Hello, Everyone! Welcome to the mad writings of a demonic squirrel today! Oh *looks to the side* what? *listens* Oh, you don't say? Well *brushes off imperceivable piece of lint* I guess we're not listening to the mad ravings of a squirrel. It seems we have a guest author today. The wonderfully talented Angel Martinez is here to talk ago us about her new paranormal series, Offbeat Crimes.
The series kicks off with her story, Lime Gelatin & Other Monsters. *looks at title name* You gotta love it, right?
So without further ado, here is Angel to talk to us about serious stuff. You know, funny. ;)
Paranormal Stories Should Be Serious
Paranormal Stories Should Be Serious, Right?
Yeah, well, often they are. A lot of paranormal stories take themselves too seriously. I’ve written some pretty deadly serious paranormal stuff, too, though I can’t write serious all the time. A lot for the absurd always creeps back in. And boy is there a lot of stuff to make light of in the paranormal genre.
While I’ve run into quite a few paranormal stories in gay romance/fiction that have funny moments (even Whyborne and Griffin have endearingly hilarious moments) there isn’t much in the way of gay paranormal stories that are set up as humorous rather than as a serious stories. We have werewolves and vampires galore and their dark and trauma-laden pasts. We have ghost hunters and fae, zombies and psychics. But not a lot of comedy. Even mainstream het romance is a bit light on the comedic paranormal except for vampire rom coms. Absolutely buckets full of those. One of the few I can recall offhand in gay romance is Geoff Knight and Ethan Day’s zombie romance, Guess Who’s Coming At Dinner, which was hilarious. I can’t even find a list on Goodreads for gay paranormal humor. That might be operator error, though…
When Amber Allure gave us authors the 77th Precinct prompt, the idea was for each author to write about a paranormal police squad in a chosen city. The idea itself seemed humorous to me, but I knew my cohorts would most likely write serious paranormal with Character Trauma and Big Bad Things and stuff. I have to be different. Funny…but what?
I’ll confess, my first thought was a vampire detective, kind of the easy way out, using a defective vampire. But the more I thought about it, the more he needed cohorts, other officers with broken paranormal abilities, until I had a whole squad full of them. Poor vampire (who can only drink “skim blood”) was pushed to the sidelines and another character got to play hero, one who can only absorb other people’s abilities. This sometimes gets messy, dangerous, and occasionally embarrassing. And we needed monsters! Ridiculous ones! So, yes, I have a whole notebook page of the most absurd monsters I could think of, some of which morphed over time.
There’s still mayhem and destruction, cause I like mayhem and destruction, and a budding relationship that’s not treated as an absurdity, but I do hope the structure of the story and the adventures of my broken paranormal cops will strike some funny bones.
Lime Gelatin and Other Monsters
Offbeat Crimes 1
(part of Amber Allure’s 77th Precinct Pax)
Officer Kyle Monroe’s encounter with a strange gelatinous creature in an alley leaves him scarred and forever changed, revealing odd abilities he wishes he didn’t have and earning him reassignment to Philadelphia’s 77th Precinct where all the cops have defective paranormal abilities.
Just as Kyle’s starting to adjust to his fellow misfit squad mates, his new partner arrives. Tall, physically perfect, reserved, and claiming he has no broken psychic talents, Vikash Soren irritates Kyle in every way. But as much as he’d like to hate Vikash, Kyle finds himself oddly drawn to him, their non-abilities meshing in unexpected ways.
Now, if Kyle and Vikash can learn to work together, they just might be able to stop the mysterious killer who has been leaving mutilated bodies along the banks of the Schuylkill.
Kyle sat up straighter, shifting to see between the heads in front of him. Soren looked like a poster boy for the model police officer, tall and straight, uniform crisp and sharp. He stood at parade rest beside the lieutenant, impassively surveying his new colleagues. A little knot of resentment lodged in Kyle’s stomach. At his own introduction to the 77th, he’d been nervous and fidgety, freaked out by the collection of…freaks. How can he be so calm?
“Officer Soren transferred from the Harrisburg PD—”
“Don’t they have enough freaky shit of their own up there?” Wolf called out in his rasping growl.
“Since Harrisburg is in our jurisdiction,” she continued with a quelling glance. “He’ll start out partnered with Monroe.”
“What does he do, ma’am? That it’s safe to put him with Kirby, er, Kyle?” Shira Lourdes asked as she flicked nervous glances across the room at Kyle. An empty chair slid away from her and fell over. Her partner, Greg Santos, shook his head and righted the unfortunate piece of furniture.
