, I took it as a good sign. He’d barely left a German hospital so his presence was meant for tactical support. He was dressed as a Parisian workman in a one-piece paint-splattered coverall, poking at a chip in a stucco wall. He should have looked harmless but there was nothing harmless about him. One close look and most people’s first reaction was to step back, those who hadn’t already taken off running.

“Team, report,” I repeated, getting antsy, as operational leader. I had the most at stake on this mission. Our primary goal was catching a man named Vaverek and all we had was a faint description: broad shouldered, stocky, dark-haired, who was supposed to be living in the second floor, front right flat in the building across the street, a building so old that if Stone kept picking at it might crumble.

We were to verify the intel that this was his hidey-hole and withdraw, period.  no matter how much I wanted us to go in, blast his door open and take him out, after he told me what I wanted to hear. With two of the six of us on the recuperation list we weren’t up to doing anything more, even with at least two snipers on nearby rooftops to help us if we needed backup.

Vaverek was the man behind a dangerous synthetic drug used against humans so far that could force them to commit crimes without their knowledge. Two weeks ago we’d stopped two of the women involved in testing the drug on unsuspecting victims. We also managed to seize a sizeable amount of the drug, which should have been a high-five moment for the team, and for me as point on that operation.

The moment lasted a lot less than sixty seconds when a containment spell I’d cast backfired and killed our two chief suspects before they could give us any leads to their power brokers, the individuals who financially backed the scheme, and who might still have enough of the drug, or worse, the formula, to pose a threat.

But there was more. Vaverek was also our only link to the increasingly dangerous agitation among the world’s non-human population. We needed to know who Vaverek was working for, as well as free the man Vaverek held hostage.

My brother.

And we’re off and running!  Can you give us a brief overview of the series so far?

So far Alex and the Invisible Recruit Agency are in the early stages of being a covert team that’s unknown to the other US and International law enforcement agencies as they come up against preternaturals. After generations of hiding themselves some groups of the preternaturals are wanting to assert their presence in a world they once dominated, but since they used humans as food and chattel, allowing the preternaturals free-rein is not a good idea.

And then there’s another threat, called the Seekers, moving in the shadows, who are agitating the more violent of the preternaturals and will be bringing whole new level of bad to the world, and the IR team.  The concept of the story arc seems to be working well as one reviewer had this to say about the series,  “Not since Kate Daniels and Mercy Thompson have I fallen in love with a female character like I have with Alex Noziak.” ~~ Quiana at Urban Girl Reader

Let’s shift gears for a minute and talk about your nonfiction books on writing.   I notice each one covers a specific topic.  Why did you take this approach?

Active-Setting-Book-One-Web_72_JPEG_4x6_sizeCurrently I’ve released two of the WRITING ACTIVE SETTING series (the third one will come out this month) as a means to introduce elements of Setting in smaller, more manageable concepts, instead of one large book of several hundred pages. So far each of the e-books explores roughly 3 ways to use Setting description on the page in a stronger way in our writing, no matter what we write. They’ve been written with plenty of examples and assignments to get a writer excited to try the concepts and that has proven to be a very successful approach based on the feedback given on the first two books.

Keeping the initial releases tight and focused I’ve also been able to keep the price very affordable. So for less than the cost of a latte a writer can pick up one copy and see if the approach works for them and if their own writing improves. Early next year I’ll bring out a combined print version of the book for those who like to highlight, underline, and  savor reading craft books that way. 

What’s next for you?

MicahCaida_TimeTrap_800This year there will be a third Alex Noziak novel out later this Fall, the third WRITING ACTIVE series book out in September, and the 2nd book in the YA Time Trap series I co-author with NYT bestselling author Dianna Love coming in early December. Next year will see the release of three more full-length Alex Noziak novels, at least 2 novellas in that series, an expanded print version of the WRITING ACTIVE Setting book and a third book in the YA series written under the pen name Micah Caida.  I also plan to release at least one book in a new Urban Fantasy series based on a young woman who becomes the shaman of Seattle, and that’s just the start.  

For more information about Mary and her books, visit her website.  You can also connect with her via Facebook and Twitter.

Mary’s giving two commenter today a choice of Invisible Magic or Invisible Power (hard copy in the US, choice of Kindle or Nook download elsewhere).  So tell us–Who’s your favorite hero or heroine who was grudgingly drafted into something, and why did you choose this person?  Please also tell us a bit about the book, movie or TV show in which the character appears.

Jana Oliver on Saving the Best for Last

This month marks the end of a series I’ve enjoyed very much, Jana Oliver’s Demon Trappers.  The first book, The Demon Trapper’s Daughter, won the 2012 Young Adult Maggie Award of Excellence from Georgia Romance Writers.  Jana will talk with us today about winding up this series.  Welcome, Jana!

So let’s say you’re an author and the last book in your young adult series is finally in the wild. How do you cope?

A) Turn cartwheels of joy shouting “It’s done! OMG it’s done!”

B) Don sack cloth and ashes

C) Find yourself a bit emotional and reach for an adult beverage (or three)

At present I’m veering back and forth between A & C (because sack cloth and ashes really isn’t my thing). I’m thrilled, but I’m sad at the same time, which isn’t as easy as it sounds. I’ve invested *four* years in the Demon Trappers Series, seen it go from a twinkle in my imagination to being published in nine foreign countries. It’s won awards, both here and abroad. It’s in my blood.

Over those years I’ve watched my fave characters go through Hell (literally) and find their destiny in FORETOLD, the final book. Riley Blackthorne, the 17 y/o heroine has gone from being a self-centered teen to a strong young woman. Denver Beck, the hunky Southern guy trapper with so many secrets, has learned that he’s worthy of love. And Ori, the wild card in the series, took the series in surprising directions.

