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Can guys write paranormal romance? June 27, 2011

Posted by Diana McCabe in Authors, Fun stuff.
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Chris Hackett

This topic came up on Twitter recently. Do you know any guys who write paranormal romance? I couldn’t name a single dude,  although a few folks could, but the authors wrote under female names. (Yeah — if you have a fave, post it below!)

So when I got an email from Chris Hackett, a male author who recently has his firstparanormal romance book published at the Amazon Kindle store, I just had to ask what he thought. Can guys write paranormal romance? Why did I ask him? Well,  it’s his first book (THE OBSERVER). And second — he’s young — like 21 — so I figure he’s got a super fresh perspective about these things. And finally — he emailed me, which means he’s actively putting himself out there under the scrutiny of paranormal romance fans.

Here’s a snippet about his book — which I have not read:

Gabriel is an Observer: a member of an ancient race that created Earth and humanity. His task is simple. He observes humans from afar and reports any sign of interference from The Fallen, people of his kind who have broken their most important rule: never interact with humans. But when Gabriel becomes fascinated with the young,vibrant — and human — Alyssa, it isn’t long before he justifies breaking the rule himself.

And here’s what Chris had to say when I asked him about his writing, and if he thought men and women write romance differently:

THE OBSERVER  is my first attempt at “romance” as a genre, although my other manuscripts have all had some type of romance in them.

When I first thought of the idea for this book, it was mostly science fiction. It wasn’t until I had really fleshed out my ideas that I
realized that it worked exceptionally well as a paranormal romance. That being said, I know about the typical tropes and cliches in the romance genre, and as I started writing I sought not only to make this a romance that had a great science fiction story behind it – a romance that had a plot besides just the romance itself, but is ultimately tied into it – but also to make this a romance novel that really breaks down a lot of the traditional boundaries set by the typical romance publishers.

For example, I wanted a really strong female as the main female lead. I didn’t want the typical “I can’t do anything without my supernatural boyfriend”; rather, I wanted her to have realistic reactions and an independent personality – someone who had a life before the main character came around, and would survive without him. This was also spurred on by the fact that I didn’t want humans as a race to seem incompetent as they so often do – we are a pretty resilient people, and the female lead, being a normal human, represents our race. Therefore, I wanted her to be able to put up a fight against the
antagonists.

Likewise, the book is written from the first person perspective of the male protagonist. I am a guy, so it was easier for
me to see his side of falling in love and courting. I think it is a highly under-represented side of the relationships in current romance novels.

In a sense, I want this to be a new sort of romance – one with parts for the typical romance crowd, parts for those who enjoy romance but despise some of the cliches, and even parts for guys with the inclusion of action and science fiction.

I don’t think guys and girls write differently so much as they think differently, and writing is simply a reflection of your thoughts. Guys want a plot, they want action – they don’t mind if romance is involved, but they want to see the end game and strong antagonists to counter the protagonists.

Girls care more about the characters themselves – their lives, their loves, their dilemmas – and as such
write in a way that reflects this. In a way, I am seeking to combine these two lines of thinking in THE OBSERVER: to have strong characters involved in a forbidden romance taking place among a plot larger thaneach of the two main characters, but in which their interaction plays a huge role.

Chris’ next  project is the sequel for THE OBSERVER.  It is titled THE ARCHON, but there’s no release date yet.

So what do you think? Know any guy authors who write in this genre? (And thanks to Chris for sharing this thoughts about writing. If you’ve read his book, let us know in the comments section what you thought.)

Book blogs: Check out La Deetda Reads June 27, 2011

Posted by Diana McCabe in Fun stuff.
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La Deetda!

Looking for more book blogs? Check out my web buddy’s new blog LA DEETDA READS. This is by Dot in New York who used to send us vampire book reviews from time to time. But now she’s started her own blog so check it out! Dot reviews all kinds of romance books, including paranormal romance. And if you are looking for historical romance — she’s got that, too! Happy reading and drop her a line! (And she still visits this blog. You can find her commenting all of the time here!)

Paranormal romance/YA/urban fantasy authors coming to Comic-Con — so far! June 19, 2011

Posted by Diana McCabe in News.
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We’re still waiting for Comic-Con — July 21-24 in San Diego — to announce its complete schedule of panels and guests, but it says it won’t finalize the lineups until two weeks before the convention. In the meantime, here’s a short list of paranormal romance/urban fantasy/YA authors who are scheduled to appear at the convention — and we’ve checked in on a few of the author websites to find out what they have planned for the convention.