“Officer Soren’s abilities are his business, which he may or may not choose to share if you ask. And don’t bully him about it either, any of you.” Lieutenant Dunfee swept the room again, pinning each of her officers with her needle-laser gaze like captive butterflies. “Monroe, my office after briefing. Info on your current case.”
She dismissed them, stalking from the room with thunderclouds in her eyes. Kyle found himself approaching the new guy and trying his best not to be awkward. Did he offer to shake hands? Was it safe? Would the guy flinch like so many people did at the sight of Kyle’s scarred hands? Soren was even taller up close, six-foot-three of lean inscrutability, his blue eyes startlingly bright against smoky bronze skin.
“Um, hi, I’m Kyle Monroe.” Kyle fidgeted when Soren didn’t offer his hand either. “You’re with me, I guess. I’ll show you our spot in the squad room.”
Soren followed him silently and Kyle was starting to wonder if he was like Krisk in the not-speaking department until he finally spoke in a smooth, soft baritone, making Kyle startle and miss a step. “Why do they call you Kirby?”
“You’d hear it sooner or later, I guess.” Kyle shrugged. “It’s this thing I do, absorbing other people’s talents temporarily. If they’re close to me. Or touch me. Like Kirby, the little pink dude in the video game.”
Just that? Soren didn’t edge away, or change expression at all. Was he made of stone? “It’s a thing. Everyone here has a thing.”
After a few more steps, Soren asked, “Always?”
“What… Oh, was I always like this? Who knows? I mean, maybe I’ve picked up stray thoughts or something, but no. It’s pretty recent. Knowing that I do this.”
Kyle took a wide arc around Vance as he entered the squad room, pointing to the double desk in the far corner, well removed from everyone else. “That’s ours. Coffee’s over there, but you might not want that coffee. Let me grab my file and we’ll go see the lieutenant.”
“So what’s your story, Soren?” Vance called across the squad room. “What flies your freak flag?”
“Yeah, what do you do?” Jeff Gatling stopped ’porting his banana from one corner of his desk to the other.
“I don’t really do anything,” Soren answered as he hefted the empty coffeepot. “Guess I’ll make fresh since I’m the new guy.”
He opened the top to remove the filter and every human voice in the squad room yelled out, “No!”
Most people would have startled, maybe dropped the carafe. Soren just blinked at the roomful of people gesturing wildly. He took the filter out and emptied it over the trashcan. “Why not?”
“You don’t want to do that.” Kyle stayed by his desk, a nice safe distance from the coffee station. “That’s Larry’s job.”
“Larry’s not keeping up then.”
The container of sweetener packets began to rattle. It shivered across the counter and leaped to a messy end, ceramic shards skittering across the floor. The desk that Krisk and Wolf shared rose from the floor several inches and slammed back down. Wolf fled with a squeaking yelp just before the desk flipped on its side.
Soren glanced toward Kyle. “Larry’s not a cop, is he?”
“He is…he was! A dead cop. Larry’s a ghost. He gets ticked if anyone else makes the coffee. Put the stuff back, please!”
“Larry?” Soren raised his voice but to all appearances remained completely unruffled. “I’m new here. I’m very sorry I invaded your jurisdiction. See? I’m putting the carafe back. Closing the top. Are we good, Larry?”
A breeze ruffled through a stack of papers, but no further mayhem ensued. The carafe slid from its pad on the coffeemaker and floated to the water cooler where Larry, who never manifested in a visible form, whistled tunelessly while he filled the carafe.
From his dim corner of the room, Carrington said in his dry, genteel way, “Welcome to the Island of Misfit Freaks...”
2 commenters will be chosen at random (’cause I have a formula to do that and everything) for their choice of backlist Angel Martinez book!
Vastine is here to visit us, giving us a wonderful look at her story, Glory Lands, as well as hold a little contest for everyone (Rafflecopter link below) for a $100 GC to Victoria Secrets or Amazon (runs through May 10th). First she shares a little bit about the research that went into her story.
Q: Historical books can be difficult to write. The language and culture has changed over time and can only be ascertained through research. What kind of research did you do for Glory Lands? And were there any interesting finds or surprises along the way?
VB: For some reason, this era and everything about it are so close to me, I don't feel like they're historical, just my own personal history---if that makes sense. As far as research, I've always been fascinated with the era...the Great Depression...particularly this location, and have spent so much time reading and absorbing accounts of the period. But, then, I've had the luxury of my roots being deep in this place and to have had relatives (my mother, particularly) alive to share real-life background. And the language and culture are surprisingly intact to this day. But as far as some actual words, it did take a bit of extra study to make sure they were authentic to the period.
The premier interesting find during research was the discovery of the sheriff of the real-life town where the story takes place. The story itself had been tossing around in my mind for so long but---upon stumbling on this man---the story found its heart. His story, the particular incident which begins the story, haunted me.
A Texas Piney Woods Story
Rural East Texas, 1931. Preacher’s son Emory Joe Logan and a fiddler from Shreveport, Glory Lands, meet and form a tender bond. When they are caught and arrested for homosexual acts by Sheriff Elihu Bishop, the lawman’s sanctimonious bigotry threatens to rip the young men from their families.
Emory Joe’s father, Pastor Charles Logan, is brought to his knees in terror, confusion, and anger. He still regrets not standing up against Bishop when the lawman murdered a youth in cold blood nine years ago.
Now there’s no longer a choice for the preacher to stand up to the lawman. Cold-blooded justice, bigotry-disguised-as-religion, and hatred take on a whole new meaning when they’re standing on his doorstep, ready to take the son he loves.
I’D BEEN scared lots of times in my nineteen years, but never as scared as I was as I sat with Daddy in the church.
He’d begged me to go home, to pack, and to head for the bus station while he met with the sheriff alone—how simple he made it sound, as though inviting Bishop to tea and cake.
No, I told him. I wasn’t leaving without some last words to Bishop. So if I insisted on facing the sheriff, Daddy begged me to wait it out with him at the church. He assured me Bishop would show up, as sure as night and day, and somehow he felt safer there in the sanctuary.
Tears threatened to make their way from the well in my belly to my eyes to see Daddy sitting—just sitting, still and silent, with his Bible in his lap—in his usual seat at the side of the pulpit.
He’d never in a million years have showed up at God’s house dressed in trousers, a sleeveless undershirt, and suspenders. Sweaty. Unshaven. I wondered if he even realized how much like a hobo he looked.
Who was to know how this day would end? It didn’t matter any longer.
All I did know was I’d never realized how much I loved my father until sharing that awful but somehow beautiful silence in that empty church while we waited for whatever was going to happen.
Did he know how proud Mama would have been of him? I hoped his heart knew that Mama was right beside him in that seat, holding his hand.
Looking back, I reckon my mother had always seen my true self. She’d always seemed to know there’d been something different about me. Although I knew without a doubt she would have been standing beside us right then, I was glad that she didn’t have to be.
“Daddy.” My own voice startled me when it broke the oddly peaceful tension inside the sanctuary.
Daddy, as though he’d been in a deep trance, glanced to me from whatever world he’d been lost in. “Son?”
“You know why I’m doing this?”
He crossed his legs, shifted in the seat, and shrugged. “I think so, Emory Joe.”
“If it had been just me, I’d have hightailed it out of here, not made a peep, so as to not embarrass you anymore.”
He just nodded.
I continued, “But you know I can’t, after what they’ve done to Glory.”
“I’m not really afraid, if you’re worried about that.”
“I know, son.”
“I love you.”
With his brow furrowed, he stared at me with some words perched on his lips. He said nothing, though, just smiled and nodded. But his smile had hugged me and held me hard, and I felt his I love you stronger than any spoken words. The affection piercing me through his unsaid sentiment was the sort a fellow would give his life to have.
The purr of a car’s engine and the crunch of tires on gravel outside the open doors of the church shouldn’t have surprised me, but my body jolted anyway. And I didn’t even have to look to see who’d driven up. I knew.
Daddy drew a shaky breath, closed his eyes, and softly chanted a Psalm. “They have prepared a net for my steps; my soul is bowed down: they have digged a pit before me….”
Icy water pulsed through my veins with my spiked heartbeat.
Car doors opened and, after a pause, closed.
This was it.
Dreamspinner Press: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=4617
All Romance: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-glorylands-1401263-145.html
Readers' Remarks on Glory Lands (Optional in case you want to use a quote or two in the post)
"...This story is beautifully written with charm and a very classy style. ” cathy- (Amazon)
But every so often a story comes along and absolutely annihilates me. Glory Lands is that story...~ Astrid (Amazon)
I tend to be a little squirrelly, but my friends still love me anyway. ;)