Goblins: The Beginning
From the mind of the girl who wanted to abandon the real world, and run away with the goblin king…
Hello, readers! Melanie here on The Armchair Reader. I’m going to talk a little about the inspiration that kick-started my Goblins series.
I’ve always loved fantasy, and history. Unfortunately my dry and British self-deprecating humour never led me to take my own work seriously. I thought high fantasy should contain a level of seriousness, but I couldn’t actually write that way.
After writing in contemporary for a while, and using a lot of humour, I decided to take another stab at fantasy, but this time I’d make it different. What if I brought modern humour and concepts into a historical, fantasy setting? And thank goodness, that style works for me.
I’d say that Goblins has one foot in contemporary, another in fantasy, and a third foot in historical. (I’ll stop talking about appendages now, before I get carried away!)
The concept behind the first story, Wulfren and the Warlock, which spawned the Goblins series, can be boiled down to three main inspiration elements.
I love big, knobbly, spooky-looking trees. I spent a lot of time in the woods (still do) and was always hoping that magical creatures would reveal themselves–pah ha ha!–to me, and invite me to live in their secret forest realm. (Still hope for that, too!)
So, a forest, and a magical one at that. When I opened my ye olde book of English folklore, I kept reading about Epping forest, which was absolutely humungous back in the day. Epping forest once stretched from Bow in London up to Cambridge and Colchester. Within the forest, dark glades of oak, elm and beech trees sheltered who knew what; hermits, vagrants, gypsies, outlaws, highwaymen, and…
Magical creatures? Why not?
The film A Company of Wolves is a classic, a romantic horror, a coming of age Red Riding Hood tale. As anyone who’s read my other works knows, I’m a huge fan of androgyny, especially fey men with long hair. When I first saw the little wolf girl (pictured above, played by 80s popstar, Danielle Dax) I knew that was exactly how my Goblins would look.
Lithe, pale figures in the forest, with long, dark 80s hair. So, a bunch of goths dressed in leaves, basically. My Goblins are the rockstars of their forest.
And why not? Don’t rockstars work well as goblins?
Since gazing wide eyed at Jareth the goblin king as a child, I’ve always been baffled by the silly girl’s choice to reject him and live in the real world instead. Is she mad? I adore Labyrinth, and have always been drawn to baddies with big hair. (What? Sue me.)
Faery courts and royalty are another weakness of mine. I love everything, all the folklore, all the legends. Usually I’d be swooning over the baddies most. I decided, in my stories, I’d focus on the ‘baddies’, on the dark and dangerous creatures. They’re the ones I’d want to know more about.
And I could have my own goblin king!
Then I thought, what if my goblin king had sons? What if one of those sons got into mischief, and unwittingly fell in love with a human? It’d be taboo. Severely frowned upon. What would happen if he disobeyed the goblin king?
And thus began my first story! Except I had so much fun creating and writing the characters that suddenly I wanted to tell their stories, too. Before I knew it, the whole set of tales had evolved into a series. (I can’t help myself!)
There was just too much goodness from the era that I couldn’t fit into one story; witches and witchcraft, princes and royalty, cavaliers, the new model army (no, not the goth band!) not to mention elves and highwaymen.
The stories are relatively light-hearted and fun, despite having a themes of mild horror (noose and gibbet, anyone?) throughout, as the goblins discover more about humans than they’d been prepared for.
Catch up with me on my Goblins blog tour for more about the series and its history, and a special giveaway.
In the 17th Century, the ancient sprawl of Epping forest is bursting with magic and those who go unseen by human eyes: the elves who rule the summer court, and the goblins who rule the winter court. It is said that if a human catches the eye of one of the fey, they are either doomed or blessed.
Wulfren & the Warlock
When Wulfren wakes from a strange dream of a human captor with long silver hair, and grey eyes, his brothers tell him they rescued him from a warlock, and take Wulfren back home to the goblin king’s palace. But Wulfren isn’t so sure the matter is that simple. Why was he missing so long? What are the strange dreams of the beautiful man with the silver hair? Dalliances with humans are severely frowned upon, especially by Wulfren’s father, but Wulfren is willing to risk the scorn of his family to find the human who haunts his dreams.