Patricia Briggs
This will be a treat because the author of the Mercy Thompson series (RIVER MARKED is the latest release in the saga about car mechanic Mercy Thompson who is an unusual shapeshifter) doesn’t go to many conventions. Here’s what she’s posted on her website about Comic-Con:

So, we’ve heard lots of great things about Comic-Con. Dan Dos Santos usually attends, and we’ve thought about going down to meet him. The costumes are crazy, the event is huge, and we were a little afraid we’d get lost or trampled in a convention of this size. This year, they invited Patty as a guest. They promised that they’d take care of us country bumpkins and not let us get lost too badly, so we’re going in. Wish us luck.

Kim Harrison
Harrison, who writes the popular Hollows series, has been to Comic-Con before. Her full-color graphic novel — BLOODWORK — which recounts the first book in the Hollows series (Rachel, witch and bounty hunter who has to team up with Ivy — a living vampire) is due out July 12, just before the convention kicks off. “I will be going to San Diego Comic Con to celebrate!” she writes on her website.

Sherrilyn Kenyon
This prolific paranormal romance/fantasy writer whose series include The Dark-Hunters, The League, Lords of Avalon, BAD Agency and the Chronicles of Nick, will apparently have her own panel at Comic-Con this year! Her Facebook page says the panel — still in the planning stages — will be held July 23 (Saturday) from 11:15 to 12:15. (Maybe she’ll give us a sneak preview of next Dark Hunter novel — RETRIBUTION, due out Aug. 2.)

Scott Westerfeld
The author of the Uglies series and  Midnighters trilogy is also a repeat Comic-Con guest. According to his blog, here’s the panel he’s going to be on at the convention: (GOLIATH, the next book in his Leviathan series comes out Sept. 20.)

Sunday, July 24
11:15-12:15AM Building the World of Leviathan, an Illustrated Steampunk Series. Bestselling YA author Scott Westerfeld (Uglies, Midnighters) discusses how illustrated adventure novels disappeared in the early 20th Century, and how he worked with artist Keith Thompson to create one for the 21st, Leviathan, a steampunk re-imaging of WWI. Lots of visuals (and some secret news about Uglies).

(He says there’s another panel about teen comics that he’ll be in, but it’s not confirmed yet. It will probably be Thursday, July 21, 4:30-5:30.)

Q&A: Graveminder’s Melissa Marr on zombies, love and minding the dead June 13, 2011

Posted by Diana McCabe in Authors.
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“Sleep well, and stay where I put you.”

Melissa Marr

Those are the words that for decades, Rebekkah Barrow’s grandmother, Maylene, said after every funeral when she visited the graves of the dead in Claysville.  Rebekkah never knew why. But now that her grandmother has been  murdered, the duty to mind the dead falls to Rebekkah and the man she has run away from in Melissa Marr’s GRAVEMINDER.   (Read my book pick on GRAVEMINDER HERE.)

Marr, who wrote the wildly popular WICKED LOVELY series, explains in a Q&A with us her inspiration for GRAVEMINDER — her first novel for adults — and how she weaves together a story about the living, the dead and the intriguing curse that binds them together. She includes a lot of interesting detail here for fans, including how Mick Jagger and one of his songs helped to shape an important character and her thoughts on the world of the dead she has created. (For more on Melissa, her novels and other cool stuff, check out her website HERE. And I’ve included her YouTube book trailer — where she talks about the book — at the bottom of this Q&A.)

Q: How did you come up with the story for GRAVEMINDER? (Was there an “ah ha!” moment when the idea hit you or did it build in bits and pieces over time?)
A:  GRAVEMINDER began as a spark in 2007 when I was in Ireland.  I read a snippet of folklore on the regard for the dead.  It grew from there, influenced by my own lifelong interest in cemeteries and death lore.

Q: Just about all of your characters in GRAVEMINDER have a role or destiny to fulfill, but some have a choice. (Or maybe they don’t?) What inspired you to create your characters like this?
A:  I’m fascinated by volition.  The WICKED LOVELY series is a 5 book series on protagonists finding a way to wrest away choice in a world where they have none or have limited options.  The GRAVEMINDER world goes further in creating a protag (or several) where the choices are limited even further.  We are, all of us, limited by so many things beyond our control.  I think how we deal with limitations is defining and so I want to explore it in my books.

