Author Archives: Kay Berrisford

About Kay Berrisford

Kay Berrisford writes m/m romance, fantasy, historical, and paranormal themes, published by Loose Id. http://kayberrisford.com

Angel of worldbuilding! Guest blogger Viki Lyn – plus a chance to WIN Sins of Lust.

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Today, I’m thrilled to welcome Viki Lyn, author of a series of contemporary and paranormal m/m hits including Out of Bounds, Last Chance, Fighting Chance, and her amazing new fantasy release, Sins of Lust.  For a chance to WIN a copy of Sins of Lust all you need to do is leave a comment, remembering to include your email when prompted (emails will not be displayed.) Over to Viki!

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Sins of Lust 200Last year, I received a request from Ellora’s Cave to submit a story. I was thrilled but didn’t have anything to submit. The editor was kind enough to leave the invitation opened ended, which gave me freedom to write something fresh and new. I’ve been toying with writing about angels and demons, but like most of my paranormals, I wanted a twist. I went a few months without any idea what to write when suddenly a thought came to me: What if an archangel broke one of God’s commandments? How would he be punished for his sin? So when Thou shall not kill popped into my mind, I had to go with it.

My angel world consists of the Hierarchia, seven of God’s archangels that form the ruling body of heaven. Razi-el and Uri-el are part of this political body and also soul mates. When Razi-el kills to save Uri-el from a demon, he has to be punished. Not even an archangel can break God’s law and get away with it.

The story begins with his punishment – the Cleansing – which strips an angel of his wings. If the angel gives into his bloodlust, he’s cast into Hell but if he controls it, he becomes a Protector – a being that kills for angels. The kicker – the angel not only loses wings but his memories, including his name.

As above, so below – this is a famous Hermetic saying that I incorporated into my story. The issues you find on Earth, you find thriving in the heavenly cities, and sometimes, even inside the Hierarchia. There is prejudice, social divisions, rigid laws that at times don’t seem fair. Not everything is as it seems on the surface. Just like life here on our planet.

Since this story has so many imaginary terms and word usage, I wanted readers to feel comfortable with the settings. So I chose a classical feel for the heavens. I have an affinity for Greek and Roman architecture, having traveled to these places. Caelestia is mapped out similar to the Seven Hills of Rome. I also have a scene where Uri-el and Izar travel to Egypt. I was able to incorporate a temple on an island that I had visited a few years ago. Many descriptions in this book are derived from my travel experiences.

Here’s a link to SoL glossary of terms.

This was a fun story to write with its mystery and intrigue and lots of sexy angst and hot sex. Yep, lots of sex because I wrote it for the Cave! I’ll leave you with a blurb and excerpt, and don’t forget to post a comment for a chance to win Sins of Lust!

Blurb:

Thou shall not kill.

For archangel Razi-el, he had no choice. He would break God’s commandment again if it were to save Uri-el from a demon’s talons. Yet even God’s most trusted archangel cannot avoid punishment. No longer Razi-el, he is now Izar, a Protector sworn to kill for the angels.

When a Protector kills an angel, Izar is summoned to work alongside Uri-el to capture the killer. Izar is shocked when his bloodlust spikes hot for the archangel. He knows better than to go after forbidden fruit. Refusing to give in to temptation, he ignores his body’s tempestuous arousal for Uri-el until a heated argument turns his blood into molten lust.

As they rush to find the killer, their passion plays into the demon’s plan. Izar will have to make a choice between life and death if he is to save Uri-el again.

Scroll on for an exciting excerpt!

Read the rest of this entry

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Acid Ants, Emperor Nero, and Dark Space – interview and giveaway with Lisa Henry!

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Crossposted from kayberrisford.com

I’m thrilled to welcome Lisa Henry, author of m/m smash hits Tribute and The Island. Lisa’s been kind enough to answer some questions about her amazing new books, writing damaged and desperate characters, and the joys and pitfalls of living in the tropics – namely, Brisbane, Aus!

Q. You have two new books out, both of which I can’t wait to HeIsWorthy_600x400read! Please tell us a bit about them.

He Is Worthy is part of Riptide Publishing’s Warriors of Rome series. And here’s the blurb:

Rome, 68 A.D. Novius Senna is one of the most feared men in Rome. He’s part of the emperor’s inner circle at a time when being Nero’s friend is almost as dangerous as being his enemy. Senna knows that better men than he have been sacrificed to Nero’s madness — he’s the one who tells them to fall on their swords. He hates what he’s become to keep his family safe. He hates Nero more.

Aenor is a newly-enslaved Bructeri trader, brutalised and humiliated for Nero’s entertainment. He’s homesick and frightened, but not entirely cowed. He’s also exactly what Senna has been looking for: a slave strong enough to help him assassinate Nero.

It’s suicide, but it’s worth it. Senna yearns to rid Rome of a tyrant, and nothing short of death will bring him peace for his crimes. Aenor hungers for revenge, and dying is his only escape from Rome’s tyranny. They have nothing left to lose, except the one thing they never expected to find–each other.

Straight from the Roman Empire to a space station! My latest release is LH_Dark Space_coverinDark Space, from Loose Id.