At the very core was the story of a teen stuck in the middle of the “Grand Game” between Heaven and Hell, supposedly another “pawn”. It was vitally important that Riley’s “story arc” made sense. It wasn’t easy. My readers might be surprised to hear it took me longer to “get” Riley than it did Beck. It’s been a long time since I was seventeen and I had to tap my memories for what I was like at that age. The raging insecurities, the feeling that everything was immediate and raw-edged. As we age we realize a lot of stuff will just take care of itself on its own, but when you’re a teen everything is High Priority, life or death. 

So it was with Riley and probably more life and death than most. It was agonizing to watch as she and Beck made some serious mistakes, flawed decisions that could cost them their lives and/or their souls. Still, they bounced back tougher and wiser. That process, writ large, is how we mature. We make mistakes, we acknowledge them, and we move on. Unlike Riley, fortunately our boo-boos rarely gain the attention of the angels and the Prince of Hell.

Now that it’s all over I’m like someone who has packed up their bags and is moving to a new city, leaving behind my very best friends. I promise to keep in touch. I have to — I know them better than I know myself.

Now it’ll be a new story, new characters to put through their paces, a fresh start. It’s what an author does.  Nevertheless I will also look back fondly at the Demon Trappers Series, for it changed me in ways too numerous to count. That’s the power of the written word – it changes not only the reader, but the one who penned the tale.

For more about Jana and her books check her website: or  You can also find her on Twitter as @crazyauthorgirl and on Facebook:

Jana’s giving one commenter today the winner’s choice of one book in the series (The Demon Trapper’s Daughter, Soul Thief, Forgiven, or Foretold) and a Demon Trappers tee shirt. So tell us, what book, television, or movie series have enjoyed that’s over now, as well as what you liked about it and what you miss about it.

Be sure to come back to the Lair on December 13 when we kick off the annual 12 BANDITA DAYS OF CHRISTMAS! Prizes and recipes every day!! Roosters. Starbucks goodies. Books. Dragons. Books. Cookies. Godiva. Books!! (By Banditas and friends like Sabrina Jeffries, Liz Carlyle, JD Tyler, Deb Marlowe, Addison Fox and many more!) You know you want the cookies, for sure, so come home to the Lair for the Holidays! Who knows, you might win something, and you’ll be guaranteed to have fun!!



CHASE ME with Tamara Hogan!

Hello, Bandita Buddies!  Today, for your reading pleasure, I’ve brought you Tamara Hogan.  I first met Tammy in our local RWA chapter where we were both aspiring writers, nervously clutching our manuscripts and our dreams.  Tammy sold the first three books of her Underbelly Chronicles to Sourcebooks following a Golden Heart final in 2009, & I’ve been gobbling them up ever since.  She’s here today to talk to us about the second book in the series, CHASE ME.

Susan Sey:  Hi, Tammy, and welcome!  Give us the set up for your latest release in the Underbelly Chronicles, CHASE ME.  This is Gabe and Lorin’s story, isn’t it?  Both of whom we met in book one, TASTE ME?

 Tamara Hogan:  Millennia ago, when their ship crashed to Earth, hopelessly marooning them, extra-planetary species of all types settled secretly into our world, quietly going about their business with humans none the wiser. Self–ruling and careful to stay below the radar, their secret is almost exposed when Valkyrie Lorin Schlessinger makes a stunning archaeological discovery while on a dig in northern Minnesota. Her professional nemesis, werewolf geologist Gabe Lupinsky, is quickly dispatched to perform some damage control. Though they were both dating other people at the time, Lorin and Gabe shared a scene – and some sparks – in TASTE ME.  Half a year later, away from the constraints of the office, neither is attached, and…well, you know what they say: What happens in Isabella stays in Isabella. Except when it doesn’t.   

SS:  I love it that your books are set in our beloved Minnesota!  And northern Minnesota to boot!  Isabella!  Love that town.  And speaking of setting, tell us about this world you’ve created with the Underbelly Chronicles.  What particularly appeals to you about this particular take on sci-fi/urban fantasy? 

 TH:  I’m a complete hoor for science—cosmology, theoretical physics, archaeology, computer hacking, astrophysics, science fiction and science fact. I can’t remember a time when space did not fascinate me: the ungodly distance. The long time horizons. How cute Mr. Spock was. 😉 I’ve long thought that sheer math supported the possibility that humanity isn’t the only intelligent life in the universe. As the character Ellie Arroway says in the movie Contact, “If it’s just us, it seems like an awful waste of space.”

So I got to wondering, what if the answer to one of our era’s defining existential questions—are we alone?—has already been answered, and humanity simply doesn’t know it yet?   

 SS:  Oooooh, chills!  That question alone could lead to hundreds of books!  Tell us about how you answered it.

TH:  In this series I crafted a backstory where a ship of extra-planetary beings—just going about their business, and en route to somewhere else—crashed here thousands of years ago. Their descendants have been sharing the planet with us ever since, with humanity being none the wiser.  On the ship were a number of species who evolved on adjacent branches of humanity’s family tree, with some strengths and abilities that are not magical by any means, but which provided distinct survival advantages on their planets of origin. 

In the world that I’ve created, incubi and succubi secrete luscious pheromones maximizing their sexual attractiveness, and must absorb emotional energy—particularly sexual energy— for sustenance. Sirens amplify emotional energy with their voices. The Valkyrie have hyperactive adrenal systems which makes them vicious fighters and aggressive lovers. Werewolves, the only shape shifters in my world, typically have amazing scenting abilities and a high level of visual acuity, but are starting to exhibit some genetic frailties as a species due to inbreeding. Faeries have stunning empathic abilities, and my vampires, allergic to Earth’s UV rays, drink blood for its hemoglobin, which has healing properties.  