Quiller & the Runaway Prince
After a hard winter, Quiller is sent deep into the forest on a family errand, and is surprised when a human stumbles into his path. Quiller swoops in to pester him, perhaps even eat him, but there is something special about the human: his scent is royal, though he protests that he is not, and soon Quiller finds himself agreeing to help the human with his troubles—in exchange for a kiss.
Of all the fairy tales available, few are as unromantic as The Pied Piper of Hamelin, with its plague of rats, avaricious mayor, and the death or disappearance of the town’s children by a potentially paedophilic piper dressed in an outlandish costume and out for revenge. But wait! It’s do-able … so long as we toss in space travel, mutant space rats, and a shadowy League with the power to save or destroy the pearls of humanity strung about the galaxy.
That is the backdrop for Piper, a space age version of the Pied Piper with the added bonus of a May/September MM romance. My name is Leona, this is the first stop on Piper’s blog tour, and I am trembling in my armchair just to be here. Thank you so much for having me.
Piper’s plot and many of the details are based on the versions of the fairy tale by the Brother’s Grimm and Robert Browning, wherein a struggling community hires a piper to rescue them from a rat blight and then sends him away without paying him. The piper then teaches them an important lesson about commerce: If they do not want to pay him, he will extract his due another way.
There are a few minor differences. Instead of a town, Piper has a space station. Instead of a mayor, a Station Commander. The piper, Atmosphere, is not a lone traveller, but part of a League. This League is responsible for protecting humankind from the ever-present threat of rats that have adapted to thrive in the hostile environments of space ships and stations. On the side, the pipers put on glam rock concerts and support a thriving community of fan clubs. Where the fairy tale does not even attempt to explain how music entrances the rats and children, Piper explains the method at great length, delving into the ramifications of a technology that can control minds.
Most importantly, where the Pied Piper of Hamelin mentions nothing of love, Piper revolves around the relationship between Atmosphere and Jacob Tucker, son of the Commander and a rewritten version of the “one little lame boy” who survives the wrath of the piper for no other reason than that he cannot dance to the tune.
So, why write a fairy tale romance? I adore fairy tales. The grimmer, the better. There’s always someone dying or meeting a terrible fate because they did something stupid. It’s delicious and so very different from modern fantasy.
I chose the Pied Piper first and foremost because it seemed like a terrible idea for a romance. Where would you even put it in? Of all the tales out there, I think it’s the most gruesome based on body count alone. Terry Pratchett does a fantastic job in The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents, with a cute relationship between a boy piper and a town girl. I wanted something directly related to the tale, though, with a character who is specifically mentioned in the original. That left me with the mayor, his advisors, or a young person with a mobility disability. Enter the May/September and a whole slough of other issues that could be addressed within the narrative.
Too soon, Atmosphere finished one tale and didn’t immediately launch into another. He performed his usual check on Starlight, who had turned onto her other side and curled into a tight ball, then said, “I’m getting carried away. My apologies, Jacob.”
“It’s all right.” Jake slouched, anticipating his impending dismissal. “I enjoy listening to you.”
“And I enjoy talking, but I’m sure you came up here to do more than listen.”
“I …” Jake’s initial purpose seemed so far away, but, as Atmosphere brought the interview back on course, he realized it might have been his only chance to ask. He rummaged in the chaos that Atmosphere had made of his mind for the exact wording he had settled on earlier: an innocuous start that would hopefully lead to a well-balanced and convincing argument. “I’m doing some research and I need your help.”
“Let me guess. Research on pipers? No. Research on me. And you want to experiment.” Atmosphere’s perfect white teeth flashed. In a smooth movement, he closed the space between them. “I’ve never been happier to partake of science.”
Another reason for the choice was the challenge of making the piper a sympathetic character. Granted, he was taken advantage of in the tale, but who murders children just because people don’t make their payments? Crazy people, that’s who. Well then, Atmosphere would need to be a little bit unstable, too, which would be accompanied by another bushel of issues.
After some thought and extrapolation, Piper almost wrote itself while I tried to fill in the gaps to explain what happened and why, and put it into the framework of a romantic narrative. I tried to stay true to the details in the original tale, with some exceptions here and there, and I am excited to know how I did. I’ll be giving away a copy of Piper, either electronic or print format, at the end of this blog tour. Every comment on this and the other four posts will be another entry into the draw. I will write them onto little pieces of paper and put them into a legitimate top hat, pull one out on September 15, and email the winner.