Brady Garrett needs to go home. Brady’s a conscripted recruit on Defender Three, one of a network of stations designed to protect the Earth from alien attack. Brady is angry, homesick, and afraid. If he doesn’t get home he’ll lose his family, but there’s no way back except in a body bag.

Cameron Rushton needs a heartbeat. Four years ago Cam was taken by the Faceless — the alien race that almost destroyed Earth. Now he’s back, and when the doctors make a mess of getting him out of stasis, Brady becomes his temporary human pacemaker. Except they’re sharing more than a heartbeat: they’re sharing thoughts, memories, and some very vivid dreams.

Not that Brady’s got time to worry about his growing attraction to another guy, especially the one guy in the universe who can read his mind. It doesn’t mean anything. It’s just biochemistry and electrical impulses. It doesn’t change the truth: Brady’s alone in the universe.

Now the Faceless are coming and there’s nothing anyone can do. You can’t stop your nightmares. Cam says everyone will live, but Cam’s probably a traitor and a liar like the military thinks. But that’s okay. Guys like Brady don’t expect happy endings.

Q. Okay, so broadly generalizing, Dark Space is sci-fi, He is Worthy is historical, The Island is contemporary, and Tribute is fantasy. So you’re awesomely flexible – *g*! Which, if any, was your fave genre to write and do any themes unite all Lisa Henry books?

This is like asking me my favourite colour. Or movie. Or song. Give me half an hour and I’ll give you an entirely different answer. Or twelve entirely different answers. That’s the best thing about being a writer. You’re allowed to go wherever your imagination wants.

I love historical, but it’s a challenge to write. There is a lot of research and fact checking involved, so it usually takes longer to get right. Also, with m/m romance there is a very fine line between wanting to stay true to historical attitudes, and wanting your guys to get an HEA. Not in all societies and cultures, certainly, but I’ve read a lot of historical stuff lately where there are public displays of affection that just don’t seem like they would have occurred when there was a risk of arrest, public shame, or even worse.

Fantasy is great because all the world building is your own, and there isn’t much research to do. If you want to have flying cars and dinosaurs in the same story, go for it!

The same goes for sci-fi. I tried to make Dark Space “realistic” in the sense that I don’t think there’s any technology in there that seems that weird. And the stuff that is — the alien stuff — scares the hell out of the humans. Dark Space is not really about pew-pew aliens and space ships. Space was just the perfect setting because it’s vast and claustrophobic at the same time. I would love to write a space opera though, because those seem like fun!

Contemporary is much lighter on the research than historical. Also, I like that it gives me a chance to be a bit patriotic and throw some Aussie boys into the mix which I hadn’t been able to do before The Island. And, I have to say, the thing I loved best about The Island was that my editor let me keep this exchange between my Australian and my American, despite that fact that I bet a huge chunk of people didn’t get the cricket reference:

“At least when we have a world series, we’re not the only country in it.”

“The World Series was named after a newspaper. At least we don’t play for ashes!”

If anything unites all my books, I guess it’s that I love writing about damaged and desperate characters. If they’re not damaged and desperate at the start of one of my books, they sure as hell will be by the end. I think that to really understand what a character is made of, you have to tear him apart first.

Hmm. That seemed less brutal in my head. But I promise I’m a nice person in real life.

Q. You once told me you’re a history nerd – yay! Did you have LH_Tribute_coverlgfun with the research for He is Worthy – oh, and how about Tribute? When I was reading and loving that one, I had some pretty vivid images from various ancient civilizations in my mind. Were any particularly inspiring?

I didn’t have to do too much research for He Is Worthy actually, since I absolutely love Ancient Rome and devour anything I can read on the subject. When I found out that Riptide wanted Roman stories it was like Christmas for me. Holy hell! Yes, I must do that!

Nero has always fascinated me. He was an absolute monster, but in some respects he’s like a child star. Surrounded by sycophants, spoiled rotten since childhood, a pushy stage mother, nobody ever tells him no…you know it’s going to end badly. I think it’s sometimes tempting to feel sorry for Nero, before you remember that a lot of innocent people died in a lot of hideous ways because of him. Everything that happens in He Is Worthy — the dressing up like a wild animal to attack slaves, the human torches, the castration of his “favourite” — comes from historical accounts.

With He Is Worthy, I had to do a quick refresher on dates and places and historical characters, but I think my knowledge of the period is fairly solid. I hope it is. At least nobody’s pointed out any clangers yet.

With Tribute I worked off a late Roman Empire vibe for Segasa, the warlord’s city. And Kynon was very much from the fantasy stock-standard feudal system. I wanted to mix it up a bit and have a clash of cultures. Also, it was fun to invent a society that was all high and mighty about political freedoms and philosophy on one hand, and horribly cruel on the other hand. Which I guess brings us back to the Roman influence again.

I think the main lesson from history is that it’s cruel. You don’t have to look very far back at all to see how inhumane most of humanity has been. The Romans had a saying: homo homini lupus. Man is a wolf to man. I don’t think much has changed.

Lisa's resident possum!

Lisa’s resident possum!

Q. You live in Australia! I love Australia with a passion and hope to go back next year, but I’m still going to ask the stock question first: what’s the weather like today, and do you have any giant spiders that eat people?