Q: Is your GRAVEMINDER lore based on any particular mythology or folklore? Are there/were there GRAVEMINDERS at one point?
A:  The lore at the center of this story is in many ways, global.  So many cultures have traditions for dealing with the dead.  The one tradition —  providing nourishment for the dead — that is probably the key to the story was one I read in a book called BLOODY IRISH.  However, that small bit was echoed in many cultures and countries too.

Q. Why don’t humans in GRAVEMINDER turn into zombies when bitten by the walking dead?
A:  Because these aren’t film zombies or viral zombies. =)  These are folklore based “Hungry Dead,” and in many ways they are more akin to ghosts than anything else.  They share traits with viral and film zombies (and other traits with Haitian zombies — which are also not spread by bite).  I’m a folklore geek, plain and simple, so my books evolve out of the lore I read.  The idea of viral zombies (which are what popular media define as zombies) is not what’s in the folklore.  It is different from “true” zombies (Haitian lore) and from ”Hungry Dead” (What my dead folk are) … all of which, I suspect, boils down to me saying I look to the “folklore first!”

Dante lost in the Inferno/Wikipedia

Q. In GRAVEMINDER, the living can walk among the dead, and the dead among the living. But they each see different things. What’s your world of the dead based on because it’s unlike anything I’ve ever read?
A:  The world of the dead probably springs from an amalgamation of Dante and some versions of subjective afterlife.  Dante (who, arguably, is one of the earliest examples of supernatural literary/urban fantasy) had levels of hell reflecting the sins of the deceased.  Some traditions posit “subjective afterlife” in which what I experience and you experience would be completely dissimilar. Our personal definitions of happiness, torment, and boredom (heaven, hell, and purgatory in mainstream phrasing) are defining the reality we experience post-death.  I added to that the notion that we’d also define based on what we KNEW in our pre-death experiences so my land of the dead has a multiplicity of definitions and times co-existing in one space.

Q. Why don’t the Graveminder or Undertaker roles have to be carried on by blood family?
A:  First, because I believe that family is more than the people whose DNA we share.  My daughter is no less mine because she doesn’t share my blood/genes.  Secondly, very practically, if Graveminders and Undertakers are destined to love one another, we’d have a very unhealthy family tree if not for this clause in the town contract … and that’s just sucky.

Q. Rebekkah and Byron. Interesting ebb and flow. Will we ever know if they love each other for just love’s sake or have their roles destined them to no choice?
A:  Do we EVER know why two people are in love?  Do we even know if we’re defining the same emotions as “love”?  That leads to a huge snarl of philosophical questions.  Byron is a bit less difficult so he’s willing to accept it.  As the chick writing it all down.  I think I’m simply of the belief that there are unanswerable questions and talking about love brings some of them to the fore front.

Mick Jagger/Wikipedia

Q. I know you can’t answer this but who or what is Charles — Mr. D?! What can you tell us about how you created him? (He needs the Graveminder out in the real world but seems to ‘love’ them and want them to stay? Can’t tell. Can’t tell if he’s loved them all. Very intriguing.)
A:  Mr. D, Charles, is one of the most fun characters to write.  He’s directly a result of my stories’ love:  The song “Dancing with Mr. D” sparked his creation … which meant he was born with a bit of Mick Jagger’s delicious arrogance and charisma.  From there, he ended up with some of Milton’s Satan, The Doors’ Jim Morrison … So I guess he’s an embodiment of the sort of being that covers the allure of something dark, mysterious, and a bit frightening — sort of death itself.  As a note, I think he became both the Gothic Villain and the (later Gothic evolution) Byronic hero.

Q. Is there anyway for Rebekkah or Byron to see their loved ones who have died? (In another “kingdom?”) Or by cutting some sort of deal?
A:  When they die, they can — just like the rest of us (I hope).  While they are alive they can’t interact with their own dead.  It’s another of the limitations I thought necessary to the sort of contract Charles would draft.  If they can interact with their predecessors, it’s too “easy” for them … and Charles isn’t likely to agree to that.

Q. Is the town of Claysville based on anything from your childhood etc? Graveyards?
A:  Claysville is definitely influenced by my childhood home.  My own grandmother lived in a traditional two-story farmhouse, and my father and brother currently tend to the upkeep of the Parrish graveyard.  Growing up I developed a fondness for graveyards — some of my best dates in high school and college have been walking among graves.  My college had a vast graveyard on campus (attached to the monastery) and I used to walk there to clear my mind.  As an adult, I’ve kept that love of the quiet space they provide, and I visit them often as I travel.  I’m in no hurry to die, but I’m not afraid of it either. For health reasons in my 20’s it was something I spent some time thinking about, and then I married a Marine, which lead to other reasons for pondering it.  Hopefully, it’ll be a grand adventure when the time comes.

Q. OK — what’s next?
A:  I’m currently writing a sequel to GM.  That should be out in early 2013.  The series has gone into development, with Ken Olin for (hopefully!) a TV series.  One never knows if such things will make it the whole way through the process, but if passion is any clue, we’re in good hands.  Ken is truly amazing. He got the book, the world, and the characters instantly.  In the meantime, there’s a Graveminder short story (about Alicia) in THE NAKED CITY  (July 2011) anthology, and in 2012, I have a collection of my Wicked Lovely short stories (FAERY TALES & NIGHTMARES, Feb 2012) and the first in my new YA series, CARNIVAL OF SOULS (Fall 2012).

Book pick: ‘Graveminder’ opens up a gritty new world of the dead June 5, 2011

Posted by Diana McCabe in Reviews/summaries.
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Someone has to watch over the dead in Claysville. Feed them. Console them. Make sure they stay put.

And for decades, Rebekkah Barrow’s grandmother, Maylene, did just that. Maylene went to  every funeral in town and performed the same ritual that Rebekkah witnessed over and over. She would take three sips from a silver flask and say “Sleep well, and stay where I put you.”

But Rebekkah, an outsider who only lived in Claysville for a short time and  visited her grandmother as a young adult, never knew why. And now that her grandmother is dead — murdered — the duty to mind the dead falls to her in Melissa Marr’s latest book, GRAVEMINDER, a gritty, urban fantasy that makes you wonder if people really do have a choice about who they love and why.

Rebekkah Barrow is torn with indecision and guilt over her destined role in Claysville, a town where the native born never leave, but live quiet and happy lives until they turn at least 80 and then they are subject to the same health issues as anyone else. But the price for that so-called peace has been a pact with the underworld that dictates that a Graveminder — a Barrow woman — and the town’s Undertaker — a Montgomery man — work together to make sure the dead of Claysville are buried properly. And if they aren’t — to lead them to the other side, a place ruled by the mysterious Charles — also called Mr. D. If the dead aren’t properly minded, they will walk among the living and kill.

Helping Rebekkah is the Undertaker — Byron Montgomery, an old love who Rebekkah has run away from because — among other things — he used to date her sister. Neither Rebekkah nor Bryon learn of their roles in Claysville until the very last minute.  They must sift through old journals and records and visit the land of Dr. D to find clues to mind the dead.

They also learn that the Graveminder and Undertaker are historically tied and drawn to each other. He must protect her, and she depends on him to guide her from the land of the dead — which she finds immensely attractive. Is it the destiny of the Graveminder and Undertaker the reason Rebekkah and Bryon have always been attracted to each other? Or is it true love? Or does it even matter? With no time to figure out their feelings for each other, Rebekkah and Byron must work together to figure out who killed Maylene and to deal with the dead — who are now suddenly so restless.

This is an urban fantasy, who-done-it mystery with a dash of romance. The story is laced with folklore, and at first — because I was reading so quickly — I didn’t understand how the role of Graveminder or Undertaker is passed along, so read the first chapters carefully. The most interesting  parts of the story occur when Marr takes us into the world of Dr. D. How he and the rest of the dead are connected to the world of the living is fascinating, and she hasn’t revealed all that much in this first book — but there’s enough to make you wonder what she’ll do in the next installment.

Fans of Marr’s WICKED LOVELY series about humans and the fae understand that this author is great at building dark and mysterious worlds where each of her characters must make choices — no matter what their destiny. And she holds true to form in GRAVEMINDER.

Visit Melissa Marr’s website for excerpts from the novel and also some nifty Graveminders/Undertakers history (click the link to download the chart below in PDF format or you can download it from Melissa’s site.)

Image from Melissa Marr's website

Movie trailer for Twilight’s ‘Breaking Dawn’ June 5, 2011

Posted by Diana McCabe in News.
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2 comments

Sorry for break in posts. Been swamped with the day job but have lots of nifty stuff coming. For starters, here’s a surprise. For TWILIGHT fans, the trailer for BREAKING DAWN (Part 1) is now out on the web. Not sure if Summit will shut it down on YouTube or not but here’s what we’re seeing. (Film comes out Nov. 18.)

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