Come and join me for stop number two at It’s Raining Men [link: http://rainingmenamen.blogspot.ca%5D, where I will regale you with my thoughts on writing a character with a mobility disability opposite a character with inhuman power and very human frailties.
Thank you so much Cole for having me on the Armchair Reader! Today I am going to be talking about my new short novella Your Happy End.
So I’ve been trying to keep the subjects I talk about on this blog tour fairly light. This is a serious subject thought that does have a large baring on the book I am promoting, Your Happy End, and so I want to take it seriously.
Bullying is a huge problem that affects people in many different walks of life and for many different reasons. Bullying of LGBTQA people, especially in school setting has become one of the most high profile issues facing the queer community in the United States. It is an issue because a large number of LBGTQA children will be bullied in school often to an extreme level.
“Bullying” is a term we give to what I see as a combination of different kinds of abuse and harassment. Bullying combines elements of harassment, physical abuse or assault, emotional or physiological abuse, and sexual abuse or assault. It can happen anywhere, in work places, at home but it seems to be most troubling to the general public when it happens in schools between minors. Bullying in schools is common and always has been, getting beat up by bullies is such a common image American media with regards to the experience of childhood and school that most of us take it for granted. We don’t think about it as abuse and assault, although that is what it is. Unfortunately bullying can lead to real, serious trauma for the victims. Suicide attempts are not uncommon for people who have been victimized in this way over long periods of time and in some cases these attempts do end in death.
As we become more aware of the cost of bullying on the lives and well-being of its victims we have begun to shine more a spotlight on the problem with, I think, mixed results. Here I want to concentrate primarily on childhood bullying of minors by minors and specifically the bullying of LGBTQA youth.
In Your Happy End one of the main characters, Cooper’s, academic career was fought with almost constant bullying. During his high school years, he was harassed, intimated, threatened and assaulted for having a Southern accent in a private Northern prep school, for being a computer geek, for being slightly overweight and non-athletic, and for being gay. Cooper was also threatened and coerced into having a non-consensual sexual relationship with one of his victimizers – he was sexually assaulted.
Cooper has spent most of his twenties in therapy receiving the professional help he needs to move past the abuse. Even though he is at a point in his life when he is ready to have a healthy, committed relationship with someone, his experience still deeply affects the way he thinks. Throughout the book Cooper’s past impacts his understanding of his self-worth and of himself as a sexual being. Even though what Cooper experienced is not the only thing which defines him or even the most important part of him it still has a major affect on who he is.
I wish I could say Cooper’s experience is completely fictional but it isn’t. What Cooper experienced, the kinds of abuse he was subjected to by his classmates are slightly fictionalized accounts of things which have happened or where said to really LGBTQA people that I know. The way he views himself, the issues he still carries from the abuse, and the way it affects his and Jun’s relationship is also based on real life experience.
One of the things I wanted to be careful of when writing about Cooper’s experience was to take what he went through seriously and not try to excuse those who victimized and sexually assaulted him because of their age. Cooper’s frustration with the fact that there are so very little consequences for those who perpetuate this form of abuse, I think is everyone’s frustration, or should be.
Despite the growing media attention bullying is too often not considered “real harassment”, “real assault” or “real abuse.” Too often people dismiss bullying, especially among minors, as ‘boys being boys’ or a ‘mean girl’ syndrome even as it causes other children to drink bleach, or hang themselves.
Too often as well the perpetrators of childhood bullying when they get older are portrayed as ‘really nice people’ who just made unfortunate mistakes when they were younger, or got swept up in the moment. A long running trope both in the romance genre and in popular culture in generally is in fact for the victim of childhood bullying to fall for one of the perpetuators of it when they have both grown up. The message of course being that bullying is not a serious crime as much as a youthful mistake, easily forgiven by the victim and with no real baring on how the perpetuator will turn out later in life.
Related to this is the belief that when it comes to the bullying of LGBTQ people, the perpetuators of the abuse is often, if not always, queer themselves. This again is a common trope in the way the issue of bullying is dealt with both in fiction and in the media. The underlying message of this belief is that heteronormative society is not to blame for the abused and the death that abuse too often causes, since the bullying is essentially gay on gay violence.