Oh my god. This heat is killing me! My house is like an oven at the moment, and the air conditioning is not even helping. My house used to be cooler than this, but two years ago Cyclone Yasi knocked down a bunch of trees — it’s okay, they landed on my neighbour’s roof, not mine — and now that side of the house cops the full sun in the afternoon. It is currently 1.30 pm, and 32 desires Celsius — that’s 90 degrees Fahrenheit according to my iPhone. Which would be okay if it got cooler at night. But tonight the temperate will drop to all of 26 degrees. That’s 79 degrees Fahrenheit. Usually the wet season has started by now, but so far we’ve had no rain at all to cool us down. On the plus side, that means no mosquitos.

I am not aware of any giant spiders that eat people. However, when I go to the beach I do swim in a net because of the danger of marine stingers. Those’ll kill you. And there are crocodiles. Those’ll kill you as well. And one of the most deadly snakes in the world — the taipan — is from this corner of the world. And, you guessed it, those’ll kill you. On a slightly less deadly note, when I first moved to North Queensland as a teenager, we had this lovely tree in our front yard that was just begging to be climbed…

Have you ever heard of green ants? They are also known as weaver ants, and they swarm you in seconds and start biting. With acid. They bite you with acid. So there I was on the footpath, screaming and frantically taking my clothes off when the postman arrived… Welcome to the tropics.

Q. According to your Loose Id bio you live in a house with too many pets. I’m going to pout and sulk now, because I live in cramped, wet England in a tiny flat that cost the earth, with room for only mould and moths as pets (my beloved moggy lives at my parents.) Make me even more jealous by tell us all about your animal friends, please!

I have an old yellow lab called Cleo, and three cats: Simba, Sam and Grub, all rescue animals. The plan for next year is to get chickens, not so much for the eggs, but just because chickens seem like fun!

My house is also infested with geckoes that live behind picture frames and come out at night to eat mosquitos, and possums who keep breaking in through the shutters to steal things, You’d think with a dog and three cats in the house that they’d be cautious, but apparently not. I’ve taken to keeping my bread and bananas in the microwave. I got home from night work the other night to find one perched above my bedroom door. People always tell you not to pick wild animals up. I think the fact that they hardly struggle anymore just goes to show that whether I like it or not they’re almost domesticated.

Oh, and there is a green tree frog who lives in the toilet. His name is Fidel Bonaventure Jumping-Castle . The second. We’ve reached an understanding now: I don’t scream when I see him, and he doesn’t try to get away when I relocate him to the windowsill every day.

Q. I was recently chatting with another LI author, and we agreed LH_Island_coverinthat in some ways writing has got harder since we got published. In other words, I wrote Bound for the Forest for myself, and it was great fun. Ever since then, I’ve been fretting about what the world thinks and wants. Is this experience familiar to you – and either way, any tips on keeping calm and carrying on?

Wait, we were supposed to keep calm? I’ve been freaking out this whole time.

This is absolutely true though. Your first book is your “I wonder if I can write a book” book. But then you get this thing called an audience, and that’s when the stage fright kicks in. Although I panicked most after The Island, which was my second book. So many people loved it so much for the twist, that I spent a long time worrying that I wouldn’t be able to live up to that again.

I think the solution is to keep doing what got us here in the first place — write what you would want to read. That’s all you can do, I think. Unless someone’s told you something different. Have they? Because I want to know the secret as well

Q. What can we forward to from the pen of Lisa Henry in 2013?

At the moment I’m co-writing a book with the awesome J.A. Rock. It’s been fun co-writing with someone. We got that first draft written in four weeks — we absolutely powered our way through it — and then it took another six to think up a title. And I wish I could tell you I was kidding about that. But we’re editing away now, and hopefully something will come of it.

I’m also working on an untitled (of course, because we know I suck at titles) contemporary set in Australia — yay! — about a Samoan-Australian police officer who is in love with the very damaged guy he rescued from a bad situation when the guy was still a teenager. Now, after years have passed and just when they might be at a place where they can act on their feelings, the past is going to come back and bite them in a big way. Except, being a total pantser, I haven’t figured any actual plot points yet…

There might also be another historical on the horizon, set in Wyoming in 1870. Cowboys, and bondage! Not that the two have to go together, but isn’t it so much fun when they do?

And I mentioned space opera, right? Because I have a very persistent plot bunny bouncing around in my brain going: “They’d be like the Borgias! But in space!” And you know I can’t ignore that forever! :)

Giveaway time!

To say thanks to Kay for hosting me on her blog, I’ll be giving away a copy of my latest ebook Dark Space. All you need to do is leave a comment, and in a week I will have a monkey draw a name out of a hat. The monkey is my eight-year-old nephew. His name is Tom. Last week he ate a gecko egg because he thought it was a lolly. He gets embarrassed whenever I tell that story, so of course I repeat it wherever I can.

You can buy He Is Worthy at Riptide Publishing, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or ARe.

You can buy Dark Space at Loose Id, Amazon, or ARe.And you can find my blog here. Or catch up with me on Twitter, or Goodreads.

