As a writer of urban fantasy, I frequently hear the lament that readers are tired of vampires and werewolves. If you look at the number of television programs and movies featuring vampires and werewolves, it would be easy to dismiss this claim. Moreover, the stories are quite different, despite the fact that they feature common species of creatures. Tales of these beings endure because each writer creates his/her own mythology about them.
In my urban fantasies, I try to combine mythology, current fads, and a touch of whimsy. It works: fairies on the runway, dragons on Wall Street, Were-predators in law enforcement or the military, and vampires in control of the entertainment industry. All are governed by the Incubi—who also happen to run the world’s hotels and resorts.
Logical and easy to follow, right? But there’s a risk. What if your audience isn’t familiar with the new paranormal species?
As an example, in House of the Rising Son, one of my characters is a drag queen who moonlights as a nanny. She’s Huldra: A Norse forest spirit who seduces human men and/or steals human babies. When introduced, I identified her as her as Huldra, and referred to her cow-like tail and her woodsy, forest essence. Perfect—except that readers, unfamiliar with Huldra, wanted more.
Writing about a lesser-known supernatural or mythical creature is risky. Readers may need a great deal more information than the author is able to provide in the context of the scene. Giving an information dump of detail about the new species may take the reader out of the story. Conversely, not giving enough detail may have the same effect.
The lesson, I suppose, is that going beyond vampires and werewolves is risky. But for me, the reward of creating whimsical and interesting characters makes the risk worthwhile.
Sometimes, being yourself means Living After Midnight.
Living After Midnight, Book 1
Cheyenne is a half-human incubus whose star is on the rise in the Unakite City rock scene. His father, the leader of the supernatural races, would prefer he keep a “low profile”, but screw that. Cheyenne has as much music in his veins as royal incubi blood.
Alexander's future is all set—finish law school, join the family firm, and marry someone who'd be good for business. Not that he has a say in any of it. He's barely met the woman his father expects him to marry.
As Cheyenne's musical career takes off, his carefully constructed life begins to unravel, exacerbated by an ex-lover who can't let go, a crotchety barkeeper with a dirty mind and a pure heart, a drag queen who moonlights as a nanny, and Alexander—who's not sure if he's falling for the incubus or the rocker.
Cheyenne denies who he is, while Alexander hides what he wants. Together, they learn that getting what they truly want means being who they truly are.
While waiting for their drinks, Alexander studied the deep grooves carved into the table, trying to ignore the friction of Cheyenne’s thigh rubbing against his as the musician tapped a heel to the thump of the DJ’s music. Once the drinks arrived, Alexander downed half the bottle before he realized Cheyenne’s large green eyes were staring at him.
“So where’s your girl, Prudhomme? I mean, Prune Danish. No, wait...”
“Prudish. Shit, Prudence,” Alexander sputtered.
Cheyenne’s eyes sparkled. “No, you got it right the first time. Where is she?”
He shrugged. “Home, I guess.”
Cheyenne cocked his head. “Oh, really?” He put his hand on Alexander’s leg. “What’s up? You can tell me.”
“It’s not working out.” Alexander dragged his teeth over his lower lip. “It’s my fault.”
He couldn’t keep his attraction to Cheyenne out of his voice. “I don’t know what’s happening to me.”
Cheyenne put his thumb to his lip and paused. “It’s like the drink.”
Alexander tilted his head, not sure he heard correctly. “The drink?”
“Yeah, that nasty ass bourbon. I bet your father drinks it. Your uncles. All your friends. Everybody, right?”
He didn’t answer, but waited for Cheyenne to continue.
“It was just expected that you’d drink it too. So you did.” His hand moved up Alexander’s thigh. “But now, maybe it’s okay to drink what you like. A different brand, a better vintage. Because you want it.
Because it tastes better.” Cheyenne licked his lips. “Because it feels right.”
Alexander cleared his throat and brushed his lap, pushing Cheyenne’s hand away. “I can’t.”
“If you change your mind, let me know.”
“You don’t understand. It’s not that easy. My whole life will change.”
“It already has.”
You can find House of the Rising Son on Samhain Publishing, Barnes and Noble and Amazon.
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