The truth is bullying boils down to people feeling safe, justified and even empowered to victimize those they deem different from the group, the outsiders, the Others. Bullying happens because we live in a world what teaches us it is okay to abuse those not like ourselves. Specifically bullying of LGBTQA people happens because we still live in a world where being LGBTQA automatically makes you an outsider and thus deserving of abuse, harassment and assault. Bullying of LGBTQA youth is not the beginning and end of the problem, it does not exist in a vacuum. It is a symptom of a society in which there is only one right way to be when it comes to sexuality and gender that this is cisgender and straight.
Unfortunately Cooper bares the brunt of living in such a society, fortunately for him he doesn’t have to do it alone.
Read more about his and Jun’s story in Your Happy End.
By day Jun is co-owner of a comic book shop. By night, he provides the high tech gear used by superhero team Ghost Hawk and The Spider. Cooper is the computer genius and information specialist behind the vigilante known as The Shadow Avenger.
Attraction and a love of graphic novels make for a good start, but if they want to last Jun and Cooper will have to overcome secrets, danger, Cooper’s past and Jun’s firm belief that people in the superhero business don’t get happy endings.
Give-Away: if you are interested in participating in a give-away to win a copy of Your Happy End, visit my blog http://thisjourneywithoutamap.blogspot.com/2013/08/give-away-you-happy-end.html and leave a comment! The give-away closes on August 17th.
Title: Dance Only for Me (Dance with the Devil #6)
Author: Megan Derr
Publisher: Less than Three Press
Length: 70k words
Genre: m/m Paranormal Fantasy Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few and Far Between
Keywords/Tags: Series, Magic, Demons, Angels, Vampires, Djinn, Cowboys, Dragons, Secrets & Lies, Past Trauma/Abuse, Mystery
Rating: Pretty Good
Jackie Black is a cowboy and sorcerer and proud of both. He spends his days breaking curses and locating items of interest for other abnormals. His pride and joy are the alchemy-enhanced pistols at his hips. The love of his life is Roman, a businessman and witch. Tired of living several states apart, Jackie decides to surprise Roman by moving closer.
But instead of being a happy surprise, Jackie finds himself the victim of an unpleasant one. Alone in a strange city, with nowhere to go and his world in pieces, Jackie is taken in by an old man who says he is a paranormal detective and could use someone of Jackie’s power and abilities to catch a killer.
I started reading this when it came up earlier this year as a sequel, and around the 40% mark I stopped reading, so I could wait until it was finished. Honestly, I think that I’m just not that good at reading serials unless they’re the never-ending kind, because I’m not that good at waiting, and no matter how good the book is I eventually lose interest having to wait. Still, I’m glad that I got to read the beginning of this when I did back in January, because it made me instantly fall in love with Jackie Black, gunslinger and man of charming words 😉 And that meant that I was really excited to see how his story ended.
Jackie Black, youngest in the long line of gun-slinging cowboy sorcerers is in love. He’s had a rough ride of it in the past, but he thinks that Roman is the one — enough to move from his long-time home in the country and live in the city. When he surprises Roman after Roman canceled their date to tell him the happy news, that he’s househunting closer, he finds a complete surprise that ruins their relationship irreparably. Now, Jackie is alone in a strange city he doesn’t know well with nowhere to stay.
But the cowboy Blacks have a way of stumbling across trouble, and they’re duty bound as honest men to help in any way they can. So when Jackie meets a old man who is on the hunt after a ruthless woman stealing power he does everything he can to help. What he doesn’t know is that by getting to know the old man, he stumbled into an even larger and longer unsolved mystery involving the old man himself, a scarred vampire, and his father, the Black before him (currently off who knows where and not returning his calls). Backing down would be better — it seems that everyone who has gotten involved over the years has been killed off — but Jackie’s honor won’t let him. And maybe a touch of stubbornness that says that whatever impossible creature is picking off the people around him, he hasn’t met a sorcerer like Jackie Black yet.