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Thanks so much Lisa, I LOVE reading about damaged and desperate characters so no complaints here, and as a Brit, I even got the Ashes joke–honest! I’m glad I’m not the only one with a wildlife infested flat, but your frogs and possums win hands down over my moths, harvester spiders, and the occasional woodmouse! And ours don’t have such cool names.

So excited for ALL your WIPs!

Thanks to everyone who dropped by, and don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered in the draw to win Dark Space. Tom might pick you! :)

White Christmas with Belinda McBride – and a giveaway!

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Crossposted from kayberrisford.com

GIVEAWAY NOW CLOSED. Winner is announced here. There’s still a chance to win your choice of my back catalogue over at J.A.Rock’s blog.

I’m am thrilled to introduce the peerless Belinda McBride, author of a series of smash m/m fantasy hits including sci-fi novels, An Uncommon Whore, and When I Fall (An Uncommon Whore II) and the shapeshifter classic Blaque/Bleu (Arcada 1). The sequel to Blaque/Bleu, Silver/Steel (Arcada 2) is out this week — and Belinda is offering one lucky commenter the chance to WIN a copy of this keenly anticipated read. What more can we ask for? *bounces excitedly*

Over to Belinda!

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White Christmas

silversteelSilver/Steel was written in response to a call for holiday stories at Loose Id. As usual, there was a little twist to this particular call for submission. It had to begin at one holiday, and end on another. So it could be Thanksgiving and Kwanza or the Day of the Dead and New Year’s. I was already working on an Arcada story that was set in the winter and immediately began wracking my brain for the most fitting holidays for Travis and Dylan.

For some reason, I love the world of Arcada during the winter, and I give these two some of the most romantic elements the season has to offer. They get snowed in together. They make love in an ice maze and then go driving around looking at Christmas lights. Arcada just comes alive in the snow.

Dylan is old world fae. I imagined he’d be most familiar with the calendar based holidays of the Celts. Travis is a thoroughly modern young man and pagan holidays might resonate with him, but he’d be most comfortable with traditional celebrations. Thus, I chose Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Pretty mundane, I agree. But I had a specific reason for choosing these two holidays.

It’s no secret that depression and suicide rates spike during the winter holidays, and not just because of the weather. The holidays are hard on some people. The stress of spending money, elaborate preparations and the constant barrage of merchandising can tear almost anyone down. These are also family oriented holidays. I’ve spent enough holidays alone that I can relate to the isolation some people experience when they have no family or live far from them.

Dylan and Travis first meet in a bar on Thanksgiving. Having been alone for so many years, Dylan just wants to have company. He’s not American, but he moves quietly through the landscape of the US and is acutely aware of being alone. He goes to the Roadhouse simply to surround himself with other people. He is also working a job, but that’s just an excuse to be out on Thanksgiving. He craves companionship.

Travis went to the bar to escape the pressures of his pack and family. He’s a lower ranked wolf in the pack and after a tough week, he ducks out on the family gathering to blow off steam. He wants to get away, seeking to lose himself around strangers.

While one character is a loner, the other feels alone within the confines of his extended family. They’re both at the bar on Thanksgiving, but for utterly different reasons. And yet at the core, their reason for being there is the same. They feel isolated and alone.

There’s little more than a month between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and the second holiday is a major contrast from the first. Both men are happy, they’re in love, and their innermost wishes are fulfilled. Dylan is in the heart of a family during the holiday. Because of the fae, Travis finally finds his place in the pack and the security that comes from knowing he’s loved and accepted.

But the story doesn’t end there on Christmas Eve. That night crystalizes the strength of their love, and it also triggers the events that lead to crushing decisions the men face. When they wake up on Christmas day, their lives will be forever changed.

Silver/Steel is available from December 4th from Loose Id.

You can visit Belinda at her website and on her blog.

In the meantime, read on for a sizzling ADULT excerpt from Silver/Steel!

Read the rest of this entry

The Wild Ones

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Crossposted from Cocktails and Hot Sauce

Anne Cain's fantastic cover for my novel.

Anne Cain’s fantastic cover for my novel.

There’s a part of every novel that’s a nightmare to write. In Bound to the Beast there’s little doubt about that part that gave me the most grief – bringing life to the Wild Hunt.

Ah yes, the Wild Hunt. A pack of the undead who maraud across the land, terrorizing the natives and sucking blood! Ghosts! Zombies! The evil dead, with their eyes drooling from their sockets and their flesh hanging off! That’s going to be fun to write, huh?

Well, you’d think so, and it was fun to research. The origins of the Wild Hunt are obscure and diverse, encompassing the Germanic ‘Wilde Jagd’ and the Nordic ‘Ride of Asgard,’ their leaders including Odin, Woden, and in England King Arthur, Sir Francis Drake, and the devil himself, as well as Herne the Hunter, the hero of my novel (see my pictorial history of The Horned One.)

The hunters themselves have variously been portrayed as the rotting corpses of condemned criminals, hellhounds, fairies, or the souls of deceased, unbaptised infants (the latter two, of course, sometimes perceived as one and the same.)

And their purpose?

Well, usually the Wild Hunt were seen as harbingers of doom, scourging the land on the eve of great disasters, and that’s the angle I used in my book, where my tortured anti-hero, Herne, has led the Hunt across England on the eve of Viking pillaging, the Norman Conquest and the plague of the black death.