 I also wanted to suggest that all is not necessarily well environment-wise on other planets. CHASE ME’s villain, the vampire Beddoe, is horrified to find that the locals use water—rare, precious water—to wash their bodies. Such wasteful use is a crime punishable by death on his homeworld.   

SS:  See, this is what makes me love your world-building!  You do it in such an organic way.  Same goes for the paranormal aspect of your work.  The way you use the supernatural elements of the story to underscore the really human elements of the romance is fascinating. For example, Gabe’s failing vision feeds his insecurity about whether he’s an adequate match for Lorin, while Lorin herself struggles with whether her raging attraction to Gabe is love or just her Valkyrie appetites in action.  Can you talk a little bit about how that works?  Did you deliberately write it that way, or did it happen more organically?

TH:  Crafting Lorin and Gabe with these specific character attributes was deliberate, but I never dared imagine how well these choices might drive the conflict, and pull together thematically. One of the things I wanted to try with CHASE ME was to flip the traditional paranormal/UF gender tropes upside down. It’s Lorin, the heroine, who’s the rough and tumble, sexually aggressive alpha badass, and Gabe, the hero, who’s more cautious and deliberate, who’s protective of his feelings, and who, ultimately, is not at all satisfied with the strictly sexual relationship Lorin proposes.   I also wanted to explore the concept of masculinity and strength through the lens of a man who had chronic health problems.  Let me reassure readers that Gabe is plenty alpha when the situation calls for it!  😉

SS:    Mmmmmmm.  Yes.  Yes, he is.  Having read CHASE ME, I can attest to this personally.  🙂  And while I adore your heroes, I truly love your way with a villain.  What can you tell us about the villain of CHASE ME?

 TH:  Ah, the sophisticated vampire Beddoe, wheeler and dealer, captain of the intergalactic pleasure cruiser TonTon.  When the ship is underway, his word is law—but his boss, Lorcan, has an extremely long reach, having placed at least one spy on his bridge. He’s almost saved enough money to buy this remote mudball of a planet and its precious water outright when a homing beacon from the long-lost Arkapaedis unexpectedly pops on the planet’s surface, threatening to bring scientists, bounty hunters and all manner of profiteers swarming to the quadrant. Before it blips again, he has to shut it down, once and for all. The scene when Beddoe walks into a northern Minnesota dive bar looking for information while the locals watch the Stanley Cup was my favorite to write. What a blast to see this familiar setting through completely alien (ha!) eyes…       

 SS:  I loved that scene.  So what’s next for you?  Another Underbelly book, or are you branching out?

 TH:  I’m just finishing the manuscript for the third book in the Underbelly Chronicles series. TEMPT ME, Bailey and Rafe’s story, is slated for publication in July 2013.  Book 1, TASTE ME, is getting some love on the contest circuit, having recently been named a WisRWA Write Touch and PRISM paranormal finalist.

For anyone going to the Romance Writers of America conference in Anaheim in late July, Susan and  I are doing a workshop called “Superbad: How Unleashing Your Villain Can Unlock Your Story” which— fair warning— will NOT be recorded due to its interactive nature. (And yeah, because there’s outside chance the language might get a little, erm, spicy.)

SS:  Because we’re naughty like that.  🙂  I’ve had to clean up my language since I had kids, & I tend to cut loose when I’m on vacation.  I’ll apologize in advance.  

TH:  If you’re there, please say “hi!”

Question for readers: Do you think humanity is the sole intelligent life in the universe? Why or why not?

Today, Sourcebooks is giving away paperback copies of CHASE ME to two lucky commenters! (Sorry, U.S. and Canadian street addresses only.)


Tamara Hogan loathes cold and snow, but nonetheless lives near Minneapolis with her partner Mark and two naughty cats.  When she’s not telecommuting as a quality and process engineer for a global networking company, she enjoys writing edgy urban fantasy romance with a sci-fi twist. A voracious reader with an unapologetic television addiction, Tammy is forever on the lookout for the perfect black boots. Shopping, anyone?

Tammy’s first book, TASTE ME, won a Daphne du Maurier Award for Mystery and Suspense, and was also nominated for the Romance Writers of America’s prestigious Golden Heart® Award. 

For more on Tamara and the Underbelly Chronicles, check her out on:   

Her websiteFacebookTwitter or Goodreads

CHASE ME Buy Links:

(Amz | BN | Sourcebooks | Powell’s | BAM | SonyKobo | iBooks)

Read an excerpt!



Real friends help friends…babysit?

by Cassondra Murray
With two very special guests

I’m just cleaning up the bar—the center for parties and activity in the lair—putting the last glasses away as the huge grandfather clock in the front room begins to chime. I’ve been burning the late-night oil the past few nights, coming up with a new signature cocktail for the lair.

Okay, truth. I’m stuck on my latest story and when I’m stuck, this is what I do. I clean. I decorate. I mix drinks. Anything but sit and stare at that blank page.

The clock finishes its chiming.


Well, almost midnight. The darn thing is always running ten minutes fast. I suppose I could fix that. Use up a little more of the time I’m NOT writing on my uncooperative story.

I go out to the oversized front foyer and stare up at the clock face, two feet higher than I can reach. Where’s one of Joanie’s gladiators when you need one?

I turn to get a ladder when my phone bleeps with a text. Probably Jeanne in the writing caves, asking where the heck I am and why the heck I’m not down there, staring at my going-nowhere story and typing words. Can’t fix a blank page. I can just hear her saying it. *sigh* I won’t be able to hide forever. I pull the phone out of my pocket.

Not Jeanne. It’s Dianna Love.

Where r u? it reads.

In the lair. Goofing off. I type. Where r u? I hit send and head for the closet in the kitchen.

Bleeeeep. At the front door. Let us in.