Really, the best thing about this book is Jackie. He’s such a great character that you can’t help fall in love with him. He’s straight out of the old west, honor and stubbornness and all, trying to fit into a modern magical world. He’s almost comical at first until you really see his human side, and after that it’s so easy to get swept up in his adventure. I must admit that because I read the first bit of this as serial and then stopped I was under the misimpression of who Jackie’s love interest in this was. At first, I was a little miffed, but it’s only because it had been around 7 months that I’d been thinking he ended up with someone else, and I just hadn’t read that part of the story yet. But it didn’t take long for me to see that his real love interest here fit him so much better. I only hope that the really interesting character that latches onto him earlier in the book (and isn’t, of course, his love interest) will get his book, because I was a little sad that he seemed to disappear a bit after the halfway mark. We didn’t get to see him as much, even though I found him really endearing and one of the most interesting characters so far in this series. It makes me wonder if Megan Derr does have plans for him later in the series because he’s such a puzzle that never get’s solved in this book.
Fans of the series will want to continue and read this book. Honestly, it wasn’t my favorite, no matter how much I loved Jackie. I’m finding that even though I’ve enjoyed the last couple of books in this series I don’t have the same feelings as I had about the first three, which I just really loved and have read over and over. I’ll always continue to read, because even if Megan Derr’s books don’t turn out to be ones that I want to buy in paperback and keep as a comfort read, they’re still enjoyable, fun and a great escape. They’re some of the easiest and most comforting reading for me, and that only makes me even more excited for the next books to come.
Posted by Cole in 4 Pretty Good, 41-75k, Authors D-F, Fantasy, Heat 3 - Sexy & Mild, Paranormal, Romance, Sex Freq 2 - Few and Far Between Tags: Angels, Cowboys, Dance with the Devil, Demons, Djinn, Dragons, Less Than Three Press, Magic, Megan Derr, Mystery, Past Abuse, Past Trauma, Secrets & Lies, Series, Vampire
Hello everyone! I just want to take a minute to introduce Harper Kingsley’s first post in her Heroes & Villains Blog Tour today and also to apologize for the post going up late today. That’s what happens when you oversleep! Anyway, on to the post. I’m really looking forward to reading this one!
As this is the first stop on the Heroes & Villains blog tour, I thought I would talk a bit about how the book came about.
I’ve always been a giant comic book fan (read: nerd) and one day it clicked in my brain that I could create my own superheroes and supervillains. The rules were mine to make, and the world was free for me to explore.
Though Vereint Georges starts out as the superhero Starburst, it was the supervillain Darkstar that I created first. A guy wrapped up in purple and black, his body overflowing with more power–metability–than he knows what to do with.
Darkstar is immoral and frightening, acting on his impulses more than he ever pauses to think things through. He has everything he could want, and he doesn’t hesitate to take the rest. He is charming, cruel, and at the end of the day, he’s almost painfully human.
As Starburst, Vereint was desperate to have his role as a superhero validated by praise and accolades. As Darkstar, he effortlessly brings the world to its knees and is left wondering: Is this all there is?
Enter Blue Ice, the superhero Vereint spent his teen years admiring and wishing to emulate. More than anything, Vereint wants Blue Ice to look at him and welcome him as a fellow hero. Instead their first meetings are marked by disappointment on both of their parts as Blue Ice takes an instant dislike to Starburst. Refusing to help the young superhero find his way, Blue Ice takes every opportunity for childish taunts and public derision.
Vereint’s hero name is mocked by the media as he becomes known far and wide as the “candy ass.” Nothing he does as a hero works out for him and things come to a head when he decides that enough is enough. Darkstar is born.
It’s when Vereint embraces the role of the bad boy that he catches Blue Ice’s interest as more than a joke. Things begin to shift and change between them and Vereint meets the man behind the mask, Warrick Reidenger Tobias.
Against a backdrop of heroics, villainy, interpersonal relationships, and the rising threat of a terrorist group willing to set the world ablaze in the name of Darkstar, Vereint and Warrick come to know each other as more than the costumes they wear.
Really, this is the story of two men on different sides making a romantic connection that society wouldn’t approve of. They have to find a middle ground where they can exist together.
At its heart, Heroes & Villains is about the relationship between Warrick and Vereint. A hero and a villain, though sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference.
I’m giving out an ebook copy of Heroes & Villains at the end of this blog tour. You can earn five entries by following the tour and answering the question after each post.