Bad boy!

There are plenty of awesome descriptions of the Hunt too, not least in the romantic literature of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, when so much ‘ancient’ folk lore was (re)invented.

Arguably most evocative is W.B. Yeats, ‘The Hosting of the Sidhe,’ from his collection inspired by Gaelic faery lore, The Celtic Twilight (1893).

The Hosting Of The Sidhe (by William Butler Yeats)

    This illustration by Peter Nicolai Arbo (1872) depicts the Wild Hunt let by Odin, and perfectly captures their menacing glory.

This illustration by Peter Nicolai Arbo (1872) depicts the Wild Hunt let by Odin, and perfectly captures their menacing glory.

The host is riding from Knocknarea
And over the grave of Clooth-na-Bare;
Caoilte tossing his burning hair,
And Niamh calling Away, come away:
Empty your heart of its mortal dream.

The winds awaken, the leaves whirl round,
Our cheeks are pale, our hair is unbound,
Our breasts are heaving our eyes are agleam,
Our arms are waving our lips are apart;
And if any gaze on our rushing band,
We come between him and the deed of his hand,
We come between him and the hope of his heart.
The host is rushing ‘twixt night and day,
And where is there hope or deed as fair?
Caoilte tossing his burning hair,
And Niamh calling Away, come away.

Hmmm, a bit of a hard act to follow.

Yes, but I really shouldn’t whinge. Reinventing the Wild Hunt for my own purposes was hard work, but a hell of a lot of fun. The main trouble was representing the Hunt as anything other than a monolithic mass, so I turned, as so often, to research.

I discovered a plethora of colourful characters, including Wild Edric, once a Lord of the Welsh Marches, and his fairy wife Godda, who apparently led the Hunt to terrorize the people of Shropshire before the British campaign in Crimea in the 1850s, and prior the First and Second World Wars. It’s always good for a character to have challengers snapping at their heels, so I made my Herne work hard to keep control of his hunters.

The Wild Hunt, then, has haunted imaginations for centuries, and afterKB_BoundForest_coversmall a little exploration, they certainly took root in mine. When the wind moans and rattles through the trees of the New Forest, it’s hard not to prick up one’s ears, listen for the bay of the hunting hounds and the pounding of the hooves, and shiver at the prospect.

Could it be time for England to fall again?

Well, I bloody well hope not. But I wouldn’t say ‘no’ to a fleeting glimpse of Herne and his fairy band…

Fancy a taste of some ancient forest lore, intertwined with sex, magic, bondage, and blood? You can find out more about Bound to the Beast and my first Greenwood novel Bound for the Forest at my website.
Scroll on for an excerpt (featuring the Wild Hunt and –WARNING–some mind fantasy gore) from Bound to the Beast.

Elves and Coffee with Anna Zabo – plus a giveaway!

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CONTEST NOW CLOSED AND WINNERS ANNOUNCED HERE

Crossposted from kayberrisford.com

I’m thrilled to welcome to the site, Anna Zabo! Anna’s Loose Id novel, m/m paranormal Close Quarter, was published last week. Not only is she offering one lucky commenter/emailer a free copy of Close Quarter she’s blogging about a couple of things very close to my heart…

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Two things have a tendency to show up in my fiction: Coffee and elves. Well, not necessarily elves, but beings along those lines—beautiful, immortal, and magical beings. My debut m/m paranormal romance Close Quarter features a fae and quite a bit of coffee. I could wax on about coffee, but that’s not as much fun as fae.

I like exploring the edges of ageless living—and the pitfalls, because it can’t be all fun and games, and even powerful beings have their limitations.

Silas quint is a forest fae. He’s also a vampire hunter and he’s been sent to destroy a flock of vampires on a transatlantic cruise. And now he’s stuck in the middle of the ocean, away from his element. He’s not happy with the situation.

Then, a rather brash American named Rhys upends a tray of drinks all over him. He’d be downright cranky if Rhys weren’t so very interesting and quite beautiful… for a human.

Rhys sees right through Silas’s fae glamour. Which is a bit of an issue, since Rhys also notices that no one else sees the things Silas does. Like feel him up at one of the ship’s bars. Silas might not be able to tap into his elemental energy, but his libido works just fine.

In this excerpt Silas has invited Rhys to dinner to tell him what he really is, since he can’t hide the odd happenings. Rhys doesn’t take the news so well, at first.

Excerpt:

Rhys cleared his throat. “Silas? What are you doing to me?”

Silas answered with the truth. “Nothing.”

“Then what are you doing to everyone else?”

He couldn’t help but smile at that. “Merely showing them what they wish to see.”

Rhys laughed. “What are you, then? Some sort of magician?”

“No, not a magician.” He picked up his glass and drained the last of his scotch. Set it back down. “I’m one of the fae.”

Once more, Rhys went taut with shock. “Fae. You mean like a fairy?”

“Well, I don’t have wings. Nor do I fly about trailing pixie dust.” Silas stroked his thumb over the top of Rhys’s hand. “And I am a bit longer than five inches.”

Color drained from Rhys’s cheeks. “You’re serious.”

“Very.”

Rhys opened his mouth to speak again, disbelief clearly etched on his face. Fortunately the food arrived, providing Silas with a respite from questions.

He did have to give up Rhys’s hand to eat. Pity, that. He missed the touch of Rhys’s skin. Best to leave him be, for a time. He knew from having watched the man this past hour or so that Rhys needed to work things through in his mind.

Dinner conversation was nonexistent until Rhys spoke again. “Um, I’m not your servant for the next seven years, am I?” There was a clip to Rhys’s voice that was hard to interpret. Sarcasm, perhaps.

“Thomas the Rhymer. You know your classic tales.” Impressive, though Silas suppressed a shudder. Seven years bound to another’s will? He would not wish that on anyone. He had lived that, for far more years than seven.

Silas toyed with one of the shrimp on his plate. Rhys had gained back the color in his face, and splotches of red marred his neck. “No. I cannot bend your will to me. There is no Elfland beyond a river of blood to which I can take you. I am as much of this world as you.”

“I suppose that’s good. I’m not sure I’m ready to believe in magical worlds beyond this one.” He looked up at Silas. “What do you really look like?”

There was that clip again. Silas set his fork down. “You see me as I truly am. You ask why no one else reacts to me. To everyone else, I am not quite as arresting.”

He seemed to mull that over for a time. “So whatever you’re doing doesn’t work on me.”

“It doesn’t seem to, no.”

“Why not?”

Silas studied him. Oh, there was skepticism there. Perhaps anger as well. And why not? But the creeping awareness of truth lurked deep inside the man. “That’s what I’m trying to find out.”

HE HAS TO be lying. Rhys repeated that over and over in his head. Silas had to be lying, because the truth was impossible. Fae? Did Silas think him an idiot? Play with the ignorant rich boy’s mind for some kink? This had gone too far.

He latched on to the anger. Fae? No way in hell. “That’s a convenient dodge.”

Silas shrugged. “It’s the truth.”

What an asshole. “You don’t know what makes me so superspecial as to see through your illusions?”

“Glamour,” Silas said. A touch of annoyance crept into his voice. “And I have an idea but no proof.”

“You’re so full of shit.”

Finally the anger Rhys had witnessed that afternoon spread over Silas’s expression. “Am I?” It was every ounce a challenge.

“Yes.” Rhys pushed back his chair. Kissing a guy was one thing; people could ignore that. He took a deep breath and then shouted as loudly as he could. “Hey! Everyone! This guy says he’s a fucking fairy!”

The conversations in the room didn’t even dip. No one turned. Dishes clinked; servers moved. It was as if nothing had happened at all.

Oh hell. Rhys felt his whole body grow warm. He looked down at Silas.

“Are you through?”

Rhys sank to his chair. “Holy shit.”

A quirk of a dark smile formed in the lips of the man—the fae—on the other side of the table.

“That can’t be real. You can’t be…” Oh fuck. Silas’s looks, his passion and strength, that no one else on this entire ship wanted to jump the man—as crazy as it sounded, the explanation fit. Except maybe—

“I’m not being punked, am I?”

Lines of consternation appeared on Silas’s forehead. “I don’t even know what that means.”

Oh. “Tricked. Pranked.”

“No.” Silas rose and towered over the table. “Do you require more proof?”

He was afraid to say yes. Afraid to say no as well. “What are you going to do?”

“I haven’t decided.” He rounded the table and looked down at Rhys. “Truth is, I could lay you out on the table, strip you naked, and fuck you senseless, and no one would bat an eye. In the end, our waitress would simply come over and offer us dessert.”

Rhys’s mouth went dry. His whole body felt like fire. “You’re not going to…” Silas knelt.

“No.” Silas grasped the leg of Rhys’s chair and pulled it sideways. “The china’s too nice to simply push to the floor. I have another idea.” He reached for Rhys’s belt and unbuckled it.

His objective became blindingly obvious.

“Silas!” Rhys hissed his name. “You can’t!”

“I can. I will.” Silas looked up. “Unless you tell me to stop.”

Scroll on for more info, and a chance to WIN a copy of Close Quarter

Blurb: On a transatlantic cruise to New York, sculptor Rhys Matherton struggles to piece his life back together after losing his mother, inheriting a fortune, and finding out his father isn’t his father after all. He spills a tray of drinks on a handsome stranger, then he finds himself up against a wall getting the best hand-job he’s ever had. And for the first time in his life, he feels whole.

Rhys enjoys the company of Silas Quint, but for the eerie way no one pays attention to them even while they kiss in a crowded bar. Silas explains he’s a forest fae able to glamor the room around them—and more importantly, that he’s on the cruise to hunt vampires. Rhys thinks Silas is full of it, until he discovers vampires are real, and he’s part of the main course.

Silas Quint can’t be distracted by a human lover, even one as lovely as Rhys. Stuck in the middle of the ocean, he has barely enough of energy to hunt the vampires he’s been sent to destroy. Rhys is full of the one thing Silas needs needs most—the element of living plants. Only sucking energy from Rhys would make Silas as soulless as the creatures he hunts. How can he keep Rhys safe, without becoming like the very monsters he hunts?

Buy it now :)

If you would like to win a copy of Close Quarter, please leave your email in the comments, spelling it out to e.g. katy2222@gmail.com would be katy2222 at gmail dot com.

Alternatively, email me at kayberrisford@yahoo.co.uk, with “Anna Contest” in the title line and you will be entered. No emails will be retained for any other purpose, and the winner will be chosen by random selection software and announced on kayberrisford.com by 1st December.

All commenters and entries to contests over the next month will also be entered in a draw to win a copy of my new m/m paranormal, Simon, Sex, and the Solstice Stone and a $15 Loose Id voucher.

Thank you :)

Bio: Anna Zabo writes erotic paranormal romance and fantasy. She lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which isn’t nearly as boring as most people think. A lover of all things fae, she finds the wonderful and the magical amid the steel and iron of her city.

You can find her online at annazabo.com, on Facebook, and on twitter as @amergina, where you will also find her other not-so-secret identity.

Fairies and forest fantasy with Blaine D. Arden – plus an e-book giveaway!

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CONTEST NOW CLOSED AND WINNERS ANNOUNCED HERE

Crossposted from kayberrisford.com

I’m thrilled to welcome to the blog – Blaine D. Arden! Blaine was kind enough to answer a few little questions all about her awesome self. Plus, if you leave a comment at the end of this post, you can with any one of her back catalogue of fantasy m/m romance.

Okay, I was a fan of Blaine’s as soon as I saw these lovely covers, and I bet I’m not alone!

Q. Hi, Blaine. Tell us a little about your background and who you are. How long have you been writing?

Hiya *waves* I’m Blaine, a purple haired, forty-something, writer of gay romance with a love of men, music, mystery, magic, fairies, platform shoes and the colours black, purple and red, who sings her way through life.

I was born and raised in Zutphen, the Netherlands, a city I never quite managed to leave, and now am not so sure I want to leave, unless it’s to move to the UK after my husband’s retirement. I spent most of my rather sheltered youth reading, day dreaming, making up stories and acting them out with my Barbies.

Over twenty-two years ago I married a very patient man who’s given me space to grow, is my staunchest supporter, and doesn’t mind me bringing home strangers for sleep-overs. We have two sons and a foster son, aged 17(almost 18), 21, and 19, and a ten year old cairn terrier named Kendra.

I’ve been writing since my early teens, though I’ve been telling myself stories for a lot longer than that. They always helped me sleep. Being a bit of a hoarder, I still have a box or two with stories that I wrote when I was younger—all hand written, of course—including my very first gay fiction.

Q. Many of your stories have fairytale and fantasy themes-I’m desperate to read The Forester. What drew you to the woodland realm?

Magic, I guess. I’ve always been fascinated by magic, and magic does so well in forest surroundings. Also, I tend to shy away from electricity in my stories. I’m not even sure if that’s a conscious decision, but I like the idea of having candles—or glowing crystals—as a source of light, and a nice open fire or stove, and doing the dishes by magic. It’s romantic, basic, but I don’t think it has to be primitive. And that’s where my magic comes in again. I just love the idea of magic being something you use in every day chores, instead of just trying to save damsels in distress.

Q. What is your top source of inspiration?

Good question. My brain, I think. Because no matter what I see, read or hear, it’s my brain that sparks the connection, and swamps me with ideas and images at the drop of just one word. I have a very vivid imagination. J

For example: I participated in the Hurricane Sandy Relief Auction, where a number of authors auctioned off stories for the highest bidder. The moment I read the word dragons when my winner contacted me, an idea immediately came to me. Even though I’m working on a NaNoWriMo project—and I’m editing another project—I found myself penning down information on my three main characters on paper, including their races, what sort of persons they are, etc. It’s like, once the floodgates are open, I can’t close them again.

Q. Tell us about a typical writing day in the life of Blaine Arden.

I have typical days? Do any of us?

Anyway. On weekdays, my husband alarm rings at 06:15, and depending on how warm my bed is and how awake I am, I get up somewhere between that and 07:00. I do laundry, because the washing machine and dryer are the attic right next to our bedroom. When I get downstairs, my husband will have just finished breakfast, and is about to take the dog out for a walk, and I fire up my laptop to check mail, twitter and whatnot. Then I’ll make my omelette and do some cycling on my exercise bike, and I’ll be watching some TV while I’m having breakfast—keeping one eye on my mail and twitter, of course. Not always in that order, and yes… sometimes I forget about breakfast and the cycling, because I can’t tear myself away from twitter.

I tell myself that I want to start work between 09:00 and 09:30, but depending on how focussed I am, it may be later, but I will be working at ten. Upstairs in my office, where my computer is, and I’ll be away from the email and twitter on my laptop. Unless I have an appointment in the morning, then I’ll stay downstairs and work there until I have to go—packing up either e-reader or laptop to take with me. And twice a week I pack everything up and move to ‘t Warnshuus, a local community centre, where I’ll be writing my morning away—and observing people while doing that.

Lunch means watching a TV series, and again, keeping an eye on my mail and twitter. I tend to stretch lunch out a bit, so I’ll be back to work an hour later—again, unless I have an appointment somewhere.

Who cooks depends on mood, who’s more tired and what’s for dinner, but we’ll be having it together with our kids while watching something on TV that we all like, and make fun of while we watch and eat. I know, not the standard dinner conversation, but it works for us.

Evenings, I do whatever I want to. If I had appointments during the day, I’ll be doing some writing, otherwise, I’ll be twittering, chatting or just plain browsing. Except on Mondays, because I have choir practice then.

Jeez, my life sounds boring…

Q. Any WIPs that you’d care to tell us about?

Like any author, I have a couple of those ;)

– I’m working on The Forester Two—I know, very lame working title—the sequel to The Forester, which came out last December, that I’m editing so I can send it to my critters. In this second part of the Forester trilogy, a boy is kidnapped, and Kelnaht, Ianys, and Taruif are, still, anxiously awaiting for Taruif’s sentence to be reduced (in a nutshell).

– My NaNoWriMo project is all about faeries and corporate espionage. It’s about Wisc—a faerie visiting his great uncle in a human city called Kirroj. Wisc has always been taught that technology and magic don’t mix, but when a case of mistaken identity garners him the interest of a faerie thief and a security agent, Wisc learns that his magic might be the key to solving the case.

– And then there’s the story I’ll be writing for the winner of my Hurricane Sandy Relief Auction. I’ve only just created the characters for that, and I have a world for them to play in, but I don’t have much more than that, yet. But it will have a dragon called Buttercup.

I have many more ideas, inlcuding The Forester Three, and even a couple of finished first drafts that I can play around with, when I’m done with the ones I mentioned.

Q. Do you believe in fairies?

Yes, though, I’m sad to say, I haven’t seen one yet. Well, except in Lady Cottington’s pressed fairy book. But it isn’t the same, is it?

Maybe not quite ;) But I think your writing day sounds far from dull, and thank you for tellins us about all your exciting forthcoming projects.

Blaine’s books are available at Storm Moon Press, Amazon, and Are

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Please scroll on for an excerpt from The Forester and a selection of titles from Blaine’s back catalogue – any of which you can win by leaving a comment here on this blog! Read the rest of this entry

If you go down to the woods today…

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October is the month of all things dark and haunted, and for me, there could be only one blog topic. The forest realm. Fantasy literature has long worshipped the forest, from Tolkien’s Mirkwood through to Kenneth Graham’s Wild Wood. Images of woodlands are many and contrasting, as different as slow moving Ents are from Whomping Willows. And like vampires and werewolves and all things ghoulish, stories of the forest realm have a long and fascinating history.

The earliest written accounts of forests construct them as dark,

A water naiad emerges from a woodland brook for some sexy fun with Hylas (J.W.Waterhouse, 1893).

fearful, and often intensely erotic places—much like the ways in which modern western imperialists have described the orient. Following resistance to Roman empire-building in the forests of northern Europe, Tacitus wrote of bestial Germanic Wild Men gnawing the bones of defeated legions, while Julius Caesar and Strabo described the Druids of the British Isles burning sacrificial victims alive in wicker men, images that have resonated through the ages.  Rushing forward to medieval times, the scariest creatures of the forest were the fairies. A far cry from the sparkly wing-wearing, pink-clad kiddies of today, the fair folk embodied the spirits of the dead, feared as child snatchers, shifters, seducers, and even murderers and rapists.

Anne Cain’s interpretation of Herne the Hunter for the cover of my book, Bound to the Beast.

Fortunately, forest lore provides us with plenty of brooding heroes too, from Robin Hood to the wonderfully tortured Herne the Hunter, a glowering, alpha male bearing the antlers of a stag and whose dark origins lie in the horned gods of Norse and Anglo-Saxon myth. To my glee, my extensive research into forest lore has also uncovered a plethora of historical bondage. The cliché of being blindfolded, bound, and taken to the hidden camp in the heart of the forest can be traced back at least as far as Roman accounts of the tribes of Germania.

The “otherness” of the forest, it’s exclusion from so-called “civilized” societies, has also resulted in one of its most wonderful manifestations: as a place of sexual liberty. The Greenwood has long been the realm to which lovers escaped to break away from the shackles of social and sexual norms – think Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. On more modern note, in E.M.Forster’s novel Maurice (originally written in 1913-14, but not published till 1971) the homosexual hero evokes the romantic image of “Sherwood.” The idealized English Greenwood of the past is the imaginative space in which Maurice and his male lover can exist unfettered, in stark contrast to the homophobic reality in which he struggles to fit in.

The Reconcliation of Titania and Oberon–amid much orgiastic fun! (J.N.Paton, 1847)

So, sod being creepy—here’s to the forests of the world! Let’s hope you survive to keep haunting, inspiring, and liberating us, for the next several thousand years.

*****

Kay Berrisford is the author of the two Greenwood m/m fantasy novels, Bound for the Forest and Bound to the Beast (a tale of Herne the Hunter). A third Greenwood novel is in the works.  Her most recent publications are contemporary fantasies Catching Kit and the forthcoming Sex, Simon, and the Solstice Stone. You can find out more about her writing at kayberrisford.com

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Bound for the Forest by Kay Berrisford

Bound for the Forest

by Kay Berrisford

Giveaway ends November 01, 2012.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

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