What? Dianna is at the door to the lair—this late? She’s the one who gets up at 4:00 in the morning—about the time I’m usually heading to bed. And who is “us”?

I glance at the time on my phone to make sure I haven’t fallen through some time portal. Yup. Eight minutes to 12.

I lift the heavy bar, flip the big metal deadbolts and swing open the door to see Dianna on the front porch. “What’s going on? Why didn’t you knock or ring the bell?”

“I didn’t want to wake up everybody else,” she says, glancing around with a nervous look. “Where are those gladiators?”

“Not to worry,” I say. “Ermingarde’s asleep.”

“What ith ermmy-gah?”

I look down toward the source of the gruff little voice. “Oh, hi Feenix!”

I can’t help but grin at the leathery little guy. Feenix is a two-foot-tall gargoyle with big yellow-orange eyes and EVL TOO printed on his shirt. His shirt says that because he belongs to someone who rides a GSX-R —or Jixxer, for short– and has EVL ONE on her motorcycle tag. He grins back, showing off his two fangs. I explain, “Ermingarde is the lair’s dragon.”

“What ith dwagon?” This question also from Feenix.

Dianna breaks in as she steps over the lair’s threshold and Feenix follows, thumping along on his fat, four-toed feet. She tells him, “A dragon is something you don’t want to meet right now, Feenix.”

I glance at the grandfather clock, then at my phone again. Something is definitely off here. “Uh, Dianna, it’s almost midnight. You don’t do midnight.”

“No kidding, “she says. “But you do. That’s why I’m here. I need you to help me babysit¸ remember?”

I squint at Dianna as though she has three heads. “You’re serious? Now? First off, I don’t have a maternal bone in my body….and second…I thought last month when you mentioned babysitting Feenix, that it meant a couple of hours maybe. This afternoon…outside.”

“As if I inherited any mothering genes?” Dianna gives me a wry grin. “ I have fish and motorcycles. And yeah, I thought this would be day gig, too, but Evalle came over in a panic an hour ago. She was out taking Feenix for a ride near my house when she got a RED V 2 text and had to take off for VIPER headquarters. She had no time to take Feenix home, so she swung by my house, and reminded me that Feenix is my responsibility, too, sort of like a godparent I guess.”

Evalle Kincaid is an Alterant—half Belador, half unknown. VIPER is a multinational coalition of all types of unusual beings and powerful entities created to protect the world from supernatural predators.

As one of the Belador warriors who support VIPER, Evalle works in the southeastern region—more specifically in Atlanta– protecting humans. Dianna became fascinated by this secret group about seven years ago when she realized most humans don’t know they exist, and she decided to chronicle their activities. Since then, she teamed up with #1 NYT best selling author Sherrilyn Kenyon to co-write what is believed to be a fictitious series on the Beladors.

The first Belador novel, BLOOD TRINITY, came out in 2010 and debuted on the New York Times list. If only people knew the truth behind this series…

Then again… better that they think it’s fiction. Otherwise there could be widespread panic.

Evalle is one of three main characters in the series. The other two are Evalle’s best friends, Tzader Burke and Vladimir Quinn. All three keep Dianna and Sherrilyn busy documenting Belador activities.

The text Evalle received tonight—RED V 2— was a Code Red to drop whatever she was doing and go straight to VIPER headquarters in the north Georgia mountains, and that’s how Dianna—a definite daywalker—has ended up on a midnight ride all the way to the lair for babysitting help from an admitted vampire like me.

“Looks like we’ll be up for a bit,” I say as I turn down the lights in the front foyer. “A bunch of Bandits are down in the writing caves, on deadlines, so I bet Sven has coffee going in the kitchen.”

I ask Dianna, “what’s up with the VIPER team? Some kind of emergency?”

“Apparently there’s been an increase in demon activity in downtown Atlanta. Evalle couldn’t say much. Just that she wasn’t able to ask Tzader or Quinn to take Feenix home because they were called out, too.” Tzader is the North American Belador Maistir (translation – head Belador badass) and Quinn has a rare gift—he can mind lock–plus he’s the investment genius who oversees Belador finances.

I glance behind Dianna as I shut the door, to find her vermillion BMW F-650-GS motorcycle parked just at the bottom of the flight of steps leading to the front porch.
“You’re on the bike?”

“Yeah. Feenix rides all the time with Evalle, so I figured it would be easier and more familiar for him than riding in a car. And I thought this way I might actually keep my leather car upholstery intact.” She casts a look at the sharp claws on Feenix’s short fingers.

“What ith upothery?” Feenix blinks up at both of us, looking from one to the other. I grin as I shut the door and Dianna tries to describe a car seat to someone who has only recently learned how to count to ten. Evalle rescued Feenix from a demented sorcerer and the little guy is just learning to talk.

I turn back around just as a gladiator walks into the room on his regular midnight security patrol through the lair. He stops in his tracks, holding a silver-colored training shield at his side.

Feenix starts to flap his wings and dances from side to side on his pudgy little feet. “Peetha!”

Dianna takes one look at the gorgeous man and grabs Feenix’s four-fingered hand. “Ah, shoot. The shield,” she says. Feenix is stronger than he looks, and tugs Dianna forward, heading toward the metal-clad warrior, saying, “Peetha. Peetha. Peetha.”

“No, Feenix,” Dianna says, struggling to hold him back. “That’s not a pizza. You can’t eat the shield.”

“Bran,” I say, trying to keep my voice calm, “you and the other gladiators might want to lose the metal shields and armor just for tonight.” Bran frowns at me. “Oh, and if you could grab one of the other guys, y’all should hide that suit of armor at the door to the back hallway.” Bran’s frown deepens, and I explain. “Feenix loves anything silver…he eats metal. He thinks your shield is a silver pizza.”

Dianna is trying to distract Feenix when a streak of yellow feathers darts into the room. The rooster takes one look at Feenix and starts to flap and sqwawk.

Feenix beats his bat-like wings in the air wildly, lifting off the floor, and makes a honking cry sound. His eyes glow bright orange and smoke curls from his nose. Dianna tells him, “Calm down, Feenix. The Golden Rooster won’t hurt anyone. Promise.”

“That crazy rooster was at Jane’s place in New York until a few minutes ago,” Bran says. “I don’t know how he got back in here without my knowing it.” Bran takes off up the curving staircase after the GR, and Feenix finally settles back to the floor, eyes rounded in worry. “Roother?”

“Yes,” Dianna soothes. “Nice rooster.”

Well, that “nice” part is debatable, but Feenix has managed to not blow fire out his nose and burn down the lair or make rooster crispies, so with the little gargoyle calmed down, we make our way to the kitchen. I can smell the coffee as soon as we open the door.

As we walk in, Sven is coming through the back with a small stainless steel bucket full of shiny, silver-colored lug nuts. He glances up, taking in Dianna and Feenix. “They’re here already?”

He sets the bucket on the table and grins at Feenix. It’s hard not to grin at Feenix if you’ve read BLOOD TRINITY, the first book in the Belador series, and I’d given Sven a copy last October when the book was released. Sven nudges the bucket forward. “I got him some treats.”

“Sven, this is why we love you,” I say. Sven tosses one of the lug nuts to me, but before I can catch it, Feenix leaps up, flapping, and snags it out of the air with his tongue.

“Yeah, but I had an ulterior motive,” Sven says, and runs his hand lovingly across the giant Viking commercial range—all silver-toned stainless steel. “My appliances are sacred. I also got him a bean bag chair.” Sven points toward the corner of the kitchen at an enormous, bright green bean bag.

“Wow,” I say. “That’s ugly.”

“Yeah,” Dianna says, “but Feenix will love it.” As if to prove her right, Feenix toddles over to the bean bag and pokes at it. Then he drags it across the room toward us.

“Nathcar,” he says.

“Coming right up,” Sven says, and reaches for the remote. He clicks the tv above the refrigerator to the appropriate channel. He obviously paid attention when he read BLOOD TRINITY.

“So,” I say, and raise one eyebrow at Dianna, “what does one do when one babysits?”

Dianna frowns at me. “Don’t ask me. I like to fish and ride motorcycles. You never babysat?”

“Twice,” I say. “In emergency situations like this one. I promised to keep them alive, and that’s what I did. I did not promise fun, and we didn’t have much. All my children have fur or feathers. I have no clue what to do with a ba—uh….a two-foot gargoyle”

“He seems to be doing just fine,” Sven says, and nods toward Feenix, who is happily cuddling his stuffed alligator, watching NASCAR® and sucking on the steel lug nut like a lifesaver candy. “Hey, Feenix, I thought you had an art contest going on. Got the finalists yet?”

Feenix looks at Sven, then around at Dianna, “Where’th my picthur?”

Dianna sighs. “I would have thought Evalle had explained this to him by now. The finalists will be announced on September 19th at

“That’s next week,” I explain, when Feenix looks confused. He makes a happy grunting noise and goes back to his NASCAR® show.

I pull up one of the old kitchen chairs around the heavy wooden table. Dianna chooses another chair as Sven sets out human snacks and pours coffee for himself and the two of us. Clearly, he recognizes two incompetent gargoyle-sitters when he sees them, and plans to stand guard over his beloved appliances. “Hey,” I say to Dianna, “Why don’t you tell everybody how this has turned into The Year of Feenix?

“It really has,” Dianna says, and grabs a carrot stick from Sven’s tray. “And I wish I’d planned it, but it was all fate. I’d intended to draw Feenix last winter, then hit on the idea of the art contest, because of having been an artist before I started writing. We set it up so that high school and adult artists could create images of Feenix for prizes—money, art supplies, and books for the artists and for school art departments and libraries. And we scheduled the announcement of finalists for September 19th.”

Feenix makes happy sounds and flutters his leathery wings as the cars in the pre-recorded race scream around the track. Dianna keeps one eye on Feenix and smiles as she sips black coffee.

“But then the next book release got moved up, right?” I munch broccoli spears with Sven’s homemade ranch dressing, and watch Sven refill cups and start another pot of coffee.

“Yeah,” Dianna continues around a bite of carrot. “ALTERANT, book 2 in the Belador series, was originally scheduled to be released in November, but Pocket (the publisher) changed the date. They set it for September 27, just two weeks after the My Feenix™ Art Contest Finalists are announced. And ALTERANT starts with Feenix—so that was a really cool kind of kharma we couldn’t have planned if we’d thought of it.”

“And,” I say as I point at Dianna with a piece of celery. “You’ve got a Belador story coming out as a free e-book in the next couple of days, right?”

“Right. This week, we’ll release the free story FIRE BOUND—and Feenix has a big role in that too.” Feenix looks over at Dianna and grins. “So this is definitely your year, isn’t it, Feenix?”

“Yeth, dammit!”

“Feenix!” Dianna and I say at the same time. Sven turns toward the sink and snorts back a laugh. Evalle accidentally cursed in front of Feenix just once, and he picked right up on it. She’s been trying to undo that ever since.

Feenix blinks his yellow eyes and shifts around on his bean bag. “What ith year?” He flutters his wings and Dianna rolls her eyes.

“I’ll announce the release of the free story this week on my facebook page,” Dianna says. So everybody be watching for that. Also, you can check my website for the news, too. It’s And, you can read an excerpt of ALTERANT there as well.”

“Looks like we’ve got a long night ahead of us,” I say. “Sven, keep the coffee coming, and make it strong.”

Here’s the blurb for ALTERANT.

In this expl
osive new world of betrayals and shaky alliances, the only Alterant not incarcerated faces an impossible task — recapture three dangerous, escaped creatures before they slaughter more humans…or her.

The way Evalle Kincaid sees it, saving mankind from total destruction should have cleared her name. But when words uttered in the heat of combat are twisted against her, she’s blamed for the prison break of three dangerous Alterants. She has one chance to clear the cloud of suspicion hanging over her…for good. All she has to do is recapture the escapees. But deals with gods and goddesses are tricky at best, and now the lives of all Beladors, and the safety of innocent humans, rides on Evalle’s success. The only person she can ask for help wants to see her dead.

So, Bandits and Buddies….have you ever had to babysit?

A lot of you are moms and dads, but before that, what was your first experience caring for a little one?

Did you babysit for money, or was it your younger brothers and sisters you had to care for?

Are you like Dianna and me? Did you have to work at the whole “caregiver to kids” thing? Or did it come naturally to you?

We’re going to need lots of help tonight, cuz we’re both clueless about babysitting a two-foot-tall gargoyle who can fly and breathe fire. At least Sven has lots of treats on hand. So tell us, what would you do to entertain Feenix?
(And no, letting him barbecue the Golden Rooster is not an option.)

Give us your best babysitting tips and advice, for a chance at a free book Dianna will give away as her thanks to you for staying up with us and helping babysit Feenix.

Dianna is expecting her early copies of ALTERANT any day now. So she’ll give away a copy to one person who helps us out tonight and tomorrow.

Sven, your free copy is already set aside.

Chasing Shadows

posted by Nancy

Today we welcome award-winning romance and urban fantasy author Seressia Glass. Seressia is a voracious reader whose early written works range from an autobiography written on a piece of gum to the first winning essay in the Martin Luther King, Jr., Living the Dream contest. Her books have multiple nominations and several wins in both the Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Awards and the Romance in Color Reviewers’ Choice Awards. Her newest release, the dynamite urban fantasy Shadow Chase, earned a 5-star review from Affair de Coeur.

Welcome, Seressia! Who are the hero and heroine of Shadow Blade, and what’s their biggest problem?

The heroine is Kira Solomon. She catalogues ancient artifacts by day, but at night she’s a Shadow Chaser—a paranormal bounty hunter sent after the baddest of the bad, the Fallen, who use humans as their Avatars. The hero is Khefar, a 4,000 year-old Nubian warrior who has been tasked to save a life for every life that he took to avenge his family’s death. Kira can’t touch another human being without killing them and Khefar lives for the day he can die for good and be reunited with his family.

You draw on Egyptian culture for this book. Please tell us about that.

Well, I love ancient Egypt. Any documentary I can watch, exhibit I can see, or book I can get my hands on, I do. I’ve wanted an opportunity to write about my obsession for a while. So having my main characters worship Egyptian goddesses (Kira follows Ma’at, Khefar follows Isis) worked well, and fit into the mythos of the world I created. There will be a lot of Egyptian culture to come, and some African mythos will appear in there too. In fact, the spider god Anansi is an indelible part of the books.

What was the most fun part of writing this book, and what was hardest?

The most fun, of course, was getting to write fantasy with just a touch of romance. The hardest part was writing fantasy with just a touch of romance. To be true to the characters, I couldn’t rush them into a relationship or even into intimacy—a woman who has spent her entire life avoiding contact with people isn’t going to easily fall into bed, even if she has found the one person she can touch with impunity. Trying to switch from a romance author used to writing 3-4 love scenes to an urban fantasy author who needs more action of a different sort was a hard switch to make. I think I did the story justice though.

Can we peek inside?

Kira kept her word, not that it mattered much. Lonnie and some of his friends caught her about half a block from the DMZ, their bikes circling hers. Her Buell could outrun their glorified mopeds easily, even though it was built like a tank and weighed nearly as much. But driving all over the city would do nothing but waste time and gas and make her cranky. They were asking for it and she would be happy to give it to them—but she really didn’t have much time to play.

Going to see Demoz had been a gamble that didn’t pay off as she’d hoped it would. Not only had she wound up with minimal information—that an Avatar was in town looking for something, information that might or might not be connected to Bernie and the dagger—the wager had cost her a couple of spells. Worse, it had cost her time. Every moment she didn’t spend chasing Bernie’s killer was another advantage for whoever had killed him. With nothing else to go on, she’d have to return to the alley and hope Gilead was done with the clean up but had still left enough she could pick up a trail. The sooner she got back to the scene of the crime, the more likely the chances she’d find some sort of lead.

The halflings tried to pen her in as she headed towards Peachtree Street. As if. She’d learned a thing or two from some of the best stunt riders in the country and these idiots were totally amateur. Dropping her visor, Kira bent low over her handlebars, calling her power. Blue light flared from her bare hands, spilling onto the handgrips and down through the frame. It was the only warning she intended to give them. Not her fault if they ignored it.

They ignored it. One of Lonnie’s buddies, grinning and whooping and looking eerily like a hyena, made a grab for the clutch when he got close enough. Her power flared. Hyena-boy’s hand flew in one direction while he and his bike went careening into another.

One down, three to go.

At midnight, North Avenue, which ran east to west, was largely deserted. Smart cops gave the DMZ and its clientele a wide berth—it was just safer and saner that way. The closer they got to Peachtree Street the more likely Normal police would be on patrol.

Kira could see the three remaining bikers in her mirrors, too stupid or too mad at her for embarrassing them in the club to go back for their fallen friend. With her extrasense guiding the bike, she dropped her left hand to tap a panel open and pulled out a modified Glock 19. Normal ammunition didn’t down hybrids permanently and despite her irritation she didn’t want to feed her power to the bullets in order to kill them. Killing required too much paperwork. Being shot still hurt like a bitch no matter what you were and she didn’t mind hurting them at all. “Possible wounding” didn’t entail filling out a form and the hybrids would heal soon enough.

Movement in the right mirror caught her eye; Lonnie had decided to make his move. “Time to end this.”

She pulled the clutch in then hit the front brake. Her body rocked forward as the back of the bike lifted. She felt the sweet spot—the balance point—as Lonnie and his buddy zoomed past her. Jamming her knees into the gas tank, she let the bike roll forward balanced on its front wheel and fired off two rounds left-handed. Both hybrids and their rides slid an impressive distance as she dropped the back tire to the pavement.

Three down, one to go.

She circled around to face the final biker. He’d stopped in the middle of the street, jaw hanging as he stared at the speedbumps his friends had become. She pushed up her visor. “You want some?”

His eyes ping-ponged between her and his fallen buddies. “Screw this!”

He burned rubber turning his bike around to head back toward the DMZ—and crashed into the grill of a huge black SUV with blackout windows that couldn’t have been more conspicuous if its license plate read FEDS. Except it wasn’t the FBI.

The SUV’s passenger and driver’s doors opened simultaneously and two tall men in suits exited onto the street. The Gilead Commission’s version of the Men in Black. They even wore sunglasses and it had to be after midnight and the streetlighting didn’t exactly cause a glare. It made her wonder if there were souls specifically destined for bureaucracy or if it was payment for wrongdoing in a previous life.

They paid no attention to the biker now attached to the front of their vehicle as they walked toward Kira.

She pulled back her extrasense as the suits stopped in front of her. “Took you long enough.”

You had an interesting writing journey to this point. Please tell us about and share your call story–we love those!

Way back in 1997, I sent off a proposal for my very first book, No Commitment Required, to Genesis Press. In March of 1998 I got a request for the full, so I sent that in. In June, I was training a bunch of associates for a new store opening in North Augusta, SC. I was on I-20 driving back across the state line when my then boyfriend called and said I got a letter back from Genesis Press. I asked what size it was and how thick was it. He said letter size, and I immediately thought rejection, but then he said it was thick, so I thought rejection with revisions. I asked him to open the letter and read it to me. Mind you, I am still driving on the highway. I hear, “Ms Glass, We are pleased to accept your manuscript for publication…” I started screaming at that point, managed to swerve off the exit an make it to my hotel, still screaming. I remember calling Emily Sewell and telling her. But my first “call” was actually from my boyfriend, telling me that Genesis Press had sent me a contract for No Commitment Required.

My second call story was from some friends starting up a small press, Parker Publishing. It went something like this: “How would you like to be in an anthology with LA Banks?” My response isn’t for tender ears, but went something like this: “Are you %##!@ kidding me? Hellz yeah!” Luckily they were my friends and forgave me. That was my right turn into paranormal romance, writing “Double Down” for the Vegas Bites anthology.

My third call story again highlights the power of networking. I’d had bits and pieces of Shadow Blade lying about, tinkering when I had the chance. A writer I knew online, Stacia Kane, emailed me one day and asked if I had any urban fantasy style stuff I was working on. I told her yeah, and sent her the beginning of SB. She liked it, we tweaked it and then she told me that she’d mentioned the story to her editor and that I should send it in. I did, and got an email back saying Juno was interested in publishing it. Big news followed by the bigger news that Juno became part of Pocket! So “the call” that got me my first NY deal was all done via email, but a lovelier Christmas present I’ve yet to receive!

The second book in this series, Shadow Chase, is due out in July. Can you tell us a little about it?

In book two, we leave Atlanta for a bit and travel to London and to Cairo. There are more surprises in store for Kira and her team, discoveries that make her question who and what she is.

As a Shadowchaser, Kira Solomon has been trained to serve the Light, dispatch the Fallen, and prevent the spread of chaos. It’s a deadly job, and Kira knows the horror of spilling innocent blood. But now she has a new role, as the Hand of Ma’at, the Egyptian Goddess of Truth and Order, and an assignment that might just redeem her.

A fellow Shadowchaser has gone missing, and so has a unique artifact imbued with astonishing magic. Unless the Vessel of Nun is returned, it will cause destruction beyond anything the modern world has seen. Kira’s got a team at her back, including Khefar, a near-immortal Nubian warrior who’s already died for her once. But as complicated as her feelings for him are, they’re nothing compared to the difficulties of the task she faces. And the only way to defeat the enemy is to trust in a power she can barely control, and put her life—and her soul—on the line.

For more about Seressia and her work, visit her website.

Seressia’s giving away a copy of Shadow Blade to a commenter today. So tell us, what’s your favorite mythology to see in a story or your favorite movie about Egypt? Or tell us your favorite paranormal team or favorite action-adventure or quest story.


By Suzanne Welsh

As many of you know I’m the resident vampire of the Lair. Not so much because I drink blood, but because I work at night, which means I also prowl the Lair at all hours in the dark. So it seems rather appropriate that I invite my friend Jaye Wells to the Lair after hours to discuss her Urban Fantasy series.

Suz (offering Jaye a glass of Merlot):Welcome to the Lair, Jaye. Have a seat here near the fireplace. Please excuse the sleeping cabana boys and poor Sven the masseuse over there. They’ve had a hard day taking care of our Banditas and Bandit buddies. RED-HEADED STEPCHILD is your first book. We love “call stories” in the Bandit Lair. Care to tell us yours?

Jaye:(takes a long swig of wine and settles in) Thanks, Suz. Okay, I love telling this story. My husband left for Japan the week my book went on submission. At the time, we laughed about what would happen if I sold while he was gone. So funny, we thought. Little did we know.

Fast forward eight days. I’m sitting in a play area with my son. We were cutting snowflakes out of construction paper when my cell rang. Now, I’d convinced myself that if The Call was coming it would happen before noon. I don’t recall why I thought this. So when my phone rang at like five on a Wednesday evening and I saw it was my agent, I was convinced he was calling with bad news. I figured he was letting me know we’d gotten the first rejection.

So I pick up and he says, “Are you sitting down?” I sighed, still thinking it was bad news, and went to sit on a stool that was literally a foot off the ground (kid’s area, remember?). So I’m squatting there, waiting for the bad news, when my agent informs me that he’s gotten an offer for a three book deal.

I leapt off the stool and screamed “OH MY GOD!” Then I promptly burst into tears. Remember: I’m in the middle of a play area surrounded by tired mothers and toddlers. I’m sure they thought I was insane.

After I’d calmed down a little and assured my son that I was crying because I was happy, my agent drops the next bomb. Since this was the first response we’d received, he needed to call the other editors. Then he said words I never thought I’d hear, “We’ll probably go to auction.”

Well, sure enough two days later, my poor tired husband gets off a plane from Japan. I literally walked in the door from picking him up and got on the phone. The next several hours flew by with me pacing around the house as I fielded phone calls from my agent. Toward the late afternoon, he called to tell me Orbit had preempted. So at 5:30, ten days after my book went on submission, I had myself a three-book deal. And my husband made it home just in time to drink champagne with me.

Suz: What a great story! I’ve read Paranormal Romances for years, what is the difference between and Urban Fantasy and a Paranormal Romance? Also, how is an Urban Fantasy different from Sci-fi or Epic Fantasies (ala Lord of The Rings)?

Jaye: To me, the main difference between paranormal romance and urban fantasy to be one of focus. In paranormal romance the plot centers around a budding relationship and usually ends in a happily ever after. In urban fantasy, the central plot revolves around one character’s goals–be that defeating the bad guy, saving the world or what have you. You often find romantic elements in urban fantasy but you’re much less likely to get a happily ever. But all this flies out the window when books get into bookstores. A lot of books I’d consider UF are being shelved in romance right now.

As far as UF versus science fiction or epic fantasy, the biggest difference for me is world building. Science fiction and fantasy don’t occur in “our” world. Generally the author creates a unique world–another country or planet or galaxy. But in UF, the world is more like an alternate reality where vampires, werewolves or what have you actually exist in our modern world.

It’s difficult though because there are exceptions to both these answers. Urban fantasy is really such a blending of genres that there aren’t a lot of hard and fast rules or formulas–just generalities.

Suz: What sparked your interest in Urban Fantasies?

Jaye: There’s a swagger to Urban Fantasy, a bit of rebelliousness that appeals to me. I love the blending of genres and the challenge of world building and the sense that I’m going on a journey with the characters.

Suz (reaching for the wine bottle and topping off both glasses): I had the pleasure of reading a copy of RED-HEADED STEPCHILD. In it, your heroine, Sabina Kane, is an assassin for the Vampire race. That’s not a typical career choice for heroines. How did you make her sympathetic to the readers and did you find that hard to do?

Jaye: That’s a good question. Honestly, some readers won’t find Sabina sympathetic. She’s foul-mouthed, has anger issues and is really good at self-deception. She’s also got no qualms about violence. With a character like that, the goal isn’t sympathy–it’s empathy. You aren’t supposed to feel sorry for Sabina, but you do need to understand why she does what she does. And that is achieved by showing her motivations and how her situation affects the choices available to her.

Suz: You did some “other world” building in RED-HEADED STEPCHILD. Can you tell us about the world you created? Was it difficult coming up with unique characters for all the worlds?

Jaye: When I sat down to create Sabina’s world, it was important for me to understand where the dark races came from. So I started at the very beginning–literally. The dark races–vampires, mages, etc.–all started with one important event. According to some Jewish traditions, Eve wasn’t Adam’s first wife. Instead, a female named Lilith was created from dust just like Adam. When she demanded Adam let her be on top during sex, she left him and went to go consort with demons at the Red Sea.

I basically took this folklore and reworked it so the affairs Lilith had after she left Adam resulted in the creation of the dark races. Everything else just kind of came together from that, including the changes I made to the vampire mythos. For example, there’s a direct connection between the fact Lilith left the Garden of Eden before the fateful forbidden fruit incident, and the fact apples can rob vampires of their mortality.

Coming up with main characters was pretty easy. Some of it comes from instinct based on the needs of the story, and other times they just pop up while I’m working. Vinca, who is Sabina’s nymph roommate in the book, is an example of a character who just appeared. She ended up being one of my favorite characters.

Suz: Without giving anything away, you have a romantic interest in the book for Sabina. Do you want to tell us about him and will he continue to play an important role in the other books?

Jaye: Adam is a mage who initially causes a lot of trouble for Sabina. But he ends up being an ally and mentor of sorts, who helps Sabina get in touch with her magical side. Yes, there’s also some sexual tension, but their relationship is far from a romance at this point. He will continue to play an important role in the overall story, but whether he and Sabina will end up together? Well, I’ll just say there’s a lot of story left to tell and you never know what might happen.

Suz: Are you planning more stories for Sabina?

Jaye: Absolutely. Right now I’m contracted for three book in the series. The second book, MAGE IN BLACK, is scheduled for release in January 2010. Plus, short story prequel of sorts will appear in the Mammoth Book of Vampire Romance, vol. 2 this winter.

Question for the readers: If you were a character in an Urban Fantasy novel, would you rather be a mage or a vampire?

Jaye is giving away an autographed copy of RED-HEADED STEPCHILD to one lucky commentor.