I’ll be using Random.org to pick a winner the morning of August 19th.
Answer the question in the comments: What superpower do you wish you had and why?
Heroes & Villains at Less Than Three Press.
All Vereint ever wanted was to be a superhero, fight alongside the other great heroes of the city and beat down the villains that plague them. There’s just one problem: he sucks at it, at least according to the other heroes and the majority of the city. Instead of the greatness and glory of which he dreamed, Vereint spends his days alone, exhausted, and depressed. When the mockery and derision finally go too far, Vereint decides he’s reached his limit. If he’s never going to be good enough to succeed as the hero Starburst, maybe it’s time to try the role of villain instead …
Hey, and thanks for having me here! I’m Jaidon Wells, and I wrote Dandy, which, among many other things, is a story about two men, Andrew and Cassidy, who don’t like to make it easy to fall in love. Their first, unexpected—and seemingly impossible given that Andrew had been led to believe Cassidy was dead—meeting in an occult store (which you can read in its entirety on LT3’s website) sets the tone for their entire following romance. And that tone is one of deliberate and (from Cassidy’s side, at least) cheerful antagonism.
I’ve always had a weakness for love stories that start out as rivalries, so it comes as no surprise to me (or likely anyone who really knows me) that my first published novel would be composed of exactly that: two boys who love to be difficult with one another. I couldn’t tell you exactly where my personal love for that particular trope came from, but, bottom line, it has a lot to do with the kind of interaction rivalries produce (or can, anyways). And one such symptom happens to be my favorite thing to write: banter. Nothing’s quite as enjoyable for me as snappy back-and-forth conversation between romantic leads, and, with Dandy, I got to write it in near every scene between Andrew and Cassidy.
That was one of the biggest appeals of writing this book for me and, I think, a large part of its charm. The relationship starts out as pretty much pure antagonism, with (at least from Cassidy’s perspective) all the enjoyment of it coming from needling the other person into extreme irritation, without any deeper feelings behind it. The story is a fairly slow build and that antagonism remains threaded through the whole novel, but the tone and the meaning behind it changes. The constant back and forth goes from simply something to gain irritating enjoyment out of, to flirtation, and, eventually, a way to express some deeper feelings that have developed without appearing to express them. Although, I’ll admit, Cassidy never actually stops enjoying needling Andrew. It simply becomes another way in which they communicate, and one that I hope is enjoyable for the audience.
Relationships can be portrayed in a near endless number of ways, and character interactions can be played out in just about as many. My favorite path for romance, though, remains the one that isn’t smooth, that maybe takes a few sharp twists and turns, but remains fun the whole way through.
Andrew is a little overwhelmed, between grad school, his bookstore job, crazy friends, and a roommate slowly turning criminal. The very last thing he needs is more stress, but it’s what he gets anyway, in the form of Cassidy, the frustrating, intriguing, and supposed-to-be-dead brother of his law-breaking roommate.
Throw in a flamboyant campus hero, a series of kitchen fires, a slanderous romance manuscript, stoner music shops, an arguably-mad scientist, a terrible indie band, and a blue period, and Andrew realizes that being overwhelmed is easy. It’s the rapidly spinning out of control that’s a bit difficult to handle.
You can buy it here.
If you’d like a chance to win an ebook copy of Dandy, just comment below. One commenter will be chosen using random.org to receive a copy in the format of their choice. The give-away will close at 11:59 pm on Sunday, August 11th.
About the Author
Jaidon was born in South Bend, Indiana, and spent some time in Michigan, before settling down in Dalls, Texas. He sometimes regrets this because of the god-awful summers and the fact that he’s picked up a bit of a southern accent. Y’all, it’s unfortunate. In Spring of 2013, he received a degree in Psychology from the University of North Texas, which is problematic only because now everyone he knows seems to have developed a psychiatric disorder. Weird.
Jaidon has been an avid reader since childhood and wrote his first short story at 7 (which has, fortunately, been lost to the ages) and attempted his first novel at 13 (which, unfortunately, has not been lost to the ages; he still has a copy on his computer). He started out writing stories with the full intent of breaking the reader’s heart, and, now, has somehow ended up writing all comedy and romance with happy endings. Go figure.
You can find Jaidon online at: